Today we introduce you to the all-stars of my MBA program and yours. We seek only the top tier of characters that can singularly steal the show (and maybe $1.2 billion dollars in segregated customer funds on the side).
The Questions Guy - The guy that everyone loves to hate. In any setting -- be it the classroom, company-sponsored information session, or networking circle -- The Questions Guy always has something to say. And while it technically always ends with a question mark, we understand the sentence to have the primary purpose of demonstrating some deeper knowledge of the material at hand. Sometimes these “questions” are insightful; however most times, we blame him for wasting classroom time, stealing our thunder, or dumbing everyone down with his trifling. We envy the fact that he’s clearly getting his money’s worth of his tuition … and ours.
The Open Mouth Learner - Formerly some kind of nonprofit hero, the Open Mouth Learner’s jaw dropped with his first exposure to supply/demand curves, and he has remained captivated ever since. He brings up his non-traditional background at every opportunity, even if totally irrelevant to the conversation at hand. Professionally, he drops the phrase “non-traditional background” assertively in introductions, in order to ask questions in finance networking circles. At school, he drops the phrase defensively, in order to shirk the number-crunching parts of group assignments. The Open Mouth Learner is quietly both ashamed and proud of the fact that he has gotten through life this far without ever learning fractions.
"The Leveraged Sell-out" - Models, bottles ... you know him well. In the school setting, The Leveraged Sell-out’s greatest value-add may be the fact that he’ll never leave you hanging on a high-five. Even if he doesn’t know you, even if his hands are full of beer and tacos. The high-five is the most common currency of b-school and, as it turns out, the perfect non-sequitur for any difficult conversation you want out of. Raise your right palm, and the Leveraged Sell-out can’t not high-five you. Like a miracle drug, you both instantly feel better about yourselves -- and better still, the high-five conjures up two of his favorite things (winning and ESPN), which facilitates a seamless segue into talking about the latest game.
The Entrepreneur - She is DIY-everything, and her Rolodex puts even Oprah’s to shame. The Entrepreneur loves to claim credit for numerous As Seen On TV and social media successes as stuff she thought of years ago while in the shower. Yet when we ask about any current shower ideas in play, she goes mum and instead starts breaking down why other start-up headliners are not as awesome as hers. Still, we love The Entrepreneur, because when we’re down during the brutal on-campus recruiting season, she’s always good for a tale about one of her many start-up failures. We somewhat commiserate, but mostly we crave that solid hit of schadenfreude.
The Disengaged - He is either corporate-sponsored, going back to work for daddy’s brokerage, or entirely overconfident about his academic prowess. The Disengaged zones in and out of classroom interaction, half listening, silently cackling at cat videos on YouTube and “Like”-ing every post on his Facebook newsfeed. For classes in which professors cold-call students, he has honed a keen survival skill that entails mimicking the previous student’s response in an artful paraphrase that adds absolutely no insight, yet manages to awe even the mimicked.
The Cheapskate - This fool is trying to pay for school from savings alone. He schedules his day around school activities that serve free lunch and when he opens up Excel, it’s not a 10-sheet DCF -- it’s his budget and life plan, modeled down to the number of sheets of toilet paper he uses per bathroom visit. The Cheapskate abuses the class listserv like it’s Craigslist, yet serves a pivotal role in setting market values for items we’re all looking to unload. When he’s not hawking his George Foreman Grill (new in box, good for New Year’s health resolutions) or IKEA Poang chair (only 11.75 months old, no instructions but bonus seven extra screws), he’s seeking buddies to join him on Groupon’s latest push, the Riverfront Segway Tour at 48% off.