A week in the life of…

A couple of years ago I was working on my MBA in one of the “Executive” programs, where the students work full time while attending classes full-time. The math is tricky, but essentially you get no sleep for eighteen months.
Jill Bowman, then current director, wanted me to write a “Day In The Life Of” piece for their brochure.

“A day” is really applicable to a daytime program, so I wrote a week-long excerpt. With a few minor edits, this is what’s appearing in the 2002 and 2003 brochures. (Ten seconds of fame. Woot!)

Meryl explains subordinated debentures.

Because the assigned cases were all very straightforward, I don’t have any studying to do. All of my work-related meetings were canceled today. Then, at the last minute, my wife’s folks came to town and insisted on babysitting the kids while we go out on a romantic trip to the arboretum. So begins our warm, sunny evening in Seattle… when suddenly, the cacophony of my four-month-old daughter’s request for breakfast disrupts my reverie. Reality sinks in as I realize that I’ve been dreaming: It’s 4:45 a.m. and it’s my turn to feed her.

By 6:00 a.m., I’ve played peek-a-boo and stacking blocks for an hour. Helen is ready for her pre-brunch nap. It’s been almost six hours since I’ve last checked email, so I pop on the computer. Except for a great deal on a cable TV descrambler (“for educational purposes”) and two cleverly disguised multi-level marketing plans guaranteeing me a huge windfall — no doubt using “outlaw accounting practices,” there’s nothing important.

6:45 a.m. The drive into work was deceptively easy because Seattle’s road deconstruction crews slept in. My office is pretty quiet until people start rolling in around 9:30. I’ll be highly productive for at least another couple of hours.
6:00 p.m. I come home in time to have dinner with the family. After bath time, we’ll probably read Green Eggs and Ham, which I secretly suspect is a sales manual.

8:00 p.m. The kids are in bed, and I can spend some quality time with my wife before she goes to bed. We talk about wallpapering the living room to bring the style into this decade, and we agree on a pattern. Unfortunately, because this doesn’t involve fixing something leaking or on fire, I can’t put it on my schedule until June 2002 (graduation).

9:00 p.m. My wife goes to bed. Now, I have time to read some of the 400 pages Dr. Bigley assigned for Organizational Behavior. I write an executive summary of two articles, blast the outline to my study group, and post it on my website. Divide and conquer is essential.

I take a peek at the Macroeconomics material and watch the presentation Karma built showing us around the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) website. Her use of technology is as impressive as her continuous addition of timely material.

11:30 p.m. I finally have a chance to ponder today’s (tecnically speaking) Wall Street Journal.

7:30 a.m. there are five phone calls and e-mail messages from vendors who want to be software “partners” in my product area. After last night, I’m in no mood to read fluffy marketing prose to distill the main point, so I respond with the standard three questions I ask everyone: In one sentence, what do you do? Why do my customers care? What do you want from us?

10:00 a.m. is our weekly staff meeting. I’ve been working on an OEM/reseller agreement that will potentially generate about $8 million of revenue for us at a very healthy margin. It should be a no-brainer, but because the two other vendors are also customers, I’ll have to defend this better than usual. My secret weapon is a financial analysis that would make Bob Bowen, the Shaolin master of Financial Accounting, proud. Truth be told, I used our accounting final (“dissect Amazon.com’s 1999 anual report”) as a template.

12:45 p.m. The meeting was animated, but I made my case. I need to blow off some stress and go work out.

3:00 p.m. I call the vendor in question to let them know we’re going to move forward. Now the fun begins: negotiation of the agreement. The articles from Jerry Cormick’s negotiation class were useful in working on a general framework for better understanding our interests before committing to paper. We’re still far apart on a few issues, but I’m pretty confident we’ll make this thing work somehow.

9:00 p.m. More reading. I send Bigley an e-mail with a question and asking if he gets paid by the page. He answers in a few minutes, takes my gentle ribbing in stride, and fires a salvo back. I respect him for that and would not have it any other way.

11:00 p.m. I finish the Wall Street Journal and get to bed early.

6:00 p.m. I drive to Wizards of the Coast, where my study group, the Silver Seven, convenes. Every office needs a ten-foot dragon hovering over the foyer. Even their industry wawards are cooler than ours. They should charge admission.
The Silver Seven have been great to work with because we are all equally motivated, have a breadth of work experience, and our skills complement each other’s backgrounds. Our meetings typically begin with a feast of local cuisine and general comments on the class work. This week I’m struggling with the cost of capital assignmenet in finance because I can’t figure out how to estimate the Beta for the case company. Todd, who has a background in finance, says it’s approximated. A light starts to go on.

7:00 p.m. I’m trying to finish a product requirements document and send it to my UK development team. I want to get home in time to read my toddler a bedtime story or twelve. From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.

7:30 a.m. I slog my way through downtown to the University District. I’m th esecond person here, but successfully stake my claim to a plate of scones.

8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.. In class, Rocky Higgins talks about the cost of capital, showing us different ways of calculating it. The denouement is “there are many ways to do this and the experts approximate a lot, here are the rules of thumb.” It makes sense now.

11:50 a.m. We break for lunch. Our mailboxes are stuffed with several textbooks for the fall quarter.
12:45 p.m. King County Executive Ron Sims speaks to our class and answers questions on the light rail issue. I’m impressed by the complexitiy of the issue and cogency of his explanations.

Today is family day. We pile the kids in the plane and go to Eastsound, where we can walk into town and play in the little park adjacent to the farmer’s market.

I spend most of the day reading and trying to tackle the case. Every ten minutes, my toddler pops in and asks me “do you want company or privacy?” No matter what I answer, she’ll want to play. Nine more months… and I can too.