Saying Adios to My First Yoga Studio

My last class on my 10-class punch card takes place on Saturday! I’ve enjoyed the experience at my studio, but I’ve decided to try a different one for a couple reasons.

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  • The first studio is ten minutes from me and is actually relocating in a month to a location even farther away. The likelihood that I commit to a studio that takes over 30 minutes of commuting is unlikely. The new studio is just five minutes away.
  • The first studio is a (small) one-room business. This often results in mats literally touching other mats during classes – not a lot of stretching room. Also, class choice is pretty minimal since only one class can run at a time. The new studio has two bigger rooms.
  • The first studio does not have late enough classes for me to attend after school on weekdays (usually it has one night class and it is either a beginner class or an advanced class – I need the midlevel/open class!)

I have loved my Saturday morning class, so I am not saying goodbye to that studio/teacher for good – I’ll probably drop-in every now and then. Still, I start my unlimited month at the new studio in two weeks, so after Saturday it’ll likely be a month and a half until I’m back there!

Regardless, it feels awesome to have made it through my punch card as well as started my at-home practice. I feel so much stronger physically, and I’m optimistic about starting new adventures and sticking to them!

Have any of you switched studios? For what reasons? Do any of you switch studios regularly or jump between studios?

Lululemon: What Does the Brand Say About You?

As a yoga newbie, I couldn’t help but notice that nearly everyone in my yoga class has one of the smooth, Lululemon yoga mats. Prior to starting yoga, my only perception of the brand was that it’s expensive.

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Now that I’m more exposed to the brand, I have started seeing the little logo outside of the yoga studio – from jackets people wear in the grocery store to water bottles of fellow classmates. Feeling like I might be missing out on the brand of the century, I decided to do a little research.

Turns out the founder of the company, Chip Wilson, has been known for saying some pretty inappropriate stuff – topics ranging from sexism to racism to classism (read about this stuff here, here, and here). BUT he went a little too far in 2013, and had to step down as Chairman because of some of those indelicate comments. Then just this month he officially cut ties with the company and resigned from the board.

Although I don’t yet own any Lululemon gear, I have thought pretty deeply about what it would say about me and what I’d be promoting. Are the current consumers of the products aware that the founder did not have yogis’ best intentions in mind when he created the brand? If I wore Lululemon, would it seem like I was okay with the fact that he wanted to exploit the “Power Women”? But now that Wilson is entirely disconnected from the brand, does none of this ring true?

I haven’t started filling up my Lululemon online shopping cart yet. I have a yoga mat and yoga pants that work just fine. Maybe someday if I am practicing yoga at a level that I need a fancier mat, I will consider it.

Do you own anything from Lululemon?

Did you know about Chip Wilson?

Do his actions impact your feelings about the brand?

Is the quality of the products worth the premium price?

Do you think the brand reflects who you are, and if so, in what way?

Acing a Behavioral Interview with STAR

MBA Term of the Day

Behavioral Interview: A type of interview where the interviewer asks questions about a person’s behaviors in the past to see how that person would respond to similar situations in the future. For example, “Tell me about a time when you…” This type of question gives interviewers insight into how the interviewee could fit with the culture of a workplace based on how they respond to different challenges or situations.

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It’s about that time of year when prospective MBAs are interviewing with schools, first year MBA students are on the hunt for a summer internship, and second years are looking for their perfect job. Many interviews have a behavioral component (that might be supplemented by traditional questions, presentations, cases, etc.), but some are completely behavioral (like the interview I had for my upcoming internship).

The STAR technique is the best way I’ve encountered to tackle the behavioral interview. It is a simple structure for interviewees to follow to make sure they hit all of the main points of their story and fully answer the question.

Each letter stands for one of the steps:

S=Situation: Set the scene of your story – where were you when it took place?

T=Task: What was the problem you faced and needed to fix?

A=Action: What specific steps did you take to fix the problem?

R=Result: How did the situation end up?

Let’s walk through how it works with a sample question.

Q: Tell me about a time you didn’t agree with a manager, what did you do?

When you are giving your answer, you shouldn’t say, “The situation was… The task was…” You should weave it into a story while making sure you hit your four key points.

A: (Situation) I was working for a company that always hosted an annual dinner for high school seniors that showed leadership in their schools. (Task) One year, my manager decided to cut the dinner so we could use the extra money to fund a remodel of our break room at work, since we discovered there was mold in the walls. I viewed this annual dinner as a valuable time for our company to work alongside and support the progress in the community, and although we needed a new break room, this would not be the appropriate way to pay for it. (Action) Before approaching my manager with this belief, I knew I needed to find a way to effectively fund both causes without increasing company spending. I was able to find three ways to cover the expenses without affecting the leadership dinner, they were: (List actions/ideas). (Result) Once I had my proposal organized, I made an appointment to meet with my manager to go over my ideas. It turns out she completely agreed that we should not pull funding from the leadership dinner, and using my three recommendations we were able to build the new break room while ensuring we provided the dinner for our community.

When I was interviewing for my summer internship, I actually created an Excel spreadsheet that had common behavioral questions listed all the way down column A. Then in row 1 I made separate columns for the “S” the “T,” etc. and wrote out my structured answers to the behavioral questions. Now I have a very pretty “go-to” sheet for practicing my interview responses.

Do any of you use the STAR method?

Do you have any other interview preparation techniques?

Setting Intentions – Why is it so Tricky?

Yoga Term of the Day:

“Setting your intention”: Often at the beginning of yoga class, the instructor will ask you to set an intention. Right now I see this as determining a path for your time practicing yoga, or even for your day in general. It could be something simple, such as “love,” or it could be a little more involved, for example, “to find peace in my practice.” It could be personal, or aspirational, or worldly, or whatever you need it to be. I think the point is, it’s unique for everyone, and it’s not a goal that’s one and done, such as “do a headstand” – it’s ongoing.

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Half of the reason I decided to start yoga is because I want to be more deliberate in my life. So far the class I’ve been taking has helped me feel physically stronger, but I’m still trying to figure out the non-physical side of yoga.

I find the concept of setting an intention to be very alluring. I want to be able to live and breathe my intention in class, but I realized that my intentions are fleeting. Halfway through class I’ll remember it, and think, “whoops, I sure wasn’t doing a great job of loving when I was cursing this asana.”

But I still feel like it’s an important part of practicing yoga. Perhaps when I am physically more fit and confident, I will be focusing less on the movements and I’ll be better able to focus on my intention. Right now I feel so caught up in moving my body appropriately and learning the names for all of the postures, that it’s hard to take my mind elsewhere.

What do you guys think about intentions?

Was it more difficult at first?

What do you recommend?

The Quick and Dirty Guide to Case Competitions

Exciting news! Last week my MBA team won a campus-wide case competition! If you’ve forgotten what a case competition is, read this. I thought I’d share some quick tips for giving yourself the best chance at winning some dough:

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Snazzy clothes, firm handshake, big smile – time to get our case competition on!

  1. Choose your team based on qualities: If this is a high-stakes competition, work with trusted peers. This is not the time to get closer to that looker from your finance class, but rather to bring out the big guns with people who have similar work styles as you. You’ll recall I dropped out of a case competition because my teammates’ qualities did not align with mine.
  2. Also choose your team based on skills: Although it might be tempting to only work with your besties from your marketing focus, your team won’t be well-rounded enough to handle all areas of a case. My recommendation is to have one marketer, one operations person, one finance person, and one strategist or entrepreneur. (Remember, the smaller your team, the fewer people you have to split the prize money with).
  3. Financials, financials, financials: These will win or lose the competition for you. It almost doesn’t matter what your idea is – if your financials are correct and presented clearly (not in a messy Excel spreadsheet), you’ve got a chance. If your idea is amazing but your finances are off, you’re not going to win.
  4. Tell a story: It doesn’t matter if your case competition is about manufacturing hairspray or zoning laws in Boise – you need to find a way to tell a story through your presentation. In other words, do not say, “We are group 19. We recommend you manufacture hairspray. This is important because…” But instead, “When I was blowdrying my hair this morning, I reached for my hairspray and it was gone,” and give the judges an image to keep in mind as you build up to why they should manufacture hairspray. The person who opens the presentation should introduce the story, it should be mentioned throughout, and the closer should wrap it up.
  5. Practice the presentation: Don’t wait until the day of the event to run through your presentation. The best ones have scripts and are choreographed. Typically my team and I will divide up the presentation and we will each be responsible for writing our own script. Then we come together and make sure it flows. We also practice how we will stand, switch off speakers, and answer questions at the end.

Hopefully you were able to glean some tips from this! Do any of you have helpful case competition advice? Any success stories? Any questions?

The B-School Time Commitment

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a full-time MBA student looks like? Read on to see if you are up for the time commitment.

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As you know, before I came to b-school I was a teacher. I taught pre-k for two years and then I taught high school. Not only is teaching time consuming, but I also worked at an extended day school (my first class started at 7:30am and my last class ended at 5pm) and I was working on my first master’s degree (in Education!). Although I LOVE teaching, I was so busy it was making me unhappy. I was sick 50% of the time, and a grouch 100% of the time.

I looked at b-school dreamily, imagining how much extra time I’d have to write novels and go to happy hours. Additionally, my boyfriend had an easy-going b-school experience. He talked about making friends, playing Frisbee, and occasionally, a class or two. But when you make the choice to go to a top ranked school, the experience is a little different.

I thought I’d give you guys a glimpse into my Wednesday, Thursday, Friday schedule of this week, so you can decide for yourself if you want this life! A note on the schedule, every activity leads directly up to the next. If I have free time, I will note it.

Wednesday
5:30am: Wake up, jump in the shower, head to school. (Usually I wake up at 6:30 for my 8am classes, but a test calls for early rising).
6am: Study
8am: Accounting test
10am: Write a paper
1pm: Class
4pm: Drive home, yoga, eat
6pm: Start homework
7pm: Blog
8pm: Homework
11pm: Sleep

Thursday
7:30am: Wake up (I’m loving not having an 8am for the first time), shower, head to school
8:30am: Work on individual project
11:30am: Class
1:30pm: Meet with professor regarding individual project
2:30pm: Class
4pm: Group project meeting
6pm: Project info session
7pm: Drive home, yoga, eat
8:30pm: Prep for tomorrow’s case competition
11pm: Sleep

Friday
6:30am: Wake up
8am: Start Case Competition
5pm: Finish case competition and take the evening for myself before I dedicate the weekend to group projects and more homework! (I typically meet with groups on both Saturday and Sunday)

Well there you have it! I will definitely say that I am less busy than when I was a high school teacher and in grad school, but I am WAY busier than all of my friends who work typical 8-5 jobs. I am at school until 6 on most days, I make it to a happy hour about once a month, and I have not yet started writing a novel. I have, however, started a blog!

Is anyone concerned about the potential time commitment? Are your days jam-packed? Did anyone have a completely different experience? Let me know!