Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Finished Counting Down

Things I have heard from friends or others around Darden in the past two weeks:

·         “OMG, I only have, like, 10 more days of classes left in my MBA career”

·         “Wow, this is like the last Darden Cup event I’ll ever get to go to. So Sad”

·         “This time next month we won’t even be students here anymore”

·         “Only 2 more weeks left in college”

Enough. Everyone needs to stop counting down every single Darden event like we are a bunch of MBA students on graduation death row. Well I hate to break it to each of you but:

·         In two years you’ve complained about every single class here

·         You suck at sports and never show up at Darden Cup anyway

·         Yea, this time next month it also won’t be April anymore. Get over it

·         Ok, I’m the one who said this. Punching myself now.

 I’m as guilty of it as anyone. It started back in the fall for me. Suddenly everything was the “last” of something.

The last home football game.

The last day of fall leaves on the trees.

Then it carried into Winter.

The last recruiting event (I don’t even like recruiting events).

The last snowstorm (I really don’t like snow and hope I never see it again).

Finally, when it was starting to get really bad this spring before I realized something I’d been forgetting lately: mainly, that I am a huge idiot. What is the point of counting everything down? It doesn’t make anything more enjoyable, it just makes you sadder because you think about how much you’ll miss it. I’ve got to wake up to reality: this thing called business school is not a sustainable lifestyle. I mean let’s look at my life right now:

·         I have way less money at 27 than I did at 25

·         I pretty much go out six nights a week, much to the chagrin of my health

·         For the most part I think I’ve reached the apex of my MBA learning; one more quarter and I might start getting dumber

·         The money thing.

I am sorry to say this, but everyone needs to be a little less nostalgic. It just makes things a little less fun. Let’s save the nostalgia for the reunions. For now let’s just forget all that and enjoy what has already been an amazing spring in Charlottesville. If you feel the need, however, to come up and tell me about something awesome that is about to end, at least buy me a drink first. Then we can toast to it and celebrate instead of commiserate.  

Dave’s Awesome Song:

Domino by Jessie J

The Graduation Song by Vitamin C [kidding]

If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at david.a.miller4@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shameless Plug: Vote for My Blog

I know this is mildly pathetic, but the only point of this post is to let you know I was recently nominated for some Top MBA Blog competition. While this means nothing, if you like reading this blog, feel free to vote for me (College 2.0) at this link: https://www.ecollegefinder.org/mba-voting-badges.aspx. I think the voting closes tomorrow (Friday the 30th).

I am asking you to do this for three reasons:
  1. I have gigantic ego
  2. I really don't want to lose to something called "The Fuqua Experience"
  3. I have a gigantic ego
Don't worry, I've already voted for myself like 100 times (this is the same way I got on the Homecoming Court my junior year of high schol). But I'm starting to think they are catching on and removing some of my votes, so I could use the help.

Also, if you don't like this blog or find me to be ridiculously shallow (its true, I am), you can vote for someone else instead. This may lead, however, to me not posting any future blogs and fading into obscurity a la J.D. Salinger or Terrence Mann, only to return when Kevin Costner forces me to go to a baseball game with him by pretending his hand is a gun.

If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at david.a.miller4@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


As you can tell, I don't have much of it to do my last papers of the quarter . . . .
In Alderman Library on Main Grounds

When it looks like this outside . . . .

And tomorrow I'm heading here . . . .
Cape Town, South Africa

Enough said.

If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at david.a.miller4@gmail.com.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spending Money I Don't Have While I've Got Time to Do So

Its 72 degrees, sunny, and I’m sitting on the porch of my Ivy Gardens apartment, staring at the UVA baseball stadium and wishing to God that I still had a year of NCAA eligibility left. I’m also punching myself for ever signing up for a class that would take place at 2:45 on a Friday (granted this is my only class all semester on a Friday, but still, c’mon).
It’s a rare moment of reflection for me in what’s been a crazy month with an even more ridiculous one on the horizon. This seems like the first Friday afternoon in forever that I’ve had to just sit back and relax. First it was a wedding in D.C. Then two weeks ago it was skiing in Snowshoe, West Virginia in a small three bedroom condo with 13 of my closest classmates (needless to say, things got . . . weird). This past weekend me and two dozen other Darden students headed south to New Orleans for Bourbon St., Mardi Gras, parades, beads, and lots of memories I’ll never remember (things got . . . weirder). Now I’m a mere 16 days away from a Spring Break trip to Cape Town, South Africa. For two weeks I’ll be either on a beach, hiking a national park, on hunting elephants on a safari (just kidding we’re not hunting them, but I might kick one or something, just to annoy it).

Me and Elvis on Bourbon St.
What do all these things have in common? A three-day hangover? Check. A mechanical bull? Check. A plane or car ride that gave me an excuse to put Adele on repeat? Check.  But mostly what ties everything together is the significant amount of money they require. Everything is relatively cheap (the plane ticket to South Africa was $750), but when you’re income stands at exactly zero dollars a week and has been for the better part of two years, it doesn’t matter all that much. I’m also usually pretty averse to spending money; I usually bring my own beers/flask to the bar and once even snuck an entire Dominos extra large pizza into a basketball game (don’t ask). Yet recently I find myself continually spending more money than I really should be. And I don’t really feel that bad about it.
Of course, the question is why? One of the most important things I’ve learned at Darden is that time is far more valuable than money. When a company is unable to deliver on a project, the true cost of that failure is not the money spent, it’s the time and manpower resources that have been wasted. The same goes for an individual stuck in a job or career they can’t stand; they might think they can’t quit because of the money but what they should realize is their time on earth is far more finite than their access to money ever will be.
Well, I’ve got a lot of time right now, tons of it. Probably more than I will ever, ever have again (unless, you know, I get fired). And like I’ve posted before, I totally intend to take advantage of it, whether that’s helping get business ideas off the ground, getting lunch with professors and other speakers, or taking on expenses for trips that I can’t really afford right now. Because, by the time I’m making enough money to do these things, I imagine that I’m going to be pretty short on time. That’s why I even made sure to push my start date back to the end of summer, to make sure I have time to travel, see new places, catch up with old friends, and try to get my life organized. So yea, even if I have to keep getting crap from my mom (“you’re taking another four months off? Didn’t you just take off two years?”) I don’t really care. I’m going to give myself as many opportunities as I can. Take that Sandy.   
So I know I said this before but it’s worth repeating: The most valuable thing you have is your time. So don’t waste it. I’m not going to.

Dave’s Awesome Song
Jeremy Kay – Have It All

Please don’t confuse this blog entry at all with the movie In Time with Justin Timberlake. That was just dreadful writing; this blog is only moderately bad.

If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at david.a.miller4@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Guide to Class Participation at Darden

I get questions from people all the time asking about what grades are like in business school, and specifically at Darden. Do they matter? Is it hard to get good ones? My friends in medical and law school would answer by saying “No, MBA grades don’t matter and you don’t go to a real grad school” (Of course, they’re just jealous). But in reality the answer is: it depends. And it depends mostly on the type of person you are.  Since one of my favorite pastimes is to categorize people and judge them, I figured why not talk about the different “grade seekers” at Darden. I'm talking specifically about this as it relates to class participation, which is usually 50% of your grade at Darden because of the the Case Method.
Now before I do this, I want to lay out the following disclaimers:

1)      I am a huge nerd. I try really hard in class, especially those I care about. You can talk to anyone who’s had a class with me since high school: I raise my hand in class to comment all the time, mostly because I have a huge ego. I’m not saying my comments are good, because they hardly ever are, but if you think this is about making fun of people for trying too hard, you’re wrong.

2)      Almost everyone at Darden will fall into more than one of these categories. 

3)     Seriously, I really enjoy all of my classmates at Darden and am lucky that I get to learn with some of the smartest and most I’ve ever met. This just meant to be fun, so relax already.
Without further ado:

The Gunners

These are the students who will stop at nothing to be in the top of the class. Some want it to help them get a scholarship for second-year, while others just take a lot of pride in having the professor know they are smart, even if it means the rest of their classmates roll their eyes every time he/she speaks. While Gunners are highly prevalent in the first year, they are nearly an extinct population in the second year of business school, mostly because people have rediscovered golf, video games, or golf video games. Thank God for Gunners though, because without them the other 90% the class who barely read the case and didn’t run the numbers would be in serious trouble.   

Gunner Symptoms: Excessive hand raising, pit diving the professor or speaker after every class, constant use of abbreviations or acronyms, always sits in the same spot to ensure professor can clearly see them
Gunner Treatment: Several alcoholic drinks

The Masters of the SP
For those non-Darden people reading this, SP stands for “Standard Performance”, which is essentially given to half the class (Darden grades on a curve) and is the equivalent of getting a “B”. At Darden there could not be a more appropriate term for this grade than Standard Performance. The people who get many of these understand exactly what it takes to be in the middle and do no more, no less. Mainly that involves reading the case, getting the general gist of what’s going on, and then offering a solid comment every 1-2 classes. The goal is to make sure not to stand out, good or bad. This is the largest group of students, with a population that continually grows from the first day of class to the last, as people realize they aren’t special.

Master of the SP Symptoms: Dressing in non-bright colors to divert the eye, answering every question with “it depends” to avoid taking a possibly wrong stance, only talking during cases related to companies they used to work for
Master of the SP Treatment: A professor who relentlessly cold calls

The “I don’t care because I either a) already have a job or b) don’t have a job yet”
I would bet that most of these students don’t even check their grades when they are released. To them, grades are a complete afterthought. I mean, after all who cares? Companies don’t look at them. Your parents don’t get them in the mail like undergrad. And there’s a 99.9% chance no matter how badly you’re doing that you’re not going to fail out. Instead, why not focus on getting your post-graduation dream job or enjoying your last few months of freedom before working a hundred hours a week in investment banking. This group is virtually non-existent in the first year before growing exponentially in the second.

Symptoms: Sitting in the sky deck, having your laptop open in a class that requires no spreadsheets, having your laptop closed in a class that does require spreadsheets, an “eff you” look in their eye
Treatment: For those that don’t have a job, getting one. For those that do have a job, nothing. Just keep living the dream my friends. 

Let me just briefly close with this: I honestly believe that grades don’t matter that much, if at all, in business school and at Darden. But that is not to say that people don’t try or shouldn’t. I see my classmates come prepared to class everyday with numbers, insights, and questions that add tremendous value to our case discussion. It’s just that they’re not doing it for the grade, but because they are passionate about the topics and they don’t want to let their classmates down by being unprepared.  Darden really is a self-policing classroom in this way and it that makes grades irrelevant. And I think that’s great.

Dave’s Awesome Songs
·         Citizen Cope – Sideways
·         Eels – Fresh Feelin
·         Marshall Tucker Band – Can’t You See

If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at david.a.miller4@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My New Year Resolutions

Good Lord do I hate New Year’s. It is easily the worst holiday of the year, way worse than Columbus Day, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day (which has overshadowed every single one of my birthdays since I was 5). To celebrate it people spend an absurd amount of money on ridiculous parties instead of just paying 10 bucks for a case of Schlitz like they normally do. At midnight everyone blows their stupid party favors and celebrates a meaningless change of dates. Then to top it off the next day there is a ton of meaningless college bowl games (somebody please fix the BCS). 

The worst part though, is those pesky New Year resolutions, the promises we make to ourselves to accomplish during the year and then break two weeks later. That being said, it makes a great topic for a blog post! So, without fail, here are 2012 New Year resolutions:

1.       Don’t let myself get SAD this winter.

First, let me clarify what I mean by SAD. I’m not talking about the emotion, but Season Affective Disorder, a seasonal depression that comes with short days, cold weather, and a complete lack of energy. I’ve been getting this for as long as I can remember. Anyone who lives in the Mid Atlantic can attest to how it happens:

·        a beautiful fall season turns into in ability to leave work before its dark
·        suddenly no one wants to leave their couch
·        the simplest task like taking out the trash becomes an expedition involving several layers of clothing, slips on icy driveways, and howling winds.

To confess, I’m not off to a good start with this. You would think that winter break for most B-school students would be awesome but unless you get to spend most of it on a beach on Cabo, its not. Its boring, no one is around, and you find yourself actually looking forward to classes starting. Still, I’m going to fight SAD with a steady dose of working out, exposure to sunlight, Hoos basketball games, and finding as many reasons to get out of my apartment as I can. I’m optimistic on this one.

2.       Make good on an investment.

I recently lost someone very important to me when my Grandfather passed away just after Christmas. There is really no way to put into words what he meant to me. This was a man who supported me emotionally, financially, spiritually, and intellectually for all of my adult life. He was always there to offer guidance on anything from my career to my family to my friends.  But more than anything, Grandpa Al was my friend. I could call him anytime to talk about the Yankees, politics, and life. When I had a chance to take a vacation, I usually included a trip to spend time with him. For a guy who lived through the Great Depression, served in World War II, then put himself through an Ivy League school before working in the Intelligence community for the next 60 years, he was a really, really cool guy.

Every opportunity I had to talk with him, I always thanked him for everything and he would respond the same way: “You’re the best investment I’ve ever made”. As I move through the next year and the big changes it holds, and really all the years after that, I will always remember that. At every turn I will try to make sure I make his immense investment in me worth it.

3.       Make 3 friends in San Diego.

On a lighter note, I’m moving across the country in August and 3,000 more miles away from home than I’ve ever lived before. Needless to stay I need to meet people. I’ll start conservatively in 2012 and hopefully by the end of 2013, I’ll have enough friends to play a 3-on-3 beach volleyball game.

4.       Try to actually write this blog more often.

I’m not making any promises on this one . . .

Happy 2012 to everyone. Stay tuned.

Dave's “Awesome Songs”
Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa – “Young, Wild & Free”
Miranda Lambert – “Baggage Claim” (note: can’t wait to go see her live at JPJ in three weeks)

If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at david.a.miller4@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Time to Spare

Last week I was talking with a buddy of mine, catching up on a whole bunch of different things because we hadn’t spoken in a while. This was, of course, my fault, as I’m generally terrible at staying in touch with people (Note: sometimes I’m bad at this on purpose, because I simply don’t like you). Anyway, he lives in Richmond and mentioned that he was thinking about visiting some vineyards just east of C’ville. I immediately invited myself and volunteered to help plan the trip, even though I really don’t like wine and my knowledge of it is pretty much limited to reds, whites, Slap the Bag, and Bling-Bling Blue Raspberry. When I actually showed up my buddy looked shocked. Considering I’ve declined or bailed on every event he’s planned over the past 15 months, I can’t say I blame him. But hopefully that shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

You see, I recently accepted a job and have solidified my post-Darden plans. What I’m going to be doing isn’t important; just know that I’ll be doing it here: http://www.sandiego.org/nav/Visitors/VisitorInformation/Weather. And while that’s got me thinking about a lot of things (mostly the future), it has also taken a lot off my plate. I didn’t realize that until last week, a couple of days after sending in my acceptance. I wrapped up my last class of the day and started walking back to my apartment while I planned everything I needed to get done that afternoon . . . and came up with nothing. No 8am class to prepare for. No networking event to attend. No resume to update. No club event to sign up for. No cover letter to proofread. No interview to bomb.
Holy cold call Batman, what the hell was I going to do?
The answer is everything I’ve always wanted to do in Charlottesville but couldn’t because I used recruiting as either a real or made-up excuse. In just the past week I’ve been able to:
·       Take a drive out to Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway (I know, driving isn’t really “doing” anything, but I hate hiking and refuse to wear cyclist attire, so back off).
·       Attend Darden’s Entrepreneurship Conference, which is easily the most underrated event we have here. Saw a bunch of awesome ideas at the concept competitions, met a lot of really cool entrepreneurs, and wore a blazer with jeans.
·       Meet a buddy I haven’t seen in a while at a vineyard on a Sunday. I found out they have these things there called tastings, where you can try a bunch of wines and you even get to keep the glass afterward (side note: I finally own a wine glass).
Finally time to enjoy days like this one.
So if that’s just Week One, I’m feeling good about what’s left to come. I might buy tickets to all the Hipster-band concerts in Charlottesville so I can finally understand what their music is all about. I could also start a streak of attending 20 straight Boylan Heights Wednesday Power Hours, although if I did that I might have to start attending AA as well. Anyway, the point is I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do, but I’ll definitely have plenty of time to figure it out.

I’m starting a new thing, which I’m unoriginally entitling “Dave’s Awesome Song”. From here on out after each post I’ll let you know which song is currently #1 on my iPod playlist. The point of this is for you to make fun of me. So feel free to do that and send along any song suggestions you have. This week I’m starting off with two songs, because I want to:
·         Taylor Swift – “Sparks Fly”
·         Jay-Z – “Heart of the City”

Have at it.
If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at david.a.miller4@gmail.com.