Back to School

I’m back in school. I was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program dedicated to growing small business and creating jobs.

I wouldn’t be what you’d call a “learner”. I know, I know how that sounds, but let’s face it, the last book I read was about golf. And it’s the only book I’ve read in the last few years. I leave it at my bedside to remind my wife that yes, I did read a book.

And now I’m off to school.

Week One.

Nothing like waking up at 4AM to see snow again for your commute to the airport. Luckily at 4AM all you care about is how you’re going to catch up on your sleep.

Arrived late afternoon in Boston and found the bus that would take me to my college home for the week. On the ride we went past Fenway Park and even this Yankee fan thought it was cool. Good thing we were past it in seconds so that momentary weakness was short lived.

We were housed at the conference center hotel on the campus of Babson College. We passed the Wellesley Country Club and I was disappointed to see that they don’t golf in the Winter in Boston. Lame.

Day One at School. Like most days when I am the first person at the office I was one of the first people to breakfast. The conference center hotel has a dining room with a buffet. It would proved dangerous. Walking in there was one table of two gentlemen and while I would normally head to the far opposite end of the room to chug coffee before I spoke to anyone, I decided I would start the week on a friendly note and I sat down at their table. Minor greeting ensued….was it because I was wearing my gym clothes and they were pressed and folded? Not sure but I did seem weird that they spoke what sounded like German to each other and barely looked at me. More pressed and folded types arrived and it dawned on me that maybe these were not my classmates. They weren’t. I was sitting with a group of professors in life science there for a conference. I thought about asking them about cloning and decided I’d just quietly drink my coffee instead.

Most of the day spent in class was focusing on developing financial statements: Balance Sheets, Cash Flow Statements and Income Statements. While I knew how to read them, we learned how to construct them. One thing about buffets…..they usually have ice cream at lunch and dinner. Good ice cream.

Found the pub on the main floor, hung out with some dudes from Puerto Rico, drank some beer and whiskey and called it a night.

Day Two at School: First Scholar (yes that’s what they call us) at breakfast. Sat with the right people this time. No ice cream at breakfast.

The morning session was all about developing an Opportunity Statement. This is a core part of our curriculum….identifying and developing a plan for the business that captures a new product or service. Pretty stoked that I will be working on our new golf course staffing division. Lunch = ice cream. After lunch = trying to stay awake as we delved deeper into financial statements as we tracked the story of RCP Company….a sustainable product company that has a new opportunity to put their products in Wal-Mart and it doesn’t work out so well. It’s our job to help solve their financial challenges and keep them in business.

Dinner = ice cream. After dinner there was a reception for all the students and faculty. I wore a blazer. Then we went to the pub.

Day Three at School: First one to breakfast. I should probably mention that most students showed for breakfast showered, dressed and ready for school. I did not.

Morning was focused on our plans for saving RCP Company. I think we saved ’em. Lunch = ice cream. The afternoon was spent on Marketing. This was the first day since Monday that I went outside….for about 5 minutes.

Dinner = ice cream. After dinner there was a panel on financing and funding. Then the pub. But some students had planned an escape earlier so we grabbed some Ubers and headed to Boston to party at the oldest tavern in the U.S….the Bell and Hand. Stayed out way too late but had a good time with my classmates including one who had a story about running a truck full of machine guns through Oregon and punching out a gas station attendant. You think you’re cool until you come across someone who’s run machine guns.

Day Four: Not first to breakfast.

Most of the day was spent on leadership styles and interactions. I drew a picture of a kitty kat.

Back on the bus headed to the airport. It had been snowing all day. My flight was delayed. My connecting flight in Minneapolis would be missed. I booked a new flight out of Minnesota for Saturday morning. Though in walking through the airport I noticed another flight to Minneapolis that was still sitting at the gate…..3 hours past its scheduled departure. I was able to get on this flight, and even though we spent over an hour on the tarmac waiting to get de-iced, I was able to make it to Minneapolis and on my original flight back to Portland. No sleeping in the airport.

It was a great week. Met some great people. Took a deep dive into M+P. Learned I am a much better student at this age than I was at college. Also learned I’m really sick of snow.

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