My first week in the trenches of altMBA

So, now I am allowed to post about I am doing over the remaining 3 weeks.  About a month ago, I sent in an application to a program that I had never heard of called altMBA, extremely intrigued by what it is while having no idea what I was getting into.  I was accepted.

And this past week I got my first glimpse of what it was all about.

It goes a little like this – here is your group (cohort), here are your week’s assignments, here’s some deadlines to have your work done by, here’s a little guidance – show us what you can do.

The rest is up to you, if you can’t handle the ambiguity and gray areas of it all, probably not your thing.  On top of doing your own work, there is a ton of supplemental reading, and not “Read Chapters 1 – 6” but rather “OMG I want to read all this, how come there are only 24 hours in a day” and “look at what these people wrote for their assignments, this is incredible stuff”.  Really, really inspiring and for lack of a better word – make you think – type of writing.

In a number of my posts one of the constant themes in my comments were knowing who my audience was – Who was I writing to?  Who do I want to read this?

Well in a program like this, there really is only one person that I’m speaking to – it’s me – “G to the T”, no one else.  There are no grades (or maybe they are and I don’t know), we have coaches and other cohorts that give us guidance and feedback and the method of delivery and implementation of the assignment, is entirely based on the individual.  This blog is a perfect example, I don’t write about trends or products or rules or methodologies, I write about what I need to get off my chest and if it resonates with people, that is fantastic (perhaps I’m not the only one) but if it doesn’t and you think I’m a yahoo that’s okay too.  When I write, it’s to get better with each and every word and when I review it’s to write something better then what I did before.  If I can, every time I try to write things differently, not because I’m trying out new styles, but rather because that is my style.

For instance, last week we had to do an exercise on goal setting following Zig Ziglar’s goal setting methodology – which if you have never heard of Zig or watched anything by him – watch the below video.  You’ll want to watch the next 2 in the series.  I’ve even taken to listening to his podcast now which goes through some of his older presentations.  His work his incredibly informative and funny.  And the exercise was fantastic – you should see what people in this program are coming up with – brilliant, brilliant work.

For those of you in the program that are reading this, Today is Day 4 of working on my goal and I’m having a blast.

And oh yeah, and to top it all off, every week we cycle groups with a slew of new projects to build on – just finished my first call with my new cohort and I’m looking forward to the discussions and assignments we are going to work through this week.


The hardest part is the Pitch

This week, I start on a crazy journey to try to ship and deliver and manage than I have normally ever done.  To get ready for this adventure, I’ve had to read a lot of blogs and books (still reading the books so I’m not all the way there) but the theme, the one theme is always the same and pardon the baseball term but I’ll put my own spin on it.

Turn on the TV, go to the game, watch a Pitcher take the mound and get ready to throw the ball at 97mph at the batter.  They spend most of their time prepping, getting ready, should they throw it to first for the out or second to catch the runner.  But at that one moment where they decide on the course of action, they wind-up and throw the ball, the instant it leaves their hands its a force unto itself that they can no longer control.  A MASSIVE gust of wind could swoop in and push it off course and  the pitcher would have no recourse.  He did all he could, he lined it up, wound-up and let it rip to homeplate.

So what does this mean to us?

As much as they might like to tweak the ball as it makes its way to the plate, you can’t.  You could not even try, you would probably hurt yourself doing so (i.e., eventually taking a ball to the face).  Once that ball leaves your hand, it has a mind of its own and sometimes it’s worth it to sit back and watch where it goes.

So, pick up the ball, wind-up, put everything behind it and fire it down the homeplate.  The hardest part is believing that you are going to throw it on target.  That’s what I’ll be doing.

I don’t know what I’m doing

How many times in the past month have you heard someone emphatically, 100% say that to you? Not – I think I understand or this is what I’m thinking to solve this or I haven’t done this before but I’ve put this plan together – but really, 100% – I have no idea.

In today’s age of Social Media, and as a result, incessant workplace Collaboration Tools, coupled with the fear that one might lose their job and have to go on another job search, we don’t hear this as much as we should. After all, no one is knowledgeable in everything, we can’t be and yet people continue to act as if they literally know everything.

I 100% know nothing about Photography, my brother yes, me not a chance. I will not even bother acting like I do because I have a first-hand account of what true photography knowledge looks like (not the iPhone kind) and I know nothing about it! So why even bother.

But the fear – this is real. Is it bad to say that you don’t know what you are doing? Of course not, but we have a tendency to make people feel like this, either through pressures of delivery or assumptions of someone’s knowledge because they work in a particular area.

You: You’re a Software Developer, you must know Python.
Me: Um, no I don’t actually, I know a lot in the Microsoft Stack, but I don’t do it all.

When I sit down with someone to review a problem they are working on that is not going so well and they flat out say they don’t know – two things happen – One, my respect for them jumps a notch because they are being honest with me which I truly appreciate and Two, this shifts my paradigm I now am able to realize where exactly they need my help and what I need to do to help them which make our chances of success that much greater.

It’s hard to be this honest with ourselves (because who wants to say they don’t know anything about something) but really – it’s the best step forward to start understanding something.