Living life without expectation, wherever possible, provides the widest opportunity for satisfaction. Instead of comparing events that come to pass in reality to some ideal checklist for happiness, which often leaves us wanting, it is a far better strategy to dwell minimally on the future.
Of course, the human mind is not trained in this way, so living in the moment and accepting reality from a neutral position is never easy. At the least, certain personality types have a harder time than others.
Somewhere in my past, I decided to adopt a position (in 95% of situations) of zen, factual acceptance of what is.
This week was the opening four days of the 41st MBA class at Scuola di Direzione Aziendale (SDA) Bocconi, where outside of virtual communications and a handful of interactions with administrative staff, I got my first taste of what the school is made of.
Coming from the U.S.A. to a foreign university, in a country that is more known for food and fashion than hardcore business, is helpful to maintain relative neutrality. Bocconi has a very slim awareness or reputation outside of Europe and Asia. It does not (yet) have the sort of global reputation enjoyed by Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, etc.
Long before I made my way here, my dad actually asked if Bocconi was a sort of joke school for Americans abroad.
Slowly, I have seen more and more about Bocconi that is impressive, and anything but a joke.
Our opening week’s activities struck me as excessive on Monday. By Friday, it made much better sense. Our entire class was together each day from 8.30 to 5.30, receiving presentations from the likes of SDA Bocconi’s various student clubs (Ethics, Luxury, Consulting, Sailing, Ski, Entrepreneurship), mixed with introductions to staff, admin, and alumni from a spectrum of industries.
On Tuesday, our day was capped by a conversation with Fabio Vaccarono, the head of Google Italy and an alumnus from 1999. To say he was an inspiring, endearing speaker is an understatement. I nearly abandoned my desire to work in luxury goods.
Our speaker from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was equally dynamic and enjoyable to interact with, contrary to my existing belief that the consulting industry in general posits a mostly nebulous, vague, untrustworthy value proposition. Not to mention being extremely dry and lacking sex appeal.
The next day all 98 of us spent analyzing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, for which we’d already taken an online quiz. We compared the results of both our self-assessment in class and our measured test were, which provided plenty of introspective fodder. Who knew I could ever be labeled an extrovert?
Another afternoon was all about diversity, dealing with cultural and language differences, but also work and communication styles. Our MBA41 class comprises natives of ~35 different countries!
Throughout, the mix of current and former students, faculty, and potential employers was highly impressive. In fact, the first week, if it is indicative of what is to come, gave me a sense of the high Bocconi MBA value. For approximatelyÂ â‚¬47.000 plus living expenses (another ~$30k), the thoroughness, efficiency, and quality is difficult to criticize. In a mere 14 months, it will all be over.
What’s more, Bocconi has a proactive and engaging career service staff, who’s primary mission is to counsel students, train them on proper interviewing, and work to place them in their desired field with their desired firm. This means connections to major banks, consultants, automotive companies, tech, and of course, luxury/fashion.
I’ll take Prada Group, please. Or Kering. Or Google…
Possibly most impressive of all is the holistic attitude of mostly everyone involved in our instruction. Not only do we need the critical tools, but we need the ethical foundation, understanding of the “big picture,” and a host of soft skills that are completely unrelated to financial statements, accounting, and the Bloomberg database.
As our Dean Stefano Gatti said on the first day…and I will paraphrase…”a healthy study-life balance is key. When you’re happy at home, you tend to do better at school/work. So don’t neglect your love interests and friends while you’re here!” A blessing to swipe away on Tinder!
The more time I spend here, the more I like it. It’s serious, but playful. Smart, but grounded. Intense, but rewarding.
Is this for real? Am I doing something right for once?
Between the euphoria of wanting to get up in the morning every day, stimulating classes, inspiring classmates, and the excitement of what’s on the horizon…PLUS a calendar of planned visits from family and friends in what is my new town to show them…it all induces tears at moments. (Today I am feeling it a bit extra).
Of course, they’re good tears. But I desperately miss my mom, who would be so happy to share this experience with me. Whether you knew her or not, and though everyone says this about their moms, she was really quite a person, in all her capacities.
I know everyone says “she’s with you” and they are right, somehow. But nothing is like having those you love in the flesh, smiling and giving you the interaction you crave.
I am trying to be good about writing often, both to give my brain a break, and to keep everyone current. I don’t take it for granted that my life is all that exciting, but I am always warned that if I drop off the map…I’ll have an unhappy network of supporters.
I love and miss you all! Come visit! We will have a great time. Milan is, ignoring its reputation, a lovely town. Approachable size, thrilling mixture of culture, arts, and design, and a lively food scene. PLUS IT’S ITALY. Oh, and I have plenty of space in my flat. And Emirates flies from JFK for basically pennies. So there is really no excuse.
Ciao + ArrivederciÂ miei cari. Much love.
Congrats on starting your MBA! -Bryce
the subway looks like art work. love the post.
Thanks for sharing your first week. Impressive. I would’ve loved to visit Milan with your mom too. What a fun trip that would’ve been. Oh my.
Alex, it sounds like you’ve found the perfect place for yourself right now. You’re right about your mom. It would have been a wonderful trip. Enjoy everything! Best wishes and good luck. Ellen Small (old friend of your dad’s)
Although your words and photos tell the story, your own photo speaks volumes to me. You are in a remarkable place in many ways, my young friend. Keep the stories and photos coming. This is all so brilliant. Hugs!
Jeff and I are so proud of you! We miss Jane so much and know she’d love everything you’re doing. Room in the flat is very tempting!
Loved it Alex, Bravo!
Don’t ever doubt this choice- you are definitely doing something right – amazing Alex! Enjoy this incredible experience and soak up every bit of every day – as you seem to be doing –
And thank you for opening your heart and sharing your thoughts with words 🙂