The 3 Things I Know For Sure About Getting an MBA

Many of my connections know that I recently completed my MBA. People often ask if the time is worth it, if it means an automatic raise, or if the price tag on the school really matters. I won’t delve into my thoughts on all those topics now, but here are the “3 Things I Know For Sure” after wrapping up my MBA.

#1: Like most endeavors in life, you’ll only get out of your MBA what you put into it.
One can complete an MBA doing the bare minimum, and earn bare minimum performance and benefits. I’ve never been a fan of the saying “even the last person in each medical school class is still a doctor.” Personally, I don’t want the poorest performing medical student operating on my loved ones or me. If you read the assigned Harvard Business Reviews, engage in class discussions and equally contribute to group projects, you’ll take more away from your classes than you would by just checking the boxes. I participated in internships, business school advisory boards and clubs to gain even more academic experience.

#2: Time management is not optional.
It is 150% true that your life will have to be rebalanced if you start an MBA. I took anywhere from 6-9 hours per semester, and I did not take any summers off (to keep the momentum going). Gone were lazy Saturdays, and my workout routine definitely took a backseat to reading textbooks and writing marketing strategies. Do not procrastinate. If you’ve been a career procrastinator, now is the time to break that habit. You never know what’s going to come up at work or home, so it’s always better to be ahead on schoolwork. I found some fantastic coffee shops, and focused on my MBA on weekends to minimize homework time during the workweek.

#3: I’m happy I went to a school I could actually afford.
Did I go to one of the top 10 MBA programs? No, but I did ensure the school I went to had an accreditation by the AACSB (The Association to Advance College Schools of Business), and was ranked in the top 3% of US business schools by The Princeton Review. An AACSB distinction is earned by a small percentage of business schools worldwide. If your company covers your MBA, of course this is a non-issue. Attend the best school you can in your target locale. For me, it was a priority to attend a school that I would not resent for 5-10 years after receiving my diploma.

At the end of the day, I would repeat the past 2.5 years in a heartbeat. My MBA has not only rounded out my business education, but has also put me in contact with some of the greatest folks in business that I have met to this point.

I’d like to end with some thank you’s. Thank you to my family and friends for understanding when I had to study, listening to me complain about group projects (no, they never get better) and celebrating good semesters. Thank you to my professors and classmates for sharing your stories and collaborating.

I’m happy to say that I’ll be stepping to “the other side of the desk” later today, and teaching my first course ever – Intro to Social Media Marketing for undergraduates at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

If you’re thinking about starting your MBA, 2016 could be your year. The hardest part is often just making the decision to begin. The time will pass either way.

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How I’m Outsourcing Christmas this Year

I don’t know about you, but the mall and general holiday shopping has recently really lost it’s appeal. I don’t know if it’s the uptick in “holiday” emails and ads I’m already seeing prior to Thanksgiving, but it’s really had me thinking about how I can still give THE BEST gifts, but also improve the whole shopping experience for myself at this busy state of my life.

Here are the 5 ways I’m “trimming” back on time, while still trimming the tree in all it’s glory this year:

(1) Etsy | Etsy is an online marketplace for creators and master crafters. This is the perfect place to purchase personalized gifts or handmade jewelry and accessories. Some of my favorite shops are Firedaughter Clothing and FitHappy. You can find ANYTHING monogrammed on Etsy. I completed almost half of my 2015 shopping on Etsy this year. Great items and I love supporting the small businesses selling on the site.

(2) Greetabl | Who doesn’t love receiving packages? It puts a smile on my face even when it’s the 5 impulse buys being delivered that I knowingly ordered myself. Greetabl is an online one-stop-shop for creatively-curated gifts that are personalized, packaged and sent in just a few clicks, and they’re pretty darn affordable. Send your very own box of holiday cheer.

(3) The Gift of an Experience | Have an adventurer in your life? Skip the material things and give them the gift of an event or learning. Ever dabbled? dabble.co is a place to search for unique classes like cooking or makeup application. Groupon has a “things to do” category full of events and classes that special person in your life may enjoy.

(4) Small Business Saturday – November 28, 2015 | I’ve got to hand it to AMEX, “shopping small” is just genius. Is there a local business you can purchase your sister’s new statement necklace from, or grab restaurant gift card from? I’m in St. Louis, MO and some of my favorites to patronize are Big River Running and Onesto. Yes, this is leaving home, but not nearly as large of a production as the mall on Black Friday.

(5) Implement a “no gift” policy | In the past, I’ve exchanged gifts with close coworkers. I think most of us can admit that finding the perfect gift for a coworker can be a real head scratcher, and is often a last minute task. This year, we’ve decided that in lieu of gifts, we’ll be doing a lunch to celebrate the holidays. I think this is even better than a gift because it gets us “out of the cubes” for a bit to reminisce on the past year and enjoy non-cafe food.

What are other unique gift ideas or sites I should be on the lookout for great holiday deals this year?