Monday, April 12, 2010

When you deduct the cost of your MBA

Every now and then I get some questions from entering Wharton classes on tax deductability of the MBA. So I thought I'd pass along these links:

When you can deduct the cost of your MBA

Hope this is useful!
-Chairman P

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back at Wharton West!

Well, numerous Facebook and Twitter posts have let some of you know by now that I'm back at Wharton West. (Well at least Dan P, that dude noticed my Facebook post about five minutes after I posted it. The Facebook machine continues to grow, and I'm now a fan of FB for Blackberry.)

Why am I back at WEMBA? This time it's to audit Prof. Siggelkow's class, MGMT 701, Strategic Planning and Control. It's purely because this was one of those classes I wished I could have taken, plus it's only 3 weekends as a .5 unit course. The biggest reason is that it's free for alums!

There are FIVE Class 32s in there (I'll leave out last names): Frank, Mike, Charles, John, and I. One of us has a cool boss, one of us is his own boss, one of us is in between jobs, and another told his boss that he needs to repeat Term 5. Guess which one is false? And no, we didn't hang out at the Old Ship or Le Meridian afterwards. Nor sleep in the poker rooms. After after the ridicule that Raggy got from KFC when he posted a message to our email list that he was auditing a course, none of us admitted we were also heading back. I wonder who else is in MGMT 806 with Raghav. I know you 32s are back at work wishin' you were hanging out with us in the back. It's nice to live here in the Bay Area.

I gotta admit, it's kinda weird being back at WEMBA. This time I'm much more tan, relaxed, and able to concentrate. Larry still remembers me, although the look on his face made me think that he was thinking "what is wrong with that guy?". Since as auditors we are banned from talking in class, it's entertaining watching the unpreparded 33s get cold-called. I found myself thinking of former cohort classmates as certain people in the class responded to Siggelkow's questions....

As I recall, this was about the time last year that all I could think about was the one month break between the first weekend and the next real one. With the international trip in between (they are heading to China), I told a few relieved 33s that it's all downhill from this point on. And it really is.

Anyhow, it's off to sleep to wake up early to head over to class again tomorrow morning.

-Chairman P

Sunday, July 13, 2008

GOLF 720 Trip to Callippe Preserve GC

What do WEMBA grads do after we finish the program? GOLF 720 is in full session, thanks to Thomas and Zia. Eight of us (Bolaji, Keith, Adam, Zia, Cameron, Thomas, Haitao and I) played on Sat 7/12/2008 at Callippe Preserve Golf Course, which is a nice new golf track in Pleasanton. It was my 10th time golfing since we finished WEMBA, which is a nice contrast to the 3 rounds I played the entire year before!

Here's some pics from the outing. We'll be doing a golf event about once a month so let us know if you are interested next time!

-Chairman P

Class 32 golf champ Cameron studies his 30 footer birdie attempt on #18. His putt wasn't good, but he managed to shoot a 77 after making a par on the last hole! That was easily better than anyone else....I shot 89 and let's just say there were lots of scores in the triple digits...

(Left to right, like my ball flight: Zia, Thomas, and Bolaji on the 18th at Callippe.)

Adam chips onto the 18th green. Hint: this wasn't to save par!

Bolaji is looking, looking, and looking for his ball in the hazard. It was a one stroke penalty plus a free drop!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Graduation At Last!

Graduation was a fantastic experience, and it was a time to celebrate with friends, family, and classmates. Words can't really describe it so I have decided just to post a few photos.

This post signals the end of the Wharton MBA Journey. Not this blog, mind you, just the part where I chronicle what it's like being in the program itself. From this point on, it's all about what happens after graduation.

-Chairman P

Herbst Theatre graduation ceremony's what it looks like when you graduate from WEMBA West!

A celebratory kiss from my wife, who is very happy that I am done. Now I start on the "honey do list".

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Graduation Loometh Ahead!

Graduation looms ahead on Sunday 5/11/2008. Here's a picture of our announcements.

-Chairman P

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Twittering About GOOG and Social Networks

My startup is going fully Google these days. Instead of going for an Exchange server or a hosted email solution, we went with the Google apps solution for our own domain. We are talking mail, docs, calendar, chat and news. There are no SLAs or a human that will answer your phone. But they seem to have fixed the compatibility issues between running Google Apps and Gmail for personal use at the same time. Also, there's a new Blackberry sync for Google Calendars that is quite nice. I've got Outlook syncing with Blackberry desktop and also with Google Calendaring on Google Apps. Nice. I'm liking the Gmail UI quite a bit; it's very fast and intuitive to use. The filters feature gives you more productivity than using Outlook calendars, and I can say that now Outlook is relegated to a backup IMAP client. It is still the source of truth for contact information, for the time being. If the GOOG is listening, they should be working on Contact/Address Book sync and Task sync as well.

Finally, two thumbs up from me for Google Reader. It's nicely done. Be sure to subscribe to my blog if you use it! :)

With all the extra time, I've been surfing around quite a bit. On the social networking side, it seems that Facebook is gaining a lot of momentum in our age group. Apps like Texas Hold Em are doing pretty well. It doesn't compare to playing in the lobby of the Le Meridian, but hey, WEMBA is over now. If you get some time, check out and They both seem to have some steam behind them. I just signed up for MyBlogLog and put a badge on the side...let's see how it does.

And finally, here's an interesting article on diffusion of innovation from Harvard:

-Chairman P

Wharton Alumni Beer Mug

Graduation is now only one week away; it's next Sunday at 10am at the San Francisco War Memorial, Herbst Theater.

Our cap and gown bags had this plain glass beer mug wrapped in bubble wrap that I wasn't sure what it was for until I poured some Boddington's into it. Then I saw the engraving: "WHARTON ALUMNI, University of Pennsylvania, CLASS OF 2008."

I of the black Ogio Wharton bag as costing me $75K, and the beer mug pictured to the right as another $75K. Let's hope we put it to good use.

See you all at graduation!

-Chairman P

Friday, April 25, 2008

Awards and Island Attire Day Aka Robert Y Day

Here's a picture from Zia from our last weekend at Wharton. It was fun heading to school in Hawaiian shirts.

A big congrats to Robert for winning the Benjamin Franklin award, and to Clifton for winning the Dean's Leadership award. You guys deserve it!

I'm honored to be the recipient of the Dean's Spirit award this year; thanks everyone!

Raghav is our graduation commencement speaker. Congratulations! I'm really looking forward to his speech. He promises to make it short and sweet!

For graduation, they have the concept of "'row leaders" who are the top students for each row of graduates...congrats to all of you as well.

The Palmer Scholar is the top student in the cohort. I must confess that I have no idea who the Palmer Scholar is; I'm sure it'll be down to the wire for the few that are in contention. I know for sure it's not me though! :)

See you all at graduation!

-Chairman P

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thoughts Right After Sending the Last Assignment

I just hit the "send" button for my last two assignments for Prof Wessel's class in Venture Capital and the Finance of Innovation. Great class, totally recommend it. I give him some props for keeping our interest for the second half of the last term. He really tied together all the finance concepts we learned in one half term course.

Here's a link to another book he wrote on valuation (already ordered a copy for my bookshelf):

And now I am really done! Here's some thoughts....

One thing that you learn on Day 1 at Wharton is to measure everything. And I mean everything! We learned a ton of acronyms and frameworks, as well as how to measure them, and then to convert them to log scale and run regressions on them. My classmates will smile as I rattle off the following terms and acronyms from our first year: MC=MR, two-part pricing, T accounts, B/S, I/S, SCF, R^2, t-stat, PVLR, IS-LM, Fisher relation, PPP, linear optimization, the Newsvendor Model, 5Cs and 4Ps, STP, conjoint, and perceptual maps. Oh yeah, and there’s the good ole Greeks: alpha, beta, gamma, rho, sigma, tau. And before I forget, there’s some of the second year stuff: integrative and distributive negotiations, DCF, NPV, cost of capital, WACC, CAPM, currency exposure, IRP, Fama-French, Multi-factor models, APV, LBO, multiples, Section 144A, post-VC valuation, participating preferred, liquidation preferences, entrepreneurial marketing and new product development, and real options. There’s also: bricolage, kumbaya, the Saddu, Porter’s 5 Forces, total leadership, “strategery”, and synergy. We met and learned from CEOs and ex-CEOs, renowned venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs, and the ex-minister of finance from Argentina that pegged the peso to the dollar. Bernanke wrote our macroeconomics book. (By the way, if you want to see the picture of one of my classmates unwrapping the plastic off of it right before the final, see me for more details.)

I’m sure I’m forgetting about 100 other terms that we could have talked about. For those of you who didn't get an MBA, I’m sure I lost you a while ago in the alphabet soup, but hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea of what we learned in class over the past two years.

But the Greek letters, management frameworks, and formulas will soon start to fade away; it’s what we learned outside of class that really mattered. And I think that this is much harder to quantify.

The Wharton MBA Program for Executives was also very much about learning to juggle the intense demands of a job, family, and school at the same time (and sometimes dropping more than one ball), learning how to help each other, the importance of getting to know the people involved, and figuring out that the team is indeed stronger than individuals. It's nothing short of amazing that I didn't get fired, divorced, and/or fail out of school. I know a lot of my classmates felt the same way. We learned how to think differently, to think outside the bun (er, I mean box), and to apply the tools we learned in the classroom in a world of uncertainty. And these tools and the intuition behind them will help us navigate the real world. They certainly have helped me to look at our bear stock market (worst in five years), the Bear Stearns bailout, and the sub-prime mortgage meltdown through different lenses.

But the events I will remember aren’t those from class but those outside of it, and I’m sure many of my classmates will agree. For example: the conference calls (for most of us that made them), the endless IM chats, the countless emails that made me laugh, the week long trip to Philly, standing on the top of Christ the Redeemer monument in Rio, trekking on the glacier in El Calafate, going to the Old Ship for a nightcap after 12 hours of WEMBA, playing poker, the NCAA basketball pool, the prom, our fantasy football league, travels to Philly, Las Vegas, and other places, the picnics, dinners, and parties we went to, getting pizza for a late night snack in North Beach, and countless others.

To my classmates, I leave you with some thoughts:

Whew, it’s over. It’s been a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and investment in time and money. This definitely wasn’t an MBA-lite; this was the real deal. When they say that it’s the same curriculum as the FT program, they weren’t kidding. I still remember thinking after the first week of Term 1 the following: “Oh my gosh, what did I just get myself into? This is going to be way more work than I thought.” I know that there were many others in our class that felt exactly the same way that first week.

But we made it to graduation! It’s been a tremendous experience; you are an incredible group of talented people that I am blessed to have crossed paths with.

Many of us have switched jobs already or are in the process of doing so. Some of us are staying put. But irrespective of what lies ahead, the future is bright.

We sit at the tip of the Silicon Valley, the center of the innovation for technology. One of the reasons Wharton West was established was to tap into the talent and creativity here. Our last term at Wharton kind of brought it all together for me with the classes on entrepreneurial marketing and venture capital. In thinking about starting my own company someday, I ran across some advice from Guy Kawasaki, founder of Garage Technology Ventures and an ex-Apple Fellow. Not everyone is in technology or is thinking about entrepreneurship, but I think Guy’s advice applies to way more than starting a company; it applies to life.

I’d like to share his top 10 list now:

So You Want to be an Entrepreneur? (from Guy Kawasaki's speech)

10. Embrace the unknown.
09. Don't ask people to do something that you wouldn't do.

08. Focus on implementation.

07. Don't be paranoid.

06. Pursue entrepreneurship for the right reasons.

...Happiness is temporary and fleeting. It should not be the goal of entrepreneurship.

Joy is the right goal. Joy, by contrast, is unpredictable. It comes from pursuing interests and passions that do not "obviously" result in happiness. It comes from building a great team, from family, from friends and inexpensive if not free things.

05. Continue to learn.

04. Be brief.

03. Obey the absolutes.

02. Play to win.
Play to win and don't let the bozos convince you to do anything less. Indeed, the more bozos tell you that you can't succeed, the more you may be on to something.

Playing to win is one of the finest things you can do. It enables you to fulfill your potential. It enables you to improve the world and, conveniently, develop high expectations for everyone else too.

And what if you lose? Just make sure you lose while trying something grand .

01. Enjoy your family, friends, and colleagues before they are gone.

That last one is key, and I’d like to encourage you all to think about it carefully and what it means. Enjoy your family, friends, and colleagues before they are gone. Now we have the time to reconnect and to re-examine our priorities which have been so skewed toward school for the past two years. On a personal level, I know my wife Cindy has a list of “honey-do this” stuff that I’ve been putting off for two years, and from what I hear from my classmates, we all have a bunch of catching up to do on a lot of levels. It will be nice to get our lives back.

Peace out! Gotta get to those honey-dos.

-Chairman P

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Clear Admit Best of Blogging Nominee for 2008

Clear Admit has just let me know that this blog is in contention for a Best of Blogging Nominee for 2008 (link). Looks like there are a number of top MBA program bloggers in contention. The nominees will be rating each other blogs and then the winners will soon be announced. From my very quick scan, it looks like I am the only exec MBA type in contention, which is cool.

-Chairman P