Back to School at Harvard

Valuable Lessons from Harvard Business School

Blog #221

Recently, I took an Inspiring Entrepreneurial Strategy course at Harvard Business School. Since then, I have had time to reflect on what I learned during my time in Boston; in the next several blogs, I will share the insights and tips I gathered from this experience.

This intense course was facilitated by the senior MBA faculty of Harvard Business School. In total, there were 97 participants of a worldwide scale, all owners of privately held businesses. There was great variation between revenues and number of employees. Spending time with this eclectic group of successful people was almost as invaluable as the course work itself.

Allow me to shift gears for a moment. Candidly speaking, I was not the best college student. I read a bit differently due to my dyslexia, made sure I had a ton of fun, and was not concerned with getting decent grades; I was focused on skiing, girls, and cocktails. Having this opportunity now to go to Harvard, let alone the business school, was exciting. For years, I have been an avid reader of the Harvard Business Review magazine…and these would be the same people putting on the course. In my mind, I believed this would be a good test of my skills. 

As I arrived on the prestigious campus on a beautiful fall Sunday, I was dropped off a few blocks from the entrance of the reception building. Though I had no issue taking my bags with me, I wondered how some of my classmates from more elite places may feel about it. As I got closer, I saw an army of porters ready to assist. Okay, this was different than The University of Wyoming in the 1980’s. 

The reception staff were wonderful and very helpful. I would be staying in Tata Hall, named after the Indian industrialist, Ratan Naval Tata. I begrudgingly followed my porter (I have always been a carry-my-own-bags kind of guy), but I soon learned why that was necessary. As we crossed the courtyard to Tata Hall, the porter had to scan the room key to get into each section of the building (it took four swipes to get to my room). I quickly prepped, unpacked, and listened to one more case study. We had been given prework – to review 12 detailed business case studies. I then went to the reception area, ate lunch, and began to meet other participants and presenters. I found myself standing in a big lecture hall, looking for my name placard so I could find my seat. As I read over the names, I realized I did not know how to pronounce at least 60% of them.

As the other business owners arrived, I knew this was going to be a fun experience. I had finally reviewed the first day’s agenda. We would be starting at 1:00 p.m. and going until almost 9:00 p.m. – on our first day and on a Sunday. Well, at least they weren’t slacking.

I felt like I was officially back in school. As they used to say in Wyoming when something gets rolling, “We’re off to the rodeo.” I remember thinking that as the first speaker began their presentation. I would soon learn that just as in a rodeo, things can jump around and not always go where you expect.

The next few blog posts will contain stories, highlights, and tools that I picked up when I went “back to school”.

Stay tuned!

Keep Smiling,
Kris

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