A couple of great Spotify playlists

I just wanted to share these two amazing Spotify playlists.

1. BerkeleyHaas applications songs
Applicants to BerkeleyHaas used to be asked for an essay on this topic: “If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why?” This is a collection of songs used by classes ’13, ’15 and ’16. Totally optimistic, daring, reflective and sometimes surprising. Highly recommended. Total songs: 381.

2. All Aerostat (a popular music podcast) songs: episodes 1-522
Hand-picked by Boris Grebenshchikov, full of beautiful gems from all eras. Total songs: 2,881 (actually 5,212 but Spotify doesn’t have all)

Just try both on shuffle, skipping the ones you don’t like. You won’t be disappointed.

Mental Math: Years to Double an Investment

Sharing a very simple, but handy mental math rule that was mentioned in quite a few of our MBA classes, such as Investment Styles and Strategies, Designing Financial Models that Work and others:

If you want to quickly ballpark the # of years it will approximately take for an investment to double, then just divide 72 by the annual growth rate. For example, if your investment grows 7% a year, it will take slightly more than 10 years for it to double (72/7). But if it grows 36% a year, it will only take about two years to double (72/36). 

You can read more about this “Rule of 72” on Wikipedia. Now, you now you can come across as a math genius without much effort 😉

Happiest Countries According to Studies

There are a lot of different approaches to measure happiness levels in a given country and, of course, they are all imperfect. These two recent studies seem interesting though: According to the latest Gallup, these are the happiest countries:

% Thriving in 3+ Elements of Well-being

  1. Panama 61
  2. Costa Rica 44
  3. Denmark 40
  4. Austria 39
  5. Brazil 39
  6. Uruguay 37
  7. El Salvador 37
  8. Sweden 36
  9. Guatemala 34
  10. Canada 34

And these lists are by the UC Berkeley professors, teaching “Science of Happiness” EdX MOOC:

Subjective Happiness

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Croatia
  3. Chile
  4. Malaysia
  5. Colombia

Continue reading

Information diet, news and content filters

I have been struggling to figure out the optimal way to inform myself about the news for quite a while. There is a million of issues here: negativity, irrelevance, lack of proper filters, biased views of certain journalists/newspapers and noise, noise, noise. So, it is not easy at all to maintain a conscious sensible information diet without completely stopping reading any news. But in this case it is not easy to remain a well-rounded and well-informed individual with own vision and interpretation of world’s events and trends.

Long story short. I recently found couple of startups that try to tackle this issue and make it at least a little bit easier to get through all the noise.

In addition to strictly curated collection of blogs I read with Feedly (~60%, the main source of content and probably, the best alternative to discontinued Google Reader) and to imperfect social filters, such as Facebook (~20%) here is what I have been experimenting with recently (~20%):

1. Quartz.com daily briefs to stay in the loop (email, no RSS, unfortunately)
It is a curated selection of headlines sent each morning with links to longer articles. I like that headlines are formulated to be informative, not to seduce you to click and read full article. It is mostly focused on business and key events around the globe.

2. Vox.com “understand the news” section to research a given topic
I use it occasionally (rarely?) to get a quick first, but superficial understanding of a given issue that I know nothing of, but do not want to spend a ton of time researching. I like that Vox strives to be impartial.

3. Tweeted times for a couple of headlines popular among my Twitter friends
Daily newspapers are populated with content based on links posted by your Twitter friends and friends of friends. The more people post a certain link the higher it will rank. Assuming that you follow people with similar interests and/or whose judgment you trust, it should be relevant.

4. 10 things to know by BI for tech news (in Feedly)

I usually just skim the above from time to time, certainly not daily. Even this is too much and I would love most of these services to have “top 10 weekly” editions or some custom way to limit the number of items. I also wish most of them went for shorter articles with more data (think The Economist Facebook charts and infographics). New Yorker style long-reads are obsolete in most cases these days, at least as a main type.

Would love to hear your thoughts! How do you stay informed of the most important and relevant stories in the shortest time possible?

PS Related to this. An interesting Quora thread about the reasons why most personalized news startups failed.

My interview about MBA experience

I might risk sounding like an egotistical douche posting my own interview on this blog. But I think some parts of my conversation with Accepted.com might be helpful to other MBA applicants and those who are simply curious about MBA. Otherwise, just skip it.

A small caveat: I am not affiliated with any of MBA admissions consulting companies in any way, including Accepted which just found me a couple of months ago trough this blog. Even though some people might benefit from such help, I believe that it is absolutely possible to plan admissions and prepare independently. So, I am not endorsing the company in any way as I simply do not have any experience and cannot evaluate their services.  Anyway, for those who are interested in MBA journey, here is our conversation:

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What year are you at UC Berkeley Haas? 

Max: My name is Max. I am currently getting my MBA at University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business, in the class graduating in 2015.

I am originally from Russia, Tyumen City. I graduated in International Economics and Business from one of the best regional universities and then moved to Moscow in 2008 for the next five years and then to the US in 2013 to start my MBA.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Haas so far? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be? 

Max: What I like most about Haas are the people. It is inspirational and fun to be around people who have so much in common with you but at the same time offer such diversity, coming from different backgrounds, career paths and countries. It really makes you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and widen your perspective. Actually, I recently blogged about things I liked most about Haas, among them are the school’s focus on technology and entrepreneurship, its location close to the Silicon Valley and being a part of large top university.

Continue reading

Why Berkeley-Haas

People sometimes ask for my reasons behind choosing Berkeley-Haas among other schools.

Berkeley. Is MBA worth it

Shortly, these are the reasons:

  • It is a part of a larger top university.
    • For instance, I do not think I would enjoy going to LBS or INSEAD as much. These are great business schools, but these business schools are not part of larger universities.
    • There is something special about being on campus with ~30 thousand smartest students from all over the world who also major in fields other than business.
    • For example, UC Berkeley is currently top 1-2 in Computer Science, top 1-5 in Physics and top 1-3 in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Location, location, location. Not only because it is sunny California, but because being close to Silicon Valley opens many career opportunities that are highly germane to my vision.
  • Focus on technology and entrepreneurship.
  • Believe it or not, but the I find the defining principles personally appealing.
  • Great brand and good rankings do not hurt as well.
    • But in particular, I liked the fact that Haas ranks well on the “Student evaluation” axis, it is #2 in “Students’ evaluation of career services” and quite high overall “Student rating of the program (out of 5)”, 4.56, according to The Economist 2013 rankings.
  • I really want to add “people” to this list of Berkley-Haas strengths, but this would be probably unfair as I cannot compare to other schools as I could not know it for sure before starting the program.

The list could go on and on and on, but these are probably the main ones top-of-mind. Of course, there are drawbacks as well, but no one schools is perfect.

Let me know what you think!

Self-reflective speech MBA exercise

MBA is not only about studying finance and accounting and solving cases, we also have multiple courses on leadership. One of them was focused on communication aspect. And as part of this course we had to deliver various two-minute speeches in front of the group of 10 people. Then, we received a feedback. Speeches were also recorded for later personal review.

Topic of each speech was different, but I found the first one the most interesting as it provoked certain self-reflection during preparation. So, I thought that you might want to try exercise by yourself. If you do not have a group of people to present in front of, just imagine an audience and record a video with a smartphone and watch it. The first topic was very simple: “Who am I?”

Also, we were given several hints or questions we might consider answering while preparing or delivering a speech:

  • What forces have shaped you, what real challenges have you faced? 
  • What do you care about in life?  
  • What’s an unexpected characteristic, or interest, or talent?  
  • Who is most important to you?  
  • Where are you vulnerable?  
  • What is a long-term aspiration you hold? 

And here is a couple of questions to ponder when watching your video:

  •  Articulate what stands out for you watching your “Who Am I?” video. What are you pleased with? What do you specifically want to improve?

So, this is it. Hope, you find it helpful.

For me personally the most interesting part was to see how differently other nine people approached the same exercise.

Italy and a little bit of France

It’s been more than seven months already and I finally found some time to blog about our Italy and France honeymoon trip in May, 2013.

We wanted to see many things, but didn’t want to spend the entire holiday in a car, so we tried to leave some time to chill. This resulted in the following plan:

Rome and Vatican → San Marino → Bologna → Florence → Cinque Terre  – Riomaggiore → Monaco / Menton → Nice.

IMG_1489

Continue reading