Friday, December 30, 2011


there's a song called aisha (i think) and the lyrics are pretty romantic. this is a bit of a less romantic tone, but to a person who has a similar name :P and to whom i would often ask for advice (hence the pun with ecoute moi :P)

one of a few shoutouts i have yet to write regarding the various people that made INSEAD the ride it ended up being.

as a 'senior' in the program (ie having started in july of the previous year), she was immensely helpful in dispelling any myths i might have about the INSEAD program. FOR EXAMPLE, when i was hardly able to breathe in the midst of P1 core courses, she reminded me that P2 will in fact be much worse, so i should just learn to relax. i won't forget that lesson. initially i thought i would just delete her number from my phone, but i'm glad i forgot to do that :)

other random tidbits i can remember (and some in her own words):

she referred to you as the "nameless, faceless and highly unlikely to skip class to take your wife grocery shopping in the middle of the day" when i informed her that i had to spend time updating the blog where she can read fun updates from throughout the year. i can understand she might've been slightly annoyed given that we were going back and forth on email nonstop during graduation day.

anyhow, this is just one of the ways in which INSEAD creates the kind of network that you keep for life. before even meeting her, we were friends (this is partially due to a previous connection by way of a friend from high school) - but the ease with which we embarked on the friendship is really reminiscent of so many relationships developed throughout the year.

we realize quickly that there's very little time to really fuss about too much about anything. so what we do, quite simply, is that we make the effort and if reciprocated, then we solidify friendships that seem to have lasted for years.

so to make a long story short: thank you! for the advice on purchasing a blackberry, even though i ended up needing an iphone, for reminding me that INSEAD just keeps getting busier and more intense when i thought i was drowning, and for taking my better half to a grocery store in the middle of the day (i didnt know you had to skip class)! good times ahead.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I figured it out!

so THIS is why the caged bird... oh no, not that.

I meant to say - THIS is why INSEAD breeds (such great) consultants!

Let me explain myself. I was at the airport today to check my dad into a flight to India (for a family function). He excused himself to the restroom and while standing there waiting, I (for a moment) just closed my eyes (early morning grab a moment of shut-eye kinda feeling) and suddenly I was transported back to the Camembert/Kheria...

Opening my eyes I realized why... I was in an airport. In the international terminal. Families together, speaking in their native tongue, wearing their most comfortable clothes, walking around in their most comfortable strides - just being themselves. After all - when you fly, you generally want to worry the least about anything apart from your passport...

And it hit me. This is why INSEAD breeds consultants. It is our withdrawal program. Some take a year to get over it. Some 2+... others, well that's why we have partners ;)

After spending a year in a climate so diverse that you wonder if you can ever replicate it, you are attracted to the simpler methods of your addiction. For us, it is the consultant's lifestyle. The hours at the airport in transit. The reminiscence not just of our travels with our friends, but also of our classrooms. If I could pass everyone a laminated green card (no, not a work permit although that would be nice too): BUT the nametags we (and our dear professors) oh so dearly came to love for P1 & P2, I would be in a hallway on the way to class. That is Fontainebleau. That is Singapore. That is the INSEAD campus. A terminal in an airport, guiding souls from various destinations during their transit time to find the right exit gate... some of us are still in the transit area, hopefully upgraded to sit in one of those business class lounges, sipping on cappuccino or eating the cakes they provide, wondering if we should board the next flight or head back to the check-in gate to purchase a ticket for a "better" destination.

Now back at the airport... we are at the point in our lives where we can actually choose where we want to go. Our credit cards have just enough of a limit to afford us a one way ticket to pretty much any destination. How we decide to use those funds (be it on a new flight or on duty free shopping) is completely up to us.

For some, it is more travel (yes, the consultants in case i have not driven that point home deeply enough). We are happy to be in the terminal and not ready to leave these familiar moments.

For others, it is the management office within the airport - we travel quite a bit, but we're not necessarily jumping between flights as much...

Others are exiting the airport directly to go to the head office to speak to CFOs on why almost every airline has been bankrupt at some point. Yes, I'm talking about the bankers...

Some might even go the route of betting where the heck others will travel and accordingly hedging their risks (and their clients') to switch up their credit card limits in anticipation of purchasing the BEST possible flight out of the airport at some point. Yes iBankers, that's my short analogy for you.

And of course there's those of us that will fly directly into the eye of several different storms to pursue the non profit route, the startups, the new ventures... supporting those low cost airlines (but remember never to run out of ca$h fools! :)

OK so now the analogy is starting to get really drawn out but I'm trying hard not to miss one of your decisions - I think however, you already know where you fall in this airport/terminal analogy so I invite you to comment (should you choose to) on where/how you would land. Janitorial staff? Check-in? Security? Taxis? All viable options :)

Either way, I guess I want to say I miss you guys... oh 11D. I have spent more time on Facebook & Google+ keeping up with your status updates in the past week than I'd normally like to admit. But today's run-in with the airport made me feel just a little better. I guess that's why they say that the best way to deal with an addiction (at times) is with the hair of the dog that killed you? or bit you? something. Not sure why you'd want the hair of any dog (speaking from experience with a shih-tzu sitting next to me as I type this).

Safe Travels. In the case of emergencies, remain calm and proceed to the nearest exit. Although knowing you crazies, we'd probably take charge and get creative with some new exits into.... the Blue Ocean! HAHA! Sorry, I just absolutely had to take that inadvertent shout out. Cheap shot? I don't think so. Maybe slightly. Yes, pun intended.

See you around!

11D boarding flight to Sri Lanka for Grad Trip on Dec 14, 2011. Thai, Japanese. Canadian, Honduran, Chinese, American. Indian. Taiwanese. Swiss. Brazilian. Colombian. German. African. British. Lebanese... ok you get it.

Oh - and Happy Holidays - Xmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, etc... :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Message of Congrats...

While I ruminate in preparation for the next post which will probably be a series of posts scattered throughout the timeline of the blog (as you are allowed to schedule updates), I wanted to share something my parents presented me with on my Graduation day... this is a series of excerpts from the letter that I think speaks to all of us...

Title: The World has become your Playground...

In a mad world of restless minds and empty hearts, success has become a mere concept that is measured by the number of letters following your name or a list of degrees frozen in lifeless certificates... ambition to scale unprecedented heights of performance has replaced the yearning to seek knowledge that uplifts and enlightens... competition to get ahead of others at any expense has resulted in wounded egos and bleeding hearts, reducing our coveted birth as humans to a curse of survival of the fittest.

Success is not just achieving and accumulating, or climbing and crossing. It is rather that state of performance that fulfills while elevating, that imparts happiness while infusing a sense of well being to the one who succeeds as well as to all around him. It is the lack of sympathetic happiness, or being happy for other people's sucess, that is responsible for most of the negativity encounted in professional life...

Though the length of the course was only a year, the content crystallized into it was so vast and boundless that it defies definition as it challenges delineation. INSEAD has made of you a new has scorched you with its uncompromising schedules and breathless deadlines, it washed away the last vestiges of immaturity in your personality, it has passed you through its crushing grinding mill of timelines and short INSEAD has molded and polished the rough contours of your Self into a complete Professional, ready to tackle the killing fields of competition and comparison, prepared to fuse into the multifaceted realms of assugnments and projects without being restricted by borders or barriers of race, country, or language. You have truly become a Citizen of the World...

As you prepare to embark on a new phase of life on both fonts, professionl and personal, remember always: what you earned during the course of the year that went by, is education of the elite & training of the highest order, but what you will be putting into practice in the arena of duty hereafter, to derive and deserve true success will have to be a winning fusion of the knowledge you acquired at INSEAD with the values of Life you grew up with... for it is only when Knowledge is fortified with Character that Education succeeds in manifesting the Perfection in You...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

1 year. 2 campuses. Countless Goodbyes.

At the tail end of the grad trip, I can't help but feel like this is almost anti-climatic. The different buses taking us to the airport from our resort in Galle, Sri Lanka necessitates several sessions of "good byes" as i refer to it.

In these sessions we need to figure out who are the few departing on the first bus, then the next, and so on - and unless you're on the last bus, you are afraid of missing the chance to say your good byes. I already know a handful of people that I wish I had found the time to talk to over these past 5 days, but then again, the nature of the 1yr program is that you prioritize - whether its sleep, fun w/ familiar faces, or just a cold drink by the beach. And in those moments, you "lose" the chance to do other important things.

But so many argue "well, how important can it be if you forgot?" -> and I challenge that statement only because - in a few days, with all that is running through our respective heads/hearts/minds - it really isn't a question of prioritizing as much as it is a question of finding the energy to have these conversations - some of them very difficult for the very reason that you're rebuilding bonds with friends who you have not had the chance to catch up with - and then meeting them on the other side of a goodbye session can just be bittersweet. Maybe that's why I have not made as much effort as I could have.

Or maybe it is because - given the international nature of citizenship & residence at INSEAD - I truly believe that I will probably run into more people in the future from this experience, than from any other school, job, organization in my life.

And for that I'm grateful.

I look forward to celebrating the good times - although this 1 yr on two campuses is over - the countless goodbyes are just starting... and more than that, I look forward to seeing everyone again, if only to say yet another good bye in anticipation of an embracing hello we'll say to one another in the future.

Time to pack up & head out!

Oh the opportunities that await us...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

last class...

i know the cliche how time flies can appear so... overused, but i am at a loss for words, so i will need to start with a cliche until i can regain my composure and actually write more eloquently.

for now, let the thoughtful stream of consciousness flow... almost 1 year ago today, i was landing in bangkok after having packed my bags, sold most of my possessions, and basically wrapped up my life in chicago. it felt like eons ago. i was saying the good byes, because for all intents and purposes i was moving away to - well - just about anywhere. and when you're moving "anywhere" its hard to say when you'll see anyone.

and here i am now, sitting, sweating in my gym clothes, under the fan, in an apartment in dover, in singapura, just having finished my last class at INSEAD. and the goodbyes have started, again. this time, however, i hardly believe i won't see your smiling faces. if anything, you are the one group of people in my life i count on seeing somewhere, somehow, and yes - somewhen too. unplanned, though they may be, i believe our paths have only just started to intersect.

10 months.
2 campuses.
countless vacations & destinations.
friends still being made as our cross-campus migration comes to a halt in sri lanka for our grad trip starting tomorrow.... (and i'm still toying with creating an application that super imposes a tracker on each of our emails to indicate where all we have been from Dec 31st 2010 to Dec 31st 2011!)

now, i can't help but wonder - what's changed?
short answer: everything.

you, me, us, what we were, what we are, how we interact, where we will go - it has all evolved into something else entirely. and i'm not saying this in the existential sense necessarily. i'm saying this because the doors that have opened, and through us, the experiences that will unfold, has made the world so small - so small - that i can only hope we start colonizing new planets, because i fear that the class of 11D will run out of unique vacation spots!

and for some reason, i have all this uncapped ambition bursting at the seams, waiting to be realized. the only thing i can think of is to now head over to the barbeque about to start at heritage, in preparation for the imminent awesomeness of sri lanka.

i will miss this. and... i now know why every single INSEAD alum i spoke to echoed one statement without hesitation: "best year of my life"

And no, I did not plan for "Develop Beliefs" to overlap this... but it is a great juxtaposition considering what's on the whiteboard!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


a moment i must share...

korean bbq - especially the buffet style, is basically a hot plate on top of which you place your meats to cook.

beef, pork, chicken, squid, shrimp, etc.. etc...

however, i don't eat beef. my italian israeli friend & south african friend sitting across from me don't eat pork. an asian brazilian eats everything. german chinese as well. and the malaysian on the table is busy eating shrimp while i'm writing this.

so what do we do? we divide a small hotplate (only about 2ftX2ft) into two hot plates by placing two pieces of aluminum foil up against each other, thereby creating a wall for the pork & beef to avoid contact.

we had separate scissors, tongs, plates - an entire dinner set per set of people who could eat one type of meat. and the restaurant was very confused when changing foil (after it burns from 20+ minutes of sitting on the hot plate.

what an experience.

oh and i forgot to mention - we were 1 table of 12 in the restaurant, completely filled with INSEAD students. maybe 5 koreans in the entire group. what a crazy affair..!

(picture coming soon)

i can't believe this part of the trek is almost over. i'm going to miss such adventures with such cultural differences all setting things aside to enjoy the common festivities put on by yet another group of crazies. ok enuff of the mush... i still smell like bbq chicken though. might need a shower before i head out for karaoke!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

i don't normally blog about other blogs because it feels like i'm cheating you... that is, only if you actually enjoy reading my updates - although you wouldn't be here if you didn't get something (hopefully) positive out of this relationship!

ANYhow, as things come to a close here at INSEAD, I've been writing a lot of notes that I have yet to post because I want them to be a little bit more crisp... in the meantime, for your reading pleasure, here's a great blog i just got linked to:

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