From the category archives:

Side Notes

It has been over two years already since I read Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek. I shared some of the thoughts on the book in my post The 4-Hour Workweek – Jar of Goodies from Tim Ferriss. One of the lasting impressions from the book, besides some business and career-management advice, as well as Ferriss’ self-absorption and narcissism, was the author’s zest for life and desire to live it to the fullest. It was quite contagious, and I got this bug for life adventure from reading the book. Except that for the last two years the only outlet for my adventurous inclinations was pursuing the MBA degree ;-) Nevertheless, two years ago, after reading the book, I started to put together my list of things I wanted to experience in life. I don’t call it “the Bucket List” though, as that list was for someone with imminent death prospects.

One of the experiences I put on the list was to do skydiving. I had been theoretically thinking about it before, but never did any research how to actually get to it. So after reading the book I just went online to check out the skydiving centers around DC. I was surprised to learn that there were more than one outlets offering tandem skydiving and you could get it for between $200-300. For some reason I thought it could be much more than that. I further rationalized that one skydiving jump was the cost of just two full-priced textbooks for some of my MBA classes. Surely, if I was paying for the textbooks, I should pay for such a memorable experience.

When I shared with my family my intention to go for skydiving two years ago I said: “Can you imagine, it costs only about $250 to jump with the parachute (this is what skydiving is called in my mother tongue). My quick-witted younger daughter replied immediately: “I wonder how much less it would be to jump without one”. ;-)

Anyways, when in March of this year I saw a deal on Livingsocial to do skydiving for just $160, I grabbed it without hesitation. I knew I would not have time to do it before the end of the school, so I designated it as my MBA graduation gift to self, since my wife and older daughter opted out from it, and my younger and adventurous daughter was too young to join me in the sky.

In August I finally had it accomplished. It was indeed a great experience, as you probably might figure out from the embedded video. I was also very happy that I did not have to do it by myself, and had a company of an MBA classmate and two of his buddies.

So about the skydive. That was indeed one awesome experience. As much as I liked the free fall and floating under the parachute, by far my most exciting and favorite moment was letting go of the relative safety of the plane and sliding outside – just let it go and slide out into the new and exciting.

Honestly, I did not quite expect it to be that way. I had heard enough stories about first time jumpers being forcefully pushed out from the plane because they had a panic attack at the sight of an open door and could not force themselves to step out. In less severe cases people viewed that step outside as a necessary evil in order to experience the reward of a free fall and floating. For me, however, it turned out to be the  greatest prize and the rest was all gravy.

Was there any scary moment in this skydiving experience, you might ask. In fact, the scariest moments were when I was watching the video and saw the flapping face skin during the free fall. Looked like a scene from a horror movie to me ;-) .

So, that was my very delightful MBA graduation gift to self. Now I need to check out a few other items on my not-Bucket List. Running a marathon is the next in line. I will keep you posted on that. For now, watch the video of my skydive, if you have a few spare moments.

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As I wrote back in June in my post MBA Postpartum Syndrome the issue of the newly found free time was one of the most overwhelming challenges for part-time MBA graduates. I also shared a few plans of my own that I had for the use of the post-graduation time. Now, three months later, I can share some of the outcomes of this time-redemption effort.

As I planned, I did have a good share of socializing over the summer, including some happy hours with continuing part-time MBAs at GW School of Business. I also set on a quest for discovering new life experiences, some of which came up quite unexpectedly. So I would like just to share a few things that I experienced for the first time in my life, after graduation from MBA. Some of them became possible because of the more time available to pursue them, others – just because after three exhausting  years of study/work I got some zest for life that needed some way of manifestation. The list is in no particular order, just as the things come to my mind:

  • I had my first tandem skydive. One of the brightest highlights of the summer. I will, hopefully, place a short post and video of the skydive sometime.
  • For the first time I bought gym membership and have been using gym regularly for the last three months.
  • For the first time in life I developed love for running. I had been into hiking for most of my life, but this summer, very unexpectedly for myself, I started running and have been doing this consistently for the last three months.
  • First time in life I ran for 10 km and later 10 miles in my practice runs. Got so inspired that I signed up for
    •  The first in my life half-marathon race. I will probably even post a picture from the finishing line. As a matter of fact, this is the very first time I signed up for any race.  Once I have that nailed I will shoot for the Marine Corps Marathon in fall 2013.
  • Consistent with my running enthusiasm I bought my first pair of race-grade running shoes. I also I got my first pair of hiking boots.
  • Had my first accupressure and reflexology massage. Found out first-hand that it could be very painful.
  • Signed up for the first post-MBA auditing course at GWSB. I am taking this course right now in Fall term and, hopefully, will write more about it later.

This is my list of things that I have done post-MBA for the first time in my life. Some of them may seem trivial, but for me all of these are remarkable milestones. What does it have to do with MBA? Not much directly, but three years of sleep and time deprivation caused me to appreciate and pursue even seemingly little things in life.

 

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Last Tuesday I received an invitation through the Facebook group of GW PMBA students to a Net Impact Networking event hosted by Honest Tea. When I read about the sponsors of this event – DC Net Impact and their mission: “…to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world”, and William James Foundation – I got interested. Then I read brief introductory information about the hosting company – Honest Tea, “one of the leading “8 Revolutionary Socially Responsible Companies”, and got even more intrigued. So I decided to attend this event, thankfully it was held not too far from my home.

There were two aspects of this networking event that I appreciated specifically. First, I learned about Honest Tea. Until this Tuesday I had seen the Honest Tea products in the stores, but neither paid much attention to them, nor ever had real interest in the company behind it. As for the name, it seemed a bit gimmicky to me. And although I like to drink tea, I prefer it in its original hot form – the idea of iced tea in a bottle was never too appealing to me. As for their teabags, it was just one of many brands on the shelf and I had other brands I already liked. So when I learned from the invitation that Honest Tea is a local company with strong social and environmental impact I thought it would be cool to check it out.

At the event I had a chance to meet and talk with a few Honest Tea employees, including Seth Goldman – the company’s TeaEO. One of the aspects especially interesting for me was how the company managed to maintain their “socially responsible” philosophy, which they had since the foundation, in the wake of the company’s acquisition by Coca Cola last year. I became aware of this paradoxical situation in terms of attitudes to corporate social responsibility from my classes during the MBA program: smaller companies driven by the convictions of their founders may want to have greater positive impact on society and environment, but often lack resources and expertise to do so. The big companies, on the other hand, have all resources, but, driven by the consideration of the bottom line, often implement elements of corporate social responsibility only as a marketing tool or in response to some embarrassing and widely-publicized blunder. In the case of Honest Tea though, they had enough conviction from the founders to pursue social agenda from the start and were financially stable enough by the acquisition time to support their philosophy.

Indeed, when I talked to people from the company, this contradiction became apparent. As one person said, they had to make a conscious effort to make sure they were speaking the same language when they talked with Coca Cola about their philosophy. As for now, it seems that Honest Tea has managed to maintain significant control over their pre-acquisition culture, though some compromises had to be made, such as cancelling the employees ownership in the company, for example.

The second aspect of the event that I liked was the chance to meet interesting people driven by social and environmental agenda. There were a few entrepreneurs with budding businesses whose ideas were very aspirational. One of them was Twice as Warm startup. There were also many students, interns, business people, and volunteers from the sponsoring organizations. Meeting and talking with all these people was very stimulating and encouraging.

There was one conversation with a principal of Nuspace Consulting that was particularly interesting to me. He mentioned that he graduated from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and I remembered that this University is the place where Appreciative Inquiry has been developed. I learned about this methodology in my introductory class to Consulting. We had a guest speaker from the company that has integrated Appreciative Inquiry in their consulting business. I remembered that lecture because Appreciative Inquiry was a very different approach from traditional problem solving philosophy. So it was great to see another company adhering to the same principles. As a matter of fact, the person from Nuspace was a student of the professor at CWRU who came up with Appreciative Inquiry originally.

“Doing well by doing good” has become my conviction sometime during the MBA program at GW.  Unfortunately, many of the socially-minded startups are not doing so well for a variety of reasons. That’s why seeing a successful company such as Honest Tea first hand was a great encouragement.

One last note on the power of personal connection and “the story”.  As I said, before this meeting I did not care about Honest Tea because I did not know anything about them and their “story“. Now I am going to check out their teabag products at the store, and maybe even occasionally get their bottled tea for refreshment. And their name does not appear “gimmicky” anymore, now that I know their story.

This is just a reminder about the importance for businesses to have and promote their story, and maintain as close and personal relations with existing and prospective customers as possible.

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On Saturday Washington, DC was a host to an annual highly popular event: Passport DC – Open Houses at Washington, DC Embassies. Last weekend it was open houses from countries all over the world, and this Saturday it was just the countries of the European Union.

Last time I had a chance to attend this cultural celebration was three or four years ago – in my pre-MBA life. After that I could not go because of my regular routine of spending whole weekends on homework assignments. But now that it is all over, I can do again fun stuff. Come to think of it, I suspect I will be posting a lot about my post-MBA fun, because there has been a huge penned up demand for just having life/fun in the last three years that will be released now.

I had some commitments in the morning, so I started my travel around Europe (or along Massachusetts Ave.- depends on perspective you choose) quite late, around 2 PM. That meant I had only two hours before all participating Embassies closed their doors. Still, between Dupont Circle and the British Embassy I was able to catch glimpses of a lot of exciting stuff going on.

Most of the Embassies had huge lines of willing guests. I specifically wanted to get to the British Embassy, because I had read that they were preparing a lot of activities and expositions to showcase the country in the light of upcoming Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Therefore I did not go inside any of the Embassies along the way, except one. With the rest of the Embassies I was just watching (and at one point – participating) the folk dance performances.

Embassy of Luxemburg - Passport DC 2102 Open House

Embassy of Luxemburg - Passport DC 2102 Open House

First, I visited the Luxemburg’s Embassy. Small area was open for visitors, with some artwork and fun facts sprinkled around the visitors’ pathway. One of the highlights of the Embassy was a magnificent bed of roses in front of the building, everyone around me were taking multiple pictures of those beautiful flowers. I took just one – to give you an idea.

Irish Folk Dance- Passport DC -2012

Irish Folk Dance- Passport DC -2012

Next, I stopped at the Embassy of Ireland and watched a couple of dances there. I was amazed at what an elaborate legwork is involved in those dances, some variation of tap dance, I would say.

Just around the corner was another dance performance in front of the Romanian Embassy. There, again, not only I watched a couple of dances, but also participated in one simple two-step dance when the audience was invited at the end of the formal performance. What a fun it was!

Latvial Folk Dance- Passport DC 2012

Latvian Folk Dance- Passport DC 2012

Next stop was at the Embassy of Latvia where I enjoyed watching a couple more folk dances.

After that I was going straight to the British Embassy without stopping. Once I got there the line was long but was moving steadily. I got in line in anticipation of some great time.

Royal Marine at British Embassy - Passport DC 2012

Royal Marine at British Embassy - Passport DC 2012

At 3.20 PM when I was mere 50 yards away from the entrance checkpoint a uniformed guy, looked like a Royal Marine, announced to us that the Embassy is closing admission of the guests, because the event is closing at 4 PM and they would need time to process the guests that were already in. He also explicitly added that “there are no exceptions for anyone”. Here is the picture of the guy who closed my entry to the UK ;-)

Italian Fairy - Passport DC 2012

Italian Fairy - Passport DC 2012

It was a disappointment, and I headed back to Metro. On the way back I spotted a line to the Italian Embassy, which I joined. I finally got in at about 3.50 PM. I had a look around the visitors area, checked out a few vendors, and some art exhibited there, took a picture of Italian Fairy (never had seen such long eyelashes in my life, fake ones of course). I also bought some Italian desserts, just to experience the taste of Italy. I spent there a total of 15-20 minutes and it was a nice closure to my Day in EU.

So, you might be wondering by now, what was the lesson in international business. It is simple: the way the time is treated in different countries in Europe, as was illustrated by the contrasting policies of the British vs. Italian Embassies.

The south Europe in general, such countries as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, etc., has a much more laid-back way of life. This laid-back attitude translates in how they do business, communicate with each other and the world, which I had firsthand experience  during my Study Abroad program in France; and hate austerity measures after screwing up their economies, for that sake.

The northern European nations, on the other hand, are much more pedantic, punctual, and formal, with that “no exceptions” attitude expressed by the Marine. That’s why I was still welcome at Italy at 3.50 and turned away from UK at 3.20. I have no grudges, but it is helpful to keep these peculiarities in mind when doing business or even just traveling in different countries across Europe. And, as turns out,  you can experience these differences even without ever stepping outside the Washington beltway.

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Fine Art vs. Art for the Masses

February 14, 2012

In my Microeconomics class way back at the beginning of my part-time MBA program at GW School of Business I came across a fascinating case on the topic of competitive firms and markets. The case was in my textbook – Microeconomics (5th Edition),by Jeffrey M. Perloff . We are all very familiar with outsourcing, offshoring […]

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MBA Winter Break Accomplishments

January 16, 2012

While the winter break in business schools around the world brought about a significant dip in traffic to my blog since mid-December, for me personally it was a very productive period in my MBA blogging. I mostly kept my promise to keep up with regular updates to this site and in the process I was […]

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Flash Mob for Business School Marketing

December 19, 2011

Around this time two years ago I learned what the flash mob was. Even though it was not completely novel phenomenon at that time – it was such for me. In that post two years ago I made a passing remark on the great potential flash mobs held for marketing purposes. And it seems that […]

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Part-time MBA Blog – Two Year Anniversary

October 15, 2011

Another milestone in my blogging experience. Don’t have too much time to reflect on this now, but if you are interested in some background information on how this blog came to be, you can read the post I had a year ago on One Year Anniversary of this blog. I would still like to share […]

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High-Octane Action-Packed Live Thriller – Macbeth at Synetic Theater

September 21, 2011

Fortunately, the fall term of MBA at GWU School of Business did not kick in into the high gear yet, and I can take some time to relax without going into great bouts of stress. Even though it is going to change very soon, as the first module is almost half-way through, and I have […]

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Cancun Vacation

August 11, 2011

Sorry for not having any updates lately. I am enjoying my summer vacation with my family in Riviera Maya, Mexico.  Just to keep you in the loop I am going to a upload a few pictures. I promise to have more extended report on the resort and other Cancun adventures once I come back. For […]

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Smarter Phone for MBA Student

July 22, 2011

Updated on July25, 2011. Though I was able to post a basic post including images using the WordPress for Android application on my smart phone, I still needed to do some fine-tuning of the post from the regular WP interface. Also, I posted a follow up post on the weaknesses of my smart phone. In […]

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Part-time MBA Blog – One Year Anniversary

October 15, 2010

Yes, you read it right. It was one year ago exactly when I embarked on this journey of keeping the record of my progress in part-time MBA program at George Washington University in Washington, DC. The year was eventful both in my business school studies and on the blog itself. Now I can look back and […]

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The McKinsey Mind Quotes

September 7, 2010

I am almost done with the book – The McKinsey Mind. It has been a quite enlightening read and made me think about how my present company measures on the scale. We could use quite a few ideas to improve some of our processes, I will leave it at that. But it’s not a discouragement. […]

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Othello by Synetic Theater

June 25, 2010

Since the term had been winding down to its end, and I was basically done with all my deliverables, last weekend my wife and I had a little treat: another theater night at Synetic. I had a post back in February about this theater and their Antony and Cleopatra play. I know it may sound ridiculous, […]

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Management, Leadership and My Shepherd Dog Experience

June 3, 2010

This style of management -herding the flock- is actually not as uncommon as it might seem in our “enlightened” era and all the advances in management theory. Quite many managers in business and leaders in public arena are still treating their subordinates and constituents as a flock of sheep which needs to be herded and manipulated into going through the “desired” gates. Even if it is done in more subtle inconspicuous or sophisticated ways, this still is the underlying philosophy of those “shepherd dog managers”.

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The 4-Hour Workweek – Jar of Goodies from Tim Ferriss

May 27, 2010

One of the two books I attempted to read on my break between the Spring and Summer Terms in my part-time MBA studies was The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It is really a great read, though I have to admit I haven’t finished it yet. Not everything in the book is really applicable, or even […]

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Entrepreneurial Ideas: Snow Storm 2010 Shirts

May 11, 2010

One day at the end of April I had a breakthrough, thanks to my MBA Entrepreneurship class. Not that the breakthrough had much bearing directly to the class, but it was definitely induced by the ideas I had been introduced to during the course. One night on my way to GWSB I got a brilliant business idea. I don’t really […]

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Celebrating End of First Module of Spring Term at GWSB Professional MBA

March 7, 2010

It just happenned that way that both our kids had sleepover arrangements out of house on Saturday night. Not a very common occasion in our family. So I decided to make some fringe benefits from this coincidence: to have a night out with my wife. Regular a la carte menu for such occasions for us (not that we […]

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MBA Exams Session – Funny Side

March 2, 2010

Bookmark this on Delicious I have been reviewing the material for Global Perspectives final exam on Wednesday (tomorrow), when I incidentally found out that the final is actually on Friday. I was not planning to post anything until after my both exams, but now as I am getting a little breather, I decided to place these […]

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MBA Blogs, Community and Resources

March 1, 2010

I have had a placeholder on my site for MBA Resources since I started this blog. But unfortunately I was not able to fill it up with any content so far. Admittedly, there are other sections of my site that are empty too for now, but eventually I am going to put some helpful links and […]

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American, Chinese, Russian Examination Practices

February 28, 2010

Bookmark this on Delicious Yesterday at the Managerial Accounting study group we drifted at some point on the subject of how the exam methods are different in various countries. This discussion was prompted by a comment from one of our group members from China. We all found the pecularities of examination modes at college/university level, and […]

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Cheney at George Washington University Hospital

February 23, 2010

Who could know. Yesterday there was a news about former  Vice President Dick Cheney being hospitalized at GWU Hospital. Seems he is doing alright already. I remember when I used to work on the campus of Navy Medical Center in Bethesda a few years ago, once a year in Spring we had the whole campus secured. […]

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Synetic Theater’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’-Theater Night Out

February 20, 2010

On Saturday I had a night out with my wife to watch a play ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ by Synetic Theater on Lansburgh Theatre stage  of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. If you are a theater-goer and  have a chance to see only one show while in DC, I would definitely encourage you to go to Synetic’s production. Labeled as […]

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Washington, DC February Snow Storm Aftermath

February 19, 2010
Thumbnail image for Washington, DC February Snow Storm Aftermath

Today I found yet another derivative of apocalypse in relation to the double snow storm that hit Washington, DC area earlier in February. I already expressed my opinion about the use of strong epithets in regards to these storms. However in this case it felt more like an irony than alarmism, so I let it slip. […]

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Toyota Scandal – New Case Candidate for MBA Textbooks

February 16, 2010

Update 9/17/2010: I posted a business case write up “Toyota Recalls and Public Relations Management Crisis” which I had prepared for my Business and Public Policy class in summer 2010. With this scandal unravelling in the last 3 weeks about Toyota recalls connected to the sticking accelerator pedal, and speculations about how much and for how […]

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Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, Snow Wimps

February 11, 2010

I don’t intend to downplay the serious implications, hazards, and consequences of the double snowstorm that hit the Washington, DC area and the East Cost of the country in these last few days in February. I admit that the massive snowfalls are not very common to this area, and people, as well as local authorities, may feel inadequate and […]

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Washington, DC Snow Storm News (Not)

February 9, 2010

The snow storms battering the Washington, DC area in February are not really even news anymore. It has become sort of boring routine. I don’t even need to put up pictures of the snowfall, as it is just more of the same old. Nothing newsworthy. Anyways, today started the next round of snowfalls in the […]

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Super Bowl 2010 TV Commercials and Biases

February 8, 2010

On Friday morning I checked out my co-workers on their preparedness for the Super Bowl Sunday. I am not following any sports (not even soccer, chess, ice hockey, or cricket), so my main interest was if they were prepared for a good party time. Turned out both of them for one reason or another were not […]

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Blizzard 2010 Washington, DC Area

February 7, 2010

Judging by TV news reports the snowstorm of February 5-6, 2010 was officially christened Blizzard 2010. That was an impressive nature showdown. I actually enjoyed the snow days. Spent Friday afternoon and all day on Saturday at home, with the fireplace cozy chirping, sipping on porto, watching movies with the family, and just taking it easy. As […]

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Big Snowfall in Washington, DC area – Alternative Take

February 5, 2010

Yesterday after a class  I stopped by at the neighborhood supermarket to pick up a few items. The store was quite empty, so were the shelves in produce, dairy, meat, and bread departments. The sight of the empty shelves was quite shocking. Only then I remembered that we were going to have a big snowfall this weekend. The […]

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MBA Gala at GWU

February 1, 2010

Update on 4/29/2012. For a more optimistic recount of a more recent MBA Gala experience read: GWU MBA Gala – Second Time’s a Charm I did not really know what to expect from this event when I was going there with my wife last Friday. For some reason the word “gala” implied something rather special to […]

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My Favorite MBA Jokes

January 28, 2010

Some people would argue that MBA students and MBA degree holders think to much of themselves. It might as well be true, I don’t know for sure   But I heard some time ago that one of the distinct human traits is being able to poke fun at yourself. It kinda stuck in my head, alas I don’t […]

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New York Trip Musements Continued

January 23, 2010

I was going through the pictures we made on our December trip to New York City. I wrote a bit about the trip in these two posts: NY City Musements… New Jersey Full Service Gas Station… Most of the pictures are family stuff of no particular interest to outsiders. But there is one picture that is worth […]

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Part-time MBA at GWSB – Spring Term First Week Summary

January 15, 2010

The first week of classes in my Spring Term at GWSB is over. Now I have to concentrate on the homework assignments which are quite intense. Good that I have Monday off to spend more time on reading and solving cases for classes. A short summary of the week. I am very pleased with both […]

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Moving from WordPress to Designated Hosting-Part 2

January 11, 2010

My first attempt to move from WordPress (WP) hosting was at the beginning of November. That time I did some research on the WP themes. I actually went out and purchased a domain and hosting for my would be virtual home. I was not ready at the time to purchase one of the Premium themes, so […]

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