Play Ball!

As the co-president of the Haas General Management & Strategy Club, I had the privilege to invite Sandy Alderson (former CEO of the San Diego Padres, former Executive VP of MLB, and the mastermind behind Moneyball) to speak at our bi-annual CEO Spotlight Event tonight. During the 1.5-hour presentation, Sandy gave us candid advice on sports management, business practices, and life. Sandy, a long-time leader in the baseball world and a board member of Haas, gave us his take on “leading through innovation” from a sports angle.

Before I dropped Sandy off at SFO, we continued our discussion in my car on the steroid era, the Padres’ recent challenges, A-Rod, and our favorite baseball players. As a hardcore fan of everything baseball, I was simply overjoyed to be able to learn from such a knowledgeable, energetic, and genuine leader. When you come to Haas, you will be surprised how many amazing, inspiring individuals you get to meet on a daily basis. I’m glad to be a Haas student.

—Eugene Lin

Conquering Fear

Paradox: When one is moderately acrophobic, yet enjoys “safe” activities such as roller coasters and the possibility of trying out bungee jumping.

The above describes me when it comes to high-flying activities. I guess “safe” is the key word here. If I feel that the “threat of splattering into the ground” is minimal, then I will give the activity a try. =P

The “threat level” of Saturday’s ropes course depended on the trust I had for my eight Haas teammates and our facilitator Jill (all of whom I’ve met only recently). If I didn’t trust that they would prevent me from the dreaded thud (the sound I would make if I hit the ground), then I probably couldn’t have completed the 60-foot high wire walk and zip line. During the ropes course, I realized exactly why Haas offers the ropes course as a great way to bond with my new classmates. It all lies in the word trust. Normally, trust is built upon a strong personal relationship that forms over months and years. But when one reverses the process, as in the case of the ropes course, a strong relationship between the people involved forms almost instantly. I think of it as a “fast-track” to great friendships.

So yeah, a shout out to Sean, who joined me in conquering some demons on the high wire. I can confidently say that both of us will have fewer problems climbing to high places in the future (pun intended). =P Also, a big thank you to Bao, Sonsoles, Supatra, Chan, Naveed, Aleka, and the daredevil Kent (you are my hero after the blindfolded high wire stunt), for the encouragement and support through this entire process! Jill was spot on in saying that we had one of the friendliest and kindest teams she’s ever seen.

Finally, back to the “conquering fear” part. After the ropes course, I’m not only more confident about tackling my fear of heights, but I’m also absolutely sure that I can conquer anything, with the support of my trusted Haasian friends, that life throws at me in the years to come.


Down in the Valley

Today was a special day – I was going on the infamous ‘Rich’s Valley Van Tour”. After an early start – well, early for me right now – we made it to Fremont BART station where a shiny Enterprise rent-a-van and a gleaming careers adviser were ready to take us round the sites, sounds and Chinese takeaways of Silicon Valley. Four of us packed in to tour the Valley and see the sites and companies which have made the Bay Area what it is. From Apple to (um, are there any tech companies that start with a Z?! Answers on a postcard please…), we saw it all.

This little program started because it seemed to the careers service a shame that so many people went to Haas and didn’t often see the Valley and get a sense for it. Now, Rich does 8 or 9 tours with a few students in each, pointing out eBay and Adobe, as well as companies you may not have heard of but which are nevertheless pretty incredible. A highlight for me was the Intel museum… it’s just astonishing to see how far chips have developed in almost exactly my lifetime. You can’t help but think about the future, looking for the next Google as the van rolls on…

Happy Holidays to everyone out there,

—Adrian Greystoke

Create distinction, yet fit in!

You got that one?
I heard something similar to this at the Career services session on Writing Successful Resume and Cover letters. Your resume should tell how remarkable you are and yet, the employers are always thinking, “will you be good fit to the mix we already have”. They don’t want somebody who is “different but not remarkable”. They do not want someone who will create so much churn that will adversely affect the people who are already there.

Do not try to create the distinction in the resume format, font, or other superficial things. If the resume screener have to work to read your resume, they won’t. I have done hundreds of resume screening for software and test positions in my previous job. I spent 10-30 seconds on any resume. If someone sent me a resume that “flashes”, “has blue background” I didn’t read them. I can see how anyone reading my resume will feel.

This also reminds me of what I once read in Seth Godin’s blog, “being different is not same as remarkable”.


Baseball fever

My baseball adventures of late may not be up to the standards of those who hit the spring training circuit over the break, but they’ve been fun.

Last Wednesday, two of my classmates organized a trip to watch the A’s beat up on the Chicago White Sox on Dollar Dog Day at the Oakland Coliseum (that place changes names faster than AT&T park!). At $2 a ticket, it’s hard to beat.

For those who don’t know it, the Haas family owned the A’s for 15 years and really turned the team around. If you look out to right field, you’ll see the Haas name on an A’s jersey, the only non-player to have such an honor with the A’s.

After class, 7 folks met up at Haas, then moseyed down to BART. I caught up with them at an Oakland stop and 6 others joined us at the stadium. First things first, we found a Dollar Dog stand, serving Miller’s dogs. (Miller’s is a local company and used to have a place down the block from me until it was torn down for some high-end condos.)

The Dollar Dog Champ ordered 5 dogs, to be washed down by 2 beers. I feel ill just thinking about it. My 3 dogs, 2 beers, and box of Dibs played havoc with my digestive system.

The game started off with a bang and the A’s took a quick lead. For the next several innings, not much happened, so we chatted away, discussed vendor tactics, and enjoyed the day at the park. That was until Chicago’s Jermaine Dye scored a 2-run homer in the top of the 8th to tie the game. The Sox then took the lead by a massive 3 runs at the top of the 9th and that was it.

While the A’s lost, we managed to get out early enough for folks to make their 4:30 classes. I, however, headed home to work off the ballpark food.

Enjoy Dollar Dog Day while you can because the A’s are up for a move (and possible name change) to Fremont sometime in the future. Don’t stress it too much, as the Giants have a much better park.

The next day, I tagged along with the Careers in Sports class as they headed down to San Jose to watch the Giants’ home opener. No, not the Giants, but the Giants, the Single-A farm team for the other Giants.

Minor League games are wonderful. The tickets are cheap (although $2 tickets for the A’s are hard to beat), the seats are close, the families are in full force, and the players try harder. Besides, the team names are much better, like the Kooky Quakes.

OK, I made that last one up. They’re really the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, but admit it, the Kooky Quakes sound better.

The seven of us arrived, grabbed our food (they have surprisingly great food at San Jose Municipal Stadium!) and found some seats just in time to watch the National Anthem and the Navy fly-over. (Proper etiquette for US citizens: ball caps off, hand over your heart during the National Anthem.)

Speaking of food, the urinals are all outfitted with extra-large red cupholders, perfect for holding that fresh ballpark beer while you discharge the previous one.

The game was entertaining to watch, especially the contests and entertainment mid-inning. Kids running around the bases, changing clothes, musical chairs, and erotic dancing.

Yes, erotic dancing. They had a dance-off between two kids and one of them looked like she belonged on a Vegas stage. And this was supposed to be a family-friendly environment. At least she has a BATNA.

Anyway, there was a flash of excitement as the Quakes took the lead and the Giants tied the game between the 6th and 7th innings, but then it settled down again. In between the excitement, we watched the foul balls fly over the walls into the adjacent parking lots, playgrounds, and food courts. We also caught up with a recent grad and passed on class selection advice to the first years (hint: read my entries).

We eventually became worried that we might be around for a while when the Giants failed to score, despite having the bases loaded three consecutive innings. So after the 11th, we departed, having lost faith in my rally beanie.

Shortly, things got exciting again in the 13th inning, when each team scored, but the game didn’t finish until the Quakes scored in the bottom of the 16th.

Luckily I caught the end of the game. Having left the game, we headed north to Berkeley and dropped off three people, then headed home, where I turned on the internet broadcast and immediately heard the Giants score. It was an exciting finish to those dedicated fans who remained.

More words of advice:
1. The Oakland Coliseum can get awfully hot and there usually isn’t a breeze when you need one, so buy tickets in the shade or for games at the ends of the season (to take advantage of the cool weather).
2. San Jose Municipal field can get chilly at night, so be prepared. Follow the white footsteps to left field and you’ll find the best food in the park.

—Colin C.

Take me out to the ball game

Ahh, baseball season.

Little a, little a, and little t park is one amazing ballpark. Previously known as PacBell Park then SBC Park, AT&T Park is nestled in the Mission Bay area and offers an exciting and cozy atmosphere with great food and wonderful views of the bay.

My transportation method of choice is the ferry. There’s a direct ballpark ferry that runs from Oakland and Alameda (as well as one from Sausalito and another from Vallejo). You can also take the regular Oakland-Alameda ferry that runs to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The return trip departs a good 20 or so minutes after the last inning, giving you plenty of time to bid adieu to friends and saunter on down to the ferry dock.

The ferry offers a relaxing way to cross the bay and enjoy a different side of life. Whether getting a seal’s-eye view of how our goods get to and from Asia or checking out the sights like Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge (a.k.a. the Oakland Bay Bridge and officially the James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Bridge, but not the Emperor Norton Bridge as many hoped).

As an aside, the Emperor Norton story is a quirky footnote in Bay area history, but well worth the attention.

This past Thursday, it was another great day in the Bay area, so Simona and I took the ferry to the Ferry building and took the 20 minute stroll along the Embarcadero to the ballpark.

We collected our tickets and two classmates, then headed to our seats.

I should note that, as a lifelong Padres fan, I was super excited when the Padres CEO Sandy Alderson came to speak at the Careers in Sports class last Tuesday. So I snuck in to attend. OK… Simona is the co-coordinator in this student-run class and I didn’t sneak in, but I made it never the less and even had a chance to chat with Sandy along with his wife and father before and after the session.

The session was enthralling, with Sandy covering his career in baseball and exploring some interesting insights into sports as a business and the current state of affairs in the baseball world.

Sandy, the awesome guy that he is, generously upgraded our Thursday tickets from nosebleeds to prime time. Semper Fi.

Our new seats were located immediately adjacent to the Padres dugout, but despite my best efforts to loudly highlight that a “hot, sexy, single” was looking for a ball (and a number), there were no love connections that evening. But I’m sure the ladies enjoyed counting the creases on Adrian Gonzalez‘s pants. Too bad he’s married.

We cheered and rooted for the Padres and enjoyed the great show put on that evening (except for the ugly errors by the Padres during the bottom of the 5th inning).

Sadly, despite my rally-beanie, the Padres couldn’t overcome their deficit and lost. On the bright side, the Giants actually won a game.

Almost every seat in AT&T Park is a winner, even the higher ones. They offer a great overview of the game and a spectacular view of the Bay. You can also walk behind the stadium and watch the game at field level for free from behind the right field fence line (note the viewing cut-outs in the outfield wall in the picture above/right).

Even if you aren’t a Giants fan, or even if your team doesn’t visit, it’s still worth a look. The fans are great and will playfully heckle you back if you keep things friendly. Heck, it’s hard not to cheer when the Giants’ second baseman quickly dives, and catches, a hard line drive, even if your team is out. If you get bored, you can look out over the amazing new HD diamond vision and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Bay.

If you don’t even like baseball, it’s still worth a visit, if for no other reason than to see how the ballpark spurred development and radically changed the Mission Bay area. That’s a great business case for real estate developers.

Word of advice: the evening games can get chilly when the fog starts to roll in. It’s an amazing sight to see the fog bank curl over the top lights and fall into the stadium, but you’ll appreciate it more if you’re dressed warmly or have a blanket. If you forget, I’m sure the Giants won’t mind you buying one of their many products to keep you fashionably warm.

—Colin C.