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Day: November 8, 2004

Memories of Mary Kay

Ah, Mary Kay must be a b-school professor’s favourite video. This video from 60 minutes is so cheesy and funny that you can almost write a book on the gazillion topics embedded in there. So to paraphrase William Shatner: but why!?

We reluctantly watched this in today’s class on Strategic Implementation, thoroughly amused and bored, with memories of last year’s sketch. As part of a core course on managing people at work, one that’s consistenly the least favourite of Wharton MBAs, each team had to perform a sketch on a case revolving employee situations: there were ciscos, and some airlines, and …ok, I forgot, but my learning team was assigned the glory of Mary Kay. So we did this ridiculous sketch on Mary Kay’s recruiting tactics and how they fared in China in the late 90s. Awful…makes me want to puke…

Why bring painful memories? Strat Implementation is one of my favourite class and there’s no need to bring up Mary Kay in there….

Dinner with Bruce Chizen

What’s cool about Wharton is that I was one of a lucky 30 MBAs chosen to attend a dinner with Adobe’s CEO Bruce Chizen last week. Well, I wasn’t that special, I just won my first lottery that’s part of the Leadership Lecture series at Wharton. The students who coordinate this bring top leaders from the country and overseas to speak on a variety of issues, and also about their leadership. Afterwards, lucky 30 or so get to dine at the Inn at Penn with the person. Selections are random and also, you only have 1 opportunity in your two years at Wharton to attend one of these diners. I was lucky enough to drop my name for the first time and win. Yey!

Bruce spoke with his partly recognizable Brooklyn accent on Adobe’s turnaround since the late 90s and now Adobe’s main push in the enterprise space with their Intelligent Document Business Unit. I’m a long-running Photoshop user and I was quite excited to learn a few things about how they approach the education market, government businesses and especially the enterprise space with the Adobe Policy Server since I worked on a competitive product at Microsoft this past summer. What stood out is the effort that Adobe takes to avoid getting in Microsoft’s path. They are literally obsessed at making sure that Microsoft is ignoring them, but not too much, because they are partners afterall.

Bruce earler told of a very interesting story how he got to Wharton that day: he was stuck on the 41st floor in the elevator of a hotel in Manhattan. He had to climb out of the escape hatch and onto the next elevator to escape after a 2-hour ordeal. Wow…the road to Wharton is treacherous for CEOs. I usually thought it’s the other way around…whew!

I’ll post more on this on the Wharton Tech blog soon,

Two good movies…Ray and Team America (aka Baka-laka-daka Street)

Finally, a short break to catch a movie with my wife. In fact, we saw two this weekend that we both agree are good ones: Ray and Team America: World Police. You must be wondering how can you put these movies on the same level. My criteria for good movies is simple: the movie delivers an enjoyable performance, especially one where I can empathize with the characters. Ok, so this is a stretch for Team America, but it delivers on the first count. Trust me!

Ray is an awesome movie and Jamie Foxx delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. If you wonder how can a funny comedian, often compared to Jim Carey, deliver this, you are in for a treat! Jamie Foxx shows incredible range in his acting skills to make this movie a complete standout on both of my counts above: it’s enjoyable, even tear jerker at times, and gets you as close as possible to the character. I say as close because there is absolutely no way to truly understand what it’s like to be a blind man. You can begin to comprehend the difficulties and even imagine it, but not quite understand unless you’re blind too. And this is where the movie delivers because it uses clever imagery from Ray’s childhood and upbringing to deliver a complete picture of who was Ray and what it means to be a successful blind musician but not a crippled one. That’s the point made throughout the movie. Ray was a street-smart person who was tough on everyone, especially himself, and never accepted any pity from noone. He was also a humorous smooth-talker that was a magnet for the ladies. This made Jamie Foxx a perfect actor for the role, with his youthful, comedic and smooth demeanor that worked well to show Ray in it’s full glory. Oh, yeah, Jamie Foxx is an accomplished pianist who got Ray Charles’ blessing for the role before Ray passed away. Wow, I sound like a movie critic…go see Ray!

Moving to a more serious stuff, Team America delivers big time. I still burst laughing just by reminiscing some of the scenes as I write this. My favourite one that’s been played on the trailers: “I got two terrorists going down on baka-laka-daka street.” This movie is as funny as anything Matt Stone and Trey Parker have done. Clever and elaborate like any South Park episode, with not so subtle critiques of terrorists, US actions abroad, Hollywood liberals and Government honchos, oh yeah, and sex, plenty of it! There’s an elaborate sex scene with the puppets that will make you laugh so hard you’ll need an ambulance. Oh, yeah, and my favourite song “We need a montage!” from South Park…how funny is that, making fun of your movie in your movie. This is one funny movie, go see it!

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