Monday, November 8, 2010

James Gorman and Chris Dixon

Yes, you read it right. Normally, there is no reason that would require them to be mentioned in the same context. But if you attend Columbia Business School, you get opportunities to interact with both. If you wish to do an MBA, you would want to be in a school that promotes diversity in all aspects. It can't get any better when there are no seats left in the room whether it is James Gorman who is the speaker or Chris Dixon.

I worry about the high interest (~10%) I'm paying for my student loan as an international student. When Mr.Gorman spoke about having a long term view about the MBA, he meant it- his interest rate was 24%!
It was insightful to understand his perspectives on leadership. He mentioned the importance of being able to reduce complexity. As a leader, you need to be able to decide on what matters and what doesn't. Once you decide that, you need to be able to communicate that well to your people. Above all, you should be equally equipped to deal with less information than ideal during decision making and also have the ability & desire to dig into the details when required.

As expected, there was a discussion on the recent financial crisis, what happened at Morgan Stanley and the ongoing financial reforms and regulations.  He expressed some reservations on the Volcker rule on principle- the ability of the government to dictate what businesses a financial services firm can participate in versus what it can't. His point was to let the government give guidelines on the capital requirements and other matters and leave it to the shareholders to decide the business focus of the firm and whether they find certain businesses attractive or not given these guidelines.

The focus went back to leadership again and he mentioned that one needs to care about what one is leading and be true to self. He recommended to keep our focus on the quality of the institution and the people and reminded us that we will have many careers in our lives, so we shouldn't judge by what happens in the next one year. He spoke about the importance of being able to communicate well and suggested that we get ourselves recorded in front of a camera to improve our communication skills (Every single student at Columbia Business School is recorded in front of a camera and given feedback as part of our career development program!)

The talk ended with him sharing his thoughts on the current economy and the importance of having patience in this turbulent period while things change for the better.

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