Alexa von Tobel and Personal Finance

TedTalks is a daily video podcast that provides the world’s leaders, thinkers, and game changers to discuss various topics such as science, business, global issues, the arts, and much more. In this TedTalks, Alexa von Tobel addresses the problems of personal finance  and how the of knowledge can hold many young professionals back from a long and fruitful future.

To begin, Alexa von Tobel examines the lack of responsibility and unawareness many young professionals and college graduates have with their personal finances. While there are a number of reasons why many of these individuals are not paying attention to their savings, Ms. Tobel highlights one of the most reoccurring factors she has heard from a variety of people, anxiety and stress. She begins her segment with short adaptation highlighting the ups-and-downs of her hypothetical friend and her struggle to financially budget her expenses. Through this quick five-minute story, Alexa was able to provide the audience with various real-life examples of certain external financial factors that can negatively impact anyone’s financial health stats if it is not taken under control. For millions of Americans all around the nation, especially millennials, this situation is a tragic reality.

But how can you control your expenses when you have college loans weighing you down? How can an entry level salary pay all of the necessary bills while also saving for your future retirement?

While of course the idea of assessing your financial health maybe intimidating, and often times confusing, gaining a general understanding of your financial savings will play a large role in how secure your future be later on down the road. To do this, Alexa highlights five money principles you should live by:

  1. Follow a budget. Live beneath your means.
  2. Be debt free. Pay cards in full.
  3. Have an emergency savings account.
  4. Negotiate a stronger salary.
  5. Save for your retirement immediately.

By grasping your personal finance through Alexa’s five principles, you will be able to take that much needed control of your expenses and plan effectively and strategically for your future. Yes, this will take time. But by examining your personal finances now, you will be able to maximize your chances in securing all of your wants and needs while also taking care of the necessities such as your bills, loans, expenses, and retirement savings account.

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Diversity within Business Schools

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Almost always, the thinking of every prospective MBA applicant usually goes directly to the ranking of the school. As much as it is important to view the national ranking of every business school program, it is imperative that you evaluate your decision based your own personal and professional interest and goals.

When it comes the quality and reputation of your MBA program, you want to make sure the school is both accommodating and representative to your needs. Unlike other graduate school programs, MBA programs looks at a diverse pool of candidates. From age-to-age to background-to-background, every candidate, while representative of the standards and characteristics of the school, will display some sort of unique value to the program. And rightfully so. Any strong MBA program knows that diversity is a key component to the modern workplace. To go even further, successful businesses throughout a variety of different sectors have thrived on the idea of new and innovative perspectives.With business schools becoming one of the most international environments on both a national and global scale, it is important that future programs shape their applicant pool to replicate that high level of collaborative thinking.

In the grand scheme of things, the word ‘diversity’ has become a recent buzz word amongst business schools and professionals. Institutions have accepted the idea that diversity serves not only as a strategic differentiation between increasingly similar business school curricula, but its effect also creates a more robust academic and social experience for students. Traditionally, past MBA programs have been  dominated by early-to-mid twenty year old white males, a trend that has been highlighted for years. With the overwhelming amount of press on the inequality and injustice amongst the  education, wealth, and MBA opportunities certain candidates have received, women and minorities have made great strides within the past few years in bridging the gap that exist today. Currently, women and racial minorities have begun to shatter the glass ceiling at the highest echelons of corporate America. Their impact both in-and-out of the classroom has continued to create an organizational vision in leveraging diversity to achieve higher performance. But to continue this campaign, business schools need to provide more opportunities for women and minorities to learn and grow within the business and private sector.

One thing MBA programs should look to improve and develop are particular networking channels where prospective candidates can meet students, alumni, and other candidates from similar backgrounds. While there are already some pre-MBA programs dedicated to this cause such as Consortium and MLT, having an additional outlet for a college student or young professionals to access can do wonders in cultivating and fostering a stronger and more effective community. Yes, there are ‘coffee chats’ and MBA fairs. But the limitations, restrictions, and comfort level can oftentimes be intimidating. Providing this type of safe space where prospective candidates can ask overarching questions that is related to race, gender, or socio-economical background is something that will help benefit the overall MBA program and MBA community.

At the end of the day, many business schools, especially those within the top-ten, have done an incredible job increasing diversity within their campaigns. But if we are looking to truly make a strong and transformative change, many of these programs will need to provide stronger opportunities for both women and minority applicants and students.

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A Roadmap to Business School

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Congratulations! After an extensive amount of research, you have decided that a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is the most viable option to proliferate and diversify your professional career. While making the decision to go to business school is not an easy one, it is the first step on your journey in shaping your career trajectory.

Now that you have decided on attaining an MBA, it is absolutely imperative that you consolidate, prepare, and complete all of the necessary objectives for your business school application. For many of these highly selective programs, they are looking for a diverse group of talented students who can create and foster a stronger, enriching, and impactful learning environment within their programs. Because of this, you want to make sure you provide yourself an ample amount of time to prepare your application in the best possible way.

To aid you with this process, I have provided a strong roadmap in preparing your applications. This checklist will highlight the necessary objectives that you will need to know and complete in order to find the right school that can help shape your background, your learning style, and most importantly your professional goals.

Create a List of Schools

When applying to business school, you want to make sure you take into consideration your professional goals, the school’s ranking, the programs, and the location of your future school. While it is nice to have various options, having a list that is oftentimes too large can be incredibly detrimental to your process. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you are looking at schools and programs that you would like to attend. To help you with this process, start by thinking of your professional goals. Ask yourself what you are looking to major in and what locations you are willing to move to. In addition, limit yourself to ten schools that are broken up into these three categories: high-reach schools, middle-reach schools, and low-reach schools (safety schools). This will allow you to trim the fat and focus on tangible programs that you will apply in the future.

Take your GMATs

Like with any graduate school, MBA programs require you take the Graduate Management Admission Standardize Test, more commonly referred to as the GMATs. The GMATs is a three and a half hour standardize exam designed to predict how test takers will perform academically in said-MBA programs. While some schools will overlook a weak GPA from your undergraduate career, many admissions teams look at the GMATs as a universal placement in identifying the quality and strengths of a student. While this is not the silver bullet for an acceptance letter at Harvard Business School or Kellogg School of Management, it is the first step in whether or not you are a right fit for those elite programs.

On the GMATs, applicants will be required to finish four sections within the three and a half hours allotted to each test taker. The four sections are broken down into these categories:

  1. Writing Portion
  2. Integrated Reasoning
  3. Quantitative Section
  4. Verbal Section.

To help you with this process, try looking into various GMAT test-prep programs. Some of the more popular and successful programs are Veritas, Manhattan, and MaGoosh.

Begin your Applications

Once you have taken your GMATs or have taken various practice tests with a test-date in mind, start completing your applications. To do this, go on the school’s MBA site and click the ‘Apply’ section to get start. Much of the application will require general logistical information like your work experience, resume, home address, etc. Note you do not have to complete your application in one sitting. Instead, you can revisit the site again and again to make those much-needed changes in shaping your application in the best way possible.

One thing you should focus on is revamping your resume. Make sure you are able to highlight all of your personal and professional achievements and accolades. In addition, be sure to quantify your resume so that it is easily understood.

Essay Section

On your online application, there will be an section that will require you to write a number of essays. Make sure you stay on topic and are able to showcase your professional career in a more meaningful way that is relatable to said-school you are applying to. For many schools, the utilize these essays to not just learn more about your professional career, but to gauge how much you know about their school and their MBA program. Be sure to note those connections and of course revise, edit, and finalize your essays before submission.

Attain Professional References

When asking for a professional reference, make sure the person writing the reference can highlight a particular accomplishment or professional trait during your time with them. For example, if you want to showcase your leadership skills, ask your professional reference to discuss some instances where you were able to personify yourself as a leader within the workplace.

Prep for Interview

Similar to your research in the beginning, you want to make sure you are reviewing the school, the programs, and your own professional portfolio. To help with this, look online for various MBA interview questions that you can use to practice before the big day.

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Thinking of Getting an MBA? Ask yourself these Questions!

 

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For many young professionals, a Master in Business Administration (MBA) will always be seen as a viable option to proliferate and diversify your opportunities within your professional career. In fact, the two-year hiatus from the working world can help drive and inspire your career trajectory with a holistic style of thinking and networking. While many people cannot phantom the concept of sacrificing a secure job and two-year’s of salary, you, at the end of the day, have to understand your overarching long-term goals.

Unlike undergraduate applications and various graduate programs, an MBA forces you to do preliminary work and research before making the leap into the deep end. In fact, the arduous and elongated process of the application speaks loudly to what the program offers and what is expected of you before you step foot on campus.

If you are a young professional who is having some consideration for the MBA life, begin by asking yourself the question you will be constantly asked on every application and interview: Why do you want to get an MBA?

As simple as this question is, knowing the ‘why’ will always be one of the biggest definers of whether or not you are ready. Yes, the wide range of job opportunities and networking can be great to note, but that is not what MBA admissions and recruiters are looking for. Instead, they are looking for your reasoning of the degree and what you can do with it later on in life.

That brings us to the second question you should ask yourself while you are considering the graduate program: What do you want to do with your MBA degree (or where do you see yourself five years after your MBA program)?

For many top programs, they are not just looking for any individual to fill up their class roster. Instead, they are looking for leaders, movers, and game changers who can inherently impact the world today. As you go through your reflective process, you want to ask yourself these overarching questions. Knowing what you want to do five, ten, twenty years from now can help solidify whether or not you are ready for an MBA degree. Now, saying something along the lines of ‘ascending up the ladder of your career’ is not bad. But to truly spark inspiration and drive for an MBA degree, you want internalize and know what you can actively do with the degree in your future. Remember, these programs, especially the top tier programs like Kellogg, Harvard Business School, or Wharton, are looking for you to actively change the game after your two years. That is essentially what makes these programs so incredibly difficult to get into because they find leaders who can impact and reinvigorate a particular sector.

Now, once you have understood which concentration you want to study and what you want to do within after the two years, then you can move onto this next question: Where do you want to go for your MBA degree? 

Yes, it is easy to rattle off all of the names of the big programs like HBS, Stanford, Fuqua, Kellogg, Wharton, Tuck, Yale SOM, etc., but to understand the program beyond the U.S. News national ranked reputation can help narrow your list for your particular field. Take for example Marketing. While the number-two national ranked school University of Chicago (Booth) will always be a huge contender with applications, MBA programs such as Northwestern University Kellogg, Wharton, Columbia University, Duke University Fuqua, or University of Michigan Ross are most likely better options for marketing careers and opportunities. As you continue you research try and go beyond the statistics. Ask yourself whether or not your career goals and personality can match and mirror those within your program. Having that open-mindedness and holistic style of thinking to your research can essentially rule out and narrow down the right programs for you.

To help with your research process, try and evaluate your personal and professional career by asking yourself: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

For some people, this is something that can be easily spoken of. If you are one of those individuals, congratulations! You have a true understanding of what you can accomplish and what you can refine with your MBA degree. If you are unsure of what own professional strengths and weaknesses, start by evaluating yourself immediately. Think of this as one of those interviewing questions. Ask yourself what are particular instances that you are most proud of or skills that you need to work on. This type of internalized thinking can help you find the best fitting program that matches your personality and career goals.

Once your strengths and weaknesses are understood, now you can begin your application. To help, ask yourself: What is needed for an MBA application?

For many, this will consist of the standard GMATs, references, essay applications, and online applications. But make sure you do your research. For some potential MBA applicants, there are groups and organizations that are dedicated in helping you reach your MBA goals such as Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Consortium, etc. Remember, the more you can add to your application the better. So try and continue your research so that you can better enhance your application today.

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Better Personal Health Assistant

This is going to be short and sweet. Better personal health assistant is something that is very exciting and is growing fast. It is essentially an assistant that will help you track your health, connects you with expert medical advice, and coordinates your care. While this is obviously very helpful from a patien standpoint, most of the potential lies with the ability for the company to collect data at scale to help improve health care in general. I can go on and on about this, but I really think you should just go to their website and poke around for a bit. This is very interesting stuff and makes me excited for the future. Here’s there site: Better

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Panama Canal Project

This is an interesting video that explains the motives behind the project to widen the Panama Canal and what is expected of the project. Due to some modern ships not being able to fit through the canal in it’s current form, certain shipments of goods and materials are not able to pass through. This obviously has an economic impact on the businesses looking to ship in this area. It also covers some interesting insights on the actual work that is physically being done to widen the canal.

 
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Neat Video Demonstration Of Apple Watch

As one of the most talked-about new gadgets out there right now, the Apple Watch has a lot of people excited. Because of this interest I thought it would be a good idea to share a video that reviews the device and some of it’s key features. Apple does a really good job of creating buzz, but when this is done there is also a chance for misinformation to spread. I figured putting this video up will help provide some clarity to any visitors that have questions about this.

 
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A Look At The Vegas DownTown Project

The Vegas Tech Fund is an investment fund that is committed to improving the Vegas community and investing in startups in that area. As one of the bigger players behind the DownTown Project, they are working hard to make Las Vegas a place that young companies will want to go when growing and setting up a headquarters. They view the city as an incubator as to help foster and speed up the growth of startups that can have a great impact on the world, and the project is definitely gaining traction.

This has definitely been something that has drawn excitement as well as skepticism. TechCrunch put together a quick video that sheds a little more light on the project as well as the people involved. I thought that it would be helpful to share since there are a decent amount of people who have not heard of this project yet.

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Box IPO Clip: Insight Into The Growth Strategy

With the recent Box IPO, there are many people who have mixed feelings on the potential of the company. There is no question that they have done a great job of land-grabbing in the competitive and emerging market that is cloud storage. The uncertainty about the company comes from the fact that they are burning money at a rapid pace. This has made a lot of potential investors and public shareholders uneasy about the future of the company. The current burn rate is something that will require a big switch in mindset to slow down.

As of right now (3:30pm day of IPO) the stock is performing well and is up 70% from their initial price. Here is a great video where Box CEO Aaron Levie goes into the economics behind Box and why he feels everyone shouldn’t worry too much. It’s definitely a video that should come in handy when making a decision about the company. From his point of view the money that the company is spending to accelerate growth is manageable and will result in them turning a profit once they have reached a market share that is closer to their goals.

 

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Oil Prices Fall Below $59 A Barrel

 

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As of December 16th oil has fallen below $59 a barrel. This mark is the first time the economy has seen this price since May of 2009. Since reaching a high of $115 per barrel in June, Bent crude has almost halved in roughly six months.

One of the factors that is bringing the cost down is simple supply and demand. Right now there is plenty of oil to go around in the market, but demand is slowing. OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) has also switched up their strategy on exportation which is a contributing force as well. Their main goal is to defend their market share but as a result aren’t worrying as much about price and profits in order to maintain their position. When faced with falling prices, OPEC made the decision to not slow production and they appear to be committed to that course of action for now.

China, who consumes more oil than anyone in the world other than the United States, has also shown a slow in industrial activity. This activity has not decreased for the past seven months, so the sudden shift was expected to make an impact.

Currencies and economies in emerging markets have also been struggling lately. These markets are a consistent and large part of nationwide oil demand. The issues that these markets have been going through is making a large impact on pricing as well. Russia is on the brink of a possible economic collapse as the rouble falls, and since they are one of the largest producers of oil in the world this impact has been felt in the oil industry as well as many others.

The complex nature of the causes is concerning to some, but not to others. Some believe that because these issues won’t be solved in the short-term, the oil industry will be in a rough spot for some time ahead. Others are banking on oil to rebound the way it has in the past. The real question is how long will it take?

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