Northwestern MBA students put the “fun” in fundamental economics

This weekend I had the pleasure to attend “Special K!” an all-singing, all-dancing affair mounted by students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Now, I got a lot out of business school – but I also attended part-time, and didn’t absorb the enviable level of culture and camaraderie on display here. And I sure never partook in any project quite so exuberant as this.

Before the show, I wrote about the show, and its three-decade history of entertaining Evanston, for Gapers Block:

Let’s face it: When you think of mirth, excitement, and song-and-dance numbers, you think of MBAs.

At least, that’s the hope of the more than 80 Northwestern graduate students behind the comic variety show Special K! Produced and performed by matriculators at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, the revue hits the stage this week at the Norris University Center in Evanston. Nightly shows were from May 2-5, with two shows tonight. The assemblage of amusements — including live-action and digital skits, song parodies, a short film, and a riff on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment — represents the culmination of months of extracurricular work.

Continue reading at Gapers Block.

What The Avengers can teach you about writing

May 4, 2012 1 comment

Facing a writer’s block the size of Galactus? Flummoxed by a project as tricky as Loki? Perhaps my new piece for Ragan.com, excerpted below, can help:

As a writer, you probably think your job doesn’t share too much in common with the work of a team of spandex-clad super-beings who protect the world against megalomaniacal trickster fiends. And most likely, you’re 90 percent right (give or take your comfort with spandex).

Believe it or not, we can all learn a few things from “The Avengers.” With Marvel Comics’ premier supergroup hitting American movie theaters on May 4, those lessons are front and center. Here are a few nuggets of professional advice courtesy of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

To discover these world-and-prose-saving tips from Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, and more, continue reading at Ragan’s PR Daily.

The shared M.O. of The Cabin In The Woods and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Having experienced them both for the first time recently, I can confidently say that My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is an awful lot like Cabin In The Woods.

Stay with me on this.

(WARNING: Spoilers after the jump for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Also for the cabin thing.)

Cabin In The Wood / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

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Après The Raven, le déluge

Feeding moviegoers’ insatiable desire to see 19th century American icons become gothic-horror action heroes (no, really, that’s apparently a thing now), next weekend sees the opening of The Raven. If you haven’t scratched your heads at/laughed yourself silly over the ads yetThe Raven stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. In it, the author who’s often credited with helping to invent the detective story must match wits with a serial killer who bases his crimes on Poe’s canon.

If The Raven is a smash hit at the box office—just…okay, come on guys, stop laughing, I’m trying to make a point—if it’s a hit,you can be certain Hollywood will crank it through the Idea Replicate-O-Tron 8000 and “reimagine” other famous authors grappling with their creations. Before they do, a few humble suggestions/predictions.

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Mad Men blogging at The Vast Wasteland – and around the web

As you can clearly see, updates to this side of the site have been, er, sparse so far this year. I hope to rectify that soon, pending a couple of ongoing projects. But in the meantime, much of my writing each week is being spent with the Barker Chappell Daglas Reviewing Firm: critical discussions of each week’s Mad Men episode, in the the form of a roundtable with my friends Cory Barker of TV Surveillance and Les Chappell of A Helpless Compiler. We’re taking turns hosting each week’s full discussion on our respective blogs, and you can find each week’s review (or my excerpts thereof) at The Vast Wasteland.

Below the jump, an excerpt of my take on the April 15 episode, “Signal 30”:

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Categories: Pop Culture, TV Tags: ,

Top 21 rejected social media job titles

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Gurus and ninjas and rock stars, oh my.

I’m not sure what it is about social media that attracts so many colorful job titles. Maybe it’s viewed as something “young people” use, and the head honchos think all us Gen Yers still love to play pretend in the backyard. Or maybe social media’s a domain where all the head honchos are Gen Yers and really do still love to play pretend in the backyard.

Either way, it’s not as easy as you might think to come up with flashy new appellations. You’ve got to strike a careful balance—hip and imaginative, yet credible and professional. Also, you want to avoid any insinuation that your job description involves murdering your clients. (I’m looking at you, “social media assassins.”)

With that in mind, here are 21 business cards you shouldn’t print anytime soon:

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Am I A Cylon?

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m not a fan of the board game adaptation of Battlestar Galactica, but I am an ardent fan of one particular running joke that it’s spawned. In the game, the players are all working together as a unit, except for one or two who are secretly designated as the Cylons.* One of the central goals of the game is for the humans to identify and neutralize these hidden saboteurs in their midst.This leads to many spirited accusations—“So-and-so’s the Cylon!”—which are enough fun to bandy about that they become part of the group’s running banter even absent the game (the way such context-free running jokes ingrain themselves in the lingua franca of any circle of friends).

*If you’re still reading a blog post that began with the phrase “board game adaptation of Battlestar Galactica,” I am going to respect that your nerd quotient is high enough to obviate a explanation of “Cylons.”

This story is not about a game of BSG, however. It’s about a game of Risk Legacy, a new and unorthodox twist on the conquer-the-world-through-the-power-of-dice-rolling stalwart. I and four friends have been playing it each weekend for the past few weeks.

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5 copywriting tools that have nothing to do with copywriting

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

So, your website is rocking a pristine design, and your search engine optimization has been fine-tuned to perfection (mostly). Now all you need is the scintillating content that’ll convert visitors into customers and customers into advocates.

But cranking out crisp, engaging copy every day isn’t easy (at least, not until SEO-generating algorithms gain sentience and take over the planet). Every content creator stumbles into a rut now and then.

Often, the trick to revivifying your writerly instincts is as simple as changing your perspective. Think of it like mental crop rotation—mixing up your creative nutrients to keep your brain matter fertile. Here are a few tools I use to stay sharp.

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The Best, Worst, and Somehow-Best-AND-Worst TV of 2011

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

The end of the year naturally brings reminiscences – fond memories, shared moments with loved ones, arcs of personal and professional growth. Of course, my brain is way too addled by thousands of hours of television to remember any of that other crap. My reminiscences extend (for the purposes of this barely breathing blog) to the best and worst things I watched in 2011.

The usual caveats of course apply – rankings are arbitrary, how can you compare a manic comedy to a deliberately paced drama, yada yada, harrumph harrumph – and I doubt I’m going to surprise anyone by compiling a “best of” list that mainly comprises the very shows I’ve taken the time to write about throughout the season. But of course, I am bound by Internet Directive #543 to nevertheless present a year-end Top 10 list of some fashion. So here we go after the jump:

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Categories: Pop Culture, TV

Listicle: Harvard Business Review Headlines That Sound Vaguely Porny, If You Think About It For A Few Seconds

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment

How to Recover Your Core Rhythm

Yes, You Need More Gadgets

Yelp is Leaving Chains Behind

Hot Conflict Can Be Healthy, Even in China

The Ambidextrous CEO

Create Shared Value with a Trampoline Approach

A Female-Dominated Workplace Won’t Fix Everything

Need to Find a Job? Stop Looking So Hard

Getting Japanese Women Back on Track

Moving from Transaction to Engagement

Maintaining Physical, Social and Mental Fitness for Peak Performance

Stop Thinking Outside the Box

*All headlines pulled from @HarvardBiz tweets

Categories: Business, Humor