I never did get my MBA. The day I graduated from Texas A&M my father shook my hand and made a scissor sign with his free hand – cut off! When we returned home, my 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was donated for a tax right off and I was on my own. Not complaining by any stretch, but in 1995 I needed money and two more years of school were not going to pay for my studio apartment in luxurious Lewisville, Texas.
One bad job in Fort Worth led me to a great job in Irving that took me to San Diego, California. Great job turned sour and I decided to make my own job and since then I have been working on a nine year P.H.D (Panic. Humility. Dumb Luck) in Accounting, Finance, Law, Marketing, Human Resources, Management, and Corporate Culture.
Though my Doctorate is a never ending education, I have a chance to finally put a MBA on my wall.
gap intelligence is growing. If you have received our Holiday Cards over the years, you might have noticed that nine people were pictured in our 2007 card and thirty-five (ten in Uzbekistan) graced our latest Holiday extraordinaire. If you were to project that population out it would not be unreasonable to believe that gap intelligence could reach well over fifty people in two years.
Fifty changes things. Fifty not only changes the way health insurance companies look at you, or banks, or the government, but fifty people dramatically changes the way the company is organized and managed. We’ll need a new organization chart and every single one of us will have a completely different role than we do today. I’ll be working on the twelfth year of my PHD.
As repeated many times in this blog, gap intelligence has a very special culture. The heartbeat of our culture is gapUniversity, our own institution of higher education. gapUniversity is a forum of shared learning and education through a fun and open environment. We have had classes on mastering excel, public speaking, and technical writing as well as fun topics including photography, golf, cooking, and art.
gapUniversity has its own Dean and Associate Dean, Athletic Department, mascot (Herbie), and fraternity (Gamma Alpha Pi). gapUniversity has done a lot in a very short bit of time.
However, with our growing numbers and increasing need for multiple generations of managers and leaders, gapUniversity had to go big.
It did. May I introduce:
Twenty people have already enrolled in gapUniversity’s MBA program, which consists of three course curriculums and a fourth advanced course: Management, Strategic Thinking, Speakers, and Leadership Training (upper level). The lieu of tuition, each student is required to master a particular course and then teach that subject to the rest of the class. Additionally, gapU MBA students are also required to recommend a guest speaker to give a lecture to the school.
Here is a summary of our MBA Program:
gapUniversity Public Library
I “borrowed” the idea from Tony Hsei (buy his book – deliveringhappiness.com), who built a library for his co-workers at Zappos.com. If an employee was inspired by a book on business or leadership, Tony would buy five copies for the library that were free to take. If those original five would disappear, he’d buy five more – no questions asked. We started our own library of books that have inspired me and the team here – some of which were chosen for the MBA program.
Good to Great, Jim Collins
Built to Last, Jim Collins
Great by Choice, Jim Collins
The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni
Start with Why?, by Simon Sinek
Drive, Daniel Pink
What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis
The best lectures of my collegiate career were given by real business people from the local community of College Station, Texas. I learned from a local rancher about the economics of managing head of cattle, the ROI from effective breeding, and trend based forecasting (rain, corn production, illness). I learned about B2B marketing from the owner of the local BMW dealership and saw the science of mass production at the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory in Brenham, Texas.
gapUnivesity MBA students are required to find speakers for our MBA program. In most cases the best lessons are not from the Donald Trumps or Warren Buffetts of business, but from the local florist that always has a line around the block. That florist knows something about marketing and building a business that lasts. Though unconfirmed (but will be part of future blogs posts here), we have a terrific list of speakers from local journalists and politicians, small business entrepreneurs to the CEO of the largest fast food chain in the world.
Manger Tools is a free twice weekly Podcast created by Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne. The philosophy and guidance provided through their podcasts are without question the most impactful of my PHD. The management portion of gapUniversity’s MBA program is based entirely on the Manager-Tool regimen.
- One on One Meetings
- Effective Meetings
- Project Management
- Simple DISC Delegation
- Project Status Report / Simple Feedback
- How to manage a massive workload increase
- Coaching Dilema
- The Dumbeat Project Meeting
- How to Run a SPOT Meeting
Leadership Training – Sister Companies
The most challenging lessons of my PHD have been self-realization and leadership training. Every entrepreneur endures a metamorphosis from start-up consultant to strategic leader and the process is faster for some and more painful for others. From lawyers, to doctors, to market analysts, there is a point where the entrepreneur has to let go of his / her specialty (that thing you do) and start leading a business down a strategic path. This transformation is not easy at all.
The training and education that I learned from the shared experience of colleagues is not normally available to small businesses and I was lucky to have found it. Only the largest companies in our community, the Qualcomm’s, HP’s, and Sony’s of San Diego, can afford to send their Senior Managers to leadership training. Since we don’t have that kind of budget at gap intelligence, we decided to make it ourselves.
Four of our students are enrolled in a monthly program for leadership training and professional development through shared learning. For an entire afternoon, a class of roughly 20 “students” from companies of all shapes and sizes will be given leadership training courses and applied strategic thinking. The classes are lead by a professional trainer / facilitator and students will go through an assortment of group training exercises and programs.
We are still recruiting “students” for our Advanced Leadership Training program and are reaching out to potential “sister” companies. We currently have six (of twenty) enrolled, so there are still seats in the program. All classes will be hosted at gap intelligence and our Professor’s biography can be found here and if your company is interested in being a part of our “Sister Company” program, you can reach me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let the learning begin.