So You’re Saying There’s A Chance

There’s one day a year when you have the chance to be right. Not just right, but righter than almost anyone has EVER been.

I’m talking of course about the first day of March Madness. A pristine bracket lay before you with 63 chances to be right. (yes 63, stop trying to make the play-in round happen)

It doesn’t matter that you know it won’t really happen. There’s still that sliver of a what-if. What if I get one right, and then another, and another, and as they say in Dumb and Dumber, “so you’re saying there’s a chance!” The hope and anticipation is electric.

I was lucky enough to be born Joe Winter’s daughter. And that meant that the best Christmas presents as my brother and I got older were simple sheets of white printer paper, maybe in a binder, wrapped up in a Nordstrom box. And printed on those sheets of paper in large Times New Roman font were those magic words…”You are the recipient of a [year] sports package!” Red Sox tickets for the daughter in Boston, Cubs tickets for the son in Chicago. The Breeders Cup one year, the U.S. Open the next, the Kentucky Derby. The freaking Super Bowl, are you kidding me?!?!?

Beyond the joy and privilege of experiencing these events themselves, the unforgettable moments of my sporting life encapsulate the feelings I aspire to in the rest of my life.

I was at the Final Four in Indianapolis the year that Butler came up a rim bounce short of an epic upset win in the Championship game. The tension, the hope, the electricity was palpable.

I’ve sat in the Rose Bowl the moments before kickoff with the late afternoon sun giving my hometown San Gabriel Mountains that picture-perfect warm glow, backed by the perfect soundtrack of 100,000 excited fans, and literally been brought to tears.

I’ve sat in the Superdome when the blackout pressed pause on Super Bowl XLVII, before the 49ers mounted an almost-epic comeback.

And there’s that feeling again, that high. A shared experience of the unexpected. A sense of being a part of something bigger than you, history in the making. The feeling of community, optimism, anticipation that makes your whole body buzz.

So as my bracket takes flight this morning, my hopes for it echo what I’m looking for in life – the chance to be right, both in terms of intellect and integrity, and the chance to be electric.

Good luck to all, and here’s to March Madness!

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Reunion and All the Feels

I love reunions. My favorite things in the world—good
friends, laughter, and photography—blended together in one adrenaline-high of a
weekend. Poly, Williams, and Chicago all made me who I am, and those
communities remain the most treasured to me.

Reunions can bring out a lot of feelings. Excitement about
seeing friends and reliving good memories and good times. The requisite “holy
shit we are old” moment. And a bit of reflection: Are we where we thought we
would be at this point in our lives?

As we ramp up towards our 10th b-school reunion, consider
two classmates’ state of affairs.

Chicago Booth Grad A: Four promotions. Making more than 2x
the money since first position post-graduation. Got married, had three healthy,
adorable boys. Sojourns to Fiji and Paris, and semi-regular trips to Hawaii.
Volunteer leader for leading higher educational institutions.

Chicago Booth Grad B: Desperately unhappy in current job.
Reads about classmates starting companies, classmates with titles like VP, SVP,
CEO and feels woefully unaccomplished. Wonders where she went wrong and how she
can course correct to get back to achieving what she set out to upon leaving
Booth. 

Who is more successful?

Now, fans of Matthew Berry know where this is headed: A and
B are the same person. Me.

I’ve got excuses and reasons by the bushel. Thinking well
I’ll be pregnant any day now so I shouldn’t start a search now, and having that
turn into an emotionally draining multi-year journey. The fatigue of new motherhood
delaying the search for just a little longer. And I mean, it’s good for one of
us to be stable and corporate while my husband takes a position at a startup. Another
year passes. I just had twins, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself!

So I will be at reunion, and I will be smiling, and I will
genuinely be so, so happy to see you. I will show pictures of my three adorable
boys, and re-tell funny stories. I’ll tell you about our delicious home brew,
and you’ll think that’s pretty cool. I’ll steer the conversation away from my
career and back to yours. I’ll say I’m unhappy in my job and you’ll say “but
look what a beautiful family you’ve built.” And I have, and that is certainly
my most prized accomplishment.

Except it’s not enough. I came to Chicago because I set out
to achieve something remarkable in the world of business. And I haven’t lived
up to my end of the bargain. Yet.

But one of these reunions, I will stand before you and tell
you about something I am proud of in my career, something I have built. I won’t
hide behind stories about my kids and our latest vacation (that’s what Facebook
is for). I owe it to myself, and I owe it to our community, to the next
generation of Booth grads who I’d like to hire someday.

There is still time for me to write a new chapter. There has
to be.

So if you feel like you are nowhere near where you wanted to
be in your career, 1) you are not alone, and 2) well of course you feel that
way! We are a group of talented over-achievers who have only just started to
make our mark on the world.

Looking forward to reconnecting and getting re-inspired at
reunion.

Back to Chicago

I’m back in Chicago today for the first time since you’ve been gone. It’s weird without you here. You were the first I would race to see after landing at O’Hare, the one I would take new friends to meet. I know you had to move on but it doesn’t make it any easier. I miss your creativity, your genius, your warmth.

And most of all, I miss your delicious hot dogs. A belated farewell, Hot Doug’s. You were my Chicago.