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

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

Persistent Brand Preferences: GSB Breakfast with JP Dube

On Monday I went to a Chicago GSB Booth (still adjusting to the change) breakfast with Professor JP Dube, for a discussion on his research on brand preferences.

It was a great discussion, hearing about the persistence in brand preference throughout a consumer’s lifetime.  The challenge of researching the premise was access to a lifetime of data, and as a solution Dube used Nielsen data for households who had moved – does where you live in the past influence what you buy where you live now?  Turns out yes–to an extent.

What was interesting was that immediately after a consumer moved, buying behavior changed 60%.  That to me is huge.  But then, it takes a while to close the other 40%, and never fully closes–that represents the persistent brand preference.

Anyway, the overall talk was about persistent brand preferences, but I kept being drawn back to where the data came from–the impact of a move on people, and at a macro level, on society.  The research showed geographically different brand preferences, distinct buckets of goods.  As more people buy online–I mean you can pretty much get anything from Amazon, and if it’s hard to find, all the more reason to go straight there–what does that mean for geographically different brand preferences over time?  When you remove the geographic barrier of availability, shelf space, etc, then what?