Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mad Russia Airways is Taking Off/Final MBA Project

Well, the MBA is done and I will be blogging about my experience over the last two years starting again in the next few days. It was an intense program, fun, but sometimes I really wanted to throw my computer through the window. Overall, I would recommend the experience, but more on that later.

Meanwhile, my Babson MBA team is entering our final project into the Babson Innovation Summit Contest. Please see our elevator pitch at:

The more views, the higher our idea moves up in the ratings. So if you can ask your friends and family to view it and commment, that would be very helpful. Our reward is that we get to be one of the 10 finalists to pitch our ideas to a bunch of VCs. Multiple views are good!

More on the idea in a later post.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Late Stage MBA/Josh Moritz/One Russian Assignment Completed

It is interesting to go to a city that people wanted to leave during the reign of the Soviets, but which is now becoming a magnet for tourists, entrepreneurs and even Russian Jews who have become disillusioned with Israel, the United States and other parts of the world. According to sources, nearly 100,000 Jews have returned to St. Petersburg in the last few years. Time does change habits.

During the week of March 15, 2010, I attended classes at St. Petersburg State Graduate School of Management (GSOM) with my MBA and undergraduate classmates from Babson College, located in Wellesley, MA. During a break, I made a visit to the Grand Choral Synagogue in St. Petersburg, Russia, which was renovated in the early 2000’s through a generous donation from the Safra family. It is the only synagogue in St. Petersburg, Russia today and the largest in Europe. Like so many synagogues founded in the late 1800’s under the Tsars, it was closed by the communists until their fall.

For me, seeing the synagogue was mandatory.

My first date with my wife was a rally to free Soviet Jews held November 1987 on the Mall in Washington, DC. It was one of the final rallies before the fall of the Soviet Union, a culmination of at least some that I helped organize and many that I attended as a high school student, undergraduate and young adult in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Although that Washington, DC rally is now somewhat a blur, the date is not, having spent about 6 hours talking on the drive down and back, and then drinking coffee with my future wife Jane and our friend Johanna Skilling at Dupont circle after doing our chanting and cheering at the rally.

Emigrating from the Soviet Union required a lot of creativity before the fall of the Soviets. For example, I was approached in 1979 by a young woman asking that I marry her sister who was living in Moscow so she could emigrate to the United States as my wife. While not a wide spread practice amongst American and Soviet Jews, marriages did take place, although I respectfully declined the opportunity.

These emigration marriages also generated some interest amongst the non-Jews of St. Petersburg. During a lunch break at St. Petersburg State, I was relating my Soviet marriage proposal to one of the graduate students, Olga, from GSOM. Although only 22, Olga related to me that her father, who is not Jewish, used to call these marriages “Jewish Transportation.”

Hardly an anti-semetic remark, it probably reflected more of the desire of everyone who wanted to leave a country where it was hard to make a living under a repressive society. I hope to interview Olga’s father more on the comment at a later date.

Once inside, I was greeted in a fashion that was as much New York as it was St. Petersburg. When I tried to explain to the receptionist that I did not speak Russian, she just yelled louder. Made me feel like I had just entered the YMHA on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1981; the way to communicate seemed to be the more confused you looked, the louder the explanation got.

While the synagogue from the outside might be mistaken for one of the Greek Orthodox Churches dotting St. Petersburg, its copula is barren of a cross or even a Star of David. On the inside, it looks like many Moorish or Sephardic Synagogues you might find in New York City with a pulpit in the middle and an ark upfront. Simple in design, lacking in mosaics or art, in many ways it reminds me of the B’nai Jeshuran Synagogue in NY, a place my family belonged to about 10 years ago.

While I did not stay for services, I donated a few rubles, not out of a sense of guilt, but out of amazement that at least one assignment from youth is finally completed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Late Stage MBA/Josh Moritz-The Financial Times- Mom's Maserati and Cash Flow Analysis

I now have 15 minutes of fame and another reference to Mom's Maserati.

The article that I penned for the Financial Times on my experience in the Babson Fast Track MBA program was published Monday March 15th while I was studying in St. Petersburg, Russia.

See the article here:

Quite a surprise to me, the article takes up half a page on the back of the print edition of the education section entitled Business Education/New Media. While good for the ego, I just hope its good for my pocket book as well.

The online version headline is kinds of dull, the print edition headline has more pizazz and offers up more controversy: "Cash Flow Analysis Can be As Much Fun as a Maserati."

With all due respect to my finance professors Fetters, Bliss, and James (and anyone else that I missed) and my tutor Denise Chew, I never said that cash flow analysis was as much fun as driving a Maserati. Having test driven a Maserati in order to get a special $100 gift card to the Smith and Lewinsky Steak House in New York, I know that driving a Maserati is a lot more fun, especially for someone who missed out on being a master of the universe in their 30's.

I also know that a bad cash flow analysis can be as serious as a non-fatal car crash, so I tend to drive and invest wisely, although I am always in a hurry.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of information that had to be edited out to make the article about 1000 words.

For example, to save space I had to cut out the first names of people in my first study group. Made up of Sagar, Suniel and Dinesh, all from India and Alex, the Italian product manager who is a really a Gardner, it was truly a bunch of people getting used to one and other, but once we got going it really clicked well.

The article also does not do justice to the diversity of the program.

We not only have African Americans, we have people from Africa, folks from Venezuela, The Dominican Republic, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Italy, The People's Republic of China and Taiwan. Roumania and the UK are represented as well. Neil from the UK commutes in every 4 to 6 weeks, while there was a person from section 2 of my cohort who came in from Shanghai, but is now coming in from Chile. Of course there are a number of middle-aged white people like myself as well. Straights and gays are well represented.

My mother in law research suggests that all the major religious groups like Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, agnostics and atheists are in the mix as well. And those are the ones I know about.

While my cohort is has about 15% to 20% females, I hear that class that just started in March 2010 is nearly 40% female. This is a far cry from the days of my friend Pat who attended the Babson MBA program about 25 years ago. She was the only female in most of her classes in those days.

Somewhere in the mix is an ex-professional soccer player, a former race car driver, even corporate types from IBM, Intel and Nike. Corporate and independent entrepreneurs abound.

I figure since nearly half a million people read the Financial Times per day, my 15 minutes of fame might actually get me somewhere.

Stayed tuned to find out.

For those who would like to download the full report, click here:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Late Stage MBA - From St. Petersburg Airport, Russia

Phew, made it to St. Petersburg. Waiting at Costa Coffee with fellow classmate Maggie Barrett who is from the Portland Ore, cohort. Here is a business opportunity waiting for development. There is no retail at the St. Petes airport. Invest now. Unlike Maggie who seems have left from her house at 4am Seattle time and now has been up for nearly 2 days, I have been awake only 36 hours. (turns out maggie is in charge of the software operating system for the HP 210 at Intel that I am typing on.)

20 degrees F here vs. 45 degrees yesterday in NY.

Sizewise the airport terminal is about the same as White Plains in Westchester county NY, but needs ambiance. The people are nice, they speak many languages. We had advice not to use the ATMs here from the tourist person.

My goodnesss we (actually Maggie Treated) are having $20 worth of coffee and water. Seems a bit higher than JFK or Logan. Have to work on the money matters.

Please check out the Financial Times on Monday March 15th. Wrote about my experience at Babson. More later.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Great Ethnic Turkey Day Recipe Download

Happy Thanksgiving folks.

The rules of the great Ethnic Turkey Recipe Download are simple: Please post only recipes of any dish other than turkey that is served with your Thanksgiving meal that reflects a special ethnic, religious, national or geographic origin.

For example, the Hungarian Russian Polish East European and the minority represented WASP side of my family serves up brisket, stuffed cabbage, mashed eggplant, sour pickles, smoked fish, little white bread t-sandwiches, and vodka, while the Spanish, Turk, Greek Middle East side serves up chicken lemon soup, their version of stuffed cabbage, berekas, flaffel, flat bread with oregano, a red spicy eggplant, retsina Greek wine and humus. It comes together with the pumpkin pie, which tastes like it has garlic in it.

We are actively recruiting family members for the next generation in other ethnic groups. Please apply online. Equal opportunity family.

And yes we discuss politics.

This post is a free for all. And despite the ultimate title, open to all.

If I get enough, I am going to organize a site and call it The Great Ethnic Babson MBA Turkey Recipe book in honor of my classmates, but it is open to anyone, anywhere, including all my direct marketing, social media, SEO/SEM web, database analytic types, PR, event marketers, entrepreneurs, corporate types, branding colleagues (can't discriminate), family and friends, etc. All who contribute will be given credit.The recipe must be publishable, testable, and eatable.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We Volunteered for This! Late Stage MBA-Josh Moritz

My friend Tim Manners teased me a couple of weeks ago that I was not keeping up with my blog. So on this first day of the Jewish year 5770 I am going to resolve to keep this going no matter the guilt, the time or the school work. It has been all about the school work. As my study group mate Dan O'Neil quipped, we volunteered for this, and I have to tell you between family, work and trying to understand Activity Based accounting, operations research, data analysis, it is challenging: I can read and think, but I might as well be painting the roof of Sistine Chapel blind folded.

Even strategy stuff which I thought I had down cold, I feel like I am getting whipped around the head with a bag of nickels (a metaphor from the strategy professor describing some other challeging issue that I thought was pretty straight forward but was not). Just hope the nickels end up in my pocket someday.

The beauty of study groups is that there is always someone around who understands it better than me, and they make great tutors. I help out where I can, stronger in marketing. Perhaps the best part of the MBA education is group socialization. Maybe we get it right, maybe we don't, but we are learning how to figure it out as collaborators rather than an the lone knight or knightess. As a result, of I had done the MBA 20 years ago, perhaps I would have followed a more corporate path since I might have learned earlier better how to work with groups of people, to understand group politics and coming up with group solutions. This could have happened at Columbia, NYU, but I am doing it at Babson, so there probably is a unique flavor to this learning environment, which I enjoy. Well, maybe except for that data analysis assignment on page 803.

But forget the whinning. A number of my classmates are fasting for Ramadan during this semester. If friends and colleagues can follow religious tenants during this semester, go to work and school, I can figure out data analysis.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Late Stage MBA-Josh Moritz- Ethics, Sharing and Babson Fast Track MBA

My blog about my mother and the Maserati generated a solicitation from a site that allows people to share papers, projects, e-books, etc. for graduate and undergraduate students. There was no decision here: I rejected the comment out-right and it will not be published on this blog.

There is an element of self-righteousness here, and I am no angel--sure I have shared work with colleagues and in return they have shared with me in private with understanding that the sharing is to generate thought, not steal it --- but what is being drilled into the heads of my Fast Track Babson class is not just the concept of the law but what is also ethical. To wit: Such a blatant solicitation to share potentially copyrighted material, e-books and papers in a public venue without the potential of attribution or payment is odious.

The concept of law and ethnics is not just focused on one class, but is a theme that permeates the program. While we are being trained as large "C" capitalists, we are also taking a serious look at the philosophy behind our business conduct. It is a matter of understanding what we are selling and that the buyer understands what they are getting. There is limited stomach for promoting a product like a CDO (that odious word that is likley to get some people reared up for comment) when we don't understand exactly what it does, but selling it anyway to people who think they know what it does, but then does not.

We are encouraged to develop a general, yet flexible rule, to establish the guidelines upfront before faced with an ethical issue.

We are studying the law, but also the ethical construct behind the law. Our readings include: Kant, Aristotle, Confucious, Jeremy Bentham, John Mill, as well as others.

Perhaps the philosphy that Babson is trying to get across, more than finance, marketing, supply chain management, or strategy can be summed up by a quote from Peter Cooper in 1874, just after the rampage of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall in New York City:

"I have always recognized that the object of business is to make money in an honorable manner. I have endeavored to remember that the object of life is to do good."
Good philosphy, hope to do it.