By Terry Connelly, Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University
When I first started the entry-level Wall Street training program at Salomon Brothers, our first instruction was simple: Force yourself to read The Wall Street Journal, end to end, every weekday. If you are planning to pursue Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree, that advice is still good.
Today’s vast new array of digital media offers the aspiring MBA student a range of choices to keep up with business and economic affairs. Perhaps there are too many choices—so many so that you can focus on the Web sites that fit your personal world-view. And yet..the precious time in your life that you devote getting an MBA offers a tremendous opportunity to challenge your preconceived notions, rather than reinforce them. Learning other points of view will help you as you advance in your career.
Most business magazines are like a day-old sandwich. Web sources that are committed to near real-time news are helpful.
The New York Times (front section): Don’t focus so much on the business pages—those are yesterday’s news. The front pages and even the Op-Eds will offer far more clues as to what will move events and markets and commerce today, and even more so, tomorrow.
The Economist: This British journal is the quickest way to get something all MBAs need: a world view. You will find that The Economist has its own, distinctive, world view. In reading this, you will confront ideas different than your own, early and often, in your schooling. So go ahead and argue with our British friends and figure out your own view of things, and absorb the incredible amount of carefully crafted and thoroughly researched reporting and perspective it provides every week—especially in its in-depth special sections.
Financial Times: While you are in the “British Reading Room” perusing the Economist, also look at Financial Times, which will offer you a perspective on American business, finance, and politics that, as they used to say of Schweppes soda, is “curiously refreshing.” You will want to keep up with Brexit and the doings of the European Community institutions, the Eurozone, German competitors, and French upstarts (Watch that space.).
The Financial Times does not do a bad job covering the Asian region either. You can add Singapore’s Straits Times for that, or better yet, Bloomberg’s Live TV around midnight Pacific Time—when the stock and bond and currency trading day has already started. Speaking of Bloomberg, consider its Businessweek because it is reinventing itself as a more focused journal.
Terry Connelly’s Best Websites for Aspiring MBAs
The New York Times (front section) >>
Financial Times >>
The Economist >>
Straits Times (Singapore) >>
Bloomberg’s Live TV >>
Bloomberg’s Businessweek >>
Expert Discussion and Commentary
No, I am not going to close with a recommendation of The Washington Post, despite their good information leaks over the decades. Instead, I suggest you get fresh information. Sign up to get the daily online D.C. webcast chats on Axios or Sidewire (the latter of which I have the privilege of contributing to). They limit discussions to those who are experts in their field and summarize current issues that are not discussed in routine press headlines. Their discussions also reveal what to look for during the day and how to stay just a smidge ahead of events related to your industry, your investments, and your general peace of mind.
These sources will help you figure out how to meet the first and mandatory challenge that awaits those who seek to be leaders: defining reality. Most people come to their new jobs with illusions which may have served them well in previous positions but will lead to poor results in their current one. Occasionally, a leader has to shatter the illusions of their team with a cold dose of truth, like the “BI Running Platform” analogy found in more than one business school case study.
Defining reality provides what successful athletes and CEOs alike refer to as acute “situational awareness.” If you want to make the most of your post-MBA moments, use your MBA “free time” to learn how to always know the score and the time left on the clock.