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Let’s Talk About Stress: Lessons from Jonathan Guerrero (MBA ’15)

BY JOHN RHOADS – STAFF WRITER

Jonathan Guerrero

Jonathan Guerrero

On any given day, you’re probably fielding dozens of emails, finishing your economics homework or meeting with your learning team to put the final touches on a marketing project.

Stressful, right? But managing your stress level is critical to staying healthy. Studies show that stress can contribute to a wide range of health problems, like anxiety and depression in the short-term and a greater susceptibility to catching the common cold.

So what’s an M.B.A. student to do?

As impossible as it may sound, the secret to managing stress may be to avoid multitasking, according to Jonathan Guerrero (MBA ’15). When he first moved to Los Angeles, Guerrero says he developed “crazy road rage.” He was doing too much at once in the car: navigating traffic, making phone calls, checking e-mail, listening to music. “My family and friends were telling me I had changed,” he says. “I was angry.”

Then, before coming to Anderson, Guerrero spent a week with a renowned Zen Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh at a monastery in Pine Bush, N.Y. A peace and human rights activist, Nhat Hanh has dedicated his life to helping people to be passionately present in the here and now. Guerrero’s takeaway from the retreat with Nhat Hanh was simple: he needed to stop multi-tasking.

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Photo by Yoojin Koh

It’s worked. Now, when Guerrero drives, he focuses solely on the road. “I don’t try to be anywhere else,” he says, adding that he even turns off the radio sometimes.

“It sounds silly at first,” he says, but being present is easier said than done. It takes mindfulness and awareness to stick to the task at hand. “You can’t do two things at the same time effectively,” he says.

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Soda Wars

BY ROMAIN WACZIARG – ULCLA ANDERSON PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS

Romain Wacziarg

Romain Wacziarg

A battle is brewing over one of my favorite staples: soft drinks.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently tried to ban restaurants from selling large-sized sodas, citing the public health risk of the sugary drinks. Meanwhile, the Mexican government is considering a tax on soft drinks to discourage their consumption.
As the prevalence of obesity rises in many countries, public policy is intervening to stem the tide. But should we be regulating the consumption of soft drinks? If an individual wants to risk obesity and diabetes by drinking massive amounts of soda, why should policymakers govern that personal choice?
Too often, we as a society seek to intervene against a behavior we dislike – but in doing so, we may run roughshod over individual rights. A free and informed person presumably weighs the personal costs and benefits when deciding to gulp down a gallon of Coca-Cola. So, perhaps we should end the argument here and let folks like me enjoy our soda in peace.
But it’s not that simple. In principle, public-policy intervention can be justified if leaving the free market to its own devices leads to broad social harm: a negative externality. Perhaps soda drinkers do not make well-informed decisions because they aren’t aware of the obesity costs that occur later in life, and consumers may discount the future too aggressively. Parents. Suppose that parents who consume lots of soda influence their kids to do the same, and that these beverages are addictive.
What social consequences could then result from allowing people to freely choose their level of soda consumption? An obvious one is public-health externality. To the extent that people do not bear the cost of their health expenditures, because they rely on private or public insurance, their private actions affect the premiums that the rest of us pay to insurers and the taxes we pay into public-health schemes. In recent decades, health costs like these have comprised a rising share of total health expenditures. The bottom line is that you and I are footing the bill for the health care costs being incurred by the obese. Soda drinkers are essentially free-riding on insurance pools and taxpayers.
On the other hand, obesity can also bring certain economic benefits. As unpleasant as it may sound, obesity can cause premature death – from diabetes, heart disease or other ailments– which can result in savings for publicly-funded retirement programs like Social Security. We must carefully weigh the health costs of obesity against the savings that an early death affords to retirement programs.
Let’s assume we determine that health costs still win out and we decide to regulate soda consumption. What is the best way to go about doing this?
Economists offer a clear answer here: A tax is much better than a ban. A ban is too heavy-handed and discourages consumption from people who receive a net benefit from drinking soda. Moreover, bans can be rife with loopholes, rendering them ineffective. Soda-drinkers in New York, for example, can easily circumvent the new ban by crossing the Hudson River to get their soda fix in New Jersey.
Instead, a tax should be levied at a level that discourages consumption among people who only receive a small net benefit from drinking soda – a benefit smaller than the social harm they cause. Consumers who really enjoy large sodas, and are willing to pay a high price for it, are free to keep enjoying it. A tax is less intrusive in this manner, and offers the advantage of producing revenue that can be spent on socially beneficial endeavors.
Following this rationale, I give Mexico an “A” and New York an “F” for their efforts. But I doubt Mayor Bloomberg truly believed his initiative was an effective public-policy measure anyway. Rather, he saw an opportunity to raise awareness about an important health issue and to encourage people to make better choices for themselves.
And from that standpoint, the soda ban was wildly successful. After all, you and I are still talking about it, and the next time I feel tempted to buy a Coke at Northern Lights, I may just reach for an Odwalla instead.

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Lindsay Shaffer

BY MIKE HIRSHMAN – EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Lindsay Shaffer

Lindsay Shaffer

Lindsay Shaffer’s (MBA ’15) education and career have been guided by a passion for wellness, sport, nutrition, and personal development. Lindsay played Lacrosse while studying pre-med as an undergraduate at Notre Dame. After working for IBM, she sought to return to the world of sport, so she came USC where she pursued graduate study and worked two years as a learning specialist with the football team. She then spent three years as an Academic Advisor for Student-Athletes at Stanford. She advised 250 student athletes and designed two undergraduate classes.

Shaffer came to Anderson looking to take the benefit of sport to a wider population beyond elite athletes. She is also making an effort here at Anderson to make healthy food available and accessible to the Anderson community. She is looking to identify a company to bring a truly healthy vending machine to the student lounge.

 

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Tina Ramos

BY JOHN KAPTEYN – SECTION EDITOR

Eaten at ShopHouse yet?

Tina Ramos

Tina Ramos

It’s probably only a matter of time. Chipotle’s new Asian fast-casual chain just opened a second location in Los Angeles – and second-year Anderson student Tina Ramos can take some credit for its success.

A summer marketing intern at Chipotle, she was tasked with building recognition and customer loyalty for the chain. It was a bold pursuit for Ramos, who previously worked as a researcher at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive think-tank.

ShopHouse was her first foray into marketing, Ramos says, adding that her time at Anderson helped her find the “courage of conviction” to pursue an internship outside her comfort zone. She hopes her experience will inspire other students to do the same.

“There is a big world out there,” Ramos says. “Follow your gut, and don’t be afraid to beat to your own drum.”

 

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Entrepreneurship and the MBA

BY SOM DEB - STAFF WRITER

Everywhere I turn these days, it seems, I encounter the word “entrepreneurship.”
It isn’t hard to see why. We live in a highly digital era, and the rise of celebrity entrepreneurs such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have inspired a whole new generation to chase The Next Big Thing. Some primary schools are even introducing coding classes to give students a head start at a young age.
But can entrepreneurship really be taught? Sadly, business schools have faced skepticism from some critics who say the M.B.A. degree just doesn’t amount to much in this area.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “A Smart Investor would Skip the M.B.A.,” author Dale Stephens argues that the money spent on a business degree would be better spent on specialized training, relocation expenses and networking. Employers would rather hire individuals who have actually tried to build a business, he contends, rather than simply studying how to build one.
Perhaps entrepreneurship cannot be taught, but Mr. Stephens misses the point. True, many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs – like Virgin’s Richard Branson, Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Michael Dell – never even graduated from college. Still, there is something to be said about providing business-school students with a risk-free environment in which they can pursue opportunities, learn from others and cultivate an entrepreneurial way of thinking.
After all, entrepreneurship isn’t about building the next Facebook. It is about having the freedom to implement change. Living in the U.K., I often felt that failure was discouraged. In the U.S., however, I’ve been impressed by the more positive associations with risk-taking; it is clear that occasional failure is regarded as a valuable learning opportunity.
At Anderson, I see entrepreneurial spirit everywhere I look. In just the past few weeks, for example, my classmates have launched new ventures such as the Anderscotch Club and this very publication –evidence of what a business school can offer to those who have an entrepreneurial bent.
Most of us will never start our own businesses. But in the leadership roles we do take on, we will have the ability to enact change – whether it is modifying a system or pushing a new way of thinking – and that, I would like to tell Mr. Stephens, is why a smart investor should not skip the M.B.A.

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Ed Moses

BY ERIC SMITH - FEMBA EDITOR

Ed Moses 3-AaEdit

Ed Moses poses with his Olympic Medals (Photo by Z. Davar)

You might know Ed Moses (FEMBA ’16) as the co-founder and co-owner of MoJo Marketing & Media, a creative content consulting company.
But what you might not know is that Moses is also an Olympic gold medalist. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he and his teammates nabbed the gold medal in the 400-meter medley relay. He also scored the silver medal and broke multiple world records in the 100-meter breaststroke.
His success didn’t end there. Moses continued his sporting career as a semi-professional golfer. He says his passions, experiences and international travels inspired him to start MoJo, where he currently serves as a Vice President.

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