I was talking with a friend over lunch the other day and he told me that the HBS student motto is:
Overcommit and underdeliver.
Classy, right? I’ve been feeling a bit of that pressure lately myself. I’ve blogged about it before, but there are so many amazing things to do here that it’s easy to become immediately overwhelmed. More dangerous is how easy it is to find a leadership position in a club. Every club has about 20 officer positions. VP of this, VP of that, C-level position in whatever. From my experience, about 90% of those positions serve a very critical purpose: resume padding. The remaining 10% of the people are actually stuck with doing the day-to-day grind of organizing club activities.
So, here’s the disclaimer. I’m an officer in three different clubs, which puts me far over into the overcommited category. I’ve yet to succumb to underdeliver, but it’s probably only because I’ve been ignoring a substantial portion of the after-hours social activities and cutting my case-prep time in half.
The other day marked one of the first events I’ve planned and brought to campus: a speaker for a club (which around here, happens quite frequently). The whole process is really quite interesting. Lots of planning and contacts and working with various campus groups, and in the end, you still end up with half of the audience walking out during the event (to attend other events, presumably). HBS students are rude, rude, rude.
Admittedly, though, part of it is my own fault — expectations here are high. It’s not enough to bring a CEO to campus for a lecture. You need to bring both a “celebrity” CEO (to draw a crowd) and make sure the discussion is dynamic and two-way (to keep people in the room). It’s a tough environment, but that might not be a bad thing. If you have an audience and keep it — you really know you were successful. People here do not suffer boring speakers kindly.