B school insider and gadfly John A. Byrne has just launched Poets and Quants, a new website concerning all things MBA. Poets and Quants is essentially an ongoing, online chronicle of Byrne’s informational/editorial/philosophical blog posts, which address virtually every aspect of the business school world–rankings, school and program analysis, admissions advice, and the job market. The site also includes a networking forum.
Poets and Quants contains thorough, current, candid, and elegant posts that read like high-quality magazine articles, a nice alternative to most business school blogs. No thinly veiled ad copy here. Indeed, as both an accomplished author and a former executive editor of Business Week who launched the magazine’s business school rankings in the 80′s, Byrne is indeed himself a poet and a quant. Take, for example, his post on programs in social entrepreneurship (posted but still in progress). It not only provides an in-depth elucidation of non-profit management programs ranked as outstanding by U.S. News & World Report but begins with the following word to the wise:
In his 80th year of life, the famous English sculptor Henry Moore was asked a fascinating question by literary critic Donald Hall.
“Now that you are 80, you must know the secret of life. What is it?”
Moore paused ever so slightly, with just enough time to smile before answering.
“The secret of life,” he mused, “is to have a task, something you do your entire life, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is: It must be something you cannot possibly do.”
The sculptor’s remarks represent a nicely packaged theory of a productive life: Throw yourself into something big that you believe in. Obsessively dedicate your life’s work to it. And make damn sure it’s ambitious enough to stretch you to the limits.
In this phase of his productive life, Byrne has decided to offer both insider and honest discussion of the realities of business school life with the ultimate aim of creating a “Huffington Post of business” platform comprising a total of 12 related sites. Consequently, besides containing some great literary references, Byrne’s posts are also full of opinions and do not shy away from “the brutal truth.” In “Social Entrepreneurship: The Best Schools & Programs,” Byrne details the history and key features of each program while stringing a running commentary throughout–quarreling, for example, with the U.S. News and World Report’s decision to rank the social entrepreneurship program at UC Berkeley’s Haas School over Stanford’s (Stanford offers 29 area electives in contrast to Berkeley’s 10) or commenting that the course Urban Public Finance, offered by Northwestern’s Kellogg School, will “not exactly help you become a social capitalist.” One must appreciate frankness, especially when it operates at this level of precision.
Byrne’s posts are also exciting to read, a sure sign of authorial passion. He highlights the most creative, cutting-edge, and intriguing business school initiatives such as the Kellogg School’s Social Entrepreneur Fellow Award, which grants $80,000 to a graduating student who pledges to develop a social venture and devote full time to it. And then there is Stanford’s unusual approach to naming its annual public management initiative:
Teams of students compete each spring to lead the following year’s initiative, with the winning team selecting a topic to explore in detail throughout the academic year. In 2009-10, students engaged in the question: “Debating Tomorrow: How will business change after the crisis?” The PMI topic for 2010-11 will be “Demystifying D.C.: Is America Ungovernable?”
This website is a great resource for M.B.A. applicants, particularly those at the early stages of school selection. Selecting schools and thinking through one’s future business path as exhaustively as possible is an essential part of the application process, and this kind of decision making takes time. Poets and Quants offers much to deliberate. The website is also just a good read. Recommended for non b school applicants, too.