Get fit in London

So exercise is clearly linked to thinking better. Depending on who you ask, that and reading are the two keys to life.

But let’s face it, exercise isn’t easy. If you’re pushing yourself, it’s pretty painful. Rowing, for example, at any sort of serious level involves legs and lungs feeling like they’re on fire. It’s great to win, but it can be a tremendous sacrifice to get there. Because it’s not easy to do, it becomes easy to skip. And once you start skipping exercise, you can pretty rapidly lose fitness.

One solution is either getting involved in exercise classes (anonymous and generally not tailored to your needs) or seeing a personal trainer (expensive). A personal trainer can sometimes be trying to mold you into what they want you to be, and not what you want.

If you’re in London, there’s a new solution. Two friends of mine and LondonAnnie have established a new Personal Training company that’s specifically geared to what YOU want to do in life: Point2Fitness. For older people, that might mean being more active with their grandchildren. With others, it may mean training to become an Olympic athlete or climb Everest.

The two founders, Baz and Carla, are World-class athletes themselves. (They won bronze in the 2007 Rowing World Championships in addition to World Cups, Olympics, and more.) LondonAnnie in particular has seen and experienced them in action, as they are long-time members of Thames Rowing Club, and have been experimenting with new fitness routines at the club recently.

Please check out the Point2Fitness website and look into it! Baz and Carla are both talented athletes themselves but also incredibly down-to-earth and focused on making their customers happy and their business a success. It’s great to see what international-level athletes are able to do with their careers when they choose to stop competing, and I wish them the best of luck!

(I particularly like that all of the photos were taken in/around Thames Rowing Club; it’s a very professionally produced website.)

That’s it… I’m officially sick of Apple, the iPod and the iPhone

I’m guessing there’s one company for every era of business school students. One company who is almost always used as an example, whose recent activities/products/services/innovations are used in every class and discussed thoroughly. This has probably been Amazon.com at some point, RJR Nabisco before that, HP before that, and so on.

This era’s company is Apple.

I’m officially sick of them. The iPod, the iPhone, the iTunes ecosystem, the Halo Effect, Steve Jobs, a culture of innovation…

WE GOT IT.

I love Apple products, and own/use a MacBook, iPhone and iPods. But enough is enough.

Can we start using other examples… please? Pretty please?

(We recently had a case study on Banyan Tree Resorts, which was unfortunate since it looks like I’m going to have to go there on holiday with LondonAnnie sometime post-graduation. But that’s more like it…)

Entrepreneurship at Cambridge University

At the end of last year, YouNoodle.com published a list of the Top University Startup Communities. Cambridge University came in 3rd, right after Stanford (Silicon Valley) and MIT (Boston). Oxford University came in 6th. Here is how YouNoodle came up with the ranking:

YouNoodle has designed an algorithm to calculate each university’s significance as a startup community. Significance is determined by factors including the number and quality of the startups in the university, activity of its groups, business plan competitions, availability of talent and investment in the area, and the success of past startups.

I’m not surprised that Cambridge ranks just behind Silicon Valley and Boston. While this list focuses on University startup communities, I believe that Cambridge is an incredible place to be for entrepreneurship no matter the criteria. I’m sure Charlie would say that something from New York should be on the list (and I would agree), I think it’s both fair and correct that Cambridge is ranked as one of the top startup communities in the world.

Silicon Valley and Boston are clearly in a class by themselves based on the sheer size of the communities there. But Cambridge is a hidden gem. You must recognize that the startups coming out of Cambridge are only rarely the consumer-focused, trendy companies. What gets funded here tends to be hard science, technology, microchips, sensors, biotech, and the like. If you’re reading this blog, I guarantee you that technology invented here is within a few feet of you right now… virtually all mobile phones use ARM chips, for example. Recent successful startup founders I’ve met have developed sensors for chemical detection (and have received a multi-million dollar contract from the US military), and a wearable sensor to help women accurately track their body temperature and fertility cycle to help them get pregnant.

To put numbers on it, nearly 10% of all venture investment in Europe was in Cambridge. What do we have here:

  • One of the world’s best Universities, with significant science and technology focus
  • St. John’s Innovation Centre, a fantastic incubator for nascent businesses. Mailboxes, virtual offices, general offices, and services for growing businesses.
  • Cambridge University Entrepreneurs, which provide workshops for entrepreneurs and hold a series of business plan contests each year.
  • Very experienced venture capitalists, such as Amadeus Capital.
  • CUTEC (Cambridge University Technology and Entrepreneurship Club), which hosts a large conference in May of each year, as well as smaller events and networking sessions throughout the year.
  • A VERY large angel funding network, the most prominent of which is the Cambridge Angels. Many of these angels are very available to students and local entrepreneurs, and they tend to be very active in and around Cambridge.
  • Center for Entrepreneurial Learning, which hosts events like the famed Enterprise Tuesday sessions, as well as a full programme of other events.

So I’m very happy I’m here in Cambridge as I work on my plans. If you’re starting anything in the science or technology fields in Europe, Cambridge is one of the best places to be.

Running (rowing?) & reading

I found this via Brad Feld, and saw that Furqan blogged about it, too.

It’s a short & simple video from Will Smith (the “Fresh Prince”) and his two keys to life: Running and Reading. Because if you want to succeed, you’ve got to be willing to work harder than anyone else.

Though I can’t help but be struck at how this reminds me of the balance I keep trying to strike between Creating and Consuming. Lately I’ve been focused on the mantra Create >> Consume because I need to remind myself that I have to make progress on my plans each day. But this reminds me that I have to consume in order for my creation to make sense in context.

Anyway, enough of my babbling. Here’s Will Smith:

Cambridge MBA and Cambridge Colleges — A decision aid

I wanted to write a quick guide to Cambridge Colleges, aimed at people accepted into the Cambridge MBA.

The MBA program works a little differently than any other Cambridge degree, in that you’re first accepted into the MBA, and then you’re accepted into a college. (Traditionally you’re apply to your program through a college, and then are accepted into both.)

On an MBA program, your college can be part of your core MBA experience or virtually irrelevant. If you want to participate in sports, everything is done through your college. (Unless you’re good enough to start out playing at a high level for the University.) Housing is all done through your college, and a significant part of the admin you have to do with your program is done through a college. But while it’s a fairly significant choice, it certainly doesn’t “break” your MBA, though it can help “make” it.

I’m at Jesus College, which is quite an old college in the north part of central Cambridge. It’s a big, fairly wealthy college with lots of space on the grounds for sports. Arnoud De Meyer, the Director of Judge Business School, is a Fellow at Jesus and it’s been great to meet him from time to time at the college.

I would say the biggest things to think of when picking a college:

  • Housing — Do you intend to stay in college housing? Do you have a partner and/or children? If you want something other than a single room for one person the availability can be dramatically different between colleges.
  • Location — This is tied into housing, too. If you do plan on living in college, how close to Judge do you want to be? (If you want to be close to the boathouses for rowing, pick Jesus.)
  • Sports — If you’re really interested in a particular sport, check to see which colleges are the best. (That’s how I got to Jesus, to be honest.)
  • Old vs. New — Do you want to be in one of the older colleges, one of the newer colleges, or do you just not care?
  • Grad/Mature/Women — Some colleges restrict admission to mature students, grad students, women or some combination thereof. Is that something you care about?

Finally, remember to have a few different choices that you’d be happy with when you talk to the MBA office. (They have much more information than I have about colleges other than Jesus.) Each college can be very quirky and they may very well not accept you, though you are guaranteed a place in one of the colleges. The MBA office will help guide you through all that. But I’d also recommend taking a look at the various colleges on Wikipedia for some basic comparative information and links to much more detail.

But without further ado, here’s my guide to Cambridge Colleges for the Cambridge MBA:

Ancient Colleges (founded before 1600)

The ancient colleges tend to be more popular, and thus a bit harder to get into. People like them because there’s much more tradition, the dining halls and chapels are old and beautiful, and they’ve got quirky histories (and world-famous alumni) to impress family and friends. Unfortunately, many of these colleges rarely seem to accept MBA’s. But there are some (like Jesus) that are a bit more enlightened!

Virtually none

Unless you’re an alumni of the college already or have family connections, it’s unlikely that you will get a spot at these colleges.

Peterhouse
Clare
Gonville and Caius
Trinity Hall
Corpus Christi
King’s
St. John’s
Trinity

Handful or more

These colleges certainly take MBA’s, and are all great choices.

Queens’ -Quite popular, >10 MBA’s/year

Queens’ is quite close to Judge, and was quite a popular choice this year.

Pembroke

Pembroke is one of the closest colleges to Judge, and is a great choice. We often go to the cafeteria there for lunch because it’s convenient. I think if you register early enough with them you may be able to get a room in the main college grounds, which are beautiful.

St. Catharine’s

St. Catherine’s is also convenient to Judge, and I believe has a small number of scholarships for MBA’s. [UPDATE]- I have since been informed that St. Catharine’s only accepts MBA’s that are Benavitch Scholars.

Jesus

Clearly the best college for MBA’s, bar none. Fantastic rowing club, and convenient housing. It’s a little further away from Judge (~15 minute walk), but you get to see the heart of Cambridge every day because of it!

Emmanuel

Another good college with a handful of MBA’s this year.

Sidney Sussex

The Master of Sidney Sussex is Professor Dame Sandra Dawson, who was formerly the Director of Judge Business School, and is also on the Board of Directors of Barclays Bank and Oxfam International. (She was one of our professors for Organisational Behaviour last term.) It’s a very nice college, right by Jesus.

Small number

I’m not sure if these colleges fall under the “Virtually None” category or not, but they accepted MBA’s this year:

Christ’s

Very beautiful college about 10–15 minutes’ walk from Judge.

Magdalene

Magdalene is on the banks of the Cam, just over the bridge from central Cambridge. Very quaint. Apparently their May Ball every year is white-tie, which is interesting.

Old Colleges (founded between 1800 and 1900)

I don’t know much about many of these colleges, so I’ll write what I do know.

Hughes Hall [mature only] -Most popular, about 30/year

Hughes Hall is very popular amongst MBA’s, with about 20% of the class there. Having so many of your classmates at the same college is great for people that like that.

St. Edmund’s [mature only]
Downing

Downing is the other college that’s very close to Judge. Very beautiful grounds, and it feels more like one of the “ancient” colleges.

Girton
Homerton
Newnham
[women only]
Selwyn

Modern Colleges (founded since 1950)

Wolfson [mature only] -Very popular, about 20 MBA’s

Another popular college for MBA’s. A surprisingly strong rowing club, too.

Darwin [grads only]

Darwin is fairly convenient to Judge, and is just past Queens’ on the other side of the Cam.

Fitzwilliam
Clare Hall [grads only]
Murray Edwards (aka New Hall) [women only]
Churchill
Robinson
Lucy Cavendish [mature women only]

[UPDATE] — The post from James Barker of the Judge Admissions Office is an absolute must-read on this topic!

Best beer ad ever??

My first two exams of the MBA were yesterday (Finance and Accounting), and my last two exams for this term are tomorrow (Marketing and Organisational Behaviour). I’m a bit fried from yesterday, and still have to study for exams tomorrow morning.

In honour of this, a bit of an amusing video…

Very cool rocket photos and news from SpaceX

I’ve been following SpaceX for years, since they were building their first hardware and trying to launch it from a small island in the Pacific. I posted this fall when SpaceX became the first privately-funded company to successfully launch a liquid-fueled rocket into space. That was their Falcon 1 launch vehicle, with 1 engine. They’ve had their Falcon 9 vehicle (9 engines) in development for nearly as long, and just before New Years Eve it was fully integrated on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral! SpaceX took four tries to get Falcon 1 into orbit, and I hope that the first Falcon 9 launch works straight off.

The recent HUGE news for SpaceX is that they were awarded a $1.6 billion (yes, with a B) contract to launch 12 rockets and send 20,000kg (~22 tons) of cargo to the International Space Station. NASA may also elect for additional missions for a total of $3.1 billion total value! They will be competing for longer-term contracts with Orbital Sciences. One difference is that SpaceX will be launching Falcon 9 in the next couple of months, where Orbital doesn’t expect to launch their newly designed vehicle until at least 2010, putting SpaceX a year ahead. An interesting paragraph in this Wall Street Journal article regarding the contract says quite a bit:

SpaceX, which easily came out at the top of all the cost, management and technical rankings, is slated to start flights in late 2010, and the contracts stretch for seven more years.

Anyway, I thought people might enjoy photos of what will likely be the future of commercial spaceflight in the US for many years to come. (All taken from SpaceX’s Updates page.)

Beautiful shot of Falcon 9 at the Cape:

Fully integrated at the Cape:

Fitting the HUGE fairing to the rest of the rocket:

Another shot just before the fairing was attached:

Nine, yes NINE first-stage engines shipping from testing in Texas:

The second stage engine: