87. No Modeling in Public


I don’t think this one could legitimately be interpreted as me “blinking.”

Two of the most lasting legacies of my B-school experience are 1) The phrase, “It is what it is,” and 2) the rule, “No Modeling in public.”  I’m not talking about fashion/runway modeling, I’m talking about financial model.  To build a financial model is to put together a spreadsheet that mimics a real-life scenario.  (I’m just making this up – how am I doing?)

For example, you might ask, “Will I make any money if I sell my new product?”  So then someone like me would go back to his/her cubicle and build a spreadsheet that showed how much it would cost to build your product, launch it, and how much revenue you’d see from its sale.  I would probably try to get the Marketing people to commit to a number of units we could reasonably expect to move, but the nice thing about a model is that it’s usually desirable to make the assumptions editable.  I should be able to tell you relatively easily how much money you’d make if you sold x – y units, not just x units.  You’d probably also want to know what the bottom line would be if you managed to build the new product faster than projected – hence the beauty of editable assumptions.

My friend E|B and I came up with the rule, No modeling in public,” since we much preferred to go home and edit our models in private instead of manipulating them “live” while our machines were hooked up to a projector.  The chance of user-error is greatly increased in a “live” situation.  The problem is that in the real world, people often want to know now what would happen if you ratchet one of the assumptions up or down, and rightly so – if you are adept enough you’re supposed to be able to provide that sort of information upon request.  It’s just that I liked sitting in my cubicle much better than working Excel with an audience.  Oh well, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

When I went to Africa I was surprised at how “normal” it felt there.  The climate and the construction of the houses (with metal grating over the open windows) felt like Malaysia to me (but drier, which I liked), and I spent most of the time with my laptop tucked under my arm, walking around the Mission.  Instead of thinking of things like, “How much silicon will you need?” I was pondering things like, “How many eggs would the chickens lay in a week?” or, “How many people tend to the school’s goats?”  There were quite a few projects aimed at making the health/education ministries there more self-sufficient and I was already constructing models in my head.

The key words there are “in my head” – I had no intention of modeling in public.  In a couple of months it will be 2 years since I went to Africa.  I had to stop there and think hard about the time-lapse.  There are about 1.5 years of my life that are kind of a blur for me and I always forget that time has passed/children have grown/the world has moved on since then.  During that time period, however, I have gradually let go of my “No modeling in public rule.”

The day I got sick was the day my life transitioned to a more public phase.  It used to be very difficult for me when kind people approached me in public (I’m Asian, youngish, and use an assistive device to walk, so I’m easy to pick out of a crowd).  When I met strangers who knew me I was grieved at this new evidence/reminder that what everyone was saying re. me getting sick blah blah blah was true.  But now I’m trying to welcome it – these people who I don’t know have prayed for me and just want to say, “hi” and give me a word of encouragement – I could cry just thinking about it.  I think modeling in public might be worth it after all.