The MBA Entrepreneur: The Value of Time

by Stella Fayman on October 17, 2012

It’s hard to believe it, but I’m starting my 3rd week of business school classes. At this point, I’ve joined study groups (the fundamental support group for each class), gone to many Lunch and Learns (free lunch with some sort of presentation, usually corporate sometimes awesome speakers) and generally gotten back in the swing of things like say…studying.

One big difference I am noticing between my startup self and my peers is that everyone seems to talk about one thing: time.

They complain about not having enough time, they mention how long every homework assignment takes, and progress is measured in hours spent rather than output. One thing they share with the startup world is always talking about a lack of sleep. Even in recruiting this shows: students go to pointless recruiting events everyone hates all around. Students use this time to “get to know” companies, but do they really get to know a company when the ratio of students to recruiters is 10/1 and they’re too busy worried about making a good impression? Company reps can’t remember anyone because there are too many people. A pragmatic entrepreneur like myself likes to ask: what’s the freakin point?

I’m finding this fundamental difference in the value of time to be really challenging: every minute I spend on my MBA is a minute I don’t spend on my startups, and vice versa. So while I’m all up for networking, making friends, and hanging out…that’s only after I’ve retired all mental resources on school/work.

Why is it that as an entrepreneur, I value quality output over time, whereas it seems my cohorts value time spent to be an indication of quality? After talking this over with some non entrepreneurs, I remembered the “value” of face time in the outside world. During college, I interned at a consulting firm so I quite understood the perception of face time (whoever works longest shows the most dedication!  Even if it’s spent going to Starbucks three times/day and playing Words with Friends!).

I’ll give you an example. The other day, a member of a study group emailed the group with our work transferred from Excel to Word. He mentioned the task took him four hours to complete. I thought to myself…inefficient! So I mentioned to him that next time, we should just transfer formats as we go along to avoid the time suck. He emailed back saying he didn’t mind the four hours extra, as it helped him reinforce concepts.

This baffled me. Why did you email the group mentioning your 4 hours of work when you enjoyed it? Serge (my boyfriend and the seer of truth) mentioned that it was likely my classmate had participated in some field where face time might have been valued. It dawned on me that other people didn’t have the same sense of urgency instilled within me by years in the startup world.

Anyway, I just thought this perception of time and value was interesting given differing view points. I assume a task is well done when it is complete  (and well done!) in the quickest manner possible.  Wish me luck as I encounter classmates with differing views!

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  • Marc Summe

    Stella, interesting insight. Hope all is well

    • Stella Fayman

      Thanks Marc! Let’s catch up soon 🙂