Pay-for-Business-School-MBA

The Ultimate Guide to Paying for your MBA

Getting mentally prepared for the MBA is a daunting task, but even worse if the though of the financial cost of going to a well know business school to be able to get that increase in your salary and job of your dreams. 

Now almost 4 years after getting my degree, I’m still feeling the financial pain, especially when I decide to take a lower paying job to travel less and have a better work life balance.

But I don’t regret the decision at all. I was able to make the jumps in my career that I wanted, I have a nice new fancy title, and I am proud of my accomplishments so far and all that will come next.

Budgeting for Business School

I made a lot of changes in my finances before attending ESADE Business School. I cancelled cable, sold off unused items, cancelled my gym membership, and found every way possible to make an extra penny and cut down my expenses.

I tried not to spend more than $20 a week on groceries and lunch, have stopped drinking as frequently and most gruelling stopped going to concerts, one of my absolute favorite things to do. But you know, in the end it was all worth it.

One of the best steps that I took was mapping out an MBA budget for those 15 months that I was studying full-time. Seeing the figures before making the decision to go ahead helped me to see that is was feasible to achieve my goal with a bit of sacrifice. 

Getting a Loan for the MBA

I decide to go with a Sallie Mae Smart Options Student Loan, that is a private loan, so less of the nice perks, that a very low interest rate, government loan would have.

But because I was studying outside of the US and my business school was not set-up to receive funding from the US government it was the best option for me. Had I know that I would be living in Europe after the MBA, I would have looking into options for European banks as well. 

Sallie Mae usually delivers the student loan in 3 instalments throughout the year. Mine looked like this for a Sept to May school year:

  • First Instalment – $34,000 – received Aug
  • Second Instalment – $34,000 – received Sept 
  • Third Instalment – $34,000 – received Jan

Total loan: $102,000

I asked for $102,000 to cover the tuition, as well as,  for living and other expenses.

Knowing that you will be out of work for 1-2 years when taking on a full-time MBA, it is important to take living expense into consideration.  

I estimated that my total living + miscellaneous expenses would be around: $50,000 for the 15-months.

You’ll have to do some calculations to determine what is the right amount for you.

MBA Tuition

The tuition will vary greatly depending on which school you decided to attend. My school required us to pay two big sums to reserve our place in the upcoming class.

Theses “reservation fees” had to be paid, in cash, before even getting to the school.

It had been a huge financial burden to come up with the money, but the good thing is that money can still be used for living expenses as I have applied for a full tuition loan.

I’ll get it back once my loan is funded.

The rest of the tuition payment would come in two instalments and be taken directly from my Sallie Mae loan funds, which are sent directly to the school.

  • First Reservation Fee – $11,000 
  • Second Reservation Fee – $7,500
  • First Instalment – $39,000
  • Second Instalment – $21,000

I was able to reduce me costs of tuition by getting a marketing scholarship fo 5,000€.

  • Marketing Scholarship – $6,130

Total tuition: $72,370

Living Expenses

I was able to calculate living expenses from the information provided by the school to help you budget well.

I figured out all of these costs by going on the upper end of the range provided to ensure that I am covered, no matter what. Except for food, I know I’ll stay on the lower range.

  • Housing –  $13,500 ($900 x 15 months)
  • Utilities – $3,000 ($200 x 15 months)
  • Food – $6,000 ($400 x 15 months)
  • Transport – $750 ($50 x 15 months)
  • Misc – $7,500 ($500 x 15 months)
  • Sports – $1,125 ($75 x 15 months)

Total Living Expenses: $31,875

Additional School Costs

Besides general living expenses there are a few educational costs that I needed to account for in my budget.

Because I was going to a school outside of the US, I budgeted in language courses.

As well as “study tours” which are a fancy way of saying school trips.

And the very popular MBAT, the MBA Tournament (sports competition) helps in HEC every year. This is mostly open to European Business Schools.

It was loads of fun and you get to meet MBA from all over. We also happened to come in first in the salsa competition. Ole!

  • Elective Language Training – $2,000
  • Study Tours – $4,000 – 5,500 
  • MBAT – $800

Total Additional School Costs: $8,300

Other Expenses

I’m also added another $10,000 to finish paying off my undergraduate student load and the interest on my MBA loan while in school instead of deferring the interest.  

Total Other Expenses: $10,000

Tuition (- scholarship) – $72,370

Living Expenses – $31,875

Education Expense – $8,300

Other Expenses – $10,000

Total Cost of the MBA: $122,545

Phew! There is a good sum of money, but after all a very good investment in my future.

Now that the finances are out of the way, let’s move on to some other costs you might not be thinking about. 


MBA-Budget-Business-School

Undergraduate Student Loans

If you decide to attend a school in the US, deferring your undergraduate student loan is an enticing option when you’re getting ready to take on the financial burden of spending a few years without an inflow of funds.

Keep in mind that if you decide to attend a business school abroad there is no opportunity for a deferment. This was my case. And I can honestly say that I am happy that I kept paying for my loans during the MBA.

Now, three years post-MBA, I have eaten a big chunk into my MBA loan and have completely paid off the undergraduate one. 

When thinking about you options, remember that you will be multiplying debt. But if you monthly payment are unsustainable when you have no income, this could be the right choice for you.


Extracurricular Travel

The ah ha moment that I needed to put in more for travel came when watching an episode  Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations focused on Spain.

Whether or not you go to a Business School outside of the US, you are going to be traveling.

With students from all over the whole, spring break to let loose, and educational experience, not to mention the trips to other countries for weddings of your new international friends, they is a sizeable need for a travel budget if you want to take advantage.

You might say, I’m just here to study, not to travel, I don’t need to think about it.

But the reality is, when you get into school and you are enjoying being “funemployed” for a while, you’re going to want to use this opportunity well.

I decided on about $10,000 quite arbitrarily, just to give myself a number and a limit.

You can decide if it is right for you to budget this in.

At the end of the year, I of course hope to not have spent this money in full and any surplus I can use to start paying back my loans early. 


MBA Abroad: The Visa Process

The Student Visa process for Spain (and I’m sure many other countries) is quite trying. There are a plethora of forms and documents needed and if you start too late, you might find yourself out of time before you need to hop on that flight overseas.

Not only must you budget your time to get through this lengthy process, you must budget your money because it’s going to cost you more than a few bucks to get everything you need.

When to start applying for a visa:

I think the correct answer here is as soon as you’ve been admitted and researched the process. I learned that it’s never too early. I left on August 16 and started the process on April 8. And that was cutting it close.

The background check can take up to 8 weeks and the visa application takes a minimum of 4 weeks. Not to mention I’m sure you’ve got a lot of other things on your plate.

The Process for Spain:

  1. Obtain FBI Background Check with Apostille Certification (plus one copy)
  2. Book Appointment for Student Visa with consulate in your state
  3. Get Letter of Acceptance from you chosen school
  4. Get Global Health Insurance with minimum coverage of €30,000
  5. Provide Proof of Financial Means (a.k.a. student loans or savings that show you can survive in the country for the amount of time necessary to obtain your degree – $1,000 per month of stay)
    • One of the following:
      1. Letter from the school claiming full financial responsibility for your studies (often included in acceptance letter)
      2. Proof of financial aid of scholarship for at least $1,000/mo for room & board
      3. Notarized letter from your parents assuming $1,000/mo for your room & board
      4. Personal bank account showing $1,000/mo
  6. Obtain letter from your doctor, or Medical Certification, indicating that you are in good physical and mental health and free of diseases (plus one copy)
  7. Show US Driver License, US State ID, or Current Student ID
  8. Show and leave Passport with the consult while they evaluate your documents
  9. Get 2 Passport Photos with white background (to be stapled on your application form)
  10. Fill out and sign 2 Copies of Application Form
  11. Purchase Money Order for application fee

The Costs:

  1. Finger printing for background check – $15 
  2. FBI Background check – $18 
  3. Global Health Insurance – $500 (a full year is paid up front)
  4. Doctor Appointment – $15 
  5. Passport photos – $8
  6. Application fee – $140 

Total costs: $696! Ouch!

Yet another expense to add to the budget sheet.

Make sure you investigate all of the requirements for your visa well ahead of time. You will be running around to get a lot of paperwork together, so best to start as early as possible.

The expenses really add up from GMAT to application fees to reservation fees, this is one pricey venture.


Saving-Business-School-MBA

Cutting Expenses

I started preparing for this financial hurdle of Business School almost two years before I started studying.

I tried being a crazy coupon lady, but found out just how much time it takes and just how uninterested I was in putting my effort there.

But after reading many personal finance blog I found a few great ways to cut my expenses and make a little extra dough.

10 Ideas to Cut Your Expenses

1. Canceled your gym membership without paying a fee – I saved $469 
I decide to move back to my parents house (also another way to save) for a few months before attending ESADE Business School.

So it was a great opportunity for my to use my new address as a reason to cancel. And lucky I did because I saved hundreds!

This didn’t mean that I didn’t work out, just that I spent more time running and taking part in races that cost far less. Check out my guide to the 10K for a free training plan.

Check the terms and conditions of your membership to see if this could be a great idea for you.

And if you’re looking for a much more affordable way to work out, I’m going to take this opportunity to plug the application that I work for Mammoth Hunters.

2. Cancel your magazine subscription – I saved $25 
It you have many subscriptions you could be walking away with a lot more than I did. It was a small cut, but nonetheless, that is a few more meals worth of savings.

3. Downgrade to just internet – I saved $387.63
There are so many options now to get much cheaper entertainment than paying a cable bill. I have Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Just use an Apple TV, Roku, or just your laptop and you have everything you need at a fraction of the cost. And…

4. Get the family plans – I saved $132.62

…since Netflix & Spotify allow you to have a family account, why not get your family members or friends together to share the monthly costs. You can even live in different countries and benefit.

My whole family does it and when benefit a lot from the great (and inexpensive) entertainment.

5. Bring lunch to work – I saved~$1,120 (at ~$40 a week) 
This is huge! I was working in New York City before the MBA and lunch could run me anywhere from $5 to $15 a day!

Take a little extra time on the weekend to plan your meals for the week and prepare your Tupperware so that you won’t be tempted to just eat out because you don’t have time.

I started using Amazon Prime Now for home delivery of groceries. It really helps me to compare prices and place the order while I’m at work to not waste time.

It’s a great option for ensuring you stick to your plans of not eating out.

And they have excellent customer service. When an order of mine was missing an item I was refunded and given a discount of $10 on my next order.

I make sure to bring a lunch 4 days a week and have Thursday’s as my cheat day or eat out day, just to not feel so restricted.

6. Try 30 days eating at home (that means no take out!) – I saved ~$750 
Depending on where you live going out to dinner can be a serious drain on your budget. To have a decent meal in can run you from $40 – $100.

Just think about all that you can save just doing this for one month.

Tell you friends that you are doing a challenge. They’ll completely understand, because likely their budget is also under strain.

And why not do it together?

You can always plan dinner parties where everyone makes a dish. Make it fun and it won’t feel like you are losing out.

Or just join them for a drink after dinner so that you can reduce your costs instead of cutting them out completely.

7. Sign-up to be a volunteer – I saved $100

I am an avid runner, so when the opportunity came to do another relay race with friends I really wanted to take advantage but the cost was quite high when I was trying to save.

But, I saw and opportunity to both work on my marketing skills and get a discounted entry into the race by signing up to be a volunteer.

It really helped me cut costs. And I felt great being involved in promoting the race.

8. Transfer credit card balance – I saved ~$300
If you have a credit card balance you’ll want to get rid of it before starting to take on more debt.

I wanted to get rewarded for my spending, but I didn’t want to take on another balance.

So, I looked for opportunities to reduce my interest rate by transferring the debt to a lower interest credit card that had a balance transfer offer.

It saved me on interest and helped me pay down the debt before starting Business School.

9. Sign-up for the library – I saved around $80
This suggestion is not going to be for everyone, but most of the MBAs that I know are pretty avid readers.

I must say that I wasn’t an early adopter for digital books, because I love flipping through the page of a new read.

But I’ve become quite take with my kindle. I take it with me everywhere and I love this stylish case I found.

The New York Public Library has a digital book borrowing site that gives you a loan for 14-21 days. It was a true Godsend when I was looking to cut on one of my good vices.

You can also find downloads online for free and Goodreads often send your deals about books in your list.

Check out this post for my list of the top books that every MBA needs to read!

10. Reduce your rent by moving or sharing – I saved ~ $3,550 
I found that living expenses were one of the top things weighing down my pre-MBA budget.

So, I decided to take the ultimate Millennial decision and move back in with my parents to save money in the last two months before my MBA.

The wonderful benefit was I got to spend a lot more time with my family especially right before I would be moving away.

Not everyone is going to have the same choice, maybe for you renting a cheaper place is an option, or even getting on AirBnB.

8 Ideas to Make Extra Money

1. Count your coins – I earned $49.63

A lot of us keep spare change around and forget about it. While not count it and take it to the bank. You’ll find that you might have a sizeable chunk of cash to gain.

2. Sold electronics and furniture on Craigslist – I earned $535

Many of you will be moving cities to take on the MBA, so instead of taking everything with you start downsizing.

I was able to sell a bunch of furniture and older electronics on craigslist and a few hundred dollars. It pained me to get rid of all of my good quality stuff, but it was worth it.

3.  Take surveys online – I earned $104
Upromise gives you a percentage back on spending and has a partnership with eRewards where you can make Upromise money by taking surveys.

4. Sold unused items on eBay (mostly handbags and running gear) – I earned~$900
On eBay you don’t have to pay fees until you sell something.

This was a very good way to start doing some spring cleaning.

I’m actually going to reactive my account now to great rid of some of the things I have accumulated over the last few years that I haven’t touched.

eBay is so simple to use, and I have to admit that I got quite a rush selling products there, seeing the bidding go on and hearing the sound on my phone.

5. Participate in Focus Groups – I earned $200

Often times you can get rewards with gift cards and other goodies if not cash directly. But this can help to increment your earnings either way.

With just two focus groups I was able to earn $200 in gift cards. All for just my opinion.

6. Get a rewards debit card – I earned $127

I’m not a big fan of brining on adding debt for more benefit, so why not get a rewards debit card. This way you will make money back when you spend cash, not build debt.

7. Sell old CDs to Secondspin.com – I earned $150 

I’m sure you’ve got a lot of old CDs hanging around that you haven’t listened to in years. You might as well make a little money off of them.

With Secondspin you just select your CDs from their site and get an estimate of what you will get back and mail them in and receive a check.

Simple and also helps you to do a bit of a clear out.

8. Tutor online – I earned $257

I tried one site called Preply to earn a bit of money as a tutor. While I don’t really like their business model (you never get paid for the first lesson they take it as commission), it was a nice introduction to the world of online tutoring.

I made a good relationship with someone who was in the process of applying for her MBA and we made a deal for a series of classes until she completed her applications.

You can also take up tutoring in person and avoid the commission if have a good network of people who need your skills. Just ask around.


 

Now that you know much more about the costs, that you maybe were not thinking about, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not you are financially ready for the MBA.

Let me know what you thought about this article from the poll below! I’d love to hear your feedback.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


lifestyle-puzzle-problem-solving

Semana Summary (12 February – 18 February)

I have always been a highly organized person. So I tend to get a lot done in a short period of time because I learned really well from my mother how to use my time wisely. So whenever someone tell me that I am a machine and working on German time, I think it’s absolutely normal.

So I’ve decided to take a few minutes each day to outline what I did and share a weekly post. Including entrepreneurial projects, my normal workday, fitness, and spending.

I find it fascinating to take a peek into someone else likes, habit, and recommendations. I hope you will too.

Monday

  • 6.45 –  I wake up a few hours before heading to my full-time job as CMO of a small fitness app to work on some personal projects. So by 6:30 / 7:00 am each day I am awake and getting ready. Today I have my morning coffee and a kiwi while I plug away at my computer working on personal projects before leaving for the office at 8.45.
  • 9.00 – I walk to work as I arrive in office in just 15 minutes. Today I skip my 2nd morning coffee in favor of a tea that I brought into the office with me. My morning is filled with checking emails, tracking the sales and growth hacking experiments of the previous week and our morning check-in meeting. Then I get to work review copy for a new course that we will release in the coming week. I sit with my designer to finalize some imagines and infographics that we will need to enrich the course. And then with one of my developers to see the progress of the new course site.
  • 13.10 – As we are a fitness app, the team often trains in the office. I’m on a bit of my own training schedule with rock climbing and I skip the training and spend the extra 20 minutes on proofreading the blog I wrote this morning.
  • 13.30 – We break for lunch and I have salad brought in to the office. I love these glass tupperwares. They really keep the salad fresh (and also fight against the harmful chemical in some of the plastics. In our house we do salads right, today is mixed greens, blueberries, blue cheese, corn, and cous-cous, with EVOO and modena vinegar. Yumm!
  • 14:30 – I spend the afternoon reviewing the next copy and updating my flow chart of customer actions and documents that we need.
  • 18.00 – I leave the office promptly at 18 and head straight to my local grocery store to pick up some essentials for the week. This week I’m going to the lower end Mercadona that is on the way home to do the grocery shopping for the week. (-26,17€)
  • 18:45 – I’m home in a few minutes and snack on the fuet before heading out to do some errands.
  • 19.00 – I head to the post office to pick up some photos that I ordered from Photobox.com. I can never get the right size photos with them. It’s pretty irritating, but they are fast and efficient. Then I head to a low-cost home furnishing store, Muy Mucho, to get some inexpensive frames and other decorations for our bedroom that we are redecorating and some labels for my kitchen jars (p.s. I love recycling glass jars into storage). (-21€)
  • 19.40 – I make it home in just under 40 minutes and spend some time decorating. A bit of a surprise for Alex. My wonderful other half (and new roommate). He’s working nights some days this weeks and I enjoy the time to myself.
  • 20.30 – I head to the shower and organize the house until it’s time to prepare dinner.
  • 22.00 – We will eat late (a normal dinner time for Barcelona) so that we can eat together. I have prepared some skewers of gall dini (hen meat) and a big salad. I prepare the dinner while blogging.
  • 22.30 – When Alex gets home we have dinner and recount our days, but I am extremely tired from the lack of coffee drinking.  
  • 23.30 – Off to bed.

 

Tuesday

  • 7.30 – I wake up late this morning since Alex needs to get ready. I still have some time to work on personal projects and today I opt for the coffee and a cookie before leaving for the office.  
  • 9.00 – I’m doubling up the coffee because I don’t want to have the same tiredness as yesterday and really realizing what an addiction it is. (-1,15€). I spend the morning still working on our new online course and working with my designer on the other items that are needed.

Timesburg-Barcelona

  • 14.00 – At lunch I got to Timesburg, a delicious burger spot not far from the office (-12,25€) to meet a friend and former co-worker Nikita who sent me a text yesterday that he has a business proposal for me. We discuss the proposal and next steps to build a revenue model and who we can reach out to, to make the project a success. I immediately think of Alex and some friends who are architects. (More on this project in future posts.)
  • 14.45 – I head back to work earlier than expected with idea floating through my head about this project, but turn my head back to the course we are creating until I leave from the office at 18.30.
  • 7.15 – 9.30 – At 7:15 I arrive in the climbing gym meeting my friend Laura for our training. (We paid in advance whole year 400€ works out to about 3,85€ per visit (I go 2x per week). After a brutal training, I head back home exhausted. Today I wasn’t feel very well and I want to get to bed and make my allergies go away.
  • 10.10 – At home I get a hot shower and have a super simple dinner: hot tea, humus and some crackers. I make a simple salad for the next day with the ingredients from the visit to the supermarket on Monday.
  • 23.00 – I take an antihistamine and head to bed hoping that it won’t make me too tired in the morning.

 

Wednesday

  • 7:00 – No problems with the antihistamine. I’m awake and ready to work on personal projects as usual. Today I am sending email to invite some contacts in big companies to a charity event. We are trying to raise money for the construction of a new children’s hospital building for Sant Joan de Deu.
  • 8:40 – Alex gave me a ring that he didn’t need to be at his work site so early, so I leave to meet him for a coffee in our favorite spot on the way to my office, Buenas Migas.
  • 9:15 – I arrive in the office a little later than usual having morning coffee 2 (-1,15€), check progress of our ads and sales. I continue to work on our course and check some problems that we were having with Facebook ads recording sales.
  • 13.30 – For lunch I have another delicious salad made at home yesterday evening.  
  • 14.30 – This afternoon I help our CEO with an investors presentation for a meeting tomorrow. I come from a strategy consulting background, so I help him to make some final projections for the growth of the company with the new levels of investment.
  • 18.00 – I leave the office at 18:00 and head home to clean up kitchen, prepare lunch for tomorrow, work on market research article that I have been struggling to finish this week. (I wanted to post it today, but there is so much to say.)
  • 19.00 – I made plans to meet a friend Dani at 21:00 but his event is canceled so meet easier for a drink. He is an entrepreneur so we discuss his projects and mine. He is doing exciting things in the eco hospitality field.
  • 20.00 – We have dinner at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Barcelona (-26€), Cantina Machito. After a ceviche, queso fundido con chorizo, cochinitas tacos, and two frozen margaritas we leave the restaurant and spend the walk home discussing social media strategy for his Verkami crowdfunding campaign.
  • 22.30 – Alex is home now. I give him a back massage and he gives me a lovely present that is a small rose pin. Talk a bit and go offer to bed early.

 

Thursday (Pizza day)

  • 7:00 – I get up and get ready for work and finish the market research article. It is finally ready for proofreading. I make some more adjustments to my page before going to work.
  • 9:00 – Usual morning coffee (-1,15€), checking progress of my ads and sales. Then I spend the morning working on a nutrition course and helping prepare for this afternoon’s investors presentation.
  • 13.30 – My coworker has persistently asking for us or order pizza this week because she works from the office in the afternoon. We use Glovo order pizza from my favorite pizza place, Parking Pizza. (-14,40€)

Parking-Pizza-Barcelona

  • 14.00 – 14.45 – The pizza arrives and we settle into the small conference room to eat and play Love Letter,  a card game we call The Princess that one of our developers worked on in a previous position. It’s an easy to play strategy game and helps to bring us together as a team.
  • 14.45 – I take the last 15 minutes of lunch to proof the article from this morning and post it.
  • 15.00 – When my boss has also finished lunch we work on the investors presentation until the investors arrive at 16 and prepare the projector.
  • 16.00 – 17.00 – As I am one of the investor I attend the meeting and work to approve our round of investment.
  • 17.00 – 18.45 – I finish up the work day with pending items for our new course the head out to the climbing gym.
  • 18.45 – 19.30 – I use my travel time in public transportation to catch up on some personal finance articles I had saved. 
  • 19.30 – 21.30 – We tackled some hard climbs and did a bit of strength training and abdominals before showering and heading home.
  • 22.15 – Arrive home and make quick dinner (burrata and arugula) and then heat up my therapy pig and head to the bed to relax and soothe my stomach cramps. Ladies out there, this is the best purchase I ever made for months cramps.

 

Friday

  • 7:00 – This morning after waking up I focus a bit on travel in my personal projects before heading to the office as usual at 8:45.
  • 9:00 – This morning, after getting my coffee (-1,15€) I am able to spend just a bit more time to finish the new course and can move onto content to A/B test the landing page for our paid offering landing page.
  • 13.30 – 14.30 – I have another lunch meeting, this time with Roberto for his future pastry shop. We find that maybe Nikita’s project can help with the repairs of the new space.
  • 14.30 – When I return to the office, I update my Asana board for Roberto’s project and get back to work on the landing page.
  • 16.00 – Since it was Friday and we were all a little burnt out from work we decide to get some beers to drink in the office. I select some of my favorites from the shop across the street, Brew Dog (sin gluten), Hoptimista from Edge Brewing, and Barcelona Beer Company’s Miss Hops High IPA a new one for me. I entered the new beer into my Untappd app to remember it for later. It’s like the Vivino of beer.
  • 17.30 – Since we were having a good time bonding, I leave the office an half hour later than usual, but excited to pick up a package from a new service called Lookiero.
  • 18.50 – After picking up my Lookiero,  unboxing it and took photos for the blog (I decide to return everything they sent because I didn’t like them at all, but I still like the concept. More on this another day.)
  • 19.30 – Alex arrived home and delivery a big blow that he was laid off. So we made an action plan to finish his website and start his freelance career a bit earlier than expected.
  • 20.30 – For dinner we had the second pizza from this weeks shopping and a big salad. After dinner we play Monopoly  until 1.00AM!! Alex’s son is over this weekend, so we have a nice “family” game night.

 

Saturday

  • 10:00 – We wake up a bit late and I have breakfast with my boys. crackers, fuet, blue cheese, marmalade, mandarins, and a sweet pastry. We also eat well for breakfast on the weekends, since I don’t partake during the week.
  • 11:30 – Today we have a lunch with some of Alex’s friends so we go grocery shopping for some party foods to bring with us (-18,19€) with friends in Barbera del Valles (costillas, yummm)
  • 11:45 – As we are a bit early to meet so we head to Buenas Migas for something to drink (-7€) before meeting Alex’s friend who was gracious enough to pick us up in his car to travel to Barbera for lunch.
  • 18.00 – We arrive home around 18 and take a siesta. We are all VERY full and sleepy from a nice meal on a rainy day with a good bunch of people.
  • 20.00 – We head back to the supermarket to buy dinner for the boys (-24,49€), while I will be meeting with a friend.
  • 21.00 – She has just moved back from Holland so we are exploring a new spot in her new neighborhood. At dinner there is live music, but bad service. We do a bit of planning for Alex to improve the success of his freelance venture and she gives me some good design advice for the webpage.
  • 00.27 – I head back home and cuddle with Alex on the couch until we head to sleep at 2:00. This has been a late weekend.

 

Sunday

  • 9:30 – Sunday morning I get up a bit early because I’ll be heading to climb at 10:30. I have breakfast with the boys, we explore an option for Alex’s freelancing that I saw in a remarketing ad on Instagram (Jobin).
  • 10:30 – I leave for climbing and while commuting write the introduction page for Alex’s website and create a new Asana board with tasks to complete today.
  • 11.15 – 13.15 – Laura and I spent a few hours climbing and it was great. We tried some new routes that are usually too crowded on the weekdays. It’s always nice to get a third day in at Sharma Climb.
  • 13.15 – 13.45 – I travel home, this time in motorbike, so no opportunity to work on Alex’s project, but catching up with Laura and resting a bit after the climbing is very worth it.
  • 13.45 – I meet up with the boys again for lunch. We have some crepes (-39,06€).
  • 15.00 – When we get home it’s shower time for me and homework and photo downloads for the boys.
  • 15.00 – I set-up the Wii U as a treat for Alex’s son for having complete his homework, also so that Alex and I can work on his page without distraction.

Wii-Controller

  • 15.15 – 20.00 – I spend many hours working on Alex’s page while he creates content, drops off the kid and gets dinner ready (pizzas and salads – this is a big pizza week -oops! – 10€)
  • 20.00 – Alex preps dinner while I prep the romantic bath we planned (this is our 8 month anniversary) and my lunch for the next day (salad! – although I have in the office one salad from last week)
  • 20.30 – We finish dinner then have our romantic bath together and relax after a tough weekend. I prepared it with some dead sea salt that I picked up in Jordan travels last year and verbena bath effervescent tablets that I got in a store in the US, lots of candles,  and the final touch of a nice Spotify playlist on the iPad. Ultimate at-home luxury.
  • 23.00 – 23.15 After a little couple’s time, we get prepared for bed. I buy a new book from Amazon to help in my research on restaurant management . I did very minimal research to select it, but the book has good reviews and it was fairly inexpensive (-$3.99 / -3,31€). Let’s see how interesting it is.
  • 23.15 – 23.30 – We stay up for a little bit to watch Black Mirror but after a few minutes I head to bed to start the next week fresh.

Weekly Summary

This was quite a productive week when it comes to both personal and work projects. There were some big highs and big lows. We spent 199,49€ with all of the food and entertainment expenses. This week we won’t have too many events so we should do much better on our budgeting. Hope you enjoyed the read and the recommendations.


The Running Socks that I Swear By

When I first started training for marathons back in 2008 I would find that after every long run my feet were in constant pain. Not because of the wrong shoes, or stepping wrong, but because I was constantly getting blisters on the arches of my feet because of the friction between my socks and my feet.

I was using New Balance socks, then I tried Adidas, and then Nike. And I saw still getting blisters! So I would get up a few minutes early before going to my group trainings just to tape my feet with medical tape around the point where I would get the blister.

That worked for a while, but it’s a costly way to deal with the issue and the glue from the bandage often remained on my feet.

Aayesha-Natasha-Khan-NYC-Half-Marathon-2012 Barcelona-Marathon-Aayesha-Natasha-Khan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(That’s me in white in both pics, running the NYC Half Marathon in 2012 and the Barcelona Marathon in 2013)

Then one day as I was putting the tape off of my ailing feet my running coach noticed and recommended that I try Feetures socks. He knew some of his students who were having similar issues and these socks really helps prevent the friction.

So I went to my local running shop in New York City. And a pair of these socks was $13.

I thought to myself, really? $13 for one pair of socks. No way!! But, I had a lot of faith in the recommendations of my coach, who was also a physical therapist, and decided to bite the bullet and buy a pair.

They are white with a bit of blue writing with the brand name.

They fit extremely snug and have a special kind of ribbing in the material across the arch, well that whole part of the foot and it fits even more snug there. They are short socks with an extra tab by the heel to prevent any friction from the running shoes.

I tested them out the next day on my Sunday recovery run. And wow! 6 miles later, no blisters. And it even reduced the amount of sweat on my feet during the run. I felt super comfortable.

I was so convinced after running for a week in these socks that I went on Amazon and bought 4 more pairs (I even still have my receipt).

Back in 2010, the brand was new and I was able to find a great deal on Running Warehouse. But today for the same price you can get them from Amazon Prime and much faster.  

Now, in 2018, I still have every one of those pairs of socks (and 4 more than I acquired the next year) and they are still going strong. Wash after wash, run after run. They haven’t lost elasticity. They haven’t caused me a single blister.

I would say it is one the best investment that I made in running gear in my life. 

When a friend asked a question about running socks a few days ago I just thought I needed to share. Because to this day it is the only sock that I will recommend.

My Recommendations:





Perfect-Market-Research-Study

How to conduct better market research surveys

Do you find that sometimes your marketing research survey results can be confusing and invaluable?

Are you looking guidelines on how to improve how you capture data to drive your business decisions?

Well the first, and most important step is ensuring that you spend the time to plan and test your survey first. Are you structuring the questions in a way that will get you the information that you need?

This will ensure that you have data that is valid and actionable.

Too many time a study can start off with good intentions and because of deadlines, end up becoming a waste of money and valuable time. So if you’re this is your first time conducting a study or you are looking for tips to improve, this guide is ideal for you.

In this article I’ll go over:

    1. What type of Market Research survey should you conduct?
    2. What kinds of questions should you include in your Market Research survey?
    3. Marketing Research survey Do’s and Don’ts
    4. How long should you make your Market Research survey?
    5. Then we’ll work through an example survey built by someone on my team

What type of Market Research survey should you conduct?

Before you make any decision to conduct research you should think about what information you already have access to and what information you are lacking.
This will help you to clearly set an objective for your research and really guide how you should proceed.

If the information that you are looking for is an opinion, about understanding the user experience, or about getting to know your customers sentiments, feelings, or needs, you might want to consider conducting interview or a survey with mostly open field questions.

This will give you the most insight into how the participant feels in their own words. It will give you rich information straight from the consumer’s mouth and allow you to add follow-up questions on an interesting topic, in the case of an interview.

But, if what you are looking for is hard figures to use in decision-making, ratings of your product or feature, or a better understand of using buying habits, and demographics, I would recommend using a survey with multiple choice and rating scales answer choices.

In the end, your market research survey can be a combination of many different types of questions. Before starting you should be clear on what is your ultimate goal and what information will really help you reach that goal.

What kinds of question should you include in your Market Research Survey?

The two main question type are quantitative and qualitative questions. Quantitative questions supply an answer choice that you wish the user to select. Qualitative questions provide an open field where the user can provide a response of their own design.

  • Use quantitative questions when you want to have measurable data.
    • There are many ways to quantify data, you can use scales, multiple choice responses, data capture, check boxes. These questions are useful when you want to know how many people feel the same way, how many people have or will take the same actions, and as a basis for segmentation.
    • As a rule of thumb your answer choices should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Maybe you’ve heard it before, but if not, when you are setting up the answer choices make sure that you include all possibilities a user could have (within reason) and make sure there is no overlaps in the choices.
  • Use qualitative questions when you want to understand underlying emotions
    • Qualitative question are a great way to understand how your target feels, in their own language. If you are asking for an opinion on how to improve, or what emotional reaction a person gets it is best to use this type of question.
    • The responses to these questions can become particularly important when you are creating marketing or other communications for this segment. You now know their pains and gains and can user their own words to get to the heart of this problem and show how your product or service offers the perfect solution.

Of course, it is possible to have both types of questions in a survey. If you find yourself with too many open field questions than maybe an interview might be a better solution than fielding a survey.

market-research-study

Marketing Research Survey Do’s & Don’ts

DON’T use complex working

Ask yourself, “could a 6th grader understand my questions?” It is a rule of thumb in advertising that copy should be written at a 6th grade level to ensure that it is understandable for everyone.

This is a good tool that you can also use to ensure that you are writing clearly and simply.

There are even tools made for Microsoft Word to measure the level of English. I used them when I was working on healthcare advertising and many of the concepts were extremely complex and need to be further simplified.

But there’s no need to get so complicated, you just think of the KISS principles, that, fun fact, was invented for the US Navy.“Keep it simple, stupid.”

Take out any industry jargon and over complicated terms, they aren’t adding any value. In fact they might be taking it away.

Ensure that you are stating your questions in the most basic way and that any language you use is universal.

DON’T use too many open questions

As mentioned previously, only use open questions when you really need to understand how your participant is feeling in their own words.

These questions are important because they don’t assume that the only answer choices are the one that you and your team have come up with on your own.

Remember the final objective of your research and think about the time necessary to analyze the results of the survey, before deciding to add open fielded questions.

DO use Collectively Exhaustive…but categorized answer choices

Do some of your answers naturally fall into the same bucket? Do you get the same sentiment from a group of responses?

Try to be as concise as possible, but think of the many ways your participant might respond.

If you have some previously knowledge about your target and would like to test if your assumptions are correct, you can put these assumptions as the answer choices.

Remember when you give a Yes or No questions to also have a middle choice. And when you have a list to include an “other.”

We don’t want to assume that we have all of the answers.

Don’t use leading question

This might seem like an obvious don’t, but you can’t imagine even after knowing it, how many people inadvertently use leading questions in their surveys.

I’ve seen it in surveys coming from even major brands, so it is worth taking some time to reiterate it.

Often we want to get a specific response in our survey because we believe our experience points us in that direction.

But, remember, the point of research is to uncover truths that we may not have been thinking about previously. Re-read and reword all of your questions to ensure you are not leading the participant to the response that you want them to give. An example of a leading question might be “How do you feel about the slow customer service from competitor brand A?” Instead try this more neutral question – “What is your opinion of the speed of customer service from competitor brand A?” or “Could you rate the customer service of competitor brand A on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very slow service and 10 being rapid service? Additionally, you could take speed out of the question here to learn more of overall opinions of the customer service level provided.

DON’T include double barrel questions

A double barrel question is when you lump two thoughts or actions together in your question. One example would be “Do your current suppliers deliver on-time and offer discounts?” – This question asks about two topics you are keen to get information about, but by not separating them you will miss valuable information if the participant only answers one of the questions or gives an ambiguous answer. 

DO think about how you will use the data to formulate how to structure the answer choice

If you would like to know how often a customer received late order you would not want to say “Do you often receive late orders?” A better question would be – “How many times have you received late order in the last month?” This question will get you quantitative data that could be easily acted upon later.

DO offer bucketed responses when possible

A bucket response prevents the interviewee from having to remember exact details that might frustrate him during an interview. In our previous point you might want to ask “How often do you receive late order? Never, once a month, once per quarter, once per year?” The easier you make the questions to answer, the more likely you will get a valid response.

DO use visual aids to guide the response

Having worked in many developing countries the concept of a percentage is often difficult to explain. Building in visual aids into your questions can help define hard concepts and get you the measurable results you are seeking. Bring 10 plastic chips with you to help explain percentages visually. Show images of brand of products and ask customers to group them. There is nothing that says a questionnaire or interview cannot be interactive.

market-research-study

How long should you make your Market Research Survey?

The length of the survey really depends on your objective and what you are willing to offer in return for the response. If you want more in-depth research or an in person / virtual interview that might take a participant half and hour or more a monetary benefit is usually warranted.

Try a gift card from Amazon. It’s something that you don’t need to buy in advanced, you don’t pay fees for and you can send virtually.

I have both conducted and participated in surveys offering gift cards from $20 to $100. When you get to the higher end the participant understands that they are expected to do more.

Make your budget in advanced and think about how many participant you need to get data enough data to make informed decisions.

When building personas I only wanted 20 in person interviews, but when conducting quantitative research to build our product roadmap I needed hundreds of respondents. In the second case it would be too costly for a small company to offer a monetary benefits to everyone, so we offered our product for a limited time to respondents.

If you have a product or service, this is a good alternative to spending extra money on your research and you might end up with even more loyal users. If you don’t have anything to give away and you are hoping for the good will of your respondents you should try to make the survey as short as possible.

But in this case it is most likely that only your most loyal followers will be willing to participate. So be clear on who your audience is and what is the objective of your research.

Working through an example

I find that it is easiest to learn when you have an example to work with. I was recently instructing a young colleague of mine in creating his first survey. The object of the survey was to get an understanding of the feelings of the potential consumer in their own words. To understand their pain points and barriers to following a diet.

The original survey was conducted in Spanish, but I have translated it here for you.

Market-Research-Survey-Guide

What are the problems with this first question?

Take a moment and think about it before reading my response.

First. I don’t like the introduction to the survey. We are not giving them an idea of why we are asking for their help, not telling them how much time this will take them. We are missing information. We could have increased the number of respondent by simply adding a sentence of explanation.

Secondly, if you said that this is a leading question you are correct. We are putting an idea into their head about what we think the perfect diet is before giving them a change to make their own unaided response.

There are however some good things here. The question is clearly stated. We want to know about your diet to lose weight. If your objective is not weight loss, you won’t answer it and affect my survey results.

The survey is also short, with just 5 questions and we can see this from the progress bar on the bottom. Although we are creating a few extra steps for the responded on having to click through, I understand that we might not want to influence their response to this questions with the following questions.

Here’s the second of the five questions:

Market-Research-Survey-Guide

In this question we have bigger problems than the first.

I don’t like the idea of including examples in the question and this is even worse than the first because it gives multiple example that really influenced the results.

If you look at the responses many people just selected from this short list as their answer and moved on.

We miss the richness of having the response in their own words by putting these examples in.

How could we fix this question?

If you have a question where you want to know a finite amount of information or have some ideas to test, this question is best served as multiple choice.

We’ve reached question 3.

Market-Research-Survey-Guide

This is another question where I see BIG problems.

The first being with the use of capitalization. We are leading the responded to an implication that they have a big problem to resolve and the response needs to be extravagant. Which may not be the case for this person.

And again the example in the question are leading and we have many respondents just choosing these and moving on.

And lastly, having three open field questions in a row can make the respondent tired and less likely to want to continue with the survey. Try to use variety of questions if you can achieve the same result.

On to question 4…

Market-Research-Study-Guide

Take a minute more to think about what really makes this question difficult, besides the inclusion of example, which in this case are okay and not overly leading.

If you said that the goal of the question is actually to get quantitative financial / numerical data and this is qualitative question, you are correct.

When I first saw this question, knowing that it is an open field doesn’t lead me to want to write a concise answer or even think about numbers.

And the question would be shorter without the example that shows that you want numerical data. Shorter surveys almost always get more responses, especially when you are not offering a benefit to answer the survey.

We know that they are a limited number of things that we really want to know about with this question, so let’s just ask them. How much do you spend on the gym? How much do you spend on a nutritionist? Give them the option to leave the question blank if it doesn’t apply to them and put a 0 if they have a service and is offered for free.

In this question we don’t lose anything by putting the words here for them. And if there are many other choices that they might want to put here, we can always give them the option to select “other” and fill in what is the other expense.

Market-Research-Study-Guide

If you’re thinking, there can be anything wrong here, we’re just asking for their name and email address.

Think again.

We just captured a nice amount of qualitative data on this person, but really we know nothing about them. Nothing useful to segment them. Nothing useful to understand a bit more about this person’s life.

If you are going to ask demographic questions at the end of the survey, make sure that they also have an objective.

In this survey it might have been nice to know the gender of this person, their age, their profession. This would really help when you are starting to work on your targeting.

If we are making a product that is pricey and would be better geared toward 50 – 65-year-old men but the respondents of our survey are 18 – 24-year-old women, maybe we are using the wrong language to speak to this target.

But, we don’t know that from this survey.

That survey could even tell us, well you thought 50 – 65-year-old men were interested in this product, but really you should rethink that targeting, there is a whole new group of people who you should be reaching.

Conclusion

I hope that this article was helpful in giving you ideas to improve your market research surveys. There is some much more rich information on this topic that I can provide, so I’ll update this post periodically to flesh out some more details on improving how you capture data and use it in your business.


Business-Books-Marketing-Start-up

The 15 Best Books for Business School Students

If you are in Business School or in the process of applying there are many great books out there to help you learn some fascinating concepts that you might not find in your classes.

I compiled a list of my 15 favorite books that have helped me both in my education and in my career after the MBA.

Here are my 15 favorite business books:

The Lean Start-Up: If you’re contemplating become an entrepreneur this is a must read. The strategies found in the Lean Start-Up are being use many a tech founder. There rely on experimentation and testing to get the best product without spending the maximum amount of effort or resources. Get it here

4-Hour Work Week: Tim Ferriss has become quite popular over the last few year. Now 10 years after the release of the 4-Hour Work Week he is still going strong and managing to reach his goals in the minimal amount of time, by being more efficient. We can all learn a lot from him. Check out his weekly 5 bullet Friday emails if you want to learn more from Tim,  and get a copy of the book here.

Thinking Fast & Slow: One of my favorite books about behavioral psychology. It helps you to understand why people make decision in the ways that they do and how you can use that knowledge in your business. Get your copy here.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Punch: This is one of those marketing books where you have to read a bit through the BS to get to the real point. The message is quite clear that you first need to add value to your customer before trying to sell them something. The book has some nice examples of when this was done well and why. Get it here

Scrum: I think that one of the greatest business skills that you could have is being able to do things faster without sacrificing the level of quality. Making your processes agile aims to do just that and has been quite popular in tech company. Learn all about SCRUM here

The Fortune Cookie Principle: This is a quick read that give you some great marketing guidelines for ensuring that you are communicating well with your customer. It’s quite an easy read and is organized into question areas to guide your decision-making. And for one of the top marketing books, it is fairly inexpensive. Read it here

Seven Habit of Highly Effective People: As the name suggests this book is about forming health habits that help to increase your performance and to get you thinking the like the top players in your field. Get it here and start becoming more effective! 

Social Intelligence: This best-selling books helps us to get deep into the mind and better understand human relationships. It will not only help you to create meaningful relationships in the business world, but will also help to increase your emotional intelligence. You can find it here

Where Good Ideas Come From: Innovation and design thinking have become buzzwords throughout the business world, but it’s very important to understand what makes one idea survive over another. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, this is a must read. And hey, maybe it will inspire you to develop your own big idea. Get it here

Outliers:  This is one of my absolutely favorite books. Ever since I read Blink I have been captivated by the writing and research of Malcome Gladwell. In Outliers, he takes us through different stories, different scenarios to show us what it took for ordinary people to become extraordinary. Are you ready to commit to become the best in your field? Find out here

Freakonomics: I read this book when I was in my undergraduate business school and I was extremely captivated by the use of science to explore thing we might have seen before as mundane. The relationship between someones name and their success in life for example. Absolutely fascinating. It make you think about what other relationships there might be that are yet to be explored. Get the book here.

Influence: If you will be starting a business or doing any type of sales writing, understanding the psychology of your potential clients is key. And understand the psychology behind persuading them is even more important. Dig deep into the science to guide your copy development and you’ll see that you do have the power to convince them and turn potential users into your customers. Read it here.

Blue Ocean Strategy: You might have or will most definitely learn about Blue Ocean Strategy during your MBA. When you’re in a market place that is crowded and prices are deeply affected by competition you will always be facing a price to quality ratio that leads to price wars. But, what if there was a different way to build your business, where the treats of competition doesn’t yet exist? Learn more about it here.

Contagious: If you’ve ever wondered why certain things stick when others don’t. Why something goes viral while others fall flat. Well this book explores the structure of what makes one idea contagious over a similar but different one. An excellent and intriguing read. Find it here.

Zero to One: And last, but definitely not least, Zero to One is a great start-up journey guide that takes you inside the life cycle of a product and give us a peek into the mind of Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal. It is a nice way to get pumped up to start your own business. Get it here.

I really hope you enjoy this list and that you will pick up some of these books soon. Answer the poll below and let me know which book you want to read first! I’d love to get your feedback.

Thinking about applying to business school? Check out this article on financially planning for the MBA.  


10K-race-training-plan

Conquering the 10K

10K_Training_Alberto Salazar_Running_Plan_Nike

The perfect 10K Training Plan

At one point running a good 10K was my biggest challenge. I was doing race after race without improving my timing under 58 minutes.

I was starting to get disappointed when I found this training plan from Alberto Salazar and it really made the different.

I was just browsing on the Nike Race Coach Facebook page (back in 2012) and saw a 10K training plan from the controversially amazing coach Alberto Salazar, who himself was a winner of the New York City and Boston Marathon before injury took him out of the game.

If you didn’t know Alberto Salazar was once of the greatest marathon runners in the US. Winning several of the major marathon until a calf surgery went horrible wrong and took him away from running almost completely. But, in his younger days he added something into his contract that would help him to continue having a profitable career in running even if his feet could not be the star.

 

I don’t want to give away the whole story, so read about it here. It’s not the best writing (and definitely done with a ghost writer), but it is quite an inspirational story. And what happens later in his life is even more extraordinary.

I quickly downloaded it to help in my quest to 10k domination. You too can download the PDF from the link above. Unfortunately, as much time has gone past, it is no longer available from Nike directly.

It’s a 6 week program, so time to find the perfect 10K race and work back to your start date. I really like that it building in a bit of functional and speed training, as well as rest days to ensure that you have an overall balanced training.

After having run 4 marathons, 4 half marathons, and countless other shorter races it felt great to take the time out to really focus all of my energy on a shorter race and reach my 10K goal.

And now I’ve decided to take on the challenge again and see if I can improve my time further, after several years away from distance running.

It feels like I am back to training with a running group like my time with Team in Training in New York City. Nothing can beat having a good coach by your side, but this is a pretty good substitute.

How you choose your 10K race

If you’ve raced before you know that even the best preparation is not always the best predictor of how you will feel or perform during the 10K race.

Have a couple of races in mind so that you can build up your speed. Maybe you’ll make you 10K goal on the first try, but maybe you’ll have a bad day.

Having multiple races on your calendar keep you motivated to stick to the goal instead of getting disappointed if Murphy’s Law causes everything to go out of your favor.

I’m based in Barcelona so I’m thinking of taking on this local race in Vilanova i Geltru in May.

And because practice makes perfect, I’m thinking of doing the Cursa de la Merce (September) and Jean Bouin (November), to I’ll work on getting a great PR by the end of the year!

What 10k race are you taking on?


Making consulting life work

IMG_0918

If you’ve read my blog before you’d know that I put in a lot of flight hours. In the last year I have been in 5 continents and countless cities both for work and leisure. It’s a lifestyle that would leave most people exhausted and yearning for a quite…oh entire month on the couch to catch up on much-needed sleep and relaxation. But for people like me que tiene un culo inquieto and do not want let a lack of work-life balance get in the way of living, there are some great ways to manage to have it all, with a little bit of sacrifice. So this post is for all the international business travelers out there who need a bit of motivation.

Travel Light

One of the mistake I have seen many consultants on my teams make is checking their luggage. Just recently a co-worker lost his bag on a connecting flight in Istanbul and has little hope of recovering them anytime in the near future. Learning to live out of a carry on suitcase for 3 weeks does put a strain on your fashion choices, but packing the right things and a good use of the hotel laundry service will leave you less stressed and allow for freer movement. One hotel in Doha even mended a hole in a sweater I sent to the wash! You’ll learn to be a business backpacker in no time!

IMG_0938

Use the amenities to the fullest

If you have the choice of selecting which hotel you will stay in try to focus on the amenities outside of the hotel room. Is there a pool? A good gym? How are the restaurants? Is there a business center? When the project begins we tend to get short on time and the importance we place on our health takes a backseat to the workload piling up. Having good facilities, that are open early and late in the hotel can make it easier to stick with a routine. If you don’t have great facilities take advantage of the empty space in your hotel room to go a short in room HIIT routine from a fitness app. I prefer Mammoth Hunters, but I am biased as they are good friends of mine. 🙂

IMG_1098

Find local spots to do what you love

I’m an avid rock climber and the first thing that I do when getting assigned to a new project is to research the local climbing gym so that I can stay in shape. There are often interesting routes I would not see in my gym. You’ll be surprise what you can find in a new city and the friendly people you will meet. So on your free days make time for the things you would normally do at home. Whether it’s going to a movie, joining a running club for a few hours, or hitting the mall. If you miss it from home and you’re away for long make the most of your time to make it feel more like your normal routine. You won’t regret using your time off for something you love. Don’t feel pressured to be a tourist.

IMG_1624

Learn to love your coworkers

One of my coworkers once remarked, “Aayesha, I have spent more time with you in the last 7 months that I have with my girlfriend.” And he wasn’t being facetious. You’re going to spend a lot of time with them over the month so getting along with your coworkers is key. Hey you never know, you might a real friend out of it!

IMG_1632

Take advantage of the perks of the job

One thing that is always covered by the company is our meals. Taking advantage of the city you are in to spend on night a week trying a great fine dining restaurant. Most of the week you’re in a rush eating on the go, if you even get to eat at all. Nothing bring people together like a great meal. And it get’s you away from the tiring room service menu and hotel restaurants.

Ask the hotel for what you want to eat

For those who don’t live in hotels for long periods, the food options presented fit your needs without much alteration. For those of us who do, and who are picky, you may be surprise to know hotels are more than willing to accommodate special requests. You can ask for take away meals when you’re going to be on the field all day or even bring them something particular that you like to eat and ask them to prepare it for you (e.g. a special oatmeal, soy milk if they don’t carry it, etc.). Don’t be afraid to ask.

IMG_1635

Pick-up something local

My personal favorite part of each travel is getting something to bring back to decorate my apartment. A souvenir from my journey to remind me of all of the wonderous places I have been to and invest something in supporting local artisans. To me it’s more personal than a photograph and adds something interesting to my apartment in Barcelona. I just picked up these two lanterns from a Souk Waqif in Doha. I’m excited by the purchase and I can’t wait to bring them home. This gives the trip special meaning for me, outside of work.

IMG_1025

Enjoy the unnusual things you will do

I spend a lot of time meeting people I will never see again and watching them do their jobs. Spending 10 hours in the car with a soft drink salesman is often entertaining and enlightening. You learn about someone else situation and realize that you are far more fortunate. You realize that your lifestyle is extremely posh compared to the Kerala man who lives abroad in a labor camp and send money home to his family whom he sees once a year for a month.

IMG_9995

Make the most of your time at home

You’ll be exhausted. You’ll want to stay in. But knowing you only have a short period of time at home requires using that time as meaningfully as you do when you are trying to fit in your normal routine while abroad. Plan ahead and get together with friends and family. You won’t regret this time spent together. And it will leave you with fond memories when you are far way. You won’t feel like you are missing out if you make sure to make time and plan events when you know you will be in town.

Use your idle time to stay in touch

When I’m waiting for breakfast in the morning, traveling in a taxi or waiting for a meeting I use my idle time to send at least one message to catch-up with friends and family. We are now a hyper-connected society and there is no limit to our ability to communicate while on the go. Even if you can’t find the time for a call a text can go a long way to keeping relationship intact and helping friendships flourish.

Constant travel isn’t for everyone and for most of us it isn’t for ever. I hope I have given you some ideas on how to manage this life style without compromising yours.


A year in review: Aug 2016 – present

It’s been quite some time since I made a full blog post. Life has been pretty exciting and there haven’t been too many free moments to actually recount everything. My wonderful friend and new mommy Liz sent me a message yesterday that inspired me to write this catch-up post which I’d do through pictures. So this ones for you Mrs Peek!!

August 2015: Vacations in Lyon and Paris with MBA friends
& London with my best friend and my cousin

September 2015: Enjoying Catalunya with a trip to Waikiki Beach (real name: Platja de la Mora), an almost girls weekend in Cadaques, and the Bunkers of Carmel

October 2015: Fist time bouldering outdoor in Albaracin (and solidifying the most amazing friendships) and a weekend in Lisbon before starting a project in the US

November 2015: Enjoying some weekend fun while working in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Miami and LA.

And on the trip home my first time lead climbing outdoors in Mediona! (though I don’t have a picture of me!)

IMG_9760

December 2015: Weekend trip to Mexico City and my first (and last) ever NBA basketball game

January 2015: A magical disney wedding from which I had lost all picture. 😦

February 2016: A 4 day trip to Brazil ruined by work and phone being stole in a parade (notice no picts) and a much better weekend bouldering in San Joan de Vilatorada

March 2016: A work trip to Lugo where no one showed up for interviews and celebrating 1 year climbing at Sala de Escalada Magnesi!

April 2016: Bouldering competition in Targassone, France

May 2016: Climbing in Vallirana, kayaking in Mont Rebei, climbing in Tenerife

And  a work trip to Dubai to kick off a 4,5 month long project in the Gulf Region. Getting to see my best friend while she was also on a business trip to Dubai was the best part!

June 2016: Celebrating 31 as many times and in as many ways as possible in Barcelona and Lisbon!

As you can see it has been a jam packed year. Here’s to another amazing one with lots of adventure!

 


Petting Lion Cubs and Cheetahs in Jobug

 

After my last projects in Serbia and Tanzania, where I had a very little time to enjoy the countries despite being there for long periods of time, I was expecting to not really get to see South Africa in the last three months. But, my project manager was a pleasant surprise and I have seen and done more than I could ever imagine! So I have a lot to share in the next few posts. And these are the reasons I love me job, no matter how demanding it can get.

IMG_8128

Our very first weekend, we went to the Lion & Rhino Park (not the dreaded Lion Park that’s been in the news of late) that was just 45 minutes outside of Sandton. After a bit of hijinks from right hand drive manual car we finally made it to our first adventure.  From the minute we entered the park there was a lot to see, from ostriches to kudus to zebras to the tiny meerkat. I was brought back to memories of my safari in Tanzania last October. The beautiful part of this park is that there are many paths through the winding dirt road where you can encounter animals roaming free, but also the opportunity to see more rare finds in the animal enclosures.

IMG_8211

Further in there was an area more like a petting zoo for children. But it was just as captivating for adults. My five person team (all 27 and over) can attest to this! The above pair was quite funny: the sheep and rhino who were completely inseparable. An unlikely paid, but not for one second did we see them further apart than this. It was nice to touch the rough leathery skin of the rhino. Something you can’t quite imagine for just seeing them from afar.

IMG_8155

By far our favorite part of the park was the animals we could pet. We were more excited than the children to get our turn in the pen of this 14-year-old cheetah. (Who we learned died a few weeks later. He was pretty old.) Hearing the soft purr get stronger as we pet him was not very different from a domestic cat. Though his fur was a bit more corse.

IMG_8203The lion cubs were absolutely amazing! Three little white babies with bright wide eyes. They were so soft, cuddly and playful, I could not imagine them growing into the ferocious beast they will become. It was hard to get us out of this pen. Such an amazing experience. In a few more months they would be too big to pet. Although we only had one free day that weekend this visit made for a fantastic first weekend in South Africa!


Hike Bucket List

The more I’ve been thinking about my 30th b-day bucket list that more things I want to add! Like taking a photography course when I get back home. in a few weeks and drawing and getting the tattoo that I’ve always wanted.

And now I just stumbled upon a great list of the worlds best hikes. I’m going to have to add these to my adventure travel bucket list!

Source: localadventurer.com/25-best-hikes-in-the-world-bucket-list