What do Jeff Bezos and I have in common?

In undergrad I took a class about how to make compelling powerpoint presentations. It was 2007 and people were losing their minds over making the best, most media packed, over the top presentations, to get an A.

I feel like that was the start of my arranged marriage to powerpoint for the rest of my academic and professional life. In Bschool, after you got through the Core and away from excel, you were thrown back into powerpoint presentations, searching the web for .png files to make the perfect mock up of your point. I took immense professional pride in working on the Upfronts deck at NBCU, and at Telemundo I spent 2 weeks storyboarding a post mortem for the marketing done around The World Cup coverage. A few years ago I was making 4 decks a week, and in my role at BET+, I made an 86 page brand deck, that I’m incredibly proud of, but man was it an inefficient way to explain anything.

So what does all of this have to do with what Jeff and I have in common? Well Jeff Bezos hates Powerpoint!

Here’s an email from 2004 where Bezos talks about how much he can’t stand Powerpoint:

Narrative structure

A few years ago, Brad Porter, Amazon’s VP of Robotics, quoted Bezos on this:

“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a PowerPoint presentation, some type of slide show. In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points. This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience. And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a six-page narrative memo … If you have a traditional PPT presentation, executives interrupt. If you read the whole six-page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on page 4 that question is answered.”

https://www.anecdote.com/2018/05/amazons-six-page-narrative-structure/

On Easter Vacation last year I came across “Working Backwards” by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr, both former Amazon execs.

As someone who worships at the alter of operational excellence I was super into the idea of eliminating Powerpoint for a more efficient method, and wanted an excuse to implement the idea.

Bryar and Carr explain in the book that powerpoint lacks nuance, but narrative documents are portable and scalable. They allow for nonlinear and interconnected arguments. They’re better for decision making, you’re able to write while anticipating objection, you can connect the dots for the reader, and a narrative is more interactive.

Amazon meetings allegedly start with 20 minutes of silence while everyone reads, and then they can get down to brass tacks. Every narrative doesn’t have to be 6 pages, but they cannot be more than 6 pages. And your ability to craft a narrative can be a make or break for your success at the company. You are ultimately writing 1 page for every 10 minutes of a meeting/presentation.

A few months ago when I was speaking with a mentor he was encouraging me to make a walking deck, to prepare all senior and executive leadership for my 2022 vision by presenting a powerpoint of what I was thinking for the year ahead. It hit me after we hung up, that there was no way that I could present to every single person I needed to, and that my little neurodivergent brain would get exhausted with my own road show. So this year I figured was the perfect time to try my hand at the Amazon memo technique.

I’m proud to say that after 6 pages, size 10.5 font I was able to express some ambitious goals and strategic priorities in that document. And as a writer, I found it to be a more fulfilling exercise, it took the mental load off from presenting, and it’s allowed me to have some really in depth convos with internal stakeholders once it was sent around.

Now I won’t be sharing my document, but I did find another blogger, who not only explains the 6-pager but also shares his own 6-pager from his time at Amazon. You can find it HERE. Seriously, hit that link if you want to try your hand at a new technique for presentations and meetings.

I don’t think I’ll be able to eliminate powerpoint forever, but when it comes to presenting more strategic initiatives I can’t wait to dive into more Amazon memos.

Now if you’ve made it this far and you neither want to read a book or a blog post, enjoy some YouTube videos…

…what the what?!?

A few months back before graduation I got an email from the Columbia Business School administration telling me I’d been selected as one of their candidates to nominate for the Poet’s and Quants 100 Best and Brightest MBAs (2017).

Honestly, I was floored they even wanted to nominate me. Seriously, my MBA journey has never been a walk in the park, but it hasn’t stopped my constant hustle.

…so months passed and there was no word on whether I’d been selected. And in true transparency, I was a weeeee bit bitter. Profiles went up about other students, and I thought the idea of getting included was getting bleak.

Continue reading “…what the what?!?”

Intention

The day was January 1st and I shot out of bed, grabbed my laptop and notebook and started thinking about my resolutions and intentions for this new year.

The constant cord that kept coming up was that I was going to make myself and my goals a priority, but that I was also going to stop being so hard on myself. So rather than you dear reader(s) getting a ubiquitous New Years Day post, instead I took that time to rest. And then I kept resting, went to LA for an amazing career trek, came back to New York, rested some more, started a new internship…and now, on the eve before I get back into the swing of class, I’m ready to sit down and tell you what my intentions are this year.

P.s. I’m writing this from my desk at Harper’s Bazaar while eating lunch, so obviously mindfulness needs to go on my list.

  • Make better use out of my ClassPass membership. I’ve recently become a huge Khloe Kardashian fan after reading her book, and secretly watching the show over break. And she talked about exercise seriously helped her manage her anxiety. I’m trying to get in on those bennies and start managing my general stress and craziness with more workouts. That’s where ClassPass comes in. I really want to start exploring the city, testing my limits, and trying new things.
  • Fall further down the rabbit hole of my K Beauty obsession. Working at a fashion magazine and blogging have made me even more aware of how important a good foundation is, and I don’t mean makeup. If your skin isn’t the gorgeous canvas it needs to be, you will always feel blah. So it’s obvious that I love K Beauty, but I really want to start stacking up the empties, and learn more about everything…I’m actually about to Google rubber masking.
  • Start celebrating myself more. I learned a long time ago if you are waiting on other people to tell you that you’re amazing you will be waiting until Jesus comes. So I want to take a chunk out of my week, every week, to really celebrate myself and what I’ve done right rather than dwelling on what’s wrong.
  • Go on Me Dates. When I was an undergrad and living in Miami I used to take myself on dates every week. And I mean real dates, like dinners, movies, museums, botanical gardens, the whole nine, and sometimes I would even get really done up. For some reason I stopped a few years ago, and now that I’m in New York, its easy to feel disconnected from yourself with the hoards of people everywhere. With that said, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my weekly dates, but I plan on making Me Dates a thing again.

Well those are the big ones…but there are some intentions I need to keep to myself…I can’t let strangers in on all the things I’m lacking.

If you’re wondering, I’ve had a good go so far of sticking to these intentions.

Now let me get back to work (which I will fill you all in on how I got my sweet new gig working as an assistant to The Editor in Chief of Harper’s Bazaar…job search tips yay!).

I hope those of you on the east coast like me are thawing out from Jonas, and for the rest of you lovies,

XOXO,

MacKenzie

 

What I Wore In A Week and How I Got A Life

So I have legit taken two weeks off from blogging for a perfectly good reason…balance.

I have been trying to figure out how to get a handle on school, have a life, and write. I haven’t found the perfect balance of any of it, but I kind of took two weeks off from my blog to work on having a social life. It was amazing people, there’s a world outside of my library and apartment! Honestly, as this term is coming to a close I find myself feeling slightly emotional over how quickly this is all going. Like for real, I feel like before I know it I’ll be walking across the stage, wondering where the time went.

Continue reading “What I Wore In A Week and How I Got A Life”

Finding the Motivation

I’ve talked before about how overwhelming business school is, now let me tell you how motivating it can be.

Every day, when I’m exhausted, leaving home before the sun comes up and coming home after the sun goes down…I feel encouraged.  I’ve had lots of career meetings recently, and I get so excited after every one, because I know I’m closer to my dream career.

I think the best silver lining every day is that this journey has just begun, and already so many amazing opportunities and connections have come my way.

Every week I read the Hollywood Reporter and visualize my name among those pages.

What business school has given me again, the audacity to dream big and believe for even bigger.

This blog entry is short…but it was how I was feeling once I walked through the door of my apartment.

Now I have to read an accounting case, and do my best to understand what the heck they’re talking about.

XOXO,

MacKenzie

Poets and Quants

I promised this weekend that I would post a new post daily…but I never promised what those posts would be.

Sorry to be so sneaky, but I’m in the middle of trying to figure out marginal costs for a hot dog stand, corporate finance, and watch the Emmys red carpet/swoon over gorgeous people in gorgeous dresses.

I had the pleasure of offering some of my insight for the MBA Admin process to Poets and Quants, and get a shoutout as a member of the Columbia Business School class of 2017.

First off I would like to point out that my Miss USA headshot gets more action now as an MBA than it did when I was actually competing.  Also, I’m still humbled and overwhelmed to have been mentioned among a class of such amazing peers. In all honesty, school is flying by (we’ve already had A Term midterms), but I’m loving every moment of learning new things and moving toward my goals.

Look at that Blue Steel...always and forever my favorite photo shoot. Thank you Carter Studios!
Look at that Blue Steel…always and forever my favorite photo shoot. Thank you Carter Studios!

I’m off to finish yet another assignment and cross my fingers that Taraji slays the carpet, and Gaga gives me all the life.

XOXO,

MacKenzie

What Am I Doing Here?!?

I’m about to be very honest, and vulnerable with you all.

I barely remember what week I’m on and I barely know what day it is, but I’m deep in business school and approaching my first few midterms and major assignments.

I’m slowly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on Hell Week. But these last few days have been very rough.  I have been Anxiety City and the Mayor of Overwhelmed Junction. I’ve honesty had moments in statistics and corporate finance where I look at the board and feel like I’m reading martian. On a particularly rough day, as I was walking between classes, I wondered why I even wanted to come to business school.  Why did I pray and hope for something so badly, and I couldn’t even figure out what I was doing here if I felt so overwhelmed.

Now let me say, this scenario is the epitome of first world problems. I’m walking around an ivy league campus, able bodied, on a warm late summer day, wondering why God “cursed me” with the desires of my heart.

Now when I start to spiral down the rabbit hole of my feelings, I get real emo. We’re talking Hot Topic with a studded belt and side-swept Beiber bang emo. But it’s funny how God will show you something in the most unlikely of ways.

My godsister LeeLee came to town and talked me into seeing Amazing Grace with her.  To be honest I wasn’t sure I wanted to see a musical about the hymn my late grandmother Ann loved so much, but I would have taken a break to walk over hot coals if it got me out of looking at excel sheets.

Around the third scene, watching slaves be captured on stage, or seeing the embodiment of my ancestors thrown around and branded, something started to stir on the inside. My great grandparent (my granddaddy Green’s parents) were born slaves, and I’m sure they prayed and believed for something better. There are generations of ancestors who’s faith and prayers are the reason I’m here.  There are countless names I’ll never know, but I know I will meet them one day to say thank you for their belief beyond understanding. I bet my great-grandparents would be so proud to know that one of their decedents walks through the halls of Columbia Business School, and has the audacity of faith to dream so big. By the end of the play I was a sloppy mess of happy tears hearing the words to Amazing Grace and understanding them better.

I think at times I feel almost unworthy to be so privileged, because at times I lose focus on the bigger picture. What part am I supposed to play in the story of my people? Will I be able to live up to my own dreams? I have to remember that it is ultimately about following my dream, but it’s also about honoring all those who made countless sacrifices for me to get here.

It took a broadway musical (which I highly recommend EVERYONE go see) for me to get my head on straight, but I feel renewed and refreshed to take on another week.

Thanks for letting me get a little more honest.

XOXO,

MacKenzie

Legally Brown

From the moment I told my pageant sisters that I had “a completely brilliant plan,” I was going to an ivy league business school…I felt like Elle Woods! I even answered people that questioned my plan with, “what, like it’s hard?!?” (It was, but I we’ll save that for another time.)

Let’s be honest, my bschool app about competing at Miss USA was one step down from Elle’s Harvard admission video where she talked about soap operas and law jargon. And believe me when I say I fully embrace it.

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Today is the official start of classes, and thankfully I’ve done the reading, so I won’t get totally owned like Elle on the first day. But I’m not afraid to welcome the strange badge of honor that I carry…I mean think about it, how many MUO titleholders have attended an ivy league business school.

I even had the pleasure recently of seeing my name on Fortune Magazine’s website, along side my title.

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“Columbia Business School’s Mackenzie Green won the Miss District of Columbia USA in 2010.”

It’s crazy, amazing, and humbling to have my name included among so many amazing MBA candidates.  But my hope is, like Elle, I leave and amazing and glitter covered trail of excellence behind me when I graduate in 2017.

With today being the first day, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the official start of being Legally Brown…now to find something pink to wear today to celebrate!

XOXO,

MacKenzie