Friday, December 09, 2005

Today I attended a session the Sports Business Club put on about sports marketing. The session was case study presented by Nike executives focused on how they took their new shoe, Nike Free, from design to market. I had seen the commercials (you know the Chariots of Fire runners that are really in the city with the tagline "run barefoot") earlier this year, but I didn't get it. I assumed the tagline "run barefoot" meant that the shoe would have a thinner sole, and thus assumed it would hurt my foot. I was wrong. The Nike executives presented showed us their research about how training barefoot strengthens the foot and leads to fewer injuries. So they designed a shoe to mimic the way a person's foot moves when running barefoot. What they came up with is a more flexible shoe, that still protects your feet from the elements. It's supposedly super comfortable. And it strengthens your foot and your leg muscles.

After hearing the story of the shoe I wanted to go out and buy a pair. But one discussion we had during the session is how does Nike communicate such a complex product message? I don't know if "run barefoot" truly conveys the coolness of Nike's innovation. They've taken shoe construction and turned it on it's head. Given the complexity of the product story, I think Nike will have to rely on word of mouth and more grassroots marketing to create the buzz necessary to make the shoe take off. Nike Free made the list on Oprah's favorite things show, where she gives away all the stuff, which will probably do wonders for getting the story out. It will be interesting to see how the innovation changes the shoe industry and the way people think about supporting feet. I know I'm going to go get a pair.

This past week was the last week of first semester classes. Thank God. This semester was brutal on a lot of fronts. Recruiting can be really draining. Through the job search, you're trying to capture the hopes and dreams of an MBA. So when rejection comes (and it almost always comes), it can feel like a dream is being extinguished.

Beyond that, it takes a lot of time to participate in the recruiting process. In fact, I've missed more classes in the last two months once interviewing started, than I missed all of last year. I've almost become what the proponents of grade disclosure claim is the result of grade non disclosure. I do the bare minimum to keep my head above water. But I feel like I had to pull back on academics to keep my sanity. I know some people can go full throttle in all areas, but I just couldn't do it. And frankly, when killing yourself academically yields the same result (a P) as doing minimal work, I'd be crazy not to pull back if it means maintaining a sense of balance. Sorry. I'm an imperfect student. Oh well. All I know is, I am soooo glad this semester is over. I'm looking forward to a semester without a job search. It'll be the first time at Wharton that I won't be looking for a job. Now that'll be weird. No info sessions (I'll miss the crab cakes). No awkward close list dinners. No interview prep sessions. No more ding emails and voicemails. It'll be a whole new world. I'll be able to focus on learning again, on having fun with my friends, on truly enjoying the opportunity of Wharton. I can't wait.

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