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How Lazy MBA Students Can Be The Most Successful Grads

HEC Paris grad tells you how to succeed using the smart-lazy approach

By  Jean Salim

Thu Sep 8 2016

An MBA is a life changing experience, which will bring you a lot of joy but also elevated levels of stress. Not only will you be bombarded with assignments, readings and group work, you will also find yourself making annoying decisions.

You might have to skip that nice class on “Blue Ocean Strategy” for interview prep for your dream job. And your participation grade will suffer. You may want to attend that lecture of a multi-millionaire investor, but your write up is due tomorrow and you haven’t started it. Trade-offs.

The solution: be lazy. As lazy as you can. This doesn’t mean that we should all sit around doing absolutely nothing. According to Peter Taylor, the author of best-selling books on Productive Laziness, people should “work smarter and not harder.” This is exactly what a top tier MBA program will force you to.

Being lazy means that you will save your energy to focus only on those activities that add the most value to your career. You should reject useless dialogues and non-value added activities. It will be a moment in your life that you’ll have to take choices on all sorts of things. Time is a major constraint and you’ll have to manage it.

By being a lazy student, you will cut to the chase and save your valuable time for the right job hunting. You’ll refrain from joining the finance club because you are looking into marketing positions. Even though it may seem really tempting to do some crazy finance modeling on Excel.

Here’s how to get through your MBA using the smart-lazy approach:

Know yourself

The lazy-smart MBA student knows his limits and abilities. I recommend you save your time and abstain from benchmarking and comparing with others.

Instead, know your pitch and your space. Position yourself. This is the single most effective way to rise above the noise, when you need to go for that final round of interviews. Be lazy when it comes to matching your colleagues’ abilities. Your competition is against your own self, period.

Know your target and go for it

Being all over the place will not take you anywhere. You must focus. Start by eliminating those activities that will not add to your post-MBA job. If you’re not into private banking, don’t even start that application for Credit Suisse, even if it pays big bucks. Your application form will show your lack of willingness and you will have lost precious minutes. Instead, read that chapter on brand equity again. You may need it one day.

Identify where you can fail

Let’s be realistic. If your future job asks for your Grade Point Average (GPA), you better study harder than your colleagues. If your prospective employer wants case cracking skills, go for an average GPA and become the best case cracker ever. Don’t succumb to self-pride to achieve the perfect GPA if these extra hours could have been used better elsewhere. It is OK to have a 3.8 instead of a 3.95. In many cases, these costly 0.15 will mean absolutely nothing.

In the end, as you throw your cap on the graduation day, you’ll see that it was not that hard at all. It was just a matter of working smart.