Career

JD Ross of Opendoor
Forbes sifted through hundreds of nominees to create the 2017 30 Under 30 consumer tech list and Olin alumnus JD Ross, BSBA'12, is on it. Congratulations, JD!
CATEGORY: Career, News


I recently saw this quote by George S. Patton: “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” In my opinion, Gen. Patton, often regarded as one of the most successful United States field commanders of any war, knows what he is talking about.

Gen. George S. Patton

Gen. George S. Patton

Planning—sometimes embraced, sometimes feared—is typically top of mind for most of us as we start off another year. We start making lists of things to accomplish. Many of us think of these as New Year’s resolutions. Last January in my blog “Begin to Begin,” I suggested a few ways to begin the New Year. Unfortunately, I did mention organizing my basement in that blog a year ago and alas, it is still on my list!

From a career perspective, you might be in the planning mode too. Planning to change careers? Planning to relocate, and need to find an opportunity you can sink into? Planning to finish a certification you have been working on? Are you putting it off because the plan wasn’t perfect? Whatever the plan is, it is important to remember that you will never have an absolute 100% fool-proof, water-tight plan. So don’t wait for the “perfect plan” to start moving forward. Gen. Patton’s words about having a “good plan” versus the “perfect plan” should appear above our heads in an imaginary thought cloud each time we start to question if we have covered all the bases. I can almost guarantee we haven’t thought of everything. The plan is, however, good enough to get started working.

If you are changing careers, have you assessed the areas you are passionate about and that you like to do? Can you make a living at it? Have you researched companies that support the type of role you are searching for? If you are relocating, have you started identifying people that can help you in the new location? These are just some items on the “plan.”

For me, I like six month plans that are a bit more detailed within a five-year overall horizon. I know I will tweak both the short-term and long-term plans. They are “good” plans, just not “perfect” plans. I don’t know every twist and turn life will take to make it a perfect plan. But I know it will get me going.

Please don’t forget the doing part. It isn’t only about planning. The plan gets you moving toward your goals, but you still need to execute. You still need to do something. Whatever it is, don’t just plan it—do it. (I am sure my brother would quote Yoda here! So here it is. Do. Or do not. There is no try.)

Looking forward to 2017, give yourself permission to have a “good plan,” not the “perfect plan” and you will make great strides towards you goals. Write out the plan, review it, update it, and acknowledge your progress and where you need to focus. Take it from The Old Man, don’t wait for perfection—you will be waiting a long time.

This post originally appeared on LMHAdvisors. In addition to LMHAdvisors, Lisa Hebert serves as a Career Advisor specializing in supply chain, consulting, and Olin’s veteran student population.

CATEGORY: Career



How do you know it’s time to make a change in your career? Chase Fancher, BSBA’04, shares his decision to leave the corporate world and launch a boutique watch brand called Oak & Oscar. He credits his Olin business foundation with helping him clock out of the corporate world to crafting distinguished works of horology with his own startup.

Q: When and why did you launch Oak & Oscar?
A: Oak & Oscar was first launched in May of 2015. Its not the same old story that “I couldn’t find a nice watch in my budget…so I decided to make my own.” No, frankly, there’s a watch out there for everyone at every price point. You just have to find it.

For me, the decision to start is two-fold:  1) I wanted to spend more time with family.  2) I wanted to love my job and be proud of what I was doing. Oak & Oscar is about doing what you love and taking the risk of going out on your own.  You have to make big plans.

I previously worked in a ridiculously corporate environment and it just wasn’t me; very little freedom and flexibility. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great company and I enjoyed my coworkers I just couldn’t handle the 9-5 style job. Think “The Office” and you’ve got a decent idea of what I was dealing with…

My father really pushed me over the edge though. I remember asking him at Thanksgiving a few years back for advice on what to do. I’d already developed some designs and 3D printed prototypes and was at a crossroads. Either I keep pushing, which required putting some significant skin in the game and committing to make the brand happen, or pull back and let the dream slide. His response to me was, “What would you tell your own kid?  Would you tell him to remain in a stable job that you aren’t passionate about or go out and chase you dreams?”  I mean…come on.  Some of the best advice you can possibly give, right?  I was pretty much set on Oak & Oscar after that.

I wanted to take control of both my own future and schedule. I love that I can go to my son’s music class or take him to the park whenever I want now.  It’s really amazing to be able to spend time with him and my wife (who also works full time running her own small business).

Q: Have you wanted to be an entrepreneur since your business school days?
A: Definitely not. I first took the safe route of working for big firms – not because I thought it was the right path, but just because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. You’re supposed to graduate, go work a 9-5 job, (which doesn’t exist by the way…), get married, have kids and retire one day. As mentioned above, I couldn’t handle the 9-5er any longer and had to find a way out. Luckily I love watches and have made it work.

Q: Where are you based?
A: Chicago, IL

Q: How’s business?
A: Amazing. I’m honored and humbled by the acceptance of my watches by the market and the media. I’ve successfully quit the full time job and haven’t looked back. We sold out of our first model in less than a year and just launched a second model in late July. Of which, one style sold out in less than two weeks. It’s been an amazing run.

Q: Any lessons learned at Olin that have helped you along the way?
A: Olin has given me a solid business background and understanding that allows me to take ownership of every aspect of the company. While I employ professionals to handle stuff like accounting, I can at least have a conversation with them and understand what’s going on. But, truth be told, that’s another thing I learned in b-school: do what you’re good at and leave the rest to the experts. I remember reading business cases about companies who had founders that tried to do it all and failed. You just flat out can’t do it all. Don’t even try!

I’ve also taken lessons learned from Olin’s retail analytics classes (shout out to Prof. Sneider), and of course consumer behavior and marketing classes. And you can’t forget Prof. Nickerson’s MGT101 class – possibly one of the most influential b-school classes of them all!

CATEGORY: Career

Before it was a hipster destination and rents started rise faster than those in Manhattan, Brian Leventhal (BSBA’05) had a brilliant idea: to open a winery in Brooklyn. Urbanites could actually participate in the wine making experience from crushing grapes to making wine labels. Brooklyn Winery opened in the Williamsburg neighborhood in 2010 with a wine bar, private event spaces, and a DIY experience under the guidance of a master vintner. This fall, Leventhal and his partners expanded their operation with the opening of BKW restaurant in Crown Heights (see press release below). Plans for a second winery in 2017 in Washington D.C. are also in the works.

grouping_winter2016Brooklyn Winery does not grow grapes, but imports them from the wine regions of California, Long Islad and the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.  Their Winter Wine Pack  is currently discounted at 15% off. It includes: a 2013 Reserve Merlot; 2012 Cabernet Franc; and 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay.

When he was a WashU undergrad, Brian Levethal founded Wydown Water – a water cooler bottle delivery service on campus. He did a stint at McKinsey & Co. after graduation and then worked for a tech start-up. On the verge of going to Haas School of Business for his MBA, Leventhal and a friend decided to risk everything and start Brooklyn Winery.

New Restaurant Press Release:
BKW introduces a reimagined take on the Brooklyn Winery experience to Crown Heights, offering Brooklyn-made premium wines as well as a full menu of elegant New American dishes. Whether you’re sipping wine at the bar or enjoying dinner under the skylights in our Crown Heights restaurant, BKW provides a welcoming environment for guests to savor elevated cuisine alongside artisanal wine.

Rootbeer-glazed pork ribs

Rootbeer-glazed pork ribs

The menu, crafted by Executive Chef Michael Gordon, features a variety of approachable yet refined dishes designed to complement Brooklyn Winery’s portfolio of wines, which are available by the glass and via wine flights. A bottle list features vintages of Brooklyn Winery wines from the vault that date back to the winery’s first harvest and are available exclusively at BKW.

Brooklyn Winery continues its tradition of making wine in the borough by operating a micro-winery on-site at BKW, which will allow the winemaking team to trial experimental lots and techniques that will ultimately be served exclusively at this location.

We invite you to join us for dinner, weekend brunch, happy hour, and late night drinks. Visitors can also pick up a few bottles of our locally crafted wine to go and enjoy Brooklyn Winery wine at home.

CATEGORY: Career, News



Grant Weber, MBA’03, says his organic dog food company targets the intersection of two trends: organic, natural foods and the humanization of pets. Named after his longtime best friend and dog, Riley’s Organics, Weber’s company offers a wide range of treats with a unique tag line: We wouldn’t feed it to our Dogs, if we wouldn’t eat it Ourselves.®

ro_small_fullline16811To encourage the Olin community to try Riley’s Organics, Weber is offering a special 40% discount on orders at Rileysorganics.com with the code OLIN40. The code will be valid until Jan 3, 2017.

We caught up with CEO Weber at Startup Connection, held in November in Olin’s Knight Hall and Bauer Hall. Watch the video above to learn more about Weber’s second entrepreneurial venture and how he puts his MBA to work.

“I was born and raised in America’s heartland on a second-generation corn and soybean farm. We worked hard to produce healthy food for America’s table, and we always had a healthy respect for the land. We believed that sometimes the right route was not always the easiest route – growing healthy, good tasting, nutritious crops meant going the extra mile.

Grant Weber Riley'sLong days in the fields were made easier by spending time with my constant companion, Riley. We were inseparable. She taught me about the important friendship between a dog and their humans, about trusting, and being loved. I guess you could say, Riley was my inspiration. My commitment to the finest quality ingredients comes from my family, but my passion for producing the finest quality dog treats comes from the many wonderful years with Riley.”  – Grant Weber

CATEGORY: Career