“Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the ‘me’ for the ‘we.’” —Phil Jackson
The last time I kicked a soccer ball into a goal was when I was in the 10th grade. Cricket being the dominant sport in my home country, I never really got around to dribbling and shooting a soccer ball ever again. As I stood nervously over the ball that day, I had only one fear – that of letting my classmates down. I was the last out of the five kickers in the penalty shootout and was keen to justify my self-driven selection. I ran five steps, hit the ball with the inside of my right foot and sent it crashing into the top left corner of the net. For the next minute, I lost count of the number of hands that came rushing toward me to give high fives. I have rarely experienced such exhilaration on a sports field, and being part of a team that dominated and won that soccer shootout remains a special memory for me.
Complete Immersion in Management (CIM Week)
This event was the CIM Olympics during the very first week of my Kellogg journey. What was I doing kicking a soccer ball, hollering wild section cheers about the greatness of Buckets and playacting as a SportsCenter anchor? Why was I not in a class studying management and finance and all of the other things MBA students study? I was busy completely immersing myself in the Kellogg culture!
I met close to 60 new faces on my first day at Kellogg, and my first challenge was to remember all of their (full) names. Like kindergarten children, twice a day, our whole section would recite the names of each of the members one by one. By the end of the week, faces merged with names and eventually with identities, with shared interests, backslapping and joking and initial friendships. I was among a warm, welcoming group of people.
During our first week on campus, as a section, we took pictures to win an Instagram contest, put war paint on our faces and cheered wildly, and scripted, edited and enacted a 10-minute dance and video showcase that combined the multitude of artistic talents, skills and cultures that we had in our classrooms. We could have spent four weeks, a whole quarter or maybe even six months getting to know each other and becoming comfortable in each other’s presence – instead, we achieved that in seven days.
I had read and heard a lot about how Kellogg has a culture that is devoted to teamwork and encourages collaboration. At CIM, I lived that experience. At Kellogg, teamwork is not about fancy posters or conference talks. It’s not about putting people together in a room and giving them a group case or even sending them on a social outing to mix together. Kellogg implicitly pushed us during CIM to break the barriers that would have hindered our communication. It goaded us, without ever being obvious or overbearing, to meet, mingle and, more importantly, cooperate. It gave us a theme (competition) and a goal (to be the best section during CIM) around which our initial hesitations dissolved and our strengths combined to produce outputs. CIM was a crazy week and our first piece of education at Kellogg.
Aftab Khanna is member of the Class of 2015. He is from New Delhi, India and is currently attending the MBA program in close collaboration with his Joint Venture Yashika Khanna, who he credits solely for keeping him safe from FOMO, having him well-fed and prepared for school and being his best sounding board. Aftab is a bit of a social media addict, loves to watch any kind of sport and shares his thoughts on Twitter at @aftabkhanna.