H@H: Ep 27 – On this week’s episode, host Paulina Lee is joined by Adin Menkin, EWMBA ‘21. We discuss Adin’s journey from Texas to Arkansas and what it’s like working inside one of the largest retailers in the world, Walmart. Then, what he’s been exploring since leaving Walmart a few months ago.
On how being a collegiate athlete has shaped him – “It’s constant thinking from the standpoint of, it’s not about me, it’s about the team and if I don’t do my job, then this whole system fails. That’s really ingrained in you.”
On maximizing the MBA experience with networking & the classroom experience – “I’ve learned pretty quick that you can learn even more in the classroom if you collaborate and talk to the right people.”
On what he’s learned about himself during bschool – “I used to think that I wanted to be a better version of myself. But now I’m trying to be a more authentic version of myself; and that’s not easy, but it’s fun and it’s rewarding. And it’s a work in progress.”
- Simon Sinek, It Starts With Why
- Bob Goff, Dream Big
- Netflix: Inside Bill’s Brain
- Here@Haas Episode: Jarrett Wright
- Haas Electives: Negotiations, Marketing Analytics
Paulina Lee: I’m Paulina Lee. And this is here@haas, a student-run podcast connecting you to Haasie and the faculty that changed our life. This week on here@haas, we are joined by Aiden Menkin from the evening weekend program, class of 2021. Aiden is a student leader, finance and strategy professional, a collegiate football player, and iron bison.
[00:00:27] Thanks for coming on the show, Aiden.
[00:00:29] Adin Menkin: Thanks. Glad to be here.
[00:00:31] Paulina Lee: How’s your week been going?
[00:00:32] Adin Menkin: It’s going great. It’s a sprinting for just like the rest of the summer and pretty much this whole year.
[00:00:38] Paulina Lee: Yeah, the summer has flown by. I don’t even know how it’s the end of July
[00:00:43] Adin Menkin: I know. It’s insane.
[00:00:45] Paulina Lee: And, your calling in from Texas. Right?
[00:00:48] Adin Menkin: Yes. Planet Texas, right near Dallas.
[00:00:52] Paulina Lee: Awesome. Well, I’d love to start with you just sharing a little bit about your background, where you’re from, where you went to undergrad, and how you ended up in the Bay area.
[00:01:02] Adin Menkin: Of course. My parents are from South Africa and part of the reason I say that is because, from a young age, I started playing soccer. And, my dad got me really into it. And so, you know, I grew up playing and I even played in the Youth World Cup and, you know, I kept playing. I was loving it. And then after a while, I kind of got burnt out on it. And then I guess made the natural transition that most kids do these days and start kicking footballs. So, I grew up in the Houston area and then ended up getting a scholarship to a school in Arkansas.
[00:01:35] And the school is called Harding University. It’s division two school; it’s right outside of Little Rock. And so had an incredible time there. Small school, have made a ton of awesome friends and majored in finance and the Walmart headquarters is actually pretty close to Harding and they actually recruit pretty heavily outside of there.
[00:01:57] And so I ended up doing a couple of internships with Walmart there and then ended up joining full time. They have this rotational program that’s pretty neat. And so, it spans over two years, and every six months you basically have a different job. And so, for somebody coming out of school, not quite sure what they want to do, this is like a perfect scenario. And so actually during those two years, I did six months in San Francisco. So, there’s any commerce office with Walmart out in the Bay area. And so, I did six months out there, came back and then just kind of fell in love with it and was trying to find a way to make my way back to the Bay area.
[00:02:32] And so I ended up doing that, 2016, I think, out to the Bay area and started working for e-commerce. And during that time, also got married actually the weekend before, uh, moved to San Francisco. So, a ton of change during that time.
[00:02:49] Paulina Lee: All at once.
[00:02:50] Adin Menkin: Lots of learning. Yeah. Mostly outside of work. But it was great. And so, you know, I’ve been in the Bay area for four years now and, I mean, Walmart is such a massive company. I’ve probably had six different jobs during the six years that I had been there. And that’s kind of led me to where I am right now. And so, the way I ended up at Haas was a little bit of happenstance.
[00:03:14] So, as soon as I moved to the Bay area, the manager I had at the time kept nudging me and saying like I know you want to go to business school. I’ve wanted to go ever since undergrad. And, she kept telling me why don’t you just do it part-time. Berkeley has a fantastic program and there have been some people at Walmart who had done it before. And she kept saying like, do it, do it. And I was like, no, I want to go full time. And so, I’ve been applying to all these full-time schools, you know, the East Coast and South, and this was around 2018. And right as I submitted all my applications, my wife, she does medical sales and she got a promotion and I was like, well, shoot, it’s not going to make a lot of sense if we move and we started can to San Francisco for me.
[00:03:54] And so maybe it makes sense to stay a little longer. And so, I quickly applied to Haas. I was like, all right, maybe this is a good decision to come to the part-time program. And so, I applied and here we are. It’s awesome.
[00:04:06] Paulina Lee: Well, I wanted to take a step back to our intro too and wanted to ask you a little bit more about the Iron Bison.
[00:04:14] Adin Menkin: Oh, gosh, that Iron Bison. So, it doesn’t have anything to do with Iron Man for one. The Bisons were the mascot of the school. I went to Harding and so, you know, I mentioned that I was a kicker in the school and I think the stereotype of most kids here is that they’re not the most athletic or they’re scrawny.
[00:04:37] They’re kind of these odd people. And, not saying that I’m not, but, uh, while I was in school, I was trying to kind of change that stereotype. And so, I would work out with all the other positions and I would compete with them. And so, every fall we would have this big strength and conditioning competition.
[00:04:56] Then, you know, if you’re at one of the top performers, you become the iron bison. And so, one of the years I competed pretty hard and I won that award and it was a while ago. For some reason, all the clothes that I wore back then I’ve grown a lot on, I don’t know.
[00:05:13] I don’t know how that happened.
[00:05:16] Paulina Lee: Oh, I feel you. I still have some of my like practice shirts from college that I still wear.
[00:05:23] Adin Menkin: You were an athlete, huh? I mean you’re still are.
[00:05:24] Paulina Lee: Yeah. Yeah. Played field hockey in college. I mean, for me playing a sport in college, I didn’t enter high school and think to myself, I’m going to go play field hockey in college.
[00:05:34] It kind of more developed over time. And I think it definitely affected where I am today and how I think about different things. As you look back at your undergrad, how was being a collegiate football player influencing your life today?
[00:05:53] Adin Menkin: I think a lot of it has to do with being on a team sport. I mean, in football, there’s a lot of other team sports, obviously, but football I think is one where it’s, you know, it’s the whole gridiron principle. You have to have the person back or you’re, you’re lined up next to, of course, I didn’t line up next to too many people well but it’s the whole experience. And so, it’s constant suddenly thinking from the standpoint of, it’s not about me, it’s about the team and if I don’t do my job then this whole system fails. So, it’s kind of ingraining that into you. And then it’s also shared experiences is pretty neat. I think that kind of shaped you and who knows maybe this, this whole corona thing is like, we’re on one big weird team and we have this big shared experience. I think that’s a big part of it.
[00:06:39] Paulina Lee: Very true. Yeah. I totally agree. So, I’d love to dig into a little bit more about your Walmart experience. I know they recruited heavily on campus but what made you want to join such a large retailer out of college?
[00:06:56] Adin Menkin: So, it was interesting coming out of college my main two options that I kind of narrowed down to was going to Walmart or going to this oil and gas company called Murphy’s oil. And it would have been a really interesting opportunity. It was in El Dorado, Arkansas, the city of gold, quite small. And so, joining Walmart seemed to be like the big unknown.
[00:07:19] I mean, it was a massive company and there’s so much opportunity. And I’ve kind of gotten a feel for it doing a couple of internships there and sort of knew what I was, what was into. But I think the biggest thing that drew me there was the leaders in the organization. They’re all just really good people.
[00:07:33] And so that kind of ultimately drew me to it.
[00:07:36] Paulina Lee: And you had you said about six different roles at Walmart. You’ve done a variety of different work, right? So, working with the online grocery team, acquisitions, incubation, really a lot of white space areas that Walmart has been investing in.
[00:07:51] As you look at your career at Walmart, what has been your favorite role, or what role did you learn the most from?
[00:07:57] Adin Menkin: So, I guess starting off with online grocery, that was a ton of fun. That was my first job coming out to San Francisco. And it was one of the first times I’d been in a kind of startup environment. I mean, it was, you know, the businesses growing triple-digit and my first kind of responsibility was helping do the long-range planning for the organization.
[00:08:21] We typically look out five years and then we do a next year snapshot. And, I remember it was 2017 and we’re just wrapping up the plans for the next five years, you know, that are going to change whatsoever.
[00:08:35] Paulina Lee: Yeah.
[00:08:36] Adin Menkin: And that was the same time that Amazon had acquired this other little company called Whole Foods.
[00:08:42] Paulina Lee: Yep.
[00:08:43] Adin Menkin: We basically had to scrap all these wonderful plans that we had made and completely start from zero. But it was a ton of fun. I mean, it was, it was awesome looking at such a massive organization come together and we had these big strategy meetings and made decisions really fast and hoped for the best.
[00:09:02] So, that was a ton of fun. But I think more recently, the, so you mentioned that the incubation group, this was pretty neat. So, about two and a half years ago, Walmart launched this incubation arm. It’s kind of like corporate venture capital. And they called it Store 8 because, you know, back in Walmart’s history, that store number eight, the eighth store that was opened was like the experimental store that Sam Walton would kind of tinker with.
[00:09:26] And so this incubation organization named Store No. 8, we, um, launched a portfolio of five different incubation companies. And I mean, they’re so different. One of them was working on augmented reality, virtual reality in stores. How do we incorporate that? Another one was working on conversational commerce, so natural language processing.
[00:09:45] And so, you know, me coming into this with retail experience and not as much on the tech side was just while then thinking about how we can put some structure in but not too much. We don’t want to sort of overwhelm and overcrowd these startups that aren’t used to the corporate environment. So, that was a super interesting learning opportunity.
[00:10:07] Paulina Lee: Yeah, I think it’s so interesting because I have been with Proctor and Gamble for eight years this summer but have also done a ton of rules on our Walmart team. So I think between the two of us we have a lot of Walmart knowledge but I think one thing that I’ve loved working with Walmart that I don’t think a lot of people understand is like all the innovation that the teams are working on and the different things that people are trying especially in the Bay area because our nearest Walmart is, I mean, from San Francisco, it’s what, 37 miles or something I think the office says. So, it’s cool that you’re kind of at the crux of like one of the largest retailers in the entire world but also at this point where they’re really trying to push the envelope, really trying to put a stake in the ground to continue winning and retail in the future versus competition both here in the US and outside. Do you think that these roles that you’ve done have changed your outlook in terms of what you want to do going forward?
[00:11:10] Adin Menkin: Yeah, I mean, if anything, it’s let me know that there is so much outside of the organization. I mean, it’s so massive and I guess it kind of ties into going to business school is you automatically start thinking more broadly and whether you like it or not you start thinking about all the stakeholders and the suppliers and the Proctor and Gamble and all these other people that help make Walmart what it is.
[00:11:36] And, a company can’t succeed on its own. And so, it started making me think about what are, what are other roles out there, even outside of finance that it could be interesting. And so, I guess a couple of the things that I’ve been curious about and may or may not have written essays about it coming into school was a consulting.
[00:11:56] I’ve always been curious about, I’ve worked with a lot of brilliant people who are former consultants and I really look up to them. And so that’s one thing I’ve always been really curious about. And so, this past spring I worked with a boutique consulting firm doing a change management consulting.
[00:12:15] And that was, you know, a very different experience for higher education. And so that sort of opened my eyes to it, to what it could be like as a career. And, I did that for about three months. And, I’d worked with consultants before but never obviously in their shoes. And so, I gained a bit of new respect for them.
[00:12:35] But I think ultimately, I decided it’s not quite the path for me.
[00:12:39] Paulina Lee: Not for you?
[00:12:40] Adin Menkin: Yeah. I mean, what I love is being in an organization and then being able to influence and take plans from ideation to execution. And, consulting is typically only one piece of that.
[00:12:53] Adin Menkin: And then, you know, more recently, one of the other things I’ve been curious about is the, it’s kind of a buzz word now but BizOps, you know, it’s the blend between analytics and operations and being smart about making decisions which sounds a lot like finance.
[00:13:08] And so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of months, helping a company out here in Dallas doing that. And that’s, that’s super interesting, very different.
[00:13:19] Paulina Lee: Yeah, that’s great. So, 2018 was when you started applying to full-time programs and then obviously pivoted and applied to Haas as a part-time program. At that point in your career, why did you decide that that was the time that you wanted to go back to school? And, how are you thinking about the different schools that you applied to?
[00:13:40] Adin Menkin: I guess 2018 was the timeframe that I always sort of had in mind. I wanted to get four to five years of experience before going to school. So, that didn’t change. Obviously going the part-time route was a big pivot in my mind that the school was out. I was focused on applying to was it’s mostly geographic base. So, you know, I applied two, UT my family is from Austin area. I applied to Michigan. My wife’s family is from Michigan. And so, I was kinda thinking about it in that way, and obviously, visited the schools thinking about culture and then the alumni in those areas.
[00:14:14] But yeah, it was not thinking about Berkeley at the time. And was honestly not thinking about the Bay area as a home when we first moved here but it’s worked out quite well.
[00:14:25] Paulina Lee: Fell in love with it for a little bit, at least. And you made a big career change, deciding to leave Walmart this spring. I know you talked a little bit about doing consulting the spring and then interning this summer, but how did you come to that point where you’re like, this is the time I want to leave the home I started in.
[00:14:43] Adin Menkin: I think I sort of had that timeframe in mind. Part of it was a little bit more tactical.
[00:14:49] I took a ton of classes this past spring. And so, I knew it was going to be really tough to get a lot out of those classes, know I was doing negotiations, which I know you have to put a ton of time into and I was taking some analytics classes. So, that was part of it. And then also just taking time off. At the turn of the year is always typically a good time.
[00:15:10] We have most of the plans in order or that’s typically the plan to put the plans down. And it’s just easy from a company standpoint. I also didn’t want to leave and leave things on fire and put people out. So, it was a good natural transition.
[00:15:25] Paulina Lee: And, tell me a little bit more about the change management consulting. So, I think you’ve kind of learned that it’s not quite for you but we’d love for you to talk about how you got involved and what else you learned during that time.
[00:15:39] Adin Menkin: So, I knew I wanted to do something else in the spring. And I think that part-time program maybe sorts of drills this into you or maybe it’s just me to kind of be somewhat hyperactive and always doing something. And so, even though I had a heavy class load, I was like, well, I’m used to working 50 or 60 hours so that can’t take all that time.
[00:16:00] So I have to figure something else out. So, I was looking at doing something else, at least part-time. And so, this opportunity came up, through CMG. So, I just applied to it and it was a little bit of a different take since it was changed management.
[00:16:14] And it was very different in the sense that it’s not your typical strategy or implementation or doing deep and analytical analysis. The way I sort of understood it or describe it as that from a finance background, I’m so used to thinking like numbers first and what’s the ROI of this project but doing change management was all about the people.
[00:16:38] So it’s like, okay, what’s the impact on people? The company that we were helping out was, it was in higher ed. And so, they’re doing all these different changes, changing financial systems, the way they do HR. And so, everything we did and helped them think through was like, okay, what’s the impact on people?
[00:16:55] How are they going to react to it? How should we message things and less so like what’s the numbers impact? So, that was a super cool experience.
[00:17:03] Paulina Lee: Sounds like you need a psychology degree.
[00:17:06] Adin Menkin: I feel like I do, I was way inadequate for that.
[00:17:10] Paulina Lee: And then you’re interning this summer which I think is kind of different for a lot of evening weekend students. Right? So, most of us just keep working full time, the whole time of our program. I think you’re one of the few that I’ve met at least that did an internship. So, tell me about that process, recruiting, applying, and then how the summer has been for you.
[00:17:30] Adin Menkin: Yeah, it’s a super cool experience. And I guess that’s one of the neat parts about the evening weekend program. So, you get some flexibility, there’s a lot of uncertainty with it. And so, to the extent, you can balance that it works out. But yeah, I was, so I was looking through the career management center as well and just talking to a bunch of different people.
[00:17:49] But the company that I ended up with was I knew some people from my alumni and undergrad who worked there. And so, we were talking quite a bit and I ended up working out that, you know, I could go down there. Around the time that I wanted to and worked there for just a few months during the summer and the opportunity ended up being perfect as well, because I was looking for something that was in this sort of BizOps space and not to do something strictly finance because I sort of know what that world is like.
[00:18:20] So, the company that I started working for is super interesting. It’s gov tech, which is another space that I have not heard much about.
[00:18:29] So government tech and what the company does is they’ve figured out a way to digitalize pawn shop receipt. So, the way that pawnshops work right now is that by law, they are required to submit these pawn tickets when somebody pawns something to a local jurisdiction, to a police department. And what this company has done is digitalize all of that.
[00:18:52] So previously, if someone were to say steal a TV in San Francisco and then drive down to San Jose to sell it at a pawn shop, those two police departments would, you know, it would be, it would disappear from the face of the earth. They’d have no way to talk to each other. So, they’ve kind of connected all those systems.
[00:19:10] Paulina Lee: Very cool. Do you think that biz ops is what you want to do next? Or, are you still exploring?
[00:19:17] Adin Menkin: So, I’m not quite sure if biz ops is what I want to do longer term but the interesting thing that I’m kind of noticing now is that I think BizOps, it’s just using data to help people make better decisions which is a lot of what finances in a sense.
[00:19:35] And I think those two spaces are ultimately kind of blending. I see a lot of positions that are like, you know, head of finance and analytics. Or, you know, head of strategic finance. So, I think those two worlds are kind of blending together. And so that’s sort of what I’m most interested in and finding companies that see value in that.
[00:19:56] Paulina Lee: Yeah. I think the brains that look at numbers are very similar and it just applying them in different ways, that are, they’re just trying to consolidate. So, you’re going to be wearing four hats but one job.
[00:20:08] Adin Menkin: Yes, which if you can get paid for wearing all the four hats that’s
[00:20:14] Paulina Lee: Right. Right. How was your first year at Haas? You got involved as a student leader back then. And tell me a little bit about your first year and the evening weekend program.
[00:20:22] Adin Menkin: Yeah, the first year was wild. It was like the first few months of chronic, you just don’t know what’s happening. And you’re trying to figure out what a new normal is. And, I remember going into it, I made this big spreadsheet of like, okay, I’m going to work for these hours. And then I’m going to do homework during these hours.
[00:20:40] Then that was scrapped really quickly. But it was a ton of fun. I mean, it’s totally like going into undergrad to some degree. There’s so many people to meet so many new experiences, so much learning. But it’s cool. It was such a humbling experience as well. I remember during WE Launch, the kickoff weekend that we have, you meet all these people and they’re from all these different backgrounds and you’re thinking about like, okay. So, I guess since I’m coming from a finance background, that kind of pegs me with the finance people and therefore people who are not in finance don’t know about finance but that is not the case. So, I even remember sitting in accounting classes and I was thinking like all the subjects that would kind of come up, I would think you know, I’ve kind of thought through this quite a bit, and the questions that some of them, my classmates would ask were just brilliant. And I would kind of look over it and I’d think it like, wow, that person is a scientist. I would not think that they would think of that question.
[00:21:45] So, yeah, it’s just very humbling.
[00:21:48] Paulina Lee: And what do you think you learned in your first year that you applied coming back into year two?
[00:21:54] Adin Menkin: That’s a good question. I think I learned it’s a bit obvious but just maybe appreciated the value of the relationships. I remember before starting, I was talking to all of these folks who had gotten their MBA or they were getting their MBA at the time while I was applying. And they’re like, the way to think about getting an MBA is in three parts.
[00:22:14] So there’s the networking piece. There’s what you learn in the classroom. And, there’s the career opportunity piece. And I was like, okay, so I need to keep the balance, but you know, going into it I’ve learned pretty quick that the network can overshadow all of that. You can learn even more in the classroom if you collaborate and talk to the right people and then those career opportunities.
[00:22:35] And so I just appreciate that a lot more.
[00:22:38] Paulina Lee: And how are you thinking about the network portion as we go into year three, fully remote?
[00:22:47] Adin Menkin: Yeah. We’ll have to figure something out. I think there’s all these interesting apps. Like donut is one that I want to explore where you can have these sorts of on-off meetings and, make up for the running into somebody random while in the claw type of thing.
[00:23:02] Paulina Lee: There’s so many unknowns this semester, this year in the world. It’s hard to predict but we’ll have to think of some good creative ways. I think there was a lot of energy. When we first went fully remote, everyone was like, we can hang out on zoom for six hours.
[00:23:18] It’s fine. We’ll do it exactly. But then when you know, we’re, what are we? Six, seven months now. I think people will have to think about it and be super intentional and figure out how do we still make the most out of this experience, even though everything looks completely different.
[00:23:37] Paulina Lee: So, you’re very involved. I believe you were an academic cohort rep your first year and then you were involved in, WE Launch as a cohort leader.
[00:23:47] I’ve had the opportunity to work with you over the last, Oh my guess over half a year now I’m on the exact team. So would love to understand why you got involved in student leadership while at Haas.
[00:24:00] Adin Menkin: Part of it, I think is just, well, maybe not being the best at saying no to opportunities which I don’t know, I’m about for sure, but it usually ends up working out in good ways. I want it to be involved. And so, after doing the social cohort rep during WE Launch, I realized, Hey, there’s some pretty cool people in other classes, you know, it’d be like Paulina and others.
[00:24:26] Um, but that was super neat. So, I wanted to think of different ways that I could get involved, still and, you know, work across the different years. And so, one of my friends reached out to me, asked if I wanted to be involved. And, this is George from my cohort. And he was asking me and I was like, well, you know, I don’t know.
[00:24:45] I need to think about the time commitment. And then he gave me all these quotes of these executives they run companies and they’re able to do all this stuff too. I was like, all right. That’s a great point. And so, yeah, I joined and I’m super glad I did. It’s been a ton of fun and met a ton of great people.
[00:25:01] And, I think during this time especially there’s so much that we can stand up and do to help folks and kind of be a voice.
[00:25:09] Paulina Lee: Do you think you’ve learned anything out of either this role on the exec team or in any of the other student leadership roles you’ve had? That is a new skill or a new thing about yourself?
[00:25:21] Adin Menkin: The one thing that I thought of recently is, so it goes back to the first opening weekend when we did WE Launch and you may have done this too but it was the concept of you deep in breathe. And so, you have to take this two-minute break and turn to somebody next to you and you have to talk about yourself or tell a story.
[00:25:42] So you got real deep but it’s brief and it’s okay. You know, it doesn’t have to be weird and it’s, it’s cool. You can carry on and be friends. And so, I think that’s kind of stuck with me and I was reminded of it recently because at this company I’m working with now, the coworker that I have next to me, he’s a super cool guy.
[00:26:02] And, it was early in the morning. It was, I dunno, 7:30 in the morning and he leans over to me and he says, Hey, what motivates you? And I thought a lot of ways he was kind of messing with me. And so, I was like, you know, we’re kind of joking around with him. And he was like, not really what motivates you?
[00:26:18] I was like, Oh cool. And so, you know, we talked about it and it reminded me. I was like, previously, maybe before coming across that concept, I would have taken it at a totally different way, but I was like, this is super cool. It’s okay.
[00:26:31] And, you can have a deep and brief conversation and it’s cool. And, I admired him for that.
[00:26:36] Paulina Lee: For sure. You know what my next question is going to be, right? Like, you’re going to have to answer that now. What motivates you, Adin?
[00:26:43] Adin Menkin: To go deep and brief. You caught me. So, I read Simon Sinek book, It Starts With Why, and took some time to think about it. And, my motivation is to help people realize and reach their full potential. What it makes me think of is actually the podcasts that you guys did with Jarrett, right? And he was talking about his experience, which is incredible. If you haven’t listened to that one, go listen to our friend Jarrett. But he talked about the idea of if you’ve grown up and you haven’t known what else is around you, then your opportunities are automatically limited.
[00:27:20] And I think he gave an example of saying if somebody asks you, what’s your favorite spice and all you know is pepper then you’re going to say that and you don’t know about cayenne and all these other things. And so that’s like the realizing part and then reaching your full potential is kind of everything outside of that and beyond it.
[00:27:36] Paulina Lee: That’s great. I mean, that’s an exercise. I’m still working through myself. It’s funny. Cause our first semester we have leading people. And it’s a lot about cultures at companies and how companies can create impactful cultures and actually have meaningful mission statements and visions.
[00:27:56] And it just got me thinking as a person, what is my vision? What is my mission statement? What is my core values? And I think we all have it in our heads of like who we are as people. But so rarely do we actually take the time to write it down and like stare at it. So, I don’t have that answer for you.
[00:28:16] So you’re not allowed to ask it. But yeah, it’s something that I’ve been kind of musing on this summer in terms of given the world where it is today, it’s given a lot of extra time to think about these things. So, it’s, what do you want to do with your life?
[00:28:31] Adin Menkin: Well, that’s tough because I think we’re all work in progress. And so, you might think of something and you’re like, wow, no, that’s not right. Or you might hear somebody speak and you’re like, Oh, okay. That I should do that.
[00:28:41] Paulina Lee: Exactly. What has been your favorite Haas memory in your past two years?
[00:28:46] Adin Menkin: The first one that popped into my mind is going to Tahoe. This was, I guess, last spring. My whole cohort got together and we all rented a bunch of cabins out in Tahoe and we’d spent the weekend out there and it was super fun. It was just like celebrating, conquering the first year, and not thinking too much about how much we still have ahead. Uh, but it was so fun. Just getting outside of the city.
[00:29:17] Paulina Lee: Yeah. And, what do you think has been your favorite class so far? I’m asking this selfishly as I’m getting ready to look at electives again.
[00:29:28] Adin Menkin: Smart. The two that come to mind, well, okay, maybe I have three. So, the first one you have probably taken already. So, it was accounting, which is odd. This was mostly because of the professors said Yaniv is the professor of that class. He’s just an incredible human.
[00:29:49] When we first entered the class, he just starts clapping and everyone’s like, what is going on? And he keeps clapping and until like everyone starts clapping with him and then, and then he puts his arms up and he yells ‘accounting’. Okay.
[00:30:03] Paulina Lee: That’s amazing.
[00:30:04] Adin Menkin: Know you could do that. I didn’t know. Accounting is so exciting, but I’m in it. So that was super fun. And then this past spring, there was no clapping or yelling involved, but I’d say negotiations and then a class called marketing analytics. And those were super interesting because I think they’re just very applicable.
[00:30:27] Negotiations is more or less what you would expect, a lot of tough, awkward, conversations that you, you have to have and you take time being critical after every conversation that you have. And then marketing analytics was super interesting as well. And it’s what I’ve actually used a lot this summer. So, very practical.
[00:30:49] Paulina Lee: Nice. And as you go into your final year, are you planning on graduating in spring of, yeah.
[00:30:57] Adin Menkin: I don’t know anymore.
[00:31:01] Paulina Lee: Yeah. Right. We have full a full five years that you can take to do the program before I think they literally kick you out. But I guess as you go into the next year, what are your goals and your plans?
[00:31:15] Adin Menkin: So, I definitely want to try my best however possible to spend more time with folks in my class. And then also get to know the other classes. So, the class of 22 and 23 as much as possible. It’s obviously very different how that’s going to happen. It’s TBD but I think that’s the main thing.
[00:31:36] And then also enjoying the city as much as I can. I don’t know if I’ll be in the Bay area for another year or maybe three years or who knows. So, I just want to enjoy the Bay area.
[00:31:48] Paulina Lee: Yeah, I agree. I think, especially after the summer. I didn’t take any electives and tried to stay in touch but not as well as I would hope. I think we all hit a little bit of zoom fatigue, so I think being more intentional on how to get those interactions and then how to get those interactions across classes, across cohorts. There are so many people within my class that are not on the Saturdays that I don’t know. So, I’m hoping to figure that out.
[00:32:23] Adin Menkin: Yeah. You get to know your blue and gold friends.
[00:32:28] Paulina Lee: Exactly. Exactly. Obviously, you had always hoped to go and get your MBA. I’m very similar. But has the MBA experience thus far met your expectations of what you thought and what have you learned about yourself?
[00:32:43] Adin Menkin: So, the MBA has definitely exceeded my expectations. I think going into it I had more of an academic lens about it. Like I’m going to learn all the skills and the frameworks and all those things but it’s a lot more squishy in a way on the people’s side. And, like I said, it’s really humbling.
[00:33:02] So from that respect, it’s been super interesting to get to know a lot of people that I wouldn’t normally interact with. And, Haas is a pretty awesome, quirky little place.
[00:33:13] Adin Menkin: And then what I’ve learned about myself, which is a much easier question. I used to think that I wanted to be a better version of myself. But now I’m trying to be a more authentic version of myself and that’s not easy but it’s fun and it’s rewarding and it’s a work in progress.
[00:33:37] So check back in with me in like one week.
[00:33:42] Paulina Lee: Perfect. I think that’s great. I think it’s true. I think when you’re growing up and those first couple years of undergrad you see all these great leaders and you’re like, I’m going to be like this person and that person, you try and grab all these different things, which I think is great.
[00:33:57] You definitely want to learn from others but there comes to a point where you just have to stop and be like, okay, I have all these different things that I’ve inputted from other people, but like, who am I? And how does that come to life for me? Because that’s what’s going to feel the best long-term and take the least amount of energy every day.
[00:34:17] Adin Menkin: Yeah, exactly. That’s it, it makes paying the bills for an MBA worth it.
[00:34:23] Paulina Lee: Self-discovery. Exactly. What do you want to do when you graduate?
[00:34:30] Adin Menkin: When I grow up? The big question. I don’t know if I can answer the big question yet. I’m not quite sure. I think there’s a big opportunity that I could, come back to this company where I am now. I think there’s an opportunity that I could go back to Walmart. No idea. I still need to have those conversations.
[00:34:49] And then there’s the unknown, um, I’m talking to a lot of recruiters right now and oddly enough, there’s a lot of open finance positions. Sadly, you know, may or may not have to do with Corona and people realizing that finances are important.
[00:35:03] Paulina Lee: Awesome.
[00:35:04] Paulina Lee: Well, I wanted to transition to a little fun-ender that we sometimes do. It’s called this or that. And so, we get to learn more about your preferences. So, if you’re reading, do you prefer audiobooks, eBooks, or books, or paper books? Any books that you’ve read recently that you would recommend?
[00:35:23] Adin Menkin: I’m reading one now it’s called Dream Big, inspired by Bob Garfield. One of my favorite authors, he’s kind of a wild dude. He puts his phone number in the back of all the books that he writes because he’s all about engagement and being available which is a little insane. I mean, the guy probably gets thousands of calls, but yeah, I called him a few years ago.
[00:35:45] I was super nervous to do it and he picked up and then I didn’t know what to say.
[00:35:49] Paulina Lee: Oh my gosh.
[00:35:54] Paulina Lee: Also used to that.
[00:35:57] Adin Menkin: I know, he’s like, yeah, I actually picked out this is my number. And, we just, you know, we talked for a little while. But it was super cool. It was just a totally normal dude.
[00:36:09] Paulina Lee: That’s great. Are you a Spotify music or Apple music or how do you stream your music? What’s your like go to work playlist?
[00:36:18] Adin Menkin: It’s not an established playlist but I have a bunch of instrumental songs. Maybe it was influenced, I think one of the other people you had on the podcast, Dr. Yusef, like she said, she had like the same songs that she’s listened to over and over for years. But like RD is one of the bands on there, so yeah, it’s just instrumental stuff.
[00:36:38] Paulina Lee: Nice. Mine is tropical house, so it’s like super upbeat. Yeah, it just upbeat stuff, but it skews like my whole like recommendation. Cause I don’t listen to it really, unless I’m working. And I don’t even know how I stumbled upon it.
[00:36:59] Paulina Lee: Are you a Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu?
[00:37:04] Adin Menkin: Not much. The most recent show that I’ve watched is the Bill Gates. It’s like a three-episode series inside Bill Gates’s mind. And then I also started watching Seinfeld and then I scrapped it pretty quick. There’s way too many episodes.
[00:37:17] Paulina Lee: But I feel like that’s when you could just like watch and then, you know, come back two weeks later. And are you a morning or an evening person?
[00:37:30] Adin Menkin: Morning person. Haas’s sort of changed that. I think I’m really early and really late person that the middle is just a…
[00:37:37] Paulina Lee: Awake at all hours. I agree. Cause I think like typically I’m a morning person. I typically wake up around 5:30, 5:45 and I would say pre-school, I’d like to climb into bed at 9, 9:30, but when you’re working on class projects and there’s meetings that go till 10, 10:30, it doesn’t quite work out.
[00:38:02] Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Well, anything else that you wanted to share on the show or any other parting words of wisdom for either current or prospective students and their Haas MBA journey?
[00:38:15] Adin Menkin: I think the only advice that they really need is to continually listen to this podcast.
[00:38:23] Paulina Lee: That’s great.
[00:38:24] Adin Menkin: But really no, you guys are doing awesome. But now keep doing what you’re doing. This is super cool.
[00:38:29] Paulina Lee: Well, thanks for coming on the show, Adin.
[00:38:33] Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of here@haas. If you loved hearing Adin’s story, don’t forget to leave us a rating review and make sure you hit that subscribe button. So, you don’t miss out on future stories as always. We’ll link to a couple of the resources that Aiden mentioned in the show notes.
[00:38:51] And until next time. I’m Paulina Lee and this is here@haas.