You’re getting an MBA – now what?

One of the questions I am often asked is why I chose to get my MBA. The reasons vary from wanting to develop an advanced business acumen to improving my marketing skills to simply becoming friends with other professionals in the Twin Cities business community. However, after nearly a generation of reflection on what I want out of life, I am ready to add another (very important) reason to my list:

I want a horse.

(I’ll give my editor at St. Thomas a moment to let that idea settle.)

For more than 20 years, I have been dreaming of getting a horse, but growing up a city child, I knew it wouldn’t be feasible until I was an adult. As a teen, I started throwing out 33 as the arbitrary age in which I would get a horse. Still, I rode when I could and taught myself as much as possible about those long-legged lawn mowers, even going so far as to choose an undergraduate college that had equine studies as a major. (Note: I left the horse program in favor of journalism my freshman year knowing that I wanted a career first).

Having celebrated my 28th birthday recently, it dawned on me that I am on the 5-year plan if I intend to get a horse by my self-imposed deadline. MBAs and business professionals are always talking about 5-year plans, strategic initiatives and tactical implementation for projects that I thought, “Why not use the skills I am learning in my MBA program to fulfill a lifelong dream?”

It's not that far of a stretch if you think about it. One of my friends used the tenacity she learned by going after an MBA to advance her skills in the sport of swimming, in addition to being able to contribute at a different level in the business world. A recent graduate from the St. Thomas Evening MBA program, she now couples her passion for swimming with her business skills during her free time to help organizations in the local aquatics community.

For me this means using finance and accounting skills to budget for such a purchase, as well as statistics for breeding decisions. For instance, a friend has a fantastic stallion whose sire was Seattle Slew, that horse who won the Triple Crown back in the 70s. The bloodline also includes Bold Ruler, who was "Horse of the Year" in the 1950s, among other noteworthy steeds. To say this stallion's bloodline is impressive is an understatement. If possible, I'd love to have the son of Seattle Slew father my horse, which would only solve one question. What about the dame? And why am I so intent on buying a baby?

I want a horse that I can grow with, whose training and development can take place after I am done with this phase in my life (read: my MBA classes). And as silly as it sounds, sending out birth announcement cards for a foal is right up my alley - my best friend here in Minnesota even agreed to help me make them. Surprisingly to me, nobody seems rattled by my revelation that I'm honing in on getting a horse. I guess the fact that I already have much of the equipment I will need to take care of this equine tipped some people off that I might go this direction.

Anyway, it's important to breed for pedigree as well as temperament, and I want to do this right. Of course these are all random variables and bridges that will need to be crossed when the time is right… but just imagine the decision trees, ranking schemes and excel charts that will be used to decide something like this! And that's just for bloodlines and cost. Let's not even think about how I'll be using lessons in management and leadership to train this thing!

So there you have it - as a pet project (literally), I intend to use my MBA to get a horse.
Have any of you ever used lessons learned in business school for personal projects? What piece of business advice guides you most in your personal life?