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MIT student blogger Connie H. '15

Rebecca Black, the Old Spice Guy, and How to Sell Staplers by Connie H. '15

the makings of a great IAP

IAP has been a time of very… well, different learning than I had during my first semester at MIT. The past two weeks have been surprisingly productive, tiring and relaxing at the same time. I’ve learned that Python is like Java’s rebellious younger cousin, you can only eat oatmeal for so long before you want to punch someone, and learned that snow is, despite its fine white appearance, really damn cold.

Deceptive frozen water!

Beyond these valuable life lessons, I’ve also been lucky enough to take a wide assortment of classes that MIT offers over IAP, both for credit and not for credit. I’ve been running between kickboxing classes, business seminars, programming classes and even photography workshops and finishing off my day in a breaded chicken induced coma after I crawl under my comforter and reevaluate my dinner choices. (It’s not as bad as it sounds.)

Over the past two weeks, I’ve attended two different business seminar series–the first, “Viral Marketing: Disseminating the Brand & Message” and the second, “The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans” (ranked by INC Magazine as one of the 10 Best Entrepreneurship Classes in America.)

I’d say the classes are comprised of roughly 70% graduate students and 70% men, where the intersection of the two categories gives you this:

Professor: “Who is your favorite celebrity? Who is on the cover of the stack of magazines by your bed?”
Slightly Unshaven Slightly European MBA: “I read the Economist so… Ben Bernanke?”

Note: Ben Bernanke is not how viral marketing is born.

And despite the business buzzwords (integrated marketing to build a viral events framework in a technology ecosystem), I’ve found that analyzing the success of Rebecca Black, the Old Spice Guy and selling staplers is a science. Our professor attributes the success of viral phenomena to possessing one or more of these qualities: being a simple story, controversial or outrageous, amazing or unique, positive, timely, truthful, funny, branded, impersonal, magical, historic or tragic. I’d call Friday something between unique and magical.

The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans has taken a bit of a different spin, bringing in guest speakers every class to impart some of their entrepreneurial wisdom onto a similarly comprised class. Beyond the technical process of writing up executive summaries and full fledged business plans, much of the class has to do with exuding those time-tested business values that deserve to be typed out like the confident executive urged us to do:


(That’ll be fifty thousand dollars.)

I also just finished up my Python class, 6.s090, that culminated in a project of your choosing, provided you invest your life trying to figure out why your global variable isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing (hint: you’re doing it wrong.) After many cups of knock off brand name cereal, my partner and I emerged victorious in creating our knock off Brick Breaker game:

Not a bad two weeks at all. My biggest concern is fighting off scurvy, now that the walk to the supermarket is 40% slipping on ice and 60% slipping on rock salt.

Wish me luck!

5 responses to “Rebecca Black, the Old Spice Guy, and How to Sell Staplers”

  1. Edasaur says:

    Haha interesting post! Good luck! xD

  2. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    I’m so glad you’re getting this opportunity to really analyze the convergent synergies of lean viral evangelism that make today’s prosumers so very 2.0

  3. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    It’s a terrific chance to learn how to better crowdsource infotainment from the herd to be more socially sociable in your media ecology

  4. Cathy says:

    I enjoy reading this & reading your writing.
    We should have more outings & brunches & whatnot, so you’ll have more posts to write about.

  5. Dheeraj , ind. says:

    these are the classes for which i am applying to MIT