2016-The Best Year Ever. (Why the heck not?)

[It’s Monday night, January 11, 2016. Alabama won the National Championship about an hour ago. I wouldn’t know, because I fell asleep next to my three-year old. But I’ve woken up and I’m posting this blog, with some of my thoughts and plans to make 2016 the “Best Year Ever.” I wrote these thoughts last Friday morning. This post will be a test, to see who’s up late studying on Monday night, and needs a break.]  🙂

Greetings from Il Tram, Anderson’s coffee shop. It’s the first Friday morning of the new year, and I’m on my laptop, writing my first blog of the year 2016.

Hope your holidays were restorative. My wife and I traveled 15 days, from Rhode Island to New Jersey to one country (Texas, my original home), with our two boys, aged 8 and 3. Returning to work Monday was bewildering. Where’s my parking pass? What’s my password? What’s my name? Forgetting the basics is the sign of a vacation well-lived.

Sunday, January 3, we flew home to LAX on Southwest. Watching the arriving bags, every other young person I saw was wearing a UCLA sweatshirt: The Bruin tribe was coming back together.


Still have your New Year’s resolutions? It’s only been 8 [now 11] days, so I hope they’re still real for you. If you’re having trouble, here’s something else to try: naming your year and sharing your goals (with the assumption that your goals came true).

I myself don’t have much success with New Year’s Resolutions. But one thing I do that works for me is to NAME my year, like

  2016 The Force Awakens

Actually I’m choosing something less poetic, but equally solid

  2016 The Best Year Ever

What’s the point of naming the year? It’s like naming a chapter. Chapters have a beginning, a middle and an end. Chapters have characters, and characters have adventures, and adventures have danger and heroism and outcomes, good and bad. Mostly, chapters are worth reading.

A book without chapters, one long list of words with no breaks, well that’s not a book I want to read. But a book with chapters, a story, that has power. I need to bracket life to keep my power going. And that’s why I like to create a theme for each year.

So. 2016 The Best Year Ever.

After naming the year, let’s do a Stephen Covey exercise and begin with the end in mind. Let’s assume that the chapter of life called “2016,” replete with dangers and heroism and outcomes, has happy endings. Let’s go forward to December 31st and write some summary headlines to this “Best Year Ever” from within FEMBA admissions and my accountability.

Macro-Headline #1: The FEMBA Class of 2019 stands on the shoulders of giants

Story: In the face of market contractions for all part-time MBA programs in SoCal, UCLA Anderson continued to attract and matriculate a growing student body. Building on the record-smashing class of 2018, the new entering class is even stronger with improved metrics for women, diversity, academic background, advanced degrees and geographic diversity. The FEMBA program has surpassed the UCLA Law School and is now the largest graduate student body of over 120 graduate programs at UCLA.

Macro-Headline #2: UCLA Anderson hosts the 23rd Part-Time MBA Deans’ Conference

Story: You know MBA rankings? Those pesky creatures that we love and hate—that we hate to love, and love to hate? Well, 50% of the US News & World Report ranking for part-time MBA programs is based on peer-assessment: Deans voting on programs.

UCLA Anderson won the bid to host the 2016 Conference in October at the brand new Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center in the heart of the UCLA campus. Under the leadership of Deans Margaret Shih, Gonzalo Freixes and yours truly, in partnership with Dean Judy Olian and with the contributions of peer-school and industry leaders, and with a special sparkle brought by our FEMBAassadors, UCLA Anderson delivered a professional, high-quality, content-rich conference addressing the current state of part-time MBA curricula across the world and looking out into the 10-20 year future of professional MBA education.

The conference left a “10-year-plus good impression” on the attending thought-leaders of part-time MBA education. They got to see UCLA, Anderson, FEMBA, GAP, Flex, FEMBAssadors, Global Immersions, the new Accelerator, and more, and they liked what they saw.

Macro-Headline #3 FEMBApalooza 5 shatters all precedents: catalyzes whole new levels of community

What’s more to say? FEMBApalooza continued to evolve into a community-building, culture-enhancing moment in the annual FEMBA calendar, connecting new and current and alumni FEMBAs with family and friends and faculty.

Micro-Headline #1    All admissions team members experience robust professional growth and development

Micro-Headline #2    FEMBAassadors continue to evolve as the secret weapon in FEMBA’s recruiting excellence

Micro-Headline #3    Dylan writes a white-paper, or possibly a book, about the positive growth and development of FEMBA over the last decade

Athletes visualize making the pass, or completing the shot. I’m visualizing 2016 as a year that surpasses my small dreams and accomplishes much bigger goals. How I have access to bigger results is in sharing these goals with you: Building a great Class of 2019; Hosting the Part-Time MBA Conference in October; Delivering the best FEMBApalooza ever.

By sharing our goals, we find new synergies, we create new connections, we have better results and more fun too.

I invite you to take some time and write some of your goals for 2016. Give your 2016 a name. Or steal mine, “2016, the Best Year Ever” and then share your goals and your name with your friends and colleagues.

In my experience, this practice of naming the year and sharing my goals with powerful people, it has a lot more staying power than any New Year’s Resolution that I might make on my own. A New Year’s Resolution made on my own is only as strong as my will-power, just one chocolate-covered donut from disaster. But, a Year with a Name, and goals that are public, in community, that has a much higher degree chance of success.

Give it a try. Why the heck not?

See you on campus.

—Dylan, signing off from Culver City on a Monday evening

One thought on “2016-The Best Year Ever. (Why the heck not?)

  1. Thanks Dylan for spending time with me for a one-on-one last friday (8th), and an amazing open house experience the next day!

    2016 – The year of dreams coming true, a new life, and new friends – I start at FEMBA and move to LA
    It’s December 31st 2016, as I look back at the year the memories come dancing in front of my gaze.

    #flashback1 – The one conversation that changed my life!
    I am working out my friend from UC Berkeley HAAS, and conversation starts
    My friend: I wish I had accepted the Anderson FEMBA offer letter.
    Me: but you are about to graduate from HAAS with 4 job offers.. I am confused.
    My friend: Just got to the Anderson and absorb the culture, the vibe, and the diversity. You will exactly know what I am talking about.

    #flashback2 – I have one-on-one with Dylan, Assistant Dean, and attend the open house.
    Just after 4 days of the conversation with my friend, I rent a car and drive to LA from the Bay Area to meet the Assistant Dean of UCLA FEMBA, Dylan Stafford. I am sitting outside his office not expecting much, may be a formal 10 minutes Q&A with Dylan, after all I am just a prospective student, curious to know more about FEMBA. However, Dylan steps outside his office and takes me to the cafeteria, and spends almost 45 minutes with me – talking to me as mentor, as friend, listening to my stories, answering my questions, and also shows me around the campus. After the meeting I was pleasantly surprised; he took so much time out of his day, right before the open house and showed so much interest in my visit. The next day at the open house, I meet a diverse set of professionals from all walks of life – media, films, technology, medicine, sports. Such diverse and highly motivated set of people is hard to find under one roof in the Bay Area. My visit couldn’t have been any better, Dylan’s enthusiasm and love for the FEMBA is an epitome of the collaborative and collective-success culture that resides on the campus. Now, I knew what exactly my friend meant when he asked me to visit and experience UCLA FEMBA.

    #flashback3 – I apply in round 2 to FEMBA, and I get in and move to LA.
    After my visit to UCLA, I knew what I wanted to do for the next three years of my life. I apply to FEMBA, and get accepted!! yippiiee!!!!!! Impressed by the diversity of LA and to get more involved with the student body at FEMBA, I move to LA to begin a new life.

    #flashback4 – VP of Social at FEMBA.
    I become the VP of Social at FEMBA and do tons of social events to bring all my classmates closer and more connected. And I also create loads of online content for FEMBA – helping prospective students discover more about FEMBA

    #flashback5 – Me and my friend take our startup Vuukle up to $2 million in revenue in 2016.
    We expand Vuukle in America as the biggest competitor to Disqus. We sign up biggest online newspapers and magazines – WSJ, techcrunch, CNN, etc to use our commenting platform for their articles. We cross $2 million in revenue.

    #flashback6 – I win the 2016 Jiu-Jitsu world championship in LA in summers!
    After getting injured and sitting out in 2013 for the Jiu-Jitsu World championships, I finally make a comeback and win the 2016 Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Irvine in summers before starting FEMBA in August.

    Now, I am about to head out for FEMBA New years Red Carpet Social that our team put together in Hollywood, LA

    See you all in 2017!


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