About Dylan Stafford

Dylan Stafford's first book, Daddy Muscles, is about learning to be a dad and husband one day at a time. He holds a BA from Texas A&M University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. At the UCLA Anderson School of Management, he is an Assistant Dean for the Fully Employed MBA Program. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Marisa and their sons Jackson and Christian.

Meet Helen Magpayo 08, SuperSaturday SuperStar

Helen Magpayo ’08 is one of my favorite alumna, as we’ve worked together for over a decade. Enjoy us chit-chatting about the tips and tricks behind a successful admission interview, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how she is managing her career and family.

When do you want to be CEO?

Hope you enjoy the final Drive Time podcast interview for 2017.

Jenny Leung ’17 is CEO/Founder of BellaNové and her story of dedication and stick-to-it-ness will inspire any budding entrepreneur. Jenny, you make us all proud here at UCLA Anderson!

UCLA Heroes (Part II), Wooden and Kareem, Sana and Aaron

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving.

It’s 5:45 am Friday morning. My house is quiet as I sit down to write to you. Our kids will sleep late because we got home way past bed time last night. We shared Thanksgiving with a family we’ve known almost ten years, since our sons became best buddies at UCLA daycare.

Mom works for UCLA like me. Dad is from India, and came to the US for a graduate degree at Texas A&M, my alma mater. Dad’s been to Aggie games, the Dixie Chicken, Tom’s BarBQ (now defunct), all the staples of College Station, Texas. Both Mom and Dad have been to FEMBApalooza twice. I’d love either to pursue an MBA someday: Mom’s a faculty researcher at UCLA and Dad’s a leader at Google. Both are friends to my wife and me.

Friendships and UCLA, that is part of what I promised to write about. Last week, I promised to write more about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and what I learned listening to him at the John Wooden Global Leadership Awards.

Kareem told a story that most people don’t know about Coach Wooden.

Kareem told about coming to California in March of 1965 on his recruiting trip, and meeting Coach Wooden for the first time. A self-described, cocky, young, star athlete from New York, Kareem remembers meeting Coach Wooden, his nasally midwestern lilt, his hair parted straight down the middle like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals, and what he chose to talk about.

Kareem was ready to talk basketball. But Coach Wooden barely mentioned it.

“I’m impressed with your grades, Lewis,” said Coach. “For most students, basketball is temporary. But knowledge is forever.”

Grades? What about my impressive stats? thought Lewis Alcindor (later to change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

But Coach Wooden knew his priorities, and his priority was that his players would have opportunities beyond basketball, and that meant academics first. They spoke for about thirty minutes, but only briefly about basketball. Coach Wooden did say that he usually recruited for speed, not size, and that he’d never coached someone as tall as Lewis/Kareem was.

“I’m sure we will find the proper way to use you on the court. I am looking forward to coaching someone like you,” he said.

“Freshman year can be very difficult,” he warned. “Making that transition from high school isn’t easy…But you seem like the kind of young man up to the challenge.”

Coach Wooden offered Lewis a challenge, the thing he sought most.

The rest is history.

Due to the “freshman rule” Kareem could not play on the varsity in 1966. But from 1967 to 1969, he and Coach Wooden would post an 88-2 record and win three consecutive NCAA National Championships. Kareem would be selected National College Player of the Year, consensus first-team All-American, and Final Four Most Outstanding Player — 3x  for each award. And, he earned his History degree from UCLA and graduated in 1969.

Kareem would later earn 6 NBA championships and is still the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

That is all history, and well-known history.

What Kareem talked about that is less known is the context in which all that basketball success occurred.

In March of 1965, the time of Kareem’s recruiting visit to Westwood and his first meeting with Coach Wooden, our nation was in racial turmoil. Malcolm X had been assassinated in February. Civil rights leader John Lewis had just led the march in Selma, Alabama, to be met by police with tear gas and billy clubs that sent fifty people to the hospital and became known as “Bloody Sunday.” A few weeks after, Martin Luther King, Jr., would lead another group of protesters over the bridge, this time with federal protection.

Kareem, an almost-eighteen year old soon-to-be college freshman, and an African-American man, was finding his voice in all of this. Growing up in Harlem, he’d accidentally gotten caught up in a violent riot the previous summer. Protests over the shooting death of a fifteen-year-old black boy by a police lieutenant had led to gunshots, and one of the scariest moments of Kareem’s life.

And here is the history of Kareem’s friendship with Wooden that is much less well known. Here is the story that told us at the Wooden Global Leadership Awards.

In 2008, Kareem visited with Coach to show him a documentary he had made on the Harlem Rens, the greatest basketball team no one had ever heard of.

Being friends for nearly fifty years, Kareem was pretty sure he knew everything there was to know about Coach Wooden, from their time at UCLA through decades of lazy afternoon conversations ever since. But as they talked in 2008, a never-before-shared story arose.

Back in 1947, in his first year coaching at Indiana State Teachers College, Coach Wooden’s team won the Indiana Intercollegiate Conference title and was invited to play in the National Basketball Tournament in Kansas City, a big deal to the team and the school.

But, the tournament officials had one condition: Coach Wooden could not bring his player Clarence Walker, because he was black.

Kareem, hearing this story for the first time, over sixty years after it had happened, was fascinated.

Coach continued, “To tell the truth, I’m always surprised when people act poorly for no good reason. Lord knows Clarence had been through enough. Sometimes when the team was on the road, restaurants refused to serve him or hotels wouldn’t let him stay there with the rest of the team.”

“What did you do?” Kareem asked. Always the important question about moments like that, what do we do?

Coach Wooden, a first-time coach with a career and a family to think about, told the tournament officials that either all of his team would play, or none of his team would play. His team did not go to the tournament.

The next year, again after a winning season, the tournament committee called Coach Wooden and again invited him. Coach Wooden had the same question, “May all my players play?” and when the committee replied with the same “No” answer, Coach began to hang up.

Wait. Wait! they replied, and that second year they allowed Coach Wooden’s team, with all his players, white and black, to play.

“We lost in the finals to Louisville. Only championship I ever lost,” said Coach.

The point?

Coach Wooden had been an early pioneer of Civil Rights, putting his own career at risk, in 1947, by turning down participation in a fancy tournament. But he’d never talked about it.

Think about being Coach Wooden in March of 1965, meeting Lewis Alcindor, all 7′ 2″ of him.

That was Kareem’s other point.

Coach could have told this story to Lewis, to try to gain loyalty or “make a connection” to get Kareem to sign with UCLA. But that is not what Coach did. He talked about academics. He talked about team. He offered Lewis a challenge. And, he let their friendship begin the way that it should have begun, without manipulation.

If you live in Athens, Greece, after a while you may not notice the Parthenon.

If you go to UCLA, after a while, you may forget about Coach Wooden.

I wrote that in the last blog. I didn’t even know who Coach Wooden was when I started working here in 2002. I’ve come to appreciate his legacy more and more through time.

And that’s what it was like for me at the Wooden Global Leadership Awards. Inspired? Yes. Educated? For sure.

America was dealing with its issues in 1965. We are dealing with our issues in 2017. Putting principles before profit worked for Coach Wooden in 1965, and it inspires me in 2017. I hope it does the same for you.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend all. May your studies be fruitful. May your investment in your own growth and development pay dividends.




It’s now almost 8:45 am as I finish this post. I hope you like it. My five-year-old is pseudo-patiently waiting for me to finish. He’s ready to wrestle!

Quotations of Kareem and Coach Wooden are excerpted from Coach Wooden and Me, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Grand Central Publishing, 2017.  Kareem told this basics of this story at the Wooden Global Leadership Awards, but the book offers much more detail than he could share in his minutes onstage. Anything inspiring in this post is the product of Kareem and Coach. Any typos or errors are entirely my own.

Basketball statistics are from the above book and Kareem’s Wikipedia page.


L-R Sana Rahim ’19, Evan Barnes ’18, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ’69, Kevin Plank, Anna Goldberg ’18, and Brandon Scott ’18.

Sana Rahim ’19, pictured above, was the 2017 Wooden Fellow selected from FEMBA. Sana’s words from the stage Monday night would make every FEMBA proud. Committed, poignant (and funny), Sana’s remarks showed me how her life is a living legacy. Her love for her family, for making a difference, and for being willing to sacrifice for the team would make Coach Wooden smile, and will make you proud to know her as a fellow-FEMBA. Enjoy her Wooden Fellow video and read the full-length article “Inclusion is No Sacrifice”, both below.

Aaron Kaplan ’17, is this week’s Drive Time podcast interview. Aaron came to FEMBA as a practicing Rabbi who wanted to reinvent himself, to contribute in life in a new and different way, while building on his history of service. I hope you enjoy listening Aaron’s story of reinventing himself as you drive to campus today.

“Inclusion is No Sacrifice” meet Sana Rahim ’19

Aaron Kaplan ’17 and his Drive Time podcast interview, above.

Wooden & Kareem, Sana & Aaron, UCLA heroes (Part I)

After a while…
in Athens, you don’t see the Parthenon;
in D.C., you don’t see the monuments;
and at UCLA (believe it or not), one can forget Coach Wooden…

But Monday night, at the John Wooden Global Leadership Awards, I saw Coach Wooden with fresh eyes and how his legacy lives on.


L-R Sana Rahim ’19, Evan Barnes ’18, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ’69, Kevin Plank, Anna Goldberg ’18, and Brandon Scott ’18.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shared a moving tribute to Coach Wooden Monday evening, and I will share my reflections to you in a post next Friday, after Thanksgiving (when you will have more time to read it!).

But for now, for your Saturday morning commute, or your Saturday afternoon study time, I want to inspire you with two other UCLA heroes: Sana Rahim ’19 and Aaron Kaplan ’17.

Sana Rahim ’19, pictured above, was the 2017 Wooden Fellow selected from FEMBA. Sana’s words from the stage Monday night would make every FEMBA proud. Committed, poignant (and funny), Sana’s remarks showed me how her life is a living legacy. Her love for her family, for making a difference, and for being willing to sacrifice for the team would make Coach Wooden smile, and will make you proud to know her as a fellow-FEMBA. Enjoy her Wooden Fellow video and read the full-length article “Inclusion is No Sacrifice”, both below.

Aaron Kaplan ’17, is this week’s Drive Time podcast interview. Aaron came to FEMBA as a practicing Rabbi who wanted to reinvent himself, to contribute in life in a new and different way, while building on his history of service. I hope you enjoy listening Aaron’s story of reinventing himself as you drive to campus today.

“Inclusion is No Sacrifice” meet Sana Rahim ’19

Aaron Kaplan ’17 and his Drive Time podcast interview, above.

Happy Thanksgiving all,


$100M FEMBA, Brian Thomas 14 and Clutter

Happy Friday FEMBA,

Summer is over, classes have begun, and what a big September we just had! Below are a few highlights of the month, beginning with my commute to UCLA today…


Coming up Overland, in the middle, can you see the teal truck?  Barely?

20170929 Clutter Overland

…Neither could I, so I weaved through traffic and caught up on Pico.

20180929 Clutter and sunbeam on Pico IMG_8364

Every time I see one of Brian Thomas’ Clutter vans I get chills. Three years after graduation, and over $100M in venture financing and he is opening new cities and hiring UCLA Anderson MBAs with his company, Clutter, every time he opens a new city. Wow!

Read the recent Forbes article here.

I followed the van on Beverly Glen until it took a right on Olympic. What a way to start Friday, seeing a UCLA Anderson success story!

20170929 Clutter on Olympic IMG_8372


What else has been inspiring lately from UCLA Anderson?


How about out three Global Immersions, to Peru, Sweden & Finland, and South Korea.

Have you seen these two amazing photos of F-E-M-B-A spelled out by our students? Thank you Lucy Allard for having my great team leader Chris Thompson attend “Economic Environment and Business Opportunities in Peru” with Professor Terech.

F-E-M-B-A at Machu Picchu

20170909 F-E-M-B-A - Machu Picchu - FEMBA Students spelling FEMBA

F = Taylor Friend FEMBA ’19, John Dahlem FEMBA ’19

E = Kathryn Li FEMBA ‘19, Molly Johnson FEMBA ’19

M = Fiorelli Salvo FEMBA ‘19, Rachel Luskin FEMBA ’18

B = Vince Vo FEMBA ‘19, Aad Chavda FEMBA ’18

A = Alex Kim FEMBA ‘19, Tannis Mann FEMBA ‘19

Or how about this Global Immersion, “Entrepreneurship and Corporate Renewal in Scandinavia” (Sweden & Finland) with Professor George Abe ?

F-E-M-B-A in front of the Helsinki Cathedral

20170927 CGM Global Immersion in Helsinki at Helsinki Cathedral F-E-M-B-A Sign

Shown here: Matthew Cham (’18), Carole Luong (’18), Anu Chikersal (’18), Kathy Pham (’18), Mackenzie Sherwood (’18), Lindsay Grob (’18), Janice Lee (’18), Leanne McGowan (’18), Mimi Yang (’18), Patrick Kiernan (’18).  Thanks Leanne, for the photo.

F-E-M-B-A in South Korea

201709 F-E-M-B-A in South Korea

F: Ian McRae ’18, Victoria Lew ’19

E: Jessica Barnette ’19, Shelby Chambers ’19

M: Naomi  Kalyani ’19, Van Nguyen ’19

B: Seth Houston ’19, Eleanor Fang ’19

A: Tony Wu ’19, Roshni Parikh ’19


Also inspiring, we ran a new event for the entering FEMBA Class of 2020, the 2017 Incoming Student Kickoff.  It was super popular, and I’ve got big ideas to expand this idea to include upper class and alumni participation next year.


The Incoming Student Kickoff event sold out one week after launching; student response exceeded expectations.

466 tickets were sold to 287 unique purchasers, plus 179 guests (many of whom are also Anderson students). The 287 unique purchasers included:

  • 43% of the entering Full-Time MBA class
  • 20% of the entering Executive MBA class
  • 26% of the entering Fully Employed MBA class
  • Alumni Executive Board President Dwight Holcomb, and FEMBA Council Leader Michael Khoda 19
  • 7 Faculty and 9 staff

At the Rose Bowl (Entering EMBA student Stephen Austad, 3rd from left, was part of the Flyover team):

20170903 EMBA pilot Stephen Austad and fellow officers IMG_8344

UCLA’s epic comeback-for-the-ages: 34 unanswered points. Thank you Texas A&M (my alma mater…):


Networking on the bus ride to Pasadena…


Networking at the Game:


EMBA Pilot Stephen Austad (left) was a true Bruin underneath his Navy flight suit:

20170903 EMBA pilot Stephen Austad left  IMG_8344.jpg

Stephen had a Bruin in the cockpit…

EMBA pilot Stephen Austad and Bear in cockpit

Everyone had a great time. Shown here, Assistant Dean Bonny Kim with new FEMBA Jermeen Sherman 20.


Me myself, unfortunately, could not attend in person. As much fun as I had organizing the event, I was already scheduled to be in Puerto Vallarta to see my son who was doing an exchange student experience in Mexico.  I watched the epic game from a hotel bar.; thank goodness for satellite broadcasting!

UCLA AandM from Dylan and a bar in Puerto Vallarta IMG_7798


For the third time this month, UCLA was rated the top public university in the nation, this time by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking.


For the second year, I had the honor of teaching my Stand and Deliver: Speaking Powerfully & Professionally, and Asking for What You Want workshop in Leadership Foundations. It was an honor to get to be in front of the Class of 2020!

20170830 Stand and Deliver sign

These brave FEMBAs are not afraid of getting cold-called, and making a speech in front of 80+ new MBA peers.


My favorite day of the year, greeting the new entering FEMBA Class. Here, the Class of 2020.

20170828 Leadership Foundations Day One Selfie in Korn IMG_7427


After Diversity Theater on Thursday of Leadership Foundations, Westwood had a brief but intense rain shower which led to a double rainbow.

20170831 Leadership Foundations Double Rainbow Color IMG_7486

It was dramatic in black and white too.

20170831 Leadership Foundations Double Rainbow Noir FullSizeRender

Happy weekend everyone, and here’s to a great October!


From Warren Buffet to Chief Quality Officer: Meet Dr. Nasim Afsar ’17

FEMBA PODCASTS - Dylan's Blog - Nasim Afsar-manesh - Episode 42 (003)

Get inspired and learn best practices from Dr. Nasim Afsar-manesh FEMBA ’17 in this Drive Time podcast interview. Nasim is the Chief Quality Officer for UCLA Health. As an MD and a hospital executive, she is accountable for over 100,000 patients who receive their primary medical care from UCLA. She literally uses her MBA every day to save lives.

Nasim shares lessons she learned from a 2-hour dinner with Warren Buffet back at Caltech in college, as well as productivity tips she uses every day today. Trust me: You want to learn from Nasim. Not only does her career touch over 100,000 patients, she has also balanced raising her two young daughters during her FEMBA experience.

Nasim is one of the great people in your UCLA Anderson network, and she graciously shares her success strategies with us in this Drive Time podcast.


First Place (3x) and Flex from Houston: Meet Vishal Saheta ’17

FEMBA PODCASTS - Dylan's Blog - Vishal Saheta - Episode 41

What is Flex like from Houston? And how about your wife flying to LA with you?

How does it feel to earn three first place finishes in case competitions during FEMBA?

What is FEMBA like during large layoffs at your company?

Vishal Saheta ’17 is in a brand new role as a Project Manager at Schulumberger (Fortune #287), and he answers these questions and more in this Drive Time podcast interview. If you’re thinking about Case Competitions, if you’re thinking about Flex, if you’re balancing friends and family and FEMBA, Vishal’s story has something for you.

Vishal’s three first place finishes in case competitions were:

  1. 2017 First Place “The Economist / NRG Energy Case Study” global competition
    The $10,000 prize is shared by Vishal and his team members Ean Mulligan and Julian Trobe, both in the full-time MBA program. The judges awarded UCLA #1 saying, “The UCLA Anderson Blue team’s solution was clean, concise and well thought-out.” 15 competing teams included HEC Paris, MIT, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, Rutgers and Columbia. The UCLA Anderson Energy Management club made this competition available.
  2. 2016 First Place “PwC Fiercest Competitor Strategy” competition
    The UCLA Anderson Management Consulting Association made this competition available, with sponsorship from PwC. Two teams from UCLA actually competed against each other.
  3. 2015 First Place, 4th Annual “UCLA Challenges in Energy” case competition 
    Teams from seven schools competed, including Stanford, UC Berkeley and Michigan Ross. Vishal’s winning team “The Energizer Bunnies” consisted of Dan Freeman ’15, Dan Abbott ’16, and David Penskar ’16. The first place prize was $2,500. The UCLA Anderson Energy Management club also made this competition available.

To complete the interview, Vishal shares about:

  • Global Access Program with Finland and a Global Immersion to Hong Kong. Vishal shares about these two FEMBA experiences.
  • Maximizing productivity in FEMBA Flex. Vishal ends the interview sharing some of his secrets for success.

Vishal is a very accomplished person with 17 years of experience in Technology development & Product Management. His pre-UCLA degrees include a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mumbai (First Class with Distinction) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue where he earned a 4.0. UCLA Anderson helped him round out his skill set by building on his finance skills (passed 3 levels of CFA) and innovation skills (24 US and International patents awarded).