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.

Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob J. Lew

This doesn’t happen everyday: Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Lew, is speaking right here, right now, in Korn Convocation Hall. He’s en route to Cairns, Australia, for the Group of Twenty (G20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting, but stopped off at UCLA Anderson to speak to a full house. His speech is also live-streaming on our Anderson website.

First topic: tax inversions and patriotism.


Next: US economic relations with Russia.
Next: China.
Next: Value of the Dollar.

Now, questions and answer period. The questions posed by students:
Syria and ISIS?
Scotland and UK?
Student loans?
Tax code reform, reactions from other countries?
Wealth inequality?
Communicating post-2008-financial-crisis efforts?
How to communicate contentious topics abroad, at home?
Dean Judy Olian, last question, immigration reform: As one-third of our students are international. How do we make sure they can work here, with their UCLA education?

Making History: The new FEMBA Class of 2017

Last week we welcomed the UCLA Anderson FEMBA Class of 2017, the 27th entering class and the largest-ever entering class!

The highlight of my year is making the opening-day welcome, where I get to give the class profile and share my “diamonds polish diamonds” metaphor. My half-hour speech is only a small part of the whole Leadership Foundations, an intense, five-day immersion taught by some of our freshest-thinking professors, embedding social-connectivity with multiple experiential-learning components.

20140825 LF Diamonds Polish DiamondsBelow are some of the statistics of our amazing new class of students, as well as some photos of the week.

The FEMBA Class of 2017

  • The 27th entering FEMBA class
  • 330 students = most ever. Up 13% from last year.
    FEMBA has more than quintupled since beginning in 1988.
    At over 900 students, FEMBA is poised to be one of UCLA’s largest graduate program student bodies, if not the largest.

20140825 LF Poised to be largest

  • 715 applications, up 19% from last year
  • 92 women = most ever
  • 23 Military = most ever (to the best of my knowledge)
  • 8 MDs = most ever
    I don’t know how to confirm this, but my hunch is that this is more than any other part-time and also probably any other full-time MBA program.
  • 7 Lawyers
  • 3 PhDs (Biochemistry, Electrical Engineering and Experimental Particle Physics!)
  • Class includes patent-holders, published authors, CPAs, CFAs, Eagle Scouts, a Peace Corps graduate, a Teach for America graduate, Missionaries, Riordan program alumni
  • 2 married couples (both spouses in Class of 2017)
  • 3 are married to other Anderson students (2 MBA, 1 FEMBA)
  • 5 members of the class have a parent with an Anderson MBA
  • 443 SuperSaturday admission interviews were held on-campus.
    100% of all admits were interviewed.
    We’ll surpass 5,000 life-time SuperSaturday interviews November 8th!
  • 9% are of Hispanic or African-American heritage
  • 36% are married
  • 30 average age
  • 610-730 middle 80% GMAT
  • 3.4 average undergraduate GPA
  • 26% hold advanced degrees
  • 150 undergraduate universities represented
    UCLA #1, 46 graduates
    USC #2, 23
    UC Irvine #3, 16
    UC Berkeley #4, 13
    16 Ivy League graduates
    9 Military Academy graduates
  • 268 total employers represented

20140825 LF 268 companies

  • $83,198 is average salary
  • 77 are already earning over $100,000/year
    27 nationalities/countries of birth  (the United Nations meets Hogwarts!)
    34 states of birth

20140825 LF a Global Village

  • 7% reside outside of California and 1% reside outside the US (see below)
    We have three international commuters (two from China and one from the UK, all into FLEX)
  • FLEX grew 11% from last year ( up to 63 from 57 )
    FLEX has students from 13 states and 2 countries (China and UK)

20140825 LF Our Reach is Growing

What’s it like to give a keynote welcome to 330 people? A bit intimidating, especially since it takes three shots just to photograph them all.

20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-1

The new FEMBA Class of 2017, August 25, 2017, day one of Leadership Foundations. 1 of 3.

20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-2

The new FEMBA Class of 2017, August 25, 2017, day one of Leadership Foundations. 2 of 3. (See Associate Dean Freixes down front.)

20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-3

The new FEMBA Class of 2017, August 25, 2017, day one of Leadership Foundations. 3 of 3. (Directors Melissa de Ramos and Bonnie Kim coming down for their opening welcomes.)

20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-Kari Schumaker welcome 2

Hail to the Chief! Our FEMBA student body president, Kari Schumaker ’15, welcomes the new students.

20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-Kari Schumaker welcome

Let out your inner thespian. Joining Kari on-stage are FEMBA Council Officers Vibhore Bhaskar, Amber Jackson, David Forbes, Chihiro Kurokawa and Allyson Tom for a skit or two.


20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-Allyson Tom

Allyson Tom ’15, FEMBAssador Co-Chair, also welcomed the 2017s, and gave an overview of FEMBAssadors.

20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-David Duong welcome

David Duong plugged all-things-social. In the background he showed two videos, for Section Wars, and here, AnderProm.

20140825 LF day one Class of 2017-Hands Up

If you’re excited to be starting at UCLA, let’s see you raise your hands!

20140825 LF Ops Team

They made six months’ worth of work look effortless; the team who managed the entire week: Kuni Kondo, Itze Ornelas, Amjad Ezzour, Michael Fontanez, Abraham Martinez.

20140826  LF 2017 - TAs

These upperclass FEMBAs gave up a week too, so that they could be the Teaching Assistants for Leadership Foundations: Brad Phillipi, Ryan Rosales, Chihiro Kurokawa, Jack Warren, Asa Sharma, and Alyse Thompson.

20140825  LF 2017 - Faculty

The engine that makes the whole enterprise go, our excellent faculty. Here were the five leaders of Leadership Foundations 2014, our professors Keyvan Kashkooli, Noah Goldstein, Craig Fox, Margaret Shih and Jenessa Shapiro.

Finally, I want to thank the three team who make my professional life possible, my Admissions Team, Our Alumni Reader Team, and our FEMBAssador team. Thanks everyone! Your efforts created this history-making, largest-ever entering FEMBA Class of 2017!20140825 LF Admissions Team 20140825 LF Alumni Reader Team 13-1420140825 LF FEMBAssador Team 13-14


UCLA Commencement 2014, FEMBA memories

Commencement 2014! Grads and dads and moms and grandparents and babies and boyfriends and girlfriends and all of the support network of the FEMBA Class of 2014–all the dedicated loved ones gathered in the California sunshine. It’s one of the best days of the year at UCLA.


The view from Lot 4 never looks so good.


“That’s right! Next time I see the A building, I’ll be an alum,” thought by an almost-graduated 2014.


Dylan, Linda Tran ’14 and Matt Gorlick ’13


Linda and her mom, “Last time, when I graduated from Berkeley, I couldn’t get all my family up there. This time? No excuses. Everyone’s coming today.”


Couple of Texans… Dylan and Doug Longo ’14. Back from his new job at DFA in Austin.


GAP power team. Former GAP Fellow Matt Gorlick ’13. GAP Faculty member Janis Forman. GAP Executive Director Paul Brandano ’06.




Top left, taking the selfie!


I can’t look up into the sun this long! Take the photo already!


The photographer on the roof of Korn Convocation Hall said, “Close your eyes for a second. Then open them all at once and look up.” I thought it sounded like something a doctor would say before doing something painful to me.


“Now the happy one!”


Going to miss Anastasia, Melissa, Beth. You all brought so much energy to FEMBA!


More smiles.


Oh yeah we did!




With Daniel Millner ’14. Daniel works on-campus, as the Director of World Arts and Culture. Thanks for all the coffees at Il Tram these last years Daniel. I think we solved all the world’s big problems over those conversations! So nice seeing your wife and family last night.


Dylan con Manuel Ambriz ’14. ¿Manuel, qué puedo decir? Es increíble que volabas desde ciudad de México a Los Angeles durante tres años. Eres una persona increíble.

20140613 Manuel Ambriz three passports

Manuel Ambriz ’14, commuted from Mexico City to Los Angeles for three years. He wore out three passports. He wasn’t in FLEX, he was in all-day Saturday. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt there’s a UCLA Anderson graduate who logged more miles for their MBA than Manuel. Felicitaciones!




Josh Schachter ’14, Hrag Hamalian ’14 and me. Can’t wait to see what these two entrepreneurs cook up next!


Jon Dearing and Susan Dearing. Congratulations Jon. Congratulations Mom!


Ryan Hughes ’14. Founder of Bull Oak Capital and a committed father and husband. Go Ryan Go!


Never have to take another MBA final exam….


Professor Janis Forman, Professor Carla Hayn (FEMBA’s Senior Associate Dean for the last seven amazing years) and Patricia Godefroy, our new marketing Dean.


With Kari Shumaker ’15, FEMBA’s new student body president.


Dean Judy Olian, Dean Al Osborne, and Susan Wojcicki ’98, CEO of Youtube and our 2014 Commencement speaker.


Faculty line up.


Looking at the grads lining up, from the catwalk.


Faculty parade.


Brian Sterz ’14. Going to miss you!


Brian and Doug!


Follow the leaders. Susan Wojcicki ’98 and Judy Olian lead the procession.


Andrew Hull ’14, with Gonzalo Freixes and Carla Hayn. Congratulations Andrew. Your commencement address was outstanding. Heartfelt. Compelling. Great.


I see you, seeing me. Gonna miss you Michael Klausler.


Susan Wojckicki ’98 offers applause for the new grads.


Andrew Hull ’14, gives a heck of a speech.


Nothing beats the California sunshine!


Brian Sterz ’14…get off the phone. We’re trying to have a graduation here!


You know it’s a party when we break out the bagpipes!

IMG_0082 IMG_0083 IMG_0086 IMG_0089 IMG_0090

Let there light! UCLA to raise $4.2 Billion

How would you raise $4.2 Billion?  UCLA said, “Let there be light!” and launched the Centennial Campaign last Saturday evening with a one-of-a-kind light show outdoors on the walls of Royce Hall. As the campus counts down to its 100th anniversary in 2019, the Centennial Campaign marks the largest fundraising ever undertaken by a public university. The campaign celebrates a century of growth and achievement and seeks to secure UCLA’s future as a center for higher education where teaching, research and service advance the public good.

Enjoy the video below, or read more at LetThereBe.ucla.edu.

UCLA lunchtime inspiration

What did you do at lunch today? I burned 434 calories and got my afternoon’s inspiration!


434 calories on the elliptical, then some crunches: all to “Kings of Leon” station on Pandora


Nod to the Bear


Probably my next career, fund-raising for education


Did you know?


Freebie zone. Got a new recyclable grocery bag.


Why not? Selfie with Joe Bruin.


Tomorrow’s Bruins on a tour


Can’t leave out Coach Wooden!  Right inside the door of the Wooden Center.


Hard to read, but the Wooden quote on the wall is this, “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” — Coach Wooden. Inside the Wooden Center

Susan Wojcicki (’98), CEO, YouTube, UCLA Commencement Speaker 2014

20140516commencement-wojcicki-bannerHer UCLA Anderson professor in High Tech Management recalls that she was one of the brightest students in his class.

One of her Anderson field study colleagues says she was incredibly smart, low-key, exuded quiet confidence, had a wide range of interests, and loved yoga.

Fortune includes her on its list of the 50 most important leaders in the world after previously naming her one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business.”

Adweek once called her the “the most important person in advertising.”

Forbes included her among “the 100 most powerful women in the world.”

For us at UCLA Anderson, she’s “Susan” — Susan Wojcicki (’98), the newly appointed CEO of YouTube and member of our Board of Visitors. We are honored that Susan will be our 2014 Commencement Speaker.

The ceremony for our Full-Time MBA, Fully-Employed MBA and Ph.D. graduates will take place on June 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm on Wilson Plaza on the UCLA campus.

Judy D. Olian
Dean and John E. Anderson Chair in Management

[Re-posted from an announcement from Dean Judy Olian]