Saturday, April 25, 2009

Allow myself to introduce.....myself. I am James Bender, a first year (3 weeks away from being a second year!) at Haas and one of only 4 prior US military members in my class. Thus far, Haas has been an interesting and exciting place. My goal, similar to all the Maxwell Fellows, is to use my Berkeley MBA experience to live a work-life balance that is filled with passion. I hope to leverage both my past experience as a Naval aviator and my B-school resume into a job opportunity that will give me a broad exposure towards all types of business. Eventually, I would like to be the decision maker in my own endeavor just as Brian and Jennifer were at PowerBar.

For me, the first semester was literally a balance of determining what was important and what needed less attention. During the fall, I often wondered how Brian would make use of the 24 hours in his day. Being a world class athlete, I know that he was efficient and focused in his training. In addition, Scott Sowry has recently revealed to me that Brian was the most intelligent and focused business person he's ever met. Feeling like something was missing in my life, I took some time to reflect at the end of last semester. I was continually fine tuning my school workload, and I found something missing in my life--balance.

I thought about how Brian and Jennifer took something they loved dearly and made it a huge part of their lives. Fitness and international competition gave them both passion. That passion, applied in the business world, turned into PowerBar.

In January I decided my time competing as an amatuer bike racer was important to me and provided some balance in the crazy B-school experience. Racing for the Cal Men's A Collegiate Team has been a blast and I was elated to earn my first win of the season at the Sea Otter Classic Criterium. Finding time to train while maneuvering the educational and social experiences at Haas has been a challenge. However, knowing that Brian found the pinnacle of success as one of the world's fastest marathoners and then as a successful entrepreneur gives me hope. I feel like I am finally striking the balance between my MBA and the training miles necessary to compete. I find that reflecting on Brian's and Jennifer's story continually provides support.

I think Brian applied many of his training methods to his business life. Sometimes you simply have to put your head down and put in the work. I do that in both my school work and on the bike. While I realize I will never be the caliber of athlete Brian was, I have hope that I will maintain the same caliber of passion he displayed in all that he did. I am excited about the future and am excited to meet the Class of 2011 Maxwell Fellows. Welcome to Haas and to the Maxwell Fellows Family!

Myself, Silvia Lacayo, Jennifer Maxwell, and Brad Kittridge at a recent Cal event. Go Bears!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hello from Haas

One of Brian Maxwell's favorite books was The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer. This story of the daring and committed first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, a daunting mountain in the Alps, no doubt spoke to Brian about the intrinsic value of pushing oneself to achieve, independent of external reward and regardless of others' skepticism. Harrer says, "We climbed the Eiger's North Face because the very aspect of it proved an irresistible challenge to our courage and to our love of adventure." Seeing the parallels in that climb to the adventure that we each undertake through our lives and careers is a reminder and motivator that no reward comes without risk and sacrifice, that most real accomplishments are the result of multiple individuals working together as a cohesive unit, and that there is inherent value in pushing oneself to accomplish more than previously thought possible.

It's no surprise that Brian found inspiration in this work. He lived its principles, pushing himself in every way through his athletic, professional, and personal pursuits. Of course Brian's unique drive, ability, and perspective led to inevitable success and impact. We, the Brian Maxwell Fellows, similarly draw inspiration from Brian's driving spirit, giving nature, and undying will. These reminders dare us to dream big, encourage us to persevere, and inspire us to drive change. After all, for many years it was said that the North Face of the Eiger simply could not be climbed...

Friday, March 6, 2009

First, I want to introduce myself: my name is Silvia Lacayo and I’m currently a second year MBA student at Haas. Secondly, I want to express how excited I am to see this website go up! It is the result of a lot of hard work on Scott’s part and would not, of course, be possible without Jennifer’s dedication to sharing Brian’s memory, spirit and drive with the rest of us.

Time as an MBA student has passed much too quickly for me: in just two months, I will be graduating from the Haas School of Business. They say that the second year of business school is time you can spend relaxing because so many of your formative experiences and hard work occur in the first year. I find myself busier in many ways now than I have in the past 18 months. And I’m glad for that. An MBA grad from many years ago once told me that if she could go back and relive her business school experience, she would sleep a little less. She would have gotten involved in more activities while in school. Though I am not gravely sleep deprived these days, I feel pretty connected to my program through the many activities in which I am currently involved. It keeps me busy and it feels good.

Two weeks ago, I attended a talk at the Goldman School of Public Policy with two professors who had been on President Obama’s transition team. There we were, a classroom full of 70 students plus two highly accomplished professors, munching on pizza and sharing first-person stories about one of the most historic events in our lives and in American history. After the talk, as I was riding south on my bicycle along Piedmont Avenue, I looked to my right to catch a glimpse of the Campanile in the center of the Berkeley campus; beyond it, I could see the literal brilliance of the mid-afternoon sun going down over the Berkeley Marina. In that moment I reflected – not for the first time – on how lucky I am to have opportunities to interact with top notch faculty and enjoy a simple bike ride on a warm, sunny day in February in such a beautiful setting, all in the same afternoon. Jennifer, Brian, the other Maxwell fellows and my Haas classmates can all probably relate. I am going to miss being at UC Berkeley. But I still have two months to continue to make the best of my time here.

I look forward to staying connected to the Maxwell community through this website and look forward to the expansion of this community in the coming years.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Welcome to the Brian Maxwell Fellows Web site! We launched the site in March 2009 and we welcome everyone associated with Brian, Jennifer, Haas, Cal and PowerBar to share your thoughts about Brian and what you are doing now.

Our goal of this blog is to continue the ongoing dialogue of the many ways Brian and Jennifer influenced our lives and connected so many individuals along the way. Feel free to share your stories and thoughts so we can remain connected and keep Brian’s entrepreneurial spirit alive. Just like Brian encouraged us to openly and honestly communicate with one another, this blog gives you your own voice.

Brian was our friend, mentor, devoted husband and loving parent, and adventuresome son. We miss Brian dearly and we remember him fondly and eternally. Brian is here in spirit for inspiration and to awaken our passions for life. We are extremely grateful.

Brian represented a philosophy, a way of life and thinking. Looking at life without limitations and knowing that any endeavor is possible. Brian would say, “It’s always been my entrepreneurial philosophy to ignore sensible advice…it was George Bernard Shaw who said that progress is only made by unreasonable people.” Brian embodied that drive to the point where we sometimes did not see his wisdom and rationale. But now, we understand.

On the weekend when Brian passed away in March 2004, when my wife Jenny and I couldn’t sleep, I called my parents at 5:00 a.m. As I was speaking with them looking out the kitchen window, I saw the most glorious shooting star with the longest streaming tail, never before burning so brightly, but all too brief – just like Brian.

When asked to describe his highest hurdle, Brian would say, “Skepticism and maintaining vision and confidence in the face of so many people who said it couldn’t be done. You really have to believe that it’s possible to create something from nothing.” In one of Brian’s favorite books, “The White Spider, The Story of the North Face of the Eiger,” author Heinrich Harrer analyzed the values and ethics of mountaineering and the reasons why people risk their lives to scale such forbidding peaks and test their own qualities to the utmost. Now, for us, comes our test, living without Brian’s presence. We will not let him down.

Brian’s energy burns powerfully and instinctively within us. I am content that he is in our hearts, spirits and intellect for our journeys.

Jennifer created the Brian Maxwell Fellows at the Haas School of Business and asked me to set up the fellowship and run the program in late 2005. Jennifer wants to commemorate her late husband Brian, who had an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit and created opportunities throughout his meaningful, but short life of 51 years. Through the creation of the fellowship, Jennifer wants to make it possible for graduate students with a dream and the drive to “go for it,” to create opportunities, to innovate and bring real value and change to the world.

Jennifer encourages each Brian Maxwell Fellow to “conquer yourself, live your passions, innovate and make a difference.” She envisions a collaborative group of like-minded individuals aspiring to embody Brian’s insatiable desire for innovation and creativity. Jennifer sees the Fellows pursuing their passions and dreams with the goal of creating opportunities, innovating and bettering the world. To capture and perpetuate some of the will and drive that Brian possessed would make the fellowship a success as we aspire to be the nation’s most innovative and leading graduate fellowship programs.

Each year, the Brian Maxwell Fellows Selection Committee awards up to three graduate fellowships to Haas students based on the same entrepreneurial characteristics that drove Brian to success: determined; persistent; passionate; optimistic; courageous; fearless; strong; creative; generous; humble; and peaceful. He also had will and an enduring belief in people.

A Brian Maxwell Fellow is an innovator and an entrepreneur who embodies the spirit and characteristics of Brian. Graduating from Haas is the first step to commemorate Brian in a lifelong quest for innovation and creativity, achieving the extraordinary and keeping alive Brian’s entrepreneurial spirit. A Fellow brings change to the world and shares a lifetime of experiences with their constituencies, colleagues, friends and families and with the Brian Maxwell Fellows family.

In the last three years, Jennifer and I and Haas have been so happy with Elizabeth, Nick, Silvia, Brad, Aleka and James – all uniquely talented, passionate individuals and outstanding Fellows who are committed to continuing Brian’s legacy. The fellowship is the start of a unique experience of innovation and entrepreneurship. We are so fortunate that the Fellows are keeping alive Brian’s entrepreneurial spirit and are making this fellowship a success. Jennifer and I and Haas look forward to growing and sharing a lifetime of experiences within our fellowship community.

I look forward to hearing from everyone and continuing Brian’s legacy.