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!

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