This is the story of how I was almost a doctor. Not the kind that actually helps people, but the kind that everybody listens to, because if you have PhD at the end of your name, people think you are an authority on any and all subjects. Which is kind of my dream. To have everybody listen to me and feel like I have some credibility, even if I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Do you know they give out PhD’s in marketing? They do. I suppose a PhD in physics is probably higher on the totem pole than marketing, but I’m pretty sure you can’t have ADD and get a PhD in physics. I think you need to have Asperger’s for that. So I’m S.O.L (does everybody learn that acronym from their dad at age 6?). So marketing seemed like a reasonable alternative. Plus, after you get a PhD in anything, you’re a PhD. Nobody knows or cares after you get a PhD what it is in, so I figured I could kind of be like Dr. Phil. He has a PhD, albeit probably from an online university, but nobody questions his credentials any more. So what if it’s in marketing? I’d be Dr. Love and suddenly, the editors at O would be busting down my door begging me to write a monthly column. But instead, Oprah found Dr. Berman, PhD, a hot blond who loves to talk about sex and suddenly my dreams are shattered.
But I digress. Here is the story:
So I’m in this job that is kind of boring. And the people I work with are really nice, good people, but I had the suspicion that they weren’t as intellectually superior as I was. So to stave off my boredom, I decided to go back to school part-time because my company would pay for it. But it had to be something relevant to my job, which only gave me a single choice, which was MBA school. So luckily I live in a city that has about 6 trillion universities/colleges that offer part-time MBAs. But going to just any MBA school would have been too easy and wouldn’t have inflated my ego to the levels I crave. I had to pick one that was prestigious and where I would meet a lot of intellectuals so I could have an intelligent conversation about the current events I read about in US Weekly. And I am very lucky, because the top two MBA schools in the U.S. are right here in Chicago.
One has a reputation for being really fun and one has a reputation for being really not fun. So it was a really hard decision, but I eventually settled on fun. I took the GMAT to prove to myself and the admissions group that I was as brilliant as I fancied myself. I didn’t get a perfect score, but there is math on that test instead of celebrity trivia, so it doesn’t really test true genius. But I did alright. So I applied to the part-time program and they let me in and it lived up to its reputation. I was having a good time. The people I was going to school with were very smart – maybe some were smarter than me — which then made me feel kind of average and inadequate, but that was probably good, because sometimes I need to be taken down a notch.
So while I’m in MBA school I decide that I need to get into health care sales, so I could do something that helps people and still make lots of money. (Please stop laughing — I was just very naive at that point. Who knew the health care industry is even shadier than the financial sector?). So in order to network my way into the health care industry, I go to this health care conference being held by my business school. And they have CEOs from some of the top pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers on this panel discussing sales strategy and management, and the conversation is being led by this professor at my business school. He keeps throwing out pretty good questions and the executives answer but they always finish up their answers by looking at the professor expectantly, like they needed his approval for what they just said.
And then it hits me.
OMG. I should be a professor. I want to get paid for thinking about whatever I want to think about!! I want to facilitate discussions between people who work for a living and I’ll be the big PhD at the table who everybody listens to and respects even though all I do is teach a class here and there and maybe write some books and get quoted in the New York Times every other day. Yes! It is my calling. I’ve found my life’s work!! Elation!
I was a newlywed at the time. My husband asked me to marry him a couple of weeks before I started my MBA adventure. I have to assume he thought that I would pull my own weight in our marriage at least financially because I was going to a great school and that should guarantee me a solid place in the career world, right? Maybe he could be a house husband if he felt like it because I would be making wads of cash as I scurried quickly up the corporate ladder. Because I was the very definition of a future baller and we’d be big pimpin’ (spending Gs). So I run home from this conference and I announce to BD that I am going to be a business professor. Fuck sales. Fuck working for a living. It was so simple! Why hadn’t I thought of it before!! I’m going to be a professor. And now I could finally earn the right to wear cardigan sweaters with little patches on the elbows and start smoking a pipe. I already had the scholarly specs. All I had to do was get a PhD and how hard could that be, especially with me being such a genius and everything?
So that night I shattered BD’s illusion of having a responsible, rich, hard-working, baller wife. I told him I was going to finish my MBA and apply to the PhD program. I wasn’t really sure what PhD school was about, but it couldn’t be that different from MBA school, right? I mean, I knew what the 4 Ps of marketing were, so I was practically halfway there. And in the PhD program, you don’t have to pay tuition and they even give you a stipend to live on while you think all your deep thoughts. See?! They were already paying me to do what I loved doing anyway, which was being a geek and tricking people into thinking I wasn’t as clueless as I was and collecting degrees that I could hang in my future big office with leather chairs and floor to ceiling bookcases.
Since the PhD program wouldn’t cost anything and I would actually be bringing home some money, BD got on board and supported the decision. So I quit my job and started going to school full-time so I could finish the MBA faster. Of course, that blew up the whole plan where my employer pays for my education. I actually had to pay them back for everything so far and then shell out the money for the rest of the MBA, but no matter! I was on a mission. An intellectual journey. And what is money anyway? Bah! It is clearly only important to the bourgeois as a method to keep the peasants in their place (or something like that. All you need to remember is that I used the term “bourgeois” in a very dismissive and authoritative way, which is very academic of me, don’t you think?) As you can see, I was already starting to ask the deep questions required of a professor.
When you have a dream, you have to go for it, right? So now I just had to get into the PhD program. The odds were kind of bad. They accepted 8 people a year and there were probably close to a thousand applicants. And some of them were from China, where I think you need to know how to solve Rubik’s cubes in 14 moves, in 10 seconds or less just to pass 6th grade. And they can do some fucking mad math, even without being Aspergers. And all I have is ADD and a dream.
But when Love wants something, Love gets it.
That fall, about six months after my epiphany at the healthcare conference, I started MBA full-time and I started getting busy applying to the PhD program for the following fall. Apparently that wasn’t the only thing I was getting busy at, because that’s also when I got preggers. Awesome.
Another very well thought out plan by Love is put into motion…
Part II, Numbers is up next…
I don’t know if I’ll get back before Christmas….so if I don’t, Merry Whatever-you-might-celebrate-at-the-end-of-December!