Archive | MBA

After Millions of Dollars, Microsoft Bing is Just as Smart as…Las Vegas [When Data Fails]

At Kellogg, we learned that people in aggregate tend to be quite correct (for example, say you have a random amount of jelly beans inside a big jar. Ask people to guess the amount of beans. When you average all the guesses, it will come out quite close to the real number, even if the real number is large and random, like 1,724).

According to How Microsoft got so good at predicting who will win NFL games, Microsoft Bing is an awesome prediction guru of human intelligence, machine learning, and big data:

Bing Predicts is run by a team of about a half dozen people out of Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters. It uses machine learning and analyses big data on the web to predict the outcomes of reality TV shows, elections, sporting events, and more.

How Microsoft got so good at predicting who will win NFL games

In 2014, Bing was 67% accurate predicting NFL winners.

In all, the Bing Predicts model considers hundreds of these different signals, or data points, for each event, like an election or game, Sun said.

So far this year[2015 to game three], Bing is about 60% accurate in predicting NFL matchups.

Sounds great, right? However, my first thought was, who cares about winners? I can’t bet on winners, this is why the spread exists, to create (theoretical) 50/50 bets that bookies can make stable revenue from.

My next question is, in this awesome model built from millions of dollars in labor and computing power, are the prediction results better, hopefully at a statistically significant (p = .05) level, than information I could get free from a public resource? How little can I spend to get reasonably close results to aid in my for-profit wagering?

Let’s look at Las Vegas betting spreads.

Booking Odds

According to Inpredictable.com and its 2013 article Is the NFL Betting Market Getting More Efficient?, the answer is NO, Bing’s modeling is no better than me looking at the latest odds online.

From 1989 to 2013, Las Vegas favorites were correct 66.8% of the time. With a sample size of 15 years, and looking at the chart above, I can say that Vegas is pretty good.

1 signal – Vegas odds – versus hundreds of signals – Microsoft Bing = the same result.

Great work, Microsoft.

The Kellogg Student’s Food Guide to Impressing Your Friends in Chicago

Visits in ChicagoWhether you are visiting friends, or have friends / family visiting you in Chicago, I have done the work (food, dessert, hang out) so you can have a place to recommend and go.

As a big fan of sites like The Wirecutter, which chooses the very best item in a product category (ex. what is the best TV for me?), I wanted to create a similar guide for Kellogg students traveling into Chicago.

All the places below are those that I have personally eaten at over the last year (vast vast majority over the summer of 2015). There is also at special bonus Hanging Out guide at the very end of this post.

Some things to keep in mind: I am no food expert, and for the most part, I cannot tell good food apart. To me, it’s all just good. However, I will try my best to pick winners (denoted in bold, the first place mentioned in any category) in each category, though I likely have biases towards food that just tastes different and stands out to me. In terms of what to actually order at each, I will make notes when I remember something noteworthy, but for the most part, refer back to Yelp or explore!

How I chose places: I researched information from (mostly) Yelp, friend referrals, The Chicago Reader, and TripAdvisor, as well as guides like the Thrillist and just…Google search for “best of…”. Everything place here will be $25 per person or less unless explicitly mentioned. I preferred going to places that were less than $15 per person ($$ on Yelp).

Meals

BBQ / Ribs / Brisket

Smoque BBQ is the considered the best (including by Kellogg MMM and BBQ expert KJ Plank) by the general public. In addition, it’s cheaper than most places but conversely, it is not easy to reach by public transportation. I like the ribs here a lot, but not the brisket so much. Blackwood BBQ, on the other hand, offers tremendous brisket for a great price – you can even pick the fat level of the meat (I choose maximum), but that is all they sell. The location I visited in the Loop is only open for lunch, but there is another location that is open for dinner. Ha (my wife)’s favorite place in the category is Blackwood. Chicago Q sells all the BBQ meats you expect but is a bit expensive and the venue is a bit on the fancy side. Green Street Smoked Meats is a solid BBQ place in the West Randolph area, and while it has solid brisket, it is not the best option for any specific item. Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern (Old Town) is my wild card. It is actually quite famous and has a long history in Chicago. It does not look particularly fancy, and is where where Two Face shoots Officer Wurtz in The Dark Knight. Ha and I enjoyed our ribs (great sauce) at the bar and it was great thinking about that scene just a few feet away.

Breakfast

Wildberry Pancakes and Café is definitely our favorite for pancakes. It’s next to Millenium Park on Randolph, and if you try to get there after 9AM on a weekend, you will definitely wait over an hour (no reservations allowed). I really liked the Fat Elvis Waffles (peanut butter, er.. butter and banana) at Little Goat in West Randolph and the The Local Chicago is more of a standard, but good quality place that is a block away from the John Hancock Center.

Burgers / Hot Dogs

There are many burger options in Chicago, and adding an egg on top seems like the cultural must-have for any burger nowadays. If you want a true expert’s opinion, do ask Ray Su of Kellogg MMM, but my favorite is bopNGrill. People seem to love Au Cheval in West Randolph, and I have had it twice to confirm my suspicions. The burger there is good, but I think of it as the best possible version of a Big Mac (without the middle layer of bread). If you do go to Au Cheval, remember that the single burger is actually two patties. Ha’s favorite burger is the SmokeShack from Shake Shack in River North (opposite of Eataly). I felt that 25 Degrees’ burger was pretty standard, despite the reviews.

As for Hot Dogs, Chicago-style ones are served all over, but the one that I remember going to for that and its famous Italian Meat sandwich is Portillo’s Hot Dogs & Barnelli’s Salad Bowl. I have learned that I am not a fan of either Chicago-style Hot Dogs or the sandwich. The sandwich is served very wet and is thus, hard to grab onto and eat.

Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for you, I did go to the famous Hot Doug’s before it closed last year.

Chicken Wings

Usually when I see a place crown itself as best something, I think it is BS. However, Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap in Downtown Chicago really does have great wings. I was pleasantly surprised from my waiter’s recommendation. However, both Crisp (Lakeview, shown below) and Dak make excellent Korean-style wings, and you will not be unhappy with any of these three picks.

Chinese / Dim Sum

MingHin Cuisine (Chinatown) is generally considered the best reasonably affordable dim sum in the city; expect a 30 minute wait during peak times on the weekends. Its regular menu is perfectly fine as well. Furama Restaurant (Argyle) is closer to Evanston but not particularly good and despite strong reviews for Sun Wah Bar-B-Que (also Argyle), I did not like it at all (Ha disagrees). Lao Sze Chuan on Michigan Ave is the same place that exists in Evanston – great Sze Chuan (approved by Kellogg MMM and Sze Chuan / Sichuan province native Daniel Xu) cuisine.

Diner

Do people ever say, “I really want diner food today?” I am not sure, but Dove’s Luncheonette (the Fried Chicken is fantastic – it’s more like a fried chicken steak than a KFC bucket piece) is a great option in Wicker Park. The previously mentioned Little Goat is a good option as well.

Fried Chicken

I love fried chicken. There are plenty of places to get it, but I am actually fond of supermarket fried chicken, such as at Jewel Osco. 8 pieces for 7.99. But for a real establishment, check out The Roost Carolina Kitchen in Irving Park. There is also the Harold’s Chicken Shack chain throughout the Chicago area, which Derrick Rose loves. I have heard quality is inconsistent by location, which happens with any fast-food chain. The one I went to was just okay.

For those in Evanston who never venture outside the Downtown area, make sure to check out Chicken Shack before you leave Kellogg.

Indian / Nepalese

Cumin in Wicker Park has great food, but I also liked Ghareeb Nawaz. The former option is great for a night out, while the latter is great for no-frills, very cheap food. Bombay Wraps is a solid, fast-food style option in Downtown.

Italian

Picking Eataly Chicago in Downtown (opposite Shake Shack) is a bit of a cheat. It has a number of places within to choose from. While he preferred the NYC location, Italian (and Kellogg Exchange Student from IE Business School) Valerio Patrizi vouches for Eataly’s authenticity. For more of a sit-down restaurant, Ha and I enjoyed Quartino, which is also Downtown.

Japanese / Ramen / Other

Go to Wasabi in Logan Square if you like some serious Ramen. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ in Downtown is a great option for cook-it-yourself BBQ, but gets quite expensive for dinner. Ha and I took advantage of its lunch deal.

Japanese / Sushi

While not a sit-down place, Osaka Sushi Express & Fresh Fruit Smoothies is Ha’s pick – it has the best cost / quality value proposition and is located near Grant Park, Downtown. For more of a true social dinner experience, Sunda in Downtown is a great alternative, but will get pricey. Ha and I could only do the lunch special there. Kabuki Japanese Restaurant in Lincoln Park was just ok for me, but is BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer).

Korean

Gogi is the winner in this category by default (although I guess I could have included Dak and Crisp from the chicken wings section), but it is an excellent choice for Korean BBQ, having tried it myself and with it frequently visited by my Kellogg KWESTIE Jihyung Kim.

Mexican / Tacos / Burritos

L’ Patron Tacos is my favorite Taco place in the city – its taste really stood out for me. La Pasadita is a Chicago tradition and was well regarded in Five Thirty Eight’s Best Burrito in the United States competition, but I wasn’t a big fan – I felt the burrito was a bit salty. Ha loves Big & Little’s Restaurant (Belmont) for its fusion tacos and soft-shell crab Po’Boy (below), and also likes Taco Joint, especially for its Chile Mango Margarita.

Middle Eastern / Mediterranean

Sultan’s Market (Wicker Park) is fantastic and cheap; Alhambra Palace, however on West Randolph, is the opposite – students went there during our first week at Kellogg, CIM Week.

Other

Here are some other places that I cannot quite categorize, but want to mention anyway, good and bad. The ones I recommend are in BOLD.

  • Beatrix – a good “American” restaurant. I do not know how else to describe the food, but very solid.
  • Bruges Brothers – despite the commotion and long lines over its Duck Fat fries during Taste of Chicago, I was not particularly impressed.
  • Dia De Los Tamales – tried a tamales during Taste of Chicago, nothing special.
  • Feed (Southern) – great roasted chicken.
  • Cafecito (Cuban Sandwiches, Downtown)
  • The Purple Pig – this place is very, very, popular, but I think it’s overrated and a bit expensive ($30 per person before drinks). Everyone loves the bone marrow here, but I suspect that these are people who did not grow up eating much bone marrow. I did, however, thus $15 for a bit of bone marrow seems excessive.
  • Garrett Popcorn Shops – shops are all over Downtown, very good popcorn, a Chicago treat!
  • Pierogi Heaven (Polish, Downtown) – Ha really liked this. I am more neutral but would give it another try.
  • Chick-fil-A / McDonald’s – I do not think I need to comment much on these. You likely have an opinion already.

Pizza

Although we seem to be in the minority on this, Giordano’s is both Ha and my favorite deep dish pizza. You do not need to go to Chicago for this, of course, as both Giordano’s and Lou Malnatti’s have locations in Evanston. The Art of Pizza is another good option, and for thin crust pizza, Ha and I are big fans of Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza, which again, has a location in Evanston.

Thai

Kellogg friends Nancy Lee and Matt Shin introduced us to Aroy Thai Restaurant and even after trying out other city favorites in Opart Thai House Restaurant and Sticky Rice, I feel Aroy Thai to be the best.

Vietnamese

I should know Vietnamese food well, having grown up in a Vietnamese household and spending over 7 years as an adult in the country, but I cannot really recommend any specific Vietnamese place for Pho. They are all pretty similar to me, and not necessarily better or as good as anything in Vietnam or in Vietnamese-dense areas like San Jose. That said, I really like Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) and che (dessert dish) at Ba Le Bakery. Other places I have tried for various dishes include:  Little Vietnam, Le’s Pho, Tank Noodle Restaurant (Tank is the most well known place, with a great corner location), Little Vietnam, New Asia, Pho Viet, and Nha Hang Viet Nam. Ha is a Pho-elite, able to break down how different Pho broths are made and feels that most of the Pho’s in Chicago have too much MSG.

Desserts / Sweets

Cupcakes

Molly’s Cupcakes in Lincoln Park is definitely the favorite in the city, while Ha LOVES the Passion Passion Passion cupcake at More Cupcakes (Downtown). We enjoyed Ms Tittle‘s Cupcakes at The Taste of Chicago, and Sprinkles Cupcakes is known for its cupcake ATM machine, but is not unique to Chicago.

Donuts

Finding the best donuts became my personal passion over the summer, with Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken winning as my personal pick. Do-Rite also makes a highly regarded fried chicken sandwich. Glazed & Infused Doughnuts / Glazed & Infused Doughnuts and The Doughnut Vault are great options that I liked, but The Doughnut Vault almost always runs out before 12PM. Stan’s Donuts & Coffee is a popular stop around Chicago, but I did not like it as much as the others.

Ice Cream / Other Desserts

I liked the unique flavors at Black Dog Gelato (ex. Goat cheese cashew caramel), but Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is where to go if you are “MBA rich” and really want to have high-end dessert. Worth trying at least once. Other good options are Margie’s Candies / Margie’s Candies (there’s two) and Lickity Split Frozen Custard.

Hanging Out

This is a bonus section, as after all, after you eat, there should be something to do! I am not a big bar or club person, thus this section is a bit weak, but I do want to mention two places that I enjoyed, beer arcades, where you can play games and have a drink (without the juvenile experience at Dave and Buster’s).

Both Logan Arcade and Headquarters Beercade River North are highly recommended. Logan Arcade has Killer Queen, of which less than 10 machines exist in the world. It’s a 5 on 5 (required, not optional) team battle game that is hard to describe but easy to pick up. Only .25 cents to play and the community around the game is great. I came with a bunch of friends (not quite 5), and the other players were generous about teaching us the game and letting us play for free. It is very addictive.

Beercade, on the other hand, is Downtown and most of its arcade and pinball games are free. Thus, you can buy a drink and just relax and play whatever you want. Ha loves Pinball and can handle very little alcohol, thus she became a very cheap date here.

If you have questions about any of these places or would like to add your own recommendations, let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, enjoy and I hope this guide helps!

My StrengthsFinder [Kellogg]

Here in my last quarter at Kellogg, I am taking Personal Leadership Insights (MORS-935) with Paul Corona. It is a half-unit course in which a small group of students (we have 9 in our group) explore their work histories together, and how they want to improve in the future. Throughout the journey is an inward look of the people we believe we are and want to be, and feedback from others based on this. Early in the process, each student reads and takes the StrengthsFinder test, which helps identify both your talents but also the things you care about. The reasoning is that these are the things that you can maximize – in basketball I can shoot as many baskets (passion) as I want for hours per day, but I will never be that good (lack of talent) in it. But the things below, ranked from highest potential, are things I can really be special at, with high levels of passion and talent. The five things below show up most strongly among the 30+ possible attributes. Thus, I am a:

1) Relator

People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They
find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

2) Restorative

People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They
are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.

3) Intellection

People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual
activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

4) Developer

People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in
others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these
improvements.

5) Analytical

People who are especially talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have
the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.

5 Tips in Bidding for Classes at Kellogg [MBA]

Click to see original image source

Incoming Northwestern Kellogg MBA students tend to be worried about how bidding will work, and even though everyone has tons of questions in September, I noticed that most people have forgotten all those answers by the time bidding actually begins in November. Thus, here are some tips from my own experience to help you through the process.

1) Do not worry about this in September (or if you are MMM, June). There will be plenty of guidance as the first bidding opportunity opens up. This is one of those things that you won’t understand too well until you see it. Plus, it really isn’t that complicated.

2) Do not bid on multiple class times for a class. It is better to simply select the time that you want and bid more for that one time than trying for multiple times. I made this mistake and lost out of both classes even though I bid higher than what history dictated.

3) Bid 25% higher than the highest amount bid for the class for your respective round over the last 3 years across any quarter. The key here is to match the round you are in – Round 2 scores are often inflated because people are desperate to get in second choice classes at this point, and will use more points to get into something. Thus, if a class has maxed out at 500 points for Round 1 the last 3 years, and you are in Round 1, bid 625 points. Make sure you are matching professors as well, same class by a different professor will generate different results. Round 1 is the most important to be strategic as you will get the most value for your points. For 1st years, this doesn’t become that important until the Spring quarter of your first year as you will be primarily be on core classes before that.

4) Do not assume that a class that goes for a lot of points (ex. > 1,000) is really that good. Try to understand what you want out of a class before you bid that amount of points on it. If you simply follow the “wisdom” of the crowds or want an easy class, there will be plenty of cheaper alternatives. When you are bidding over 1,000 points for a class, you should really be sure you want that class – I would recommend talking to other students about it to see if what they did in the class really matches what you want to do with it. With Harry Kraemer, you are getting a great networking connection that you can reach out to in the future. There is nothing wrong with this, but for classes in which you hope to build a connection with the professor teaching it, also make sure you become the class liaison. Don’t waste the opportunity. For Kraemer’s course, the learning material is great, but you will probably get 80% of that by reading his book. Remember, you don’t just pay bidding points for classes, you also are paying $5K for each class you take. Each class you waste is a waste of time but also paid value in learning. Experiential classes can be great for contacts (for example, I worked in a couple of sports business projects), even if the projects aren’t always great. I took a class with a professor rating of 6/10, but it was my favorite class (of 5) that quarter.

5) In general, even if a class has low student TCE’s, if you are interested in the subject, that will go a long way towards your enjoyment of the class. I felt that TCEs are often reflective of entertainment value, especially for classes that also have high bidding points, rather than true academic value. If you are not interested in the subject material, you will find ways to not like the class, even with a renown professor. Remember the opportunity costs.

There you go, 5 simple tips to guide your way. Bookmark this page if needed and send me your own tips as well!

How we won the Kellogg Marketing Conference’s Creative Lab (and a really big shoe)

(This was written by my friend and teammate Justin but reposting it here after it was originally posted at the Kellogg Blog)

How we won the Kellogg Marketing Conference’s Creative Lab (and a really big shoe)

Kellogg’s Marketing Conference is by far one of the largest events at Kellogg. More than 500 attendees, hotshot panelists from companies like Google, SC Johnson, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsico and Uber, incredible keynote speakers and the vibrancy of the student leadership team make this an exciting and informative event.

For the first time, this year’s marketing conference featured a creative session competition hosted by the Google Brand Studio. Six teams of four members competed to solve a marketing prompt delivered the day of the competition.We were excited to participate because of our interest in the rapidly evolving tech industry.  Prior to Kellogg, each of us had spent some time in the tech industry:

  • Shriansh worked with mobile and financial software
  • Josh ran several startups in the internet technology space
  • Michael served as COO for Vietnam’s first social networking website
  • Justin worked in venture capital and product development for startups in mobile and clean-tech.

 The ‘crazy, fun and different’ nature of the Creative Lab began with how the challenge prompt itself was chosen. The 500-odd audience members had to vote (with the results being live-streamed right in front of us) on their choice between two challenges. The winning prompt was basically given to us on the spot for us to work on. 

The session itself was 35 minutes of brutal creativity. Spurred on by three of Google’s best, we brainstormed and came up with a solution. Using some of the tools and methodologies used at Google, we worked in our team to flesh out ideas, challenge thought processes and uncover insights to form a strategic solution to the prompt.

The four of us definitely felt the pressure as the clock was winding down to present in front of the other five teams and the three leaders from Google’s Brand Studio. In the last few minutes we wrote down our strategy and how we’d execute it, while also figuring out who’d tell the story.

Through the lab, we learned that creativity can be rapid, structured and apparently time-boxed. We experienced first-hand how rapid brainstorming floods the mind with ideas. Frankly, we feel that being left with more time to ponder the challenge might have derailed the intuition and raw expression that came forward in our strategy. Given how much fun we had, we’ll definitely carry these methods into our classrooms and future organizations.

After each of the six teams presented, the Google representatives selected three teams to move forward and present to the conference attendees. Afterward, the audience and judges voted using a phone app. After tallying the votes, the speaker announced, “And the winner of the Google Creative Lab competition is … Team 1! Michael, Shriansh, Josh, and Justin!”  We were extremely excited!

We won a trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., where we will present a more detailed version of the idea to a few Google Executives.

Oh. And we won the Kellogg Marketing Conference shoe!

Justin Saeheng ‘16 is currently a student in the MMM program. Prior to Kellogg, he spent two years at a venture capital firm in the silicon valley focused on clean-tech, semiconductor, telecoms and sensors.  He worked closely with startups through product innovation, development and commercialization as well as strategic market entries into Asia and Europe. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Shriansh Shrivastava ’16 (@Shriansh) is currently a student in the MMM program. He grew up in India, spent 10 years in the UK (undergrad + an awesome job working with unreleased cellphones +  then worked on a mental health suicide prevention project – using smartphones, of course) and finally spent a year in Canada working for an ATM software company. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Joshua Borin ’15 is currently a student in Kellogg’s One-Year MBA program. Before Kellogg, Joshua ran a small business, survived the rise and fall of an e-commerce company and made an industry-noticing impact on stopping trade of counterfeit goods online. He loves helping small companies overcome the challenges that arise during rapid growth and scaling. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Michael Nguyen ’16 is currently a student in the MMM program. In the past he served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Cyworld Vietnam, the country’s first social network; co-founded Mimo, a popular Twitter-like service in Vietnam; and helped RedOctane launch the Guitar Hero video game franchise. Connect with him on LinkedIn.