The Highest ROI Activity You Can Do At B School

During your MBA, you will learn a very intriguing idea – Return on Investment.

Measured in financial terms, ROI is what you gain (monetary return) for what you put in (financial investment). The higher the ROI, the better the investment.

This is an imperfect metric. A lot of ‘return’ (what you get from doing something) and investment (what you put into an activity) both can’t be measured in money alone. In fact, most of our investments in student life are in terms of time and emotions.

So it may be interesting to look at what the various activities you do ‘yield’ as an ROI. Calculations like this excite the management nerd within me!

So here are some that were ROI calculations for me

Activity Investment Returns ROI
Attending class attentively Unavoidable Time Investment + Emotional Energy* (optional – you may sleep through class) Grades -> Feel good Average
Regular Revision Small bits of regular time + discipline Better grades than others -> Positively rippling into placements and other opportunities (Blame relative grading!) High
Attending L Square Parties A whole block of weekend time + Physical Energy + Disturbing sleep cycle Bonding, emotional recharge and lots of fun! TOTALLY worth it!
Exercise (I attempted it) Regular time Health (I did not value health as much at that time) Low
Bro Bonding (with the gang) Moderate time Emotional support + dope on what’s up! High
Extra Curricular activities Depending on which clubs you choose Depends on how you leverage your extra currics – I did it because I loved doing it Depends on choice of activity
Relationship** Very High Time + Emotional Energy (especially consuming relationships) SEE BELOW (Optionality) Depends on “Option Value”

** : Optionality – Your campus relationships may succeed or fail. The ROI on your relationship depends on where it goes (and often at that age, we are still climbing the learning curve). So, weigh the return by the probability of success or failure – a relationship with regular fights can drain you out!

As you can see, the return on an activity also depends on how much you VALUE that return. You may not care for marks at all and that would make your ROI on studies very low (because you don’t really care for what you get). On the other hand, you may love hanging out with your friends and that will make it a very high ROI activity.

Hence, a time investment portfolio that aligns with your values gives you the most optimal returns – for example, investing in debt, equity, derivatives or metals based on your risk profile.

However, there is one activity that is sure to give you an exponential return on your time and leverage on all the remaining activities. It is that one activity that, if done well can help you manage the rest.

You already know what I am pointing to – it is REFLECTION.

There is no substitute for living what Thoreau called an ‘examined life’. Consciously investing your time across different activities requires you to think about –

  1.     What you want and value
  2.     What you can afford (in terms of time and emotional energy)
  3.     What you will get as returns (which is directly linked to how much you invest)

And this rarely happens by accident. It has to happen by design. And that design requires time and thinking.

So head for a regular walk in the woods. Spend time as regularly as you can to just get a sense of where you are heading, what is going on, what do the indicators of your life (grades, emotional health, tempo) say.

The habit of regularly reflecting has helped me clarify what I really wanted. It has given me the courage to act in that direction. It has helped me carve out a life that I can truly own as an expression of my unique self.

Irrespective of whatever else you do, this is one activity that is a sure-shot, tax free return on whatever time you invest in it!


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Abhishek Thakore is a full-time lover of life. He is a published author, leadership educator and a movement builder. He is the founder of The Blue Ribbon Movement. He is also a Gold Medalist and an alumnus of IIM Bangalore – Class of 2005 and. He contributed one of InsideIIM’s first stories in 2011. You can read other stories by Abhishek here.

Abhishek Thakore

The writer is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore – Class of 2005 and Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics,Mumbai - Class of 2003. He is currently doing his PhD from IIT Bombay exploring the phenomenon of Work Engagement. He has worked with Deutsche Bank, Boston Consulting Group and Hay Consulting in the past. He is the founder and the chief mentor at the Blue Ribbon Movement

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