Is Business All The Same?

As a business student at Berkeley-Haas, I wonder what “business” means to my fellow classmates. After all, we come from different backgrounds, cultures, and even countries, but do we view “business” the same? What are our conceptions on business? I know my example of business is probably unique from everyone else’s, so I was curious to see what my fellow classmates had to say. Here is what I found when I randomly asked some students at Haas: “When you hear the term business, what comes to mind?”

Money. Stress. Networking. Money. Connections. Companies. Products. Deals. Money. Suits. Innovating Projects. Sales Pitch. Meetings. Analysis. Money. Financial Districts. Offices. Insider Trading. Promotions. Sales. CEO. Successful. Money. Profits. Rich. Collaborating. Management. Pressure. Money. Investment. Large Corporations. Marketing. Goals. Deals. Innovation. Capitalism. Markets. Decisions. Trips. Operations. Money.

 Yup! I got pretty typical answers. And no surprise here, money wins!

My grandfather and I this summer!

So although I have grown to associate these terms with business now, especially as I attend one of the most prestigious and sought-after business schools, I actually used to think of my grandfather anytime I heard “business.” And let me tell you, my grandfather’s business was far from suits, companies, or fancy corporate offices and meetings. In fact, some would argue that it’s not even a “real” business. At 7 years old, my grandfather had to drop out of school and go with his father to learn the family business; being a shepherd. Really! It was that simple. So for over 60 years my grandfather was a shepherd. He would get up at 3 in the morning every day- rain or shine- and commute all over the country to sell, buy, trade, and barter sheep. In the time I spent living at my grandparents, I remember two things about my grandfather. One, he was ALWAYS counting money. Two, he did a lot negotiating and sales pitches. And at that time, I thought I understood business. It was about money and convincing people. But this all changed for me when I came to the US and saw “real” business. Yes, I established very quickly business is more complicated that what I originally imaged. However, the skeleton for business is still there: to make money and profit. So as I sit in my lecture classes and discussions and go over key concepts in business, I cannot help but think back to my grandfather’s “business.” Sure, it’s very different from my corporate job someday, but in my view, business is still business. At the end of the day, we are both making money. And remember, business is all about money (at least for most of my classmates).

So as I begin my two-year journey at Haas, I want to be able to look at business from different perspectives. Furthermore, to recognize and see the ways businesses function in different part of the world. Because business is not just about suits, large corporations, or meetings.

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