Minority Report: Chapter 3, Part 3

This is the third instalment of my irregular Minority Report. Previous instalments include Chapter 3, Expatriates and the Patriots, and London, Part 2.

I accepted a job offer on Wednesday 22 June 2016, which would take me from New York to London. On Thursday 23 June, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Almost three years later, the UK still hasn’t left and I’m still living here as well.

However, I am leaving the toy industry and starting a new role in luxury retail. I’m taking on a new role at The Bicester Village Shopping Collection to define, develop, and deliver a global digital experience and ecosystem.

TBVSC (also known as Value Retail) has delivered 24 consecutive years of annual double-digit sales growth. In 2018, 42 million guests visited 11 properties in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, and China.

Bicester Village outside of Oxford is the second most-visited destination in England by Chinese tourists (the first is Buckingham Palace). Guests can purchase using Alipay, train signs and announcements include Arabic and Mandarin, and the average international visitor spends over £1,000.

If you’re involved in this space (luxury, omnichannel, retail, international), I’d love to hear from you!

I received my Tier 1 visa today

Most non-EEA professionals work in the United Kingdom under a Tier 2 visa, which is how I immigrated / expatriated from the US in 2016. In 2018 the UK issued over 50,000 Tier 2 general and inter-company transfer visas. It’s similar to the United States H1-B visa and South Korea E-7 visa. The Tier 1 isn’t quite a green card or F-5, but it does allow the holder to work and live in the UK without a corporate sponsor.

The UK makes 2,000 Tier 1 – Exceptional Talent visas available annually across the fields of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology, the arts, fashion, architecture, and film and television. In 2018, 528 were issued and I estimate about half of those are for digital, split evenly between “talent” (based on what you’ve done — this is what I’ve been granted) and “promise” (based on what you will do in your career).

If you are considering this visa, there are a lot of good write-ups out there regarding people’s experience with the process and Parliament acknowledges that you don’t need to be a potential Nobel Prize winner to apply. UK Visas and Immigration has thankfully made the entire application digital and the user experience is fairly straightforward. The biggest unavoidable drawback are the fees — the NHS may not have co-pays but immigrants must pay a hefty surcharge as a condition of residency. Regardless, I’m happy to continue contributing to the UK economy, even with its 45% income tax and Brexit uncertainty.

Many thanks to the people who helped support my application: Jeff Dachis, Dion Hinchcliffe, Ray Wang, and Jessica Gioglio.

Minority Report: Chapter 3


In mid-2014, I left Austin to work and live as an expat in Seoul. In late 2015, I repatriated to New York. Now, it’s time to start a new chapter of the minority report, this time across the Atlantic Ocean in London.

I’m taking on a new role at LEGO, leading digital consumer engagement. I grew up with LEGO and everyone I meet has positive impressions of the brand. Starting today, I’ll be leading our global team to help connect with individuals and build the brand across digital channels.

So we Brenter in the midst of Brexit, trading pennies for pence, AT&T for BT, Chelsea for Chelsea, and so on. Let Chapter 3 commence.

Life’s rich pageant

Smile moreI took over as CEO of Barbarian Group in December 2015, tasked with turning an agency around that was in worse shape than anyone (i.e. executives, employees, clients, media, auditors, holding company) realized.

Despite the beating that the agency has taken in the media, the actions we’ve taken over the past three quarters have allowed the agency to continue producing great work for global brands and left the financials cleaner and more transparent than they’ve been for many years.

With this phase of transformation complete, I made the decision to separate from The Barbarian Group and Cheil Worldwide. Businesses require different management styles depending on the challenges they face — one size fits all doesn’t work. Now TBG needs a new leader to take its cleaned-up slate and write a new future into reality. Will it be awesome? For all of the Barbarians still on board, I hope so.

One more thing: don’t believe everything you read in the trades. Many articles are tipped by people with personal agendas and written for today’s Gawker-engendered media environment, designed to maximize clicks, shares, and gossip. The truth is out there, but only half of it will ever make Agency Spy.

And now my watch at TBG has ended. Time to begin the begin.

Is an MBA worth it?

Darden - Saunders Hall


A recent upworthy-esque headline – not an advertisement – caught my attention: An MBA for less than $1,000. To put this in perspective, the cost of a top full-time MBA program is over $100,000 for tuition alone. Deciding whether getting the same curriculum for 1% of the price is a good deal or not doesn’t require a master’s degree to answer, let alone a GED.

An MBA is not only expensive, it’s tough to get in to a top school. The top tier accepts less than 20% of applicants and GMAT scores for the accepted hover at 700 and above.

Why would you even want an MBA? If that’s what you’re thinking, here are a few articles that will support your suspicions:

The problem? None of the writers of those articles have earned an MBA. This reminds me of all the experts who claimed the iPad would fail — before ever using the product.

Prospective students need to understand that a full-time business school experience consists of four major factors that all have bearing on your future:

  • Academics. Some schools including UVA/Darden are more academically rigorous than others, providing a solid core to think through any issue.
  • Networking. Schools like Harvard and Wharton will help you develop connections with a global student body with big future ambitions, but a regionally focused school like Texas or Emory will help you build a focused local network.
  • Recruiting. Schools like Columbia and NYU have great access to major corporations, while others like Yale offer specialized focus.
  • Personal life. Divorce is a common occurence for students during and after school. Some students take the opportunity to party like they’re undergrads again or ski/golf every day possible.

The relative weight of each factor depends on what you want to get out of your business school experience that will help facilitate what you want to do next, tempered by opportunity cost. A virtual MBA for under $1,000 might be the right fit for you. Or maybe an Ivy League degree for $100,000+ is the perfect match. Perhaps a $17 copy of The Ten-Day MBA is actually the right option.

Your best choice depends on what you want to gain and where you want to go. Beware of biased advice along the way.



[Full disclosure: I earned my MBA from University of Virginia/Darden ranked #4, #11, #12, or #27, depending on which publication you prefer.]