The 3 Rs of Business School And Your Career

young professionals in a meeting

Bobby comes home from school and says to his mom, “I got a hundred in school today.” Mom says, “That is great, dear. In what?” Bobby replies, “I got 25 in writing, 50 in reading, and 25 in math!” This old joke captures what is often referred to as the three R’s of primary school: reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.

In business school and during your career, the three R’s boil down to relationships, reasoning, and reading. 

Relationship Skills

All of business is based on relationships. Your ability to meet and develop relationships will help any organization with which you are involved. It can also be very fulfilling personally. Warren Buffet keeps his certificate from the Dale Carnegie course on How to Win Friends and Influence People above his desk (Schroeder, 2009). He often says that the skills he gained in that course allowed him to recruit investors into his first business. Some people have many relationships and others a few, but whichever is the case for you, focus on nurturing them. By strengthening interpersonal relationships, you will become a better problem solver, a persuasive communicator, and a focused leader. You will be better equipped to handle fast-changing workplace conditions and your confidence will grow. Get to know your teachers, your fellow students, and colleagues. Share and give more than you ever expect to get in return. Join clubs and associations, and seek ways to meet people. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, develop your own strategies to build your business relationships.

Reasoning Skills

Take time to learn how to think. Humankind has a specific means of survival, which is our ability to reason. A lion has claws to hunt and a dolphin has a body built for speed. We humans have the ability to think. Clear thinking is not automatic, however. It requires intellectual discipline and begins with sound premises based on observed facts. You must be able to draw general conclusions in a rational manner from specific examples (induction) and be able to apply general principles to the solution of specific problems (deduction). You must be able to think in an integrated way, thereby avoiding logical contradictions. We cannot all be geniuses, but each of us can develop the mental habits that ensure we carefully examine the facts and think logically when making decisions. Take time every day to develop your ability to think and reason.

Reading Skills

You should also find time every day to read. Business offers a remarkably diverse set of topics to learn about; find an area that interests you and dive right in. Reading is an essential way to gain from other people’s experience. It also boosts your imagination and creativity. Before you take action on anything, seek help first through reading. Doing so exposes you to new things, improves understanding, and prepares you to take action. It exercises your brain and improves concentration. Some people learn more by talking to other people than reading. If that is the case, seek to learn from those who are well-read. Reading is also a great form of entertainment and relaxes the body and calms the mind. Build daily and weekly routines to read news websites, periodicals, newspapers, books, and journals. Read industry and company reports, books on leadership and management, study great business people and models, and think about what made them successful.

Malcolm Forbes (1989) said it best, “Too many people over-value what they are not and undervalue what they are.” Your relationships, your ability to think, and your willingness to learn new things are valuable assets. Invest in these assets every day, and you will enjoy dividends during business school and throughout your career.



Written by Bob Daugherty, Executive Dean of the Forbes School of Business & Technology™.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.



Schroeder, A. (2009). The snowball: Warren Buffett and the business of life. A&C Black.

Forbes, M. S., & Clark, T. (1989). More Than I Dreamed. Simon & Schuster

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