Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Mike Kim

Mike Kim


Founder and CEO
180° Snacks
Orange County, California

"In a way, my studies are validating my 40-year career as an entrepreneur."

A career capstone and a compatible culture

For 40 years in business, I acted and managed by trial and error, without always knowing the names or theories for what I was doing. Now, I am learning empirically, gaining a vocabulary for what I had been doing.

I fell in love with the four Defining Leadership Principles right away. They cover all the angles of the kind of leader I want to be.

I started at the bottom, making healthy snacks that tasted good in my home kitchen for my kids. Building 180° Snacks took both confidence and attitude. Learning how to be Confident Without Attitude is part of my work in the EMBA program.

The Golden Rule used to be the standard. But if you Question the Status Quo you get to the Platinum Rule: Treat people the way they want to be treated.

A legacy and an impact on the world

A lot of entrepreneurs build their companies with the purpose of selling them. I want 180° Snacks to be a legacy business, carried on by my children.

As a family and a company, I want us to think about making society better. I want to have an increasing return curve in terms of happiness and social impact.

I’m the old man in the cohort, but the energy of my classmates is terrific. It carries me along with them and they accept me as one of them.

A new way of seeing

The core courses are essential building blocks for what comes next. The classes are demanding, but that’s good because without a solid foundation, the rest of your building will be weak.

I hadn’t done so much math in years. It’s not like golf, where your swing comes back to you after playing a few holes. It was tough relearning basic concepts for our quantitative courses.

In Creating Effective Organizations, Professor Homa Bahrami teaches both the theory and the practical applications, focusing on the human relationships that you need to build businesses that work for everyone.

Thanks to Homa, I now have a new way of thinking about organization charts. I’ve replaced the old-fashioned tree approach with a series of circles that often overlap. It is a completely new way of seeing the organization.

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