Mark Fritz

Academic Area:

Arts & Humanities, Leading (& Teamwork) across Distances & Cultures

How and when did you get to IE?

It was back in 2007, when one of my former subordinates was taking an MBA at IE and mentioned to someone at IE that they should talk to her former boss about leading across distances.  I came to Madrid for a few days to meet a few people and was given the opportunity to teach in the International Executive MBA program.  Since then, I have the pleasure to teach in many of the IE programs.

What sport do you practice?

I like to play golf (was on the golf team in college), but unfortunately I don’t have the time to play as much as I would like to. I used to run quite a bit, but now with knees sounding like Rice Krispies®, I stick to doing a lot of walking.

What is your favorite book?

That’s a difficult one, as I have read so many good ones.  However, if I must pick, it would be two – one old and one new.  The old one is See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar, and the new (and one I only read recently) Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Where were you born?

Pottstown, PA, USA, but now home is London, UK

What is your favorite dish?

Wow, having lived in a number of countries and experienced such great food, it is difficult to pick just one favorite dish.  However, I would say it would some type of fish – In Italy – Branzino (Seabass) and in Japan – Gindara (Black Cod).  That’s very funny as my parents never served fish at home and I only started eating it when I began traveling in my 20’s.

A memorable moment:

Getting married to a very beautiful Japanese girl in a very traditional Japanese ceremony, along with an equally traditional reception.  It was a fantastic experience, and an unforgettable day.

What does it mean for you to be a good professor?

If you think about it, teaching a class is just an activity.  The outcome is really all about helping the students to think, feel and act in different ways (both today and into the future).   It’s helping them take-away what they learn and applying it to their lives (both personal and professional).  The more we focus on the outcome, the better the professors we will be.

How do you keep up-to-date?

I am constantly listening to audio books, podcasts and interviews while on the move; and do the majority of my self-development and keeping up-to-date through my iPhone.  I have found that what I learn goes in deeper when I am listening to the author read his or her book, or to the interviews of successful leaders.  The understanding and meaning are much more powerful when you hear the passion in the voice of the people who wrote the book or made it happen.

What is your secret for your classes or presentations?

For me, it is about having a passion for the subjects I am teaching, and staying true to and only teaching subjects in the “sweet spot” of that passion.  Also, I always focus on using stories and examples to bring the information to life.  Stories and examples are a great way to expand the mindsets in the students to think and feel more deeply about what they are learning.

A ritual before teaching:

I don’t really have a ritual, but always like to make sure I am not teaching on a full stomach.  That would take too much blood flow away from my brain to my stomach, and I can use all the brainpower I can get!

A story in the classroom

In one of the masters, I teach a few sessions on Leading & Managing Risk on the day after the students take their final exams; so you can imagine what condition they might be in the morning of my sessions with them.  A month before the sessions, I ask each student for a few common sayings of other students (something they repeat often/have a habit of always saying, etc.).  At the end and the start of the sessions, I display a few sayings on the screen and get the students to guess which student always says it.  It is amazing how quickly and accurately the students’ guesses are, and it’s a fun experience for everyone at the end of their program.  And, they learn about some of the key success factors in both leading & managing risk.

What is your favorite quote or motto of life?

“Procrastination is giving up what you want most for what you want now.”  Harold Taylor  (Procrastination on the important is really pushing your future into the future, and my goal is not to allow that to happen too often.)

What has been your worst experience in the classroom?

This wasn’t actually in the classroom, but could have had a big impact in it.  I was teaching at IE in Madrid one day and checked my voicemail during a break between sessions.  On it was a message saying that I have a water leak coming from my flat and that they need to get into it right away.  Well, I am not going to get back to London in the next five minutes, and also, I need to start teaching the next session in five minutes.   I’ve got to get this leak off my mind so that I can focus on teaching the next session…so I put my favorite song on my iPhone to break my pattern of thinking (and to change my perspective).   It worked, as I don’t think any of the students picked up that there was something else on my mind!

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