SPRING, 2014


20 QUESTIONS // SPRING 2014

20 Questions with Ruth Blatt

by Christopher Ankney
photo by Paul Natkin

Ruth Blatt, PhD ’08, has always loved rock music. But it wasn’t until a viewing of the 2004 Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster that she started to equate it with what she knew about organizational behavior. “It struck me that they were a self-managed creative team and a small business," Blatt said. “And they were excellent at it!"

Ever since, she’s been exploring what the successes and failures in the lives of musicians can teach us about creativity and teamwork. In blogs and articles for Psychology Today, The Atlantic, Wired, and Forbes, Blatt’s “The Rock Band Project" chronicles the lessons she learns by pairing her finely tuned ears with analytical eyes. Blatt spends a lot of time asking questions of rock stars, so it’s only fitting that she join the ranks of rock star Ross alums who’ve been asked our 20 questions.

  1. What’s most-played on your iPod?
    “Doolittle" by Pixies.
  2. What’s a book you’ve read recently?
    The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce by Fred Goodman.
  3. What is your guilty pleasure?
    Gangsta rap.
  4. First album you ever bought?
    Thriller by Michael Jackson.
  5. What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Stop eating meat.
  6. Favorite person to follow on Twitter?
    @TheOnion because comedy is a great reflection of our culture. (You can follow Blatt at @RuthBlatt.)
  7. Best business decision?
    Getting a top-notch education that taught me how to think critically and introduced me to an amazing community of people.
  8. Favorite line from a movie?
    “Well, which is it, young feller? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground? Mean to say, if’n I freeze, I can’t rightly drop. And if’n I drop, I’m a-gonna be in motion." From Raising Arizona.
  9. If you had a theme song, what would it be?
    “I’ll Be Your Mirror" by the Velvet Underground.
  10. Describe your first job.
    My first job was detasseling corn on Illinois farms. I was 13 years old. We’d get picked up by a bus before dawn and detassel corn all day, which entails standing on a slowly moving truck and picking off the pollen-producing flowers from the tops of corn plants.
  11. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
    Rock climbing.
  12. What are you afraid of?
    Unexamined life.
  13. First website you access in the morning?
    Nytimes.com.
  14. Most-cherished Ross experience?
    Being pushed by my professors to do better and through that discovering what I am capable of.
  15. Pet peeve?
    Bad service.
  16. Unfulfilled wish?
    To have a great singing voice.
  17. Three people, living or dead, that you’d have over for dinner?
    Laurie Anderson, Truman Capote, Ice T.
  18. One thing you learned in business school that you’ll never forget is…?
    Ask people what you can do for them.
  19. Must-have app on your phone?
    Flashlight.
  20. Where is the strongest connection between rock music and business?
    Success in both requires working well with other people because you can do more with them than you can do alone.

Learn more about Ruth’s interesting take on the intersection
of rock and business at therockbandproject.com.


FEATURES

A BBA Without Borders
Ross revamps its undergraduate program for the students of tomorrow.

Delivering on High Expectations at Amazon
Peter Faricy, MBA '95, leads the online retail giant's successful Marketplace division.

Helping Make History in Detroit
Lisa Howze, BBA '95, plays a key role in the revitalization of the Motor City.

A New Gift of Lifelong Learning
Alums can participate in Ross' acclaimed Executive Education Program – for free.

Victory For Ross Campaign Off to Strong Start
New fund drive focusing on support for students, programs, and faculty.

20 QUESTIONS

20 Questions with Ruth Blatt
Ruth Blatt, PhD '08, writes about surprising intersections between business and rock music.

FIRST PERSON

Ryan Whisnant, MBA '10/ Erb '10
Ryan Whisnant and Aileen Payumo, both MBA '10, witnessed typhoon damage – and set out to help.

FACULTY FOCUS

An Easy Way to Become a Better Leader
Professor Sue Ashford's research reveals the power of seeking feedback.

Leveraged Buyouts: The Full Story
Professor Kyle Handley finds the private equity story is more complicated than the headlines.

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT?

Cindy Soo
Professor Cindy Soo finds a way to gauge "animal spirits" in the housing market.

Joel Slemrod
Professor Joel Slemrod sheds light on the ways tax policy influences behavior.

ONLINE ONLY CONTENT

Seeking Feedback
Watch Sue Ashford's video on being a better leader.

Going Global
Get a video overview of Ross' Global Initiatives programs.

Detroit Through Lisa's Eyes
Check out a slideshow of scenes from the Motor City.

Peter Faricy's Tips
Peter Faricy's three tips for being "customer obsessed"

The Power of Giving
Donors make scholarships possible

The Michigan Ross Impact Challenge
Watch a video overview of this 4-day, high-intensity leadership competition.