Category Archives: Leadership

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder, offers some reality on entrepreneurship lifestyle

Entrepreneurship plays well in admissions. This is because business schools want to put their effort into and brand on the person who will build great new companies or institutions, rather than someone who will become a salaryman, no matter how big the salary.

Problem is, it’s easy to say “I want to start a company,” but if you haven’t done it, it is hard to sound like you know what’s involved. Anyone can be vague. Specificity grounds your essays and makes you sound more mature and more likely to succeed.

The solution: there are good entrepreneurship success stories around all the time. As an MBA applicant considering playing the “I’m an entrepreneur” card in you application, it’s worth imbibing some of these, particularly learning of the hardships and uncertainties of this career lifestyle as well as the freedom and rewards.

Here’s a short sample, an article on Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn: ‘How I Did It.’

Peering into the MBA classroom is good preparation for MBA admissions

A week or so I blogged about Harvard case method and included the HBS promotional video featuring the case method. Here’s another one, this time from Darden (University of Virginia Business School).

The video “Highlights of a Darden Case Study Class” is here:

First, this shows how widespread the case method is in b-schools. In my experience, applicants think they must show their identification with the case method for Harvard, but tend to overlook it for all their other applications. For HBS it comes across as formula, unless you add a unique perspective. And there’s certainly no harm in mentioning it other places, particularly where a school has publicly featured it in their promotions.

The broader value in watching videos like this – and this blog will feature more of them over time – is they are absolutely valuable (and free!) insights into what goes on in a b-school classroom. This gives a good idea of the kind of applicant MBA Adcoms are looking for. Particularly note how much the emphasis is on discussion, communication, questioning, argument, thinking. Most of business school is not about absorbing facts or calculating answers.

Some Harvard puffery, but good insight into what HBS looks for

Harvard Business School has a promotional video up at http://www.hbs.edu/mba/academics/

The video can also been seen here.

It’s an ad for HBS of course, highlighting its main point of distinction: the case method, which, according to HBS creates “special moments that pull everything we have learned into focus. When theory, practice, experience and talent all come to one sharp point — a decision.” And so on.

For the MBA admissions applicant this is a worthwhile watch for a few reasons

1. It is good insight into how b-schools work and think. It is good background on the culture and attitudes at play, including overall assumptions and ethics, and therefore what would be expected of the next class too.

2. It is good insight into the dynamics of the business school classroom, and the requirements of individual and group-based learning. The applicant positioned well to work in this way, is well positioned to be admitted.

3. It is good insight into the case method of teaching. HBS is “ground zero” of the case method, but actually almost every school uses cases to a significant degree, so it is useful for understanding all schools.

By the way, the case method has been under a bit of scrutiny, and voices have been raised that Harvard did not adequately prepare its graduates to assess risk / business failure (the credit crunch and fallout). See example stories in Forbes and Bloomberg News. But, to me it doesn’t look like HBS did worse than anywhere else …

Note also how HBS focuses on its distinctive marker – the case method – in branding and advertising itself. Same principles apply to MBA applicants.