Well that took awhile!! Back in June, we posted the Part One of a career goals essay for London Business School, saying we’d come back and finish the discussion. This happened, and then that happened, and then soon enough we were knee-deep in essays, and, well…. here we are. At least we didn’t forget completely…
On the theme of GO DO SOMETHING!! today we’ll crib this incredible list of how-tos inspired by Elon Musk.
Most people will find most of these suggestions totally intimidating. And that’s kind of the point, right?
If you want to have an incredible, unusual, not-normal life, you have to do incredible, unusual, not-normal things.
Our suggestion? PICK ONE and commit to it.
Here is the 30 point checklist for accelerated learning .
- Be yourself to the point where you get picked on and bullied.
- If you’re interested in something, binge on it, become obsessed, addicted, and then pull yourself out and get clean.
- Drop out of college or drop back in if it makes sense.
- Move from your hometown and travel the world. [ES: Or go to bschool in a new country for 2 years!]
- Ask your family for help (it’s the only way you’ll discover how much they care).
- Humble yourself and stay at a youth hostel or camp if you have to.
- Practice living on $2 a day to remove your fear of poverty.
- Cold call or cold contact anyone you need to.
- Become personable and develop the ability to build trust and rapport with those you connect with in person. The real world matters.
- Try many different jobs. If you have to, go to the unemployment office and get started doing anything.
- Get out of your comfort zone, and go see the companies or people you admire in person. You might be too nervous to talk to anyone at first, but that will pass.
- Take jobs that are dangerous if you have to. If you view risk as something everyone else should take, but not you, then you’re a coward.
- Go on a road trip or travel cross country.
- Work and collaborate in business with your family. If you can’t collaborate with them or they only want to drag you down, move to collaborating in business with your friends. If you can’t collaborate with your friends towards a shared goal, find better friends.
- When you’re ready, ask friends, mentors, and investors to invest in you. If you’re serious, tell them how serious you are, and then prove it to them.
- Publicly state that certain projects, initiatives, or companies you’re an employee at will not fail. Cut off retreat or put yourself in a position where you will never accept failure.
- Stop caring about branding and formalities. Care about being truthful and sincere with your words, vision, and ability to make friends that share your mission.
- Invest all of your money into your projects when you believe in them. If you believe in them enough, have your friends and family invest, too.
- Argue with your friends and makeup afterward. If you have to, push to have a friend ousted from their job if it’s in everyone’s best interest. The best friendships endure chaos and emerge stronger.
- Avoid it at all costs, but once you’re generating enough income, borrow money if you have to.
- Generate confidence in your imagination, ability to figure things out, and your ability to create money. Generate so much confidence that if you (like Musk) buy a one million dollar car, don’t insure it and wreck it… dust yourself off and hitch hike your way to meet the venture capitalists you were en route to meet.
- Put off your honeymoon if something more important comes up. If your spouse can delay gratification, and you can articulate an argument, they’ll understand. [ES: We’ve heard of more than one BSer who did this for GMAT prep or essays!!!]
- Travel the world, and if you come to the brink of death or face dangers, then fight like hell to live.
- Appear on TV, media, or the news before you’re ready. Watch all the people you thought were friends laugh, disappear, or grow uncomfortable about your ambitions. It’s the only way you can separate the fake from the real.
- Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself publicly. Watch how a single “embarrassing” video, startup, or project is enough to make most people shut-ins or quiet for the rest of their lives.
- Grow and learn so quickly that every six months you look back and are mortified by what you were doing six months ago.
- Learn how to make arguments and use a first principles approach to challenges. Once you establish that something is possible, then you can get to work increasing the probability that it will occur.
- Let yourself pursue hundreds of side projects until you learn this is a hamster wheel to nowhere. Once you learn this lesson, you’ll be able to seize the right, handful of opportunities when they arrive. When they arrive, commit and invest yourself fully into one thing until it’s successful.
- Form lifelong friendships based on shared philosophies, actions, loyalty, trust, and respect. Put those friendships to the test in your ventures. The real ones will emerge stronger than ever.
- Get married and have kids (You can either be Cooper or Doctor Maan from Interstellar). Musk has five kids. Bezos has four. Think it’s an accident? If the first marriage doesn’t work out, try, try again. [ES: Not quite so sure about this one, but whatev.]
All of these things on this checklist are accessible to you right now.
This was cribbed from The Mission, a pretty amazing resource if you’re into changing
the world yourself.
Following on with the theme of the week about change and making the most of this roll you’re on right now, we offer this.
From the NY Times, Will you sprint, stroll or stumble into your career? (warning: source article is really long) we’ll present this somewhat condensed snippet, where the authors talk about some different patterns observed in college students and how their career track after graduation:
Graduates who linger through their early career often didn’t take college seriously. They put the social scene before academics, avoiding rigorous majors and courses… What happens after they graduate? … Poor academic performers were more likely than other recent graduates to be unemployed, stuck in unskilled jobs, or to have been fired or laid off. Where students went to college didn’t matter two years out, the sociologists found, as much as what they did while on campus. “The most important choice students can make is whether they are on the party-social pathway through college,” Dr. Arum said, “or are investing sufficient attention and focus on academic pursuits.”
Well that’s pretty black and white, isn’t it?
The American culture certainly fetishizes the go-getter. The MBA application process also, whether intentionally or not, seems to place a premium on finding out what big mountains you claim you want to conquer and where you will go in your life.
But what if you’re just not wired that way? What if you’re the more laid-back type? But hey, you still want an MBA, and you want to mix things up and see where you can go from here?
Nothing wrong with that. This world needs way more followers than it does leaders — and it takes a lot of maturity to be a good follower.
Or maybe you were on the party path in college, but somewhere along the way since then, you decided, “Hey! I’m gonna be somebody!” And you’ve since been making efforts to build your career and achieve.
EssaySnark is a firm believer that as long as we are breathing air on this planet, then we need to be finding ways to give back and contribute. The contribution one soul makes does not need to be on a grand scale. It does not need to be something that any other human even notices. If YOU know you’ve contributed, that’s enough.
We just urge you to find a way to do so.
It need not be through massive bow-to-the-emporer capital letters Career Success!!! It can be on a very small scale. But you should actively pursue it — if nothing else, actively pursue the pursuit of it. Don’t be passive in life. Don’t drift. That’ll only set you up for lackluster mindstates or worse, abject depression later on.
And if you have been one of those conquer ’em all types, then don’t be too smug about it. Even if you have been driven for success all along, whether by parents or by self, and you’ve been moving steadily forward up the ladder since the day you were out of diapers, there are still ways that things can go sideways.
This must-read article from The Kellogg School talks about the ways we self-sabotage and how a career can get derailed — not by external forces like layoffs, or the very-real issues of bias and discrimination that can restrict opportunities, but by the person him or herself.
From the article:
[I]t pays to understand whether aspects of your own attitude and approach to work may also be holding you back.
It may either be illuminating or totally depressing to read that article.
On the one hand: “Wow! I might be holding myself back?! What can I do to not do that?”
On the other hand: “Damn. I know that I do this. Can I ever change?!?”
We believe that you can!
As they say, knowledge is power.
You’re young enough — all of you — to not have ever made any mistakes that you cannot recover from (we don’t actually believe anyone has ever made unrecoverable mistakes in the history of Mankind, however the older people get, the more it may seem to appear that such mistakes are possible). Making the most of your lithe limberness and taking advantage of today’s opportunities is what we’re about on the blahg this week.
Here’s another quick one: How to Jump-Start Your Career
We may have a few more Food for Thought posts in the coming days.
How about you; any insightful or transformational or otherwise thought-provoking articles cross your path lately? Leave the links in the comments, we’d love to see them!
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
One of the best gifts you can give to yourself and a great use of that momentum you built up from preparing your apps for Round 1 is to get organized.
If any part of your life got neglected while you put all of your attention on your applications, then now is a great time to fix things!
Did you let the paperwork pile up?
Did you cancel any important appointments, like with the mechanic for your car’s regular maintenance, or with your doctor to get a check-up?
Have you gotten your flu shot?
Are there whole colonies of dust bunnies living under the bed?
Did you leave your dry cleaning at the cleaners for more than a month?
What about that unfamiliar charge that hit your credit card that you kept meaning to contact the bank about?
When was the last time you went to the gym?
Now is a time to break out that to-do list for life and get cracking!
In Snarkville, now that we’ve dug out from under the piles of essays we’ve been buried under, and happily supported many BSers on their way to getting those applications submitted, it’s time for us too to look around and see what else has been neglected.
There have been a number of posts that we started where we said, “Stay tuned for more later!!” including the start of a career goals essay review for LBS (OMG we posted that in –>June<-- and never went back to it!!), and a post where we asked all of you to weigh in on how a sentence should be written.
We’ve also gotten a number of essays submitted for consideration in our freebie review service here on the blahg. Much as we always would want to respond to those in real time when they come in, alas, the most typical tendency for many BSers is to only send them over at the very last minute, when there’s just no time to review on a freebie basis before deadline. However, we still like to respond to them – and we certainly encourage anyone reading this who’s got a deadline further out on the horizon to try it out. Send it in and see what happens!!
We’ll start with our own Catch Up with the To-Do Tasks project right now by talking about that sentence we asked you folks to comment on. Here’s the subject sentence:
It is the failing of liberal technocrats to think reason governs how people act.
We asked you to try your hand at rewriting it, and these are the suggestions you submitted:
- Thinking that reason governs how people act is the failing of liberal technocrats.
- Liberal technocrats have failed by thinking that reason governs how people act.
- Liberal technocrats are wrong to think that reason governs how people act.
- To think that ‘reason governs how people act’ exemplifies the failure of the liberal technocrats.
When we struggled with this ourselves (without looking at the attempts that you guys’d already made), these are the options that we came up with:
Liberal technocrats’ failing is due to their thinking that reason is what governs people’s actions.
Liberal technocrats have failed because they think people’s actions are governed by reason.
Both of those kinda suck. Maybe the second one ain’t so bad but it still seems cumbersome, and perhaps not totally accurate to what the original writer meant.
This was so difficult that we wanted to review the original sentence in context. The original article appeared on the Financial Times right after the U.S. election last fall, and since registration is required to view that article, we’ll extract a chunk of it here:
Mr Obama took office at a geopolitical inflection point. As he prepares to leave, few any longer dispute the fact of relative US decline. For all his high aspirations, Mr Obama was unable to stop the process. Can Mr Trump reverse it? One of Mr Obama’s core traits is to believe that reason governs how people act. It is the perennial failing of liberal technocrats to suppose human affairs are settled by rational argument. When people failed to see the merits of the case — whether Republican legislators, or foreign leaders — Mr Obama would retreat into injured silence. The world has been a disappointment to Mr Obama. When Vladimir Putin’s Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, John Kerry, the outgoing secretary of state, said: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in a 19th-century fashion by invading another country on [a] completely trumped up pretext.” But that is how the world often operates. The US had done just that to Iraq in the 21st century. (emphasis added)
Hunh. Look at that. Those two sentences actually aren’t that bad.
It was some EDITOR who crammed those sentences together to make a hook for the article that caused the problems.
Seeing that, we went back and tried again:
It is the failing of liberal technocrats to think THAT reason IS WHAT governs how people act.
Even if you just introduced the word “that” into the clause, it would have improved readability.
So let’s examine what BSers submitted.
#1 From buffalo:
Thinking that reason governs how people act is the failing of liberal technocrats.
This sentence is in passive voice, which isn’t ideal; passive voice weakens the phrasing since it places the actor (in this case, the liberal technocrats) far away from the action (in this case, failing).
It properly captures what the original writer meant, but it’s a little cumbersome due to that passive voice thing.
#2 From OmManiPadmeHBS:
Liberal technocrats have failed by thinking that reason governs how people act.
This one is better because the failure is clearly tied to those who have done it, based on the phrasing (active voice). However, we will quibble with the choice of the preposition “by.” This is purely subjective, but to the ‘Snark, the phrase “failed by thinking” is just not quite as precise as we would like. It’s good, don’t get us wrong, but we want to have more of a cause -> effect relationship established, through a word like “because” or “due to” or something that shows what’s responsible for the failure. Everybody thinks. So, saying that the technocrats failed by thinking is just not as clear as we want. It was the WAY they were thinking was the problem, right? Not just the act of thinking itself. However, as a rewrite to fix the issues of readability, this sentence is pretty good.
#3 From arkanian86:
Liberal technocrats are wrong to think that reason governs how people act.
This BSer was honing in on that same thing we identified, that it’s the way they were thinking that’s the problem (“wrong to think” more clearly expresses this). However, saying they are wrong is not the same as saying they failed, is it? Hmmm.
#4 From Jack Ma:
To think that ‘reason governs how people act’ exemplifies the failure of the liberal technocrats.
This one best preserves the ideas of “failure” and the fact that it’s the thinking that is wrong – but the phrasing of ‘exemplifies’?? Not sure. Yes, we can say it is what the original writer must have meant, but somehow it’s pulling it a little off the center of focus. At least, for us.
For readability and clarity, we have to agree with what the poll results said:
@arkanian86, your version was the runaway winner!
Thank you to all who posted their suggested sentences, and to all who voted on them too!
The takeaway message from this exercise is this:
When you come across a sentence that does not make sense to you, stop and figure out what the writer is saying, and see how you would rewrite it.
Yes, that’s awfully interruptive to the flow of your reading. If you’re just trying to breeze through an article about the how last weekend’s games might impact your fantasy football , then it’s not likely that you’ll want to stop and rewrite a sentence. But if you want to get better at this writing stuff — which you should, since communication is critical to leadership — then you’ll make it a habit to do so.
And if you want to make the most of this downtime between deadlines, then dust off those to-dos and see what progress you can make in the next week, in tightening up your life and getting everything ship shape again.
We will be doing the same around here!
aka, How to spend your time and focus your efforts in this between-round period! aka, How to create a life worth living!!! We covered the important next steps for moving from Round 1 to Round 2 yesterday. Today we’re offering some additional ideas on how to leverage your newfound-motivation to make it a permanent part…
For many of you, Round 1 apps are done. Essays have been written, recommendations gathered, after-submit video questions completed. You’re looking around and you’re wondering, “What next?”
You’ve been so busy for so many months (errr, so many weeks for some of you) that you had this massively overloaded to-do list and all this excess stress of deadlines driving you every day.
What in the heck do you do with yourself?
It can be a weird sensation, when you’ve been pushing so hard, and now you look up and you have nothing to focus on.
But never fear. EssaySnark has some suggestions!!
We made the biting suggestion in our series of HBS posts last week that BSers should “get a hobby” if they came up short on the Harvard interview, and we actually were only somewhat kidding with that.
The very best time to launch yourself full force into something you’re interested in — nay, passionate about — is right now, when you’re coming off the high of being productive in working towards a personal goal.
What most people do when they achieve a success is they coast. They celebrate. They pull out the plug and go on autopilot, and they quickly fall back to stasis. They resume the level of (non)motivation and (semi)productivity that they’d been at before.
In other words, they go back to being banana slugs.
“What success?” you may be asking. “I haven’t gotten in yet. There is no ‘success’ happening for me. All I did was submit my apps, and not even as many as I planned.”
Oui, oui, ma cherie, that is indeed a success!
You set a goal — apply in Round 1 — and you did it!!
You got one or more apps in.
Or, if you didn’t pull the trigger on any yet, you are still in the “apply now mode” of the admissions cycle. You have made some sort of progress, even if it’s only realizing that yes, you need to take the GMAT again, or coming to the stark recognition that no, you’re not ready yet, and you need to hold back and not jeopardize your chances with erratic applications.
Most of you though got in at least two or maybe four or even five applications over the last six weeks, and yes that is indeed a success. You set a task for yourself, one that requires long-term planning and many steps of execution, and you did it.
Time will tell how good those apps were and if you were aiming appropriately, but no matter what, you did something impressive, more than the vast majority of others in the world are doing. You’re in a minority of people striving for more, and it’s something to be proud of.
And, the best way to leverage that energy and momentum is to harness it towards the next thing.
Think of it like climbing a mountain: You’ve just established your base camp, and started to lay down the route to the next phase, and secured your sights on the top.
What do you do next?
You don’t lay down and take a nap. (OK, you can take a short one. One day. Not multiple napdays in a row though!)
You figure out what else needs to be done, and you do it.
The obvious things to be focusing on with your MBA apps are:
- Interview prep – don’t take this lightly, it’s a big task in itself!
- Round 2 strategies – yes it’s good to be putting a Plan B in place, just in case!
- School visits – because October and early November are prime time for getting those in!
HOWEVER. That’s not all you could use this fabulous energy and determination for!
Please circle back to the blahg
tomorrow edit: HERE! for more suggestions on the best ways to leverage your current position in life.
Shameless plug! If you did not get as many apps in for Round 1 as you had planned, or you’re any of the various breeds of procrastinator that exist among the BSer population, then we can suggest the Round 2 MBA Application Countdown which has just gotten underway! This is a week by week reminder from EssaySnark of what to be working on and how to maximize the time you have available from now till the make-or-break deadlines hit us in January. We’ve also reduced the price of the Complete Essay Package to the lowest it will be for the remainder of the year, in case you want even more support on every aspect of your essay development process! Or just keep coming back to the blahg for tips and tricks. We’ve got plenty of advice coming your way on these pages in an effort to support you towards your MBA dreams!