We offered an exercise that you really should tackle.
We’ll offer some additional advice today.
First, a reminder that theme (personal brand) is often difficult to identify, particularly at the beginning of your application development process. It usually is eaiser to articulate midway or later, after you’ve struggled through multiple drafts of your main essays. But, starting to wrestle with the ideas of who are you can be useful from the start. This exercise that we referenced yesterday can certainly be helpful with Stanford’s “matters most” essay, among others. It can be useful…. as long as you are truly honest with yourself, and direct, that you hone in on reality here. Because this exercise could also help you build up a fantasy of nice ideals that you wish were true about you, describing some imagined future state of you that you want to be real, but is not.
When you come up with your lists of three words, or narrow it down to one word, you probably cannot use those words directly in your essays. In other words, when you discover that you are “innovative” and “smart” and “fearless” or whatever you’re trumpeting, you can’t simply describe yourself in those words in your essay. Instead, you need to take it to the next level and identify which stories from your past, what concrete examples, are the best ones to DEMONSTRATE that you are those things?
This is also the litmus test that you weren’t shining yourself on when you came up with those words in the first place. ‘Cuz if you can’t come up with examples that illustrate how you are such-and-such, then how can such-and-such be true for you?
Want more exercises to guide you through the process of self-discovery?
Check out the brand-new SnarkStrategies Guide for the 2011-’12 MBA Application to the Stanford Graduate School of Business – just published this week.