Many bschool adcoms offer essay questions in their MBA apps that are an invitation to get personal. This year, Yale SOM asked you about your biggest commitment. Stanford GSB has, going back to the beginning of time, asked you to state what matters most to you. Schools like Berkeley Haas and UCLA and Duke talk about their principles and values.
What are YOUR values?
Whether or not you try for an MBA, this is a question that is worth answering.
But why does this matter so much?
For us, it’s a matter of fairness. If everyone is honest, then everyone has a fair shot. Then we’re all playing the same game. Then we get to win or lose based on our relative strengths or weaknesses. Life isn’t fair (as Mama Snark used to always remind us) but when you’re honest, then you’re playing fair and that just seems the right way to go. Plus, when it’s all over, you can be proud of yourself. Even if you don’t succeed, you did it with integrity. The thing you’re trying to win is ephemeral anyway – no matter what it is, you won’t take it to your grave with you. But you’ll always have your reputation, and even more important, your self-respect.
That’s not the only thing EssaySnark values.
We also have been reminded lately that we value basic civil rights. The things we often take for granted in this country: Freedom of speech, to say what we want — and even to lie (yes, that’s a protected right, within the limits of libel and slander). Freedom of movement, to come and go as we please. Freedom to believe whatever the heck you wanna believe, and to practice whatever faith you choose.
One reason that EssaySnark has been so engaged in the events of the world lately – so much so that politics have become a minor theme of commentary here on the blahg – is because those basic human rights that EssaySnark and many other Americans value seem to have been called into question. We were accustomed to taking a stand here on the blahg for doing what’s right in your MBA applications – things like don’t write your recommendation letters yourself and don’t lie on your apps and don’t reneg on a binding Early Decision commitment to Columbia or Duke. You know, play straight. Keep your word. Act with integrity.
Yet all of a sudden, we were feeling like we needed to advocate for basic civil rights which was shocking and unnerving. That’s where those posts and tweets about the immigration ban have come from.
We aren’t trying to convince anybody of any particular position or ideology, but when it’s something we feel so strongly about, then we just can’t keep quiet.
Kinda like the CEO from LinkedIn who, in a talk at Stanford GSB recently, expressed it better than we could:
So what are your values?
Do you know?
Way back when EssaySnark was a bschool student, we didn’t have such well-articulated values. We felt strongly about cheating and such but it’s not like we’d never cheated*. Unlike Lady Gaga, we weren’t born this way. It was through living life that these values were formed.
As we’ve mentioned before in this new era where we’re talking about politics: EssaySnark is not interested in becoming SJWs. However, we do feel that acting true to yourself is important. And it’s much harder to do that if you don’t know what is true for you in the first place.
So we invite you: What are your values?
Don’t just sit there and nod and say, “Yup, good question, I should do that” and continue on reading. Really, we’re inviting you: What are your values?
Do you know? Can you articulate them?
Many BSers find the process of writing their MBA essays for these top business schools to be
the most painful thing they’ve ever done very fulfilling in the end because, perhaps for the very first time, it forces you to ask these very deep questions.
Maybe you agree that The Truth with a capital T matters as much to you as it does to EssaySnark – but we would guess that many reading this feel more strongly about other things. That’s the thing with values; they’re personal. They’re unique. They’re specific to you. Maybe you value Peanut M&Ms more than anything, and if that’s the case, we mightily respect it. (Peanut M&Ms won’t help to guide your behavior when circumstances are murky, so the only feedback we can offer to that is that you may want to identify a supplementary value as well.)
Since we’re talking about politics today, may as well go all out. Here’s a speech offered on the floor of the U.S. Senate on 2/7/17 by Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida:
We’ll second that: Respectful debate is also important, not just in Congress but across America.
Civil rights: Undeniable. Critical. Worth fighting for.
Personal values: Equally important. They help you know when it’s time to fight.
(Of course, now that we think about it, Peanut M&Ms are valuable, too. We may be stocking up on some. Times are tough. The world is cuh-ra-zy right now. Peanut M&Ms may be equally valuable as EssaySnark’s insistence on the truth.
Or maybe we should get Twinkies, since supposedly they’ll last through a nuclear holocaust.)
*(or that we never do today – you wanna be watching real closely if you’re playing checkers with the ‘Snark)
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UPDATE 2/27/17: This interview at Stanford GSB with the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s talks a lot about values and working at a mission-driven organization.