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Friends, today is my birthday. And I am saying this for two reasons: first, because if anyone reeeally wants to, they can send a quick "hey man happy birthday." We're suckers for that sort of thing.
But the second (and main) reason is that birthdays make one think. Well they make me think anyway. And for anyone who follows our posts, you know by now that every once in a while, we get a bit...philosophical.
So. Here is the REAL reason to go to business school. And forget what we all write in our apps. But I have finally reached a point in my life where I love what I do. I run this business, I help thousands of clients each year (paying, and free through forums, etc.), I own a few buildings in Chicago, and I am a happy dude. And there is no question that without my MBA, I wouldnt be in this position.
Now. Im no dummy--I realize that for many of you, you have much loftier aspirations. I own a few small properties here--a small fraction of the holdings of a "real" real estate developer, who is building commercial highrises in say, NYC, Dubai, etc. And running my Essay Company is not like running Coke, P&G, etc. I get it. : )
But the point is this. Bschool gave me freedom. It got me the jobs I needed, to save the money I needed, to buy the buildings I own. And I closed on a new one last Friday. It also taught me what I needed to know to build this business, Precision Essay, to make it succeed, and to help so many people along the way.
So why do we go to bschool really? For FREEDOM. To be able to reach a point in life where you look around, do what you wanna do all day, and say to yourself, "Im one happy dude."
And today, on my thirty (ehem)th birthday, I am one happy dude. Go to bschool, go to the best school you can get into, open some doors for yourself, and pursue your passion. That is the name of the game.
Been doing a TON of mock interviews, as you can all imagine. So I wanted to hit just a couple thoughts that we have been repeating over, and over, and over...
For everyone's benefit.
1) Interviews are out loud, not written down. Why is this relevant? Because you can be juuust a bit more flexible in your retelling of stories. Just as is true in real life, verbal "contracts" are a biiiiit more flexible than written ones. We are allowed to engage in some puffery when we speak with people; after all, nobody can do a background check on "what you said in your interview," if you know what I mean. You should of course never lie. But the burden of proof is a liiiiittle bit different when we chat with people, than when we commit to things in writing. If you know what I mean.
2) The rule of threes. Why Wharton? Why MBA? Back up plan if you dont get your job in PE? Think in THREES. Three reasons why Wharton. International, Finance, and some third personal reason. Three back up plans. Well plan A is to GET the job. Plan B is the same job w a lesser firm. Plan C is, if need be, back to my old industry where theyd loooove to have me back. One quick response isnt enough. Two may not even cut it--think in threes gang. Its a great trick to a well-rounded answer.
3) At the end of the interview, dont start your questions with an open-ended, "Now, Mr. Interviewer, tell me about YOU." That is juuust a bit aggressive. No need to turn the tables like that--your guy may not dig it. Instead, start with a more benign question. "Gosh, what have you liked the most about Wharton." Or "What has the most surprising thing been about Wharton," or even "What do you wish you had known" etc. From THERE, get the guy talking. Ask follow up questions. "Oh cool, were you born in Spain?" You get the idea--he will offer up details about his life if he wants to get into em. But dont simply turn the tables--"Why dont YOU tell me a bit about YOURself" etc. He may not like it. I know I never like it when the interviewee becomes the interviewer.
Hope this helps gang, and as always, keep in touch...
Today, I would like to return to one of my favorite topics of discussion--REAL ESTATE.
As many of you know, I own and manage a number of properties here in sunny Chicago. I also did real estate development both before and after HBS, most recently with a leading developer in Chicago. That was, of course, before this company took over my life. : )
Now, lets talk about reality. Ive read a few apps in the last couple days where folks are talking about starting their own RE shops directly after bschool. Hm. Really? Wheres the money gonna come from dude! : ) Howbout this--even if you can raise the cash to do your first deal, wheres your income gonna come from? Also, who's gonna guarantee the loan?
And by the way, even if you do a 50 unit deal--how much free cash flow will there be? And if you have an equity partner, how much are you gonna make? Run the numbers guys. This will NOT support you. Trust me, I own three deals...and Im not retiring any time soon.
Lets be realistic gang. The idea of doing your own deals right out of school is...VERY risky. And adcoms--especially at RE savvy schools (CBS, NYU, Haas, Wharton, etc.) know it. Short-term, get a J-O-B. Development Associate, Associate, even RE Banking--you name it. Youre not kidding anyone with this "entrepreneurship" angle. Instead, play it niiiice and safe...
Okay gang, time to break it down. The following advice may blow your mind. Well, likely not--but just the same, I think it's a pretty neat perspective.
The questions that are asked on bschool apps? Interview questions? IGNORE THEM. : ) Thats right. The issue at hand is not picking the best story that fits the question. The apps are all designed purely to let you SHINE. The questions dont actually matter--they are just a vehicle. A vessel if you will. The point is not to pick the best answer to the question, the key is to bring your best STORIES. Produce your greatest hits. Your Bob Marley Legend. YOUR stories fit THEIR questions. See what we mean?
Dont get hung up--whether in your interview, or while writing an app--on what is being asked of you. Start with YOUR stories. YOUR background. The stuff that YOU bring to the table. And make sure that in every SINGLE app, you have the chance to bring EACH of your greatest hits to the table.
Thats the key. Ignore all those pesky "questions" and whatnot. Just bring your greatest hits to the table, no matter WHAT they ask. Thats what you need to succeed.
And as always good luck! Oh, and PS, hi from Shanghai...
Whew! Well gang, we are back from China. And so, back in the swing of the forums.
Today I was chatting w a client. Homeboy says to me, "But Jon, theres no way I can do six apps for Round 2. Theyre all due in a month!" And it is true, deadlines will start hitting shortly.
But heres the bottom line gang--your first app will take the LONGEST to do. Your second will take a while too--but not as long as the first. Your third will go quicker. You get the idea. By the time you get to your sixth and seventh app, youre gonna be SOARING through these badboys. And by the way, the work will get better, as you do LESS work.
Strange, eh? Well thats the truth. So dont kid yourselves gang. It is EASY to submit that additional app. And it only gets easier.
What is up friends. Jon Frank here, burning the midnight oil as usual.
Just wanted to drop a quick note. I was chatting with a client today, and he says to me, "Yeah but if I include all those details, wont it get boring?"
The answer, of course, is a resounding NO. Let me explain. Two examples, one with details, and one without.
1) In 2003, I started a new job and my first major assignment was to find land to build a building. I was successful and we built it later that year.
2) In 2003 I moved to Cincinnati, where I had no friends and no family--but I did have a job in real estate development, a very hard field to break into. Three weeks into my time there, my boss turns to me and says, "Hey Jon, go to Iowa. Go find us a deal there." I had no idea what a "deal" was, let alone an idea as to how to find one...
[You get the idea gang. Example 2 is much more interesting. Why? Because we know how to use details to our own benefit. Use details to make the work MORE interesting. If your sense is that your detailed work is weighing you down, in the wise words of Mr. Mom, you're doing it wrong.]
A word to the wise folks. I know we're all motoring thru our apps, keeping our eyes on the ball, etc. But having been around the block over the past 5+ years, I wanna tell you whats about to happen. One week from today, the week of December 20-24, the worlds gonna look veeeeery different. All of a sudden, Christmas eve, days off, presents, and riiiight on into New Years.
This is the last week we have gang, where we dont feel the noose tightening around our necks. By this time next week, you will be CRUNCHED FOR TIME. Thats a guarantee.
Trust me--make the most of THIS week. If you havent made serious progress by this time next week, you will feel your collars start to tighten. It is crunch time folks--the last few plays before the two minute drill. Make em count.
Had a query. I am basically from IT and like all guys working in the services sector. I am not installing solar lamps in impoverished villages nor am i closing out deals worth millions of dollars in some Investment firm and after looking at essays of friends from different fields. I feel that I will be considered as a less attractive applicant. Sure I may have loads of promotions and what not. But I have only managed systems and teams within my organization and delivered projects within the time frame(delivering before the timeline is a strict no-no..screws up the billing and is considered a negative in terms of your estimating skills :D ). I cant quote million dollar figures because frankly such things are not released every to teams. we are told how much to specificially bill and we are not toldthe entire worth of the project, my recomendeers will write how big the project was in terms of people but they will also not be able to give a definitive answer.
So my question is this, what do i write in my essays that will make me stand head and shoulder with the Energy industry guys? We in IT do video conferencing so we usually dont travel to sites, there is nothing tangible we can show as achievements, hardly any figures we can quote. So when I compare my essays with other people's essays, I realise that I dont have a rats ass chance of being called when these people are in the fray with me.
Can you give some tips on essay writing for IT guys?
Okay gang, pardon what promises to be a cheesy post. But I have to say it.
The last couple days have been so FRICKIN exciting. As Round 1 results come in, and as our friends from all over the world (clients, and not clients) share their success stories, it makes it all worthwhile. All our hard hours, but more to the point, the hard days, weeks, even YEARS that we have spent preparing for this moment.
When I got into HBS in 2003, it was a moment I will never forget. Opening the letter, reading the words from then-head honcho Brit Dewey... It makes it all worth it.
Whats the lesson? Keep plugging away gang. Is it hard? Yyyyep. Do you wanna give up? Probably. Are you losing hope? Yyyep. Does it make sense that you got dinged and your buddy who is a grade-A weenie got in? Nnnope.
But what is the one thing we know for sure? If you set your mind to this, and if you do it right, it will be worth it. Congratulations to all our successful recent-heroes, and to all those who have the courage (and endurance) to keep fighting.
Congrats to everyone--especially those of you who heard positive things from our friends in Philly. We had a first at PE today, a client was awarded a full ride at Wharton. Holy crap--good for this girl, eh? If Id gotten a full ride at HBS, my balance sheet would look very different than it does today...
Now. I wanna make a point that some folks probably know and some may not--many schools WILL allow you to submit test scores AFTER an application deadline has passed. So if you submit your app on time, but you wanna take a test a week or so later, there IS often some flexibility there. It is done on a case by case basis, and some schools have been known to even change their minds...within the same year! So check w these folks directly. But before rush into taking a test before youre ready, or make a big decision based on these dates being "etched in stone," check in w the adcom.
There may be juuust a bit of flexibility to submit your test scores AFTER the deadline.
Okay gang, just a quick note about Wharton Essay 2. In my humble opinion, this is the hardest essay of the bunch this year.
Here is where so many of our clients are getting it wrong. They are writing about something very specific, that they have a TON of knowledge about. "I am an expert in traffic systems, so Im gonna do a class on how to set up traffic systems safely." Or, "I am an expert in seniors affordable housing in Guatemala, so "Im gonna propose a class on how to do better affordable seniors housing in Guatemala."
Heres the problem yall. Nobody would ever take those courses. Nobody cares about these things...but YOU. So. What do we do about it?
Sure, you wanna get in some stuff on your passion, and your background. With just 300 words on your career goals this year, you may be well advised to do so. But pick a class that people would wanna TAKE! "Cars, Traffic, and Business in the Developing World." Even that sounds boring to me, but maybe...MAYBE you can fill a classroom of people offering that elective. "Seniors Housing in the Developing World." Maybe. "Global Affordable Housing: Solving the Crisis." Maybe people would wanna take that class. And in your description, explain WHY THEY SHOULD wanna take it.
Write about a class that is RELEVANT. Write about a class that people would wanna enroll in. This isnt traffic school, this is BUSINESS school. Write a class for bschool, gang. Dont just hijack the essay to toot your own horn.
Hey gang--thanks so much for all the kind words these past few days. As you can imagine...it is BUSY season. So forgive me for posting a purely business-related note here, but we kiiinda need to. : )
We are actually no longer doing Free Consultations. Things have picked up too much, and we need to stick to just doing the business piece. We need to manage our clients from here on out. So yes we are taking new clients, but the Free Consultations...are on hold. For now.
I hope you all understand--keep fighting the good fight in the meanwhile, and dont hesitate to send us a note. We always respond to everyone...
What is happening my friends. Jon Frank here from Precision Essay. It's been a while--but this year SLAMMED us--which of course is a mixed blessing.
Many folks have asked us, "Now that our work is done, what ELSE can I do?"
Well here's an idea. Some of you will likely be waitlisted, even dinged. Some will have to reapply next year. So do yourselves a favor--send your apps out to people you know. Do this NOW.
"Hey have a look if you would, Id love to know your thoughts. Be brutal." Consider it a Free Ding report. In the meanwhile, while you wait, think about ways to improve the app. Whether on the waitlist or next year, now is the time to make some strong moves, and see what people think.
Hello my friends. It has been a while, and for that I am sorry.
I just wanted to weigh in on some of the discussions going on here--and what I;m about to say tends to stir the pot a bit. And as always, I welcome the responses that are likely to follow this post.
When deciding on schools folks, don't take your eye off the ball. A scholarship of $20K doesnt actually make much of a difference, in the grand scheme of things. Also, if you get into HBS and Kellogg (for example) but you are leaning towards Kellogg because you "wanna go into marketing," reconsider. Of course Kellogg is a GREAT school, but if you only remember one thing that I say, remember this:
GO TO THE BEST SCHOOL YOU CAN GET INTO. Period. HBS has a GREAT marketing department. Dont go to Rice because you wanna get into the oil business post-MBA, if you also got into MIT. Sure, MIT isnt known for its connections in oil--DOESNT MATTER. Go to MIT. Go to the best school you can get into.
It is easy (and believe me, I have been there) to get carried away, considering this school "is the best in this program," or "$20K sounds pretty good to me" etc. But you need to fight that urge.
Can I have some of your thoughts on the use of additional essay?
My specific situation is this. I screwed up my first semester study in University, the GAP was extremely extremely extremely low ( i failed subjects T.T ). but after the 1st semester, I got myself adjusted and the results had a 180 degree turn. my GPA without first semester was 3.7. With first semester, it is only 3.1. The transcipt tells a good upward trend while i also passed some difficult qualification exams, Plus i have a 750+ GMAT score.
I read some stuff elsewhere, it says additional essay is a double-edge sword. What put up in additional essay will attract additional attention from Admission. And it might be possible to highlight something that admission doesnt think so seriously originally.
What is up my man. Happy to offer some thoughts here for ya.
The optional essay is an art form dude. And if you can write a killer one, then YES you should do so. But if you think that theres a chance you blow it, then it wouldnt be worth it. The key dude is to get in there, make your point--dont make EXCUSES per se--and get out. If you can manage in 200-250 words or so, then it will STRENGTHEN your app. Recognizing your weaknesses is of course a sign of being a solid leader. So get in there, make your point confidently (the GMAT will help for sure), and get out. If you can put your best foot forward, you will make it happen dude.
Thats my advice for sure--write a KILLER optional essay, explain that it took you a semester to get situated, and you'll be golden. The whole thing doesnt need to be longer than two or three sentences. (They will of course notice your low GPA in your first year, whether or not you write about it...)
Lets chat just a bit about the nice folks asking about admissions consultants online. "Hey, does anyone know what consultant I should use?" And needless to say, a number of "people" will respond, plugging one service or another. Most of these people who are responding have NEVER posted anywhere before. What does that mean? : ) Duh. These "responders" dont really exist of course, they are the admissions consultants themselves fishing for business. You'll also see that only the less-established shops will take this approach.
The only way to tell which service to choose is to chat with the company. Directly. Reach out to the dudes running it, ask who will do the work, and get a sense for their vibe. All companies reflect their founders' personalities, and you're looking for a FIT. Some services are set up like factories, and some have no track record at all. Yet some are run by committed, devoted, SMART folks. Folks who have done it thousands of times. Your mission is to find THOSE people.
Precision Essay isnt the only one out there for sure. But you WONT find those services by asking an open-ended question online. All you'll get if you do it that way, is a bunch of unestablished folks fishing for business.
Good luck to everyone, and let me know what more we can do to help.
Whats up gang. Jon Frank here, at your service as always.
Today I want to talk generally about the military, and applying to b school. I've been overwhelmed by the number of questions from military guys, and I wanted to address them. (By the way, I am also in the middle of that book Where Men Win Glory about Pat Tillman--heartbreaking stuff. Highly recommend it.)
So applying from a military background can be...tricky. First of all, there's the AGE issue. And the answer is, business schools expect guys with military experience to be older. That simple. And it is not anything to worry about. When I was at HBS, we had a few military guys in our section (5 anyway), and most were at least 4 years older than the rest of the class. This is normal, okay, and to be expected.
Second, there's the issue of experience--that is, lack of "financial-ish" experience. Again, NOT an issue. In class, we would sit around talking about leadership. One guy raises his hand and says "When I led my M&A team in my bank, I found that..." and the next guy raises his hand and says "When I lead my real estate development team we...", and then the military guy says "When I commanded my squadron of twelve fighter pilots while being attacked from all sides by bogies, we..." I mean, who do you want leading you team? Leadership is compelling stuff--I dont care if you havent worked for Goldman.
And finally, there's the issue of extra curriculars. Of course, its ideal if you have great experience there. But it's less important, since you were in the military. You simply dont have as many options on the base, and that is normal, okay, and to be expected.
I hope this is helpful. And not to get too sales-y, but FYI my company offers military guys a discount of 1/3 on all our services--and by the way we think everyone else should too. It's the least we can do.
Whats up guys, today I wanted to talk a bit about Real Estate. Given my past few years (both as an admissions consultant, and through doing my own Real Estate work as well) I can probably shed some light here. By way of introduction, before and graduating from HBS, I worked in the RE biz. For ING, Trammell Crow Residential, and now for my own account. I have hired and worked with guys from both MSRE and MBA backgrounds through the years.
Many people are looking at Masters Programs in Real Estate. Especially lots of our friends in China. But I dont like it. To look at a Master's Program based on "what you will learn about your field" is to miss the boat. Real estate especially is not rocket science--we will learn everything we need to know on the job. The fact that you would learn more real estate-specific knowledge at a MSRE program (than thru an MBA) is in my opinion irrelevant. Real estate is easy--you dont need a masters degree to "learn" the business.
I am an entrepreneur--when not doing Precision Essay, I have also put together a number of RE deals--I own three multifamily properties in Chicago etc. I have raised this money from people who are NOT in real estate--they are my colleagues from HBS who are in different areas. The last thing that I wanted, when at bschool, was to spend all my time with more real estate guys. After all, I will spend all my time w RE guys for the rest of my life! : )
I preferred an MBA program because I wanted the exact OPPOSITE of that. I wanted to meet people from OTHER businesses, OTHER walks of life. I wanted to learn how THEY see the world. I wanted to meet Private Equity guys, entrepreneurs, tech guys--THAT is the real learning that youll get from business school. Learning from others' unique perspectives. To spend all your time in school surrounded by RE people is to waste that amazing opportunity for such RICH learning. You'll learn all the RE stuff on the job.
So my advice is different than that of many on this board. An MBA will give you that amazing, broad exposure--not "how to calculate an NPV of a mixed use RE deal," that's easy of course. It will expose you to countless different perspectives. Different fields. Different backgrounds. THAT is the name of the game.
Now, let's get a bit more practical. Since the MBA programs are so much older (and the alumni base is so much bigger) your networking opportunities will be SO much more rich, from an MBA alumni perspective. And also, there were only a handful of real estate guys at HBS when I attended there--after all, so many people dont consider HBS for "real estate" learning. Therefore, when it came time to recruit, it was EASY to get a job. Much less competition. And Trammell Crow Residential, where I went after HBS, only recruited at HBS and Stanford GSB...
Hopefully this is helpful to everyone, and again, thank you so much for asking for my perspective here. Happy to share more, if you would all like.
Hey gang, Jon Frank here, your friendly neighborhood MBA consultant and relationship advisor.
Lets talk about relationships, shall we?
A client just emailed me, asking what bschool will mean for his relationship (with his girlfriend.) "How hard will it be to do a long distance relationship?"
First, some disclaimers. When it comes to relationships, I am NO expert (as my dismal track record will indicate). So all I can describe is what I saw while at HBS (where I graduated in 2005). And the answer is...when you get to school gang, you will be busy. BUSY. YOU WILL BE BUSY. Busier than you have ever been, most likely. The first semester at school is going to be among the busiest time of your life. This is why so many long distance (or otherwise tenuous) relationships do not last while one person is at bschool. It is VERY hard to maintain relationships while you are working til 3AM every night, and up for study group at 730AM every morning. Right? Right.
Is it possible? Of course it is, and many will do it. But ask any of em--that sh*t is HARD to pull off.
Now. This is of course not relationship advice. Yall need to do what you need to do--pop the question, dont pop the question, bring him/her with ya to school or dont. But whatever you do, dont kid yourself. Once you get to school gang, all your time will be BOOKED. Solid. At the very least prepare your significant other for that fact. There is no way around it.