Yesterday, I received an email from one of the young people I have mentored. His MBA application was not successful. This is my email to you:
Dear [ ],
I got your phone message on the rejection of your business school application. Certainly, that is discouraging and I understand the feeling. But I am writing to let you know that it should be a past tense, right away. They have rejected your application, the same way they have rejected legends and icons across human generations. The key now is how to continue to make progress in your career and quickly activate alternative options. I will share something I read recently in Forbes for you.
One of the greatest investors of all time, the Oracle of Omaha, could not get into Harvard Business School (HBS). Warren Buffet – who spent two years at Penn before transferring to the University of Nebraska – traveled ten hours to Chicago to interview for a spot at HBS. They rejected him within 10 minutes! Yes, Harvard Business School admission team rejected Warren Buffet.
But there was good news for Mr. Buffet. He was accepted in Columbia and he studied under legendary Ben Graham who pioneered value investing philosophy. That philosophy is the reason Buffet is very rich. And today, you may not have Harvard Business School experience without understanding the Buffet business philosophy. The school that rejected him has built a small business around him.
Pick a copy of Harvard Business Review, you will see how Buffet is celebrated. The same Buffet that was rejected within 10 minutes. I write in HBR and I have used Buffet in many examples. He is a legend and the school that rejected him now celebrates him.
This is not to make you feel good. It is bad when the “first option” is not available. Yes, that was failure, Yet, that is not the end of the journey. You liked MBA while I suggested engineering PhD because the latter offers career insurance: there are always schools to teach if everything goes bad.
MBA is life tool. PhD is a life tool. They are all elements to liberate the mind, and then have a better life. But none is like you – the being and the personality. I do believe that only you can shape the future you want because the best way to predict that future is to create it, they say.
A rejected admission cannot stop that creation process: let this motivate and inspire to be better next time. I do think this could work well. If you decide to try again next year and by the time you arrive on campus, you have another year of work experience. Possibly, upon graduation, you will play at a higher level as you re-enter the labour market.
Finally, note this as a setback. Let us work hard to reduce such in America. Being rejected means that we were not the best, and that has to be worked upon. I have no idea what they look for in MBA admission. You need to find out and prepare better.
I fly into Redmond later in the weekend. I will call you.