We are all searching for the secrets and hacks of being successful.
There are several people that dedicate their life to studying, understanding and deconstructing successful people, in search of finding those secrets. Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins are two of my favorite thought leaders that are in this search of the habits and mindsets of top performers.
Thriving in an MBA program seems to be one of those “secrets” that are key to being successful in business. I am grateful that I recently had the opportunity to give back to my business school by attending an event of The MBA Tour as a Bauer Ambassador. Most of the prospective students had the same questions regarding the GMAT, elective courses, time management and difficulty of the quantitative courses and electives in general.
All those are valid questions, and I’m sure I had those too when I was in their position. But after a year at Bauer my mindset has changed a lot, as I’m sure yours will change too when you go through your MBA.
The first thing you have to understand that if you are thinking about going to grad school you are already successful. Because it means that you are looking for something more, that you want to learn and invest in your development. And the other, and probably most important thing, is understanding that you don’t require any special talent, a 200 IQ, or 800 GMAT to be successful in your MBA journey.
You can’t change your work experience or your undergrad GPA, you cannot change your IQ or be better with numbers if you have struggled with that for your whole life. And you don’t need to. Focus on what you can and will do going forward.
The Simple Things
Most of the opportunities that I have been able to find are not because I have any kind of special talent or super-human intelligence. I have found those opportunities because I have become very good at doing the simple things. And the majority of it is just showing up.
- Showing on time for events (by on time I mean at least 5 minutes earlier)
- Dressing appropriately (you will never go wrong if you are a bit overdressed, but underdressing can hurt you)
- Responding to the events RSVP and showing up
- Doing what you said you were going to do (under-promise and over-deliver)
- Asking for feedback (and actually implementing it)
- Sending Thank You notes to the people that help you
- Personalizing your LinkedIn invitations and messages
These are the things that require no talent at all, and that will help you a lot. The ROI on doing these simple things is almost infinite. These are the actions that will let other people know that you actually care, that want to help and that you can be trusted. It will help you be known, trusted and liked, which are key for business. Everything else can be learned, any specific skill can be developed with time.
Don't be afraid to ask
One last thing that I would recommend to prospective MBA students, and anyone that wants to improve themselves, is to ask for help when you need it. We must accept that we need help from others, we can learn from those who have already done it and save time by not committing the mistakes they made. You’d be amazed, once you start asking for help and advice, that there is actually a lot of people that want to help and share their knowledge and insight. That is why for me it is a must to meet with a Career Advisor from the Rockwell Career Center at least twice per semester to ask for advice on several topics. After every meeting I leave with insights and actionable items that have helped me improve. Be vulnerable, accept that learning is a process and that the only way to be successful is by helping others and asking for their help.
Learning and sharing knowledge is my passion, let’s connect if it’s yours too.
Alejandro I. Sanoja