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12 Ways NOT To Begin Your HBS ‘Introduce Yourself’ Essay

It's the first day of class at Harvard Business School. Introduce yourself to your classmates

It’s the first day of class at Harvard Business School. Introduce yourself to your classmates

As we all know, the only Harvard Business School essay this year asks MBA applicants to ‘Introduce Yourself to your classmates.’ Most applicants are stuck about how to answer this question while being more—-much more–in fact, than just another name, face, and serial number. 

Many people, under the guidance of some consultants, are trying desperately to “cut through the clutter” of all the other essays which will inevitably begin with something like, “Hi everyone, I’m Steven Smith and before coming here I worked for McKinsey . .  .” 

        

Snore. That will never get you in, say many consultants. To get in you need a value add, a selling proposition, a deep search of your yin and yang–and beyond that, once you find that yin and yang you need to start strong and cut through the clutter. CUT THROUGH THE CLUTTER. 



‘FIT IN. DON’T STAND OUT’        

Our resident HBS expert, Sandy Kreisberg, the HBS Guru of hbsguru.com, strongly disagrees. 
He believes the way to get in to HBS is to “fit in, not stand out.”

If pressed, Kreisberg would say that “Hello everyone, I’m Steven Smith and before coming here, I worked for McKinsey . . .” is a totally fine way to start an HBS essay.

We’re not here today to have that debate. Instead, we are here today to celebrate those brave souls who have taken the other consultants advice to heart–too much too heart–and to illustrate what those daring applicants have created in response to the command TO CUT THROUGH THE CLUTTER. 


 

THE FIRST HOW NOT TO CUT THROUGH THE HBS CLUTTER CONTEST       

Herewith our very first Poets&Quants HOW NOT TO CUT THROUGH THE HBS CLUTTER contest.


If you, dear readers and future applicants, have sterling examples of HOW NOT TO CUT THROUGH THE HBS CLUTTER, please post them in our comments section. We will announce 10 winners and award each a Poets&Quants T-shirt. 



Drum roll, please.

HOW NOT TO CUT THROUGH THE HBS CLUTTER
: 12 BOLD AND LOUD AND ORIGINAL WAYS TO START YOUR HBS ON THE WRONG FEET



1. “Friends, Romans, Section Mates, lend me your ears . . . .and with just those as ears as security, I could arrange a very favorable loan of over $100 million as part of your buy out of the AudioScope, the 
undervalued hearing aid retail chain.  As you can tell, before coming here I was a . . . .”



2. “‘Mir뤩ta,’  ‘Ahalan,’  ‘Parev,’  ‘Zdravei,’   ‘Nei Ho,’  ‘Goddag,’  and ‘Saluton’ to you all!!!! 

Hi everyone. 
Those are just words for ‘Hello’ from countries I have visited — except ‘Saluton,’ which is Esperanto, a language I learned at an Adult Enrichment course at the YMCA in Cincinnati, O-H. 

O-H is United States Postal Service talk for  Ohio!!!! That is where I work. 

I’m here to share “Hello” and “Hi” and “How are we?”–and my experiences as a marketing specialist for P&G . . .

I want to learn and share with everyone as our journey goes from Hello to “Hasta la Vista” which is a way of saying goodbye in the Spanish language. I’ve visited there, too. Spain, I mean, although people speak Spanish in other countries.

But let me tell you about ME in any language . . . come to think of it, I also can do charades and want to start a club.” 

[MAKES “HEART” HAND-SIGN ON CHEST AND PROJECTS IT TOWARDS THE CLASS]





3. “10, 8, 9, 7, 5, 6, 2, 1, 3, 4 . . . . You guessed it . . . I’m the guy who got in with the  510 GMAT.”  



4. “Dee Leopold  . . . there is someone, THANK GOD, I will never have to think about again.” 

Similarly, “HBSGURU””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””



5. “Hi everyone, I’m passing out these lollipops for a reason . . . .I couldn’t afford condoms, but in 
introducing myself I do want you to have something pleasant to think about because 
my last five years at Goldman and then TPG were anything but, and that brings me to why I am here…”



6. “My goal is to be the OEC of an innovative and powerful CNM.
 As you can tell, I’m also dyslexic. I meant CEO of an MNC and 
let me tell you how happy I am to be here at BSH, er HBS, although BSH has 
a certain ring to it, especially if you go BSG, where I was on the Waiting List before getting 
dinged. 

KO, Seriously . . .  .” 



7. “Hello my future fellow rulers of the universe . . .Hey, who said investment banking is over? 
What until you hear about my three biggest deals . . .”



8. “What! No free food in the cafeteria, no massages . . .O.K. where did I work before coming here . . .? 
Right you are.  We’re never ‘frugal’ at _______? Let me share that experience with you. ”



9. “Hi everyone . . . I’m Danny Brown and I was born in the United States and have lived there all my life . . .for those of you who look perplexed, the United States is a federal republic  on the North American landmass  between Canada and Mexico, except for Alaska and Hawaii. The United States is a member of NATO, which is an organization some of our European friends may know about. The United States is considered a developed country and it is not land-locked.  Famous people who have come from the United States that you may have heard of include Elvis, Barack Obama, and Mickey Mouse. The capital city of the United States is called Washington, for now. It is named after the first resident of the United States, George Washington, but that may change soon because he owned slaves. I’m glad to be here with such a diverse and international cohort of men, women, and other learners, and I look forward to sharing our national origins, sexual orientations, racial fun facts, and getting to know you all, and contributing to our mutual understanding of everything through the case method. 
       

10. “FIRE!!! “FIRE!!! “FIRE!!! 

Just kidding but that is a good way to remember me. 

F is for FRIENDLY
. I is for INTERESTING
. R is for REALLY FUN.
 E is for ELLEN which is very close to my real name, Helen.” 
        





11. “Hi everyone, if you got one of those apps, and are giving me funny looks, well, let’s get this sex registry thing out of the way right now . . . .I assume we are all over 18. O.K., I’m allowed to be here.

12. “Hi everyone, I’m Jane Tuttle and I want to start by telling you  two things about me that are NOT TRUE. 

First, I’m not related to King Tut, but if you are, and come from Egypt or one of those countries around there, here’s a big shout out for that hairdo. Seriously, how do you do that?

 Second, my friends don’t call me “Tutts”–I mean you can, who knows, but . . .

O.K. Here are some things about me that ARE True . . . .I used to work at one of those Big Four accounting firms  . . . . “



DON’T MISS: 2015-2016 MBA APPLICATION DEADLINES AT TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS or HOW TO APPLY TO HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

  • hbsguru

    🙂 hope that worked, what’s the update.

  • HBS_hopeful

    Thanks Sandy, appreciate the honesty. I guess I am having a really hard time understanding what you mena by YOUR VOICE. I thought telling my story of how I got the the US (through an athletic scholarship), what I learned and how it shaped me was my voice so can you elaborate on what you mean or anything specific you might have in mind. Really appreciate your feedback and thoughts.

  • hbsguru

    I could sound scripted and giving them back the cliches you think they want to hear. OK to say you were on a team and this was valuable learning exp. in some quick, honest way, but they dont want you [and your classmates do not want to hear] some mini-bs-lecture about it.
    How MBA can help is also not a great topic to elaborate on, it’s all BS, and generic. Sure, note that in some sign off paragrpah, but don’t spend 300 words on it.
    BASICALLY what they want to hear is YOUR VOICE, what you are proposing above is some constrained and a bit phony version of that, pontificating about sports and case method. Dunno, aint going to help quite frankly, and depending on how tone-deaf it turned out, could be damaging.

  • HBS_hopeful

    Hi Sandy,

    I was an international student athlete at a Division 1 school and this experience has impacted me greatly. I was planning on comparing the learnings from playing a team sport to the case method used at HBS (i.e. preparation, team work = learning groups, leadership, different angle sto apprach problems/situations, etc.). And then add additional context of my work, what I have been doing and why the MBA at HBS can help me get to what I want to do in the future. Thoughts?