I’ve thought about disclosing this numerous times before, but with some recent chatter brewing I figured that now would be the time:
In mid-August, BusinessWeek posted a call for entries for all first-year MBA students to join its growing list of journalists. Thinking it would be a fantastic opportunity to provide prospective students with an even more intimate look at Ross, I decided to submit a few essays and see how it turned out.
Two months later, I was contacted by a BW staff writer and asked to submit content every few months to the journal for two years; I just finished my third article. Now, I decided early on that I’d take a more colloquial approach to my writing, sort of similar to the content you read here on Rainierisms. After all, it’s my designated corner of the web; I do what I wa-ant. 🙂
I really, really enjoyed drafting up the first two articles, and I felt like I was following the guidelines the BW staff requested of me for the entries. I spent no time publicizing my articles nor did I tell my classmates (or blog readers) about the articles; I figured they would eventually come across them if they were interested (or by Google-stalking me). The best way I could serve as a resource to future Ross students would be to make my blog, journal, and contribution to the BW Forums mutually exclusive.
Well, that plan worked until I began to read some of the (anonymous) responses to my journal entries:
“You’re going to just end up like another one of those MBA suck-ups.” – S
“I find [you] to be incredibly arrogant.” – Laura
“This guy is such a poser. No wonder he ended up at Michigan and not a top MBA school.” – Paco
Perhaps one of my greatest weaknesses is the inability to take harsh criticism lightly. It really does tear at my very core. I don’t enjoy having enemies; I don’t think anyone does. But I do have a right to respond to the comments I’ve received in a public domain. And this blog is the appropriate place to do it based on the remarks I’ll make, mainly because I find it taboo for a columnist to directly confront his critics in the same domain.
Although I’ve gone through a wave of emotions, including both contempt and seething anger, I can only offer a few, hopefully rational points:
1. I’ve become very discouraged with the people that comprise BW’s readership. Consider this yourself: what will drive you to call someone arrogant, question their motives, and belittle their school choice? I don’t know; for me, it takes a lot — despite all the Haterade I drink on people like Ann Coulter, I usually don’t like to take it to a level of unsubstantiation that these commenters chose to display. Are these other MBA students, hedge fund managers, or my future employer? Regardless, if it’s any of the above, then I wonder, I truly wonder, if these are the people that I would ever want to call my colleague. This in itself is an unfair judgment on my part, so maybe I need to take a dose of my own medicine…
2. Let’s look at the content of the journal entries I submitted. I’ve learned from some of the mistakes I made in my previous entries – I need to be writing from a more “prospective-friendly” perspective, I agree – but to pass judgment on someone’s character through a 1,500-word essay? All AdCom jokes aside, you cannot judge a man (or woman) to the extent the commenters did with such a small sample. If you’re going to call me arrogant and a suck-up, then do it after I invite you to the Brown Jug, we have a beer, and you find out who I really, truly am. Say it to me after you talk with my colleagues at Ross. And go ahead and ask your own colleagues that have spoken to me in person. They will be far more honest, objective, and forthright with their assessment than your own self-declared assumptions. And if they choose to agree with those commenters, then slap me around and call me a poser.
3. Let this be a lesson to you prospective students, future applicants, and observers: if you’re not making enemies by living your life, you’re doing something wrong. You could cure cancer, end poverty, and piss gold, and someone somewhere will find fault with your inability to fart out clouds of strawberry air freshener. You must realize early on that, as a future business leader, that every decision you make will be followed with infinite pairs of eyes, and it’s GUARANTEED that someone will find fault with your choices no mater how good or right it seems. These are the times where you must trust those that “stab you in the front”, as the poet says. The people that truly have your best interests in mind know you well enough to decide what you must hear.
Don’t ask your parents to review your essays; ask the person that stood by your side at your wedding. Practice your interviews with an MBA alum; tell them ahead of time to ask you the hardest questions and provide the harshest criticism. When it’s time to advise your client, pass it by your mentor over a cup of coffee down the street from the office. Don’t avoid criticism, but ignore 95 percent of the stuff that spews from the mouths of those that would rather see you fail miserably at this endeavor.
So, I’m outed…sort of. I apologize for bringing my soap box in the room, but I imagine venting in this domain would be much better than trying to pick a fight on one of the world’s most popular business websites. I don’t censor comments, so if you read the article and want to provide honest feedback, I just ask that you make it constructive.