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Storytelling is an outline of your relationship with time, world, future, and yourself. The inner conflict between your ego and the challenge put forward by the outside world is similar to the turmoil that the reviewers go through on a daily basis while reviewing your essays or pondering over their future.

Two things are common in master storytelling: interesting characters and believable life events.

Interesting Characters

Since the story is about your life journey, the essay should demonstrate why you are interesting.

Here is how you do it:

1. Differentiate Just Enough

The background information that you capture should strip out the clichés and break away from the expectation of your profile. But don’t veer too far away from what reviewers expect from an applicant from your nationality and profession.

Take the example of the cult-classic track “Hey Ya!.” The 2003 song was unlike what early 2000s pop/hip hop/rap or rock songs were. Radio stations hesitated to play the song. The André 3000 song was tough to categorize in a Genre or even interpret. But once an obscure Radio jockey gave the green signal, the song caught on and remained in Billboard Top 100 for 32 weeks.

You might not be as lucky as Outkast.

Processing fluency -- the ease with which...

After editing and reviewing over 300 Essays, I noticed a pattern for Winning MBA Essay. I wouldn't recommend that you force yourself to include the 7 Characters for all your essays, but while editing, review for the narrative structure and presences of:

1) Protagonist

Amateur writing doesn't establish the protagonist early on. In Essays, the word count is in the 250-500 range. Starting with you, and then building context necessary for the essay is the first step in your essay unless the question is about failure, setback or weaknesses. In such scenarios, context and narrative for the event should be the starting point.

Remember that your resume is the reference material for the admission team. Editing the resume to include the most prominent and relevant achievements in your life is as important as editing your essay. The resume should include achievements that demonstrate your leadership skills, communication, and expertise as an individual contributor - in that order. If you need help, choose our...

Categories : Storytelling

When we recommend applicants to follow the fundamentals of storytelling, most of them look at us with suspicion. The admission team has to go through at least twenty essays before they can find a genuine narrative that looks honest and interesting. Story format in itself will not guarantee you admission. You have to meet the entry criteria (GMAT, GPA, and Experience) for the program while differentiating from other similar profiles, but storytelling by itself can act as a differentiator if your profile is weak or your achievements have a low recall within your profession.

Before you study extensively about Storytelling for MBA Application Essays, understand that every story answers the four fundamental questions:

1. Who is the protagonist?
2. Where is he going?
3. How will he achieve the goals?
4. How will he be transformed after achieving the goals?

The difference between movies/novels and storytelling for essays is that in essays one more question has to be answered explicitly.

1. Who is the protagonist?
2. Where is he going?
3. Why is he going?
4. How will he achieve the goals?
5. How will he be transformed after achieving the goals?

In movies, the storyteller has a 90-minute window while in novels a 60,000 word count to slowly unravel the why part with the SHOW don’t tell approach. In...

Categories : Storytelling

MBA Storytelling Word LimitWhile reviewing essays for the 2014-15 admission season, we noticed a common thread – applicants were trying to bring elements of storytelling by introducing informal conversation into the essays. Somehow, they mistook storytelling to casual conversation. With the ‘post-MBA goals’ and ‘Why MBA’ essay shrinking to 500 words, the opportunity to include storytelling let alone casual observation has come down, but here are a few tweaks that you can do:

1) Opening Paragraph

Unless, you have an unconventional goal – the post-MBA goal not shared by the majority of applicants, don’t straightaway state your post-MBA goals. If the essay reviewer is reading the 100th essay about an applicant planning to get into Finance or Consulting, they are less likely to pay attention, no matter how much you bring elements of storytelling in the second paragraph. They have already lost interest.

Some of the boring post-MBA goals are:

“My short-term goal is to be a consultant in McKinsey & Co. and my long-term goal is to start a strategy consulting company.”

“With the help of <MBA Name>, I would like to work in the Energy sector, leveraging the vast...

Categories : Storytelling

Storytelling MBA EssaysIf you have watched movies closely, you will observe a few common traits in the protagonists: they never do anything against common human values- truth, justice, and love. Even if the protagonist is an anti-hero, he will have a soft spot for the vulnerable.

The classic example is Jack Nicholson’s role as Melvin Udall in As Good as It Gets (1997). He is homophobic, doesn’t care about fellow human beings, but as the movie gets into the second act, he shows all the classic traits of the protagonists – caring, kind to the dog, and finally kindness towards fellow human being. We care about heroes who show their human side.

With MBA Application Essays, we don’t have the time or word limit to keep the suspense till Act 2, but you can create a narrative (Read Storytelling Tips from our essay guide) that naturally brings your human side to the forefront.

The Goal

An MBA essay will fail to connect with the reviewer if you don’t define your goal in the first paragraph. It can be achieving deadlines under...

Categories : Storytelling

When the word count goes down, the natural approach is to make the narrative more “resume like.” This is far from the right approach. MBA Application Storytelling the StruggleStorytelling is more relevant now than ever. When AdCom read 1000s of “short resume summary” with essays, your ability to stand out with an interesting narrative will matter. For those readers who are not familiar with our storytelling approach, click here and read our previous articles about storytelling. In this article, we will cover the importance of conveying struggle in the essay.

Learning from the Struggle

We as humans are interested in the “Struggle.” With hundreds of scenarios, our minds focus on struggles from which we can learn about a person, a situation, or a virtue. That is how humans have survived over the past 200,000 years. The paleolithic cave paintings suggest human’s need to communicate the struggle, which during the Aurignacian period was mostly about hunting. Our ability to learn from other people’s struggles keep us hooked to a story or a movie.

Earning Attention


Categories : Storytelling

MBA Application Storytelling Emotional ConnectionHarvard Business School hosts one of the most popular MBA programs in the world. On an average, every year, they get over 9000 applications and corresponding essays. No matter how strong the AdCom Essay review team is, one Essay Reviewer is likely to read 100s of essays. No matter how good you are with GMAT, GPA, and Diversity of experience, the essays still matter.

So what do you mean by Emotional connection in an essay?

It is simply this – “The AdCom” has to care about your story.

Here are four Easy ways to create that Emotional Connection with the AdCom:

a) Convey Perpetual Motion

What makes our stories unique in MBA Application Essays is the nature of perpetual motion that we are in, and the words that convey this motion. If your essay looks like a mundane, “How I managed a challenging team,” then you will be among the rest of the rejected application essays. Convey motion – how you did it, what steps you took, what were the setbacks, how did you correct it, and how you managed to give your best shot. The journey is what matters.

b) Human Emotions...

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