Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Three book Recommendations

During my time off, I've been trying to get some reading done.  Somehow, I never succeed as much as I want to, but I have managed to finish a few books that I wanted to share with you.
Since I'm interested in marketing, I've been reading a few books on the subject.  This one really struck me as a good source for MBA applicants.  First of all, very early in the book, the author Seth Godin admits that he lied with the title of the book.  All marketers are not liars, he says, but the good ones tell authentic stories that we want to believe.  From the amazon description of the book:  "Every marketer tells a story. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is vastly superior to a $36,000 VW Touareg, which is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better-and look cooler-than $20 no-names . . . and believing it makes it true."  "Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner or the iPod." How can this help you with your applications?  Imagine the readers on the admissions committee.   They read hundreds or thousands of applications each year.  How are you going to make in impression?  I don't believe that it's through a couple of high scores and some A-list employers.  No doubt these things might help your application, but I believe the most memorable applicants tell a good story.  And not just good stories in each essay, but their whole application is a story that, put together, gives adcom a clear pictures of what that person is all about.  How can you do this with your application?  Well first, I recommend reading the book for inspiration.  Imagine yourself as a "product" that you are "marketing" to adcom.  Put together your elevator pitch - a few sentences that sum up the picture you want adcom to have in their head about you after reading your application.  Keep it near you whenever you are working on a portion of the application, to make sure everything you write is consistent with that pitch.  For instance - does your elevator pitch say that you are going to be a contributor to your class?  You should probably show in your application how you are already a contributor in your job, your volunteer work, your extra curricular activities, etc.  In other words, show that you are already living the story.  Note: It's worth mentioning that I'm not advocating that you actually lie on your application.  Not only is it unethical (obviously), but I think that adcom are very good at picking up on this.  It is a rare person that can lie about themselves in writing and actually sound authentic.  Be honest about yourself and who you are, and it will resonate.  

You're So Money: Live Rich, Even When You're Not
I met the author of this book, Farnoosh Torabi, at the women's conference I attended at Penn State.  Turns out my husband was in a group with her in his undergrad business classes.  He was very excited to buy her book when it came out, but I ended up reading it first.  I think I was in the perfect state of mind to read it, since I'm suddenly a lot "poorer" than I was a few months ago when I had a job and no huge loans!  A lot of it is aimed more at those in their early twenties, but I definitely learned a lot and got some great ideas for how I can still have a fabulous life during this two years of less cash.  And she gives you tips and tricks without seeming preachy like other personal finance books.  She won't tell you to give up your latte, but she will challenge you to determine how important it is for you to have that latte AND the designer jeans of the season.  There are chapters on buying a car, buying a cell phone, and buying real estate.  There is also a chapter by Jim Cramer on stock speculation.  

The author of this new eBook, Josh Hohman, a recent Stanford GSB grad, sent me an advance copy to review for possible interest to my audience.  I read the whole thing last night, and I definitely think it could be a good resource for some applicants.  The book is basically a report containing survey responses from recent admits from Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia.  There are questions like "Describe the challenges you had in your application" and "What advice would you offer an applicant applying to your school."  I think this book is a good supplement for the big application guidebooks you may be reading.  It's not going to give you extensive advice and instructions, but it will provide you with some good profiles of successful applicants to give you a feel for what it takes to get in.  There are profiles of students with low GMAT scores (below 650!), no work experience, non-traditional backgrounds, and some students who claim they had no "wow factor" but still got in.  There is also a lot of advice and information specific to Stanford, which could be very valuable to those targeting this school.  (There is nothing about Wharton though - Josh should definitely expand to Wharton and other schools in his next edition!)  If you follow the link to the website, www.ExpertCollective.com, and provide your email address, Josh will send you a free preview copy that lets you see the questions that are included in the survey with a some examples of responses.  If you like it, the full version is available for purchase.  
Disclaimer: The author did offer me compensation for linking to his book.  However, I would definitely not recommend this to my readers if I did not think it would be a good resource.  I recommend downloading the free preview and checking it out for yourself.  


Chompblast said...

"All Marketers Are Liars" is a great book. Nice recommendation. I completely agree that applicants need to craft a story to the adcom and they should use each essay in the application to bolster their story. An applicant that tells a great story can overcome low GMAT and GPA scores.

You should also check out Godin's "Purple Cow" if you haven't already. It's another excellent marketing book.

AMS said...

I made a list of the mint.edu's top recommendations for personal finance books on blist. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tiny dancer,
How are you preparing for the school? Now that you are on the other side of the river, I need some kind of enlightenment. I am not able to pull my self to write essays. I write really boring paragraphs and stop. I know that I want an MBA and am working on improving my profile. Essays, I am stuck with -infinity progress. Any clues would be helpful

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