Finding your kick in life

Late October 2014, one of my MBA colleagues asked me if I wanted to run the Ragnar Relay Race ? “Ragnar Race? What is that?” I asked. “Mmmm, it’s just a normal relay race where you have to run few miles. It will be fun, you should do it” he replied. I think I only heard the word “fun” and said “yes, of course, I will do it”. Little did I realize what mess I am getting into. In next few days I realized the word ‘fun’ meant running with a group of 12 runners for 2 days covering a total distance of 216 miles. Each runner was supposed to run about 18 miles in 3 batches of about 6 miles each. If I remember correctly, the last time I ran was during my undergraduate days when I accompanied my friends for early morning run. All I could do was four laps around a soccer field and drop dead, a very respectable distance by my standards. My initial enthusiasm turned into nervousness and regret for I was sure that I was going to fail my colleagues. I got mixed response from friends when I shared this news. Some genuinely encouraged me and some called me a fool. The latter part made things worse. A night before the race I could not eat and sleep properly. Negative thoughts were overflowing from my mind.


Early morning on the D day, I was greeted by colleagues who were all excited, smiling, laughing and brimming with confidence. In their company, my mind got distracted from all negative thoughts and I started feeling better. We started off the race with our best runners. At a time only one runner was running and the rest of the team was following and cheering him/her in two vans. After few hours my turn was up. With a deep breath I took the baton and started running. To shut off all negative thoughts I plugged my earphones and started listening to music. Slowly, I could sense a change in myself at subconscious level. Running in the countryside I started enjoying the view. Negative thoughts had totally vanished and my mind was in full control of my body. Overcoming small gradients on the way gave me confidence to take on steeper gradients. On the way I met runners of different age groups, gender, ethnicity etc. They all had their own reasons for running. Throughout the race the whole team ate, slept and enjoyed together and everyone was emitting positive energy. After running continuously for straight 30 hours we finally finished the race with everyone running the last 50 yards together.

 When I reflect back on this race, I see wonderful life lessons:-

  1. Always let your mind rule your body.
  2. Take decisions from your mind and not heart, since heart can be weak at times. Mind does not have any handicap of fear.
  3. Surround yourself with people who emit positive energy. Negativity lowers life expectancy and brings nothing but self-misery.
  4. Life will have ups and downs and your speed will never be constant. Adapt your life speed according to circumstances.
  5. Friends are important in life. They act like anti-depressants whenever you are down and provide motivation when you are afraid of unknown.
  6. Take out time for yourself. Be alone and try to meditate. Only when you are alone and calm you can listen to what your heart has to stay. Otherwise you will always hear what other people say or want you to do.
  7. Decide what legacy you want to leave and quickly start working on it for we are on a borrowed time on earth.
  8. Sometimes circumstances make people friends. Don’t share your fears with them. Given an opportunity they will leave no stone unturned to shatter your confidence. They can be often unreasonable. But still – give everyone your best. Earn good karma. For in the end, it is between you and God. Never between you and them.

This experience was a big turning point in my life. It changed my attitude and forced me to rethink the way I have been approaching my life. I rediscovered a lost part of myself – my love for sports, positive aggression and a bit of care free attitude that I earlier had. This race gave me a kick full of confidence, self-discipline and fired in me a strong urge to keep improving. I became more focused on my studies, started paying more attention to my health, opened up to my peers and became comfortable taking unknown challenges. It is this kick which makes me get up in the morning and approach each day with a new determination.  We all get many such kicks in life. We just have to spot our right kick at the right time.

I have learnt….

Here is a list of some of the things I have experienced and learnt in life. It is not that I won’t make similar mistakes again in life, but going over this list again and again makes me more self-aware and keeps pushing me forward on the path of self-realization. I would strongly suggest that everyone should take some time out, reflect on your life and come up with a similar list. You will be amazed how much fun it is to walk down your memory lane.

I have learnt…..Mother is the greatest gift from God. The only time she smiles when you cry is the day you were born. (Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam)

I have learnt…. Having an elder brother and younger sister is priceless in life. You grow up transforming into a leader who has the perfect balance of being competitive, aggressive, gentle and caring.

I have learnt….. Best friends don’t always form the best business partners. Friendship cannot substitute professionalism and meritocracy.

I have learnt…… If you think your life is useless or you have nothing worthwhile to do, go and spend a day with a person who is about to die. You will realize how many unfulfilled dreams you still have to achieve.

I have learnt…… Everyone says that they respect an honest opinion or feedback, but very few can actually digest it.

I have learnt….. Mood is like a two-edged sword. It can either propel you with supersonic speed towards your goal or put you in a never ending downward spiral. Usually it’s the latter.

I have learnt…… Words are the biggest weapons we possess. They should always be soft and tender. You don’t know when you might have to eat them.

I have learnt…..Ignorance is bliss and it is better to under-think than over-think a problem.

I have learnt…… Give a person complete authority with no accountability, and he/she will reveal his/her true character.

I have learnt….. No one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I have learnt…… Sitting with parents and listening to stories of their struggles has taught me some of the biggest lessons in life that no educational degree has provided me so far.

I have learnt…..While mentoring someone always be patient and have a smile on your face. It can do wonders to their confidence.

I have learnt…..If you think you are wise and educated, sit with a kid and see for how long you can survive answering his/her questions of curiosity.

I have learnt…..Everyone is in a hurry to reach the top of the mountain, but life and happiness is all in the journey. Mountaineers spend years training in pursuit of conquering Everest, but when they reach the top they stay there for hardly 10 minutes.

I have learnt…..This world is a temporary abode. There is nothing in here that is worth our tears.

I have learnt…..If a baby can sleep peacefully on your shoulder that means you are at peace with yourself.

I have learnt…… Life will never give you a test that you are incapable of winning.

I have learnt…..Not time, but inner peace and love heals all wounds. Time just helps you to temporarily forget them.

I have learnt…..If you yourself cannot be proud of your own achievements, no one will respect you.

I have learnt… When someone comes to me and says, “Thanks for your help”, it makes my day.

I have learnt…..To let go of bitterness or resentment is tough, but if you can do it, you have won one of the biggest battles of your life.

I have learnt…..When you are in love, it shows. If you have to put effort, then it is not worth it.

I have learnt….. Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand. (Andy Rooney)

Please let me know if you found this article interesting. If you have any success stories or amazing experiences to share, please do so in comment box below. Thanks!!

MBA admissions essay writing tips

It has been more than 2 months since I wrote a blog. Returning from my internship, excitement of meeting new friends coupled with the weight of new subjects and to a large extent kind of my laziness, kept me occupied. However, thanks to one of my friends I got the motivation to squeeze some time from my daily sleeping quota and return to blogging.

In my last article I covered the best practice of conducting informational interviews for short listing B Schools. Hopefully that was helpful. Next comes writing admission essays. Essays are undoubtedly most important, toughest and time consuming. Here are couple of my thoughts on how to write essays that make you standout:-

  1. Deeply reflect on your past and jot down everything at one place.

Strain all your brain cells, go back in your past and jot down all your achievements – academic, sports, extracurricular, any social activity or movement you were part of, no matter how small your participation was. At this point don’t think much about how it is going to help in your application.Take about a week for this activity. Keep thinking non-stop about this, even when you are doing your mundane daily activities. The moment you think of something, immediately write it down lest you forget it later. Once you have everything written down, you will be surprised to see how much you have achieved in your life till then. Give yourself a pat on your back.


  1. Now jot down what you want to do in life or are really passionate about.

Well, this in a way answers your short term and long term goal questions. For people who have a clear cut idea of what they want to do in life or are really passionate about need no guidance.- they deserve a big Wow and Congratulations! Put your hands behind your head and relax on a rocking chair, there is nothing much to tell you awesome people except have fun for next 3-4 days. For the rest I have all the sympathy, since I was also in the same boat when I was applying for my admissions. I used to think that it is really unfair for B Schools to expect or force 25-26 year old students to have their life goals all planned and sorted out by now. Thankfully, I was wrong. B Schools don’t expect you to have everything planned out well in advance, but at least have a general sense of what your passions are, what your tentative goals in life are or give them a general sense of direction you want to take post MBA. That should be doable. For those who are still struggling,my suggestion would be to figure out what your strengths are – analytical skills, people management, data analytics, client management etc.,etc. Then look at what different industries and job roles your strength compliments the most and choose that career path. This approach may not be the best, but again life is not always fair and under given circumstances this looks to be your best approach. You will have all the time while doing MBA to have a relook at your career ambitions and modify these accordingly.


  1. Why an MBA and why XYZ school?

 Explain why or how an MBA can act as a bridge between #1 and #2. Connect the dots and try to show a coherent theme with your past activities and future goals and how MBA would fit into this whole set of things. People do MBA when they really want something or are running away from something. It can be a career change, career advancement, building networks or just taking a break from corporate world. Do detailed research on the school and mention how you intend to leverage school resources or what attracts you the most in the school. Pour out your heart on why you are so passionate about that school.

  1. Write as if you are narrating a story to a 5 year old kid.

 No. Seriously, write your essays as if you are narrating a story to a 5 year old. Illustrate your skills/strengths with small stories. Stories leave a big impact, even on adults and especially on Admission officers (AO). Stories stick. An AO may not remember 100 names, but will definitely remember 500 stories. When a school receives 5k essays, all filled with catchy synonyms highlighting applicant’s strengths, it only helps them in segregating the good applicants from the rest. Conveying your strengths in a story format is what differentiates a powerful application from a good application.

 Ensure simple and plain English. When an admission officer is racing against time to read 100 applications in a day, some of them super boring, the last thing they want is to put any strain on their mind by reading essays written in flowery Shakespearean English.

  1. Project your whole personality, be creative and add a bit of humor

 Don’t restrict yourself by mentioning only academic achievements. Highlight achievements in other fields like sports, dance or social causes that you were part of or any initiative you took no matter how small it was. The key is to share the learning or takeaways. Also try to add a bit of humor in your essays if you can, but don’t go overboard with it.

  1. Proof read your essays and get different opinions.

 Lastly, once you are done with your essays, make sure you proof read it multiple times. There are many a software that you can use to help you catch any grammatical errors. I would also recommend that you share your essays with your close friends or mentor and ask for feedback. See if they can relate to your essays/vision or story that you want to highlight.

 Please let me know if you found this article interesting. If you have any success stories or amazing experiences during your application process, please share them in comment box below. Thanks!!

(Disclaimer: The writer is currently a student at Kelley School of Business and is a volunteer at Hoosier Host – a students outreach program at Kelley for prospective students. However  the views expressed over here are writer’s personal views and have no relation to Kelley School of Business)

Art of gathering information from admission officers/current students

Art of gathering information from admission officers/current students

Onset of August unofficially kicks off the preparation for applications to B Schools. Applicants start reaching out to admission officers/current students and gathering intelligence about admission process, courses offered, career opportunities, clubs, culture etc. This is a fantastic way to not only evaluate your goal alignment and fit with the school – a place where you will be investing 2 years of your life and considerable amount of financial resources, but also to start building your network and impress the school with your skills, personality and passion.

Every school has its own unique culture and they are always on lookout for applicants who display/possess some key qualities/characteristics that complement their culture. Good insights about a school will help you in unraveling what those key characteristics are and in writing high quality admission essays. During interviews you will be a lot more confident, able to easily distinguish yourself with the plethora of information and immediately strike a chord with your interviewer. Once you do that, then nothing stands between you and your admission offer.

But reaching out for information is a process that requires skill, a systematic approach and above all patience. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that applicants should keep in mind as they reach out to current students/admission officers. You will be able to extract quality information in least amount of time, build your network and leave a good impression.


  1. Do your own homework on basic information:-

This seems very basic. However, many students skip going through the school website and rely on current students for information such as class size, class profile, placement stats, clubs and specialization offered etc. Websites contain a wealth of information and are regularly updated with latest information that even current students may be unaware of. Not doing your basic research reflects poorly on the applicant.


  1. Do give a short 2 line background about yourself.

Always give a short 2 line description about yourself when reaching out to someone for the first time. It will help the other person build a mental impression about you. Include your prior industry experience, future career interest and nationality if you are an international student. Leave out all personal details.


  1. Do give reference of people

If you are contacting someone in school because some third person recommended him/her, then give your recommender’s reference when you introduce yourself. Your chances of getting a response then increase exponentially. More so because may be the admission staff/student greatly values his/her relationship with your recommender. Also make sure to keep your recommender updated about your meetings. It shows that you respect and take his guidance seriously and can seek out his help next time.


  1. Do try to get an appointment as a first step rather than information.

This is something I have learnt from my experience in retail & service industry. When you are making a sale or need something from someone, first try to build a relationship. Once you do it, your next steps are a cakewalk. So focus on building a relationship rather than simply asking for information during your first interaction with current students/admission office. People love to talk about themselves and their work. So a good starting point is by asking students about their work and achievements. Each interaction will tell you something new about that student and give you a starting point for your next conversation. Keep on strengthening that bond and you will see the student/admission officer gradually turning into your strong advocate.


  1. Do give students time to respond.

July, August, September and October are super busy months. Students are busy wrapping up internships or preparing for full time job placements. So expect a delay in getting a response. Patience is the key here.


  1. Be courteous.

While writing emails, be courteous. Recognize the fact that the other person is helping you out for no apparent benefit. Sometimes people unknowingly give a perception of things that is different from reality. Make sure that even with your best feelings in heart you are not giving a wrong perception. If that is the case, be clear that you will not get a response and your probability of getting an admission reject also sky rockets.


  1. Do proof read

Always ask someone else to proof read your emails before sending them out. Grammatical errors can sometimes leave a bad impression and project you as someone who is sloppy or does not give attention to details.


  1. DO send a thank you note after your interaction

Always send a well-crafted thank you note whenever you speak/Skype/call an admission officer or current student, preferably within 24 hours. Acknowledge their efforts. It leaves a positive impression. Though sending a thank-you note is not going to increase your chances of admission but not sending might dent, though in rare cases. But why take chances.




  1. Don’t come up with a laundry list of questions.

I sometimes get emails from applicants asking me anywhere from 10 to 15 questions. Never do that! It is a big turn off and your email will most probably end up in trash folder. No one has time to read so many questions, leave aside answering them. In emails, limit yourself to maximum 3 most pressing questions. Later on as you strengthen your bond, you can reach out and ask more questions.


  1. Don’t ask open ended or vague questions.

Applicants regularly ask questions like – “How can your school help me break into consulting”? Such questions are very broad and open to diverse interpretations. The answers can be long and people will tend to skip/avoid answering them. Try to be as specific as possible in your questions, like mention which industry/function you want to break into as a consultant. It will help people give you relevant and quality information.


  1. Don’t ask for profile evaluation please.

Please! Please! Please! Never ask any admission officer or student to evaluate your profile. First of all, it is a fruitless exercise. If there was any one who could predict your future with certainty, he would have been a billionaire by now. Being a MBA student or working as an admissions coordinator would then be the last thing in his mind. Secondly, no one knows what you are capable of achieving in your life except YOU and you don’t want anyone else to define the boundaries or set limits to your aims/aspirations.


  1. Don’t lose heart if you don’t get any response.

Reaching out to schools/students for information is a tedious process and if you don’t get success initially, it can be disappointing/demoralizing. I would only suggest – don’t lose heart and keep on trying. It is all about perseverance, patience and the right approach. See it as a preparation to what awaits you ahead in B school life. I can say with full conviction that in today’s world, figuring out the correct people, reaching out to them and asking them the right questions in the right manner are some of the fundamental skills required to be successful and neither many people have those skills nor do they get a chance to develop them. So make full use of this opportunity.

(Disclaimer: The writer is currently a student at Kelley School of Business and is a volunteer at Hoosier Host – a students outreach program at Kelley for prospective students. However  the views expressed over here are writer’s personal views and have no relation to Kelley School of Business)

Importance of friends in life.

Yesterday I was having lunch with my mentor in office and somehow our discussion veered towards the importance of friends in life. Friendship to me is one of the grandest relationships a person can have in life. But finding friends in today’s world that is heavily influenced by materialism and that views each relation as a transaction, is like finding a black cat in a coal cellar. According to research by a leading institution, in a lifetime, a person makes 396 friends, but only one in 12 (33) stand the test of time. Out of 33, only 6 are considered close friends and rest 27 are social friends or drinking buddies. Continue reading

Amazing New York…

I am not blog savy. In-fact this is my first humble attempt to write a blog. It will be a big achievement for me if this article even remotely resembles a blog.




I have been in NYC for last 5 weeks now and I have had a time of my life here. This blog is a small token of thanks or gratitude to this amazing city that has taught me so much in this short span – both in my personal and professional life.

NYC is a mammoth city – for a new comer it can be very overwhelming, at least it was for me! But as the days went by, I could not but fell in love with it. I had my first visuals of NYC as I came out from the PATH metro station about 100 feet below the ground. I was standing in the heart of financial capital of the world. Right next to me was the imposing World Trade Center (WTC) signifying the financial might of the US. There were sky scrapers all around with clouds partly embracing them. The whole area was buzzing with people, half of them rushing to their office and other half mostly tourists taking pictures. Occasionally someone could be seen to stop, look towards WTC, close his/her eyes for a while and then walk away. Totally excited, I stood there craning my neck for good 30 minutes just savoring the moment.

Apart from the grand buildings, the next thing that caught my attention was the subway metro train. According to Wiki, in 2013 it delivered 1.7 billion rides. For me it is a great feat of engineering, architectural, and operational marvel. Running underground throughout Manhattan, kissing the foundations of all major commercial buildings, it is truly the life line of NYC.

To me, New Yorkers always seem busy and in a hurry. If you are lucky you might be able to extract a quick smile from a stranger – something that is very common in mid-west. However, on a whole they are very courteous. May be because everyone goes through the same grind, they feel each other’s pain and want to lend a helping hand whenever/wherever they can.

Allow me to share an experience. One morning, rushing towards subway (underground metro train) during office hours, I saw a bunch of people standing on the footpath blocking the whole way. After waiting for few minutes, I got impatient and started to make my way through the crowd. As I managed through the crowd, I saw a lady bending down, trying to pick something from the floor that was falling off repeatedly. At first I thought of telling her – “Ma’am , it is office rush hours! Please don’t stop the whole flow of people behind you!” Thank God, I did not convey that to her. As I looked more carefully, I saw an injured dragonfly insect lying on the ground writhing in pain. Someone had mistakenly stepped on it and she was trying to move it out of the way to safety. After few unsuccessful attempts, 3 people from the crowd came forward and together they moved it to safety. I was immensely touched, stunned and honestly a bit embarrassed at my initial thoughts. I mean here there were 20 extremely busy people who few minutes ago were running to catch their subway. But when it came to lending a hand and sacrificing a few but precious moments of their life for a good cause, no one thought about it twice. They surely earned some good Karma that day. This incident reminded me the importance of being patient, and respectful of every living soul – be it human, animal or insect.

I have witnessed many such nice and wonderful incidents that have enhanced my admiration for New Yorkers. I will quickly share 2 more incidents.

Late night, in one subway station I saw an old man with a big speaker and piano playing Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ song. He was not accepting donations/money from anyone. I asked him as to why he was not accepting any money. His reply was,

“When I see small kids break into dance and start bouncing around on hearing my song or when tired and stressed people look at me and give me a smile, it makes me happy, that’s my money”. “But how do you earn your living or survive?” I asked. He replied, “At this age I don’t need money to survive”. By that time my subway train had arrived and I left after sharing pleasantries in typical MBA fashion – “My name is dash and dash. Nice to meet you”.

In another such incident, one day while going home I got caught in unpredictable NY rains. I took shelter under a temporary shed constructed near a renovation site. Next to me, I saw a beggar sitting on the pavement, drenched in rain and surrounded by lot of plastic sheets. He looked at me and asked if I could spare a dollar. All I had at that time was a cookie that I offered him. He then moved over the wet plastic sheets and what I saw next gave me a big smile. Under the sheets was his small pet dog. The guy broke the cookie in two unequal pieces and gave the bigger portion to his dog. He then looked at me, there was a twinkle in his eyes and we both smiled.

Before I wrap up, one last thing that I quickly want to share – housing in NY. Ufff… Finding a ‘decent’ apartment in NY is a daunting task. Rents are ridiculously expensive. I had a tough time finding an apartment. But there is no need to panic (something I did big time and realized later). All you needs is a bit of early planning, luck and a smile on your face. Someone has rightly said, “If you can survive in NY, you can survive anywhere”.


Thanks for reading and Happy 4th July!.

Your comments are most welcome.