Why I Coach—Camden Robinson

Camden R., an expert Leland coach and Harvard MBA, outlines why he chooses to coach and what it means to him.

Camden R.

By Camden R.

Posted August 22, 2022

“I don’t know, Cam, I don’t think it’s there yet. In fact, I think you have a long way to go.” My brother Chris was giving me feedback over the phone on what I had thought was the final draft of my application essay for HBS. “I like the overall theme,” he continued, “I like the stories and experiences you’re using, but it’s just not personal enough. It needs to be less about your ideas, and more about you.”

I bristled at his feedback. After weeks of iterating on my essay, I had finally had a breakthrough moment the day before and had worked feverishly all night, rewriting my essay from top to bottom. I thought I nailed it. I shared it with my parents; they thought I nailed it too. I shared it with Chris—and he thought it was a big miss.

As tough as it was to hear feedback, I had to admit he was right. It wasn’t personal enough. It was too much about my central theme of justice and not enough about me. Having just applied to business schools two years prior and being a gifted writer himself, he knew what he was talking about. With typical generosity, Chris found time in his busy schedule as an investment banker to write detailed comments on my draft. I incorporated much of his feedback and came back to him with a noticeably improved version. He still didn’t think it was there yet. In another long phone call, he pressed me to go one level deeper: “You’re saying justice is important to you, but why is it? What is it about you that makes you feel this way?”

The next night I was up until 2 AM rewriting, making significant changes to add more of my own thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. When I finished writing and read it over, the difference was stark. “This,” I finally thought, “is an essay that could get me into HBS.” I was nervous when I shared it with Chris, not sure if I could handle another disappointed reaction. His response was emphatic:

“Cam, you crushed it!!! This essay is 50 times more compelling. THIS is an essay you can be proud of, one that is worthy of who you are both as a person and as a candidate. Wow wow wow!”

Yes, he really did say “wow wow wow.” I was ecstatic. And now you know the truth: I probably wouldn’t have gotten into HBS if it weren’t for my brother.

When I go back and read the earlier draft of my essay, it was actually pretty good. It just wasn’t good enough. I desperately needed a coach to push me, give me the tough feedback I needed to hear, and force me to answer hard questions about myself. The final draft was more than good; it was engrossing, pulling the reader in and making them root for me and identify with me, helping them “get me” as a human being. And that’s exactly what your HBS essay needs to accomplish.

I’m an MBA coach for one simple reason: not everyone is blessed to have an older brother like Chris. I benefited tremendously from his guidance and input, and I want to provide that same help for others.

The admissions process at schools like HBS is so competitive that there are dozens of reasons why you might not get in, even when you could excel there as a student. My goal as a coach is to make sure that one of those reasons is not because your essay wasn’t as good as it could have been or because you weren’t prepared enough for your interviews. I want you to submit your application feeling confident that you’ve provided the best possible representation of yourself. It might require several drafts and some uncomfortable feedback along the way, but we’ll get there!

Interested in working together on your MBA application? Click here for my Leland coaching profile.

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