Why I Coach—Max Richards

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

Max R.

By Max R.

Posted August 22, 2022

When I finally decided to apply to business school, it was a few months before Round 2 deadlines. As soon as I dug in, I realized I had far more questions than answers. I knew a few people in business school, but none from my profession, with my GMAT profile, or from a similar personal background. I therefore shopped around for an admissions consultant, but the crazy prices made them out of reach for me. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, which made the whole process feel like I was fumbling around in the dark. It was exhausting.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had strengths that were well suited to the application process—my attention to detail, my ability to craft a narrative, my aptitude for synthesizing the pieces of my 24 years into an effective application specific to each school. With some hard work and some fumbling around in the dark, I was accepted to all my top schools: GSB, HBS, Wharton, Booth, and Haas (with the Consortium fellowship; the Consortium is an organization that links top-tier students from diverse backgrounds to educational opportunities). I ultimately chose the GSB.

When you’re lucky enough to get into and go to these schools, one of the first thing that happens is friends start reaching out asking for help. Once at the GSB, I fell into helping friends, then friends of friends, then friends of friends of friends. I’d coached and mentored others before, but this was slightly different—it felt really good to guide others through the application process, which is difficult and important, and which I had navigated alone. And the more I worked with young applicants, the more horror stories I heard about their experiences with big admissions consulting firms—stories about consultants being unresponsive, inattentive, or even flat-out rejecting clients on the basis of their profession or GMAT score. What bothered me most, though, was that these big firm consultants were offering “templatized” coaching, guiding their clients to talk about only the most surface-level aspects of who they were. I think you need to do the opposite when you’re applying to these programs—show up as your deep, full self. Hearing these stories only energized me to coach future MBA applicants all the more.

As a coach, I focus on helping you build a narrative that shows who you are, and who you have the potential to be; not by asking you to change, or by having a 10 minute conversation about your stats, but by really getting to know you, and hear about the things you care about. I want to support you in telling your story in a way that is authentic, empowering, and freeing to you, maybe even in ways you haven’t fully articulated to yourself yet. From day one, I’m here to listen with empathy, push you to own your full self, and help you take your next step.

The truth is, applying to business schools isn’t easy. My experience, at least, was grueling and uncomfortable, so my goal as a coach is to shoulder some of that burden, cheer you on, and guide you through the process so that you don’t have to go it alone. That’s why I coach.

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

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