Why I Coach—Sam Linville

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

Sam L.

By Sam L.

Posted August 22, 2022

The greatest gift I ever received came from my 11th grade English teacher. She taught me that language is powerful in ways that most people don’t appreciate. It’s not enough to convey a story in words; you have to bring forth the right emotions. Every word must be intentional, placed into its sentence with care. I loved the weekly essays my teacher assigned; I’d spend days carefully tweaking each phrase of my argument, testing different adjectives and punctuation until I was positive I’d gotten it right.

From that year forward, writing was a near-sacred practice for me. I especially liked writing application essays (weird, but true). A good application asks questions that give the writer a chance to look deep inside themselves and lay a piece of their life out on the paper. With each essay I wrote, I found myself examining who I was and what I wanted with ever-growing detail. Sometimes, these applications received rejections—that’s life—but even those disappointing announcements were softened by the knowledge that I’d gained something invaluable just from the time I spent writing them.

My application to Stanford for business school was no different. I found a quiet place on NC State’s campus and stayed there for a whole day trying to hone my response to their famous question: “What matters most to you, and why?”

To be truthful, when I started that essay, I knew the answer. Still, the words I put down felt clunky and stiff. I almost gave up, but I remembered the gentle encouragement of my 11th grade English teacher, and how she taught me to treat every single word as an opportunity to make the reader feel something. Over the next several hours, I visited each word I’d written multiple times, testing out new phrasing and asking if what I’d written evoked the right feelings. When I was done, I felt like I was able to truly express what mattered most to me for the first time in my life.

Over the last few years, I’ve applied this same methodology to friends and clients, and helped people get into graduate and post-graduate programs all over the country. Each opportunity to help someone carefully craft their narrative—choosing each word for the feelings it will evoke—has been a privilege. I’d be honored to work with you on your story.

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

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