Episode 2 in our Big Brand Theory Series for MBA applicants: Northwestern Kellogg.
Two days before Kellogg’s Dean Sally Blount announced Kellogg’s motto change from “Think Bravely” to “Inspiring Growth,” I received an email and video link in my inbox from my education hero, Sal Khan about why he will never tell his son that he is smart.
His Khan Academy disrupted the education paradigm and made me a super fan years ago when my then, 10-year-old son ran into my arms, but not for a hug…no, he wanted my computer so he could earn badges. At first I thought he was planning to play a game. I limited his computer use to 15 minutes and then watched him open up the Khan Academy site and whiz through math problems that were two grades ahead of his own (earning his badges along the way). I didn’t take the computer away until dinnertime.
His love for the Khan Academy reminded me of Dr. Carol Dweck’s research on motivation, success and the growth mindset. I had read her work a few years before my son fell in love with the Khan Academy. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which I highly recommend if you are applying to Kellogg, she compares and contrasts growth-oriented minds and fixed minds.
The growth mindset is something to behold, and I watched it unfold over the years as my son solved my husband’s 5X5X5 Rubik’s cube, conquered my father in chess, and created “inventions” that he thought would make my life easier. I love the way his mind works. Thank you, Sal Khan and Thank you, Carol Dweck.
However, as a former admission dean and director, I often wondered when I would see Dr. Dweck’s concepts flourish in business schools. While I think several schools filter applicants for growth mindsets and challenge their students to stretch themselves, Kellogg’s new brand strategy was the first time I’ve seen Dr. Dweck’s approach become the very essence of the school.
Just as the growth mindset is dynamic and constantly seeks challenges and change, Kellogg has also reinvented itself many times over. I don’t think people will ever get over the fact that Kellogg is a marketing giant. However, since Dean Blount’s arrival, they’ve moved from “Team-Oriented” to “Think Bravely” to “Inspiring Growth” in the span of just a few years. These moves are reflected in their essay prompts, in their video essays, and in their interviews. You as an applicant need to respond to this change and address the filters Kellogg has added to its admissions process.
When working with clients applying to Kellogg, I always discuss my clients’ greatest challenges; then I push and push and push, until we discover something that they were initially afraid to reveal. If you are doing this yourself, realize that this inquiry means going deep within your psyche to figure out if you truly have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset (and I always recommend reading Dr. Dweck’s research. See link to her book above).
If at the end of our meetings my clients realize that they are not happy stretching, taking risks, and testing themselves, I ask them to rethink their school choice. Yes, Kellogg students are team-oriented; yes, Kellogg students are bright; yes, Kellogg students are personable, but Dean Blount got it right: Kellogg students are intellectually curious. They are resourceful. They challenge themselves to go beyond what they think are their limits. They have a growth mindset, and Kellogg inspires that growth.
For you the Kellogg motto means showing that you have the mindset to benefit from and contribute to Kellogg’s community dedicated to growth. As you apply to Kellogg demonstrate that you share Kellogg’s commitment to growth as an individual and as a future leader of your community and the business world.
(Look for Next Week’s Episode in the Big Brand Theory: Does Stanford Really Change the World?)
By Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.