If you’ve spent any time lately with members of the elementary or middle school set, you’re likely aware of fidget spinners, the wildly popular palm-sized toy comprised of three propellers and a middle bearing that you spin between your fingers and thumbs. There’s not much more to it, unless you’re one of the advanced users who posts videos of your fidget spinner tricks on YouTube. (In which case, you’re probably a little young for business school at the moment, but a budding entrepreneur for sure.) Like most trends, this one has a few takeaways that may be useful for MBA applicants to keep in mind.
Keep It Simple
In a marketplace offering personal drones and VR headsets, the humble fidget spinner became the toy of 2017. This makes the case for simplicity, which also has a place in your MBA application. So often, I see essays and resumes that attempt to dress up accomplishments and end up sounding convoluted and unconvincing. A straightforward approach is superior. Clearly state where you’ve been, where you want to go, and how the program you’re applying to will help you get there. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, though at the same time…
There’s Always Room For Innovation
Currently on Amazon, a search for fidget spinners turns up over 111,000 results. Given this glut, some are looking for new ways to build on the trend. Take for example the companies selling fidget spinner simulators and games in the Apple App Store. Similarly, admissions committees tend to reward innovators. Look for ways to showcase the new and successful ideas you’ve implemented on your teams. When discussing future career goals, articulate the unique contributions you plan to bring to the field.
Timing Is Everything
Several articles have pointed out that a similar spinning toy was granted a patent in 1997, but the inventor let the patent lapse after unsuccessfully pitching Hasbro. A Bloomberg story noted that thousands of other spinning toy patents have been granted, but none took off before the fidget spinner. Hence, timing. If you’re a re-applicant to MBA programs, this can be heartening. The admissions committee’s final decision is based on so many factors that are beyond your control, including the number of comparable applicants they’ve already accepted. Address any glaring weaknesses before you reapply, but don’t assume that you’ll be unsuccessful simply because the last round wasn’t your time.
Stand Out From The Crowd
As the point above attests, there will be many candidates similar to you vying for the same spots in the programs. Think about how you can market yourself differently. For inspiration, let’s look at MaxBoost, a producer of a top-selling fidget spinner on Amazon. Their product description categorizes the fidget spinner as more than just a toy, calling it a “stress reducer” for kids and adults and claiming that it can help anxiety and autism. While admissions committees will be looking for more proof behind your claims than an Amazon shopper willing to spend seven dollars on a toy, the lesson here is to make sure your applications and subsequent interviews speak to your unique brand, so you don’t blend in to a crowded marketplace.
See The Big Picture
In a recent Inc. article, successful fidget spinner producers noted that the trend is leveling off, and they expect it will peak at the holidays this year. Paul DeHerrera, CEO of the company that produces a high-end fidget spinner called the Torqbar, noted, “If you look at things like yo-yos and Hula-Hoops, they spiked in a fad fashion and were very popular, but you can go to a Walmart and find a yo-yo. We want to be that brand in a few years.” This shows not only a great deal of foresight, but also a sound goal, given the way fads work. Admissions committees tend to reward applicants who understand the larger factors driving their fields and who tailor their career goals accordingly.