“A great mentor of mine once said that tenacity is the most important attribute of an entrepreneur. So true. Tenacity is the tool you pull out when you’re destined to do amazing things and the odds are not in your favour.”
John Waldron, MBA (FS) Class of 2008
From the moment I found out about Dalhousie’s MBA (Financial Services) program, I knew I wanted in. And there were exactly three things I wanted to get out of it: the letters behind my name, the education, and life-long friendships. I was building a career in financial services, so to me, this program made perfect sense.
But getting into the program wasn’t quite as easy. My undergraduate grades were mediocre, and I had no senior leadership or management experience to highlight. My GMAT score was good, but not enough to get me in. My application was rejected. I reapplied with a second, stronger application, including a full supporting endorsement from my employer. That was rejected. I asked that my application be reconsidered under Dalhousie’s admissions policy for students with disabilities, accompanied by a letter from my family physician. That was rejected. I appealed with an Application for a Waiver of an Academic Regulation. Rejected. I was running out of options.
So, two days before Dalhousie closed for Christmas Break, I flew to Halifax to meet with Barb Maynard, CFAME’s Program Coordinator at the time. She believed in me but didn’t have the authority to approve my application. Instead, she set up a meeting for me with the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, but only to be rejected in person. I persisted. He insisted. I persisted more. He insisted to call security. So, I left his office, but on my way out he suggested I speak with Ray Klapstein – the Program’s Director. To the Dean, this was just a Maritimer’s way of tempering the coldness of rejection as I left his office. To me, it was one more lead. But my meeting with Ray had about the exact same outcome, minus the Maritime courtesy to go talk to someone else. It was over. I had no more leads. No more strategies, angles or ideas. I was rejected.
The next morning, with no meetings booked, I went back into Dal and just sat in the CFAME office. Maybe to spark an idea, or get a meeting with someone, or have someone take pity on me… The school was about to close in six hours for Christmas Break and I intended to start classes in the New Year. As I sat quietly, in walked Ray, shocked to see me, and asked “what are you doing here?”. “I have nowhere else to be,” I told him. After an unusually long stare at me, Ray showed me the folder he was holding under his arm. It had my name on it. And circled in red pen, the word “APPROVED”.
Dal’s MBA (FS) Program gave me exactly what I was looking for – the letters behind my name, a great education, and some amazing, life-long friends. It also gave me something I wasn’t expecting: a healthy reminder about tenacity.
A great mentor of mine once said that tenacity is the most important attribute of an entrepreneur. So true. Tenacity is the tool you pull out when you’re destined to do amazing things and the odds are not in your favour.
Letters behind your name, education, friends – those things matter. A lot. But tenacity is what will drive you, even when your tank is on empty. And every now and then, it’s good to be reminded of just how much tenacity lies inside of you.
John Waldron, MBA (FS) Class of 2008
Founder of Learnedly and purveyor of accessible education for financial professionals.
CFAME Connection is delighted to advise that John Waldron has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CFAME Connection.
Excellent story John! Thanks for sharing it and reminding us all of the importance of tenacity. Truly inspiring! I will forever keep your name in mind when discussing with young leaders what it takes to succeed! Best!
I agree, Alain! A profound insight into the human spirit and experience!
Christine McCaw says
I remember this story because you shared it at our cohort convocation dinner. I remember then nodding in agreement and thinking, wow, how lucky am I that you got into the program, and started a Toronto based study group, and let me join the group, and that one decision helped ensure my own success and helped me get to graduation (and make some lifelong friends along the way, and of course the letters bahind my name)!
Thank you for adding depth and breadth to the conversation!
Caroline LeBlanc says
You were a formidable classmate. So glad to have had you in our classes. I look forward to your CFAME Blogs.
As do I, Caroline. I am delighted that John has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CFAME Connection.