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  • Writer's pictureMichael Gallant

How MBA Without BS came to be

Looking back, I was pretty lost. After 5+ years of military service in the Israeli Navy SEALs, I was honorably discharged in 2011, with a strong urge to do business. I didn’t know what doing business actually entailed, but I had an attraction to it. Coming from a highly-structured military system, I yearned for the possibilities and flexibility that financial freedom presented. I wanted, as much as possible, to be in control of my own faith. So instead of learning business by attending another highly-structured system (university), I decided to learn through doing.

I set off to building business ventures - first small, then slightly larger. I failed A LOT but learned every step of the way. Eventually, I got pretty frustrated from failing so much and felt like I needed a way out. I knew I was experienced and talented, but I felt like I needed a platform that can elevate me, a stamp of approval to help me define myself a bit.

Above: my first business, Freedive Israel, a freediving school.

And that’s when I recalled a conversation I had years earlier. A teammate of mine from the Navy, who was big into real estate (and still is), mentioned that he plans on becoming a real estate mogul, and then go straight for an MBA in HBS. I laughed it off as absurd, but the thought stayed with me for years. When I was looking for that “way out”, I recalled what he said, and started exploring that possibility.

Through help from friends, and through trial and error, I learned that a small number of schools are willing to consider applicants without an undergraduate degree. Since I had nothing to lose, I decided to go for it “all in”. Because I wasn’t really aligned with the admission schedule, I ended up doing two GMATs and 4 applications in 3 months. It was hectic, but I learned a bunch.

Fast forward to 2016. By some incredible luck, out of the four schools, I got admitted to INSEAD, just when it was selected as the #1 MBA in the world by the FT. It was, without a doubt, a life-changing experience. After school, I moved to NYC and worked for a PE firm. After 3 years (that I define as my “Ph.D. in business”), I started my own investment firm, buying and managing residential real estate in the midwest. Unlike my previous ventures, this time I was “properly armed” for the task.

Because my own experience in the MBA was so positive, I have been advising applicants from all over the world to get into top schools. I built a website and a podcast for that purpose. Even though I toyed with the idea of charging money for my advice, I eventually decided against it. I realized that being around impressive, even inspiring, individuals is more important to me than financial gain. Plus, my real estate business has been providing enough income. At the end of the day, I really like the position of an “MBA influencer” - speaking with schools, admission boards, consultants, applicants, and more.

Would be happy to know what you think in the comments below. If you have any questions you think I can help with, you are welcome to reach out via the contact form.


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