Business School Things to think about

Why I made this Top 100 list…

Written by Ian Folau

2016 Best MBAs: Ian Folau, Cornell

At first, when I was made aware that I was being nominated for this list, I couldn’t understand why.  I was definitely not the smartest in the class, with barely making it by in accounting and finance.  I was also not the most involved in extra-curricular activities put on by the school.  But as I talked to people involved with the selection and reading comments made by my professor, I realized that it stemmed from my ability to be a good person that cared about others.  I recently gave a talk at TEDx Cornell Tech and I talked about leadership as being someone who cares about others.  It took a lot of self-reflection and a massive collection of leadership stories from friends and colleagues to get to that simple realization.

Now reflecting on what I’ve learned over the past year doing an MBA at Cornell Tech, I have pulled out key attributes that I want to stay with me the rest of my life.  I want to be able to give more than I take.  I want to be able to really care about the success of others and do my best to help them accomplish whatever they want to do.  I don’t want to be seen as someone that gives only half of his effort or someone that doesn’t do what he says he’s going to do.  And above all, the thing that I am striving for after a year of introspection, is the ability to empathize with people.  Although we hear about taking caring of your soldiers in the Army,  I don’t think I understood how important the concept of EQ (emotional intelligence) played a legitimate role in leadership.  People love leaders that can empathize with them, their needs, their abilities, and their desires.  When you tap into that, you open a world of super-charged abilities.  In the end, I believe that I was selected to this list, because I cared less about my grades and more about the people around me.

About the author

Ian Folau

I left the Army after nine years of service to follow my dreams of starting a business. I started up and am leading an awesome company while navigating sales/marketing/fundraising myself. I write to hopefully help those that are like me.


  • Hi Ian , I have been reading up a lot about you and your achievements ever since I decided to apply for Cornell Tech MBA program. Truly inspiring!
    I’ll be glad if I can talk to you some day and learn much more 🙂

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