Lessons from Joy

Written by Lisa Bleich

I had a chance to catch up with one of my sectionmates from business school, Joy Chen last week while in San Francisco. Joy had a long career at Clorox before becoming a turnaround master. She recently joined the skin care company, H2OPlus, as the Chairman and CEO. We were talking about her experience over the last six months and I asked her what she looks for in people on her team. And as I was listening to her, I thought about how these same traits apply to college applicants.

  • A Positive Attitude. Joy said, “I look for people who don’t tell me why they can’t do something, but instead look at what they can do and offer me alternatives.” As you think about challenges in your life whether they are academic or personal in nature, think about what you can do to make a difficult situation a success. Can you go in for extra help or get one of your friends to tutor you? Can you think of an alternative way to approach a difficult person or problem? Can you change the way you study or manage your time? Staying optimistic can motivate you to be the best you. As you solve problems creatively, it will also provide some material for one of the CommonApp prompts: “Describe a problem you have solved…”
  • Do the Right Thing. During the recruiting process, Joy keeps an eye out for people who are ethical and have good values. She’s also not shy about letting an employee go who does not exemplify these qualities and has done so in the past. In the age of Instagram, Vine, Facebook and the like, it’s all too easy for something inappropriate to end up online. Drinking at a school related event, crashing a party and getting drunk or out of hand, saying something out of anger to an authority figure may only happen once, but unfortunately these lapses in judgement can follow you when applying to college and beyond.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up. Joy looks for people who are not afraid to be direct and state their opinions. She enjoys having multiple points of view to help her assess what is in the best interest of the company. Colleges also want students that bring different perspectives to their class. One of the CommonApp’s prompts is to describe a time when you challenged a belief. Several schools have a supplemental question to describe a time when you raised your voice for someone. Having the confidence to advocate for yourself or others, whether related to a learning difference or a perceived injustice, will allow you to positively contribute to a college community.

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