I’ve peppered this post with pictures from when I lived in Hawai’i, as evidence of what you can get when you use God Mode!
God Mode is what happens when you discover the ultimate hack, the cheat code that unlocks invulnerability, that special item that makes everyone else look like they are standing still while you’re flying circles around the earth. Think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s One Ring, only better!
I have a friend, Locke. Locke has been on the Team for years, he has everything going for him, he’s Black, articulate, athletic, educated, and has women falling for him like he wears CHCl3 the way most men wear cologne. Locke’s completed two degrees and he’s researching options for the next leg of his career. He knows, just as you and I do that most of the advantages of being born in the U.S.A. won’t be available to you without at least a Bachelor’s Degree. He’s been disappointed a few times when he wasn’t accepted into programs and divisions that he is clearly qualified for. In many cases, he’s overqualified!
I asked him to map out exactly how he was applying to these programs, who’d he contact, and how he presented himself. After a lengthy conversation, I found out that he’d done exactly what his co-workers, professors, and various recruiters told him to do. That was a huge mistake!
Locke needed a decidedly unfair advantage. I told him to get a pencil, because class is in session. I opened up my bag of tricks and introduced him to “The Hawai’i Hustle!”
Let’s get this out of the way early, I don’t believe in fair. Fair is like the Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster, and the Chupacabra combined. If it exists, no one I know has ever seen it; yet everyone claims they know someone who has.
While I was in college I spent a lot of time traveling the world and our country, one of the ways I did it was by researching various programs that schools and the government had in place for students. The unfortunate reality is that if you aren’t “in the loop” or know how to break into it, you won’t have any idea these things exist. Fortunately for me, I grew up with parents who made sure I was always involved in educational programs so I was able to tap into that loop when I left home for college.
After digging around the university web page I found out that my university had a National Student Exchange program. It was a small, cramped office staffed by underpaid administrators and
slaves student workers. I could hear the chair goaning under the weight of the woman at the front desk as she struggled to put a file into a cabinet that was just out of her reach, without actually getting out of the chair to do it.
When she saw me, I made it a point to make the best possible first impression. I smiled, used her name when I spoke to her, and most importantly didn’t dive right into what I needed from her. I asked how her day was and how long she’d been working at the office. I gradually moved into the subject of my wanting to apply to the program, what cities I could apply to, and the best way to present myself to the places I chose.
I won’t bore you with the technical details and instruction, mainly because they aren’t important. Partially because technical details and instructions are for the men who believe that fair exists, and gets them what they want.
An hour or so later I’d filled in all the paperwork, with my new friend coaching me (from the comfort of her swivel-chair) on specifically what to fill in to get past the screeners in the application process. Finally, I was at the last page, “What Are Your Top Three Choices?”
I only filled in one location. HAWAI’I!
The lady in the swivel-chair leaned back and took a deep breath as she gingerly explained to me that Hawai’i was the single most competitive place to get assigned to. She told me that I should probably add two or three more names to the list of places I wanted my application sent to. She made the case that I had up to three more places I could have my application sent to.
I smiled, then told her I’d only need one as I headed out of her office.
I remember untying my tie and unbuttoning the top button of my shirt because it was hot outside, New Mexico has famously dry heat. I was wearing a stunning Desert Rose colored shirt that went amazingly well with a pastel tie I’d bought to go with it. Even when I was in school, I understood the importance of presentation. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whenever I am doing business, of any kind, I wear a suit, tie, and cufflinks. Loud, gaudy, conversation-inspiring cufflinks.
Back to the story, I sat down in front of the awesomeness that was a Power Mac G4 computer and typed in the name of the program I was applying to in Hawai’i. I meticulously copied the names and mailing addresses of the director, his secretary, the names of all of the program administrators, the dean of that specific college, the president of the school, as well as the names of anyone that had been in the program over the last few years. Be sure to also take careful note of what’s written about the people you are researching. You’ll need to know two things about each one of them. Examples of what you want to know are things like clubs and organisations they started, positions of influence they earned, awards they won, and scholarships they were awarded. Find two things to put into your letter that let them know you put in hard work preparing to write them.
NOTE: I got physical mailing addresses. This is where the Hustle starts; it won’t have nearly the efficacy if you use email. Email is common and easily discarded. I sent the letters in big Priority Mail envelopes. A letter like that is met with eager hands and torn open with the ferocity of a kid opening a birthday present!
Every letter I mailed said the same thing, using different words. After I wrote the letters, I printed them and had them proofread by three different people. I corrected the typos and grammar mistakes, printed them on Resume Paper because it’s thicker and has a better presentation, then mailed each one in a Priority Mail envelope. Here’s how I wrote it, if you use it and it works, send me a present!
Cell Phone Number
PROFESSIONAL email address
(Make an email address that is only for business,
preferably “first and last name@email”)
Title, or Mr/Ms./Mrs.
(Always use Title if they have earned one)
Good morning (name),
I’m writing because I’ve just applied to the Study Abroad (Insert Your Own Program) program. I chose your program because after reading and researching all of the places I could apply, your program was the most attractive. I applied to your program because of your success with (Insert 2-3 relevant accomplishments and gains that the university has made that are directly associated with The Program). I know that your goals and values align closely with mine. I also found (note their personal involvement with the two things you researched earlier) that you were involved with are goals I am considering setting for myself.
I am coming to you for guidance (ego stroke, I like to be stroked and so do you) because I need to know what I can do to help my chances of being accepted into The Program. Is there anything I can supply The Program with to better my chances?
Thank You for an advice you can give,
Yusef Wateef (Use your own name!)
Three weeks later, I started getting letters and emails in reply. Let me sum them up for you:
“Watt, I greatly appreciate your reaching out…blah, blah, blah, …flattered…blah, blah, blah, …can’t offer any extra help because it would give you an unfair advantage…blah, blah, blah, …Best of luck…blah, blah, blah, …”
Exactly as planned; insert Evil Laugh here!
Locke asked why “I went through all that work if I knew it wouldn’t get me anywhere?” I countered with a question of my own. I rebuffed him and asked, “If it didn’t work, why was I accepted to the program?” Locke is a very clever man, he uncorked a psychotic smirk as he simultaneously understood, and began planning how to use the technique in his own plots and schemes.
My only goal was to leave an unshakable first impression. I mailed them a picture of me in a suit, tie, and genuinely awesome cufflinks. I don’t mean literally, I know some idiot will substitute a picture in his envelope instead of a letter, and then complain to me that the Hawai’i Hustle doesn’t work. I had no idea who would make what decision regarding who is and is not accepted into the program. I made sure whoever it was had a large bias in my favor because no matter what they said, they can not associate my name with the person who wrote such a beautiful letter that stroked their ego and demonstrated a sincere interest in the program.
Locke decided to lock horns with me by asking, “What happens if they start telling each other that they got a letter, and they figure out you wrote several people with the same format?”
Me: *sigh*, “I hope they do. I hope they compare letters and are blown out of their socks when they realise that I went through the trouble of doing professional research on each one of them and mailing a letter. That makes my effort even more Herculean in their eyes. It also becomes apparent that I couldn’t have cut/pasted the same letter to each one of them.”
Locke was appropriately stunned.
I pressed my attack by asking him, “How many times in their careers do you think someone will do what I did?”
YusefWateef (AT) Gmail.com