A couple of weeks ago, I joined the Ambassadors as they debriefed their experiences and student feedback from the “street smarts” program this semester. The street smarts program is a peer-to-peer effort to on-board students entering the College. Designed and run by the Ambassadors, the program consists of two different one hour workshops. The first workshop occurred in the second week of the semester and was meant to provide students with survival skills as they encountered lecture capture, the testing center and a culture that demands their attention and engagement. The second workshop occurred just after midterm exams and focused on helping students find their passion, major and path forward. It was a very impressive undertaking by the Ambassadors that required creativity, project management, and getting out of their comfort zones. More than 700 students attended each workshop.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the debrief session was the observation that some students thought the Ambassadors were intimidating and a bit unapproachable. If you’ve met the Ambassadors you know that they tend to be “Type A” folks who kind of want to rule the world, or at least their part of it. They are joiners, aspiring leaders, and engaging students. It is these characteristics that drive them to be Ambassadors. They are also strong personalities. Speaking from personal experience, sometimes people interpret aggressive action spurred by passion for a cause as being arrogant and unapproachable. As a smart Director of Marketing once told me: “You are what people think you are.”
I was tremendously impressed by how the Ambassadors owned this observation by some of their peers. Rather than try to refute it, they talked about how to become more approachable. At our holiday party last week, I suggested that the group adopt a value championed by Rich Lyons who is Dean of the Haas School at Berkeley: Confidence without Arrogance. It is a wonderful phrase that encapsulates what I think a great education provides people—enough confidence in your abilities to know you don’t need to display an air of self-importance to succeed. It is also an incredibly flattering way to be described by others. Perhaps we can all join the Ambassadors journey and resolve to work on becoming confident without arrogance next semester (i.e., a quiet, but discernible swagger).
Forget the College Football Playoffs and Conference Championships, the real news is that we conclude our Failure Competition this week with videos from two finalists. We had three finalists, but one didn’t get their video to me by the deadline. Unfortunately, that Knight failed at the Failure Competition…
So our first finalists video will run on Tuesday and our second finalist on Wednesday. We will run both on Thursday, with a vote on Friday to determine the winner. The poll will open just after midnight and close at 5pm. Anyone can vote. We’ve had as many as 2500 voters and the winner is typically the student with the most compelling lesson from their failure. So, tune in this week and cast a vote for your favorite on Friday. We’ll announce the winner just after 5 pm.
Good luck finalists. Remember no matter what happens, the most important thing is that you continue to Charge On.
I received news early Friday evening that my name wouldn’t be advanced to the final round for the Presidency of FGCU. While I never like finishing out of the running, I think they made a good choice. The farther you go up the ladder, the more important that the person and organization fit. Organizations have different needs at different times in their development. For instance, sometimes an organization needs innovation, change and a questioning of their value proposition. Other times, they need a calm steady hand that gives them the space in which to consolidate gains and set up future growth. It’s not so much about you as it is about them.
I was interested in having a conversation with FGCU because I was hoping that as a young institution looking to build an identity, that they would be willing to join me on an uncomfortable ride to a different kind of future that we would invent together along the way… one based on defining the perspectives, experiences, mindsets and relationships that would transform people. It seemed like a chance to implement fundamental change across a whole institution. As the interview unfolded, it became clear that they were looking for someone to show them a more certain road to a more conventional definition of success. In retrospect, I probably was asking too much for a group to trust me that much at the outset…A second interview might have helped, but my approach tends to grow on people over time as our joint successes mount.
The good news is that I got to tell our story and I think we’ve come a long way in the college to build the kind of trust necessary to take us on that kind of journey. More than happy to continue on that ride.
Sometimes when you explore an opportunity, you find out that the better place for you is where you already are.
As you might be aware, the Orlando Sentinel reported that I am a semifinalist for the President’s job at FGCU. Frankly that was news to me, too…. They reported it before I knew I had been selected via social media.. You’ve got to love Twitter. Lesson: news travels fast in today’s world. You need to be ready to deal with it.
I am immensely proud of what we continue to accomplish here at UCF. I work with a terrific group of people whom I admire. We have all worked very hard to scale intimacy for all 9,500 of youand realize our common vision of the future for the College of Business. It is an immensely rewarding job. Know that I take great satisfaction in the fact that so many of you take the time to say hello to me in the halls and comment that you appreciate the experience you are having here in the college…. engaging with all of you makes me want to get up in the morning.
So, why consider a new opportunity? I was motivated to apply for the FGCU job, because it may provide me with an opportunity to extend what we have built at the college to an entire campus. As my staff knows well, I don’t care what I’m called (e.g., professor, dean, president, dad or just Paul). I care about changing higher education for the better. As you mature in your career, legacy becomes more and more important. I want my legacy to be the creation of a distinctive institution that transforms as many people’s lives as possible by giving them the skills, mindsets, perspectives, experiences and relationships they need to succeed. I believe this is the future of higher education. The bigger the canvas I get to paint this vision of the future, the better. At a minimum I will get to tell our story to the folks down at FGCU next week.
I promise all of you and everyone at UCF two things as FGCU and I evaluate each other over the next couple of weeks: (1) my usual commitment and energy to moving us forward in the college; and (2) open and honest communication with all of you on where the process stands. If you see me in the hall and have a question, stop me and ask. Conversation is one of the things we do best in the College of Business.
Whatever the future holds, you’ll be hearing from me soon.
One of my favorite things to do each semester is to meet with the pledges from the AKPsi, Beta Eta Pledge class. They always come armed with great questions about how my life experiences shaped my career choices and leadership style. We talk for about an hour and they invariably ask me something I haven’t thought about before. It makes me stop, reflect and offer an unrehearsed response. Sometimes my answers surprise even me and I’m grateful that the pledges took the time to challenge me and make me think.
When I first came to UCF I had a number of student organizations reach out and ask me to speak to their group. I made every effort to accept these invitations, but over the last year they seem to have become less frequent. Maybe the novelty of hearing from the dean has worn off with students? Maybe I’m overexposed like the NFL? Or, maybe I’m just not as accessible as I used to be?
In an effort to make sure it is not the latter, let me extend an invitation to all of our Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) to contact me about coming and speaking to their membership. All you need to do is send me a note. Give me a sense of what you want me to talk about (the more interesting the request the better) and I’ll have Tina (my right hand), reach out and try to set up an hour. Understand that much of my schedule gets set in six month intervals. We are about to plan out January to June 2017, so now is the best time to try to get on my calendar for the Spring. I look forward to the conversation.
The DeVos Sport Business Management Program turns fifteen this year. I attended their inaugural alumni banquet Friday night. It’s easy to tell when you are with someone or something special. The message is never about the “what” or the “how”, it’s about the “why”. If you ask any DeVos alum why they joined the program and do what they do, they will answer: “I believe sports provides a powerful platform to change people’s lives and create a better world. That’s why I came here. Oh yea, by the way I got a Masters’ Degree from one of the top programs in the world and a job in and around sports that lets me work toward that vision every day.”
Kudos to Dr. Lapchick and his team for building a program with such a strong sense of purpose. Kudos to the DeVos family for generously investing in such a bold vision. And kudos to the UCF alums in attendance whose accomplishments, commitment and passion reminded everyone why the program was built in the first place.