Celebrating Failure: Finalist 3

This is the third finalist in our “celebrating failure competition. At the end of the post, the instructor from the student’s section explains what they liked this entry. A vote on the winner among the four finalists will start July 10th.

Student’s Name: Morgan Welch

Failure is a very necessary stepping stone in the learning process. Without failing, we would never know what revisions to make in order to better advance our goals and objectives. We also would be blind to better alternatives! What if we always succeeded, even when not trying our best? What if receiving the minimum reward possible meant we didn’t fail? What would motivate us to strive for bigger and better things, and how would we be able to see the alternative paths leading to those bigger accomplishments if we always succeeded taking the lower, easier paths? In my opinion, we would never find those paths, and never accomplish bigger goals for ourselves, if we never at first failed.

I have personal experience to support my theory. I am an equestrian, and as my fellow equestrians know, riding horses is not a hobby, but a grand (expensive) lifestyle. Being raised by a single mother money was not always an abundant resource, so to manage my lifestyle, I worked full time at the barn I rode at for 12 years. When I graduated high school in 2009, I decided I wanted to become a Knight (not because of the mascot, although it did reaffirm my decision). Shortly after, I learned of the equestrian team at UCF. Then, much to my dismay I learned what it cost to be on the equestrian team, and though I was accustomed to high expenses regarding the sport, it just wasn’t something my mom and I could afford.

Four years later, I decided that I had done enough waiting, and it was time for me to tryout for the team, whether I could afford it or not! Out of 50 contestants, I was one of the 12 picked to join the team. August 2012 is when the shows (and expenses) started. I knew I could only do one semester without a sponsorship or scholarship, so began my journey to find a way to afford the team.

I started off by creating a sponsorship packet because even though the team offers two scholarships, I figured a sponsor would be a quicker way to find money. In my request for sponsorship packet, I included background information on the sport, information about the team, information about me, and information regarding costs. I had a list of over 50 companies which I called and hounded with questions. Surprisingly, I received a few interviews! I was quite anxious to find out the results, but I never got any calls back. So all I had left to rely on were the scholarships offered through the team. I worked for a week trying to write the best essays I could. I, of course, thought they were great, and was really excited to hear good news. However, disappointment hit again. Girls who were veterans to the team ended up receiving the scholarships. I worked very hard for the Fall semester to try to find money to able to stay on the team for the Spring semester, yet still ended up having to step down from the team.

Even though this is a failure for me on the outside, I don’t see it as one on the inside. The experience taught me how to run after something I want. Next time, I will be more prepared when an opportunity like that happens for me!

Instructor Comments: I think this response is the best from this section because her story is compelling (she works hard to pursue her passion for riding horses but with little funding) as well as believable. She seems determined to find a way to achieve her goals. I also think it was well written.

The Importance of Place

My friends over at @UCFKnights (i.e., athletics) asked me to write about UCF’s location in Orlando and the advantages of being near a metropolitan area for UCF business students.

This is an excellent topic. My sense is that place is an underappreciated factor in student choice about where to go to school. It is also an underappreciated source of competitive advantage for educational institutions trying to differentiate themselves in the market.

It should come as no surprise that most of the top business schools are located in major metropolitan areas (Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles). It is easier to study business and build relationships with major employers if you are near them. You wouldn’t expect to find the top university for studying the Arctic in Hawaii or the best oceanography program to be in Kansas would you? Proximity also makes it easier for those companies to participate in the school’s programs (e.g., guest speakers, provide co-curricular opportunities) and for the school to develop opportunities on the employer’s site (e.g., internships, co-op programs, field trips).

So in thinking about the advantages of being in Orlando and attending UCF, ask yourself what types of companies dominate the local economy? And, what types of industries are especially unique to Orlando? Hospitality, the Attractions (Disney, SeaWorld, Universal), Space (i.e., NASA), Defense, and simulation and training immediately come to mind. Changes coming with the widening of the Panama Canal may add transportation and logistics to that list. It shouldn’t surprise you that the College of Business has way more alums working with these employers than we do with say car manufacturers, investment banks, or pharmaceutical companies. A linkedIn search of our alums reveals that the College of Business’ top five private sector employers are: (1) Lockheed Martin, (2) Sun Trust, (3) Harris Corporation, (4) Disney, and (5) Siemens. (See why I harp on knowing how to talk to engineers.).

None of this proximity to business matters unless you and your university are willing to engage them. UCF does a great job of this. We really are America’s leading partnership university. As a student this means your university can help get you in a local door. But don’t expect this to be handed to you. Competition for these opportunities is intense. Employers will want those applicants who demonstrate a willingness to be proactive, plan and stand-out from the crowd. If instead you want to go to a university where you can hide, or hope you will be “discovered” while at the bar, there is no advantage in proximity: invisibility yields the same results everywhere.

Celebrating Failure: Finalist 2

This is the second finalist in our “celebrating failure competition. At the end of the post, the instructor from the student’s section explains what they liked this entry. A vote on the winner among the four finalists will start July 10th.

Student Name: Cary E Caldwell

I was working for a high volume Foreclosure and Bankruptcy law firm in 2007 as a legal assistant while maintaining a full schedule of classes. At 21 I was getting burned out since our company was downsizing and placing the file load unto me. I was doing 3 peoples jobs and was working for a very hard boss who would ask me to skip classes in order to meet deadlines.

Well one evening after a very tough day of work and school I went on my Myspace account (this is 2007 mind you) and blogged about my boss and the horrible experience I was having. Not realizing that someone in my office was one of my “friends” and had forwarded the not so nice blog to my manager.

The next day I received an email stating that I was to clean up my desk and leave my ID badge at the admin’s desk. I was devastated. I moved from my home in Florida to this Dallas, TX firm and had no real family and friends that I could rely on to get me through my schooling. So I quit college and packed up to my mother’s house. I went online and found an insurance job in Connecticut and decided I would not return to academia. After about 3 years of being the low man on the totem pole, I realized that I needed to go back to school and have a balanced work/life experience. So here I am very grateful for everything I’ve learned so far to better myself and excited about getting back to the corporate world.

Instructor’s Comments: It shows that failing to be vigilant in all aspects of your life can cost you. Particularly relevant because of social media’s increasing impact on our students and their work prospects.

My Summer Reading List

I know it is Monday and responding to suggestions from my Tweeps is supposed to happen on Thursdays, but we are in summer session at UCF. This is a time of year when we do crazy things like teach in shorts and offer the same section of a class five times a week so students can complete the whole course in about a month. Answering my Twitter followers on Monday rather than Thursday seems to fit.

Rafael Campos (@rcampos1990) asked what books I would suggest for a recent college grad.

To put my recommendations into context, you should know that I read widely for work and deeply for fun. I read tons about history (e.g., ancient, American Revolution, World War II), baseball, and classic fiction (e.g., Dickens, Hemingway, and Tolstoy). I rarely read “business books”–things you would find in the business section of Amazon or your local book shop. Instead I look for books from other walks of life that might provide insight into leadership and the work that I do. There are three authors whose books I always read: Thomas Friedman, Malcolm Gladwell, and Seth Godin. I’m just finishing The Icarus Deception. I’m also fond of Michael Lewis (The Big Short, Moneyball).

So, with all of that out of the way and in no particular order, here is my list of ten books I’ve just completed or hope to finish this summer:

The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin
Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children, Dorie McCullough Lawson
In The Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, Peter Bernstein
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker
Why I Write, George Orwell
Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Paris: the novel, Edward Rutherfurd

I am also addicted to Flipboard. If you are an iPad user, it is a free app and I curate all of the content I read there into a Magazine called UCF Business. You can take a look at it and subscribe by clicking here.

Celebrating Failure: Finalist 1

This is the first finalist in our “celebrating failure” competition. At the end of the post, the instructor from the student’s section explains what they liked this entry. A vote on the winner among the four finalists will start July 10th.

Student’s Name: Andrew Seenandan

One of the most memorable failures of my life was at the golden gloves boxing tournament. The build up to the tournament was the key factor in making it unforgettable.

Prior to the tournament I had already won the provincial bronze and silver glove tournaments for my province. I would be the third person ever in the history of the province to win all three if the golden gloves was conquered as well. On top of that, I had an uncle who used to box and was a champion back in his days. He took a strong initiative when he saw my victories to train me.

One of the goals he really wanted me to accomplish was to move down another weight class before the tournament. To say the least I struggled badly to lose the weight the tournament. It also drained me physically. All the effort was futile because there ended up being no one to fight against in the lower weight class. The result was I had to move up to the next weight class.

On the day of the fight I had all sorts of family show up for the fight that had not shown up before. Even my own mother showed up which threw me off cause she ever came to any of my fights before cause she couldn’t bear to see me hit. There was an absolute massive amount of pressure on me to perform. To add to it, at the time I didn’t know but my cousin was good friends with Bret the Hitman Hart, a professional wrestler I grew up watching as a kid who just happen to also be there in the audience.

Long story short, I had all my uncle’s shouting for a knockout so under the pressure I wore myself out gunning for the knockout and ended up losing a points decision. I was utterly devastated from the loss, but it made me much stronger through the experience because I learned to deal with pressure at a whole new level. I came to the realization that there wouldn’t be much more experiences in life that would be as stressful as the one I just went through. Now things like presentations and interviews seem like a cake walk as compared to a boxing match where physical well-being is on the line in combination with everything else associated with it.

In conclusion I will leave you with a thought that Mike Tyson once said “fear is like fire if controlled it will keep you warm if it is left to get out of control it will eat you up alive”. All one can do is shoot for the stars cause even though you may not reach them you may end up somewhere close.

Instructor’s Comments:

This was a very interesting post. Andrew dealt with making it to a championship boxing tournament where he succumbed to pressure/nerves to listen to bad advice that caused him to lose. From this he learned ways of better dealing with pressure and perspective on what truly is a stressful situation. For the exercise it showed more thought than the other posts, and focused on an important moment in his life.

Risky Business

The movie that launched Tom Cruise’s career is celebrating its thirty year anniversary. Feeling old? The key scene, the one that launches all the movie mayhem and should serve as inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere, involves a conversation between Joel (Tom Cruise) and his risk-loving, live-on-the-wild-side, friend Miles (Curtis Armstrong). Miles says to an indecisive Joel: “Sometimes you gotta say what the …. Saying this brings you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future. So Joel, your parents are going out of town?” (Click here to see the scene. Warning: it is not rated G.) Unfortunately, while Joel takes this advice to heart, his implementation of Miles’ big idea falls woefully short. Bad things happen as mistakes are followed by more mistakes.

I’m not sure that Dr. Porter was thinking of Miles when he was reading my blog post about celebrating failure in the college, but he too took his advice. Dr. Porter challenged his 500-plus Capstone students to write about a failure and what they learned from it. He then asked each student to post their entry as a comment on my blog for everyone to see. Dr. Porter offered a mere five points of extra credit out of one thousand total points for the course to participate.

About a third of the students enrolled in the course got out of their comfort zones and took the challenge. These 177 students should be congratulated for the courage they exhibited in completing this assignment. About half of the responses involved a personal failure. Two in ten responses were about a job or job related failures. The remaining third of the entries missed the point of the assignment. The overall assessment of the Capstone instructors was that one in four entries was ‘valuable’ reading. I am encouraged enough by these results to start a new tradition in the College and am going to feature my four favorite entries as my Wednesday blog post over the next month. In week five, we will do a vote of our readers to determine the winner.

To be successful in this competition, students had to do three things: (1) experience a meaningful failure; (2) think about the lessons they learned from it; and (3) articulate these lessons in a way that could benefit others. Perhaps some college seniors simply haven’t had enough life experiences to encounter significant failure, but I was most concerned by the number of students who couldn’t articulate the general lessons learned from their experiences. Clarifying the rules of the competition will help in this regard, but the entries revealed a clear shortcoming in our students’ ability to demonstrate a capacity to articulate the lessons learned from past mistakes. They cannot become successful business professionals and leaders without developing this skill. So, let’s use this new competition to benchmark our progress in improving on this important outcome. If we don’t help students learn from failure, I fear my frequent Miles-like advice in blog posts is going to create a whole lot of Joel-like escapades.

A Graduate’s Job Search

I got this note via LinkedIn a week or so ago. I thought I would share it is an example of job search strategies in today’s social media world. Thanks Adler!


Hope all is well in UCF! Please give Ms.Anne Marie and Dr.Foard my best.

I thought I would share this unique story with you of how I landed my first job after graduating from UCF…

I graduated in December and had multiple offers of $30-38,000 a year: not to sound arrogant, but I am not a $30-38,000 a year candidate. I know my resume, my experience being a Brother of Alpha Kappa Psi, and I know what my degree from the UCF’s College of Business is worth.

I decided to hold out, job less for nearly three months before I landed a unique offer and you’ll never guess how I found out about it: LinkedIn.

An old class mate of mine from my Junior year ‘liked’ a job posting and her action showed up on my wall. I was scrolling through LinkedIn one night on my iPhone while at the bar with some AKPsi Brothers (naturally) and it came up ‘Seeking Director of Business Development for Intimidate Hire’. I thought to myself: “The position sounds cool enough, let me check it out..”

I applied for the position that night and did multiple phone interviews, Skype interview, and finally I was paid to come up and meet the owner of the company in Atlanta. After an unconventional in person interview (we sat at a local Thai restaurant and ate green curry chicken, while discussing my portfolio) he offered me the position and I moved my life to Atlanta, GA two weeks later. I wouldn’t want to divulge what my salary and bonus structure is, but is nearly double any offers I had in FL.

My postion at Select Luxury Cars as Director of Business Development has been great so far, handling lost leads, marketing, social media, car shows, etc: very fast paced and I love what I do.

My boss said I was hired because:

1) I am an Eagle Scout
2) My involvement with the College of Business and Alpha Kappa Psi
3) I was qualified, young, ambitious, and could grow with the company

I have since encourage ALL to update their LinkedIn as I did and use it at a tool to land a job…it worked for me!

Are We Trusted Advisors?

The death of bricks and mortar higher education is frequently pronounced by people who confuse education with information acquisition. The thinking goes that higher education is little more than an information acquisition middleman and that the Internet can provide virtually unlimited access to information at a fraction of the cost in both time and money.

There is merit in the view that the cost of information impacts the delivery of higher education. Way back in the day (think Middle Ages), recitation sections were places where a person would read to groups of students because books were both expensive and hard to come by. As books became more plentiful, these sections morphed into places for discussion, teamwork, etc..

But at its core, education is not information acquisition or even the development of a specific skill, it is the cultivation of opportunity, insight and perspective. It is an attempt to develop through extended interactions with experts the capacity to both see and enact a different future for both the individual and society.

Like professional service companies that have been impacted by the Internet (financial trading companies, personal tax accountants, textbook companies), the key to higher education prosperity in this new virtual world is to develop a trusted advisor relationship with clients–to understand their unique situation, challenges, and needs and to be able to engage in dialogue with them that produces a collaborative plan that meets their goals. People will pay for this: one might argue that in a world where we run the risk of being buried in data and options, a trusted advisor to help navigate the way is more valuable than ever. This is why I am so big on engagement with our students; it is the vehicle by which we become trusted advisors; providing insight, shaping students’ perspective and helping them enact their future.

Go advise.