I’m Not the North Korean Leader

I often joke with the staff that when you walk into the building, you might think you’ve entered North Korea.  My picture  and the title of my most recent blog post is on every screen.  It’s a bit unnerving. I’m not that pretty and having my image everywhere can be seen by others as more than a bit egotistical.

So why do I do this?   I believe the best education occurs when you are brave enough to sit on a log next to someone different from you who has something interesting to say and have a conversation with them. The prospect of such an exchange should frighten you a bit and hold the potential to transform you.

We have spent the last five years building a culture of engagement in the college.  We are creating a place where no one is allowed to be invisible, unwilling to engage, or too afraid to get out of their comfort zone.    To lead such a culture, I have to walk the talk. I can’t be invisible, unwilling to engage in conversation, or be too afraid to get out of my comfort zone. I want every student to know who I am, what I want us to accomplish and understand why we do what we do in the College of Business.

So, if you catch me in the hall, say hello, introduce yourself and realize that you have only two minutes to engage me in a conversation that might be memorable for both of us. Make it a conversation about something you couldn’t have with anyone else in the College (e.g., career coach, faculty member, department chair or assistant dean). My photo and the title of my most recent blog is splashed on screens throughout the building as an invitation for you to do just that.  When you take me up my offer, you might find out that you’re not in North Korea at all.



It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s not easy being green

It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things

And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re

Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water

Or stars in the sky

– Kermit the Frog

If you are new to the College, you might feel a little bit like Kermit.  Kermit believes he is made to blend in and fears his fate in life is to go unnoticed. When you get to a college as big as ours, you too might worry that it will be tough get attention, sparkle and get to where you hope to go.

The good news is that we have a whole host of things planned to help you overcome your fears and stand out in your very first semester with us.  Here’s what you need to do:

1.  Go to Welcome to the Majors on Friday:  Welcome to the Majors is the largest face-to-face class at UCF each semester.  You will get to meet a few thousand of your classmates and learn how you can use your time at UCF to create a unique you that will stand out from the crowd and get you the career you want.

2.   Make a New Friend:  While you are at Welcome to the Majors, make a new friend…  someone who is different from you and learn from them.  Part of college is about expanding your network.  Another part is discovering who you really are.  Neither of these things happen just hanging out with people who are the same as you (Kermit found Miss Piggy).  Besides you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. Maybe you should upgrade?  We have thousands to choose from.

3.  Meet Your Career Coach: You don’t have to come up with a success plan and execute it all on your own.  Your career coach can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, critique your plan and give you tips on how you can expand your portfolio while you are with us.  Our career coaches have worked as human resource professionals, so they know what employers are looking for in new job candidates.

4.  Go to Street Smarts:  No one knows better than other students how to stand out in the College.  Our Ambassadors have a one hour workshop that will give you the inside story about how to make it here.

5.  Join a Student Organization:  We have 11 registered student organizations in the College.  They can help you meet people, learn about careers and develop your leadership skills.

6.  Attend The Exchange:  We bring interesting people to you in The Exchange every day.  People who have interesting careers, can give you insights into the real world, and can help you get a good start after school.  No other college has anything quite like it.

7.  Go to Street Smarts Again:  We have a second version of Street Smarts after your first set of exams.  Some of you will learn you need to pivot and choose a new path. This happens all the time in the College. So the Ambassadors have a workshop designed to help you out.

8.  Ace your first Professional Development Course:  Nobody wants to explain to a prospective employer why they got a “C” in professional development.  It makes you look unfit for the world that lies ahead, because, well you are.

9.  Start Thinking About Landing that First Internship:  Internships tend to lead to jobs.  Sometimes they teach you that you don’t want to do something you thought you did.  Either outcome is good and it puts something on your resume you can talk about. Watch for workshops put on by the Office of Professional Development and learn what it takes to get invited to our Internship Invitational.  You want to be there.  We only invite companies who have real internships.

10.  Get to Know a Faculty Member:  They won’t bite.  Some are even pretty cool and you will need someone other than your parents to write that letter of recommendation for you when you decide to get a job or go on to graduate school.  They can only do that if they actually know you.

All this and classes too!  Lots to do.  Lots of opportunities to stand out.  So don’t stand back in the crowd blending in…. engage.


It is odd that in a profession where your relationships are your key asset that you often have to move on to move up. Development officers are a prime example of this. Much of what they do involves building trust with donors so they feel they are being heard and their vision will be realized. Good development officers are also hard to find. So when you get one, you tend to have trouble keeping them.

Friday we celebrated Tara’s time with us. She is moving on to a senior position just up the road at Stetson. Tara raised a lot of money for us. You can thank her for the atrium remodel in Business Administration Building 1, for one. In a team prone to showing its edge, Tara injected a sense of calm. She was also our peacemaker when we (read: me) made other people on campus nervous. LoL. If I needed to throttle back a bit, Tara was willing to deliver the message. Most of the time I listened. I only saw her nervous once, driving me the wrong way down a one-way street on our first trip to Atlanta.

So why is this post called Moneypenny?  A few years ago, the Hall Of Fame had a James Bond theme. Tara came dressed for the occasion and given her role (development) , the class she exudes and her ability to engage in witty banter, the nickname Moneypenny just kind of stuck. If the Foundation is smart, they’ll figure out that it’s the Moneypennies, not the Ms, that keep the operation from going rogue and they’ll hire her back…soon.  In the meantime, we’re sure going to miss her.

How to Create Opportunity

When you work at UCF, you go to a lot of graduations. Saturday I attended my 18th.  Add in my time at UNLV, Kentucky and LSU, and my guess is it’s more than 50. This is a long way of saying that I’ve heard my fair share of graduation speeches.

On Saturday, I thought Jason Brodeur hit it out of the park. It was funny, heartfelt, practical and insightful. It will come as no surprise that his comments about getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks and working with people who have well-considered views that are different than your own resonated with me. But what stood out was when he said: “To get the advancement you seek, you need to be good at what you are doing now. ” Yep, people don’t get opportunities because they want them. They get opportunities because they’ve earned them.

This just doesn’t apply at work; it pretty much applies everywhere. No matter what you want in life, your chances improve tremendously if you are awesome at what you do now. This includes school and your relationships, as well as your career.

Really enjoyed your speech, Jason. If you ever want to speak in The EXCHANGE, we’d love to have you tell our current students what you told our graduates. The earlier they get this advice, the better.