Chickens in the Backyard? Really? Enter and Win.

My team and I have been exploring the possibility of launching a podcast. Without getting into much detail, the podcast would focus on identifying ideas and trends that people should know about… things that are also likely to impact how we prepare students for the future. I’m not yet sure we are going to launch this venture. It’s a lot of work to do it right and I’m not convinced we are as interesting as we think we are. But I have committed part of my summer to creating a demo or two and getting some expert feedback to see if this is an idea worth pursuing.

The team likes a new challenge. So, ideas for segments have been flying back and forth, usually over Fuzzy’s tacos. This week I blurted out “Chickens in the Backyard! Is that really a thing? What does that tell us about where society and business are heading?” I admit this was a bit of a reaction to once having had a neighbor who had chickens and perhaps more annoyingly, roosters in the backyard. It may also have been top of mind given a recent trip to Kauai– chickens own that island.

My idea was met with immediate skepticism and ridicule…. development people, I learned, can be especially harsh. I defended my idea, noting that chickens in the backyard are on the increase, that they defy economic logic, that everyone knows eggs come in nice cartons in two rows–even the free-range chicken egg variety. Surely, something else must be going on… That whatever it is, it must be fundamental (not just a property tax gimmick like cows) and that we should devote a segment to getting to the bottom of it.

The team was unmoved. So I am appealing to you, my blog readers to help me out here. Is something fundamental going on? Would it make a good 15 minute podcast? Do you have a take on this? If so, leave a comment to this blog post. If I like your take, I’ll buy you lunch and offer you a guest spot on the podcast demo. Call it a surprise contest. Enter. Win. And help me prove my team wrong. You never know when knowing a grateful Dean could come in handy.

There’s No Room For Arrogance in Business

Justin Wetherill was our Welcome to the Majors speaker on Friday. A Dixon School of Accounting alum, Justin is 30 years old and his company UBreakIFix has more than 400 stores. You can learn more about his story by clicking here.

You would think a guy with his track record would have more than a bit of an edge. You would be wrong. He just might be the most humble guy you will ever meet. He believes it’s the key to business success: ” There is no room for arrogance in business,” Justin noted. “We succeed because we serve our customers, suppliers and employees. People want to work with us because we serve them.”

This is an incredibly important insight for students. People will hire you or work with you because you add value to them. It’s about them, not you. Use the time you are with us to figure out what you can best do to add value to others, rather than how you can obtain a job that will earn you the most money. You will have a much more rewarding and successful career. The money will follow.

Thanks Justin. We are so fortunate to call you a UCF Knight.

And the winner is…

Lonny Butcher Welcome to the MajorsToday we hosted nearly 350 business students and one GEB Points Fairy in the college for Welcome to the Majors. Special thanks to UCF alum and UBREAKIFIX co-founder and president Justin Wetherill, ’07, for sharing his story about how he went from Accounting major to successful entrepreneur all thanks to a shattered iPhone.

Welcome to the Majors wouldn’t be successful without our presenting sponsor Wells Fargo and the support of our corporate partners, alumni and friends who participated today. Thank you.

And congrats to the winner of the iPad drawing… Sheril Lalani. Sheril, we’ll be emailing you soon about how to pick up your prize.

And as part of the drawing, Sheril and fellow students Vanessa Arnold, Samuel Orcutt, Walter Gerstel, Colin Spain and Jason Leonhardt have won lunch with me. We’ll be in touch to set that up soon.

Doing Not Being

The week between semesters is one where many students learn about whether they got into the major of their first choice. Students tend to see their major as their identity in college.. they are an accounting major, or an economics manager or a management major. In large part, this is an exercise in “being.” Students think this label defines both their present and their future. When they learn they didn’t get into their major of first choice, students tend to think doors have been slammed shut and that their life is over.

This week we welcome about 700 students to the College and try to impress upon them the importance of having the right mindset at Welcome to the Majors. There we try to help newcomers understand that the goal of education is ACTION, not status. It’s about what you want to do, not what you want to be. Students tend to say things like: “I want to be an accountant.” or “I want to be a financial analyst.” When we follow that up with: ” What does an accountant or financial analyst do?” Students give us confused looks. They are stuck in “a being” mindset.

Doing is action oriented with a specific goal in mind– “I want to provide people with a unique entertainment experience.” Or ” I want to invest in the stock market so I can retire at 40.” Or, “I want to apply data analytic techniques to hockey player performance and build a better hockey team.” When you focus on action, you tend to think about the skills and extracurricular experiences you need to be good at what you want to do. Our aspiring hockey mogul needs a good grasp of statistics, a way to sell her value proposition to a general manager, and probably an internship where she can start to develop these skills and better understand the business. A lot of different classes in a lot of different majors and experiences can help get her there. The same with investing and retiring at 40… Would it surprise you to learn that many top- end financial firms hire physics majors because they have developed the skills necessary to work with very complex models.

There are a few instances where you need to be, before you are allowed to do. You can’t routinely do surgery without a medical degree and the proper credentialing. Similarly, it is possible to become a CPA without an accounting degree, but the most efficient path involves getting one. But these examples are the exception, especially for people who want to succeed in some aspect of business. So if you are one of those students who didn’t get into their major of first choice, remember what we told you at Welcome to the Majors. Focus on you want to do and find a way to acquire the skills and experiences necessary to do what you want to do. If the evidence suggests that you don’t have the ability to develop those skills, pivot and pursue something else you want to do. It’s a long career. No one has all their doors shut at age 20 or even age 40. Figure it out and charge on.

We Won’t Forget You

Today is graduation.  We graduate about 2,000 students a year from the College of Business.  Spring is the biggest graduation ceremony we do each year.  It is so large, that UCF has a separate graduation just for us.

Over the last 12 years, every College of Business graduation ceremony involving students from our Executive Development Center has included one person: Mike Sheahan.  As the program liaison, Mike would stand on the same corner outside the arena to congratulate students and their families as they entered the arena.  In the more than 1100 students Mike has greeted over those 12 years,  I dare say he has never ever forgotten even one of their names.  As EMBA graduate and UCF VP of Communications and Marketing Grant Heston notes: “Mike has an amazing ability to recall people’s names at a moment’s notice.  Frankly, it is a superpower.. he doesn’t just remember their names, he remembers their spouse’s name, their children’s names, maybe even their crazy uncle’s name.”  Combined with a hearty handshake and a warm smile, he makes every person he greets feel like they are the single most important person in his life at that moment.  And, this is not a fleeting thing — you could run into Mike 10 years later and he would still have all this information at the ready.  You would have no need to introduce yourself.

Mike’s uncanny ability to never forget someone is so impressive that we have adopted it as a mindset for how we treat our graduates, retired staffers, and former faculty.  Simply put, we will never forget you.  For our many graduates today who took the time to get to know us– there may come a time in your future when you need your college to remember you, help you make a connection or point you in the right direction toward success.  Call or email us. We will do what we can to help.  Mike wouldn’t have it any other way.   So Mike as you enjoy your retirement, know that we will continue the tradition you gave us and know too that we will certainly never ever forget you.