So How Are You Thinking of Handling This?

It’s no secret that I’ve been at war with helicopter parents. It’s one of the reasons we have the Failure Competition. I want students to know that everyone fails once in a while, or you’re not trying hard enough. I also want students to understand that what’s important is that you learn how to recover from failure and have it make you both wiser and mentally tougher.

Last week in Atlanta I got another weapon in my arsenal… I was having dinner with Dave and Dana Patton, two very successful alums of the college who live in Atlanta. They had just sent their daughter off to Auburn and were commenting on what the orientation experience was like there. Like a lot of institutions, they had a separate session for parents. At that session, they suggested that when a student calls home with a problem, that the parents not solve it for them but instead ask: “So, how are you thinking of handling this?” That is an awesome suggestion that encourages students to become independent problem solvers.

If you are a student, think about this question before calling home, going to see a career coach, advisor or mentor. It’s not only a great way to develop your own problem-solving skills, but will help frame your discussion with the person from whom you are seeking advice or perspective.

Thanks for passing that nugget along, Dave and Dana, and thanks for hosting President Whittaker and all of us Thursday night.

We Should Do This More Often, Dean G

Last Wednesday we hosted Tory Bruno, the President and CEO of ULA (United Launch Alliance), in The EXCHANGE and used the event to record material for an upcoming podcast on the business of space. I’m pretty sure he was the first Rocket Man we have had at The EXCHANGE, and he even threw in some knowledge on the Knights Templar. He was awesome. It was great fun.

What made it especially fun was the number of engineering students who showed up for the event. They were informed, asked great questions and added an extra dimension to our discussion. Tory moved easily from technical discussions to business discussions, and students got to appreciate the importance and value of both perspectives in the commercial development of space.

I have always said there is a reason the colleges of Business and Engineering are physically connected. We need each other, and several engineering students came up to me afterward to thank me for the opportunity to attend the event and to express an interest in having an EXCHANGE of their own.

I couldn’t promise them that, but I did say I’d be happy to work with Dean Georgiopoulos to see if we could host a regular speaker series in The EXCHANGE focusing on topics of common interest. Three of the top five companies that employ business students are engineering-driven companies. Engineering students regularly compete in the Joust, and there is all that data analytics, cyber security and FinTech stuff going on. It should be easy to get this done. Let’s do this, Dean G. Call me.

Why Employers Like to Hire Student Athletes

We just concluded family weekend at UCF. The College held our fall Dean’s Advisory Board Meeting, as well as an alumni tailgate before the Pitt game. Several of us also took in the action on the field.

A fair bit of the discussion at the game focused around McKenzie Milton. His talent is obvious, but what’s most impressive is his ability to adapt to new situations. At the macro level, he lost his entire coaching staff at the end of last year. He had to adapt to a new set of coaches, a new system and new terminology. At the micro level, no matter what a defense tries to do on the field to stop him, he quickly assesses the situation, adjusts and leads his team into the end zone. After watching him do this a few times, you realize it’s not a fluke. He does this repeatedly, and his teammates have complete confidence in him.

A lot of employers like to hire former student athletes because they are focused, coachable and adaptable. Being a student athlete at a Division I school is like having two jobs. It’s incredibly hard to do. Succeeding requires not just talent, but focus and discipline. It also requires taking constructive feedback from others, modifying your behavior and adapting to new situations. It’s why this set of Knights will win both on and off the field.

The students in the stands should take note. Those players on the field are teaching you a lot of lessons about how to stand out in life, be coveted as future employees and get to the one.

Charge On, Knights….