About Paul Jarley

Opinionated dean working to improve the educational experience and prepare students to compete as business professionals in today's tough job market.

How To Win At Failing

Everyone fails. It is part of life. Rather than pretend it won’t happen, you should count on it and know what you will do to recover from it. Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the twelfth  installment of our Failure Competition. Entering our competition is simple:

  • Write an account of a failure you have experienced in the past. Your failure story has to focus on a time you stepped out of your comfort zone to experience something new: the farther the better. Tell us why this was such a stretch for you, the failure that resulted and what you learned from the experience that would be of interest to others. It needs to be genuine, people can spot a fish story a mile way.
  • While the Failure Competition began with students in our capstone class, it is now open to any UCF student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF. About a year ago, we had a music student win the competition.
  • Need inspiration or guidance to tell your story? Search my blog. We have posted many stories about failure over the years.

Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

To enter you must post your essay in response to this blog. If you are a capstone student this semester include your section number and name of your instructor. If you are not in this class, tell me your class standing ( e.g., freshman, senior, graduate student) and your field of study. You must complete this exercise by 5 pm on Friday November 10th. Don’t Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away. I Have to Accept It

 A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider. I will select three finalists by November 13th at 5 pm.

The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. Those videos must be sent to me by 5 pm on November 21st.

I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting November 27th with a vote by everyone reading my blog taking place to determine the winner on Friday December 1st.

The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200. These monies are awarded through our financial aid office.

Good Luck


Opportunity Can Take You Places

My professional career has taken me from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Madison, Wisconsin, to Iowa City, Iowa, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Lexington, Kentucky, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Orlando, Florida.  Sometimes I had to go in search of opportunity, sometimes opportunity took me along for the ride.  Either way, my address changed.

While roughly 70 percent of our alums stay in Florida, the other 30 percent travel far and wide. This week I’m in New York City and Washington, D.C., talking to alums about how they got to these cities and how we can get more of our students opportunities to live and work  there. UCF has almost 5,000 alums in NYC and more than 3,000 in the nation’s capitol. We have even established a Capital Markets Advisory Board in New York made up of highly placed alums who can help connect students with potential employers. We are hoping to create a similar board in D.C.

One of my biggest responsibilities as dean is ensuring we expand students’ horizons— that we help them see possibilities they didn’t know existed for them. Some of those possibilities are beyond Florida, like working on Wall Street or in the U.S. Treasury Department. To do this, we need to reduce the barriers people perceive to striking out in a new direction. Perhaps the biggest barrier is fear of the unknown. If you don’t know anyone in the town and fear getting lost in the crowd, you are much less likely to see a place as a viable choice for you.

The EXCHANGE, presented by FAIRWINDS Credit Union, is designed to give students a better picture of the careers that await them. Our initiative to build alumni networks in key cities is meant to help overcome fear of the unknown and ease the transition to new places when career aspirations take students beyond Florida. What I’m looking for this week, is a few alums who will act as guides for those Knights who are interested in joining them in a far off place. It’s how we all need to work together to extend the UCF brand and ensure our students have the opportunities that will take them places.

An Opportunity to Redefine Hospitality

My good friend Abe Pizam is retiring as Dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Abe is the college’s founding dean, has conducted research, lectured and served as a consultant in more than 30 countries and serves on the editorial boards of 20 academic journals. His big reputation is matched only by his big personality.  By any ranking you can find, Abe has built the Rosen College into a world-class operation. So, when the Provost asked me to chair the search to find the next dean of the school, I knew I had a big task in front of me.  It’s tough to find the right person to follow a legend who put his school on the map.

The good news is that Rosen is well positioned to lead the transformation of the hospitality industry.  With all due respect to Cornell University and Ithaca’s 300 hotel rooms, UCF sits in the heart of the hospitality industry.  Rosen has first class facilities, oodles of industry support and the best donor anyone could ask for: Harris Rosen.  It has amassed a faculty that meets Abe’s high academic standards and has a reputation for partnering with other units on campus to create innovative programming.  With advances in technology redefining many industries including hospitality, having an innovative, technologically-intensive university in the midst of one of the world’s great tourist cities offers the Rosen College tremendous opportunities to marry research advances with practice in ways that move the industry forward.

The search committee’s challenge going forward isn’t to find the next Abe Pizam (there is no other Abe Pizam), but rather a leader who can take the very unique assets of the Rosen College, Orlando and UCF and combine them into an educational experience that equips the next generation of hospitality leaders.  Reputation as the undisputed leader in hospitality education will follow.  If you think you might be up to that task, you can learn more about the position and how to apply by clicking here.

Should I Smile?

One of the best smiles at the College belongs to Professor Ze Wang.  She is a wonderfully warm optimist whose smile lights up a room.  But we’re a business school people, a smile isn’t an asset unless we can put some sort of value on it.  In a world where I frequently joke my faculty study what they don’t understand (e.g., I once had a faculty member who studied dual commitment; let’s just say he had trouble sticking with one relationship), Ze studies the value of her grin.  Does smiling make people think you are more competent or less?  Are people more or less likely to invest in your idea, if you smile?

If you think you have a winning smile, are considering developing one or think projecting grumpiness is the way to go, you might want to sign up for Ze’s talk at the Citrus Club Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 4:30 p.m. and learn about the value of your smile. Note that this is our first Dean’s Speaker Series to end your workday rather than begin it.  I’m not sure what Tiffany has planned to replace the bacon, but I’m sure it will be worth showing up at 4:30 p.m. to get a sample.

You can sign up for Ze’s talk here.

News From the Front Lines

I received an email with this title over the weekend from Barbara Durham.  She was updating me on how her first in-class sessions in our new reduced seat time format went.  I got a similar note from Cameron Ford a few days earlier.

Mike Tyson once famously said that everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.  These were our first forays into having 200 students all in a room doing a group activity, but the early returns are promising.  Both Barbara and Cameron reported very similar experiences with noisy rooms filled with mostly engaged students who had done what they were supposed to have done in preparation for the class activity.  Those who had failed to prepare for the class activity stood out, got the message that they were slackers and paid the price. Cameron recorded the video below to give us a sense of how it felt.  Barbara described her room as electric.

Now for the punch in the mouth part, both faculty mentioned the need to soundproof the room and that some students clearly had not watched the videos they had assigned prior to coming to class.  Barbara estimated the number that hadn’t completed the work necessary to do the in-class activity to be around 25 percent, but she went on to note that many students didn’t watch lecture capture videos or keep up in class under the old format either.

While the bureaucrats call our new approach reduced seat time, that doesn’t really capture the goals or benefits we seek.  Given the video and the feedback from Barbara and Cameron, I’m inclined to call it “crowd learning.”  That term has come to mean: learning by interacting with each other and is certainly consistent with our culture of engagement.  Anybody got something better to call it?

Things Change

One of my favorite stories was told to me by John Thomas. John worked in our DeVos Sports Business Management program a few years ago. Before he came to work for us, he had spent some time working in the NBA central office for David Stern. John tells the story of how he worked months on a project for the commissioner. He put his heart and soul into the project, and when it came time to present his work, David Stern stopped him and said, “I’m sorry, John, but we’re not going to do it.” John looked incredulous and a little heart broken as he asked, “Why?” His boss said, “Because things change.”

Last week things changed for lots of people. This week as we return to school, some things will change, too. Some faculty will adjust their class requirements; some will change assignments and/or exam times. Not every faculty member will make the same adjustment. The changing circumstances didn’t impact every class in the same way.

Some students will, no doubt, have hoped for a different outcome just like John Thomas did. They will think it unfair, impractical or impossible. But honestly, there is only one thing to do when conditions change–change with them. Do the best you can to adapt and win under the new rules.

Charge on, Knights!

Honest Work

Like many of my students, I was the first person in my family to go to college. One of my grandfathers worked in an iron mine, the other in a foundry.  My father painted houses.  My mother kept the books for an oil delivery company.  For people who suffered through the Great Depression and World War II, they were happy to have honest work.  They did their jobs with enormous pride and a sense of accomplishment. Labor Day was a big day in my house.  Management my family joked, got the other 364.  (As Dean, I live by this.)

Sometimes I think that my industry goes out of its way to disparage honest work.  We don’t do it directly of course. We are far too civilized for that.  Instead we portray a college education as the gateway to a “better future,” earning the degree holder higher wages and fewer bouts of unemployment than people without the degree. Although it’s never really said, the inference is that honest work is inferior.  Life without college is by definition a lesser future.

I beg to differ. Honest work done with your hands and heart, isn’t inferior work, its different work. For some people, it’s the right work.  Even today, the U.S. has about 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 or more per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree.  People in certain vocational fields are also slightly more likely to be employed than college degree holders.  There is a lot of variance around all of these means mind you, but honest work isn’t dead and the people who hold these jobs aren’t lesser folks–they are my parents.  They put me where I am today.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am a big believer in the transformative power of higher education. I’ve seen it change many lives for the better and it’s what made me what I am today. But while we take a break from classes this Labor Day let’s not deceive ourselves into believing we hold the only key to people’s chance at a better future. In today’s world, it’s monopolists who are the dying breed, not honest work.



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.