From A Ghost-Busting Alum

If you listen to our podcast, you know that ghosting is a thing. It happens even when employers want to offer someone a job. Dean Caravelis, Founder and CEO of Bleezoo is a UCF College of Business Alum who heard our ghosting podcast and sent me a link to his LinkedIn post on the subject.

This morning I was talking to a friend of mine about a major pet peeve that we both have in common: people that go dark.

If you’ve worked long enough you have run into these professionals.

All of the sudden, they stop communication and fall off the deep end. Even after plentiful and engaging communications.

I get it, everyone gets in the weeds on occasion but sending a short authentic message is a professional courtesy that everyone, young and old, should learn to adapt.

Even if the message is, “I’m really in the weeds, can we pick this convo back up in the Fall?” or “Things have shifted over here and we’re not a good fit. Truly appreciate your efforts”

It’s one thing to ignore/disregard incessant 1-way cookie cutter cold sales communications (Hello LinkedIn!), it’s a different thing when you are actively engaged in an exchange with a human being.

Regardless of the circumstance, send a short note. Don’t go dark.

Heck, you likely have had a boss like that, too. You ask them something that they don’t want to answer so they pretend the e-mail doesn’t exist. (Which is why asking in person is much better).

Hey you, don’t be THAT boss.

Be direct, even if the answer is, “I don’t have an answer”

Be authentic. Be direct. This is the best thing for your reputation.

What? Not a subscriber to our podcast? You can fix that by clicking here and signing up with your favorite podcast app. We have scheduled 10 episodes for the Fall. Two new episodes will drop soon.

Want to hear more from our guest blogger? Well he just happens to be in the Exchange Monday…


A Big Thanks To Our Friends At BB&T

Hurricane Florence cut short my visit to North Carolina last week. I had planned to visit a number of companies involved in FinTech to see what they were doing and better understand the types of skills students need to compete in this space. This effort is all part of a plan to launch a Masters in FinTech in partnership with The College of Engineering and Computer Science in the Fall of 2020.

We did manage to spend Tuesday however with our friends at BB&T. They have been big supporters of the college’s ethics program and our Alumni Hall of Fame for many years. Scott Keith, their Central Florida Regional President, sits on my advisory board and set up a day for us at their corporate office in Winston-Salem that included some time with their company President, talent acquisition and development folks, and the people who work in risk management, FinTech and Cryptocurrencies. They gave us terrific insights into what our students will need to succeed in this space.

What struck me most about the visit was how similar BB&T’s culture is to ours. We both stress getting out of your comfort zones, data-driven ethical decision-making, teamwork, a growth mindset and constant professional development. If you embrace our culture of engagement in the college, you will like the culture at BB&T.

The one disappointment I had was that we didn’t get to visit their Leadership Institute. We had to make a flight and avoid the hurricane. I have experienced one of their programs before, but hadn’t seen their facility. It would also have been a chance to visit one of our former Ambassadors, Kevin Ortiz, who is a student leadership fellow there and a member of their early career program. Fortunately, I’ll get to go back to go to attend their week-long leadership program soon.

Thanks again Scott and the whole team at BB&T for spending so much time with us. Hopefully, you all safely weathered the storm and I’m sure those BB&T generator trucks have helped many people in a time of need. I am especially grateful and proud of our partnership with you and look forward to seeing many more UCF College of Business alums doing great things for your organization soon.

Is This Really A Thing?

It’s my job to think about what the college should look like five and 10 years from now and make sure we get there. This is tough. As Bill Gates famously noted, people tend to overestimate the amount of change that will happen in the next two years and underestimate the amount of change that will happen in the next 10 years.

I come across new ideas and phenomena almost every day: Esports, Triple Entry Bookkeeping, Bitcoin, Millennials, Urban Chickens, Ghosting…My mind is constantly thinking — Is this stuff business people need to know about or is it just hype?  You can start finding out today. Over the Fall semester, we will bring you 10 episodes, each about 15 minutes in length.

It’s a new way for us to extend the culture of engagement in the College to our alumni and community at large. Many episodes feature UCF faculty, alums, board members and students. While the topics are serious, we hope to make you laugh a little along the way and leave you with a new way to think about the topic at hand.

You can help us make the show a hit by going to your favorite podcast platform and subscribing. Or you can sign up by clicking here.

It’s a great way to support the College and look smart at work, school or the dinner table.

An Investment in Our Future

Earlier tonight I had the honor of attending a reception at Vince ’95 and Joyce ’98 Virga’s South Florida home where they announced a long-term commitment of $10.25 million to UCF that will benefit the College of Business and UCF Athletics. Their gift—the single largest alumni gift in the university’s history— is a blended commitment of estate and current-use resources that will support national championship programs in both the College of Business and UCF Athletics. Their commitment put the college well over our IGNITE Campaign goal – so it was big night for us!

Vince and Joyce, who are leaders in the high-end information technology staffing field, told us they were inspired by UCF’s culture of innovation and the national accomplishments of the PSP program. Although their degrees are in journalism and psychology, they are excited to support the College of Business and the unique program that is providing amazing opportunities for students while impacting businesses around the world. This gift is the largest in PSP history and will have an immediate impact on the program. As longtime Knights fans, they also directed a portion of the gift to benefit the Football Excellence Fund, which helps student-athletes continue to compete at the highest level, and the Director’s Fund, which supports the priorities of UCF Athletics.

Vince and Joyce are great role models not only for our students but also our alums who may be looking for ways to get involved and give back. We are very grateful to Vince and Joyce and look forward to seeing them around the college.

Charge On!

The EXCHANGE Kicks off Tuesday..

If you are new to the College and went to Welcome to the Majors, you have probably figured out that we do things a little differently here than elsewhere on campus.  We don’t just expect you to learn, we expect you to do.  We expect  you to do, because we think it is the best way for you to learn.  Getting lectured at is way over-rated…. that’s what your parents did to you when they were mad at you.  Did you learn much from that?  Now, think of situations where you were handed something and told to just do it… on the field, auditorium, workplace or summer camp.  Think about what you learned then…

This is why we expect you got get outside your comfort zone, interact with people who are different from you, have meaningful conversations and  do.  We also hope you will use these opportunities to build your professional network now so you can use that network to get the job you want BEFORE you graduate.

One of the best resources we have in the college to help you achieve this goal is the Exchange. Over the past two years, we have had more than 45,000 chairs filled by students who have had meaningful conversations with more than 350 guests in the Exchange.  They come to talk with students about their careers, job opportunities, professional success and failures, ways to connect with important people or resources and how to prepare for what lies ahead.   Think about this.  This is the only time in your life you will not have to seek out  advice from a potential employer, mentor, alum or thought leader.  We bring them directly to you. Several a week in fact. I know of no other school that does this everyday in a space devoted just for this.

The College of Business isn’t a place or set of buildings– it is an experience.  One that should shape how you view the world, how you prepare for your future and what you choose to do.  Dive in.  Visit the Exchange.  Have a conversation, learn something unique and then go out and do.


Our Second Collaboration Room Opens This Week

By the end of the is week, both our Collaboration Rooms should be open.  These rooms each hold 200 students and are meant to support our REAL (Relevant, Engaged, Active Learning) courses.    Collaboration 1 is on the first floor and was formerly known as Room 107.  Collaboration 2 is on the second floor.  It was a number of different rooms before the remodel.  If you are scheduled to come to  a core course class to participate in a group exercise, it will be in one of these two rooms.  They look like this…

As you enter these group sessions, keep in mind that our REAL courses change the role of the faculty member in the learning process. Lots of research shows that students learn more when they are in blended learning formats that allow them to prepare outside of the class using on-line tools and then come to apply what they have learned with others in class. Rather than lecturers, faculty are content curators, facilitators and de-briefers interested in developing student competencies through real world application. This means it’s important that you come prepared for these sessions.  You are no long passive consumers of lecture content.  Instead, you are an active participant in learning.  If you are unprepared, it’s going to be obvious to everyone.

Feedback from our REAL courses over the last two semesters shows that the vast majority of students very much enjoy the group sessions and felt they facilitated learning.  Many students also appreciated the adaptive learning technology, which allows students to work at their own pace and re-examine material when needed. Keep in mind though that this  technology doesn’t allow you to postpone everything to the last minute—staying on schedule and completing each section and assignment is key to success in these courses. Also, remember just because you aren’t meeting with the instructor in class every week, you still have the ability to meet with faculty and T.A.s during office hours and interact with your fellow students who are taking the course.  So get help when you need it.  With these courses all in BA-1, your TA’s  or Faculty’s office is very close by.

So is the Office of Professional Development and the Exchange.  You will have plenty of opportunities to engage with tutors, career coaches, and outside speakers while you are in the building for your REAL sessions.  As I said in my blog last week and again at Welcome to the Majors on Friday, you need to be game to succeed here.  That means you need to get out of your comfort zone, ask questions, get involved and a take ownership of your college experience.  If you do that, you’ll find this place is really awesome.


To Be Good Here, You Need to be Game

Standing out here ( in a good way) is hard. The numbers alone tell you that– We have 8,500 undergraduates and about 1,000 graduate students here in the College of Business. Even if you are in the top ten percent, there are 850 undergraduates or about 100 graduate students just like you. Achieving even this level of distinction is going to require you to have an excellent plan. So let me give you some things to consider as you start your time with us.

1. Your time here is an Experience, not a Lecture or a Textbook– Experiences are lived. Textbooks are read. Lectures are “attended.” You want to immerse yourself while you are here. This is one of the few times in your life you get to invest in you. Live it. If you do, it will transform you.

2. Focus on what you want to Do, not what you want to Be– People tend to think in terms of labels (e.g., I want to be an accountant) rather than on what they want to do (uncover fraud). You will get paid to do, not be. Focusing on doing also helps you see multiple paths to getting stuff done– it increases your options both while you are at UCF and after. An accounting degree provides one path for people who want to uncover fraud, but there are others…

3. Learning is uncomfortable, get accustom to being outside your comfort zone– You can sometimes get good grades without being uncomfortable, but I doubt you learned much in the process. To learn, you need to stretch yourself and stretching occurs outside your comfort zone. Look for these situations. Don’t worry, we are going to help you find some.

4. No one succeeds alone in school or anywhere else– The lone genius who has the aha moment that changes the world is a myth. Success is a long road, not a quick one.To succeed on that journey you need to develop a network of people with different knowledge, skill sets and perspectives who can help you get to where you want to go. Here that includes faculty, staff like our career coaches and your fellow students, as well as speakers in the Exchange. You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. Make those people count. Engage with them and seek their help when you need it… then pay it forward.

5. Understand not everything is going to go well– You are going to make some mistakes while you are here and sometimes this is going to happen when your best friend is rocking it. You shouldn’t accept these failures, but you should plan for them. If you do, your recovery will be quicker. If you don’t, you are much more likely to just give up when a bad thing happens. We have a failure competition in the college to drive home the point that failure need not be fatal and can be a great teacher if you learn how to react to it properly. You are not as special as you think. This will happen to you. Be ready.

One of my favorite pieces of advice came from President Harry Truman’s mother. When he unexpectedly became President, she told him: “Do good Harry, but be game.” Harry turned out to be very game. Moms are awesome. Listen to Harry’s mom. Be game.

Changing of the Guard

When you hire great people, other people want them. A few weeks ago we lost Dr. Robert Porter, Director of Executive Development Center (EDC) for the past five years, to a new opportunity. The EDC is home to many of our graduate programs — Executive MBA, Professional MBA, Professional Masters in Real Estate, Masters of Science in Management with two different tracks — Human Resources and Data Analytics with a third one on the way in Entrepreneurship. Add custom training programs with companies like Ravago, as well as a variety of workshops, and you can see how important the success of the EDC is to the college.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to look too far to find the next leader of the EDC. Dr. Darrell Johnson is the Director of our Office of Professional Development, the main unit in the college that helps undergraduate students get into the right major, successfully navigate our curriculum and graduate with a job in hand. Prior to that appointment, he had obtained a wealth of experience in executive and continuing education at schools that include The Ohio State University and Western Michigan. Darrell has a very proactive management style that stresses student success, academic rigor and personal accountability. I expect he will bring these same qualities to the EDC and help us grow our graduate programs in both quantity and reputation.

If you are a student at the EDC or a local business person interested in partnering with us, Darrell is a person you are going to want to meet. So, stop down or call the EDC and start a conversation with him…you are going to walk away very impressed.


It’s graduation week. We graduate a lot of students, a lot of times each school year. The College of Business alone graduates about 2000 students each year. We do three graduations over the course of our academic calendar. This means Saturday will be my 19th UCF graduation. I will be on my way to graduating 14,000 students in my brief time here.

This graduation week will also be Dr. Whittaker’s first as President. Dale has already been emphasizing our culture and what makes us UCF….A commitment to inclusion, a desire to make the improbable the inevitable and Spirit Splash to name just a few defining features. But I’d like to add one to the list. It’s small and easy to miss, but I think it captures a great deal of the spirit of UCF. It’s my favorite phrase from Dr. Hitt’s graduation ceremony: “We have come to that happy time in our program…”. Nothing made John happier than graduating students. Every student that crossed that stage was a win for him and UCF. It’s why he loved graduating students even more than winning football games.

The best traditions are simple, yet powerful. They bring home who you are in plain and simple terms that everyone understands. Each time you repeat them, people smile and nod in agreement. President Whittaker can and should make graduation his own at UCF. But if I could make one small request Dale, it would be to keep that line in the program. It’s a wonderful tribute to the UCF John built and the culture you embrace. Tons of alums no doubt remember that phrase and will smile and nod in agreement as their daughter or son crosses that stage.