How Your Military Service Thanks You Back

UCF has about 2,000 students with military service, including this semester’s failure competition winner Kevin Velazquez. About 25 percent of our vets are women. Most of our Vets are in their 20s and 30s, having come to UCF after completing four to ten years of military service right after high school. This gap in their formal education might lead Vets to think that they are behind and at a disadvantage relative to their younger classmates.

But in reality, Vets are ahead. They have already acquired many of the mindsets and qualities we try to develop in our students here in the college that are important to employers including:

  • A mission mindset that defeats a fear of failure and opens a path to success.
  • Experience in adapting to new situations. Soldiers are required to react quickly and precisely to new information in fluid, high-pressure situations where lives are on the line. If this isn’t data-driven decision-making outside your comfort zone I don’t know what is.
  • Excellent, concise oral communication skills that conveys what people need to know to get the job done. The battlefield demands this.
  • A record of Integrity. Many veterans are trained to meet the highest standards when it comes to ethics, safety and other organizational imperatives. Some even have high level security clearances.
  • Experience working with people who are different from you. Vets usually have years of practical experience working with teams of diverse individuals, frequently in international settings—a distinct advantage in our globalizing economy.
  • Leadership. Military service creates individuals who work to earn the respect of others and understand how to bring people together to achieve common goals.

Oh, and a bias toward doing rather than being. It is in giving you these qualities and experiences that your military service thanks you back. Use them. Here at school and during your job search. They will continue to place you on a winning team.

Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service. Now, charge on.

Winner of our Failure Competition

Congrats to Kevin Velazquez for winning this semester’s failure competition.  Second place went to Sam Kotenko and third place to Petrice Cineus.    If you haven’t listened to their stories, you can hear them by clicking here.

Failure, by the way, is only “a thing” if you learn something from it……

Why I Didn’t Hire You

If you are graduating in December, there is a good chance you are interviewing for jobs right now. If you’re not, you have already landed a job, are going to graduate school or have a different priority.

For those of you seeking a job, you have a lot going for you. The unemployment rate is very low. Employers are coming to campus looking to hire, and we have given you many opportunities to build an impressive portfolio of experiences and skills that employers covet.

If you are getting interviews, but not landing the job you desire, you might need to reconsider how you are approaching your interview. To help you think this through, let me share the main reasons talented people don’t get hired by me…

1. The candidate thinks the interview is about them, but it’s really about me. I am looking to hire someone who can solve a problem we have. You need to be the solution to that problem. Talk about how your skills and experiences give you the ability to meet my needs.

2. You did not do your homework. You cannot adequately address my needs, if you don’t know who we are or what we are trying to accomplish. Also, if you didn’t prepare for something that is obviously important to your future– getting this job, why would I think you would change your behavior and exhibit greater care in carrying out your duties once you got the job?

3. You didn’t seem eager about the opportunity. I like to hire people with fire in their bellies… people who are motivated by the challenge I have for them. This fire is very easy to see. People who have it are fully engaged in conversation about the challenges and potential solutions that come with the position. They eat and sleep this stuff and believe in what we are trying to accomplish. If you don’t show this to me in the interview, I have no reason to believe it will show up later.

4. You had no questions for me. This leads me to think you need a job, any job. Jobs are what people have when they are looking for money to fuel their real interests– it is just a means to another, more important, end. I’m looking for people who want fulfilling careers, embrace our values, and see the opportunity we have as a way for them to progress in their careers. Such people usually have questions for me about the nature of the work.

5. I didn’t learn anything new about you in the interview. Chances are, you aren’t the only person I interviewed for this position. In my world, I usually interview three finalists. I am most likely to remember the person who surprised me by giving me an insight I didn’t expect. All else equal, that’s the person I’m going to hire.

Are all hiring officials like me? Frankly, yes. I run a big organization. When people interview with me, they have already passed through several rounds of interviews and have been judged to be technically prepared for the task at hand. That allows me to focus a little more on mindsets, motivation and cultural fit. But all hiring managers want people who do their homework and bring their managers solutions rather than problems. They want people who are “all in” and genuinely enjoy what they are doing. Bringing something new to the organization, only adds to the candidate’s appeal. If you want to get the job, be that candidate.

Is Failure Really a Thing? Listen and Vote

Listen to our failure finalists tell their stories by clicking: HERE.  You can also listen wherever you normally get your podcasts. The podcast episode (Is Failure Really a Thing?) will tell you how to vote for the winner. The poll will close Monday, October 28 at 5 p.m. Good Luck to our finalists.




A Celebration of How Faculty Impact Students

Friday we had an investiture for Dr. John Solow, as we officially made him the Kenneth White and James Xander Professor of Economics. But the day was really a celebration of the importance of the student-faculty relationship.

The faculty in this case are Ken White and Jim Xander. They were here when this place was still FTU. Ken still teaches down at our executive development center.

The student was Dr. Glenn Hubbard. You may have heard of him. Glenn is on the faculty at Columbia University. He is the dean emeritus of the Columbia Business School, former chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors under George W Bush, and current Chairman of the Board of Met Life. He and his wife Constance Pond donated a million dollars to fund the professorship. Rather than name it after themselves, they named it after the two faculty who helped Dr. Hubbard start his career in economics. Glenn said it was a debt he had to repay.

John Solow, in accepting the honor of holding the professorship, reflected on the importance of teaching and named several faculty who helped him along the way, including his own father Robert.

It was an affirming day to be a professor, reminding all of us of the impact we have on our students. As I’ve written before, every student should be able to answer the question: Whose student are you? And, respond with the person(s) who helped show them what was possible, gave them new ways to see the world and shaped who they are today. Thanks to Glenn Hubbard and Constance Pond, many future UCF students will be able to answer that question with John Solow.

Changes in Mindsets

We had over fifty entries to our Failure Competition this semester. There were several good entries and I want to congratulate everyone who was willing to put their failure out there for everyone to see. In this way, the competition is an exercise in getting out of your comfort zone.

The three finalists emphasized another common theme of the competition: the need to change your mindset. Failure hurts. It makes you question who you really are. It’s a bit like being hit with a board between your eyes. People want to avoid this kind of pain. So they tend to do some soul searching in an effort to avoid that same outcome in the future. Many resolve to see the world differently and this leads to different behaviors that then lead to greater success. You will hear from our Failure Competition Finalists in an upcoming podcast I won’t steal their thunder here.

But if you are new to the college and struggling or just having a tough semester, you might want to examine your mindset and ask whether it is serving you well: Are you focused on what you want to be, or what you want to do? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth one ( google that)? Are you focused on grades or learning? Do you see your education as an expense ( to be minimized) or an investment (to be grown and yield a return)? Hint: the second choice in each question is the better one. Adopting them will result in you doing things differently and experiencing more success.

Street Smarts

Sometimes you need advice from people who have experienced what you are going through. Maybe you are struggling in a course, have doubts whether a major is right for you, or struggling to connect to the right people. You need to get some unfiltered advice and tips on how to get ahead in a new environment.

This is the basic idea behind Street Smarts. Street Smarts is a program run by our student ambassadors, people who have experienced the things you are experiencing. They can give you advice and perspective no one else can.

We do two different versions of street smarts. The first is at the beginning of the semester to help newbies get off to a good start. That said, not everyone figures it out the first time and plans change. So, we do a mid-semester street smarts to help students who are contemplating a new direction or face challenges they hadn’t anticipated. Other students come just to pick up a tip or two that they didn’t get the first time around. Round two happens this week. The Ambassadors would love to see you there.

Is Failure Really a Thing?

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 15th 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 p.m. on Monday Oct. 7th. 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 then select three finalists by Oct. 11th at 5 pm.

The finalists will be asked to participate in a podcast on Failure and whether it’s really a thing on Wednesday Oct. 16th. There you will be able to tell your story and participate in a discussion about the value of failure. Listeners will then be directed to a website where they can vote for the winner. Voting will close at 5 pm on Monday Oct. 21st.

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!

One Question

Hurricane Dorian disrupted Welcome To The Majors this fall and while we will present a scaled-down version of this event in a couple of weeks, I won’t get the opportunity to address all incoming students the way I usually do. To summarize, the key message I deliver at the event is this:

I graduate 2,000 students a year from the college of business. When you cross the stage in a couple of years to shake my hand, you need to have the answer to just one question: Why you rather than one of the other 1,999 students I will graduate this year?”

We call answering that question “Getting to the One.” It means you were the one selected to pursue the career you want. Every semester at graduation, many students tell me they got to the one when they shake my hand. I can hear the satisfaction in their voice when they tell me this because they know they did the things they needed to do while they were here to differentiate themselves and achieve their goals.

If you are new to the college, you need to know that we put a heavy premium on doing here. We want to get you out of your comfort zone, force you to take some risks, and instill in you a bias towards action. So form a plan now and get busy executing it. It’s the only way to answer the question we pose.

Dr. Jones

Associate Dean jobs are tough. You inherent problems other people can’t solve on their own. You have to tell people “no” more than you would like. You work to implement another person’s vision and no one comes by your office just to tell you what a great job you are doing. The job can get under your skin, the battles can leave scars and some of your colleagues can hold grudges if they think they were treated unfairly.

Friday, we celebrated Foard Jones’ thirty years at UCF, many of which were in the role of department chair, interim dean and associate dean. Funny stories were told, declarations of appreciation delivered and fondness for the kind man we all know filled the room. Foard was his usually low key self. He has a year of well-deserved administrative leave to prepare for whatever his next role at UCF will be. Tiffany and Sevil have him on speed dial. I told Foard to hide his phone, people need to learn how to survive in the wild alone.

Thank you Foard. You have been advisor, mental health counselor, friend and “all-in” from the moment I met you. I couldn’t have done it without you. Whatever you decide to do when you come back from leave, don’t forget that we expect you to wander in from time to time, lay some Carolina wisdom on us, and leave smiling knowing it’s really not your problem anymore.

Charge On, my friend.