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 fourteenth 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 16th. 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 19th 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 Sunday November 25th.

I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting November 26th with a vote by everyone reading my blog taking place to determine the winner on Friday November 30th.

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!

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….

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.