Reflections on Lead365: Mike Cronin

As we start a new year already looking ahead to our next conference, we want to share a few looks back. Today, we’re sharing with you a paper our intern Mike Cronin wrote while at the conference. Which of the lessons shared below resonated with you the most?

Value. As I write this paper, a man is on stage in the next room talking about it. He is talking about value and cost: what they mean, and how we live every day, down to the details of buying even the simplest things. Do we need this, or do we want people to see we have it? For me this is a paper on an experience costing me nothing more than a few questions and hours to write. On the other hand, for you Professor Malfitano, this paper may, or may not, have value.

This conference came about from Nancy Hunter Denny and her ability to create. As a collegiate leadership speaker, she has seen the good and the bad of leadership conferences, and knew that she could do much better. Her friends and colleagues jumped to be a part of this, which had its first conference this past March (and its second this past week). For this paper I asked these people what they wanted these students to take away from the conference.

Judson Laipply is famous. You probably don’t know his name, but you have definitely seen a YouTube video of his: The Evolution of Dance. His response to my question was “that our choices are more of a reflection of our values than our words.”

Dr. Maura Cullen, an authority figure on diversity and leadership (and also a board member for Lead365) said that she “would love for them to understand the concept of intent verses impact.”

Paul Brown, a social media expert, said that “social media perverts reality” and that everyone gets presents perfected images and consumes perfected images. He wants these students of leadership to know better and be better.

Joshua Fredenburg had one word to say, “Purpose”. These speakers have come from around the country to speaker at this little conference of 380 student leaders, where I can guarantee they are not making money, to give back and help repurpose the leaders in our colleges and these future leaders of tomorrow. Dr. Lucy Croft, who is the associate Vice-President for Student Affairs at the University of North Florida said that she wants these student leaders “feeling empowered to make a difference and making their vision come to fruition.”

Students came from around the country and Mexico too, to take part in an experience that was put on by the elite in collegiate leadership. For me, this was just a part of my internship, to help others have an experience that they will not soon forget and can use to build their soft leadership skills. Lastly, what I hoped these students took away is optimism. People will forget what you said, what you did, but that they will never forget how you made them feel and if all they took optimism in their ability to make a difference in one life, a hundred or the world then we did our job.

We want to hear your reflections on the conference too! Have you put what you learned in Orlando into action? Let us know!


Meet Our Sponsors: Check I’m Here

Believe it or not, the march toward next year’s conference is already moving! As we go, we want to introduce you to some of the people that make it happen. Today, we’re chatting with Lindsay Murdock, Campus Outreach Coordinator for Check I’m Here!

Image Credit: LinkedIn


A: Tell us a little about Check I’m Here. What does the product do?

L: Check I’m Here provides a web and mobile platform to universities and colleges to help increase student engagement, assess involvement, allocate funding efficiently, and improve retention through simplifying and digitizing processes, collecting, structuring, and analyzing involvement data, and provides tools to help reach and engage more students. You can learn more at

We were started by former student leaders who found a need for a data focused approach to increasing engagement on campus and we’re passionate about making sure all students have the opportunities to experience what happens when you get involved on campus and in leadership positions.

A: How did you get involved with the company? What do you love most about what you do?

L: I found out about Check I’m Here through the Student Affairs Facebook group, a networking page for Student Affairs Professionals from across the nation. I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of the team because I believe in the mission of Check I’m Here and I love helping campuses to improve the student experience.

Being an involved student is what made me who I am today, so I love providing the technology for campuses to improve these experiences for their students The ability to connect with passionate people is what makes me excited to come into work every day, so that’s probably my favorite part of the job. Between my innovative coworkers and the dedicated campus leaders I work with every day, I leave work every day energized to come in the next day!

A: Why do you think that Lead365 and Check I’m Here are a natural fit to join forces?

L: Our missions align in a manner that prioritizes human capital and empowers student leaders and student affairs professionals to serve their campuses (and the greater good) and make the world a better place! We’re able to do this by empowering human connections to build networks that utilize people’s strengths to create change. Finally, at the base level, we all come from the student affairs field, so that’s a bond that allows us to prioritize the students in everything we do!

A: As a former student leader, how did it feel to be at Lead365?

L: I loved it! The energy was infectious, the students were thoughtful and the ed sessions were super motivating! Watching everyone get excited to learn more and hone their potential reinforced my love for student affairs!

A: As student leaders who are now out in the world, what advice do you have for the leaders still in school that we work with each day?

Say yes! Whenever opportunities present themselves, say yes to them! You only have a few years in school and it’s so important to throw yourself outside of your comfort zone to grow as a person as a leader. And when the opportunities you want don’t present themselves, create your own. Build a network that allows you to succeed and take risks and eventually those risks will lead to greater opportunities!

Bonus Note from Lindsay and the Check I’m Here team: When you graduate, hit us up. We’re hiring 😉

Know of another company that would be a great natural fit to support Lead365? Share our Sponsorship Opportunities with them!

Guest Feature: Mentor Moment with Tamara McMillan

Today, we want to share with you a guest contribution from friend to the conference, Tamara McMillan. As you ponder the possibility of identifying mentors, Tamara wants to encourage you to think of three factors that should be present in any mentor relationship. Please note, even as a prospective mentor to someone else, these tips will be helpful!

Let us know what other tips you’d add in the comments, and thank you Tamara for sharing your wisdom with us!

Brooke’s Leadership Spotlight: Learning to Lead with APO

When I got to college, I didn’t know who I was going to be or what I was going to do. I had a major in mind, but I wasn’t exactly sure if I was in love with it. And I knew I should probably join some type of student organization, but I had no idea which one out of the hundreds on my campus. So, like every freshman at BU, I went to SPLASH, a huge carnival type deal before the beginning of school where every on-campus student organization had a booth. I figured I could easily find something there; I was right. But I found so many things I was interested in that by the time I put everything into my calendar, I realized that there was no feasible way for me to be a part of 17 (yes, 17!) organizations. Plus, like my major, I wasn’t really in love with any of them. They all just seemed kind of interesting to me.

Thankfully, later that week, I got a text from a sophomore I met when I was moving in. It was a reminder to go to her organization’s info session. At the time, I didn’t realize how important that text would be. Because of that reminder, I was introduced to what I’m confident is the greatest group of individuals I will ever meet: my brothers in Alpha Phi Omega.

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Various Members of Alpha Phi Omega Zeta Upsilon Chapter, Spring 2015

Alpha Phi Omega is a national community service fraternity. The 400,000+ brothers in the United States all embrace the cardinal principles leadership, friendship, and service in day-to-day life. Our greatest means of demonstrating these principles is providing service to our chapters, campuses, communities, and country.

I went through my pledging process with ease, and I was so eager to spend the next three and a half years with these wonderful people that all shared my passion for community service. By the end of my first semester, I was so excited to get more involved that I ran for the executive leadership board, despite only being a freshman. And somehow, my fraternity had the confidence in me and my “big” to elect us Pledgemasters for the following semester.

Unfortunately, it did not occur to me that being on the leadership board would be a lot of time and a lot of work. I was a leader in my chapter and I admittedly did not take it seriously. I was in way over my head. I had only been an actual brother for about two months, and I had little to no idea of how my organization operated. It was a really difficult semester because I was excited about how much fun being Pledgemaster would be, instead of being focused on completing all of the tasks that come with the job. Needless to say, I dropped the ball on a lot of things. Despite my mistakes and slip-ups, my pledges, co-Pledgemaster and I all made it through the semester.

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Me, and my co-Pledgemaster, Morgan Fleming

After that rocky introduction to being a brother in Alpha Phi Omega, I decided I wouldn’t run for a new board role until I knew that I could truly handle it. And even though I wouldn’t be looked to as a leader if I wasn’t on the board, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be an exemplary brother. So I set out to be just that. In the past few years I have gone above and beyond all of my requirements, studied and memorized my chapter’s bylaws and operations, and have been an active participant in everything from weekly meetings to events that my chapter puts on. And through all of that hard work, I am looked to as a quasi-leader in my fraternity.

This past semester I decided that I was finally ready to truly dedicate my time and efforts as an executive board member. So I ran for President, and I was elected. The coming semester hasn’t even started yet, and it’s already been a tough job. But I’m excited about the opportunity because now, I truly understand what it means to be a leader.

In the past three years I’ve learned a lot about leadership. Much of that is from my fraternity because leadership is one of our three cardinal principles, and we actually take leadership courses. But I’ve also learned a lot about leadership by watching my brothers interact with one another, and through my own actions. No one has to elect you to office for you to be a leader. If you truly want to be a leader, you’ll be one.
If you think you’d be interested in becoming a brother in Alpha Phi Omega, or simply want to learn more about the organization, check here to see if your college has a chapter! And if it doesn’t, start your own!

The Times They Are a Changin’

As the great Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a changin’.” That statement could not be more true for college students. For a lot of us it is our first time living on our own and experiencing true independence. While it’s a very exciting time, it’s not always easy. And just as we think we are getting the hang of it, we are so thoughtfully reminded by our school to confirm our graduation date because the real world is right around the corner.

But before you start having an anxiety attack, take a step back to look at what amazing opportunities lie ahead of you. You are on your way to finishing college, you have your whole life ahead of you, and you can do just about anything! Yeah, it can be scary to think about the future, but it can also be incredibly exciting!

Change is never easy. No matter how hard we try to make the process go as smoothly as possible there’s always bound to be some kind of complication. So here are 4 things to keep in mind while going through any transition

1. Don’t Panic

Whatever you do, do not panic. Panicking will only make change more taxing than it already is. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the stress of the situation because freaking out will only distract you from what you need to do.

2. Be Proactive

If the transition is something that you are anticipating, that’s great! Take the time you have between now and then to do whatever you can to make it easier for yourself. For instance if you know you are moving to a new city, maybe you could do some research about your neighborhood or save up some extra cash in case things are more expensive there. If you can do anything before the change occurs to make it easier on yourself, you’ll be thankful you did.

3. Be Patient

Change takes time to get used to. You might hate your new job for the first month because you don’t know anyone, and things are unfamiliar to you. But as you become more comfortable, it will get better. Allow yourself time to adjust, not everything falls under the old adage of “love at first sight.” Give it time!

4. Stay Positive

Finally, be optimistic! Things will look much better if you have a smile on your face.

So whether you’re beginning your freshman year this fall in a new city, or you’re about to start your first job out of college, take leadership of your life to make the change a little bit easier.

Lead365 in Review: Shawn Hamm, Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine

Thanks so much for sharing your time and thoughts with us, Shawn, we truly enjoyed having you with us!

As we continue the march toward the November conference, we wanted to check in with some of our March attendees and see what lessons from Orlando were sticking with them months later. Today, we speak with Shawn Hamm, medical student and SGA President at Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.

What’s an important or significant session or experience that happened while you were there?

I had the privilege of connecting with many of the faculty members at Lead365. Outside of the normally scheduled sessions, I was able to talk to them about how they have approached leadership and how they continually improve their leadership skills. I was able to talk to them about personal experiences and what inspires them every day to be better leaders. I have connected with many of the faculty on social media and hope to continue to be inspired by them well beyond the Lead365 Conference.

What were you most excited about, as you left the conference, to share with those on your campus?

A powerful lesson that I took away from Lead365 was the idea of practicing the “art of mattering.” We were asked to imagine that every person we interact with has an imaginary sign around his or her neck that says, “make me feel important.” Every single person wants to matter, in one way or another, and a good leader practices the art of mattering by making the people around him or her feel important. In the context of being a medical student and future physician, I am most excited about sharing this idea with my classmates as we begin to interact and care for our patients. I think it is critical that we take the time to listen to each of our patients, understand their perspective, and make them feel like they matter. A Lead365 faculty member summed up this idea by sharing a quote by the late Maya Angelou – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I can only hope that my classmates will be inspired by the idea of practicing the “art of mattering” to make them better leaders and better physicians.

If you could tell someone thinking about attending the conference why they should go, what would you tell them?
Fear is our #1 opponent in being a great leader. So, just as the Lead365 faculty challenged us, I challenge you to ask yourself two very important questions – What is the worst thing that could happen if I do take action? If I do not take action, what will it cost me? As great leaders, we have to change our mindset, lose the fear and have courage to act. Act by attending the Lead365 Conference and capitalize on this amazing leadership and learning experience. Sometimes you have to “feel the fear…and do it anyway!”

Meet Our Sponsors: Delete Blood Cancer

As we continue the journey toward our fall conference in Orlando, we want to give you the opportunity to meet some of the people that help us make it happen. Today, Dorothee brings us the story of Delete Blood Cancer.

Delete Blood Cancer is the world’s largest bone marrow transplant center.  Started by a single family in 1990, DKMS has expanded throughout the nation and the world. With a global vision, the organization has developed branches in the US, Germany, UK, Poland and Spain. As the organization grew it has had the opportunity to reach out to multiple types of groups within our society. DKMS has sought to expand the awareness of becoming a donor on college campuses across the nation.

IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

Meet Ashley Cox, the College Focused Donor Recruitment Facilitator for DKMS. Signing up to be a donor at the age of 18 and beginning as a volunteer with Delete Blood Cancer in 2009, she has been working within the organization for two years. During her time as a volunteer on her college campus Cox was inspired to keep the mission alive and hosted multiple DKMS drives. After attending the Lead365 National Conference in March, Cox believes it is the best conference she has ever attended.  The level of interaction and engagement of the students and speakers was something that was really striking. Though the tailored workshops were attended by many students, each one felt like a one on one session. Cox said, “it was so much fun to meet college students who are engaged with their own personal growth.” Cox drew a parallel between the two organizations. She believes that DKMS and its college program allows students to act upon the mission of Lead365 of making a difference in their community and give students accessible ways to apply leadership skills. Through her own life journey, Cox believes that being a part of DKMS has impacted her life in many different perspectives.

With over 5,000 non-profit organizations in the United States alone awareness education can be the most challenging part of an organization. Cox has learned how important it is to help students connect with THEIR message. Through Delete Blood Cancer, students will be able to apply for a scholarship that will pay for their registration for the Lead365.

Look to meet Ashley this fall in Orlando for the Lead365 conference, and click here to start your journey to explore, engage, and evolve!