Lead365 Conversations: Christian Cho on the Startup Mindset

Today’s Lead365 Conversation features Christian Cho, higher education critic and blogger, and his take on the startup mindset and how to support student entrepreneurialism. we had a long conversation with Christian, but we want to share our favorite part- discussion of how startups are a product of the generation that’s rising to power, their values, and what it’s doing for the world of work. He also shares a book recommendation that can help you start to cultivate your own startup mindset.

Share your thoughts and further questions in the comments, and thank you to Christian for taking some time to chat with us!

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!

Prepare to Lead-inate: Leadership Lessons from Odd Squad

In the past few weeks, I’ve found a new TV show to get consumed by, but it’s not anything you might be able to guess. I’ve finished The West Wing, blew through Mad Men, and haven’t started The Walking Dead or finished Breaking Bad.

One of my new favorite shows is…Odd Squad. A Canadian show made for kids and shown on PBS Kids, Odd Squad is about a kids’ detective agency that solves odd crimes. Most of the crimes they investigate can be solved by a basic understanding of a mathematical concept, hence its placement on PBS Kids. And while the website indicates it was developed for children ages 5-8 (I’m much older than that), I’m finding that there are lessons to be learned from this program. You know, besides the math lessons.

No Leader is an Island. Each Odd Squad agent is paired up with a partner, who goes with them on all calls or talks them through cases. They develop strong relationships built on trust and respect for one another’s intelligence, and they build friendships in the process.

While it may seem as though the right way to lead is as a talking head at the front of a room, it can be beneficial to share the load of leadership with a partner or group. You can prevent one another from being overworked, troubleshoot problems that an individual may not be able to see a solution for, or fill in any skills gaps that you may have. A leadership structure that can encourage the sharing of responsibility- either formally through the use of co-chairs, or informally with the formation of mentor/big-little relationships- will yield stronger, more cooperative leaders.

Every Problem Has a Solution. On Odd Squad, this is literal- some of their odd cases are solved with a device aptly named to solve a problem. For example, a bike that wouldn’t fit where it needed to go, was made smaller with a Shrinkinator. While our problems in real life aren’t always that easily solved, the thinking is smart- seek to attack each challenge that you and your team encounter, as though it can’t be solved. Many of us will give up early, or work in difficult conditions, because we give up on finding a solution, or delay doing what needs to be done to prevent conflict or discomfort.

Miss O (the juicebox-loving head of Odd Squad headquarters) and I want to challenge you to do one better; treat each issue that arises as though it has a solution. You can come to this solution in a number of ways- consulting with those affected by possible solutions, friends and mentors, or even your advisors or bosses if you’re truly stumped. Don’t let a problem lie just because it’s hard- make the triumph all the more sweet by continuing to work at it until the case is solved!

Find Your Ideal Workspace. For the Odd Squad agents, it’s the Mathroom- a Fortress of Solitude-like virtual space where they can render their clues and tie them together to map out their solutions. In this space, they have all the tools they need to get their work done, no distractions, and time to solve the problem at hand.

Where would you say your “Mathroom” is? Do you have one? It’s easy to try and make this space in your student organization’s office, public spaces on campus, or even your bedroom…but these may not be the best places for you to really dive into your work. Rooms can be made loud by roommates or neighbors, offices can be distracting when other tasks or coworkers compete for your attention, and your bed, while comfy, isn’t the best place to work- it’ll make it harder to sleep later on. Take some time to experiment, find your sweet spot where you could be more thoughtful, productive, and able to best serve your organization.

While the lessons shared each week on Odd Squad aren’t designed to teach college students or professionals, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t good lessons in there for us too. I encourage you to give it a watch, have a laugh, and see what it can teach you about being the kind of leader kids can look up to.

IMAGE CREDIT: PBS Kids

Read365: Amma Marfo Reviews GENIUS OF OPPOSITES

As our more frequent readers already know, we at Lead365 believe that reading is a fundamental piece of the leadership development process. Today, our Director of Educational Development shares a book that’s caught her attention- GENIUS OF OPPOSITES by Jennifer Kahnweiler, about the interplay between the leadership of introverts and extroverts.

She will be speaking on this topic at the November conference- there’s still time to register to see her, and 15+ other speakers in Orlando! But in the meantime, watch her quick review below.

Sometimes Silence is Louder

When I first decided I was going to run for President of my fraternity, I knew that I had a lot of work to do. I studied my chapter’s policies and bylaws and felt confident that I was capable of fulfilling the responsibilities that were detailed. Frankly, there weren’t really that many. It mostly stated that the President was to serve as a mentor to the other leadership positions and as a liaison between my chapter and the National office. It was pretty straightforward.

But I didn’t just want to check off tasks on a to-do list. I really wanted to be a leader – more specifically, an effective leader. I pondered the various leadership styles I had come across in past experiences. There was command-and-demand, democratic, laissez-faire, and so many more. But I wasn’t sure that I fit into any of those cookie cutter definitions of a leader. What I did know, though, was that I wanted to accomplish two very specific things. I wanted to establish effective communication between myself and the other members of my board, and I wanted to do what I could to help them grow as leaders.

I was elected in April, and as per tradition in my chapter, I received the President’s binder from the exiting President. The binder contained documents from previous Presidents detailing what they wish they had known before their term, what they learned, and what they wish the could have accomplished. As I studied their words, I came across a piece of advice that resonated with me and the goals I wanted to accomplish. This President suggested being a “silent leader.” As I first came across the term I was perplexed. Silent leader? What does that even mean? But as she elaborated on the idea, it made perfect sense. She said, “Don’t comment on anything the officer is discussing with you unless they directly ask you a question. I found that when I made a suggestion, they took it as law. They were afraid that if they questioned my authority there would be ramifications.”

I thought back on my previous experiences and I found that I had been guilty of that, too. I’ve given people advice when they weren’t necessarily asking for it, and they followed my suggestion to the T. And I’ve also done exactly what someone had said to me out of fear that I would somehow be punished if I didn’t.

So give silence a try! If someone informs you of a plan that they haven’t fully formed yet, give them a chance to flesh it out. Don’t give them the answer. It’s okay to help out sometimes, as that is one of the purposes of being a leader. But another, is to help other leaders grow.

Meet Our Sponsors: e2c Services

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, Gary brings us the story of e2c Services.

It’s every college senior’s major question when entering their final year of school: “What am I going to do after I walk across the stage in the fall?” Many college graduates graduate and do not have a job; this is true for a great many who are out in the world today. Some might question the lack of preparation in higher education for that. But career service organizations like E2Cservices are changing that fear, and turning it into a possibility.

Career_fairThe model that they adopt and have college students follow is what shows their success. Dave Pearce and Dawn Brunn’s story is unique. They were co-workers at the same company and one day had a conversation about how much they learned; they wanted to bring that knowledge back to college students for others ultimate success.  Dave Pearce is founder of E2Cservices, while Brunn holds a masters degree in Adult Education and is a Certified Professional Coach.  Their networking model developed as they reached out to different students, organizations, colleges and other groups- from there the word spreads about E2C.

E2C believes that universities can get their faculty active within their community, particularly in business. Students should get opportunities to get out of the classroom and do internships. E2C says, statistics shows students who have had a internship during a period of their educational career have a greater chance at obtaining a job at that organization, than their peers who do not take advantage of this opportunity. E2C has had great success- each student they take on as a client receives the same coaching and the same number of interviews with the organizations they want. A quick example: one of the trainings that E2C conducts is called Strengths Training; through this one of E2C’s clients discovered he wanted to go to school for his Civil Engineering degree. Now he is working in his dream field, and has an internship at a Engineering Firm.

E2C feels that Lead365 is a great conference opportunity and partner, because both organizations have the same audience and core values. E2Cservices welcomes everyone to attend their session (to be held at the start of Day 2); they will present networking ideas, resume building, LinkedIn profiles, and do’s and don’ts on Social Media. Join them at Lead365.

Truly Outrageous! Leadership Lessons from Jem and the Holograms

This October, a live-action version of the 80’s cartoon Jem and the Holograms will be hitting the big screen, and to prepare myself for the film I’ve been rewatching the cartoon (available to stream on Netflix now). For those unfamiliar, I’ll attempt to give a brief synopsis:

Jerrica Benton and her sister Kimber are the daughters of a long-suffering inventor, working on a top-secret computer project. When he passes away, the sisters discover what he was working on: a high-resolution hologram projecting computer called Synergy. Seeking to protect their family’s record label, Starlight Music, while also making enough money to support the orphans living at their Starlight House, the sisters and two other lifelong friends form Jem and the Holograms, with Jerrica taking on the alter ego, rockstar Jem.

If you’re interested in seeing more, the first episode is on YouTube in full.

In addition to being highly talented, Jem/Jerrica also showed tremendous leadership qualities- anyone interested in leadership could learn a great deal from “them.”

The team is the most important thing. I always found it interesting that the group was held together by a computer named “Synergy.” Although offers were constantly made to Jem to appear on her own, she always refused, insisting on staying a part of the group. Not all leaders are so gracious in this understanding of the team as a unit. By insisting that the Holograms remain a unit, she built the trust of her band members- the only others who knew that Jerrica and Jem were one and the same- and also was able to inspire the girls residing at Starlight House. She also ensured that she had the support that she needed when the obligations of living a double life caught up with her, as it did in a few episodes.

Let the spotlight shine elsewhere. Not every episode was about the Holograms, or even about their rivalries with the Misfits. Episodes, some of them “very special” (as was often the case in the 1980s) focused on the Holograms’ friends, and the orphans who lived with them in Starlight House. The show was stronger for this occasional look at other areas, as your organization could also be. And indeed, part of being a leader is being able to decide when attention should be deflected from you. Make sure to let your members, volunteers, and supporters (advisors, staff, etc.) take center stage once in a while- this is the sign of an inclusive and confident leader!

The Misfits, rivals to Jem and the Holograms. IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia

Focus on the work. The Holograms had a rival band, the Misfits, who always seemed to care more about making sure the Holograms didn’t succeed, than actually succeeding in their own right.  Even in the moments where they likely could have won handily, Jem encouraged the rest of the Holograms to take the high road, never disrupting the work of the other group- and in some cases actually being active in helping them through difficult times. It can be easy to look to your rivals to drive your work; the best leaders avoid that temptation, put on blinders, and focus on what it will take to elevate themselves naturally.

Know the difference between authentic and transparent. Jem may seem like an odd role model when it comes to authenticity. She is the alter ego of a music executive, and only a handful of people know who she really is. Even Jerrica’s own boyfriend, Rio, doesn’t know about her double life!

But Jerrica/Jem does something important in this double life she leads- she is selective about what information she shares with the world. She never outright lies, and she is never inauthentic. She simply compartmentalizes what elements of each personality she shows to the world. In an era where it’s easy (and in some cases, profitable and entertaining) to overshare, Jerrica/Jem is a wonderful example of restraint, even if by necessity. Be honest, be forthright…but know that this doesn’t always mean being a fully open book.

Have you watched Jem and the Holograms? What other lessons have you learned from it (and not just from the Very Special Episodes?)