Leadership Development

Seth Godin Reflection

This reflection today is written over a blog of my choosing from Seth Godin’s website. I had never heard of him before, but his blogs are really quite interesting and insightful. The blog I decided to reflect over is titled, “‘Connect to’ vs. ‘Connect’.” This piece was about how it’s easy for companies/people/teachers to ‘connect to’ their clients/friends/students. He says this creates a “vertical connection” which creates a window for communication. Less common/simple is to ‘connect’ clients/friends/students which builds “horizontal relationships, person to person.” “It’s what makes a tribe,” he explains. He says that companies are scared to connect because they don’t want to have less control over what happens when the customers like one another more than they like the company. I was slightly confused at this point, when reading, because I felt that there was a lot to think about regarding the little bit that he wrote. But his last sentence really brought his idea together for me: “Of course, connecting is where the real emotions and change and impact happen.”

This entry reminded me of the Ted Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” by Simon Sinek and my reflection on it. Sinek’s video was all about how if someone has a reason for why they do what they do, and make it known, they are more likely to be successful than someone who doesn’t know why they do something, but rather only know how or what they do. I thought these two pieces were similar because when Godin referred to the organizations who only “connected to,” it reminded me of when Sinek talked about companies who only know what they do and how they do it, but not why they do it. These vertical connections made by ‘connecting to’ are only the ‘what’ and ‘how’ part of the equation. When we dig deep down get to the ‘why’ part, that’s when the personal, horizontal connections start to happen and relationships start to form. Using an example from Sinek’s presentation, he said: “MLK gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I Have a Plan’ speech.” With that, we could say MLK didn’t ‘connect to’ his audience, but rather he ‘connected’ his audience, creating strong army of people all advocating for the same thing, with the same “why” in mind. Real emotions, change and impact all happened here all because MLK connected his audience because he knew why he was giving his speech that day.

These two post from Godin and Sinek I think really taught me a lot about what great things, and not so great things, can happen depending on how I portray myself and influence others. Godin’s post relates to things on a bit of a bigger scale than just me, but the concept is still applicable. We need to not be afraid to connect other people because, like Godin said, thats when the real emotion, change and impact start to happen. Making connections and building relationships with people is a big part of how we grow as people. Think of all the “horizontal connections” you’re missing out on because you’ve been confined to only making those “vertical connection.”

Leadership Development

Connections Conference 2014

Trino the magician and me

Connections Conference in Traverse City was nothing like I thought it would be. Even though I was required to go with LAS, I’m so glad that I got to go. It is a conference organized by fellow upperclassmen in LAS, as well as Jesi Parker, the co-coordinator of LAS. The conference attendees were all CMU students from different programs of the school. It consisted of different breakout learning sessions related to not only leadership, but also things related to everyday college life. For example, I went to a learning session about job interviews and another one about time management.

IMG_0945I had a great time at my sessions and getting to know a lot of people. We even got to watch a magic show performed  by one of LAS’s own. Even after the organized events were over, out LAS class stayed up late playing hide and seek in the lobby (until we got kicked out.) The conference was one of the first times I actually felt like I was really apart of LAS and friends with all of them. That’s really why I had such a great time, because it helped me get to know my peers and not feel so uncomfortable around them.

Leadership Development, Leadership Training

Mentor/Mentee Retreat 2014

Mackenzie, Mckenzie and me, Awkward Family Photo

About the second weekend of school, the freshman (mentees) and sophomore (mentors) LAS classes took a trip up to Eagle Village for the annual Mentor/Mentee Retreat. I’m a freshman, so obviously i was there as a mentee. The trip was supposed to be like a get-to-know-you thing so that each mentor/mentee could build a bigger and better relationship. All of us were separated into about four big groups with our mentors. We each had a team facilitator from Eagle Village (my group’s facilitator’s name was Tim Horton) and throughout the weekend we did different group and team building activities, and we even got to go rock climbing. I was excited to spend time with my mentor, Mackenzie, and my “sister,” Mckenzie, but at the same time, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect since I really had made no new friends in LAS at that point.

The group team building was really great and I enjoyed all of it. My group was really great and we all got to know each other and had a great time. What I was worried would happen, though, did happen. Since I really hadn’t made too many friends yet, I felt really excluded at some points. The last night we were there, we all sat around a big bonfire and everyone was sharing their stores about how they had such a great time and made such great connections with everyone, and I just didn’t feel the same way. After the bonfire, people were playing board games with each other and stayed up all night out in the common room. I tried to talk to people, but they were busy with their own inside jokes and only concerned with each other, and I totally understand that. I just kept wishing that I could be out there with everyone too, but it really is difficult to make connections and bonds with a group of people who are already comfortable with one another. 

My “sister” and me 🙂

Frankly, the Mentor/Mentee Retreat really was not a welcoming first impression of my LAS class. Although I did have a great time with my mentor and sister, I really just couldn’t connect with anyone else in my class and it was very difficult for me. I was never used to feeling like an outsider, and suddenly I did in my group of peers. Since then, I have tried and made a few more friends but it’s still hard when everyone else has built their relationships to such a strong level and you try to join the group. But I try not to let this influence my leadership in any way and I’m still friendly toward everyone, still trying to build more relationships.

Leadership Development, Leadership Training

Leadership Safari 2014

I was both completely terrified and completely excited to participate in Leadership Safari 2014. I was all by myself with nearly 2,000 people I didn’t know and I really had no idea what to expect. Safari consisted of several different activities with all 2000 of us and with our small groups made up of about 10 other random participants. I figured I probably wouldn’t have a good time because I wouldn’t know anyone in my group and I wouldn’t like doing activities and icebreakers with them, but as the week went on, I realized that everyone else was in the same boat as me. They were all alone, for the most part, and were probably uncomfortable at the beginning, too.safari team 2014

The experience turned out to be completely amazing though, and I’m so glad I attended and opened up to what started as a group of 10 strangers, but ended up being a group of 10 friends, and my first friends here at CMU. I realized the importance and necessity of being comfortable in situations that make me uncomfortable. If I would have went through the Safari process without being friendly and opening up to others, I wouldn’t have some of the great friends I have today and I would have started out my journey at CMU in a miserable way.

I applied to be a Safari guide for 2015, and I hope that if I get the opportunity to be a guide, I can share my story with my group of 10 strangers and hopefully make them feel more comfortable during their start at CMU.