From the Stage to the Conference Room: How Rock Stars Teach Us to Become Better Leaders

A performer standing on stage facing the crowd with his hand in the air

I’m the consummate rocker. I absolutely love all types of music. My favorite bands include The Cult, Led Zeppelin, and every single hair band that ever hit the stage. What I never realized is that a rock star could show me the way to better leadership. The concept of that might sound unlikely, but they exhibit behaviors that we can use to help us become better managers, directors, VPs, and corporate presidents.

Matthew Bellamy, the lead signer for the band Muse might be considered one of the most entertaining rock stars of today. In fact, the band is renowned for setting a high standard for live production. Although he is very outspoken and sometimes controversial in his comments to the media, his dedication to his craft is unprecedented. From the song Invincible, he writes,

“Follow through. Make your dreams come true. Don’t give up the fight. You will be all right. ‘Cause there’s no one like you in the universe.” Leaders are unique creatures that drive teams of professionals, and it takes a special breed to do just that.

Let’s explore this idea more.

Performers have command of three important qualities of leaders— dedication, practice, and a thirst for learning. The lead singer reigns over the band, sets the tone, creates fellowship, establishes the vision, and builds inspiration. And that’s exactly what we try to do as leaders.

In meetings and conference rooms we must learn to be flexible, adaptable, and be able to perform for our audience. The art of performing is daunting, but if we think in that way, we can create a revolution. The ability to read the room and “act the part” shapes our reputations, spurs confidence in our direction, and creates stability in our strategic value. Here are a few tips.

  1. Read the House.

One of my favs, Jon Bon Jovi, wrote, “I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all.” That line is killer. And just like a performer, assessing people’s reactions in a room is important. Whether it’s a planning meeting with your team or a presentation to a huge group, you need to be self-aware. You want your audience to respond to you, so be clear on your direction, speak slow and loud, and move around the room.

The goal is to align your people. So model the behaviors that you want to see from your peers and teammates. Create an environment of collaboration to establish a sense of purpose for your staff.

  1. Dedicate Yourself to Practice.

We can’t learn leadership in an intellectual way. The conceptual framework of leadership is of no help unless it is experienced and incorporated into our daily lives. Learning to be a good leader is much like learning an instrument. We can be taught to play, but that teaching is lost unless we make the commitment to study the music and make time for repetitive play.

The idea of unrelenting practice could seem like punishment. And when we begin practice, sometimes we find ourselves in a circular loop—a refrain that gets us stuck in a certain style and thinking. Remember that Robert Plant didn’t build a band like Led Zeppelin in one day, and without a ton of hard work and practice. In the song, Good Times, Bad Times he sang, “In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man. Now I’ve reached that age, I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can. No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam.” Finding your way to the same path can be very difficult to break.

Don’t get discouraged and start here. Develop a road map of where you are today and where you’re going in the future. For instance, what type of leader are you now? What kind of leader do you want to be? Where do you want to be six months from now? And what do you need to learn to get there?

  1. Drive Toward Perfection.

“A band’s only unique thing is its chemistry, especially if none of you are prodigious players or particularly handsome. The one thing you have is your uniqueness, so we hold on to that,” said Chris Martin from Coldplay.

The notion of individuality can carry us a long way as leaders. Because we all know that perfection isn’t even possible. But striving for it requires deep reflection and again, the ability to be self-aware. It requires us to convert our learning into experience, knowing that practice and persistence doesn’t show immediate improvement. It’s really more significant to know the end game and to figure out what it takes to get there.

  1. Create Anticipation and Stir Imagination.

Its rad if you can build suspense just like an encore performance. The best feeling in the world is standing amongst a crowd of screaming people, waiting for the last song, most likely you’re favorite song. It’s the spontaneity of improvisation that captures our minds. And waiting for it, shows the true power of silence.

We’re faced with a competitive landscape that is more intense than ever. This means that in a volatile, uncertain, and complex environment we need to seriously reconsider our strategies and strengths so that we don’t get lost in the disruption. What distinguishes good and bad leadership is the anticipation involved in all aspects of a leader’s work.

The lesson learned is that leaders need to make moves—by mastering communication, listening, understanding, and fostering inspiration. If we don’t grow and learn, its certain that we will be left behind. Sometimes we will find that it takes the sacrifice of personal integrity to keep up and stay current. At the end of the day, being a good leader requires a powerful understanding of others and of oneself.

Rock on!

I Dare You to Color Outside of the Lines

Young businesswoman trapped in carton box

Do you ever get tired of being asked to “think outside of the box?” It’s such a trite statement. We’re all trying our best to be innovative and creative, but how do we do that in a world that has boxed us in?

We were raised to be constrained and controlled. For example, our elementary teachers taught us to color inside the lines. Our parents told us to become doctors or lawyers because they never achieved their dreams. Our professors taught us to the test, rather than teaching us to challenge the test. Our bosses squash our ideas in those bi-annual “brainstorming sessions,” because they don’t have the time or the where-with-all to understand how we’re thinking—we’re operating as mindless slaves.

What the heck? What’s so exciting about what’s inside that box anyway? Maybe the ugly holiday sweater that you’re grandma gave you? Come on. I’ll agree that thinking outside the box requires that we have a box in the first place. We need the content and context to move outside of it to create new worlds. Plus the control and structure to be inspired, because in some capacity it gives us the thrill of breaking the rules.

So, let’s drag ourselves out of the box kicking and screaming. Let’s challenge the thought that Apple is the most innovative company in the world. Look at the iPhone—it’s become a predicable package of sorts. What about 3M? Their management team requires that 20% of their products be generated by new product development. Now that’s an empowering opportunity to introduce disruptive change.

We can’t just watch the MBA’s from the sidelines anymore. And we can’t wait for someone to show us the way. We have to push ourselves to be assertive in meetings and breed the ideas of the future. Think about Dr. Suess’ Oh the Places You’ll Go. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

This is what you should consider:

Crush the Box

Although the concept of the box is necessary to understand, the idea that you can move beyond it is much more important. And the frustration of not being able to push the envelope is exponential. So why not challenge the norm? Refold or redesign the box. Force yourself to condense thoughts, ideas, and words that sometimes hold us back. Think in statements of 10 words or less—almost like a poet. You don’t need more than that to convey your point of view. And if you can do that—especially in front of the big wigs—you might just win the battle.

Read More

We read about 2-5 online, print, journal articles, or blogs per week. Is that enough? Well, when you think about motivating yourself or your people it’s probably not. If you’re devoting your time to reading industry journal articles, forget about it, you’re reading about history. You need to read broadly, move out of your industry, look at different companies and technologies to create something new. Look at new patents, determine what’s on the horizon, rather than looking at what’s already in the marketplace. Reading, outside your comfort zone, will give you the impetus to develop new, abstract notions, which may lead you to great new horizons.

Work Backwards

Writing the first sentence, of anything, is the hardest thing to do. You have to figure out how to change the pattern of your thinking. Start at the end product, and then move forward from there. You might find that the solutions to the problems are easier to develop first, than thinking about the nonsense that you need to fix.

Ask a Kid for Advice

My 9-year-old boy gives me great ideas about everything. The way I dress, the way I negotiate with my 4 year old, the way I think about the world. You name it and he has a resolution. A child’s mind is unobstructed by the minutia that bogs us down. They are real and authentic. I needed a product development idea just the other day and he told me, why don’t you ask kids like me—we’re the ones that are going to buy it anyway. Genius. From the mouth of babes.

When it comes down to it, we’re the ones that can manipulate the status quo. Thinking outside of the box isn’t like hitting a switch that allows a new idea to just turn on. It’s really about the will and desire to think differently. And with that desire, comes the ability to progress. So pick up the crayon and color outside of the lines. The distortion of that impulse might just lead you to a path of innovation and creativity.

The Days of Building the TPS Report are Over.

TPS ReportsDo you remember that guy from the movie Office Space? You know, the coffee cup wielding, TPS report dude referred to as “Lumbergh.” Man, what a hideous co-worker and boss. I don’t want to be that guy.

I’ve often thought that I’m just a 40 something and maybe I’ve become awfully irrelevant in the face of younger colleagues or that “I’ve jumped the shark.” Is it possible that I’ve turned into Lumbergh? Or worse, I’ve turned into the redheaded swing line stapler guy, Milton? The minute my desk gets moved four times; I’ll take my stapler and vacate the building. Or I might accidently set the building on fire. I did say “accidentally.”

The truth of the matter is that the rut has found me. I do endless amounts of reports, for what reason I don’t know. I sit in meetings, frustrated, because we talk in circles and absolutely nothing gets accomplished. Is this all that’s left for me? I certainly hope not.

I guess the challenge I’m facing is that I need to remain relevant. And you might be thinking the same thing.

For all of us 40 somethings out there, today is a good day to start rebuilding our careers. There are amazing high-profile examples of people from that have “made it big” at a more mature age: Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Vera Wang, Madonna, and Oprah. And you don’t have to be a politian, an entrepreneur, a millionaire, or a Hollywood icon to do it.

The fact of the matter is that we have a chance. In fact, professionals like me and you are now dominating the workforce because of the trend toward retirement in later years. It is projected that 46% of older Americans will make a change in their professional lives. And a huge majority wants to rise above the notion that “I’m too old” to have a successful career. You can be a leader in the workforce and compete against the younger graduates like “millennials” that are entering the job market. And importantly, 40 somethings are reinvesting in education to help set themselves apart from the crowd.

  • Nearly 2 million students at the young age of 40 are taking courses to
    earn an advanced degree at the masters, doctoral, or professional
    level
  • Over 7.1 million career-minded individuals in America, just like you, participate in online classes, whether it be open and free education or credit courses
  • One and ten students are now enrolled and engaged in an online course

So what does it take to avoid becoming Lumbergh or Milton? It takes a combination of imagination and empowerment. And through continued education, you can uncover knowledge and develop a new sense of personal enrichment you otherwise didn’t know existed.

Here are some tips to help get you started.

  1. Start Small But Think Big.

Think big first and determine your desired educational outcome. What do you want to accomplish by investing in education? Then think small because you don’t need to devote multiple hours each week toward self-directed study, a class, and a certificate or degree program. Rather, think about the big picture and then take small steps to reach your vision. You might consider devoting just 10 minutes a day to reading a text book, a journal article, or even to checking out a free online course. This will help you can gain the momentum you need to keep going and eventually accomplish more.

  1. Build Successful Habits.

Decide what your educational goal is and then establish a study plan to achieve it. Your plan might vary between studying one night each week for two to three hours or dedicating a few hours of study over the weekend.

  1. Proceed with Caution.

Don’t think you have to study every day or even every week. Don’t give up if life gets in the way and a few days or even a few weeks slip by. Its ok, just pick up where you left off and keep going.

  1. Set Your Own Pace.

Whether you’re pursuing a certification or trying to earn an advanced degree, you determine the end game. You don’t have to do it in six months or even a year. Go at your own pace.

  1. Take Advantage of “Wheels Up.”

If you travel, use time spent on planes and in airports to read and prepare for paper writing, presentations, and examinations.

  1. Invest in Your Professional Development.

Professional development isn’t just about taking classes and earning credentials. Make time to attend conferences and networking events. Connect with others and learn from your peers.

  1. Work the System.

Your current employer and immediate boss probably value continuing education quite a bit. You might find that your employer offers tuition reimbursement programs because the company can see the future value and benefit for work-related projects.

  1. Always Focus on Building Your Resume.

Whether your happy in your current position or your looking for a new job, remember that resume building helps you document your milestones. Education builds your resume and distinguishes you from your peers. In fact, educational pursuits might be the one element that helps you land your next job.

Rest assured you that you’re not alone and you’re never obsolete. In fact, us 40-somethings are still driving the economy, 76 million strong. We’re known as the “do-er generation” and we’re positioned to serve as leaders and mentors to the millennial generation. You’re productive and open to new experiences and opportunities.

Education is our answer. Whether you’re an executive, a project manager, an engineer, or a medical professional—education can help lead you to personal and professional growth.

So stop building your version of a TPS report right now, hit the reset button, drop the stapler and do yourself a favor—invest in you.

The Fall From Glory: The Day I Lost My VP Job

businessman in black suit holding sign job crossed out jobless

I’ve worked for a major toy manufacturer for over 14 years now. I advanced through the ranks from a project manager up to a senior manager very quickly. I worked on the most successful, highest grossing brand. I had several managers reporting to me and a team of 30 talented individuals supporting my every move. My team did well, they grew professionally, and many of them promoted, mostly because of my leadership and mentoring. I was lauded for my vision, strategic planning, and problem solving skills. Pretty good right? I was in the perfect position.

Yet when my boss resigned I was passed over for the job. And on that day that I found out that an outsider took my vice president job, I left the office early and I was livid. How the heck did this happen to me? That was my job. I earned it, I was primed for it. What did I do wrong? Was I so full of myself that others really thought that I couldn’t handle the higher level position? What would my husband think, would he think I was a loser? What would my team think, would they talk behind my back and laugh at me?

All of these questions swirled through my head. And outside of losing my job, this was by far my worst experience in my career. I was embarrassed. I panicked. This shouldn’t happen to me—because I’m good at my job.

I tried to figure out my next move. As I reflected, I thought that maybe I’m being “told” that there’s a learning curve issue, some political posturing that I wasn’t aware of, or maybe that I truly just wasn’t ready. It could be a number of things but I realized that my reaction to all of this needed to be measured. I couldn’t freak out and stand on a table with my gold fish threatening to leave, hoping that someone would come with me.

I’m sharing this with the hope that my story can help you. I did a lot of things wrong and then I made a plan to move forward.

This is what I didn’t do—which probably caused me to get passed over.

  1. I didn’t play the game.

I’m not an extravert by any means. In fact, I just like to do my own thing. I think I’m good at my job and that alone makes me free to avoid socializing or networking during or after work hours. I didn’t go to after work functions. I didn’t have cocktails with the boss. I didn’t go to group lunches or attend birthday or anniversary gatherings. When I traveled, I snuck back to my hotel right after dinner.

I was being patient and waiting. And the waiting place is the worst place to be. I made a huge mistake. And one that I hope I will learn from. If you want to climb the corporate ladder to the executive ranks, you’ve got to learn to play the corporate game. Everyone around me is playing the game and reaping the benefits.

  1. I didn’t market myself internally.

My team, under my leadership, is unstoppable. I’d like to think that I have a lot to do with that. I racked up accomplishments, but I didn’t taut them. Again, I kept to myself, and I kept my successes private. Another huge mistake.

You have to market yourself as much as possible to your boss, your peers, and your direct reports. You’re only as good as the last thing that you’ve done, and if you don’t remind anyone of what it was that you did, it will get swept under the rug and left behind with the next project.

  1. I didn’t build a relationship with my boss’ boss.

I could have taken the time to ask my boss’ boss to mentor me. I know that he had done the same with some of my peers. But I was afraid to ask. I was afraid that he wouldn’t even know my name—which is ridiculous now thinking back.

So the learning here? Don’t be afraid, ask. I bet he would have given me some really great direction and advice. Although it might not have primed me for the promotion, it would have built my confidence.

  1. I didn’t ask for the job.

In fact, no one, other than my husband, even knew that I wanted the VP job. So why would I get promoted when I didn’t even throw my name into the ring. My boss isn’t a psychic and yours isn’t either.

You have to make sure that your boss knows that you’re ready to promote. And you have to make sure that you’re driving toward that goal when it comes review time. Set goals that you can accomplish and then over exceed them. Bosses like overachievers.

Now this is what I did to get over my loss and move on.

  1. I allowed myself a short-lived pity party.

Yes, I admit it, I felt bad for myself, really bad for myself. So bad that I cried to my husband, drank a few too many martinis, and withdrew even more than my usual introverted self for a few days. I was mad and I needed to let it out. I knew that it would do no good to go to work mad and let everyone see those emotions. So I allowed myself the time that I needed to be upset.

  1. I talked to my HR representative.

I decided that it was a good idea to tell my HR gal that I was interested in promoting. Although I missed this opportunity, I didn’t want to miss the next one. And not surprisingly, she told me to do what I didn’t do in the first place, tell my boss and everyone around me that I was ready for the next challenge, something more.

  1. I had an honest discussion with a trusted colleague.

And I found out that my style can be a little harsh and that people can sometimes be intimidated by me. She suggested that I back off a bit and be more aware of how I interact with my team. So I start listening and paying attention. I forced myself to be aware and in the moment.

  1. I updated my resume.

I thought initially that maybe I should quit. Then I realized that was the worst path I could have taken. I have a husband and two kids that I need to help take care of. Not to mention, my job is highly sought after. My salary is amazing and the benefits are even better. I couldn’t get a another job easily that could match that. But I did think it was important to update my resume. It was a good exercise to document my achievements and it proved to remind me that I’ve done a tremendous amount of good for myself, and the company.

  1. I looked for a lateral move.

I really stepped out of my comfort zone, actually talked to some people around the office, and found another department that needed a new senior manager. I was pigeon holed on my current brand and I needed broader experience. So I asked to be moved out of my group to another group in the same senior manager role. My new boss and team is great. I’m learning an entirely new business and I’m challenged. I’m not sure that this will lead to a promotion, but I know that I’m building my repertoire, my confidence, and my resume.

Without doing all of this I couldn’t have moved on. I had to accept what happened because I couldn’t undo it. I already mentioned that I was being patient and waiting around. Well, this experience knocked me over the head and I’ll never wait around again. This journey gave me the power to make new choices and better decisions. And I hope that my story can help you find new focus and your next new challenge.

Watch Out World, Millennials are Coming for Your Job.

MillenialsThe millennial generation is booming. And if you were born between 1980 and 2000, you represent over 28% of the U.S. population, clearly the largest share. You’re known for being the most educated generation with 34% attaining a college degree according to NPR.

In 2015, nearly 50% of the entire workforce in America will be comprised of millennials and will reach 75% by 2025. But looking at the numbers, you may find yourself underemployed and only making minimum wage even as a college graduate.

But the opportunity and potential is there for you to really take over your destiny at work. And there are resources that can help.

UC Irvine created a program to prepare millennials for their first and next jobs. As part of the widely publicized open and free education movement (often referred to as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), the Career Success program is offered online, at no charge through Coursera. The courses are designed to help you build project management tools and techniques to initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control and close projects, how to increase personal and professional productivity through time management, the importance of finance and interpretation of financial information, and use successful management techniques and the five functions of management.

The University just conducted an in-course survey and found the following from 4,266 responders between the ages of 25-34:

  • A majority of students are taking the specialization to not only learn new skills, but also advance in their careers
  • 73% have enrolled in a MOOC prior to this one
  • 60% hold full-time jobs, working 40+ hours a week
  • 40% of responders said they plan on earning a verified certificate from Coursera
  • Responders are highly educated.  In regards to highest level of education completed, 35% have earned a Bachelor’s, 34% have earned a Master’s and 6% have earned a Ph.D., Law or Medical degree

It seems that online education (often free) was built for you. It uses the best mix of technology, it provides access from anywhere, it offers tons of knowledge fast and in small bits, it builds interactive online communities, and it allows you learn at your own pace and on your terms.

So here’s a list of the top 5 ways you can use education to give you the edge in the workplace.

  1. It’s free. The opportunity cost of enrolling in a free course is very low. So why would you do this? Because knowledge is power. And power in the workplace will help your mobility and your chance for job satisfaction and perhaps a better salary.
  1. You need a really good resume. By adding educational experiences to your resume, you appear to be “in the know,” a trendsetter, and willing to go above and beyond what’s expected at your job. And by finishing a MOOC created by UC Irvine and offered by Coursera, you’ve got the big reputations of a research-one university and the best names in open education to add some clout to your accomplishments.
  1. You need a competitive edge. So if you were interviewing candidates for a new position wouldn’t you consider their level and depth of their education in your decision? Of course you would. This is what can set you apart from everyone else interviewing for your dream job.
  1. Online courses give you the opportunity to collaborate and socialize with others that can help you. Networking is critical. And you never know who you will meet that will help you land your next job. Thankfully, online courses (again often free) offer you the opportunity to join online communities of people that share the same desires that you do.
  1. You want to move from the cubicle to the corner office. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that free online courses have the quality and content similar to what you would find in an MBA course. That’s why universities like MIT, Yale, and Harvard are in the open, online education game. Movers and winners invest in their education.

So check out the Career Success program on Coursera , it will be worth your time and investment.

Deflate Gate 2015: Should you Behave Like a Professional Athlete?

DeflateSo first it was Spygate and now Deflategate. What is going to happen next? I mean really Bill Belichick. You have what could be said the best quarterback in NFL history in Brady and you deflate footballs to get to the Super Bowl? How embarrassing! That’s something my 9 year old would do. Shame on you. And Tom, you’re married to Giselle. Does she know that you’re in the game of shrinking your balls? You’re both teaching our youth that you have to cheat to get ahead. Is that really what you want your legacies to be? It’s as bad as cheating on your spouses, or telling your kids its cool to cheat on the SATs.

I am, however, a huge sports fan and a big believer that pro athletes can be role models in business. With all of the controversy of late my beliefs might sound ridiculous. But when you think about it, there are tons of athletes that have used their talents to build their own personal brands and the teams that they have worked for. They indeed can be good examples of strong businessmen and woman.

But I’m not totally delusional. I know that with the good comes the down right bad and ugly. There are many that taught us exactly how NOT to behave in business like Ray Rice, Terrell Owens, Mike Tyson, and Pete Rose. And don’t even get me started on Lance Armstrong—what a fall from glory to a total disappointment that lost everything, including his respect. If I were Oprah, I would have punched him in the face during the interview. Livestrong, save it Lance!

But let’s focus on the notables before I digress. Here’s a small list of the valuable players:

Most Likely to be a Gunslinger.
Let’s talk Brett Favre—my all time favorite. I call him my Gun Rack. If he drove up to my house right now, in his pick up truck, with his dog Charlie in the front seat, I would leave it all and jump right in for a ride back to Mississippi.

But seriously speaking, Brett Favre did teach us some very important lessons, respectable and regretful, that we can apply to our careers. Let’s be honest, the man had a really horrible start. If I’m not mistaken, he played his rookie year with the Atlanta Falcons and never completed a pass. And then he was traded to the Packers.

Once he donned the green and yellow jersey he turned his career around in Green Bay. In his fifth season with the Packers he won his first Super Bowl. Favre is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 70,000 yards; exceed 6,000 completions, make over 10,000 pass attempts, and still have the most wins as a starting QB. The MVP played 20 seasons in the NFL—which on its own is extraordinary. And towards the end of his long career, he was one interception away from taking the Vikings to the “show.”

He’s considered a legend but perhaps he’s most well known for his career mishaps. He still leads the league in interceptions, and yes, its 59 more than anyone else in NFL history. He’s retired more times than we’ve watched him cry on national TV. He’s said to have left the Packers in bad standing and without mentoring his now lauded backup QB Aaron Rodgers.

I think Vince Lombardi said it best: “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”

What can we learn from Favre?

Commitment—It could reasonably be said that he’s the ultimate company man. He played 16 seasons with the Packers. I mean come on, he was chastised for jumping jobs after his stent at Green Bay, but how many of us stay at a job for some 16 years? He studied, not only his team, but his competitors in great detail. That is what made him great. He spent his time, on and off the field, committed to his practice. He was uber prepared.

Longevity—The man has been knocked down and has picked himself up a million times. I’m sure there were Monday mornings when he wanted to pack it in and quit. But he served as the consistent leader of that locker room for a long time. Brett said it best, “Every game I’ve ever played, regardless if it was pre-season or Super Bowl, meant the same to me, and I laid it all on the line.” He never quit, he never gave up. He was born a winner.

Decisiveness—He made decisions. Quick decisions, off the cuff. He’s the guy you want next to you in a conference room full of executives when you’re put on the spot and need to make the call. A decisive person can lay down the gauntlet, believe in the decision, and make a plan to move forward and execute. Favre was a decision maker.

Most Valuable Team Players.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won three Olympic gold medals in beach volleyball. No other beach pair, men or women, has won two golds since the sport was introduced into the Olympics in 1996. In fact, no woman has ever won three Olympic beach volleyball medals of any kind. They have been called the greatest beach volleyball team of all time. In 2004, they won their first Gold and did so by not losing a single set. After first and second round wins in their final games together, they continued their Olympic win streak of 32 consecutive sets without a loss until losing the first set of three to Austria in a preliminary round before ultimately winning the match. They both married and had children during their time together on the sand and through all of that, stayed strong partners. Although Misty has since retired, Kerri says that she misses her partner everyday.

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings are an example of teammates that knew each other so well, with each and every move, that they won every match they’ve ever played at the Summer Games and lost just one of 43 sets.

What can we learn from these women that we can take with us into the conference room?

Know your partner­—The better you know your partner(s) the easier your job will be. Working with one teammate or with a large group can be difficult, but when you get in a groove with your crew, you not only get more done, you generate more powerful ideas. And those ideas lead to successful and sometimes award-winning projects.

Play to win—It’s highly unlikely that May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings won so many matches without having the true desire to win. And although perfection isn’t possible, the drive to win provides impetus. Winners respect their teammates. They honor their companies by showing up, ready to perform, day after day. Playing or working for a winning team is important, because it provides career satisfaction and a ton of job security. If winners do not surround you now, then figure out how to change your scenery to become part of something greater.

Most Likely to Succeed at a Young Age.
Shaun White has completely dominated the world of snowboarding for the last 10 years. He took home every major half-pipe contest before the age of 20. He won Olympic Gold and has won nearly every X-Game medal available, multiple times over. And he’s still innovating with new tricks that no one else can do. Shaun said, “You know the best thing about competition? There’s this whole strategy game, and when it all works out it’s like solving that hard math equation. You finally get the answer and you’re so happy.”

In terms of progression, no one has pushed their sports harder or further than Shaun. He goes bigger, and he goes higher, and there’s not a single snowboard rider in history that can match his competitive achievements. And he’s good at more than just snowboarding. He’s medaled in X-Games skateboarding as well. In terms of being a brand ambassador, Shaun is loved all over the world and has put snowboarding and skateboarding on the map and taken it to levels that even Tony Hawk could never have dreamed. And Tony Hawk loves him too. He also used his skills to build a huge brand for himself, The White Collection for Burton Snowboards and Target.

Shaun White has taught us that you can be really young and still become really successful. He pushed it as early as the age of 4 and never stopped. He learned to be a good businessman very early on and is reaping the benefits now. He also taught us that we don’t have to be singularly focused. As long as we’re able to master a skill, we can probably foster other talents and still be successful at both. Success at all levels is why so many, have so much reverence for Shaun White.

Our respect for athletes has waned over the years. I guess its because we see that sports figures are recognized more as celebrities like Hollywood stars, valued for the entertainment they provide. But many of us still hold these athletes to a higher standard of conduct. And I don’t mean to say that any of the aforementioned athletes haven’t made some bad conduct choices (Favre and his texts – ah hem), but what I can say is that there are lessons to be learned. Minus the scandals, the tabloid fodder, we do have examples that we can take to with us to work. Exemplars that can give us confidence, some direction, and spirit for greatness in our careers.

Career Launch Stories Recap

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our international students’ individual journeys while they studied at UCI Extension.  Each of them share a unique perspective on the opportunities and impact that this experience has made on their career and personal growth.  In case you missed any or all, here’s a chance for you to catch up!

A Story of Firsts – First Company-Sponsored Female; First Trip Abroad
Shiori Sato, age 25, Japan
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Blending Business and Science for Global Success|
Yuta Okanoya, age 25, Japan
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The Power of an American Certificate
Davood Shahabi, age 32, Iran
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