My Lesson 11 … I am still learning

There is nothing better than having someone share their story, their experiences, their passions to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. Robbin Phillips of Brains on Fire joined my MBA class for a morning of discussion and sharing.

So here is what I walked away with…

1) I am still a student of this entrepreneurial journey.

2) Passion is a must…so don’t be afraid to share.

3) Our story is our story…

4) Listening is one the most important parts of connecting with like minded people.

5) To lead a successful company, initiative, or movement…you must be healthy from the soul outward.

So here is to Robbin for filling up my cup, giving me a new breath of passion, and reminding that regardless if I am the teacher…learning never stops.

So there is my Lesson 11 for the evening. I am still learning!  Read the Brains on Fire book and you will understand.

Blogging, Storytelling…Finding Your Voice For Digital Equity

I always love coming away from teaching with something that helps me contextuallize a process. I began working with my MBA Students on blogging…and ultimately building/finding your voice.

Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship Program is a one year intensive program helping shape twenty-two students’ business plans into a reality. As a part of this program, I working with them all semester to build a digital communication strategy.

Every class from finance to sales, they are constantly having to pitch. They are pitching their business ideas and I get to take it from a communications point of view. How do you take that elevator pitch and turn into a marketable piece of communication for numerous target audiences. One way is to get them writing and sharing…and we are doing this through the blogging process.

As I was working through today’s session, we were not focusing on platforms…but the message. What is the mission behind the blog? Who is the audience? What are you going to write about on a consistent basis that meets your goals. Most importantly, how does that effect their digital equity?

I thought this diagram above made sense as I was walking through a messaging process. As they begin the writing process, they are searching for their voice. We know those keywords that will attract the search engines and the audiences, but the more they write…the more they refine their message and their voice.

We have to understand that blogging is a foreign many of these students. As they find their voice, they begin writing for their audiences. The more they share, the more chances they have to build a community around their idea(s). As the community grows, they begin moving from writing specifically for the audience to writing with the audience as community effort.

This workflow helps refine and grow their digital equity and thus their blog’s search engine optimization. They continue to think through their keyword strategy and continue connecting with more and more individuals that share their common ideas. This is just fun!

Now…this is my perspective and one small part of an overall blogging strategy. But, this just made sense during our discussion this morning. I love helping people work through the thought process surrounding audience and purpose…ultimately finding their voice.

Can passionate leadership hinder you? [Leadership Summit 2011 – Part 6]

What does Leadership Passion look like? What does your own Leadership Passion look like? How has it helped you? Has it ever hindered you?

This was a tough question to answer…but one that must be posed to leadership. Here is my thoughts to the above questions.

I think I started answering this question in the prevision: Can Passion be taught? [Leadership Summit 2011 – Part 5].

Passion is language. We are built with passion inside us…it is a part of our pathos. It just takes someone, something, an event, and time period…something to give passion “language.” We have those feelings inside, we get excited about something, but we must learn how to communicate that passion. Some can find the right words, some communicate their passion through music, dance, drawing, or whatever…but the ability to share our passion is finding language to express. That is where leadership comes into play…how can we lead those to find and share their passion? We must be willing to equally share our passions. We help the people around us bring language to their inner most desires…that desire is leadership.

Passion can sometimes have an equal force in the equation. When we share our passion, we can attract a group of common minded people. We can also marginalize those that do not share the same passion. Sometimes our passion makes us stand upon solid ground where others choose not to go, and it can sometimes hurt the relationships around us. This idea of passion and marginalizing groups of people makes me think of Dissoi Logoi…the idea of opposing arguments.

Here is an interesting discussion centered around the idea of Dissoi Logoi:

By putting yourself as fully into each side as possible, you begin to see the internal logic of each position. This insight is important for several reasons. First, it may help you to be more understanding of your opponents’ position (they’re not always the fools we think they are when we haven’t explored their position carefully). Second, it may make it possible for you to find some area of common ground between the two positions that will produce cooperation rather than arguing to “win.” Third, even if you think the opponents’ view is wrong and must be defeated, you at least know what arguments they are likely to use, and you can figure out how to disarm those arguments ahead of time.

As leaders, we must be cognizant of our passion and fully understand the opposing viewpoints of those we marginalize. My passion may and has turned people off, hurt people’s feelings, or even created rifts in relationships. Learning to be a leader is learning how to manage that passion, channeling that passion when it is appropriate, and understand when it might have a negative effect on those surrounding us.

My passion has hindered me. I have lost friends, hurt family members, and even compromised business relationships. But those who stood by me during those times have been the ones that provided wonderful long-term relationships. Has passion hindered you?

[Leadership Summit 2011] Creativity & Passion Means – Part 4

Here is the fourth post in my series of answering questions from Clemson’s Leadership Summit 2011, questions surrounding Creativity and Passion. Enjoy!

How have you incorporated creativity into your leadership style? Was it easy? Difficult? What are you still working on in the area of creativity & passion?

First of all, I do not consider myself a great leader. This is not a self-deprecating statement. It is the truth…I am a young professional with a lot to learn. But this is what I have learned about using creativity as a means to lead.

There is a lot of trust involved and you have to paint a great, tangible picture where the light at the end of the tunnel seems reachable. You hear many people talk about how business relationships are built on trust…HELL YES. I would not be where I am today if it was not for trust. But leading with creativity is not a tough idea to embark…it takes a plan. You have to have some sort of rubric in place that guides people through a creative process. Something that allows people to feel grounded in an approach.

John Warner tells a great story about Virginia Uldrick who started the Governor School for the Arts. Here is a school teacher who is teaching finger painting and positions herself on various leadership positions to create this high seminary of learning. In an interview, John Warner asks her how does she attract such fine teachers of ballet and hold them accountable to perform as teachers. Virginia has to answer to the legislature…so how does she hold such creative people accountable to perform. She states that she is an out-of-the-box thinker and John keys in on that statement…asking “What do you mean you are an out of the box thinker.” He wants to know how to harness this creative tension. She states to John…that if these ballet instructors can perform at the highest level…she will build the grandest stage for them to perform. John states…now who would not want to “work” for Virginia? Well…who would not want to work with Virginia, along side the vision of creativity?

*** Image is a Degas Painting from The Painter’s Studio Blog:

Something to be learned from the Spiro Institute

Today, I was invited to attend the first in a series of First Friday Speaker Presentations by the Spiro Institute at the new campus for Clemson University called Clemson At The Falls. It is a center for Professional Advancement and Continuing Education located in downtown Greenville, SC. Today’s speaker was Steve Edwards talking about “Amazing!!! Simple Tools to Transform Your Life from Ordinary to Amazing.” I talked more about my thoughts and reactions to the insightful presentation in the above video.

To download the flyer for the event, CLICK HERE!

The next event by the Spiro Institute will be October 15th at the Brooks Center for Performing Arts. The event is titled Entrepreneurship Tomorrow and will be featuring:

Nikki Haley – Republican Nominee for Governor of South Carolina
Steve Edwards – CEO of the Edwards Group
Greg Smith – VP & GM of Xerox Mortgage Services

It will be moderated by Claude Lilly who is the Dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science. To learn more about the event, CLICK HERE.