Some of the most rewarding work I’m involved with is my role on the Advisory Board for WKU’s School of Journalism, specifically the Dept. of Advertising. My man Cliff Shaluta runs the show and has been a mentor and friend for a long time. He continues to fight the good fight for bringing the best possible education and experiences for students amid the political bs that challenges higher education.
Recently, I was asked to come back to campus to talk with the Ad majors and faculty about my experiences in the “real world”. It’s a super cool opportunity anytime they ask and I’m always quick to respond.
During one of the Q&A’s, had an interesting question on “what would be the three things you wish you’d studied or done in preparation for your career experiences”. Good question. I don’t remember exactly what my response was, but here are my thoughts as a follow-up:
1. Finance – Math is hard. Working with financials is such a critical task, especially in leadership roles. The concepts of budgets, forecasts, pro forma’s, etc. are all skills I was able to learn and adapt, especially with my MBA studies. The practical experience of trial by fire worked for me, it would have been even better to have better experiences in my undergrad studies.
2. Psychology – The basic details of a Psych 100-style class are great, taking it a step or two further would have been even better. I’m fortunate to have focused in this space recently during my times in healthcare, especially behavior change, engagement, human factors, etc. In undergrad, it may not have had the impact, but the exposure and interest would have been beneficial. The approaches and tactics of psychology are key building blocks to much of the work in experience design, engagement strategies and more. It’s been written in articles from the NY Times to Gallup that successful leaders, especially CEO’s, have a great appreciation and knowledge of psychology in their ascent up the corporate ladder.
3. Sales – It’s one thing to sell ideas and concepts to peers or others inside organizations. It’s another level altogether when it comes to selling a product or service, more importantly in selling the greatest product of all, yourself. In my career transitions between client and agency work, the pressure, environment, tactics and general experiences with sales have been diverse and powerful. I’m very grateful for that diversity, adding to that experience in undergrad years would have been even more helpful.
I did leave the students with one quote that I’ve reinforced to my teams over the years. “It’s not about the what, it’s about the how”. Too many times I’ve seen great ideas and good answers to questions fall on deaf ears or backfire altogether because of a failure in how the information was communicated.
It’s such a competitive market right now for jobs and talent. Experiences are important, especially coming out of college. Being able to take on any experiences while in school is extremely valuable, being able to hit the ground running. Two other things I mentioned to the students were to spend time learning about emotional intelligence and to not jump straight into grad school. Emotional intelligence is important to help with working in teams, leading and especially in dealing with the corporate world. Grad school was so much more valuable to me after experiences in my career. I found myself applying what I learned on a regular basis. Without that experience I just don’t see as much impact.
Very rewarding stuff. I’m sure there are other things that come to mind. What else am I missing for these future leaders of tomorrow? Add your comments in.