In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I decided to join Pi Sigma Epsilon, the marketing and professional sales fraternity at Central Michigan University. I was initiated at the end of February and I have already experienced many of the benefits PSE has to offer. I have attended a professional sales networking night with business professionals, fundraised with my new member class to fund future sales competitions, attended weekly meetings to listen to numerous employer spotlights, learned how to dine with professionals at an etiquette dinner, cleaned up garbage on the side of Deerfield Road for Adopt-A-Road, volunteered at PSE’s annual Dart Tournament, attend my chapter’s formal, and network with my peers.
Even though I have not been a full-fledged member for a whole semester yet, I have had so many wonderful professional and fun experiences. The fraternity is valuable because I am further developing myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. For example, at meetings random members will be called on to stand in front of about 100 other members and give a sales pitch on a random object they are assigned. One time I was called up and had to try and sell Cabbage Patch Kid dolls to college students. It was difficult to come up with points off the top of my head, but it was a great way to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something I do not get the chance to every day.
I know I am ready to step up and take a leadership role in PSE; that is why I recently applied to become the Director of Public Relations. Next year, I plan on running for Vice President of Public Relations for the Zeta Nu chapter. I am passionate about sales and want to put as much effort and time into my fraternity as I can to get the most out from it. PSE really is helping me grow into a successful business professional.
Banner from the Art Reach promotional event in the Bovee University Center
At the beginning of second semester, I was brought aboard the Street Squad team, which does marketing for the student-run newspaper, Central Michigan Life. My duties include brainstorming promotional ideas and events for CM Life’s clients, run tabling and promotional events, attend weekly meetings, create presentations to pitch ideas for clients, distribute newspapers around CMU’s campus, and represent a positive face for CM Life. My first pitch I created was for Buffalo Wild Wings with a partner. We came up with ideas to increase awareness of vegetarian options and discount wing nights at the restaurant. The ideas were then put into an organized and professional presentation that I pitched by myself in front of other Street Squad members, my manager, and the Assistant Director of Student Publications. The pitch went really well, and the Assistant Director was interested in the ideas my partner and I came up with. Our ideas might even be possibly implemented in the future.
Street Squad is giving me hands-on experience outside the classroom. I am gaining real world marketing and public relations experience through trial and error right here on campus. Through advertising and promoting companies in Mount Pleasant, I am expanding my comfort zone and challenging myself with every tabling event. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities CM Life is providing me, and I plan on moving up in the office and advancing my skills as I move forward with this organization.
Simon Sinek is a speaker who talks about how great leaders inspire action on a TED Talk by explaining that people follow based on what the leader believes. He presents the Golden Circle which dissects the way leaders and companies think. The outer circle explains what products or ideas leaders or companies are trying to sell. The middle circle explains how the idea or product works. The inner circle explains the purpose and beliefs behind the action or creation of a product or idea. Most people work from the outer in, but those who are successful work from the inner out. Sinek enforces the idea that people do not buy what you do, but why you do it. People who are are successful sell to people who believe what they believe, and they hire those who are not just in it for the money.
Sinek uses an example of Apple, illustrating how they have the same resources as every other company, but they are so innovated and successful because they tell people why they sell their products first. Instead of pitching that they make computers that are easy to use, they demonstrate that they believe in challenging the status quo by making computers that are easy to use. I learned that if I want to be a good leader, I need to tell people why they should follow me. I need to state my beliefs first because that is what people truly care about. I was introduced to the Golden Circle in this TED Talk and I believe its values and think its content is important to know when aspiring to be a leader. I knew that we follow people because we want to, but I never understood why until now. It’s because we believe in not just what they believe, but why they believe what they do.
I am now going to be upfront with what I believe and my reason for initiating a plan in meetings and group work instead of saving my reasons for the conclusion. I think that stating beliefs is a real attention grabber and keeps people interested and following. Just like Sinek said, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “I have a dream speech, not I have a plan speech” I will tell those who look up to me why I have a vision, not just how I am going to get there. For example, I want to decrease the number of people who text while they drive. Simply saying how I am going to help get the numbers down is okay, but explaining that there are too many lives taken from an easy-to-fix issue is why people would want to get the numbers down. A quote by Sinek that I am going to leave you with that I thought was insightful was, “Those who lead inspire us.” We follow those who have beliefs are similar to ours.
During the 2015 Connections Conference at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, I listened to four leadership lectures. My favorite one was by Central Michigan University academic advisors Kaela Humm and Georgina Main. Their lecture was all about improving time management skills. To better these skills, everyone was given a chart to map out where all their time was spend during the day. After doing calculations to see how much time is spent sleeping, studying, eating, showering, etc. on an average week, I found out I have roughly five free hours in the week (not including time spent on my phone or watching tv). Because I know where my time is spent, I can effectively use it and even map out when I need to do certain tasks during the day.
I learned the different quadrants on the priority grid: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and not urgent or important. Tasks in the urgent and important quadrant (studying for a test tomorrow) produce the most stress. I learned it is more productive to be in the not urgent but important quadrant (studying for a test that is next week) because you have time to get
tasks done. This will reduce stress and help me when multiple tasks are on my plate. I must start and finish my important tasks before they become urgent and stressful. I also learned tasks in the urgent but not important quadrant (friends are going to the movies now) are fine to do, but they interpret productivity. It is smarter to get important tasks done before enjoying free time. In fact, this could be a motivator to get tasks done quicker to allow for more free time.
After listening to Kaela Humm and Georgina Main, I am going to start mapping out my weeks into time frames and write down when important due dates are for assignments. This will help produce more efficiency and productivity in my life.
My Leadership Advancement Scholar cohort traveled to the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City with one hundred and fifty other student leaders around Central Michigan University’s campus for a weekend long conference. We listened to speakers and discussed utilities around campus we can access to enhance our leadership skills. For example, registered student organizations connect us to multiple volunteer opportunities to help out all over campus and in the community. On Saturday night, every student and faculty member at the conference had a few hours to play in the water park. That was a lot of fun for me because during the day, I carried myself in a very professional manner. However, during the time in the water park, I had the opportunity to ride water slides and let my inner child shine. Later that night, all of the leaders met in a ball room to mingle and ask quest
ions to each other for two minutes before switching to another person. This was called “speed connecting”.
After evaluating the different utilities around campus to help me grow as a leader, I really want to become more involved at the Volunteer Center. There, they provide diverse opportunities to reach out to the community. One of the four speakers I listened to provided excellent information about time management skills. I engaged in an activity where I evaluated how much time I spend sleeping, eating, studying, in class, and having free time I have during the week. After taking into account where I spend my time, I am going to start mapping out my activities so I can use my time effectively. This will help me stick to tasks that need to be done so I can be a more effective and organized leader.
To be a leader, one must connect with other leaders and hear their story. President Ross of Central Michigan University came into my Introduction to Leadership class one day to discuss the journey he took to get to his position and take questions from all of the students. He also told us that leadership is the ability to take responsibility for when you have messed up and fix it. He also explained how communication is the toughest part of his job now. To deal with conflict, one must approach it head on. With honest face-to-face, most problems can be solved. Simple gestures travel long distances, and openly talking to another person about an issue builds respect. He stressed the importance of school and studying. He was very comfortable and engaged with us which made it easy to connect with him. Who else can say they had the opportunity to talk to the President of their University? That is pretty cool! From his visit to our class, it was clear he truly cares about his students and is passionate about his job.
From the President’s background, I have learned you can come from having very little and still achieve greatness. Anything is possible when you apply yourself. In college I am not only expanding my knowledge, but also extending a hand by volunteering and engaging in registered student organizations such as Program Board.
Some valuable advice I took away from listening to President Ross was, sometimes people are going to say things that are not true, but I still have to be myself and know where I stand. Also, I am going to take responsibility for my mistakes and own them. This is when a person grows and learns the most. CMU graduates leaders, and that is more than just a title. It is being able to work in teams, think, communicate, and be confident.
I am very honored to say that I was part of the very first Spark Leadership Series at Central Michigan University. This program used to be known as the Alpha Leadership Experience, but evolved to become more effective in the development of leadership. Spark has taught me how to become a more effective leader by developing my view in a series of multiple workshops and activities. All of the participants were split into small teams of about 10 people (my team was Team Motivation). With our teams we set goals for our group as a whole, and for ourselves. My personal goal was to enhance my leadership skills and meet new people. Our team goals were to: have fun, motivate each other, develop skills as a group, be friends inside and out of the program, build each other up, and be supportive. To take advantage of the amazing opportunity we were given, we set standards on how to achieve these goals. We established a positive environment that was inclusive and free from stereotypes. Reaching out to each other was not a duty, but something we did because we cared. My group set our own definition for leadership-it comes in many forms and is unique to everyone. I personally learned my leadership style is spirited. Spirited leaders supply energy for their group and share excitement for everyone around. They make work enjoyable and motivate others to reach their full potential. I believe it is important to know my leadership style so I can coordinate with other leadership styles to work effectively. I know as a leader I excel at caring for and supporting others, but I need to work on giving feedback to others. Feedback is important because it helps individuals grow in areas where they need improvement. I am going to start letting others know how to improve instead of just what they are doing well. This will allow others to grow and expand their own horizons. Another area I am going to improve on is planning. I am going to write everything down that needs to be done that way I will finish before deadlines and ensure I have more free time. Lastly, I want to promote diversity. Not only will I reach out to everyone around me, but I will encourage my friends to reach out to others as welFollowershipl. I never want anyone to feel excluded. I will create an environment that promotes inclusion and not exclusion.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” -Bill Gates