Changella

Community to encourage student entrepreneurs to dream, design, make, and learn

Creating Positive Culture Using Appreciative Inquiry

brainstorm

Appreciative Inquiry is a strategic planning framework helping non-profits, businesses, and organizations discover a shared positive vision and make it happen.   In contrast to traditional business analysis that explores strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT),   appreciative inquiry organizations focus on growing their strengths and opportunities while minimizing their weaknesses.   Every organization needs positive change.   I appreciate that this framework encourages open positive participation from EVERYONE in the organization.

Why do I believe appreciative inquiry(AI) is important?

  • In our modern age, I can understand why we tend to focus on problems. In our news media, how easy is it to find news about people who are making improvements or positive change? I believe organizations should know their weaknesses. I, however, believe that we can often let weaknesses dominate the process of making our organizations better.
  • After reading and listening to EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey, I believe that creating positive culture has become the new imperative. I love the idea that you have to “start with a dream and end in a goal.”
  • Plants and organic systems grow toward light. I believe human organizations also grow toward “light.”
    (leaders and organizations who make positive change)
How does the process work?

For a brief summary of the process, please visit the appreciative inquiry page on Wikipedia.

In my previous employer CompassKnowledge group, I had the opportunity to see this process in action.

  • Senior leadership team created and documented a shared vision for the organization.
  • A senior leader interviewed me. During this interview, we talked about moments where I felt I was excited about my life and work. We talked about the strengths used during those high points in my life. We also brain stormed ways that my strengths can be used in the work place to create more positive change for our team and customers.
  • This process was repeated for all 200+ employees. (Wow!)
  • Without getting into too much detail, the company aggregated the data from the strengths and opportunities to form a master plan regarding how CompassKnowledge was going to rock distance learning in the future while charging up the team. The shared vision and dream was enhanced with ideas coming from every single member of the organization, a sample of the students we served, and our customers.
  • Impacts that I treasure: (1) During this process, I pitched the idea of doing innovation time off to senior leadership. This discussion evolved into a few strategic research projects. (2) I especially loved that we spoke with some of our knowledge partners(customers) and students. It helped me connect my job with the stories of students getting excited about finishing their degree through one of our programs and the positive impacts it will have for their families.

How can I use this process today?

Put yourself in an environment where you can think for 20 minutes. I would recommend getting a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Take the time to answer the following questions.

1 – What are the high points or most celebrated stories in your life?

2 – What was a time that you were excited to jump out of bed and start working
on your project or cause?

3 – What personal strengths do you have from those high points in your life? In general,
what are your personal strengths?

4 – Imagine a world where you are happy and creating positive change in your work daily.
What does that dream job look like?

5 – How can you use the personal strengths from question 3 to create the dream
job that you talked about in question 4?

What insights did you make about yourself?

As we dream about the future in five years, how can you use this process to enhance your life?    How can it impact your organization?

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Photo from TheImageGroup.

10 Games To Foster Innovation with Your Team

I believe that projects should be fun.   When projects are fun, people share their best and most innovative ideas.   I am very thankful that my team leader introduced me to the book Gamestorming, a playbook for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers.     As an agile coach for a software development team, it’s important for our team to learn how to collaborate, support our customers on making judgments about priorities, requirements, and to keep improving the product and the team.   As leaders, how do we encourage innovative thinking that encourages team members to be creative?   If we want creativity, we have to practice this art.    Why don’t we practice this craft of creativity using games?

For a brief introduction to GameStorming by David Gray, check out the following video:

Here are 10 games that I have used with my teams.   For leaders, I hope these games help inspire a spirit of innovation with your teams.

10 Easy Innovation Games

  1. Trading cards - In a learning and innovation environment, it’s important for your players to build rapport with each other.   This is a pretty easy ice breaker game.
  2. Post-up - I really love this device since it helps EVERYONE to contribute. (whether you’re a very vocal person or a quiet thinker)    Post it notes are a simple way of capturing an idea.   This game gives the team silence and space to reflect upon creating new ideas.   Other games can be used to organize those ideas.
  3. Affinity map - In “Post-up”, the primary goal was to capture ideas.  Affinity map encourages your team organize your ideas on a white board or table.  If one idea is very similar to another idea, those ideas should be placed in closer proximity.     This helps you see relationships between ideas.
  4. Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization - For any project team, it’s often useful to consider the question “what should we do that will generate the most value with the smallest amount of complexity?”   This game encourages your project team to arrange ideas on a 2d space.  On one axis, you have complexity.( low to high)   One the other axis, you have value(low value to high value)   By placing ideas on this grid, it’s often easy for your team to spot the next logical steps.
  5. Dot voting - What does your team think we should do?  In this simple game, your team receives 5 dots.   The team places their dot votes next to ideas that they would support.  Voting can also encourage friendly competition.
  6. $100 Test - If we had $100 to spend on the ideas before the team, how would we allocate that money?
  7. Atomize - As we study complex systems, it’s often helpful to decompose large ideas or objects into smaller parts.   For example, as we study cells in biology, this game can be used to help students learn the components of the cell.    If your team is creating something new, this game can help you think about how to break the problem into parts.
  8. 4C’s - As your project team considers creating a new product or service, this game helps your team think about decomposing the problem.
  9. Plus/Delta - This simple game helps the team reflect upon what went really well and what we can improve.   Team reflection and team sponsored improvement can be very powerful.
  10. Actions for retrospectives - This retrospective game is very similar to #9.   In some ways, I like this game more since the team also considers the questions of risk and wishes.    The game also encourages you to make ideas actionable.

You can find more innovation games at the Gamestorming Wiki : http://www.gogamestorm.com/?page_id=234

 

We love to hear from our readers.   What are techniques that help you grow or help grow your team?

 

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3 Steps to Energize Your Work Day

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How was your day? Did you feel energized by your activities or work? For me, this is such a powerful question. We have no clue how long we will be blessed to live our lives. I consider each day a gift and treasure. I know that I feel energized when my life activities are aligned with my “why.” My “why” refers to my mission, my purpose, and values. As human beings, we thrive and get energized when we can connect to our purpose.

How was your day? Did we make a difference?

Was there a time in your life that you felt energized by your work? For me, I greatly enjoyed my life working in graduate school in computer science. I have admit it was an odd mix of activities. I worked for my first startup. It was a small Catholic church where I served as a minister of music. I also served our church in all aspects of technology. Since we held worship services in a school cafeteria, our teams needed to setup and manage sound and video equipment. Our pastor and my friend, Father Stephen was a great teacher with an eye for marketing and strategic planning. It was a pleasure getting to collaborate with him and other team members on website design and other marketing efforts. More importantly.. We built a shared vision for our family and community. We also had a great zeal for college ministry too. It was awesome to support students in their faith through music, education, and building community.

On the computer science side, I was learning how to contribute knowledge in a research area known as machine learning. This technology can be used to help keep spam out of your inbox, helps websites recommend products to you, or empowers cars to drive themselves. I love learning about artificial intelligence since it is ultimately a practical study in ourselves. How do we think? What does it mean to be self aware? How are we creative and combine ideas? How do we learn?

Today.. I know that I am actively working to steer my family activities and professional direction so that I keep myself faithful, service oriented, and curious about the world. I hope to encourage others to do the same.

I greatly recommend the following talk by Simon Sinek. He shares some awesome reasons why you should focus your energy and passions around a mission and purpose. Check out the video the here.

What are three things can you do to connect with your Why?

1. Give yourself quiet and space… In order to connect to your sense of significance, it is critical to give yourself silence. There is a great gift in creating space for quiet reflection. If you are a person of faith, consider taking your question of purpose to prayer.

2. Journal… In addition to quiet reflection, consider keeping a journal. Write about your dreams, fears, your wins, and reflections. There is a power in getting your dream and purpose on paper.

3. Build community… I love Jon Acuff and his teachings on fear. He would claim that a big enemy of living your life with purpose is fear. I believe it is easier to clarify your purpose in life my seeking out others who share your values and vision for life. If you talk about your mission and purpose, you are more likely to learn and take action. Positive friendships and community are a great way to defeat fear.

Life is too short to do work that lacks meaning and purpose. How was your day? I hope your tomorrow is bright!

Connecting Your Favorite Google Services Using Google App Script

Google App Script

Through Google Documents, Google provides amazing web based tools for students, businesses, and educators.   During a Google Developer Group meeting at Mercer University,  I was introduced to a cool programming technology enabling developers to customize Google App experiences using JavaScript.   Using Google App Script, you can automate tasks and connect Google products to together.   You can also connect apps to third-party data sources and API’s.

Why Would You Use Google App Script?

Dr. Robert Allen from the Google Developers Group shared his experiences in building a grade book application for his classes.   In the past, Dr. Allen would manually construct grade book spreadsheets based on a class roster.   His clever grade book application works in the following manner:

1) On the first day of class, students fill out a Google form with their name and gmail e-mail address.

2) After Dr. Allen captures the class roster from the students, he presses a “generate grade book” button that constructs his grade book.

3) Dr. Allen wanted students to be able to track their grades as he documented them in his Google Spreadsheet.  He, however, wanted to make sure students could not see the grades of another.   His Google App Script generated “read only” data sheets so that students can only see their data.   The data sheets were shared with the student automatically.

4) As Dr. Allen posts grades to his master Google Spreadsheet, he can press a “publish” button to distribute the updated grade information to the “readonly” spreadsheets.

In the example, Dr. Allen used Google spreadsheets, Google Forms, and programming functions to share data.

Using Google App Script, you can connect all of the following Google products together to solve a broad range of use cases and business problems:  Calendar,  Contacts,  Document,  Drive,  Finance,  Forms,  Gmail,  Groups,  Language, Maps,  Sites,  and Spreadsheet.

What else can Google App Script Do?

  • Google App Script can be used to create small web applications.
  • Create custom functions in Google Spreadsheet
  • Create Google Sites Gadgets
  • Check out the Google Developers Blog to learn more about how people leverage  Google App Script.

How do you get started with Google App Script?

The following video provides a nice introduction to Google App Script concepts.

Abstract:   This video is a recording of our Introduction to Apps Script.    Eric Koleda, a Developer Programs Engineer at Google, covers what Apps Script, use cases, code examples, and hold q&a. Check out https://developers.google.com/apps-script/ to learn more or get started!

Check out more videos from Google I/O conference here.

You program Google App Scripts using the popular language JavaScript.   If you’re interested in learning this language, check out the following links:

Google provides nice tutorials and learning resources here:

We love to hear from our readers.  Let’s keep the conversation going.  What types of tasks would you like to see automated? What tasks keep you away from the work that you really enjoy?

 

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Jennifer Pahika challenges us to “code a better government”

Code for America

I have watched the “Code for America” movement with great admiration.   This movement encourages programmers to take a year off to do community service working with government.  I believe that this movement is creating a very special community of technology empowered servant leaders.

The following TED talk by Jennifer Pahika shares the mission of “Code for America” and the impact of the movement.   As we enter this season of voting, it’s important to remember that voting is only one way that we can influence government as Jennifer remarks.   In particular, I believe Jennifer Pahika and the “Code for America” fellows promote 5 killer ideas in this talk!

1) “Government is what we do together that we can’t do alone” — @timoreilly

2) As a community, we should encourage citizens to serve each other for the benefit of all. These acts of service can be big or small. It all matters.

3) Apps can help remind us of the needs in our local community and connect people together. She shared the example of CitizensConnect .

4) Government can become a platform to lead citizens to serve each other.

5) In many cases, the movement is discovering ways to save tax dollars.

Abstract: Can government be run like the Internet, permissionless and open? Coder and activist Jennifer Pahlka believes it can — and that apps, built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments — and their neighbors.

If you’re interested in learning more about this movement, there is a “Code for America” summit is happening this week.   Check out the Twitter Buzz.

In the Macon, GA, I am pretty excited to see the collaborations between my university, the College Hill Alliance, and Code for America.   To learn more, please visit the following article: http://codeforamerica.org/2012-partners/macon/

This movement has also inspired a number of other citizen empowerment movements.   In particular, I would encourage you to visit “Random Hacks of Kindness.

What would you challenge our community of citizens to build to enhance government together?  Share your comments below.

7 Blogs To Kick Start Your Next Business Venture

Blogs to help you start your college venture

http://www.college-startup.com: Started by Ben Bleikamp, this blog began teaching people how to make money from their dorm room.  Their community of authors now share insight to a broad range of topics of running an Internet based business.

http://www.youngentrepreneur.com/blog/ : ”Founded in 1999, YoungEntrepreneur.com has become one of the largest online forum communities for entrepreneurs worldwide.”

http://youngentrepreneurfoundation.wordpress.com/ : ”The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation (YEF) is a 501(c)3 organization affiliated with the nation’s leading small business association, the National Federation of Independent Business. The non profit YEF is building the next generation of small business owners and entrepreneurs by providing entrepreneurship education to high school students in the classroom.”

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ : My friend Scott Ross, recommended that I check out the book “Tribes”, a cool book on the power and opportunity of building community.   I greatly appreciate Seth Godin’s wit, wisdom, and craft for stories to motivate and teach.   If you’re interested in community management or marketing, Tribes is a very important book.   Learn to boldly share your passion for your ideas, connect people with communication, and start the journey of leading.

http://michaelhyatt.com:  My wife and I have been greatly inspired by the work of Mr. Hyatt.   In his New York best selling book Platform, he coaches leaders to “get noticed in a noisy world.”   I really appreciate that his blog and book aren’t just about the mechanical process of learning social media.   Michael shares practical steps on improving your character, leadership skills, in addition to his expert wisdom on social media marketing.

http://www.jonacuff.com/blog : Jon Acuff, author of the books Quitter and Start, is beyond fun and insightful.   His sense of humor rocks!   He has a great talent for entertaining you with funny and silly stories while coaching you on how to start your venture.   I believe his message of starting your business without taking on debt is VERY important.   He encourages his readers to start learning, exploring, and editing their dream as soon as possible.

http://www.daveramsey.com/entreleadership/podcast : This online radio program by Dave Ramsey’s team is an amazing tool for growing your knowledge on all aspects of business.   Dave’s teachings of “EntreLeadership” are grounded in principles and are practical.   His team has interviewed some of the best thought leaders in leadership and business.    In my work, we’ve been running a book club around the culture introduced by this book.   It’s influencing how we positively grow our team members, market our business, and grow relationships.

 

Looking for more blogs on starting a business in college? Check out the following resource:

http://oedb.org/library/beginning-online-learning/50-blogs-for-young-entrepreneurs/

 

 

We always enjoy learning from our readers.   What blogs inspire you and your work?

 

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Photo taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/caro6302

 

 

 

 

 

What Do We Cherish About Being American?

US Flag

As I reflect upon the 4th of July, I believe it’s fruitful to recall the motivation for the day. On the 4th of July, we recount the adoption of the “Declaration of Independence” signed in 1776. I believe it’s interesting to see why organizations start. What are the motivations for a group of people to form a community? What do these people believe? From our very beginning when America was a start-up, what did we believe?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

My mother who came to the United States from the Philippines taught me and my brother to always pay attention to how special and precious the United States is. My mother came to the US after finishing college to find work as a medical technologist and chemist. Through her industry and work, she was able to send money home to the Philippines to her brother and three sisters so that they could afford to go to college and advance themselves. I share this brief story of my mom because it’s a lesson that I value in my life as an American. I think it’s an example of what makes America awesome. We live in a land of great opportunity. I cherish that my mom sacrificed being able to be with her family in the Philippines so that she could create opportunities for her family. I know that I often take my freedom and my opportunities for granted.

1. Opportunity to advance our lives through education and handwork: The US has always been a land where you can have a dream, study hard, and work hard to make it happen. While we’re not a perfect nation at all, we have endured some really bad times of economic decline and turned ourselves around. We have access to the best opportunities for education and opportunities for innovation. I am thankful for this.

2. Spirit of innovation: Looking over the history of nation, we can celebrate our great culture of innovating, creating, and hacking! What other nation has a cool rover exploring whether life exists on Mars?   Go NASA!    We can celebrate innovators like Ben Franklin, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs. We can celebrate great women in science like Admiral Grace Hopper, Sally Ride, Lillian Moller Gilbreth, Maria Mitchell, and many more. Innovation and exploration are central to the spirit of America.

3. Defending freedom: We can’t forget the men and women who commit their lives to protecting our freedoms in the United States and promoting justice. I have a friend named Andrew who serves in the US Army. It’s always moving to hear his stories of serving our country abroad. It’s a great sacrifice to leave your family and community to serve in the military. On the 4th of July, I like to reflect upon the men and women who currently sacrifice to ensure we enjoy our liberty. It’s fruitful to honor the men and women who have given their lives because they believed that defending our freedom was important.

4. Working toward justice: Our nation is not perfect. We live in a broken world with lots of issues like poverty, access to health care, challenges in education, and economic decline.  I am moved by our efforts as Americans to care for each other, to serve each other, and find ways to close the gap between the rich and poor. It’s part of the American spirit to create positive change in the world. And we are free to take up this mission.

 

Do you have any favorite stories of America in action? We would love to hear your story. Leave a comment below!

 

Photo From http://www.flickr.com/photos/54637956@N02/

How to Fund Your Cause or Idea with Crowd Funding?

lightbulb

Are you looking for a way to fund your dream project or support your cause?  The act of making a new product, an innovation program or creating a new service can be very exciting.    When planning any venture, leadership has to answer the question:  How do we fund this idea?   As we try to prepare ourselves to become the next generation of leaders, innovators, and teachers, it becomes imperative to discover financial  resources to support our innovation projects.    As much as possible, we want to encourage you to chase your dream without going into debt.

To share a personal story, my wife has been researching ways that she can offer an undergraduate research program at her school.   We have been exploring DIY Biology and related web sites, to find ways to establish a research lab at lower cost.    As grant funding becomes more competitive, we have started exploring other research alternatives.

What is Crowd Funding? 

“Crowd funding” is a movement enabling leaders and makers to ask their community to financially support a cause or project.   Don’t non-profit communities already do this?   Why is this new?   I believe the movement of “crowd funding” works well due to the network effects of the Internet.   If an idea is worth sharing, it will be shared!   If a cause addresses a deep need in the community, the community will respond, share and help.

As we have researched this topic, I wanted to share a few insights, links and resources that can help you fund your cause or idea using “crowd funding.”

How to Fund Your Idea with Crowd Funding?

1)  Find ways to add value to your community today:  Are there ways that you can share insight and knowledge with your community today using social media or a blog?   How can you serve your community today with information or practical tips?   There is research showing that having 1000 FaceBook connections that are your “raving fans” increases the probability that you can fund your idea using a crowd funding site.   Building a community around your idea is your first step.  (Refer to “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon)

2)  Cast your vision and tell your story:  As you design your crowd funding campaign, it’s very important to communicate your story with clarity.   The story should include a brief elevator pitch summarizing your idea.      Whether you are presenting a project or cause, it’s also important to connect your community with the mission and vision driving it.    You may consider reviewing the excellent TED talk by Simon Sinek that provides insights into how great leaders inspire action.

3)  Learn from others:  As we have started the process of researching crowd funding options for Sarah, we have found value in review project ideas that won and lost.    For the Kickstarter community, you can use tools like http://www.kicktraq.com to gain insight into the velocity of various project ideas.   How did the better projects present their story?  If a project did not succeed in funding, what were the lessons learned?

4)  Don’t forget about incentive planning:  Some crowd funding websites require projects to include an incentive program.    When planning the amount that you need to raise for your project, make sure you account for costs related to your incentives.   You need to make sure to forecast the funding of all your incentives in addition to the costs related to funding your project.

5)  Additional reading and inspiration

  1. Student Launcher: helping student leaders realize their full potential by crowdfunding –http://bit.ly/14Ebqdi
  2. http://hopemob.org/
  3. Nice executive summary of various crowd funding sites: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/crowdfunding-sites/
  4. Free Book on running a Kickstarter Project: http://kickstarterguide.com/files/2012/07/A-Kickstarters-Guide.pdf
  5. The untold story behind Kickstarter stats [infographic]
  6. “The Dynamics of Crowdfunding: Determinants of Success and Failure” by Ethan R. Mollick – University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School
  7. Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc.) by Tim Ferriss
We are very thankful to our student collaborators from Mercer University who have helped us study the proposal process.   Collectively, we have done a great deal of research on this topic.   If we can help you in anyway, please let us know.    Please leave a comment below.    We would love to support other innovators in the community.

Other posts from InspiredToEducate.Net:

 

 

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/qisur/4351196974/

Apps To Deal With College Stress

apps to reduce stress

Starting college can be stressful. Due to the costs of higher education, it is stressful trying to find deals on books, scholarships, grants and managing the other costs. For some, it can be a challenge to adjust to the new social climate of college. And then there’s school work and studying… How do you keep all your work, ideas, and demands on your time organized?

I wanted to share few free apps that I use to organize myself. For me, if I can keep things out of my head and organized, I am naturally less stressed. I hope it helps!

MindMeister: As a creative, I enjoy the mind map design of the tool. When I start my day, I make sure I document three mini-goals for the day. This tool helps me keep my goals visibile, break my goals into tasks, and manage my projects, tasks and ideas. Love it for tracking ideas for apps and games I want to write.

Google Drive: For file management and creating stuff, Google gives you resources creating documents, simple spreadsheets, and drawings. For some majors, I wonder if it will be possible to avoid buying Microsoft Office. :) Google Drive is a great tool for sharing and collaborating with peers.

Twitter: In graduate school, I enjoyed starting to use Twitter as a personal learning network. Try to follow people you admire or people who are interested in making you better as a person. Twitter is a great way to discover and connect to local events in your school too.

Evernote: Remember everything with the help of the computers, phones and tablets you use daily. Many students recommend this app for taking notes in classes or personal productivity.

Kindle: As I manage personal stress, I find that I need to toward a “low information” diet. Social networks are cool and insightful. It, however, is great to sometimes sit down in quiet with books that fill you up and helps you un-plug. Of course, Amazon and Project Gutenberg give you lots of free books too.

 

In researching this post, I found an infographic from Southern New Hampshire University talking about the challenges of college stress and apps to keep you balanced and charged up. I hope it helps!

Helpful Apps to Help Cure The Stress of College Life (Infographic)
Presented By SNHU.EDU Online College Programs

What are some of your favorite apps??

Other tools for finding apps for fun, helping you study and increasing productivity.

Photo by Josh Bancroft – Flickr source is here.

Achieve Your Dream By Learning Entrepreneurship and Leadership

launch

Hi! My name is Michael Rosario, one of the founding members of Changella.    This community has the mission of  mentoring student entrepreneurs to dream, design, make, learn, and continuously grow.   Why should you study leadership and entrepreneurship?   You may be thinking the following:

  1. I’m majoring in __________ . I don’t really see the point of learning business.
  2. To be honest, I’m not sure what I want to do with my life, but I don’t think it has anything to do with entrepreneurship.
  3. I really like bacon.  Where can I find more?
  4. Maybe you’re thinking about zombies.

Regardless of your perspective, I would assert there are some cool benefits to learning leadership and entrepreneurship.   These life skills can benefit you whether you decide to jump into making a start-up or look forward to contributing to the world in a traditional job.

On a personal note, I have been coaching some of my close family friends who have been struggling to find work.   It really breaks my heart to see my friends who have achieved academic success yet struggle to find work.  In an effort to help, I started reading books like Quitter by John Acoff, a great book about obtaining your dream job.   From that book, I became attracted to answering the question “How do we give people struggling to find a job meaningful options?”   My friends and I have done tons of research and learning around this topic.   We are excited to share some of our lessons with you.  Here are a few key benefits of learning to think like a leader and entrepreneur.   You can find more benefits from this post in Inc.com.

4 Benefits of Learning Leadership and Entrepreneurship

1.  Dreams and goals:  One of my favorite authors and business leaders, Dave Ramsey, promotes this simple idea of “starting with a dream and ending in a goal.”   As I think about the people who had the most impact on me as a person,  they were either a good leader or good teacher.   In general, successful business leaders who work in corporations or run their own company pay attention to dreams and visions.   It’s important to consider questions like the following.   What’s my dream? How do I want to design my life to maximize meaning and purpose?   What kind of stuff gets me excited to jump out of bed?  What are my strengths?

2.  Mission: Good business leaders learn how to identify dreams(fuzzy as they are) and convert them to baby steps of action.    I believe our generation cares deeply about doing work that matters, has a purpose, and belongs to something bigger!!  At some point, entrepreneurs learn to convert their dreams and aspirations into a mission.   Missions feel smaller than dreams, but are still important.   They help us remember our focus.   What one word would represent your mission for this year?   You probably have fears about moving forward with your mission.  That’s great!  If you’re doing something that matters, you will face fear.   Entrepreneurs and leaders learn to manage and face fear.

3.  Influence: All organizations are composed of people.   All organizations serve people.   If you work in a corporation, you will need to learn the craft of convincing someone to take action.    This might be an act of marketing or sales.   At some point, you may need to give a proposal to your team leader.   I believe it’s important for our generation to value the craft of leadership and use it for positive change.

4. Learning the art of great communication and relationship building:   I’m a computer science geek.    I love to write code and build meaningful software.   There were times of my youth where I believed I could completely ignore my writing and speaking skills and just focus on my thing.  (writing code.)    As I’ve grown, I have learned to value the craft of speaking and writing well.   In our culture dominated by FaceBook, Twitter, blogs, and media, it becomes more critical to learn the craft of persuasion and communicating with clarity using technology.  Learning to share ideas and inspire action with clarity is a critical skill whether you work for someone else or you are marketing your own start-up.

The college experience is an amazing and exciting time.   We learn to become a balanced person who masters a craft.    What’s your dream? What baby steps do we need to do to explore this dream?

Photo by DLR German Aerospace Center .