Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mid Terms

Mid Terms

I know…. it’s been a while since my last blog and people are starting to ask if everything’s okay.  The short answer is “yes”; it’s just that every time I start to write, all the things that are happening in my life distract me.  So let me stop and tell you what’s been going on:

I’ve joined the faculty at the UNLV Hotel School as a Visiting Professor.  I am really enjoying this new gig, but getting assigned to a class two weeks before it began was tough and it disrupted my normal routine.  I had to stop everything I had been doing and figure out a syllabus, start lesson plans, research the topic, develop power points, create tests, devise exercises, post assignments, learn new computer applications, find my way around campus, and try to understand a public education world that is markedly different than the corporate world I came from.

But even so, I love it.  Being around students, telling my stories, explaining to them the difference between being a student (which is pretty much all they’ve ever known) and a real-world worker (which they will soon be), discovering all the wonders of campus life and getting engaged in a whole new set of things is exhilarating.  I am teaching Strategic Management: it’s a course that every senior in the UNLV Hotel School has to take to graduate, so I’ve got their attention. 

That’s the good news; the bad news is that a last semester college senior is pulled in lots of directions and seems to have a limited attention span for classes and learning. They’ve got so much to do and so much on their minds, and here I am talking about a subject that doesn’t seem to have much connection to them.  But as I weave tales in class each week and get them working in teams, the light starts to shine in their eyes. 

Strategic thinking and strategic planning seem like obscure concepts until I tell them to drop the term “strategic” and think of this subject as relating to things they do everyday.  Like: thinking and planning what to do this weekend or what to do after this semester ends.  Or: soon they’ll have a boss coming to them and exclaiming: “we have a problem that needs to get fixed”, and they’ll be the ones faced with determining what needs to be done about that.  Those are realities they understand.

And now it’s the mid-point in this semester – I’ve never really thought of time in terms of semesters, but my ‘when in Rome’ mindset here has me devising mid-term exams and beginning to think about how to conduct the remainder of this course.  I know what I want to tell them but have to remember that they’re getting ready to conclude the part of their lives that immediately precedes growing up and joining the real world.  So maybe I’ll just get them to think about how a sustainable competitive advantage can apply to them as much as it does to companies out there in the real world.  That’s something I hope will get their attention.

My message this week is simple: plan for the future and the future will take care of you.

“A canvas isn’t empty. It’s full of whatever you imagine it to be full of.”  Jarod Kintz

How active is your imagination? Just like dreams, an active imagination helps promote creativity and innovation.  Your mind’s eye has to be able to see things as you want them to be, and then you need patience and dedication to bring that vision to life.  This applies to the things you make and do, the services you provide, the way you treat others, the attitude you portray when working with colleagues, and the way you plan your life.  You start with a blank canvas, but it’s not empty – it’s full of the possibilities of whatever you imagine it to be full of, and then your efforts bring those things to life, and your energy infuses them with passion and personality.  So let your imagination fill your canvas today with all of the colorful ideas you need to be successful.

Stay well!

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