Colleagues and friends,
First and foremost, today is the amazing Jennie Barnds’ birthday! I want to wish her happy birthday. She keeps things sane at home so I can do the work that I love to do. And, yes, the modifier “amazing” always goes in front of her name. Happy birthday, Jennie!!!
A number of people have been added to the distribution list for this weekly email. If you are new (or old) to this and don’t want to receive these messages, just let me know and I’ll drop you from this list. I promise it won’t hurt my feelings.
If you are curious what this is all about…I try to offer one of these notes about once a week. Past issues of my musings can be found at my blog @bowtieadmission
So, on to the meat of this…
Last night I returned from a very busy week of Augustana College related events, including the Winter in the Windy City, the inaugural meeting of the President’s Advisory Council and Board of Trustee’s Retreat. Lots of Augustana College in the past few days!
The past few days reminded me how fortunate the college is to have such engaged alumni and a committed Board of Trustees. In addition, I was personally reminded of the talents that surround me in the enrollment, communication and advancement. The advancement teams did an amazing job with Winter in the Windy City and the crowd was awesome (and we raised a little money, too). Keri Rursch did a fantastic job presenting research about the college’s brand to the Board and the PAC. Liz Nino was amazing describing the process of recruiting students internationally, too. And, Courtney Wallace and Karen Dahlstrom, did a terrific job facilitating the panel discussion with school counselors and the Board and members of the Augustana College community. Honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of everyone on the team.
I do want to note that the portion of the Board retreat that featured four college counselors was simply outstanding, in my view. We hosted four very experienced (and thoughtful) college counselors to help the Board of Trustees understand the complexities of the college search and selection process. In addition to helping seven archetypical students develop a college search list (many that did not include Augustana), these experts provided insights about what is and is not working in student recruitment. The counselors/colleagues are critically important partners, but I was also reminded that their real client is the student and family, not a particular college. I am personally indebted to my colleagues, who graciously joined the Augustana family for a day.
A thought article I can’t get out of my mind
Many of us were perplexed by a finding from the recent brand research completed at Augustana; first-year students in the course of a number of focus groups used the word FUN as a primary descriptor of their experience so far. Yes, fun! When we saw a bunch of word-clouds that had a fun in ginormous font, we didn’t know what to do with it.
Honestly, we thought first about our internal audiences and believed there would be concern about college being fun, rather than rigorous or something like that. Our concern was probably overblown, but it has promoted us to think about why the word fun would be used so frequently. We have a lot of theories and I think we will probably try to explore the idea of fun a little more to try to learn exactly what it means.
In the meantime, I stumbled across this really interesting blogpost about “deep fun.” The author of the blog points to an excellent article from HBR that goes more in-depth about fun as it relates to employee engagement.
My take-away, though, is this, quoted from the blogpost: “…there are two types of engagement. The first type is shallow fun: when employees play games. The second type is deep fun — when employees take ownership of their experience inside the group.”
This insight has me wondering if the fun that our students are describing is the deep fun of ownership? Are they feeling independence and ownership over their choices inside and outside the classroom? Do they sense the emerging ownership over their experiences?
I’d really like to think that the use of fun is really the deep fun we should want to all of our students (and employees).
Three things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)
*Great brands attract people and resources.
*Great brands lay the groundwork for effective messaging.
*Great brands engage and excite.
There is no better time for Augustana to be doing the meaningful and deep brand work that it’s doing. I hope we can deepen our brand engagement and ensure it’s understood and operationalized throughout all that we do.
7 Key Questions for Qualifying you Major Gift and Planned Gift Prospects—I love this short blogpost. How intentional are we about doing this following:
Do they have money or assets? Yes or no?
Do they care? Explain why: ___________
Do they have a personal connection? Yes or no?
What is that connection and/or story? Describe it: _____________
Might that connection result in a gift in honor or in memoriam of someone? Yes or no?
Can they say, “Yes”? Yes or no?
If not, what’s preventing them from saying, “Yes”? Specify:
This advice has a lot of merit for recruitment, too! I need to make sure that I am asking these questions of everyone with whom I interact.
Something for you (and me) to think about
My little guy Ben (8) loves basketball and loves Steph Curry.
Who wouldn’t given his extraordinary talent and career so far?
While we all know that while Curry is a natural talent, he also has a terrific coach in Steve Kerr.
I admire Kerr for a host of reasons. He’s an excellent coach. He’s articulate. He defends his players. He’s passionate enough to get tossed from a game. He’s strategic. He checks his ego and puts his players and the team first. Man, Kerr is the total package and I respect his work.
Over the weekend I ran across an amazing video on LinkedIn of coaching conversations between Kerr and Curry. After seeing the video clip, I chased it down to learn that it was embedded in an article from Forbes called “Steve Kerr And Steph Curry Have What Everybody Else Wants.”
I hope you will read the article and watch and listen to the exchanges (you have to read go to the article to see the embedded video. It is worth it).
As I watched and listened to these conversations, between player and coach, I couldn’t help but think about the importance of these interactions in any circumstance—mother to daughter, father to son, and, importantly, colleague to colleague. I am now asking myself if I am doing enough of this? Do I know everyone on my team well enough to connect in this way? Do I know what everyone is doing to be able to help them through a rut? Am I encouraging everyone in the way Coach Kerr does?
I have some work to do.
Is there something you’d like me to muse upon?
If you are curious about a topic or would like some musings about something in particular, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add anyone who might benefit (or have mild interest) to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday. Past issues of my musings can be found at my blog @bowtieadmission