#EMchat Calendar Release!

Our calendar is now built out through April 2016 with engaging topics, guests, and things we're interested in learning more about. Thanks to everyone who put forth topic ideas (we literally ran out of space for this round), and if you don't see yours, no worries, it's already on our Spring/Summer 2016 list!

You'll notice that October has been dubbed #AACRAOctober. Each chat this month will be led by someone from the AACRAO team, discussing all things Strategic Enrollment Management in preparation for their conference in November.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be adding this calendar to our actual calendar on this site so you can digitally link it with your own for reminders, but for now, here's a semi-printer friendly (SquareSpace won't let us put download links!) copy for you, your office, and your professional friends :)

Thanks to everyone who makes #EMchat a success! We turn FOUR in October and have some fun things in store for the next year. Cheers!


5 Lessons for Leaders

I've had a lot of different jobs in my life. I don't have a long life so far, but I've had some great experiences (positive and negative) that have taught me fantastic lessons in leadership. And so if you're hiring, or firing, or building an empire, here are some of my experiences that have shaped and will continue to grow my style of leadership.

Lesson 1: Stand up for your employees 

I'll never forget the time of day (1:30), the booth (7), or the man's face who informed me that he wasn't going to be waited on by a boy. Except, I put that politely. He used what I think is perhaps the most derogatory term in the English language because in his mind, only females could wait tables. I was 14. I simply said "okay," and went and told my boss that he wanted another server. She was 70 some years old at the time, five foot zero, and a woman you wanted to stay on the right side of. She came out, politely walked over to the table, asked if he preferred another server, and then took his drink, poured it on him, and told him to never set foot in her restaurant again. 14 years later, I have never forgotten this lesson. Customers aren't always right and you can't build a business if you don't back the people who work for you.

Lesson 2: Don't be a jerk

I was in my sophomore year of college, working at a fine dining restaurant and about to leave for a winter semester abroad. The owner lost it, called me a liar, and told me he never would have hired me had he known I was leaving for a little over a month during the busiest time of year, which, in a college town, is apparently Christmas break when no one is around. We had an "I-quit-no-you're-fired" conversation and I finished up my shift and never came back. But as a result, two other servers quit and the owner was left to train three new people on a 400-bottle wine list. Losing your cool doesn't serve anyone, kills morale, and leaves you in a bad position. No one wins.

Lesson 3: Show compassion and recognize good workers

The call came four years ago and was one of the few times I've been brought to tears over the phone. "Do you want to come back?" I had left my contract at the Senate to pursue other opportunities and found myself in the middle of the worst professional decision I had made (or have ever made). And 3.5 weeks in, my former manager offered me my old position back without a second thought. He wasn't simply having a heart because he's a really good man, but he did recognize my previous work and the fact that I was in a terrible situation. He saved me from something awful and I spent the next 3.5 years back on the Hill. I won't ever forget it. See value where it exists and don't remove emotion from every decision you make.

Lesson 4: Be understanding

"Are there any XXXX majors in this group? Okay, so I feel comfortable telling you that you should not take XXXX as an elective...it's just a bunch of [insert sarcastic comment about class topic here]." I get a sinking feeling about this to this day. I was a campus host and I LOVED being a campus host. One time I stepped over the line, got too comfortable, made a joke about a course, was overheard by the department chair, and came back to the office to be questioned about an email they had received. It could have been any of the guides out at the time, but I confessed. I didn't get fired. I made a mistake...a really stupid one, and it was used as a learning opportunity rather than a reason to be punished. People make mistakes. People can hurt your brand. But we're all human--it's bound to happen. Forgive. Forget. Grow.

Lesson 5: Take chances

"Are you ready to move to Connecticut?" I said it with a smile because I knew she'd support me even though it meant leaving our friends and family behind. 2 months later we had sold our home in Maryland, bought a new one, moved, and started the next chapter in our lives. It has been a phenomenal ride so far and while it might seem like I'm the leader in this scenario for being the reason for the move, it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my wife--and so in fact the tables are completely turned. It's so cliche, but sometimes in order to lead, you truly do have to follow.

May 1st: It's Coming

May 1st marks a pretty big day for students all over (at least in the media, since, you know, May 1st is now a pretty flexible date), but Decision Day still carries a lot of hype. If we think about it in media terms, this is the date when prospective students choose the institution that will help to shape the rest of their lives.

And so, it’s a bit ironic that May 1st plays a pretty big role in my life as well when it comes to the realm of enrollment management.

For the last five (which is crazy to me) years, I’ve spent my time on Capitol Hill working for both the Senate and House as an analyst and program manager, respectively, in the area of emergency preparedness and continuity. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with super smart people who have shaped my professional career and personal life. I’ve found great mentors and made many friends. I've also learned a lot professionally, and while my next stop isn’t in the emergency preparedness space, there are definite lessons and skills that I’ll carry forward with me.

But, it’s no secret that my passion centers around enrollment management and higher education in general. If you’re reading this and you didn’t know that, surprise!

While my actual “decision day” was about six weeks ago, May 1st marks my first day with Technolutions. I will be leaving my super-beloved Maryland behind for currently snowier pastures in Connecticut. I’m blessed to have a wife who supports all my endeavors, even though it means leaving almost all of our family (and almost all of our friends) five hours away...and selling and buying homes when she’s five months pregnant. I’m also blessed to have a son who can’t really tell me he doesn’t want to move quite yet…and another on the way who will call Connecticut his first home.

Relationships have always been at the core of all decisions I’ve made in my professional and personal lives and I’m thrilled to be able to work with a company that operates in the same way. To put this opportunity in one word, it’s exhilarating.  

When considering relationships, I’d absolutely be amiss if I didn’t credit this opportunity to #EMchat. Whether it’s the knowledge I’ve gained through this community, the professional connections I’ve been able to make, or the personal relationships that have grown from those connections; this community is extraordinary and I’m so lucky to have been a part of it for almost four years now. Thanks to everyone who makes it a possibility and continues to grow the community.

With that said, I’m now in a whole new area which means so many more opportunities for meetings in real life! Give me a shout if you’re in the area, and while Scott Cline would probably say that I’m really unreliable when it comes to making coffees, lunches, or happy hours happen, I’m really trying to be better about it! I promise, I’m real.

See you soon, higher ed!


9 Things to Do Instead of #EMchat Tonight

If you missed the memo, we're canceling #EMchat tonight. Sorry for the last minute change. Lots of wheels cranking, candles burning, and life events happening in our realms. Forgive us? Still want an hour of the best professional development this side of the internet? Okay. Here you go. How many links can you fit in a blog post? A lot. In no particular order:

1.   Improve your Email via Meghan Dalesandro.

2.  Watch some of these via The Team at Rapid Insight.

3.  Learn some #EMsci from Brock Tibert. And try not to get lost. THAT is the real challenge! He's too smart.

4.  Download this. Then start reading it. I lied, it's not all free. But totally worth it.

5.  Request to join this group. I'm sure there's a good conversation going on. Or at least Jon Boeckenstedt is there leaving good comments.

6.  Speaking of, play with some of these visualizations. They never end.

7.  Catch up on this and last week's #EMchat from Chegg. (Two things or one?)

8.  Start some research to figure out how to get THIS FILM on your campus.

9.  Start a conversation. Ask a question. Link up with an #FAchat, #SAchat, #CareerServChat, #SCcrowd, #SCchat, #CollegeCash hashtags and build your network.

FOR BONUS #EMCHAT POINTS: Find THIS and mail to Crofton, Maryland.

And, if you've got some great prodev of your own to share with the community, I didn't leave it out on purpose. I promise. Share it in the comments or with #EMchat at any time! See you all next week for a chat on Prior, Prior Year Financial Data for the FAFSA. Speaking of, read this by Scannell & Kurz's Aaron Mahl.

Tell Me About Yourself

In my spare time, which I'm finding less and less of these days, I like to volunteer whenever possible. Whether it's a soup kitchen, pro bono management consulting, or something education related like alumni volunteering at admission events or anything in the K12 arena really, I take a lot of pleasure in finding ways to give back to my immediate and surrounding community.

The other day I had a really fantastic experience holding mock interview sessions for high school juniors. I sat at a table and every 10 or so minutes a new student would come introduce themselves and I'd start..."tell me about yourself." I wasn't disappointed a single time.

From the student whose family moved here from another country when he was in third grade and lacks confidence in his [really superb] English; to the cosmetology student who isn't only taking courses in high school and a local college, but spending her weekends networking with makeup artists in New York; or the self-identified dyslexic guy who not only owned the learning disorder but also went into great detail into how he works so diligently to overcome it each day--I simply sat there in awe.

I listened as students talked about their strengths and weaknesses, opening their vulnerabilities up to a complete stranger--something that's hard to do as an adult, let alone a high school student. I saw passion in the eyes of the student who talked about the feeling of accomplishment he gained from replacing a side panel on a car; felt the love from a student far beyond his years when he talked about how he wasn't currently working because he was helping his family watch his younger siblings so his parents could work; and saw the ambition in each student expressing their dreams for the future, whether those entailed heading directly into the workforce, moving away to college, or joining the military. The dreams were all different--the passion the same.

I follow a ton of threads, groups, pages, and communities dedicated to college admission, both the profession itself and the students who make the profession, well, a profession. There have been plenty of times where I've seen counselors (both school and admission) who are completely jaded when it comes to today's students. As someone who doesn't work in the industry, I guess it's easy for me to say that I just can't see how that's possible. But based on my recent experience, I can say the quickest way to tear out of that slump is simply to ask a student to..."tell me about yourself."

I can't wait to do it again.