Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Air Force Colonel on Leadership

Colonel Trey “Lou” Rawls, a 22 year veteran of the Air Force, made a trip to Washington from the Army War College in Carlisle, PA to speak to the MSBA class.  Col. Rawls is an engineer, test pilot, combat veteran and history buff who draws lessons from the civil war and the generals that prosecuted that war.  Col. Rawls offered advice to students based on his own experiences, his growth as a military leader and his keen observation and study of leadership.  He defined leadership as integrity, service and trust.  He told the students to build their emotional intelligence; how you interact with others and learning to read other people and react appropriately.

Col. Rawls also advised students to give others room to make mistakes BUT,  “make new mistakes”.    You make old mistakes because you didn’t study and learn from the past.  He advised students to develop their “technical competency” in school and continue to build on that throughout your career.  Your technical competency is the sum total of all the knowledge and experience you amass over your lifetime. 

An important part of growing professionally is accepting feedback, not something we Americans do well, the Colonel noted.  He drew parallels to his military flying career where technical competence is all important and learning from tough critiques is essential.  As other guests have noted, inflection points in a person’s life and career are important.  How you deal with points of change, whether positive to minus or minus to positive helps mold your character. 

Drawing from a biblical lesson, Col. Rawls cautioned students against the “Bathsheba Syndrome”, using a modern day generic example.  If you are a freshman congressman or a newly appointed executive that has never been particularly witty or good looking, you’re not going to get that way overnight.  So when people around you suddenly act like you’re good looking and witty, know that you’re not and don’t start thinking and behaving as if you’re above the rules.

Following our time in the classroom, Col. Rawls took time to have dinner with a few students and continue in a highly engaging conversation about world politics and the unrest we see all around us. 

We thank the Colonel for taking an afternoon and evening from his very busy schedule to spend time with us and share a perspective that few people are fortunate to see.  And most of all we thank Colonel Rawls, and his family, for his service to our country and their many sacrifices along the journey.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Lessons Learned from Guest Speaker Alexandre Havard

Lessons Learned from Guest Speaker Alexandre Havard
by Paige Pilarski

This past Thursday as we sat down for our Thirsty Thursday event our speaker Mr. Alexandre Havard asked us an important question, “What makes up a person?”

It was exciting to meet him in person, since we had read and studied his book, “Created for Greatness” in our course on Leadership last semester.

Today, prominent leadership literature tells us that we have to know ourselves. In his talk, Mr. Havard led us into an eye-opening way to do that. He says that every person is made up of temperament and character. A person’s temperament is something that is unchanging and biological, our natural tendencies. Character, on the other hand is something that we work on throughout our lives to build virtues, which can make up for the failings in our temperament.

While some might think this all sounds too philosophical, Mr. Havard made it extremely practical; he made a point of it since we are studying business. He helped to show us how a person’s temperament makes them naturally more or less strong when it comes to the virtues of prudence, courage, self-control, justice, magnanimity, and humility. But knowing this, gives a person the opportunity to build his character on his temperament by practicing virtue.

As he described the strengths and weaknesses of each temperament, it was fun to hear the reactions around the room: “That sounds just like my boss!” “Oh my gosh, that’s me!” Other times, everyone would laugh because they all knew of someone with the extreme personality he was describing.

Before reading Mr. Havard’s book, I had never thought about the importance of the virtue of magnanimity in leadership. He said that a magnanimous person is both a dreamer, who considers himself worthy of great things, but also a doer, who takes action to make his dreams a reality. When you look at a successful leader, whether in business or other areas, you can see that having a vision and taking the right steps to achieve that vision are what make him successful. This gave me a new perspective on virtue.

A quote from Mr. Havard: “You must not try to change your temperament because you are born with the qualities and effects of it. What will you do with it?”
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Michele Ferrero: What Does It Mean to Be Rich?

 Michele Ferrero: What Does It Mean to Be Rich?

A great article written in New Advent by one of our Advisory Board members, Dawn Carpenter.  We wish for all of our students this kind of success and humility.

frank - mary
For some, the answer to the question “what does it mean to be rich?” is revealed every year in the Forbes magazine list of the World’s Billionaires.  This list ranks the richest people on the planet, and in 2014, their collective wealth exceeded $6.4 trillion USD.  Of those on the list in 2014, roughly 66% built their own fortunes, and 21% added to their existing wealth.  The remaining 13% people on the list inherited their wealth.  For the man in the number 22 spot on the Forbes 2014 Billionaires List, the answer might have been a bit different.  That man is Michele Ferrero, Italy’s richest man.
On Valentine’s Day 2015, the world said good-bye to the 89 year old father of Italian chocolate, Michele Ferrero.  He leaves behind a family business that is responsible for bringing the world Nutella, Mon Cheri, Tic Tacs and Ferrero Rocher, among other iconic confectionery brands.  With an estimated net worth of approximately $26.5 billion USD, we would arguably call Michele Ferrero rich.  He would likely agree.  But what must be said about Michele Ferrero is that his faith teaches that wealth means so much more.

Faith is the Secret of Ferrero’s Success

Really, it was no secret.  Michele Ferrero was a man of faith.  His was a Catholic faith, and it was very much a part of both his personal and professional life.  In 1996, at the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Ferrero, Michele Ferrero was quoted as saying: “The success of Ferrero we owe to Our Lady of Lourdes, without her we can do little.”
Without knowing this famously private man, we can see his faith through his actions.  Michele was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family and educated as a young man by the Somaschi Fathers.  Shortly after World War II, the Ferrero family founded their chocolate business with an eye toward equity and sustainability well before these business notions were in vogue.
When Michele took over the family business upon the death of his uncle Giovanni 58 years ago, it is reported that he wrote a letter to his employees stating “I pledge myself to devote all my activities and all my effort to this company.  And I assure you that I shall only feel satisfied when I have managed, with concrete results, to guarantee you and your children a safe and tranquil future.”
Michele was a leader.  This commitment lead to free healthcare and other welfare services—resulting in productive dedicated workers.  Michele’s commitment to his workers is legendary, and he was quoted as once saying: “My only concern is that the company is increasing solid and strong to guarantee all workers a secure place.”  Today, Ferrero’s over 34,000 employees produce iconic brands that are sold in over 53 countries around the world.

Our Lady of Lourdes and Chocolate

Ask any chocolate-lover about what happens in the brain when consuming this sweet treat.  A scientist will tell you about the over 300 compounds that are a part of the process of producing the euphoric feeling.  This feeling is often compared to the feeling of being in love.  World-famous chocolate maker Michele Ferrero might also have told you about the feelings evoked in eating chocolate, and he just might have also pointed you to Rocher de Massabielle – Ferrero’s pralines that are rumored to be inspired by the rugged rock grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.  In doing so, Michele might—in his own way—have been saying something more.
It was in his Encyclical Letter, Le pelerinage de Lourdes, that Pope Pius XII in 1957 (the year Michele took over the leadership at Ferrero) providentially warned against materialism:
“But the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism which has been denounced by Our Predecessors and Ourselves on many occasions.  This materialism is not confined to that condemned philosophy which dictates the policies and economy of a large segment of mankind. It rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day.”
It was here at Lourdes that Our Lady shared with St. Bernadette her title as “the Immaculate Conception.”  And it was under her banner that man is called to fight against inordinate lust for freedom, riches and pleasures.  Pope Pius XII, reminds us that we are all “welcomed and honored at Lourdes as the suffering members of our Lord. Go to her and receive peace of heart, strength for your daily duties, [and] joy for the sacrifice you offer.”  No wonder Michele Ferrero made certain that each of his factories had its own statue of the Virgin and that he and many of his employees made annual pilgrimages to Lourdes.

Michele Ferrero was rich in many ways.

Wealth and Faith are Connected

One of the most famous discourses on wealth is given to us in Matthew 19:16-21.  This is the story where Jesus instructs the young man, who has inquired about how to obtain eternal life, to keep the commandments.  When the young man presses further by insisting that he observes the commandments, Jesus explains that if he wishes to be perfect, he must “go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  The Gospel goes on the say that the young man was saddened by this response because he had many possessions.  Then addressing his disciples, Jesus said: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
It is clear from the words of Jesus that the issues of faith and wealth belong together.  The notions of faith and wealth are elevated to theological issues by their very nexus to the plan and promise of salvation.  Justo Gonzalez, in Faith and Wealth, opines that not one of the Fathers of the Church as held that the issue of faith and wealth should be held separate.  In his analysis of the issue, Gonzalez notes the remarkable unanimity among the Fathers as evidence by the similar themes that they draw from Scripture and the similar emphasis they find from the classical wisdom of Greece and Rome.

A Spiritual Understanding of Wealth

Wealth is often best understood by defining its opposite: poverty.  Simply stated, poverty is the state in which you have no more than you need.  And if one is poor in the fully Christian sense, you wish for no more than you need.  Using this definition, we understand both the physical (what one has) and the spiritual (what one desires) dimensions of the wealth/poverty dichotomy.  Through deduction, then you can assert that wealth is having more than you need and still being unsatisfied.
St. Clement of Alexandria, in Who is the Rich Man that Shall be Saved, was one of the earliest Church Fathers to expressly address an allegorical interpretation of the notions of wealth and poverty.  However, this dual (physical and spiritual) understanding of the definition of wealth and poverty has long been a part of Tradition.  Walter Shewring in Rich and Poor in Christian Tradition reminds us that in the Psalms, “it may be said that the word ‘poor’ is extended beyond its common significance to mean anyone, of whatever status, who is in distress of any kind, material or spiritual; that David himself, for instance, calls himself ‘poor and needy’ in spite of much outward prosperity.”
In The Instructor, St. Clement of Alexandria defines “true wealth” as something that resides in the heart.  A rich person, piling up gold for no purpose save his own pleasure is “like a dirty purse.”  He reminds us that only good people possess good things.  These things are the source of genuine wealth and can never be taken away.  He notes that:  “If a man abstains form desiring thing that are beyond his reach but possesses by asking from God the things he desire in a holy way, is not that man abundantly wealthy, and indeed possesses of all things, since he has God as his everlasting treasure?”

From Wealth Comes Responsibility

St. Gregory of Nazianzen explains in On the Love of the Poor one of the most direct and hopeful lessons for the wealthy when he says in that treatise: “Give thanks to God that you are among those who can do favors and not among those who need to receive them; that you need not look up to the hands of others but others to yours.  Do not be rich only in your wealth but also in your piety; not only in your gold but also in your virtue, or better still, only in the latter.”
Origen, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, explains various ways that Christians can obtain God’s forgiveness of transgressions.  The third way, or path, calls for the giving of alms as a method of cleansing one’s soul and the sixth path requires the abundance of charity—citing the Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
Perhaps nowhere else in Christian theology is mercy more evident than in the notion of koinonia (communion)—the sharing in the self-sacrificing, cross-bearing life of Jesus.  Ronald Sider in Rich Christians in the Age of Hunger argues that “nowhere else is the Christian’s fellowship with Christ experience more powerfully than in the Eucharist.  Sharing the Lord’s Supper draws the believer into a participation (koinonia) of the cross.”  Gonzalez argues that koinonia is not solely a spiritual sharing.  Arguably, it is precisely the self-sacrificing of the wealthy that works in conjunction with the cross-bearing of the poor to bring a fallen humanity closer to oneness in Christ.  Here is the nexus between wealth and salvation.

What Can the Church and Michele Ferrero Teach us About Being Rich?

Christianity requires social solidarity.  No matter how challenging, even the poor must think of their neighbors—and the wealthy carry a heavier burden.  In his Homily on Lazarus and the Rich Man, St. John Chrysostom warns that anything less is not real Christianity: “he who lives for himself only and overlooks all others, is useless.  He is not even a man and he does not belong to the human race.”
Using this standard, Michele Ferrero was a man larger than life.  He was a man who lived his faith and who lived for others.  Giving people the opportunity for work provided for a richness measured in currency, spirituality and chocolate—arguably a richness that far exceeds what can be measured on the Forbes list.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The One Interview Question Most People Are Not Prepared For

The One Interview Question Most People Are Not Prepared For!

Any job hunter would be wise to seek out common interview questions and think about his answers beforehand, but what about the questions that haven’t made it onto the lists yet?
One question I’ve heard asked is some variation of, “Tell me something I wouldn't know from looking at your CV,” or “Tell me something no one else knows about you.”
This question seems to be becoming increasingly common, but it’s still not one that job applicants are routinely preparing for. That means it’s a good place for you to shine.

What is the recruiter looking for?

Of course, I can’t say exactly what any specific recruiter is looking for when she asks a question like this, but I can give you some possible ideas. She might be looking to see:
  1. How do you organize your thoughts? If you’re telling an anecdote or story, is it well thought out and well told? Do you connect topics and events linearly, or jump all around?
  2. Can you think on your feet? Because this is a less common question, the interviewer may be trying to get you away from canned, rehearsed answers and see if they can get a glimpse of the real you.
  3. What do you consider most important for the interviewer to know? What comes out as an answer to this question could say a lot about you. Do you tell a story about your philanthropy and charity work, or about your many awards and accolades, or about family and hobbies?
  4. Are you able to relate the story back to the job? It’s a nice indication of higher-level thinking if you can tell a personal story but relate the points about you back to why you would be a good candidate for the job.
  5. Are you saying anything you shouldn’t? This isn’t to say that interviewers are trying to trip you up, but they will always be listening for things you shouldn’t reveal about current or former employers, or anything personal that might make them question your qualifications for the job.
Remember, their job is to find the best candidate, so it makes sense that they want to move you away from more rehearsed speeches into more authentic territory — even if that authentic territory doesn’t put you in the best light.

How to prepare for this question.

As with all interview questions, it’s important to think about how you might answer, but don’t compose your answer and memorize it word for word — any savvy interviewer will be able to tell.
Since this is an open-ended question, your answer is an opportunity for you to highlight aspects of your qualifications, history, or skills that might not be immediately noticeable in your resume.
  • Keep your core strengths in mind. Go into every interview with a good idea of the core strengths you would bring to the job, and then take the chance to highlight those skills with your answer. For example, if you want to emphasize your organizational skills in a particular interview, you might tell a story of how you organized an elaborate fundraiser at your child’s school, or how you were the president of a particular club at university.
  • Think about intangible strengths and soft skills. Your resume should highlight achievements and metrics, but this is your opportunity to highlight your best soft skills. If, for example, your resume says you exceeded your sales goals by a certain percent, you could elaborate by explaining that you were able to do that because of your excellent people skills or your dedication to following up with your leads.
  • Share something personal. If the question comes towards the end of the interview, and you feel you’ve already been able to make your case for your job skills, you might choose to highlight something from your personal life that reflects well on your character. Consider sharing only personal things that are universally accepted as positive, like being an avid chess player or enjoying mountain climbing, rather than anything that could be considered controversial, like volunteering with a political cause or being involved in a counterculture.
  • Explain why you want the job. This is a great place in the interview to explain why you are particularly passionate about the job. If something in the job description excited you or any personal connection for the field. For example, I knew a young woman who was practically falling out of her chair to apply for a marketing position with a Parkinson's charity because of the work they had done to help her father. This kind of personal connection can demonstrate that you would bring extra passion and energy to the position.
Figuring out how to answer these more open-ended and personal questions is like solving a riddle; the answer should show how you fit into this new job opportunity. As important as it is to think about these questions before you go into the interview, it’s equally important that your answers sound friendly and conversational, not memorized and rehearsed.
In the end, you should feel glad if you get one of these questions in an interview, because they afford you the opportunity to be your real self and highlight any of your best qualities that don’t fit into the resume template.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally posted here by Bernard Marr

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

MSBA Alumni Wedding

The whole MSBA contingent: L to R: David, Pat, Nicole, Rodney, Ann, Maureen, Chris,Stew

Congratulations to the Happy couple
The MSBA program congratulates former graduates Ann Moran and Chris Scanlon who were married in Fort Myers, Florida last Saturday.  Ann is a graduate of the first MSBA cohort in 2011 and worked at Netuitive in Reston, Virginia until moving to Florida last fall.  Chris is a graduate of our second class in 2012 and has been employed in sales positions and most recently as Director of Communications at his high school alma mater in Fort Myers .

Nicole dancing with the brides niece
Several MSBA classmates attended the wedding including bridesmaids Nicole Wirth and Maureen Moran, Patrick Six from New York, Rodney Still from Califormia, David Siemiez from Washington DC and MSBA Program Director Stewart McHie.

Congratulations to the happy couple!
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