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Monthly archives: July 2014

    EXTRA! EXTRA!

    BUSINESSJOURNALSThe team at Station K & Company is proud to announce that our leading lady, Karen, is now a Contributing Writer for The Business Journals!  Her first article appears today and will be published nationally in all 43 Business Journal Markets.  Enjoy her inaugural piece and join the conversation by posting your thoughts and feedback!

    5 Business Lessons From My Life In A Sorority

    Greek life at most college campuses conjures up images of all-night parties and rowdy fraternity guys. But there’s a side of fraternity and sorority life that most people don’t see unless they’ve been part of it. At its core, Greek life — specifically being in a leadership role in the chapter — is hands-on training for many essential life and business skills.

    Most fraternities and sororities have an executive council of leadership (“Exec”) that runs the chapter, spearheading things like budgets, rushing new members, and philanthropic activities. Each member of Exec is responsible for his or her elected office plus the house as a whole. As an active Exec member— and eventual president of my chapter at the University of Minnesota — here are some of the incredible lessons I learned that still apply to my career today.

    1. The art of diplomacy

    When you lead a group of more than 100 women, you’re going to experience tension, especially when you have to live with them while leading them. You can’t go home at night and tell your spouse about your crazy co-worker and come back the next day with a fresh start — you also have to eat dinner, participate in events, study, and maybe share a room with other members who may not like the decisions you make.

    The art of diplomacy helped me understand that:

    • What you say is just as important as how you say it. People usually give the benefit of the doubt, but only if leaders are honest and straightforward — especially when it comes to difficult decisions.
    • You need to be empathetic. As a house, we were wired to work as a team, so when one person was impacted by something, it impacted everyone. Listen to what’s being said (and what’s not being said) in any situation, and seek to understand first — deal with facts first and emotions next. Both play a role in leadership and decision making.
    • It’s important to maintain positive and constructive relationships with people, whether you live with them or not. Believe it or not, you can be civil even if you disagree with someone! I’ve found that using candor, humor and authenticity usually yields good results.

    2. The basics of running a business

    Just like any business, Exec makes difficult decisions regarding expenses, staffing and house rules. The committee is responsible for the full operations of the house year-round — things like feeding the chapter members, paying house bills, budgeting for activities, and dealing with unforeseen expenses. If you didn’t do your job, you were going to hear from 100 angry girls who had to take cold showers!

    3. The right thing to do might be against the rules

    One of the other responsibilities of the Exec team is establishing and enforcing house rules — including taking action if chapter members needed to go on probation for not following the rules or meeting the sorority’s mandatory GPA. You can imagine how sensitive and difficult this was.

     

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    Passion Broken Heart

    Last week I came across this article on LinkedIn, and the title grabbed my attention: “Do What You Love” Is Horrible Advice.  I’ve always been interested in the concept of passion as it contributes to business success, so I was intrigued by the concepts the author puts forth – even though I don’t agree with all of his ideas. I’ve pulled out some quotes from the article below and added some notes based on my experience building a marketing agency. You can read the article in it’s entirety here: “Do What You Love” Is Horrible Advice by Jeff Hade. I’d love if you’d share your thoughts as well.

    “Don’t focus on the value your work offers you…Instead focus on the value you produce through your work: how your actions are important, how you’re good at what you do, and how you’re connected to other people.”

    This is an interesting perspective on passion! I agree there’s a difference between “passion” and “hobby” – many people look to turn their hobbies into a job, thinking they’ll “never work a day in their life,” but this doesn’t mean it’s a viable business idea. Having value and being paid for your work is an important component of passion, but people generally don’t like to talk about money. We become disillusioned and think if we just follow our passions we will be successful. While passion is an important ingredient in your career, it’s not the only one to be considered. There are practicalities that have to be entered into the success equation.

    I disagree, however, with the author’s point that passion follows as you progress in your career, gain experience in your chosen field and receive positive feedback.

    Passion is not something you follow. Passion is something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world…Where business success is concerned, passion is almost always the result of time and effort. It’s not a prerequisite.”

    I think passion starts earlier than that. If you aren’t passionate about something in the first place – enough to keep learning about it and build your skill set – then it isn’t going to be a priority or career for you. Your level of interest and passion may build over time, but I believe there has to be a seed of this virtue that drives you along your path. Building your skills and gaining experience are the practical counterparts of passion.

    There’s an important and essential intersection between passion + skills + experience that leads to uniquely successful people and businesses – as is demonstrated by the likes of Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, and even Henry Ford. This is a rare combination of exceptional skill and tenured experience, fueled by passion to do something ground-breaking. The book, “Entrepreneurial Genius: The Power of Passion” by Gene N Landum, tells the story of how each of these entrepreneurs had a passion in their given field and they set out to improve it and make their own mark.

    All three of these ingredients, passion, skills & experience, are imperative for success – no matter what stage of your career you’re in. You won’t get very far with any of these components on their own – all of them have a place in the mix. They may even have different roles at different times throughout a career. I’m thrilled that passion continues to be an important topic as it relates to business. Let’s keep the conversation going.

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