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Monday musings (on a Thursday) from @wkentbarnds #emchat #admissions #highered #leadership

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Dear colleagues and friends,

One of the thing that I really like about Monday Musings, is that I control the timetable for writing and sending these. With all of the deadlines, “hard-stops” and annual events that accompany this time of year, it’s great to be able to miss a deadline or just not do anything at all. That’s exactly why my Monday Musings is being delivered on a Thursday!

Since I last wrote, life has been very full. In addition to the regular daily work and family duties, the following has filled my days:

  • An amazing Fall Visit Day at Augustana for prospective students

  • A quick “friend-raising” trip to Austin, TX

  • A day trip to Philly to shoot some footage for our campaign video

  • A day trip to Alma College in Alma, Michigan

  • A return trip to Gettysburg College for Homecoming, the Alumni Board meeting and the college’s celebration of a recently completed campaign

In addition, there have been a bunch of soccer games for two of our three kids; Confirmation and the first Homecoming for our eldest;  and, the general busyness of the fall season that exists for a family of five with three busy kids; a higher ed professional and photographer, whose busy season is the fall.

But, the past few weeks are just the beginning!

The coming days and weeks include Augustana’s homecoming and Alumni Board meeting, the college’s fall meeting of its Board of Trustees and Augustana’s campaign kick-off event. I am looking forward to all of these events and all that they involve.

As I look toward these events, there are a couple of the things that stand out and really make me proud of Augustana and my amazing colleagues include:

Our Alumni Board will give an alumni award to the college’s Black Student Union, which celebrates 50 years. This recognition is overdue, but it reflects Augustana’s commitment over time to a diverse and inclusive community. This is a cool video telling a small piece of the BSU’s story.

Our Homecoming and reunion weekend programming is second to none and Kelly Noack and Linda Warne are rock stars. The alumni award brunch, the signature cocktail the dreamed up, Octoberfest, Golden Vikings luncheon and everything else is going to be awesome.

The campaign kick-off next week, which includes three events (one for students, the formal launch and a special event for faculty, staff and administrators) is going to be amazing and in can’t begin to thank Keri, Kelly, Judy and Lori and everyone else who has been tirelessly planning the event. Greg Armstrong has also been working on our public launch video, which is just awesome. I am so excited for the public launch of this $125,000,000 campaign and am humbled by the donor support we’ve attracted during the leadership phase. The campaign is for our student and is possible because of the deep passion so many have for Augustana College. I’ll share more details once we go public on October 11, 2018.

So, there’s a lot going on. But, all of energizes me. And, rather than think of myself as busy, I look at these days as full and rewarding.

Kent

A thought I can’t get out of my head

I recently finished a book on sales that was recommended by an acquaintance and have been thinking about it and the themes that relate to my work ever since. In fact, there are scraps of paper with notes laying around, notes in margins of a couple of notebooks and a few pages of notes in a tablet that I keep in my backpack. I guess the book has me thinking.

The book, The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, which I’ve mentioned before challenges conventional wisdom about who can be most successful in sales. The author, through a thorough evaluation of data, concludes that those sales people who challenge a customer by teaching are more successful than the back-slapping, relationship-builders often held up as the ideal salespeople. The author’s premise is that those who are most successful challenging a customer to think differently, and by doing so,  add value.

A couple of key elements from the book really stuck with me and have me thinking about how this can be applied in student recruitment, marketing and advancement.

The qualities  these “challengers” bring are the following:

  • They bring unique perspective

  • They possess exceptional two-way communication skills

  • They know what the customer values

  • They are comfortable discussing money

  • They know how to pressure the customer

Sheesh, when I think about effective recruitment, marketing and fundraising these seem to present a winning formula.

Want do you think about these challenger attributes and how they fit into the work you do?

I am thinking about which of these attributes I need to improve upon and how they can be applied to my day-to-day work.

Finally, I do recommend the book and think you might find it as thought provoking as I did.

One thing worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

Keeping focus in a world of distractions–This Korn-Ferry International article hits me personally as I try to continue to wean myself away from distractions. This article emphasizes the importance of focus, especially for leaders. This statement alone is a good reminder for all of us:

“For a leader, though, focus holds the key to accomplishment. A leader’s control of focus matters personally, for the team, and for the whole organization.”

Something for you and me to think about

Last week on campus we had our fall term symposium, which is a day-long program built around a theme. The theme this year was relationships.

My day did not allow for me to participate in much of the programming, but I did see a sign in our Learning Commons that caught my attention (photo attached). The sign advertised a discussion called “How do we engage opinions we don’t agree with?”

I have not heard how that discussion played out, but I hope it was productive for all who participated.

Perhaps we, myself included, should ponder this question to examine our own approach to engaging opinions that are different?

I’ve been thinking about it since I saw the sign and know I have some work to do.

I posted a picture of this sign to my Facebook page and got a couple of interesting responses, including one that hit a little too close to home. The respondent (my amazing wife Jennie) wrote the following:

“One can’t engage without having listening skills, and many are unwilling to listen. People don’t listen to hear anymore; they’re too busy formulating their response to tell you your opinion (your experience, your perspective, your truth) is wrong and to tell you that you are a (insert derogatory noun, usually ending with -ist). In this current environment, one cannot respectfully agree to disagree; it’s all or nothing.”

I expect many of us see this too frequently and maybe even engage similarly.

Given the past few weeks and what we’ve witnessed in broader conversations, I am going to try to do better. I don’t want to be that guy who is formulating a response, when I should be listening to understand. How about you?

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 wkentbarnds@augustana.edu

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). Once upon a time I tried to get one of these out every Monday. Past issues of my musings can be found at my blog @bowtieadmission

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