Running A Meeting

Have you ever been in a meeting that seemed like it went on for hours, when it really did not? Have you ever left a meeting not knowing the purpose? Why do you think this is?  Did the leader of the meeting start with why they were holding the meeting? Or did they allow group members to feel empowered, engaged and connected to the group and tasks at hand?

One reading that I especially connected with was the Autonomy reading.  Allowing organization members whether in a student organization, greek life, or a corporation.  When running a meeting, I have found that allowing students to perform tasks how they want to gives them a greater sense of autonomy.  When running a meeting, it is important to allow the group you’re working with to make some of their own decisions.  No one likes to be micromanaged! I know I don’t like to micromanaged and I feel like I can’t be trusted to make decisions.  Having autonomy is important for a group’s success because the members of the group, as Maslow tells us, need to achieve a level of self-actualization and that can only be done by fulfilling lower levels of physiological needs, self-esteem and safety and security.  

To me, the worst feeling is when you’re in a meeting, you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish and the meeting itself seems endless! Have you ever left a meeting and if asked about the contents of the meeting you’re not so confident you could do so? Start with why.  Why are we having the meeting? Why do we need to accomplish these tasks?  What’s the point of all this?  Telling your group members or colleagues why you want to accomplish these goals will help keep them engaged and focused on the task and process.
Empower them! Empower your fellow group members to achieve goals and create original outside-the-box ideas.  Let them know that performing highly on a task is appreciated and recognized.  By keeping your group empowered, autonomous, and engaged your meeting will be much more effective.

You don’t want this to be your meeting.. So do something about it! Learn how to make your meetings more engaging, powerful and useful for colleagues and teammates.

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The Daily Targum: Starting With Why

Simon Sinek expresses in his TED talk the importance of starting with ‘why’.  One part of his talk that really resonated with me was his idea that “people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it” and this is completely true.  Consumers buy Apple products because they see and understand what Steve Jobs envisioned.  Consumers shop at Whole Foods because they believe in the importance of organic foods.  “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it”; shouldn’t this be one of the fundamentals of marketing.  Starting with why in an advertisement would attract more people or consumers to your product or service then, right? Let’s take a look at a few of the advertisements in the Daily Targum to see if they “start with why”. 

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The advertisement I looked at was for OCSA or the Off-Campus Students’ Association.  The ad for OCSA starts with the benefits of joining the organization or why you should join the organization. 

                  “If you’re interested in getting more involved on campus, building your resume, and enhancing your leadership skills, the Off-Campus Students’ Association may be the organization for you!”

Although it talks about the benefits of the organization it does not show their vision, mission or purpose.  It does not say what they are either.  After doing a little research on their website, I found out who OCSA is, their purpose and mission. 

The second advertisement I looked at was the RUPA ad for “Generation Me” which is a lecture with Dr. Jean Twenge who is the author of the New Humanities Reader, the required text for Expository Writing, a terrible requirement for all Rutgers students.  Tells the reader exactly why they should attend this RUPA event; to see what the author of the book that every student dreads at one time or another and what she has to say about today’s generations and how they can succeed in the increasingly competitive world.  I believe that this ad effectively communicates why the reader should attend this event and the benefits that he or she would get out of it.

The last advertisement that I looked at was a Rutgers ad for the Symposium on “Science and Technology in Contemporary China: Advancements and Challenges in the Era of Globalization”.  This advertisement does not start with why and does not talk about anything except where and when the Symposium is.  There is no reason why I should attend this event or the purpose, or mission.  The advertisement does not start with why, it simply states what and where.  There also is no where. 

Starting with why is the most beneficial way for the reader to understand the purpose, mission and cause of the advertisement.  As you can see, some organizations do start with why and some do not.  So I challenge you next time someone asks you about your student organization; start with why.  

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Motivating College Students Across Campuses

Why can it be so difficult to motivate college students? I have asked myself this question countless times.  When leading an organization and working with a diverse group of students it can be difficult for some students to understand the importance of what they are doing and why they should be doing it.  I talked to my best friend, Caitlin, who is the Vice-President of the Student Government Association at Ramapo College of New Jersey who expressed the same concerns.  She works with the “Student Senate”, other leaders and professionals on campus to achieve common goals as well as personal goals.  It can be difficult to motivate other students she works with.  One thing I expressed to her that I thought help to motivate students is to explain to them why they are there; why they are working towards these goals. Simon Sinek explains the importance of starting with why and I firmly believe that starting with why is very important.  When given a task, a student may feel it is unimportant or that they don’t need to do it.  If you start by explaining to the student WHY you are there and how this contributes to the overall goal they will understand their importance.  

Don’t forget to thank everyone and be appreciative.  If you are working with another student or faculty member, it is important to remember your “thank you’s”!  If you don’t thank someone after helping you with a task or project they will not want to help you in the future.  This is just basic reciprocity.  If someone does something nice for you then you should be nice to them in return.  I read an article once that stated that reciprocity is a value within societies of baboons as well as humans! 

Empower them! Empower the people you are working with! Whether they are students you work with often or a quick task you are working on; you should empower them! Give them all the tools you can to do their best.  If you share your resources it will help achieve a greater result.  Also, it’s important to remember that by empowering others you will also become empowered and that will help you to do your job better!

Anyway, getting back on track… When I spoke with Caitlin and we shared some common concerns with the students we work with we also discussed how great the reward is when the goal is achieved.  She also told me that each year before the year starts they put a team together of executive members and they go to a bonding event, whether it is helping to keep Liberty State Park beautiful or attending a US Open match together, it helps the board members to get to know each other better to work as a more cohesive team.  This was something I could relate to because within Dance Marathon, our Central Planning Team is made up of 33 students and getting to know one another is important.  Throughout the year we have team bonding events, two workshops in the Summer before the year starts, and other various events throughout the year that each person has the opportunity to get to know every other member personally so throughout the year many new friendships are formed!

So don’t forget that the next time you’re working with other people in your organization, at work, or even with your roommates don’t forget to start with why, empower them and be appreciative! 

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On The Four Year Forecast: Leadership

This post was written by Joe Martucci, Manager of RU-tv WeatherWatcher.

As I think back upon my life, in the years prior to college, I realize that I possessed the tools to be a leader. However, I was too shy to let it out, nor did not know how to piece it together. In high school, I was used to be general members of clubs or sports teams, watching in bewilderment those above me. I was always a very structured person, I had to make sure that the bed was made and had a set schedule every day. Throwing me off of schedule would drive me crazy. How could I calmly go about my day if I wasn’t able to go to the store if I said I was? I thought to myself. I also believed in organization, I was always very neat, and believed not to disrespect those above you. I also realized I was a go-getter. Why put off tomorrow what you could do today, I would think to myself. In my pre-driving days, my mom and I would quarrel over going places right away, instead of waiting a few hours.

While all of these things are good, they could also hurt. Freshman year of college, I barely sleep some nights because I needed to get done that reading that wasn’t due for two days, because I told myself I would do it. Today. rutv logo 2Being a part of the Rutgers Television Network’s (RU-tv) WeatherWatcher Living Learning Community (WWLLC), I would learn the reality that life is not black and white, it is shades of gray. It would be these shades that I was fighting my whole freshman year. Looking back now, I think it was because I was so caught up in my own world, that I didn’t bother to see what was around me. I had friends freshman year, but was still waiting to break out of my shell. It wasn’t until my sophomore year, that things would turn around.

My first experience in a “real” workplace (I was an am still a USA Hockey Referee), was at RU-tv my spring semester of sophomore year. At this point in time, I broke out of my shell, I had acquaintances, who I would just say hi to, and friends. I was put in charge of developing a 1-minute news clip that RU-info would produce about events going on around campus. My first few weeks, I was in my own world, trying to figure out everything myself, but with little progress. I never felt at such a wall in a working environment before. Then I started to realize that if I blended my personal life with work life, that things could work out. I started going up and getting to know people and after a while, asked other for help. With my tunnel vision mindset, I never thought to blend my more personable personal life, with my “do-it-myself” work life. While the project was never completed, I realized that blending sides of my life together could work out.

After my sophomore year, I applied, and received the position of Associate’s Producer of WeatherWatcher, working under a student Lead Producer, as well as full time staff. Turns out, that the Lead Producer, Alyssa, just happened to be one of my good friends and was the Floor Leader for the WWLLC my freshman year. The other Associate Producer lived next to me in the WWLLC freshman year. Junior year working at RU-tv, had some minor bumps, however, things worked out nicely. Our friendship squashed many quarrels we had at RU-tv and were on the same page for many problems. The associate producer, Scott, and I, were on the same level and were delegated different tasks, so there was not much that would be discussed, other than keeping each other in the loop. I became good friends with the Floor Leader that year, too. Going into senior year, I would become the Lead Producer and was excited to use my go-getter attitude and organization to take WW better than it ever had been. Scott would be Associate’s Producer, last year’s floor leader now became our special initiative supervisor and we would have two new floor leaders.

Starting off the summer and the semester, things picked up just where they left off. We all had a large goal in mind (which I don’t want to share to ruin the surprise, you will have to watch our forecast come 2013-14!) and all worked together toward that goal. I was becoming known as a pretty social guy and used that to talk to those higher up in the Rutgers Community and elsewhere, to get things done. Outside of work, we would hang out and became just as good friends, as we were workers. I now was able to clean up and organize all of the computer files we had for WW, something I was waiting to do for a while. I had the nickname “pit-bull” with my supervisor because I would try to complete something, no matter how hard it would be, reminiscent of all those missed hours of sleep freshman year (though better rested). There were a few times I had to be brought into my supervisor’s office to be told to stop, or face repercussions (that being said we had a great working relationship and we still keep in touch, even though he took another job). However, it was after this that I realized that the leadership role would
As a side note, academically, I took a position as events coordinator for the meteorology club, which made me in charge of planning trips and meetings. Our Fall trip last year was all planned and booked, however, we found out that the week before the trip, Rutgers said that the trip was not approved and our E-board, all of whom I was friends with, did not have the funds to go so soon. Getting final answers from people to pick a date for the trip and whether they would attend or not could get frustrating but now changing the date?! The me a few years ago would have probably went crazy inside, but this time? It barely bothered me. Things happen that are outside of my control, we just picked up and went a different weekend and it went great. I then realized that you just need to go with the flow of things, even if you do not realize it. People told me throughout college that I was very laid back and chill and I would laugh because I didn?t think so. I suppose this was the doubting Thomas moment of my life.

Going back to WeatherWatcher, in October, our special initiative supervisor missed a shift. It was up to me to discipline him. While part of the job is discipline, I never had to do it to someone I would invite over my place on the weekends. A few months later, our special initiatives supervisor quit, to take a job elsewhere, during a meeting we all had. I was shocked and disappointed, how could my friend do this to me? Why didn?t he tell me first? I was confused as to what to do. We eventually switched our leadership around to accommodate for this but the burn was still there.

In the spring semester, a WeatherWatcher was breaking part of our contract that they had to sign, resulting in a verbal warning. However, this wasn?t any member; it was someone I lived with. Not doing something would set a precedent for similar things to happen in the future, while saying something may cause our personal relationship to be awkward. We talked and it went pretty well, he understood what happened and it hasn?t happened again yet. It was really after this moment, when I came to a realization. You cannot mix and match different parts of your life together. Your work life, personal life and academic life is very intertwined in college, being with the same group of people 24/7/365. However, it is up to you to make sure what is really important do not bleed into other aspects of your life.

A truth that is tough to deal with your freshman year is that Rutgers is a big place; you put in what you get out of it. Talking to professors, catching up on missed work is up to you to take care of with the countless amounts of tools at your disposure. You grow up fast here. It may have taken me until my senior year, but I believe Rutgers makes people at this college a mature person, not the workplace after it. With this maturity, I was able to take a step back and realize that leaderships requires making sure all of the pieces work to be productive and to be productive, you need to put certain things behind. While I do believe that being a leader of people is difficult, it is even more difficult when your relationship with said person goes beyond the workplace, into your homes and schoolwork. That being said, I don’t believe the phrase never do business with your family (friends for this point) is true.IMG_2006 Friendship can foster productivity, because of the chemistry already there and the opportunity to discuss work after the work day is done.
I now accept and understand why our special initiatives supervisor left and wish him the best. His leaving does not even come to thought when our friendship is involved and will be still a friend of mine. I now no longer fear saying things that may not be accepted on a business level, because we are all working together for the same goal. If there is one lesson I have learned in my four years at Rutgers, it is to make sure to switch mindsets after you leave those office doors and the worst thing to fear, is fear itself.

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A Reflection on Servant Leadership

An interview with Henah Parikh, Co-Director of Student Volunteer Council

Q: How did you become involved with Student Volunteer Council?

Winter Wishes was the very first event that I attended. As a freshman, I did not know about SVC but heard about Winter Wishes at an involvement fair and it was something I was really interested. Watching them hand out the gifts to the kids was really touching, and I began to cry. Someone pulled me aside letting me know I would be a good fit for SVC because I was really invested the event, and truly cared about giving back to the community. I applied not knowing what to expect but got it and was really excited. So I became service day coordinator for 5 semesters – basically planned weekly once a week service events for 25 students for example, going to Elijah’s promise, packaging meals, hanging out with the kids in the hospital. By the time I was a junior I realized being a co-director would be a good fit because I was passionate about service. And now I’m HERE!

Q: What would you say is your favorite part of dedicating your time to servant leadership?

I really like the family feeling from the people I work with. We are really into community so we are always supporting one another and all of our events. We always try really hard to be invested and separating ourselves from our phones. We have a purpose behind all the work we do so the mindset and the strength in our bonds that hold us together when we work together are awesome. Being able to see the impact you are making and being able to name the community partners in New Brunswick and knowing who each other are – you can say what they do and why they do it.

Q: Do you have a particular memory or event that you hold dearest to you?

Winter Wishes is hands down my favorite event that we do every year. I’ve been moved when I have been to Elijah’s Promise because you can have a conversation with the people you are serving as opposed to looking down on them and treating them as unequals. Hearing their stories and that one on one interaction is amazing.

Q: What do you think is the most important characteristic or trait to have as a servant leader?

Open-mindedness. Knowing that even the smallest gestures are making a difference and its doesnt have to be a grand gesture. Anyone can do it and Anyone can make a change. It doesn’t have to be at one specific time or place. Being Flexible is really important because many times you think you are doing one thing but that will change based on their needs.

Q: How does your organization function?

Coordinators do 3 office hours – gives everyone enough time to get their stuff done within the office.

Every Friday there is a weekly meeting (same place, same time). Every other week we do a training where we have Soupervan come in, Time manament lectures, Professional headshots, things of that nature. Heavy volunteer event weeks we will discuss important information delegating events.

Q: How important do you think Reflection is and why?

Reflection is integral to the whole idea of service. You can do something and never realize the impact or think about it deeper then just doing it. You may not get the chance to process or synthesize your experience. Alot of times reflection is when I notice the change it makes in my life and what I want to do. It is hard to reflect in the moment (what is the bigger meaning to my actions) – sitting back and realizing allows you to understand the impact your work – even if it is filling envelopes – has on your community.

Q: What are words of advice you would give to your predecessor?

GET invovled. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try new things. Alot of the best things that ever happened to me in college are because I took the risk, not knowing where it would lead me. I went for something without thinking or knowing what would come out of it. Try everything while you can. Don’t wish your days away – even when you wish the semester is over – enjoy every moment you have!

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Diversity at RU and A.M.O.R.!

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Association of Mediterranean Organizations at Rutgers University

Rutgers University is one of the most diverse higher educational institutions in the United States. As such, there are various cultural clubs and organizations which represent different student cultures throughout the Rutgers community. I sat down with Simoni Lu Vanu, the President of Association of Mediterranean Organizations at Rutgers University, to find out how A.M.O.R. contributes to the diverse environment at Rutgers.

Simoni Lu Vanu, President of A.M.O.R.

Simoni Lu Vanu, President of A.M.O.R.

Establishment and Purpose of A.M.O.R.

The Girls at Mr. and Ms. Mediterranean Cultural Event

The Girls at Mr. and Ms. Mediterranean Cultural Event

The boys at A.M.O.R. Mr. and Ms. Mediterranean Cultural Event

The boys at A.M.O.R. Mr. and Ms. Mediterranean Cultural Event

Simoni first started thinking about creating an umbrella organization for the different cultural clubs while in his first year at Rutgers. Towards the end of the fall 2011 semester, he realized he could make it a reality and started speaking with administrators at Rutgers to find out the steps of creating such an organization. A.M.O.R. is an umbrella organization, which unites the different Mediterranean cultural clubs on campus. According to Simoni, A.M.O.R. serves the diverse student population in a few ways. First, A.M.O.R. encourages and promotes the Mediterranean cultures which exist at Rutgers. Next, it bring the issues of stereotypes and racism to light. Lastly, through hosting a number of events, A.M.O.R. tries to fight against social justice issues which the countries in the Mediterranean region may face. In March of 2013, A.M.O.R.’s Mr. and Ms. Mediterranean event was held as a fundraiser for the “Save the Children!” fund.

Diversity at Rutgers and A.M.O.R.

Diversity at Rutgers seems to be all around us. The University prides itself on the fact that we have such a diverse student population who all have great things to offer Rutgers and society overall. Ultimately, A.M.O.R. has been successful in uniting and making the Mediterranean students’ voices heard on campus. Simoni told me he hopes for A.M.O.R. to grow and have even more say at Rutgers.

Simoni also told me about aspirations for future academic programs which may be associated with the Mediterranean region including establishing a cultural center for student and faculty support and Mediterranean Studies Program for students. Although the different cultural clubs in A.M.O.R. have many cultural similarities, they also have some differences, especially political ones which may be hard to resolve. However, Simoni’s plans for A.M.O.R. may be the perfect solution for “bridging the political gap” and uniting the Mediterranean students even more. If the students are more united, they can work better together to promote their goals.

First A.M.O.R. General Interest Meeting

First A.M.O.R. General Interest Meeting

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A Mentor’s Perspective of Leadership

 

 

 

What is a mentor?

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A mentor helps guide someone to their goals. A mentor helps a protégé become the best they can be. Normally, a mentor uses their own experience to teach valuable life lessons and traits to their protégé. 

For me, my mentor has always been my oldest sister. My oldest sister, Mudra is 25 years old and the manager of corporate global strategies for a billion dollar pharmaceutical company. 

Motivation and Passion

Mudra went to college at Rutgers University and joined a few organizations on campus. I do not believe she ever had a position in a leadership capacity but I was lead to believe that much of what she did for any of the organizations was invaluable. She would never slack off in any task she was given or complain or let others bring her down. Mudra often told me that a strong work ethic is great but passion is critical. I took this to mean that it’s great to work hard and accomplish all the tasks that are set out for you, but you really need to see the value of that work. The value of that work is what I would now consider equivalent to Simon Sinek’s concept of Why and the Golden Circle.

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The why asks if you know why you are doing what you are doing? Similarly, Mudra explained that passion is needed to make your own work get done faster and that it is a type of motivation that is tangible. Other people can feel your passion and tend to rise to the occasion.

The more my sister told me about the various tasks she had to do through work or a college organization the more I realized she is a linchpin. A linchpin is someone that holds everything together and creates forward motion. Mudra tended to be the backbone of her organizations because she created forward motion. She accomplished her tasks and set the stage for new more efficient projects.

Being a commodity?  

Mudra had 2 promotions within a span of 2-3 years. She made herself invaluable to her company. “Always make yourself a commodity.” A commodity is a marketable good with a value. My sister told me that it meant to never stop striving to be the best and always continue learning to make yourself invaluable. Initially, I thought that it was literal and you had to make yourself smarter or more efficient. However, I’ve read more on the topic of leadership and look at her words in a different light. To be a commodity does not mean to be just the smartest it means to be invaluable to not just the company but the people in that company. Mudra has told me of the work she does with her team when she was a starting economic analyst in the company. She took passion in her work. She made sure the people around her got their work done. They were a team in the sense that if one of them failed or did a bad job then they all did.

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Through this teamwork and her drive to reach the top, Mudra was promoted twice. She supported her team and help them become a cohesive unit, and this trait was recognized. 

The two concepts I’ve taken away from all the talks with my mentor are: “A strong work ethic is great but passion is critical” and “Always make yourself a commodity.” 

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