My Experience at President’s Academy

This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Alpha Kappa Psi President’s Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. Alongside networking with over 300 other chapter presidents from all around the globe, I was exposed to new perspectives on conflict resolution, stress behavior, and the true meaning of leadership.

Alpha Kappa Psi is the oldest and largest professional business fraternity in the world, and our members are dedicated and motivated leaders. After I served two terms as the Vice President of Membership for the UT Dallas chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, I gained a solid grasp of recruitment strategies and how to work on a high-paced executive board. Now, as my chapter’s president for the following two semesters, I am looking to take our members to new heights. I am ecstatic to work alongside some of the brightest and most driven people that UT Dallas has to offer. However, to be an effective leader that inspires success within my team, I first had to truly understand the subtle nuances of leadership. Attending President’s Academy was a pivotal step in my personal leadership journey as I learned from industry professionals about how to effectively lead at the collegiate level and beyond. Here are my five main takeaways from this influential experience:

  • Trust is essential.

It is human nature to doubt yourself. Whether you are undertaking a risky task, venturing into unknown territory, or trying something completely new, you may find yourself doubting your abilities or competency. After meeting with so many great leaders at this academy, I realized that even the best of the best have their own fears, doubts, and apprehensive thoughts. However, trust is crucial to conquering your goals and maximizing your success.

  • Leadership ≠ management.

While all great leaders are managers, not all managers are leaders. Understanding the difference was eye-opening and very interesting for me to discover. As John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” With this in mind, I now realize that that leadership is more than telling people what to do, scheduling events, and signing off documents. Great leaders inspire change, influence others, and are constantly available to help in any way they can.

  • Stress is inevitable.

The Birkman Method is a fascinating approach to understanding your unique personality interests, behaviors, needs, and environmental stresses. While the Birkman Method is usually distributed at the corporate level, I am grateful to have been a part of one of the first student groups to be introduced to this assessment. From the in-depth analysis of our results from the Birkman Assessment, I learned all about my personal leadership style. While I am enthusiastic about innovation and strictly organized, my personal reactions to stress may inhibit overall success. Through this analysis, I have gained new techniques to addressing, mitigating, and preventing stress from overshadowing my personal and professional goals. Let’s face it, stress is bound to happen in school, work, and life. Nevertheless, how we deal with stress and how we resolve conflict is essential to the success of our overarching objectives.

  • Find your motivators in life.

Find your “why” in life. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What inspires you to keep pushing in the face of adversity? Life is tumultuous and has its fair share of trials and tribulations. Despite this, I was reminded to always have my motivators in mind to push me to become better every single day. Without your “why”, your motivation, and your drive, it is difficult to keep your personal momentum long-term.

  • Always be hungry to learn.

Finally, this weekend was the best reminder of one of my favorite quotes by Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” College is the prime environment for me to not only grow professionally and academically but personally as well. With the introduction of the new decade and my journey into the second half of my college career, I am promising myself to continue learning outside of the classroom to grow into the best version of myself.

I am so grateful for the relationships I have built and the lessons I have learned from this past weekend. Alpha Kappa Psi is truly building the next generation of future leaders, and I am honored to be part of this movement. I would like to personally thank Thomas Tran, our Fraternity President, Steve Hartman, our Fraternity CEO, and Heather Robinette, my chapter’s advisor, for encouraging our members to constantly grow, ask difficult questions, and spark change in our communities.

Biggest 2020 Emerging Industries

The world of business is constantly changing, evolving, and mutating. With so much innovation and growth, industry trends are just that – trends; what might be a huge deal today might be old news tomorrow. Sure, there are established industry standards that remain relevant year after year. The trick to keeping up with business is to focus on the emerging job markets on the horizon. With 2020 around the corner, let’s look at the four major emerging industries in business.

P2P Payment Apps

Innovators in the banking industry have long-since used technology to simplify monetary transactions. The debit card replaced cash and check, online banking removed the need for trips to a physical bank branch, and the credit card chip has made payments more secure. So, it makes sense that developers would take advantage of our preference for mobile devices through peer-to-peer payments. P2P payment apps like Venmo, Paypal, Zelle, and Square have made it easy for individuals to send, receive, and request direct payments. By linking your smart phone with a bank account or credit card, you can easily transfer money to anyone, anywhere, all with the tap of a button.

With the simplicity and security of P2P payments, adoption of the technology has seen rapid growth. According to statistics by eMarketer, by the end of 2022, over half of mobile phone users will have made at least one P2P payment within the past month. With such a huge demand for these apps, job openings are increasing in areas like cryptosecurity and blockchain development.

AI and Machine Learning

The applications of artificial intelligence (AI) are seemingly endless. Automation has become a part of our everyday lives, whether it’s in our car’s GPS, our thermostats, or our smart home devices. Even beyond this observable impact, AI and machine learning represents an even larger shift in the business world abroad. Machine learning is about improving the efficiency of software. Applications built with machine learning are suddenly able to make laser precise predictions and analyze data instantly. The result is a more effective and self-sustaining piece of technology, one that improves the function of nearly any system it touches.

This kind of power can be applied to nearly any industry imaginable. Artificial intelligence and machine learning plays a role in healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, bioinformatics, telecommunications, and transportation, to name just a few. A report published by Zion Market Research states that the global machine learning market was valued at $1.58 billion back in 2017. However, that same study projects that the market will reach nearly $21 billion by 2024, representing a 44 percent increase in just 7 years. With such rapid growth, it’s no surprise that the industry came in at number 2 on LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs Report.

Solar Power and Wind Turbines

As climate scientists continue to urge immediate action across the globe, it makes sense to turn to alternative energy sources. Not only do options like solar and wind power equal lower carbon emissions, they also provide a more sustainable energy option than crude oil or coal. Along with natural gas, these types of resources are unlimited and provide savings to consumers. However, depending entirely on renewable energy can’t happen until the necessary equipment is in place.

Alternative energy – specifically wind power – has led to a rapid growth in the installation and management fields. Wind turbines need wind farms, and wind farms need planning and oversight. According to IBIS World, the wind turbine industry saw a 53.5 percent revenue increase from 2018-2019. Part of this is due to government-sponsored incentive programs and a growing mandate for the use of these sorts of technologies. The industry rise is also thanks to the wide variety of renewable energy types and the increased manufacturing of all associated equipment. LinkedIn’s 2018 report listed Solar Power Consultant as its 11th fastest growing job title.

Big Data Science

At this point, saying that technology is everywhere seems like the understatement and cliché of the century. Tech isn’t just ubiquitous, it’s everything and all-encompassing and dictates how we live our lives. So, with this endless stream of technology accepted as the status quo, should we really be shocked that data has become more valuable than ever? Servers and hardware and software are all running 24/7, and are collecting infinite amounts of data at every endpoint. Forbes published figures in 2019 showing Americans use over 4.4 million GB of data per minute. The sheer amount is staggering. But, in the right hands, this simple byproduct of technology can become a window into the future of the world.

Analyzing data is a key factor to the success of any industry, anywhere. Whether it’s information technology, manufacturing, transportation, social media, or food production, data analytics is big buck business. According to research from Inside Big Data, the data industry is projected to grow to $40.6 billion by 2023. Data scientists are tasked with breaking down massive datasets and interpreting the results to establish trends and predictions for the future. With these efforts replicated in every single modern market, and no signs of slowing down, Big Data is primed to become a key industry in the years ahead.

Staying in touch with emerging industries is a great way to grow a career. Whether you’re still in school, graduating, or just looking for a new career direction, keeping an eye on these markets might get you a few steps ahead of the pack.

The Power of Human Connection

Ever wondered about studying abroad? This is the episode for you! We have two recent graduates here to chat about their experiences across the world to prepare you for the next trip.

Lexi was born and raised in upstate New York and attended Syracuse University. She studied policy studies with a specialization in government and business, and supply chain management. After graduating in May 2019, Lexi joined Teach For America and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to teach fourth grade math.

Tyler Werland grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and studied business management at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), where he is now a graduate student. Tyler is an intern for the San Antonio Spurs as a member of the HR-Organizational Development Team to assist with internal training.

 

Servant Leaders from 2019

Servant Leadership is one of Alpha Kappa Psi’s founding principles because of its positive effects on culture in business and beyond. Practicing servant leadership means considering the needs of all company or organization personnel, not just a bottom line. Common characteristics of a servant leader include empathy, commitment to people’s growth, good listening, and community awareness. With the 2019 calendar year in the past, let’s look back and identify three of the best servant leaders we spotted in 2019.

 

Mat Ishiba, United Shore Mortgage

As an industry leader in wholesale mortgage lending, United Shore Mortgage knows the value of its employees. When Mat Ishiba took over as CEO in 2009, he fronted a massive hiring push for the company, and it has grown from less than 500 to over 4,700 employees in the past 10 years.

While the Michigan-based business is thriving, the employees haven’t sold out their ideals in the process. One of Ishiba’s primary focuses is the Firm 40, a workhours initiative that ensures equal amounts of hours in the office and encourages employees to relax and move away from work while at home. His appreciation and respect for the work/life balance of his employees is clear, and it has positively impacted the company’s success.

 

Vineet Jain, Egnyte

Egnyte has made a name for itself in the world of file sharing and security. The Silicon Valley-based company is touted as the only secure content platform that works exclusively for enterprise, giving full control to creative and IT teams in the pursuit for efficient cloud storage. This company, which ranks in the top three file sharing platforms according to Owler, has also gained a following for the way it treats its employees.

While Egnyte continues to grow in size, it has been recognized by Business Insider as a top five company for work/life balance, and a high ranking for happiest employees. Additionally, CEO Vineet Jain has been named one of the best leaders for minority workers. In a recent interview with Ladders, Jain said, “Your employees come first. If you have employees who feel valued, people who feel that there’s a career path, people who feel that they are respected, then they will be happy.”

Ben Valore-Caplan, Syntrinsic Investment Council

After making it in the world of finance, Ben Valore-Caplan found himself unsure of his next move. The year was 2008, and he had just left investment monster Lehman Brothers only days before its collapse amid the recession. He decided rather than jumping into another large financial company, he wanted to see a different future, one where employees – not just employers – had power.    

He eventually started his own company, Syntrinsic Investment Council, as a 100 percent employee-owned business. He also created a holistic workplace culture through efforts such as financial support for leadership programs. In a recent interview with Conscious Company Media, Valore-Caplan said, “Make your leadership about unleashing others to do more good in the world. Managing can often be more about cultivation than control. Make good people even better. Make those around you more powerful. That’s easier if you’re doing something important. You can prove that values and business not only go together but thrive together.”

Acting as a servant leader creates a culture of giving, growth, and equal opportunity for employees and coworkers. Though these three leaders have instilled their own ideals for empathy, listening, and culture, the lessons they impart to employees inspires others to do the same. Whether you’re a CEO of a company or just getting started, you too can impact positive change by thinking of yourself as a servant leader in 2020.

Brand Development Through Relationship Building

The concept of branding can sometimes feel inauthentic. Branding is the process of establishing a public identity, and so often it comes off as being very sales-heavy. However, when brands are genuine and sincere, they feel less like an advertisement and more like a personality. Branding plays a huge part in professional relationships companies make with their customers. Though the process is nuanced, there are still some general guidelines to get the most out of your own brand.

Building a Business’ Brand

The truth is out: people want to engage with and buy from recognizable brands. A study published by Nielson found that 59% of consumers prefer to shop with brands they trust and know. Despite being from a company, many individuals will see a business’ brand as being like a friend. Branding works best when customers feel less like they’re being sold to, and more like they’re engaging with a pal. So, when developing your company’s brand, there are some important tips to keep top of mind.

  1. Know Your Brand’s Audience

The best brands understand their target market. They create messaging and social media posts that engage and inspire the individuals they want to speak to. Imagine if you were giving a speech at a convention. You’d undoubtedly want to tailor your presentation to be relevant to those in the audience. Perhaps they’re a group of dentists, and your business creates medical software for their billing and office needs. Even if your product can be used by any type of health provider, you’d want to illustrate how it works specifically for a dentistry firm. The same is true for any aspect of your brand: know your audience and learn how to speak to them.

  1. Understand Your Industry’s Trends and Set Yourself Apart

Whether you’re a small startup or a larger enterprise, your undoubtedly have competitors. It’s important to know what these companies are saying about their products, and how they’re developing their brand.

However, it’s not a great idea to simply mimic what they’re doing. For example, in 2017, the desert treat Moon Pie began a strange and befuddling journey into “weird Twitter.” Rather than posting company updates, the business’ social department began crafting beauties like this:

 

“I am a brand

B ringing all the fun

R ap music is actually really good

A llow me to explain why I like rap

N ow let’s listen to some rap

D ang that is some good rap.”

This kind of Tweets sparked major interest in the treat’s brand. However, it wasn’t long before other companies began jockeying their style and going for their own off-center humor. It certainly garnered attention, but it was more or less a pale comparison. Your business’ brand should be personal and well-defined; just because other companies are doing it doesn’t mean you need to as well.

  1. Don’t Underestimate a Logo

Brands have a big visual component as well. Though it may be tempting to simply choose a font and minor design, customers identify your business by your logo. The MIT Sloan Review performed a large-scale study on corporate visual branding and found some interesting takeaways. For one, they create a “point of connection.” That means when a customer sees your design, they instantly think of your company’s values and mission.

For example, the Nike swoosh logo suggests movement, activity, and flow. This is in-line with Nike’s brand and communicates their ideals without saying a word. Furthermore, the study found that separate visual logos were more effective than a jazzed up version of the company’s name. A logo should be a symbol that reflects your brand and what your want to communicate.

Developing a public brand takes time and careful consideration. However, the process is still rooted in a simple maxim: be yourself. When curating this public image, be sure to let the voice of the company and the people in it shine through. By understanding your audience, demonstrating your uniqueness, and giving thought to your logo, you’ll be on your way to creating a brand that resonates and informs.