The Defectors, Series 3: Parting Words for the Road Ahead

We’ve reached the end of the third series of The Defectors, and I want to thank each of my ten participants for their consideration and candor as they shared their stories. The community that has come together around this particular stage in work has blown me away, and I’m happy to have gotten to share even a little bit of it with you this August. More will be coming from me on the topic, so I hope you’ll stay tuned!

[Defectors, Series 1 | Defectors, Series 2]

I want to conclude this year’s edition with some final wisdom, collected from our participants. I asked each of them to answer the vague but essential question for empowerment, “Any parting words on the Defector experience?” Here are some of the answers, and the lessons they highlight:

From Greg Sadler, reluctant but now confident entrepreneur: it’s okay that you might not have imagined this for yourself when you started your career.

I never thought I’d be doing anything remotely like this ten years ago. Quite frankly, the catalyst for me was not the independence being an entrepreneur brings, or the potential of making a better income than as an underpaid university professor.

I left a position where I was coming up for early tenure and promotion, had written portions of the 10 year Quality Enhancement Plan for the university, and was carrying out university wide assessment.  I did that for love, moving up to New York, where my fiancee lived and worked, in a still-terrible job market.  I did continue to teach as an adjunct, but over time I became more and more a post-academic entrepreneur.

There were a lot of growing pains, setbacks, and learning experiences, but seven years in I’m doing fairly well and still growing in my profession.  So I’m happy with being a “defector”!

From Ashlie Baty Petz, tech sector program manager: it’s okay to protect your time and energy by taking your skills somewhere new.

I do not regret my decision to leave and am MUCH HAPPIER in my current role (no night/weekend work!). I am financially stable and have a positive work/life blend. I wouldn’t be in my current role without my higher ed background/degree, but I am overall very glad that I made the jump to the tech industry.

From Bonnie Fox, speaker agent and frequent business owner: the impact we have on students doesn’t go away just because we do.

I loved my time with my students in Student Activities. With the help of facebook, I’ve reconnected with many of them…and loved to see the small part I had in forming them into the productive adults they are now. Some have taken my lead and left and started businesses…some have gone into the field…but it is so satisfying that with whatever they choose to do…they look back on the time we had together as one that helped steer them; mold them; teach them; empower them into the awesome people they are today.

From Liz Rader Haigler, HR pro: we need to treat each other better as we make decisions and explore options.

As SA pros we need to support people who have “left” but also support people who have “stayed”. I don’t think the inside/outside dynamic is necessary. I made a choice to apply my trade in a different environment and others acted like they couldn’t even connect with me anymore or I had betrayed the SA profession. We need to celebrate what people chose to do with their skills no matter the place they choose to apply them.

Closely related to that, from Anne Scheideler Sweet, consultant: you might feel alone in some of this. You’re not.

There are others out there rooting for you!

From Mike Conte, staffing professional and founder of the Expatriates of Student Affairs Facebook Group: enjoy your Labor Day, if you have it 🙂

It’s been really fun. I’ve learned so much and got to work with ton of people who I would never have meet in Higher Ed. My Line of work attracts a lot of different backgrounds.

If things were different, If my last job had been better, maybe I would have stayed, and maybe I might go back in a Career Advising role someday….but for now I am really happy about not having to work Labor Day moving in students.


Some more reading on the topic:

Thanks all for reading, and happy Defecting!

[PODCAST] Subject Matter X, Episode 1

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of kicking off Content Pair‘s Subject Matter X podcast. Designed to highlight the journeys to expertise of magicians, sleep experts, pitching analysts…and yes, apparently me 🙂 Content Pair is a company designed to pair marketing professionals in need of expertise, with the highly qualified folks that can make their work sing – in that way, Subject Matter X is an outstanding complement to their daily work.

Bob, Todd, and I are talking about creativity in the debut episode- how I learned to love it, how you can learn to harness and use yours, and why any of this matters out in the world.

Click the image below or head to Subject Matter X to hear my episode- and several others from entertaining and brilliant experts!


The Defectors, Series 3: Meet Corey, Ashlie, Mike, and Liz

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I feel like I keep reliving the Anger Phase of the SA Break up a lot due to my job. I’m privy to a lot of salary information in a lot of different fields due to being in staffing.

-Mike Conte, Staffing Professional and Proud Defector

In this week’s edition of Defectors in Conversation, you get the pleasure of time with Corey, Ashlie, Mike, and Liz.

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Corey Allen (CA) is a Campus Recruiter at Wayfair in Boston. He graduated with his Masters from Northeastern’s College Student and Development program in 2014. From 2014-2017, he worked in Residence Life at Northeastern University and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Ashlie Baty Petz (AP) is a 2012 graduate of Florida State Higher Ed. Her background lies in Leadership Development from Florida State and Boise State. She formally left the field in 2015, and currently serves as a Program Manager at Micron Technology (Fortune 500 company in tech and semiconductors, aka computer chips).

Michael Conte (MC) is a Senior Staffing Manager at Professional Staffing Group in Boston. He spent almost a decade in Residence Life, from Grad Assistant to Associate Director, and worked heavily with Summer Conferences as well.

Liz Rader Haigler (LH) is currently an HR Operations and Human Resources Development Manager for Halliburton. She graduated from BGSU’s College Student Personnel program in 2013, and worked in the functional areas of New Student Orientation/Services, Admissions, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Campus Activities, Student Conduct, and Residence Life.

Get to know them and their wisdom this week in Defectors in Conversation!

Briefly, what got you curious about “breaching the bubble” of your former field/work?

MC: The first thoughts came in when I had a hard time breaking out of Residence Life. I felt pigeonholed, and was barely getting interviews for entry level Advising Jobs, I was getting worn out on living in a Hall, being on call and missing so many life events and the less then stellar pay. On whim someone told me I would be a great recruiter and that’s were the bug first got in my ear. I saw too many of my friends get raises, big title changes etc, and there was just not that in higher ed. I worked hard too. Where was my bonus for running a Res Hall that brought in 4 million a year? Or my bump in pay for running around all summer being a main point of contact supporting a Summer Housing Program that brought in close to 800k?

AP: I was living paycheck to paycheck. If I became sick or had an emergency, it would have all gone on credit cards with no plan to pay them off. I was sick of having a masters and getting paid like shit.

MC: Glad to see I’m not the only one who had the money issue. I feel like I keep reliving the Anger Phase of the SA Break up a lot due to my job. I’m privy to a lot of salary information in a lot of different fields due to being in staffing. I get blown away and frustrated. Routinely I see people who graduated with a BA with 3-4 years of work experience make close to what I was making with a Masters and 9 years in the field, sometimes more.

LH: I was working in Residence Life in Dallas at the time and it was a mix of things that started my journey “out”. I LOVED my SA role at the time, but my partner was offered a new role in Houston. I knew I would need to find something new shortly. Since I had to make a change, I thought why not see what else is out there? I knew there were parts of my passions and personality that Student Affairs was not fulfilling for me. Some of the work I loved most felt like a hobby and something I could do outside of work.

While searching, a friend of mine who worked at Halliburton sent me the job. The role would be designing and developing competencies, driving the program, and supporting the product service line training framework. I thought, I know nothing about the Oil/Gas Industry but I do know people, people development, and how to help people learn. I can learn the rest. They were willing to take a chance on someone who had a development background versus a technical one (like engineering) because they were looking for something different. I now have worked there since 2015, have loved it and regret nothing.

CA: After I graduated from grad school and began working in higher education full time, I began to feel notice the transition from student to professional. I no longer was the super involved student that had pride in the change they were accomplishing on campus. Also working in Residence Life at the time, I felt that living on campus was beginning to become a burden. There were long hours, the pay was low, and there did not seem to be any opportunity for growth at the institution I was working at. The next solution that came to mind was to change schools! That will solve everything. It did not.

I was working in Residence Life at a completely different institution in a different city and had the same feelings. I then began my job search online and noticed a significant amount of Campus Recruiting positions from large companies. I made it a goal to sit back and reflect on my transferable skills and began applying. Months later, I got the job I’m in now.

I thought, I know nothing about the Oil/Gas Industry but I do know people, people development, and how to help people learn. I can learn the rest. They were willing to take a chance on someone who had a development background versus a technical one (like engineering) because they were looking for something different.

What was your biggest fear in making the jump? Comparatively, what were you really confident in?

LH: I didn’t know what the environment would be like, I didn’t know if people would be cold or managers would only care about deadlines, metrics, and moving up. When you are in Student Affairs often your passion and drive to do your work is based on wanting to “develop/support students and their experiences.” What would be the mission where I was going? Making money? Could I get behind that? Turns out I love the work and the company has been such a great experience. For sure it’s hard and many days I am stressed to my max- but the challenge, pace, and opportunity to be innovative keeps me here!

What I was confident in was my strategic/innovative thinking, that I knew best practices in people development, and I think student affairs work teaches resiliency, problem solving, and team work. So- even if I had a learning curve ahead of me, the skills I was bringing to the table could help get me through it.

MC: My biggest fear was that is was all new. I had only known 5 Years of Retail at CVS and Higher Ed. What would a corporate office be like? What was the day to day? What’s the lingo?

I was really confident in my people skills. I know how to talk to people in a variety of roles and situations. I was also confident in my adaptability.

CA: My biggest fear​ at the time was potential future regret. I was only in higher education for 3 years professionally and only worked in Residence Life. Thoughts going through my head were: “What if I want to go back into higher education?” “Did I just waste time/money going to grad school?” “Where will I live moving off campus?” “Did I have enough money saved to make this transition?” I think most of my fears were centered around my personal life transitions versus the actual job and its functions.

Since the campus team was new at Wayfair, and I was the only one on the team that had a background in higher education, I was confident that I could bring knowledge and experiences to the team that they were unaware of. This has played to my benefit when it comes to creating those networks of colleges/universities that we hire from.

Thoughts going through my head were: “What if I want to go back into higher education?” “Did I just waste time/money going to grad school?” “Where will I live moving off campus?” “Did I have enough money saved to make this transition?” I think most of my fears were centered around my personal life transitions versus the actual job and its functions.

AP: [My] biggest fear was losing part of my identify. I have always identified as a teacher/educator/servant. Would I still feel this way after making the jump? (answer turned out to be a YES, thankfully).

[And] my confidence? I am resilient. I know I could get through just about anything with my new role. I also knew my thought process and education mindset would be a welcome influence at my new company.

What challenges did you have as you adjusted to your new role and new environment?

AP: This might seem trivial but it is true: No one cares where you went to school and everyone has multiple degrees. Most people do not know what Higher Ed or Student Affairs is unless you give specific general examples (like Career Counselor or Academic Advisor). With this, people do not understand my background or career before I started working at Micron.

Other challenges: I am the youngest person on my team by about 15 years. My company is around 14% women (globally). I work at a very global company but only speak English. I work in a cube and have a cube-mate.

LH: Corporate environments can be VERY fast paced in some ways but when you work for a Global Company things can also move slowly. Everything needs stakeholder engagement and approvals and you have to consider your workforce/audience in all you do. I had to learn quickly not only about the business but what things will and won’t work based on the end user. I also had to adjust to the company “type”.

Just like Higher Ed institutions, companies have types too. Different personalities, different environments, goals, and values. Navigating a new company and understanding what they value in your work, your personality, and how it determines success was all part of my adjustment. Ditto to Ashlie- I was the youngest person on my Global team- they didn’t care where I went to school or what I did in my past. I had to create proof points and show them what I could do right then and there. Past accomplishments or laurels meant ZERO.

CA:DATA. DATA. DATA. Coming from a higher education background, all the data I had worked with in the past was qualitative that centered around feelings. Not that corporate doesn’t care about feelings…wait, they don’t- haha!

All the data in my new position had to be quantitative and tangible. So quickly learning how to pick up Microsoft Excel to prove to my stakeholders that I was making progress was the biggest challenge. Learning how to create pivot tables, VLoookups, and charts weekly was something that was challenging at first. Another challenge was my personal passion surrounding diversity initiatives. Everyone in corporate preaches diversity and social justice, but you don’t see much action behind it. So navigating my position to find opportunities to incorporate that into our hiring processes and into the culture was a challenge.

MC: I had a few challenges. Where I work is a very metric driven and public office. We would announce our goals, numbers all in front of each other. People know when you hit your stuff and when you don’t. Very weird at first. Also when you get a placement, you ring a bell and people clap. That was really interesting but become really cool after awhile.

Also, I no longer had my own office. In fact, no one in my company did, all open floor plan…the President/Owner could tap you on the shoulder and ask you a question…Another thing: the President knows your name and who you are. My First Friday there, I went to grab my lunch at a local place, and was pulled by coworker who informed me they buy lunch for us on Friday…then at around 4, saw three people walk in with 12 packs and I was tossed a beer…That was different. I got used to that pretty quick!

[My] biggest fear was losing part of my identify. I have always identified as a teacher/educator/servant. Would I still feel this way after making the jump? (answer turned out to be a YES, thankfully).

What skills served you well in your transition?

CA: Time Management/Prioritizing skills I gained from working in a variety of grad assistantships and ​my time in Residence Life. In corporate, it can tend to be fast paced all year round, so being able to manage my time wisely to make sure I get everything done has been useful in this position.

MC: Patience. Working with students taught me a lot of patience. Nothing much surprises me after working in Housing, so it helped when I would have candidates tell me outrageous stories on why they were going to be late

AP: Confidence and positive self-talk. I walk into the building every day knowing I am meant to be at Micron. I limit the “impostor syndrome” in my head and quickly built a network of people to help me throughout my transition

LH: Really learning the business. You would be amazed at the number of people who don’t know what their business does. Building relationships with key influencers and staying confident and focused on what I was good at- I didn’t know much about some of the technical aspects that I would be building development solutions for, but I did know I was good at facilitation and leadership/soft skills training. So I immediately jumped in to help in that area, so I could add value right away while I worked to learn/understand the things that were less intuitive.

What suggestions do you have for people nervous about (or struggling to) articulate their value “on the outside”?

MC: Everything is translatable…Students = Customers, being an RD is like being a Account Manager, Student Conduct is HR, Admissions is Sales, everything you have done has a “corporate” equivalent. They may not [be] a 1 to 1 comparison but it’s close.

Also focus on your hard skills, not our soft skills. All that Admin work you had to do? That is now way more important. All that paperwork, budgeting, invoicing, process flow you did get a program off the ground? Those skills are going to be way more important be the actual creativity of the program.

AP: Ditto to Michael. Change your language and drop the higher ed jargon. Know that you are not in this process alone. Many people have left the Higher Ed field before you and many will come after you. You have a network of people to lean on during your transition.

LH: Ask someone you know who is “outside” to review your resume and help pull out experiences or phrases that highlight things that a business would be looking for. Changes you initiated, metrics you helped influence, and experiences that show problem solving, ability to analyze and develop strategies. Your skills will serve you well no matter what type of company you are looking at.

Ditto to Michael- Students= Customers, programs=event planning/budget coordinating, Advising/Student Workers=Staff supervision and accountability. It’s just putting it in ‘corporate’ terms and dropping some of the SA buzz words (Intentional, Challenge/Support).

CA: Ditto to the [other] comments, but definitely have someone who is not in higher education look at your materials. After working in recruiting, there are several things I have noticed in the way corporate hires people. For one, I know this will be difficult, but going back to a 1 page resume is really important. The applicant flow in corporate is so large, and if your resume is longer than 1 page that actually may prevent it from being seen.

If you would like to represent all of your experiences still, utilize LinkedIn and keep all of your experiences there. ​To the everyday person, this tool may not be a go to, but as a recruiter we are on LinkedIn all day as we are going through candidates. Also back to the first question I was asked in my Finance class in grad school “Is a university a business?”. Reflect on this question, and try to see where you fit in that “business” and how it could translate to any future experience as well.

Special thanks to Corey, Ashlie, Mike, and Liz for sharing their time, energy, and wisdom with me for this series. 

Sharing the SXSW Spotlight, 2018 Edition

One of my very favorite things about South by Southwest (happening this year in Austin from March 9-18) as a conference experience is their programming selection process. Rather than relegating the choices to a small group of individuals, the Panel Picker process allows the general public to weigh in as a means to narrow selections.


As with last year, I want to draw attention not only to my own proposals – for I loved the support we received last year, and it sent us there! – but to others I’m really excited about. Voting runs through August 30th, so get your upvotes and comments (both matter!) in while you can by clicking on the titles of the sessions you like, and sounding off!

Chuckles + Civility: Humor in Educational Climates

After the success of last year’s panel with Jason Meier, Keli Dailey, and Matthew Broussard, Jason and I are excited to continue the conversation at SXSW EDU in an educational capacity. From our proposal:

The notion college students can’t take a joke has been an ongoing narrative in media, perpetrated by comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Wanda Sykes and news outlets such as Fox News, The Atlantic and Vice. But can they? How are college students navigating the intersection between social justice, inclusivity, civility and humor? Join in an open discussion on how this impacts campus climate and how educators can help facilitate this dialogue.

Rethinking Equity and Justice with Design Thinking

I love South by Southwest, and it is in dire need of more programming and conversation not just about the nature of inequity in the workplace, but concrete ways to start these conversations. This talk has become one of my most popular as a means to use a familiar framework – design thinking – to start regretfully unfamiliar conversations. From my proposal:

Most conversations we have about diversity, social justice, and inclusion work surround adoption of best practices and replication of strategies that have worked elsewhere. But little is discussed at the outset about how these strategies fit our populations, and what adaptations will be needed for our game plans to feel “at home” at our institutions.

Using the frequently embraced design thinking model and a creativity framework developed by the presenter, participants will have a greater understanding of what institutional knowledge, creative thinking, and a commitment to exploration can do to promote justice and equity in companies and organizations- and will get to test these strategies out with real issues within their organization.

Intrapreneur: I Turned My Day Job Into a Startup

Liz Gross is a force. She took a professional area of interest – social listening – and built a startup called Campus Sonar to offer this important service to institutions of higher education. I look forward to seeing her share her story at SXSW, but she needs your help to get there!

From her proposal:

Pursuing a new business idea may not mean quitting your day job. With the right support from executives, entrepreneurial employees can become intrepreneurs—concepting and launching new products, and even launching new a business.
Campus Sonar, a specialized social listening agency, launched in 2017 through intrepreneurship at Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation. Liz Gross shares her 5-year path from social strategist to founder. It wasn’t a straight path, but the outcome is a win-win for her, her company, and their customers.
Lessons learned will inspire innovative professionals to consider intrepreneurship as an alternative to launching their own startup. Executives will learn how to attract, retain, and nurture entrepreneurial employees who continually add value to the business.

Zen Your Work Book Reading

Last year it was a joy to finally see Karlyn, whose work I’d been following in writing for quite some time, take the stage with her no-nonsense advice for how to improve your life at work. Since that time, she’s written a book – and will be offering a preview of the book at the conference. From her proposal:

Zen Your Work will teach you how to use mindfulness techniques to handle toxic stress in the workplace and to create your ideal professional experience from the inside out. While working in a particularly toxic environment, Karlyn Borysenko came to this liberating realization: she couldn’t control other people, but she could control herself, her perspective, and her actions. Now an organizational psychologist, consultant, and executive coach, Borysenko shows us how to bridge the gap between where we are now and what will bring us the most professional success and happiness. You’ll learn to apply mindfulness techniques in a highly practical way to achieve professional success, create game-changing relationships (even with the most negative people in the office) and decrease overall stress.

From Idea to iTunes: Developing a Podcast

One of the first podcasts I appeared on was highered social, hosted by Jackie Vetrano and Lougan Bishop. Each has also served as an architect for institution-specific podcasts, and that’s what Jackie and her co-presenter Katy Oliviera will be speaking about at SXSW- with your votes, of course!

From their proposal:

Podcasts are not only entertaining, but a fantastic way for individual educators or institutions to easily produce high-quality content for students, the campus community, and alumni. Learn a step-by-step process for developing content for this new medium. We’ll share how to select equipment, set-up studio space, develop content, find online hosting space, build an audience, and much more. Great for those starting out or looking to grow their current content.

How Power and Privilege Show Up At Work

In my time in Boston, I’ve been lucky both to meet with Thomas Harwell, and to participate in events with the women’s networking group She Geeks Out. Each is hugely invested in creating equitable and just workplaces, so I’m really looking forward to the session they could present to SXSW on the topic. We talk about power and privilege, equity and inequity; what does it look like?

From their proposal:

We are all familiar at this point with #metoo and many of us have read the headlines about how we are most definitely not living in a post-racial society. We may think we can leave the headlines behind when we get to work but the reality is we all experience power and privilege in a variety of ways. Whether it’s conducting a performance review, making a hiring decision, interacting with our co-workers on Slack, or participating in a team meeting, we’ll take a look at why and how power and privilege come into play and examine ways each of us can participate in creating a more equitable place to work.

Making Space for Disability in Media

Last year, at a panel on disability in media, a young woman spoke up about her experience challenging a producer at an earlier panel about hiring and working with actors with disabilities. Her brief contribution to the panel via question, in many ways, was more memorable than the panel in which it was broached. So I’m hugely pleased to see her angling to present this year!

From her proposal:

Despite an increase of awareness about people with disabilities in Hollywood, there is a large disparity between the percentage of people living with disability in the United States and the number of speaking characters with disabilities in film. This disparity spills over to the media in general. Do Hollywood and the media have a responsibility to represent disability equitably and honestly? How can we begin to move the needle toward more inclusive, honest representation of disability in the media? Actress Angel Giuffria, will explore these questions within the context of her own experience of being passed over for able-bodied roles due to her upper-limb loss, as well as the irony of not being considered for parts where limb loss is central to the character.

PBS Student Journalists Know a Lot About Learning

“Hear from unique student journalist perspectives about the stories that matter to youth and how to address issues of fake news and mistrust.” Given the moment we’re in, how could you not want to see this SXSW EDU proposal from the producers of PBS’ NewsHour, and their astute young interns, come to life?

From their proposal:

In an era of “fake news,” polarization and distrust, student newsrooms are places of collaboration, empowerment, idea exchange, respect for multiple perspectives, efforts to understand complex forces in society and the search for truth. Hear from youth journalists in PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs about their experiences covering elections, school shootings, immigration and student mental health. Learn how we’re using influential media platforms as outside-the-box education partners.

Where Have All the Latinx Gone?

One of the highlights of my SXSW experience last year was a panel with Robin Thede, Matthew A. Cherry, and April Reign about #oscarssowhite and its impact on representation. This year, Reign (founder of the diverse hiring search engine Akuarel) is teaming up with the National Hispanic Media Coalition to talk about the dearth of Latinx representation in media.

From their proposal:

Despite representing nearly 18 percent of the population and the biggest movie-goers in the country, Latinx are consistently underrepresented on the screen and this has a harmful effect on our community. TV networks and streaming services must commit to increasing diversity and inclusion of people of color in casting, writing, producing and directing by exploring new strategies and creating impactful pipeline programs. Television networks also still have a long way to go until diversity, inclusion, and culturally relevant programming are responsive to American audiences. Of more than 11,000 speaking characters surveyed in film and TV, only 5.8 percent were Hispanic or Latinx.

Design = Equity in EdTech

In keeping with the needed theme of equity, this SXSW EDU proposal discusses how the Boys and Girls Clubs are creating and supporting educational technology tools that are equitable for all who want and need to use them.

From their proposal:

All students deserve the very best from their digital learning experience. Access to technology is important, but not enough. Truly equitable learning products grow from an empathic design approach that considers the whole student. We create products with disadvantaged students in mind, with varied cultural backgrounds, accessibility needs and academic levels. I will discuss our work with the Boys & Girls Clubs and others to create digital resources that are equitable for all learners.

Trying Small: How Creativity Can Change Your Life

There can be a lot of pressure to create constantly, so I love this proposal about “trying small,” or moving incrementally to achieve your creative goals. Brit + Co and Maxie, Inc. are teaming up to talk about the push and pull between hustle and exploration- and I can’t wait to see it!

From their proposal:

The internet and social media have created urgency among Millennials and Gen Z to have it all figured out. The constant hustle, need to keep up, and expectation that you have to know where you’ll end up leaves little room for exploration. In a world where so many people get stuck in the monotony of their daily tasks, how can trying new things actually help you excel? This talk will discuss the importance of “trying small” and how building up a sense of self can propel creative professionals.

Again, SXSW voting runs through August 30th- so act fast and get your votes in!


The Defectors, Series 3: Meet Anne, Greg, and Nicolle

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With the skill-sets and knowledge I had to draw upon, would I really have something cogent and on-point to say to professionals in other fields? As it turns out, the answer is yes, and that fear for the most part dissipated.

-Greg Sadler, Entrepreneur and Proud Defector

In this week’s edition of Defectors in Conversation, I’m really pleased to introduce you to Nicolle, Greg, and Anne.

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Nicolle Merrill (NM) worked in higher ed and Defected twice. First as a Global Programs Manager at Foster School of Business; she left that role for a job as a private jet travel writer in digital marketing at a luxury tourism company. The second role was as an International Student Career Coach in Career Services at Yale School of Management. After two years, she left that to start an online career school for university alumni.

Greg Sadler (GS) is currently president of ReasonIO and editor of Stoicism Today. For about a decade, he worked as a Philosophy professor, and towards the end started moving into assessment, faculty development, and administration.

Anne Scheideler Sweet (AS) spent almost 12 years cobbling together a career in higher ed career while her husband’s military service moved her and her family all over the world.

Get to know them and their wisdom this week in Defectors in Conversation!

Briefly, what got you curious about “breaching the bubble” of your former field/work?

GS: I was already doing that to some extent, simply because I viewed Philosophy as a practical and interdisciplinary activity. So, while doing the typical academic activities – teaching, research, publication, etc. – I was also getting involved in bringing philosophy outside of the academy into more public, practical, and other professional spaces.

I got to make my transition from traditional academia to becoming an entrepreneur and practical philosopher in a more gradual way than many. With each new project, platform, or service I took on, I perceived new opportunities, made additional contacts, and got drawn into thinking about how to make philosophy accessible and applicable for others.

NM: I was curious about [it] for two reasons: I wanted to build more skills and I couldn’t see a path forward. I worked with such good people and had a fabulous boss at Foster; I loved working in international education. But I couldn’t see a path forward.

AS: [In a somewhat opposite issue,] I worked really hard to build a career trajectory for myself and, for a very long time, I wasn’t willing or able to see a way out of the field. I was approached by a friend to consider applying my skills to their family business/startup and decided to take a leap of faith.

NM: When I looked at possible paths to advance I saw limited roles and honestly, just a lot more meetings and too much time spent thinking about budgets. Those options weren’t a fit for me. I was also in program management which didn’t provide many opportunities to increase my skill set. I left for a job that allowed me to build cutting edge skills in digital marketing.

I didn’t think I would return to higher ed but two years later an opportunity opened up at Yale that aligned with my passion for global careers. It was a new role, so I could craft it the way I wanted which appealed to me. I loved that job too. But again the lack of advancement opportunities was a problem. On top of that, there was a relentless focus on MBA rankings at the expense of innovation and change. The rankings game is a common problem in higher education and it preserves the status quo in a time when higher education needs to change. I was curious about changing the traditional career education model so that it better prepared workers for the advances in AI and automation. There wasn’t room for that at Yale SOM (because rankings). So I left for the second time.

Were there any fears at play when you decided to make the jump?

GS: Quite honestly, I had three main fears.

One is the “imposter syndrome” that we’re all familiar with. With the skill-sets and knowledge I had to draw upon, would I really have something cogent and on-point to say to professionals in other fields? As it turns out, the answer is yes, and that fear for the most part dissipated.

AS: Somewhat related to that, my biggest fear was being perceived as a failure for giving up/not being able to “hack it” in higher ed. I haven’t written or posted much about my transition due to still wrestling with those feelings.

GS: Another was almost the opposite of that first fear. Would I be taken seriously as an expert in my field – for example, in my early YouTube videos – even though, in my view, I was practically a “nobody”? I didn’t have a particularly good pedigree, institutional post, and hadn’t published all that much. That fear went away as well, as people responded very positively to the content I provided and the competence I displayed.

NM: [I can understand that.] The first time I was worried they wouldn’t think I was a qualified candidate because program management is not the most competitive skill or a hot job title.

GS: The third main fear was whether I would really be able to earn a living by getting people to pay for my services. That worry is a particularly tough one to get past, especially since some months are lean and others flush when it comes to business!

I was truly confident in the value of working for humans who cared about me as a person and in an environment where changes were possible and encouraged based on what’s important to us as people (kids, family, flexibility, innovation, creativity).

Greg, I have definitely been there…on all three fronts, now that I think about it! Conversely, what were you really confident in?

NM:  I was confident I could create a professional narrative that focused on my communication skills, educated employers about the skills it takes to run successful programs, and convince them that I was a nontraditional candidate to take a chance on. It worked 🙂

AS:  I was truly confident in the value of working for humans who cared about me as a person and in an environment where changes were possible and encouraged based on what’s important to us as people (kids, family, flexibility, innovation, creativity).

What challenges did you have as you adjusted to your new role and new environment?

AS: Still within my first 6 months of the change, so far I’m stumbling over boundaries and time management.

GS: [As a business owner and independent worker,] my two biggest challenges are marketing and maintaining contacts. Both of those are tough to pack into what is always a very busy schedule. The one – maintaining contacts – is actually something I really do enjoy doing, except if I’m feeling embarrassed about failing to keep in touch for a while – and then I have to watch that I don’t fall into that cycle of not keeping in touch, feeling guilty, and putting off getting back into contact until I’ve got the time to write something really substantive. I’ve gotten better about that.

Marketing is still a challenge for me. It’s something that’s absolutely necessary, and I’ve gotten over the “this is self-promotion” hurdle, but I still don’t like to devote time to it. So that is a work in progress.

NM: I had to get used to creative collaboration. I joined a creative team where brainstorming ideas and constant iteration were all in a day’s work. The team was quite flat compared to the hierarchy in higher education. I adapted and loved it eventually but I had to get used to sharing my ideas, getting shut down, building on coworker’s ideas, and working seamlessly with people from diverse skill sets and backgrounds (digital designers, editors, account managers) on one team. Conversely, returning to higher education for a second time after that experience into a non-creative, hierarchical environment was actually harder.

What skills served you well in your transition?

NM: Above all, communication skills. Writing and public speaking are my strengths; I used them a lot during my time in higher education. Lots of people forget the ways you use communication in program management. From engaging students in creative ways to creating documents/resources to presenting on topics, there are so many ways you build communication skills in program management! Those skills are highly transferable and employers value them!

AS: [Case in point:] I’m a shy introvert, so I really don’t love being on the phone, but phone based customer service has been huge for me – being able to talk to anyone and work through an issue together spans all industries. Cleaning up data/records is also a really valuable skill.

NM: Second, my ability to develop a narrative around my higher education experience. You can’t assume employers understand your role. You can’t rely on your job title or your institution’s brand name. You have to explain it to them in their industry language. Show it in your resume, on LinkedIn, in your discussions with people in the industry (hello networking!). A 60 second story that explains what you did in higher education and how it relates to the job you want is incredibly valuable.

GS: As it turns out, one of my talents is for taking complex philosophical concepts from difficult texts, and explaining them so that non-specialists can understand, incorporate, and apply them. I also seem to have fallen into a good balance between maintaining real rigor when it comes to ideas and their application, and engaging with my clients or audience in ways that make them feel valued, not “talked down to.”

What suggestions do you have for people nervous about (or struggling to) articulate their value “on the outside”?

GS: This is where certain approaches in practical philosophy can be very helpful, because that nervousness or difficulty tends to be one of those matters where thought, experience, action, and emotion are coming together in complex ways. Going from my own experience and that of others I’ve discussed this with, fear of rejection holds many people back from making a pitch about what value they have to contribute.

As academics it can be especially tough, since many of us have tendencies to over-explain matters, and to stick with areas we feel ourselves experts in. So sometimes we just don’t make the pitch at all, and we pass up potential opportunities. These are sometimes opportunities to make a connection, a booking, a sale, but sometimes also opportunities to get rejected and develop resiliency about rejection.

AS: For me, asking questions about other people’s work and sharing what I loved about my work was what ultimately led to more serious discussions. I think it’s helpful to learn as much as you can on your own, talk to people on the outside and try things out if you can.

NM: Figure out what you’re good at now while you’re in your role. Ask your coworkers or ask your boss what they think you do really well. Then find a job description or two that interests you so you have a target to work towards. Start by reading job descriptions without talking yourself out of them. Learn the vocabulary of your target job and industry. For example, if you promote programs to students on social media and email, you’re working in digital marketing. If you manage multiple projects and budgets, you’re doing project management. Use a tool like to compare your resume with the job description to figure out if you’re communicating your experience in the language an employer expects.

Then note which skills you need to work on to get the job you want. Find a way to work on those skills while you’re still working! Ask friends in other departments what they’re working on. Ask how you might collaborate so you can build the missing skills.

Finally, talk to everyone. Leave your desk and start asking people about their jobs. What do they like? What don’t they like? What would they do if they weren’t in higher ed? Talk to your friends about their jobs. Then practice telling people what interests you. You need to get comfortable talking about what you want and what you do well. Start small. Practice saying things like, “I’m interested in digital marketing because I’ve have really good success running our social media recruiting campaigns at UW” to people you meet.

The more you tell people what you can do, the more confident you get, and the more people can help you.

Start by reading job descriptions without talking yourself out of them. Learn the vocabulary of your target job and industry.

Special thanks to Anne, Greg, and Nicolle for sharing their time, energy, and wisdom with me for this series. 

The Defectors, Series 3: Meet Bonnie, Chelsea, and Sharon

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The long term security of a known paycheck, health insurance and retirement that went away was very scary. I struggled with the pros and cons for about a year before actually making the leap. BUT once the words came out of my mouth…it was like an elephant was lifted off my chest and it was incredibly empowering and exhilarating moving forward.

-Bonnie Fox, Speaker Agent and Proud Defector

In this week’s edition of Defectors in Conversation, be pleased to meet Bonnie, Chelsea, and Sharon.

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Chelsea Haring (CH) serves as the Chief Operations Office at Switchboard in Portland, OR. She spent 12 years in career services at Portland State University, Wingate University and Johns Hopkins University. During her career, she worked almost every corner of a career center and developed a deep understanding of emerging trends and potential for innovation in the field.

Bonnie Fox (BF) is an agent with S.P.E.A.K. Educators, the speaker division of FUN Enterprises. She was in Student Affairs in Student Activities as a director at a medium size Community College in Washington State and a medium size State University in Connecticut. She oversaw a paid leadership program that produced events on campus for students.

Sharon Manson (SM) serves as the Educational Program Manager at University of North Texas’s Health Science Center. She comes to that work after 25 years in student housing, and in that time served as an RD, Area Coordinator, General Manager and Director of Residence Life for a private housing company, and a director of residence life for a small private university.

Get to know them and their wisdom this week in Defectors in Conversation!

Briefly, what got you curious about “breaching the bubble” of your former field/work?

BF: I had started a business on the side in my 3rd year of working in Student Affairs…by year 5, it had taken off and had been a solid business that could support me full time…although it was very scary (state comforts like health insurance and 401K) I took the leap and haven’t looked back. I left the field 17 years ago and have recently just sold my last of the 4 businesses that I started.

SM:  I loved residence life and might have stayed in Student Affairs (I was “in line for the Dean of Students position”), but I got caught up in office politics. My boss (Dean of Students) was disliked by his (VP Student Services). She put the pieces in play and had the opportunity to get rid of him (on the day before his doctoral hooding no less) – the person she hired fired me exactly a month later.

I’ve looked outside of higher ed, but always came back – while my coworkers grumbled about the extra work, I genuinely enjoyed orientation and graduation. Working in Residence Life and with RAs, I did get to see the growth we hope to encourage (with most of them).

CH:  I […] have a background in tech and was assigned to every tech sourcing committee at the institutions I worked. I implemented over 33 products over the 12 years and developed a robust vendor network and understanding of how software can scale student success and young alumni career support for institutions.

SM:  Isn’t that the norm – if you have special interest/skill you tend to get put on every committee that relates to it.  It either burn you out or energize you! 🙂

CH: The last year I was at Hopkins, I spent a year researching innovation trends in career services and realized so many teams were struggling with the same challenges. I understood for me to have an influence on the field, I should go into the private sector and try to work with multiple teams at once through consulting/technology solutions. 3 years ago, I transitioned into ed tech as a higher ed industry consultant. I spent time at Handshake working with their product, customer experience and support teams and have been at Switchboard the past year building out a services arm of the company and driving their growth strategy.

The last year I was at Hopkins, I spent a year researching innovation trends in career services and realized so many teams were struggling with the same challenges.

Each of you had that same point where you decided you needed a change- what was your biggest fear in making the jump out of what you’d been doing?SM: I had imposter syndrome big time. I had to give workshops to medical doctors who are teaching in med. school or residency. I thought they’d see through me and that I didn’t really have that much to offer them. (They were supposed to be the smartest people in the room).

BF: The long term security of a known paycheck, health insurance and retirement that went away was very scary. I struggled with the pros and cons for about a year before actually making the leap. BUT once the words came out of my mouth…it was like an elephant was lifted off my chest and it was incredibly empowering and exhilarating moving forward.

CH: I had two “biggest” fears:

1. I didn’t have any formal training in business and operations.

2. I have 3 kids now 7,5,3 and having control over my schedule and making sure I have time to be a mom is really important to me. I feared I would give that up moving into working for tech startups.

These are all really well-founded fears, and it’s great to know that you found ways to address them as you made your move.

It’s also incredibly important to highlight that you do have what it takes to be successful in your latest roles. In contrast to your own worries, what were you really confident in?

CH: I was very confident in my industry knowledge and the problems that were top of mind for so many teams and how ed tech could forge better partnerships with institutions.

SM: I had confidence in my experience leading RA training and teaching class (teaching listening skills, feedback, documentation, and team building).

BF: [In a combination of the two,] I was very confident in my customer base…we were selling to my Student Activities counterparts and I KNEW Student Activities so I was very confident in my abilities and connections.

How did the adaptation process go? What challenges did you have as you adjusted to your new role and new environment?

BF: I thought long hours were reserved to Student Affairs professionals…boy did I under estimate what it took to run your own business! I put in WAY more hours on my business, but it was a labor of love and often it just didn’t feel like “work”.

CH: I found I actually worked more hours in a week in higher ed, but the hyper efficient/productivity pace and tools available to drive efficiency took me a couple of months to get used to.

BF: I moved offices 4 times in 5 years…working from home; from small cramped offices in the back of a converted old Ice Storage warehouse; to traditional office space; to a converted old thread mill in a creepy old mill warehouse; to a brand new office/warehouse build to spec for ME! All of them had their pros and cons and we always made do, but not having the luxury of access to brand new equipment, computers, printers etc was a hard transition.

And I missed the student interaction…the learning…the “ah-ha moments” when it just clicked. When an event was executed perfectly, when their timelines WORKED! I really missed that part.

SM: I was also used to a much more lively, casual atmosphere with students around. I’m now in an office with no student workers and the students I work with are either off-site or come to campus once a month. I do miss the laughter of college students just being goofy – it kept me young.

I was used to teaching college-age students, who were eager to listen and learn as they started new jobs. I assumed the doctors I talked to had much of the knowledge they were asking me to teach, but so much of what I took for granted that they knew had never been taught to them. (“when you… I feel…” SOLAR – squared, open, lean, eye contact, relax).

What skills served you well in your transition?

BF: I adapt well and quickly assimilate. I am a pro multitasker which is valuable when you are in sales; customer service; production and head of shipping and receiving! I also knew the ebb and flow of the academic year so I was able to work hard…really hard during the “hot” times and knew that just over the horizon it was going to slow down…something that I really really looked forward to!

SM:  I’m fairly adept at making people feel comfortable (all those years of move-in, orientation, RA programs, pizza parties, and dealing with parents) and trained my staff in a version of servant leadership, but I’ve gotten more thank you’s for responding to emails or sending detailed emails about conferences (I coordinate 3 regional ones). I think all of the years of focusing on marketing and leasing (and talking to students and parents during orientations) has developed skills that I took for granted.

CH: [In a good mix of Sharon and Bonnie’s answers,]I have always had a high EQ and my ability to navigate higher ed as an incredibly relationship driven industry has been the most valuable asset in the transition I made. I am flexible and adaptable and a very strategic thinker. I am also incredibly mission driven. My years of listening to students and alumni and internal campus partners positioned me well to take my coaching skill set and apply the same frameworks to university teams who were struggling to meet competing demands. I have always been really organized and a multi tasker, that is a must in this business.

What suggestions do you have for people nervous about (or struggling to) articulate their value “on the outside”?

SM: Don’t doubt yourself. The skills that you’ve gained in student affairs are needed in other fields. Find what you really like/liked to do and capitalize on that.

BF: I tell people to write down a list (I am a master of lists!) and put down all the things that they currently are doing in their job. Then you convert it to skills. You submit purchase orders and keep a budget…You’re in charge of Finances! You meet with your staff weekly for progress reports and if there are any problems…You’re Human Resources!

SM: I would have thought my experience juggling multiple project or creating and managing budgets of over $3 million would be my “value” but its the soft people skills that people are impressed with — and it’s the thing that I enjoy

BF: Its simply amazing when you do this to see what you are capable of. When you SEE the list you instantly become confident in your abilities…what you thought was mundane daily tasks you can see how they quickly relate to bigger and broader life skills! It creates a “I don’t know if I can…” feeling into “I’m already doing it…I CAN” feeling. And that’s affirming and confident building and so exciting.

CH:  I actually get a handful of people reaching out every month asking to hear about my transition. There is a huge talent drain right now in higher ed. The forward thinking, emerging innovators are frustrated and bored and tired of trying to better meet the needs of students, but struggling to be efficient in the complicated organizational structures of their institutions. I encourage people to try something on the side whether it is private practice consulting project work, advising work for a higher education vendor or volunteer work to try and assess what the day to day is like.

I also encourage people to make a list of their 3 absolutes–the things that have to be there for them to make the transition and hold true to those. There is a negative stigma (in some circles in the private sector) about higher ed professionals. I had to work incredibly hard to prove myself and my ability to be a top performer. Many people view higher ed as slow moving, behind in terms of business operations and inefficient. I had to work against that stereotype.

The great thing is there is so much opportunity in industry to take on additional projects, volunteer and network that you can prove yourself as a strategic asset and high performer quickly. It only took me about 6 weeks to get over that hump.

Don’t doubt yourself. The skills that you’ve gained in student affairs are needed in other fields. Find what you really like/liked to do and capitalize on that.

Special thanks to Chelsea, Bonnie, and Sharon for sharing their time, energy, and wisdom with me for this series. 

The Defectors, Series 3: Defectors in Conversation

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Today marks the start of the third series of The Defectors, and you might find it’s taken on a different form from its last two iterations. And there’s a reason for that.

When I first Defected, one of the biggest challenges I never expected to feel was feeling isolated. Between going into business for myself, and not knowing too many others who had taken a similar path out of traditional higher education work, I found myself feeling more alone than I had ever imagined.

This year, I wanted to combat that for others in a very specific way: by pulling stories, and the Defectors who tell them, together. You’ll be treated to conversations between Defectors, sharing their challenges and successes with one another – and by extension, you all.

Meet Bonnie, Sharon, and Chelsea

Meet Anne, Greg, and Nicolle

Meet Ashlie, Corey, Liz, and Mike

In addition to this new format, this month will also feature the debut of Defector Academy, a personalized coaching experience for those seriously considering defecting from higher education and in need of guidance. Sign up for the mailing list to get more details, and check out the full program at its home base.

Enrollment for Defector Academy is now closed. Stay tuned for more learning and contributing opportunities!

I don’t want this series to just be a conversation between the participants, though. I want this to be a conversation between you and I. I’d love to hear from you: what questions do you have about Defecting? What do you worry about most? Are you curious about how your talents could best be utilized? Is the Defector Academy program a fit for you?

Ask away, and I’ll be answering them over the course of the month via Twitter and Instagram!

Call for Submissions: The Defectors, Season 3

Season 3. We back.

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The time has come to share your stories. I’m gathering a new set of dispatches for The Defectors, my now annual series about the interesting and fulfilling ways that I and others are using their higher education experience in new fields. Former faculty, staff, and administrators in higher education are encouraged to submit; don’t be shy, I’d love to know more and I’m sure others would too.

This year, I’m focusing on a few different areas:

  • K-12 education (classroom, tutoring, etc.)
  • Corporate training and recruitment
  • Nonprofit management and administration
  • Technology/”startup” companies
  • Government and/or politics

If this is you, or if you know someone for whom the brief fits, please get in touch using the form below! Nominations of others are welcome, or you could share the link to this page. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, April 27th.

Leave any questions you might have about the process in the comments, and I look forward to sharing some great stories here this fall!

For previous installments of the Defectors, look here and here.

Contributors are compensated for their time and testimony.

7 Women Whose Wisdom Inspires Year-Round

The start of April marks the end of Women’s History Month, a period where female speakers are in high demand. I had the opportunity to participate in a few events celebrating women over the last month, and relished the opportunity to do so. But now that April has arrived, I want to keep that momentum going. Women are knowledgeable, engaging, authoritative and insightful year-round, not just in the month of March. To that end, I want to share a few picks from my networks for women who you should consider for your events, conferences, and trainings…365 days a year.*

*The me who wants to take the shame out of self-promotion should also tell you that I, too, am available for your events, conferences, and trainings 🙂

GIF of powerful women slideshow: Lily Tomlin, Audre Lorde, Serena Williams, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Marge and Lisa Simpson, Tammy Duckworth, etc.

So, should you be hiring powerful and knowledgeable women to guide your organization year round?

Ashlee Jeannot, Let’s Start Together
Ashlee is a former student leader who I had the opportunity to work with during my time at Emmanuel College. She is also the founder of Let’s Start Together, a diversity and inclusion initiative that offers training, workshops, and the opportunity to found chapters on campuses. From Let’s Start Together’s website:

Her idea would evolve into the creation of a week-long program that invited incoming first-year students to partake in daily presentations centered on various social issues and injustices topics included: mental illness, sexual assault and awareness, colorism, race and identity, privilege, food injustice and how to be an ally. This program was unique to her college and still remains to this day.

Now a graduate student at Tufts University, Ashlee plans to continue this work with a degree in Diversity and Inclusion Leadership…and you and your team could (and should) learn from her!

Jamie Piperato, JPHigherEd
In addition to being an accomplished speaker in her own right, Jamie is the founder of the identity-conscious professional development firm JPHigherEd, which features webinars, facilitations, educational resources, and more to promote social justice in the world of higher education. From JPHigherEd’s website:

JP has extensive experience working in higher education as a student affairs professional in the areas of multicultural education, LGBTQ services, Title IX education, leadership, career development, and university housing. Her focus tends to revolve around helping others start their path towards multicultural competence.

I’ve been made immeasurably better and more thoughtful for my opportunities to work with Jamie, and her impact is something you should position yourself or your team to benefit from!

Dr. Josie Ahlquist, Digital Leadership Educator

A frequent collaborator and fellow “pocket-sized presenter,” I continue to admire how Josie’s deep expertise in social media informs so many facets of her business. She is the host of Josie and the Podcast, a weekly podcast dedicated to connecting topics of social media and technology to higher education leadership. She coaches senior higher education administrators on their social media presence and curation. And she inspires students and professionals all over the country to feel empowered about their digital presence. From Josie’s website:

Her programs are customized for every institution, creating learning outcomes for various attendees such as high school and college students, higher education faculty and staff, student affairs administrators, marketing strategists and college student leaders.

I learn something new from Josie every time we chat, and encourage you to find a way to do the same- either on your own, or with your team.

Julia Golden-Battle, MCPHSU

In addition to founding the Ubuntu Institute for student affairs professionals of color, Julia serves as the Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at MCPHS University. She speaks eloquently and passionately about the need for diversity and inclusion conversations, particularly in professional (business, medical, etc.) schools. In her work, she speaks candidly about a need for authenticity, something I so admire in all she does:

Once you find your voice it is the most powerful tool you will ever have. People will never be able to shake you, ignore you, defy you or question your existence. Once you see yourself you can begin to see others and connect and create community. We are here because of the people who came before us.

Julia’s influence through her stories and knowledge will help you and those on your team see yourselves, and one another, in a way that will change the nature of your work.

Dr. Liz Gross, Campus Sonar

Liz has recently transformed a personal competency – social listening – into a business-within-a-business in Campus Sonar. A former social media strategist both for campuses and private businesses, Liz is a knowledgeable and reliable source of information on the value of social listening as a practice for a number of industries. As the founding director of Campus Sonar, she shared upon their launch:

Our vision is to empower colleges and universities—all of them. Through our blog, conference presentations, and publications we’ll be pulling back the curtain on social listening for higher education: how it works, how to analyze data, how other campuses see success, and what’s on the horizon.

Liz is a vast compendium of knowledge when it comes to not just social listening or social media, but on effective marketing and outreach in a larger sense. You and your team will be better for the opportunity to learn from her.

Dr. Liza Talusan, LT Coaching

I was first able to meet Liza during a graduate practicum experience at Brown University. I’ve watched her career with interest and fascination in the years since, and am so pleased to see her sharing her considerable expertise in leadership, human resources, and organizational development in the realm of speaking and facilitation. From her website:

Dr. Talusan has been invited to over 70 schools and organizations across the country to deliver and facilitate keynotes, training workshops, develop ongoing strategic planning, change management, and faculty/staff development. She works closely with leaders to develop, support and implement strategic changes. By working directly with leaders, Liza engages in leadership and executive coaching relationships in order to best support individuals personally and professionally.

At a time where orchestrating and managing organizational change are essential competencies, Liza is well positioned to help you and your team do so smoothly.

Winni Paul, Winni Paul Consulting

How could you not want to listen in on a session introducing the topic of DIVA leadership? Winni uses this model (Dynamic, Innovative, Values Driven Action) to frame one of her many talks in the areas of leadership, social justice, and gender and sexuality. She is personable, driven, and engaging to listen to and learn from. From her website:

 Winni has contributed to the student engagement experience in residential life, student activities, orientation, and student leadership development at a variety of institutions (2-year community college, 4-year residential university).

And with reviews that include “extremely passionate about the topic, and that fueled a fire in me to listen to what she had to say, and apply it myself!”, you know that the content she presents will live a life beyond the room in which its presented.


[VIDEO] Supporting Introverts Through Crunch Time

Experimenting with new forms this week: check out my video on how to support introverts during crunch time- and happy April!

Wanna skip the video? No worries, full text is below:

Hey everyone! Amma here, and today I want to talk about crunch time.

As I come to you, the calendar is approaching April. For lots of people in my circles, that can be a stressful time- the school year is coming to a close, tax season is in full swing, summer is drawing near. And while we may all have our own reasons for struggling a bit through this time of year, it may be weighing more heavily on the introverts in your life. So today, I want to share some insight on how to best help them navigate this time.

Introversion isn’t localized to how an individual reacts to people. It applies to most stimuli- and that can include pressure, deadlines, and atmosphere. If you or someone in your life is headed for a time like this, I have a few tips for you.

First, help the people around you create a thorough and comprehensive view of the landscape they’re about to take part in. What deadlines are on the horizon? What events will need to be attended, meetings will have to take place? Accept and accommodate the need for information and details that often accompanies introversion. And if you’re the introvert in the scenario, manage your potential for anxiety and overwhelm by asking for clarification where you can. The method is up to you – in person, in writing, or in one on one meetings – but make sure you make known your need for the information that could put you (more) at ease.

Next, be forgiving of any cocooning that might take place once the schedule is set. Whether that time is spent completing the tasks at hand, or because someone just needs a break to recharge after a long day, don’t take that need personally. Most of the time, it isn’t. Particularly if a day will run long with drinks after work, an award ceremony later in the day, or a networking event that follows a conference, these may be options that an introvert declines to participate in fully or at all. That needs to be okay- both in word, and in deed. That means you can’t penalize someone for not attending an optional event. And introverts: this can be uncomfortable to voice. Do it anyway. You know what you need, and you know what the time away will give you from an energy perspective. Don’t feel bad about honoring that!

This might seem like a small one, but pay attention to the environment in which people are working. Are they cold? Brightly lit? Is storing food and staying hydrated easy? I say this as a means to reinforce the idea of multiple points of stimulation. We’re all a little worse off when the temperature isn’t working for us, if we’re hungry, or if we’re dehydrated. But introverts tend to feel these swings more deeply, and it affects their ability to function. Make it easy to have a comfortable experience while attacking the goals of the day- because let’s face it: we’re all happier when we have snacks.

And finally, remember that crunch time will pass. Whether it’s a busy season of a week or a month, having an eye on the light at the end of the tunnel can help all of us- introvert, extrovert, and everyone in between get through it. Of course, there are times where crunch time becomes the “norm”- that’s a situation for another time. But if your busyness is part of a season, keep reminding yourself and those around you that it’s precisely that- a season.

Sending you best wishes as you navigate your crunch time, and don’t hesitate to reach out if I can offer you any help as you get through it all!