Isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery?

Suedle by

Suedle by

There is no hiding the animosity, awkwardness, sibling rivalry like behavior between members of two of the largest professional associations in higher education. If anything, the latest convention plans only solidified each other’s members into some form of, “We thought of it first!” “Yeah, but we will do it better!” type scenario.

Knock it off.

This type of bickering and comparing is absurd. You know what isn’t absurd? The fact that both organizations are now taking risks and changing their practices (FINALLY) to reflect what today’s higher education professionals need as professional development.

I don’t care who came out with an idea first or what has a better website for their conference/convention. Some siblings are good at things that the others aren’t and vice versa. What matters…what really matters is as we get to watch the two biggest associations battle it out trying to out do each other or keep up with each other, we are going to benefit.

You know what would be even better than trying to make the next conference or convention the coolest, most innovative, most adaptable, most unconference-like? Racing to lower the prices. Too many professionals are shackled in their professional development opportunities because their professional development funding depends on their presenting at the conference. That’s the reality. You know what? The reality sucks. How are professionals, who are trying to become better professionals by networking and meeting people at these national meetings, suppose to get any better without the luxury of these opportunities?

I applaud the two associations for their efforts and this little competitive spirit they have going on or at least the members seem to. Keep in mind however; I’m clapping in my seat. Neither gets a standing ovation.

You want me to stand and clap your efforts?

Show me an association that is going to lower their prices.

Show me an association that is going to find a way to offer online-passes at a discounted rate to live-stream select presentations (or why not any presentation?).

Show me an association that is going to meet the members where they are at developmentally, financially, regionally.

Show me an association that isn’t going to over think everything.

Show me an association that is truly member-driven.

In the meantime, I’ll keep getting involved in each association as much as I can so that my words go ahead to push my actions and hopefully changes can happen.

Just don’t tell me change can’t happen because a small-dedicated group of people is the only thing that ever created change in this world and I know each association has that group of people within it.

If changes don’t happen because everyone gets caught up in the bickering and the competition and the comparisons, there is a small group of people who are going to create an alternative that will lead to standing ovations.

We are committed.

We are curious.

We are creative.

We are…you.

Thoughts on “passion”

These aren’t my thoughts, these are Daniel Pink’s thoughts on passion.

“Of course, passion isn’t bad. But business can be a bit like love. When people first fall in love, they experience that woozy and besotted feeling that verges on obsessiveness. That’s passion, and it’s great. But as couple bond more enduringly, that fiery intensity can give way to a calmer warmth. That’s true love – and that’s where the magic is. 

So next time you’re on either the giving or receiving end of advice, skip the hot and steamy passion and go for the calm and deeper love. Ask questions like: 

What did you do last Saturday afternoon- for fun, for yourself? 

What books do you read or blogs do you visit, not for work, but just because you’re interested in them? 

What are you great at? What comes easily to you? What would you do- or are you already doing- for free? 

As it happens, I can testify to the power of de-emphasizing passion and re-emphasizing doing. Beginning about two decades ago, I worked in some very demanding, intensely stressful jobs in American politics and government. But throughout – on the side, usually for no money- I wrote magazine articles about business and work, and formulated ideas for books. At one level, it was foolish. I lost sleep, sacrificed leisure, and probably distracted myself from my paid employment. 

But after many years, it finally hit me: This- not politics-is what I did. And now, as a result, that’s what I do. 

Am I passionate about it? Sure, I guess. Maybe. Some days. But passion isn’t something I much ponder. 

I’m too busy doing what I do.”

Given that student affairs seems to throw the p-word around a little too often without really much thought, I took Daniel Pink’s words to head. It was a great refresh and different perspective. When I look at his questions, my answers aren’t student affairs specifically. They are education related. Does that mean I don’t have passion for student affairs? Probably. What I do have this passion for, this instinctual desire that never ends is, creating, solving, building, breaking. I’m not so much of a student affairs practitioner as much as I consider myself an education engineer. It just so happens that as an education engineer, student affairs provides me with the lab space and tools to create, solve, build, and break things; often with great results and little risk associated.

Having read the Flip Manifesto (see below) and digested Pink’s thoughts on passion, I’m curious. What are your thoughts after seeing this excerpt of his on passion? Don’t think too hard, just write what comes to mind.

Read more of this type of mic-dropping writing from Daniel Pink his Flip Manifesto. Available here:


What If…

Suedle by Sue Caulfield (click picture to read/see her works of art & thought!)

Suedle by Sue Caulfield (click picture to leave this blog and go read/see her works of art & thought!)


What if…

I don’t know how this idea got into my head but the action of asking yourself, your office, your family, a question that starts with “What if…” seems to be something that is quite obscure these days.

What if…

A deceiving phrase to say the least. Trying to finish that sentence usually starts with very topical and typical responses, such as:

What if I got up earlier this morning and ran?
What if I ate Cheerios and a banana instead of Frosted Flakes and a muffin?
What if I left the office on time and had more time at home to read, relax, refresh?
What if I forgot my lunch?

Those are all fun and great, but not the journey I trying to bring you along with me on. My favorite words from Matt Cheuvront, “Think big. Start small. Grow fast.” apply to this train of thought.  What happens when you apply that to say, a conference? (You knew I was going there, right?)

What if… conferences weren’t only three days?
What if… conferences became two or three month experiences?
What if… you could only attend one session that lasted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. ?
What if… we tried this next year at the XYZ conference?

You see, it starts to get fun! There is no risk involved. It is daydreaming and throwing ideas in the air to see what takes off and could fly. It allows for the cross-pollination of ideas.

Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Organize a brown bag luncheon meeting with a group of colleagues (no more than 7) and start off with something that gets them in the mindset to think big, take risks, and daydream. Then ask them for some “What if…” statements. I’ve had the pleasure of being able to do this in the past and it led to some amazing new campus programs and traditions. Give it a shot. You might be surprised.

2. Can’t organize that meeting? Want to start smaller? Get a whiteboard, bulletin board, or open wall space with some Post-Its and a pen nearby. Put up the prompt. “What if…” Share with the office the point of the board and encourage them to post anonymously their ideas.

3. Don’t have the power or ability or office space to create a wall? Open up PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or Keynote. Create a new presentation. Save it as “What if” on your desktop. Anytime a new “What if…” idea or thought comes to mind, open up the file and put it on a slide. When the time comes, write, share, speak about a “What if” that seems more feasible than it did when you first wrote it out.

Remember. Some ideas need luck, some ideas need timing, and some ideas need both. (tweet this)

Give it a chance and you may find that you are asking yourself in a week, month, or year, “What if I never called these people together/posted that whiteboard/created that file?”