What's on our mind

Get back to campus -- or bring it to you

By Jay Fehnel for Johan Advisors

When it comes to weather, I'll choose summer anytime.  I don't mind the transition to fall, though, because it means I'm headed back to campus and getting to meet with students and faculty at some great schools.  (I'm biased about these two particular schools, of course.)

As much as I enjoy coaching executives, it's especially enjoyable to help students prepare to become the leaders of the next generation.

Last week, I met with the Communication Graduate Student Association (CGSA) at Purdue University's Brian Lamb School of Communication.  The students wanted to discuss their value in the business world.  

I was happy to tell them that their core skill-set (researching, summarizing, interpreting, writing, presenting) is in great demand in the corporate world.  In fact, I'd argue that communication skills are more important than ever in a world that has too much "content" and not enough clarity, context and attention.

I also met with a number of undergraduate students at the Lamb School and discussed their efforts to learn outside the classroom.  The good news is that the best students have impressive stories to tell about their experiences gaining professional skills.  

It's clear, though, that too many organizations are missing out on the opportunity to bring smart, curious, driven students into their offices.  I can't think of a company that wouldn't benefit from having more exposure to the next wave of employees and consumers.

Finally, last night I put loyalty to Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management above my love for the Cubs (and Game 1 of the World Series).  I guess that's the best evidence ever that I love to be on campus!  It was great to see how entrepreneurship is now a prime part of the curriculum at Kellogg.  When you think about how many of these students will want, or need, to start their own business, you realize that start-up skills should be required learning.

There are so many reasons to spend time with students.  The best one, though, is seeing the world (and especially technology) through the eyes of those who will be running the world in twenty years ... or less.

If you have the opportunity to mentor and learn from students at any level, grab it.  If you don't, create it!