“Living the Dream”

                As I enter the midway point of my first semester as a junior, thought I would take a look back at what has gotten me to this point. A simple phrase (as mentioned above) “Living the Dream” has been something I have said over this past year. What exactly is living the dream you make ask? Well in short terms for a while I wasn’t as willing to experience things in the sense of doing different things. I would find something that would interest me and only participate in that said thing. Without giving the idea of branching out to meet new people any thought.  For some odd reason during my sophomore year here at Northern Illinois, it all was about to change. Sitting in my EPFE 201 class with Dr. Cisneros I met two people who started the change for me at Northern Illinois University: Ben Clark and Jake Ferguson.

As we venture back into the days of NIU Cause (a social entrepreneurship student organization) days, I saw myself take on leadership positions and more opportunities with-in CAUSE such as social media, fundraising, and even physically making the pizzas every Thursday.  My next opportunity that was presented to me was club tennis. Now as you may already know from my first post here at Student Voices, I played tennis for four years in high school. Tennis has been an adventure for the last year as it has taught me many things in terms of recruitment, membership, finances and even community service over the course of a school year. One of my better friends at NIU became my vice-president of club tennis. It was a great opportunity for us to tour the Midwest with the rest of our club. We played in nine tournaments across four states and made lasting friendships with many club tennis teams. Now if that wasn’t enough it was time to get involved in the business world. The next few things on my plate were to attend guest speaker events such as Ralph de la Vega the CEO of AT&T or Elly Rohrer of Investours Mexico. The knowledge one can obtain from these guest speakers is priceless and is absolutely rewarding when it comes to real world experience.  The differences between each speaker make them unique in their own ways.  Rohrer is 25 years old but has seen so much of the world whether it be Colombia, Mexico and Latin America. She has experienced some of the most drastic changes in developed, developing or under-developing countries.

To sum up my experience here at Northern Illinois University it’s been everything I thought it would be and a lot more surprisingly. When I stepped into the College of Business four years ago for an open house I told myself that I was going to do an ELC project. The idea of gaining real world experience with top companies and professors is one of the best opportunities NIU offers.  When there is a multitude of student organizations that encompass all six majors here at the College of Business there is no excuse for not getting involved. It’s the best four years of your life and you’ll learn the most about yourself as you plan to make your way into the real world. I’m still not exactly sure what “Living the Dream” entails but I’m excited for what the future holds and grateful of all the memories I have had so far.

“Big Dreams, Little Wallets”

Editor’s Note: This blog post will be part of a four part series introducing the four OMIS 352 students behind the project to organize a $10,000 scholarship for College of Business Students. For any readers who don’t know what OMIS 352 is it’s referred to as Managing Projects in Business. These four students took the time to organize this project all on their own by picking this focus of establishing a scholarship fund for College of Business students.  To start us off we give you Gabriella Lopez, she gives her take on why this scholarship is important to her on many levels.

My name is Gabriella Lopez and I am a first generation college student here at the College of Business.  I have been helped tremendously by scholarships from both NIU and private organizations. They have allowed me to not only begin and continue my education, but do so with the peace of mind that I will be able to make ends meet as the semester comes to a close. I work multiple jobs while on break from school, and even still, I don’t think my education here would be possible without this help. I am passionate about establishing this scholarship not only because I know how helpful it is to students with big dreams and little wallets, but because I want these students to be able to reach those dreams, despite whatever their financial situation may be, and let them know that we believe in them, and that they can get there.

Here is the link to the donations page for the $5000 scholarship.

http://www.youcaring.com/tuition-fundraiser/dreamworks-scholarship/91552

Also if you can’t donate directly to the page or want to help out even more come to the Dreamworks Scholarship Culver’s Night!

https://www.facebook.com/events/229417650549425/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

Making the Decision: Where to attend college?

Editor’s note: Our first guest post of the semester is from Luis Martinez. Luis as mentioned below is a Finance Major here at Northern Illinois University. He is also involved in Investment Association, Omega Delta Fraternity and is a math tutor here at Northern.

My name is Luis Martinez; I am a junior Finance major. I am here to share about my experience here at the College of Business, at Northern Illinois University. It all started when I was a senior in high school, they had taken us on many trips to various Universities. I was always good at math, so I knew I would either be a math major or in some type of Business field. The two schools that stood out to me were, Marquette University and Northern Illinois University. These schools both have a great Business program, so it was up to me to decide where to take my talents. I came to the conclusion that I needed to visit these schools once more, so I did.

As I arrived to Milwaukee I started feeling out of place. This school was not where I belonged, I told myself. There was something missing, I didn’t feel like I was at home for some reason. This was like a spidey sense.  Therefore, I decided to visit NIU one last time to see if that’s where I belonged. Indeed, I felt like I was at home and the College of Business atmosphere gave me a rush of intensity, as if I were playing in the fourth quarter of a close game. I had made up my mind. I took my talents to NIU.

The staff and students here at the College of Business are just so motivated and filled with a joy like no other. Barsema Hall, in general is a beautiful building. The atmosphere reminded me of my high school, everyone was helpful, happy and here for business. The high school I had attended was Cristo Rey Jesuit High school. They taught me to be intellectually competent and to be a man for others; NIU has taught me to be an innovator, a doer and a leader. Furthermore, you can see that I love being here at the College of Business. Great program + Great Football team = The complete package. Go Huskies, and for you College of Business Students, do not let Failure overtake you, let it be your success.

Luis’ LinkedIn’s page: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/luis-martinez/5b/2a2/144

 

 

Time Management

            Time Management is an interesting topic for students and I felt I should share some of my personal experiences in the matter. Over my first two years as a Northern Illinois Business Student I have learned some strategies to help with time management. My freshman year like most students was an adjusting period from the likes of no finals and AP classes in high school to 250 person lecture halls and an array of general education courses.  The idea of balancing work and fun has always been a tough one for me personally. Over my first semester I felt that I had to focus solely on school which is still very true but I felt I was missing out on exploring other avenues on campus. This became evident where I saw my friends get involved in student organizations, athletics, and social fraternities/sororities.

            The key for most students is to find the balance between studies and getting involved throughout campus. There are some instances where students get way to involved in the sense where they don’t have time for their studies or even just to get a good night of sleep. In reality as a student this is an unhealthy lifestyle due to certain key aspects of your life that you’re neglecting such as studies, regularly eating and even sleep. Personally my first organization/club I joined was club tennis which is offered as a sports club through the recreation center on campus. At first, I was very timid since I wasn’t sure how much time I would be able to commit to the club each week. As the first week went on I saw two categories of people throughout the tennis club. There was the person that was very devoted to the club and was a regular at practice and notified the club if they were going to be late or unable to make it. In addition, there was the person that only studies and doesn’t join organizations or enjoy certain aspects of college such as athletics, homecoming, networking with alumni.

As I entered my sophomore year I started to find that balance when I took over the NIU Tennis Club here at Northern. It gave me the chance to make something my own and the ability to reshape the club for future success. There were many challenges along the way in terms of funding, reliability among members and lack of players but overall a great experience. It will play an important role as I develop even more skills for future job interviews and internships.  It gave me the opportunity to take a leadership role here as a sophomore and paved the way for success in such roles as I continued my education. At some points throughout the year it did become an issue when it came to time. One week I might have three tests and a few projects the next nothing at all. The key for this situation was to somehow balance all of my school work and time devoted to tennis. I then joined organizations NIU Cause and Lambda Sigma which created a nice balance of the honors program, athletics and something with in the College of Business.

Now as you can see I didn’t really start to get involved on campus until Sophomore Year. What I recommend for freshman to do once they are on campus. The most important event to attend as a freshman is the Involvement Fair during the first weekend on campus.  The fair gives every student organization on campus a voice and the opportunity to tell incoming freshman what they do and when they meet. The idea that there are over 300 student organizations on campus is unbelievable it’s something you can’t get at a community college or just any college. There are fraternities and sororities that are social and classified as business professional. There are over 30 sports club here at Northern Illinois all the way from Bass Fishing to Roller Hockey. Just in the College of Business alone there are 28 student organizations across the six majors in the college. My message to all students is to get involved it’s been one of the most rewarding things I have done here at Northern Illinois University. At first it doesn’t have to be a big commitment it can resemble my story where I picked up my tennis racket and showed up to tennis club. Our student leaders and members of these student organizations on campus are all great people and have shown great leadership skills for taking on the roles they hold. There are only four years here at NIU and believe me they go very quick. In the fall of 2011 I was in all of your shoes as I have mentioned above a freshman looking to get involved with student organizations. In my mind there is no harm checking out these student organizations. They can only benefit you as time move forwards with the network you build for future job interviews and lasting friendships that should last a lifetime.

Stay Tuned: for a Guest Post by Rachel McBride a Graduate Student here at Northern Illinois University. She will be taking a look back on her time spent in Tanzania over the summer and what she has learned about the culture and lifestyle.

One step in the right direction.

As a student here at Northern Illinois University I was intrigued by the possibility of joining a business organization. During my freshman year I had already solidified the opportunity to participate in an honors society where they only selected 44 members of the sophomore class. It was a great way to meet people who were as motivated as I in bettering my education. In my mind the journey had just begun in terms of getting involved on campus. As I attended my first Honors course of my sophomore year I was looking for something new to take my ideas and passion towards. Jacob Ferguson and Ben Clark have become two of my better friends over the past year and were the first to introduce me to NIU Cause.

One afternoon I chose to follow them after class to a meeting where I then began to understand what I was going to invest my time in. NIU Cause is a social entrepreneurship organization and it’s unique because of how we solve real life problems using business principles. We work with real life organizations that help actual entrepreneurs who live in third world countries. During my first couple weeks at the NIU Cause meetings I wasn’t very willing to speak up or get involved. Not sure why at the time I guess it was just a little intimidating at first. It all started to change one weekend when the President Zach Fiegel my former Community Advisor noticed my coverage of the baseball winter meetings. Along with all my other activities, I also write for three sports blogs CLNSRadio.com, FishStripes.com which is featured on SBNation.com as well as Viewfromthebleachers.com which is on the ESPN Sweet spot Network. He brought it up at the meeting and asked the group if I could take over the social media for Cause. What happened next is history. Over the next several months I not only improved my communication skills but made lifelong friends along the way.

After doing the social media for a few weeks I was introduced to a new role on the NIU Cause fundraising committee. This was definitely out of my comfort zone as I participated with three other members narrowing down restaurants and stores to look for donations. As time passed one of our members Chris Leifel introduced the idea of doing a weekly pizza sale. Four members became the pizza makers of NIU Cause Pizza: Laine Smid, Rachel McBride, Chris Leifel and I. As the first semester came to a close we began a pizza sale on Thursdays where we would go to Pizza Pros’ located in DeKalb to make pizzas. In my mind I was thinking there was no way I could accomplish this as my skills in the kitchen were very limited. To this day I’m glad I took that leap of faith and went with them that Thursday morning. These were skills that yes might not be transferable to business classes but definitely earn me some points someday by calculating costs or using teamwork skills in making the pizzas. Rough estimates on our sales last year included making 200 plus pizzas. In addition, due to the sales and money we raised through other avenues we were able to donate 350 dollars for the Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center in Tanzania. We also contributed $500 to Rebecca Clark one of our members who with other college of business students collectively raised over $2500 for Mari Chuy. The campaign was started by the NIU Micro Finance Class where they wanted to help Mari Chuy achieve her dream of building a family restaurant in Bucerias, Mexico.

I have attached a video that better explains Mari Chuy’s restaurant project. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qGn8jWdtiU

Overall it was an amazing experience just in those five months something I’ll remember for a lifetime and will always treasure. Excited for what the future holds within this great organization and can’t wait to see it grow.

The Journey Begins

My name is Rob Willer and I’m a junior here at Northern Illinois University a marketing major and Spanish minor. With this post I wanted to provide some background on my life as well as some of my experience throughout these first two years. As a high school senior in 2011 at Plainfield North High School I was faced with a decision most students face and that is: Where are you attending next fall? Surprisingly to me that choice was Northern Illinois University right in the heart of DeKalb, Illinois. After visiting and researching many schools, Northern was the fit for me. Throughout my high school career, I participated in many things ranging from Golf, Bowling, Tennis and Cross Country as well as National Honor Society. Most students during these years take active approaches similar to mine but in reality almost all of those activities began my senior year of high school. This in my mind began what I like to call “the busy approach” where I’m just one of those people that constantly has to stay busy. What I’m about to say next probably emulates a lot of college freshman’s paths from high school.

The transition from high school to college is definitely an eye opener and took me some time to adjust. As a freshman here at NIU, most of my friends were going away to college just like me and it was weird to see each of us attend different schools that fall. During the fall semester of 2011 I made a set of goals by the time I graduated.  A few of these goals were to achieve higher than a 3.5 gpa my first semester here and in the simplest possible terms get involved which I’ll address later on in the post. The transition of course load in my mind wasn’t as bad as everyone made it seem. Over my senior year in high school I took a steady course load which included four years of Spanish, three AP classes and even a college equivalent class Rhetoric. Over those first two semesters I did fairly well with classes achieving my first goal of a 3.5 semester. After I received the notice for my final grades that semester and honors society approached me saying that I was selected to participate in their society.

In a sense this began my way of getting involved at Northern Illinois University.  Over the past year I have been involved in eight organizations which my role in each organization varied. Some of the organizations I’m apart of currently are NIU Cause (Social Entrepreneur Organization/Vice President of Communication), Sports Club Council (Oversee 30 Sports Clubs/Secretary), Lambda Sigma (Honors Society/Junior Advisor),  Northern Star (Cubs Blogger), College of Business (Marketing Intern), NIU Club Tennis (Advisor/Past President). GET INVOLVED! Change the world. College goes by fast and we have to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to us. Stay Tuned for some more Rob experiences over the course of this year.

 

On being Unreasonable


This is a guest post on how NIU students are changing the world through the college’s social entrepreneurship program in the Department of Management.

CAUSE On being Unreasonable

NIU CAUSE, a social entrepreneurship student organization

…a CAUSE to Live Into

Every generation has its moniker:  from the Boomers, Hippies to the 20-somethings of today.   But what’s really in a name?  Just ask a closely-knit group of current NIU students who in early April pulled off their first university-wide Social Impact Summit.  The event brought together more than 170 industry experts, students, and faculty for a day-long conversation on social entrepreneurship.  And while the students surpassed their goal of 150 attendees, they didn’t rest on their laurels.  After the event, they returned to their studies, which included refining the business plans they had been developing in their Social Entrepreneurship class.  Because in early May, these students will put their ideas to the test yet again.  During the 2nd Annual NIU Social Venture Competition, each of their business ventures will be judged by a “shark tank” of angel capitalists who will evaluate how their proposed new ventures intentionally add value to the Triple Bottom Line:  people, profit, and planet.

So when you ask this particular group of students to explain how they’re typically typecast, they’ll tell you their swagger has nothing to do with the label “entitled.”  Instead they’ll describe deeply rooted expectations.

They expect to change the world for the better.   Plain and simple.  If that sounds unreasonable, well, they’ll admit they have every cause to be.  Consider this:

  • 50% of the world’s population lives below the poverty line.
  • Over 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • Around 1 billion people do not have access to clean water.
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of garbage is dumped into the ocean each year.
  • The world’s population is outstripping the planet’s natural ability to replenish its own resources.

These sobering stats and more were presented by national experts in social entrepreneurship during NIU’s April 5th Social Impact Summit.  In spite of the magnitude of the challenges, somehow the attendees remained not only hopeful but energized.  Junior NIU College of Business student Zach Fiegel explains:  “There are so many incredibly intelligent, amazing individuals in the world.  If we focus together on these issues, imagine what we can accomplish.  And why not?  One of the motivations behind the Social Impact Summit and our student organization is an idea that was originally expressed by George Bernard Shaw.  He said:  ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’”

For Fiegel, that’s a philosophy that resonates.  Fiegel is currently president of NIU CAUSE:  the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs.  In fact, as a sophomore Fiegel helped found the organization.  Just one year after its formation, NIU CAUSE has grown from a group of 7 students who were inspired by an idea – being unreasonable enough to change the world – to a full-fledged student organization that focuses its mindshare on that purpose.  More than 30 participants attend their weekly gatherings.  The group is overrun with enthusiasm, achieved the old-fashioned way.

“CAUSE has grown organically, through relationships and conversations with friends and friends of friends,” Fiegel shares.  “The students represent a variety of NIU majors – business, geology, anthropology, health sciences, engineering to name a few.  Our members include international as well as non-traditional students.  We’re a diverse group with different backgrounds and perspectives.  The thing that unites us is that we’re all individuals converging around this one idea:  to make the world a stronger, better place.”

You have to wonder why individuals so young possess this particular focus.  There’s a tangible wisdom in their commitment.  You sense it and feel it in their energy.  And then when you engage in conversation with them, you come to realize that many of them lived through the effects of a parent being laid off.  Others felt the impact of financial disruption around their dinner table.  All of them continue to witness the world’s challenges on a real time basis through social media channels.  When one of the Social Impact Summit keynoters asked attendees if they ever lived at or below the poverty level, nearly half of those present – many of them current students – raised their hands.

These are old souls in young bodies who identify with the radical idea of creating hope in a sometimes cynical world.

Fiegel describes the rationale.  “Social entrepreneurship in itself is an idea that people can rally around.  Plus, there’s the benefit of knowing that people who join a new organization like NIU CAUSE join for the right reason.  They get to build something the way they want to see it built.  They get to make an impact and they get to know that they do.”

Indeed, Fiegel and his fellow change makers have a great deal of latitude to shape NIU CAUSE.  Still, they don’t fly solo nor do they want to.  Their entire culture – their tribe, if you will – is about marshalling forces to effect real change.  They are guided by two NIU Business faculty members who advise them.  As members in the NIU CAUSE tribe, these professors foster a faculty-student relationship that is more a collaboration than anything else…where everyone stands to contribute and to learn, even the professors.

“The students came up with the idea for the Social Impact Summit,” NIU CAUSE faculty advisor Christine Mooney says.  “They wanted to do it from start to finish:  creating the theme, dealing with the logistics, finding the keynote presenters, securing event sponsors, getting the word out and running the entire Summit.  None of them ever created an event before.  I am so amazed by their commitment and creativity.”

An NIU professor in the Department of Management with background in strategic leadership, Christine Mooney recently received the Bill and Paula LeRoy Professorship in Social Entrepreneurship.  Mooney works with her NIU Business colleague Dennis Barsema, who is no stranger to making a difference.  Both the NIU College of Business facility and the university’s Alumni & Visitors Center bear the Barsema name.

Like the LeRoys, Barsema is a member of the NIU alumni base, having earned his degree in the department in which he now teaches.  And like the LeRoys, Dennis and his wife Stacey are passionate about making a genuine difference in the lives of others.  Along with giving back to his alma mater and developing the social entrepreneurship program, Dennis Barsema is currently on the Board of Directors for five for-profit and non-profit organizations including Oportunidad Microfinanzas, Mexico of Opportunity International.

Denise Schoenbachler, Dean of the NIU College of Business states,”I am so grateful to Dennis and Stacey for getting the NIU College of Business involved and vested in social entrepreneurship.  They’ve ignited passion in the students, faculty like Christine, the administration, and other alumni like the LeRoys.  This is only the beginning.  With Dennis and Christine at the helm, they are part of a group of national leaders focused on the important work of applying business expertise to some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

Since its inception, NIU’s social entrepreneurship program has garnered media attention from the Chicago Tribune to the Boston Globe (which described a short-list of three college level programs in this field and included NIU in the group, along with Harvard and MIT).  What makes NIU’s approach distinctive is its range and popularity over such a short period of time.  NIU’s program includes courses in social entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, a certificate program in social entrepreneurship, and a newly created social entrepreneurship minor.  The program capstone is the Social Venture Competition, where students pitch their business ideas to social venture investors.  The competition transforms the winning ideas into reality and in its first year, helped launch social business “Light Up Africa.”  Shortly after its formation, “Light Up Africa” went on to be named a semi-finalist in Dell’s Social Innovation Challenge and won a coveted spot in the 2012 inaugural class of Impact Engine, a social business accelerator in Chicago.

“The Social Venture Competition is testimony to the character and resolve of the NIU student,” shares Dennis Barsema.   “This is a generation that has volunteered more than any generation since the Great Depression.  They have a passion and concern for the social issues of our world.  And, they have the courage to follow their passion.  Our job, as educators and business people, is to give them the tools, guidance, and mentoring to do something positive with that energy.”

Indeed, NIU’s social entrepreneurship program is distinctive in large measure because of the way Mooney and Barsema teach the topic.  Their approach is as much in the doing as it is in the thinking.  Supporting Zach Fiegel and his cohort’s idea for the Social Impact Summit and putting all the students’ business ventures on the line for angel funding…those are just two examples out of a multitude.

Perhaps one of the most impactful ways is when the students travel with their professors to witness social entrepreneurship firsthand through short-term study abroad trips.  The most recent occurred a week ago, with a visit to entrepreneur Dona Alejandra in Mexico City.  Dona Alejandra is a client of the microfinance institution Aspire.  Aspire provides lending to the “missing middle:”  those individuals who require loans larger than the $500 loans provided by a traditional microfinance institution but smaller than the $10,000 loans provided by a  commercial bank.  The meeting between Dona Alejandra and the students was made possible through the help of Elly Rohrer, Executive Director of Investours, a non-profit in the microfinance space.  Here’s Dona Alejandra’s story:

image001 11 On being Unreasonable

Dona Alejandra

Doña Alejandra is a third generation baker from Mexico City. As one of 13 siblings growing up in a situation of extreme poverty, Doña Alejandra developed a love for the bread she learned to make in her father’s bakery: it symbolized sustenance. With one kilo of flour, she could provide food for her siblings and make product to sell.

Doña Alejandra’s mentality about bread has not changed, though she is now in her 50s, lives on the Pacific coast, and has a family of her own. She built a wood-burning oven and took out a micro-loan to establish her own small bakery. As the primary (and often only) income owner in a house-hold of four, Doña Alejandra works long hours to bake and sell hundreds of breads and pastries a week. An entrepreneurial woman, Doña Alejandra is always proud to share her story.

“Meeting all the amazing entrepreneurs in Mexico, including Dona Alejandra, was extraordinary because you see the transformation of their lives and families on so many levels,” Barsema says.  “The students were able to see how a small loan could lead these small business owners to a life of dignity, opportunity and hope for themselves and their families, and make tremendous improvements in their local community.  Without a doubt, they are great examples of perseverance and drive.”

Plus, at a very intrinsic level, the students also see their own professors walk the talk.

“The fact that someone like that takes an interest in other people and with this level of commitment…it amazes me,” Fiegel says.  “Mr. Barsema has achieved so much success in business.  He’s been an executive – including President and CEO – in five major corporations.  He could relax and not be involved with finding and supporting new business models to help others lift themselves out of desperate situations.  But he cares so much.  He’s so humble and generous.  He’s someone I hope to emulate one day.”

By all accounts, Zach and his fellow students are well on their way.  Operating funds for NIU CAUSE started at zero.  But after weekly sales of homemade pizza  (yes, the students make them from scratch and their Barsema Hall customer base declares the foodstuff to be “life changing”) as well as from revenues generated at the Social Impact Summit, NIU CAUSE has raised enough money to sustain its operations and then some.  True to form, the students intend to invest a portion of those dollars in a social entrepreneur.

And if that’s not enough on May 2nd at 6 p.m. in NIU’s Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center, the social entrepreneurship students will unveil what are certain to be business plans as ingenious as Light Up Africa…originally an NIU student generated business idea – now a viable business – that brings a renewable light source to a part of the world without access to the electrical grid.

All of which for these students makes for an impressive and uncommon journey, one where their expectations to change the world are emboldened even more.  But it really goes much deeper still.  This is a generation that cut its teeth on an age of disruption.  Now, as they stand at the threshold of life after college, they carry a different worldview.  Instead of getting blown over, they lean forward into action in the face of change.  They’re not lulled by a false sense of security.  They know how complex life is, even if it morphs faster than most can really assimilate or even trust.  But echoing the advice Steve Jobs gave to Stanford grads, they’re wise enough to know that:  “you have to trust in something.”

Where better to place your trust than in your own desire to change the world?  If that level of commitment earns those of this amazing ilk the label Unreasonable, that’s more than fine with them.   …and more than fine for the world.

Event Information

  • May 2nd The 2nd Annual NIU Social Venture Competition, 6 p.m., NIU Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center, DeKalb, Illinois.
  • April 5th NIU Social Impact Summit keynoters:   Megan Kashner, TEDx speaker and Founder-CEO of Benevolent.Net, a digital facilitation site that offers a secure and transparent means for those with the ability to donate funds and help another when it matters most; Amanda Britt, Founder-CEO of Panzanzee, Chicago’s social enterprise incubator, co-working space and continuous community that provides discovery, resources, trust and traction for entrepreneurs and professionals pursuing sustainable financial and social impact; NIU alumnus Alan Hurt, Founder of Light Up Africa, a student-generated idea launched into an actual social business with a distribution strategy that encourages an entrepreneurial spirit in its customers; and Chuck Templeton, Managing Director of Impact Engine, a Chicago-based 12-week accelerator program supporting for-profit businesses working to address today’s societal or environmental issues.

Story by Michelle De Jean, Director of Marketing, NIU College of Business

Failures

Last week I began a short two-part series about contributing factors to my success as well as my failures.  This is part two of that series and below I will highlight practices that have resulted in personal failure from my perspective.  I hope you can learn something from my mistakes and maybe take some time to self reflect as well.  Cheers!

Always present yourself in a manner suitable to meet someone new.  I dress slovenly on Mondays because I sit in an office and work on a computer.  However, what happens if a representative of a company I’d like to work for comes in to visit the dean in the office I work at?  It’s happened more than once and I continue to fall back on bad habits.  If only I would’ve taken the extra half hour to clean up before leaving my apartment, who knows how many more connections and opportunities I could have had in my academic career?

Forgetting to leave time for myself.  I used to have hobbies that included running, lifting weights, biking, and swimming. I took on so much in school that I left no time to pursue these activities.  Needless to say, I “let myself go” and caution others to leave time to take care of themselves before caring for the masses.  “When asked “What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”, the Dalai Lama answered:

“Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Falling into a routine.

Spending time on the wrong things.  I spent a lot of my time early on at NIU trying to make other people happy.  I took myself out of my way to offer an extra hand, brain, and set of eyes to people and more often than not, I was left with minimal if any reciprocation.  You have to understand that like in the stock market, there are certain investments you don’t make because there is little to no ROI.  Although you’re not losing your life savings in the stock exchange of life, you’re investing your time in these people and projects.  Time, as I understand it, is the most important thing you can give; unlike money, you can’t get it back.  Make sure you’re spending your time on the right people and projects otherwise you’ll find that frustration, stress, and confusion may find its way into your heart…and believe me, no one needs that.

Being busy.  There’s a friend of mine at the college of business who never refrained from challenging me to be better.  Regardless of the conversation, this individual always made me feel like what I was doing wasn’t good enough and although this sounds depressing, I welcomed the motivation.  If I had a surplus of free time, he’d ask why I wasn’t busy.  If I was busy, he’d tell me that there was a difference between being busy and being productive.  Really think about that for a second……go ahead, take your time.

Being busy vs. Being productive.  How profound and self explanatory.  I’ll leave it at that and let you make of it what you will.

Again, these are just a few points that I can recall from my experience at NIU.  Now we’ll ask you…what has contributed to you failing and what could you do better?  Leave your input in the comments below! 2.0out

 

Success

Over the past two years I’ve had my share of experiences.  I’ve had some success and a fair amount of failure as well.  With graduation quickly approaching I wanted to take some time to reflect on what contributed most to not only my successes but my failures as well.  This has been a great form of meditation and I encourage anyone reading this to do it as well!  I’ve learned a little bit more about myself in the process and want to share my thoughts with you in a short series of posts that will highlight my contributing factors to success, which you’ll read below, and my failures will follow in time.  Disclaimer: by no means am I saying that I always do these items below…but when I have, I’ve felt that I’ve achieved success in doing them.  Hope you enjoy!

When something hits your desk it doesn’t matter what level of importance it is.  What matters most is to recognize that if it affects somebody else, do it immediately.  You can wait till the last minute on a 10 page paper if you are solely affected by the grade on the assignment.  However, if somebody needs an email forwarded, help on a team assignment or a favor, do it.  You will be held in high regard if you can exhibit this behavior.  An old saying rings true “You can have everything you want, if you will just help everyone get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

Keep in contact with people.  Send little texts, stay in touch through social media, or send a card once in a while.  Do this whenever you see something that reminds you of them.  Or if that’s too much out of your day just be personable and say hi to people you know (or don’t know) in your daily lives.  Nurture your friendships and keep your network open, one day these people you kept in contact with could hold the keys to open doors that you don’t even know exist yet.

Opportunities present themselves often at NIU, take advantage of them.  You get in-class presentations on the Experiential Learning Center, study abroad programs, student organizations, etc., but many people simply forget what they’ve been exposed to only minutes after it’s shown.  Write those opportunities down and research them further when you have a minute to yourself.  Pursue challenges and you’ll be amazed at how far you’ll go, not only at NIU, but in life itself.

Keep moving.  I learned this on distance bike rides and a backpacking adventure in the Smokey Mountains.  Even trying to ride my bike from my hometown to Wisconsin, every pedal I took, no matter how small, brought me closer to finishing my goal.  When backpacking we spent a few days going uphill for stints of 12 miles or more.  With each step in that cold and wet weather, we were that much closer to reaching camp. For those of you who want to give up and are overwhelmed by work that is seemingly insurmountable, take a second and remember how to eat an elephant…do it one bite at a time.

I encourage you to add your own keys to success in the comments below.  As I said, keep an eye out to read a little bit more about my failures and how can you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made in my university career. 2.0out

Making Waves with CAUSE

With all the news lately about NIU CAUSE  and their upcoming Social Impact Summit, we took some time to interview Sophomore Rob Willer to figure out what all the fuss is about. 

What is CAUSE?

CAUSE stands for the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs.  The organization is a bit complex and for the sake of brevity I’ll provide this link to their about page rather than reciting all their motives, goals, and projects ( http://niucause.com/about-niu-cause).

How did you get involved?

Well there’s a few reasons.  My old CA (Zach Fiegel)  is the current president of Cause.  He had talked to me about the organization a few times before but one day in class I was talking to a few students who were in the honors program.  They mentioned the Cause meeting that night and they invited me to come.  I wanted to get involved in the actual business program and I thought this was my chance.  Zach pointed to me in a meeting and asked if I had any thoughts on a certain topic and I thought that was really cool.  Since then  I took over the role of Social Media, then treasurer and now I help wherever I can.

So what exactly is your title/duty in the organization?

Treasurer, pizza maker, pizza seller, promoter, social media…you name it.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the upcoming Social Impact Summit.  What’s that all about?

A lot of organizations have been putting on these conferences lately and they involve schools and businesses around their area. We thought, all of these other schools and groups are doing it, why can’t we?  We really want this to be an opportunity to students and businesses to network as well as promote awareness of a socially responsible mindset.

The website states that there are three goals in mind.  To Educate students and social practitioners about the applications of social entrepreneurship, to Inspire students and social practitioners to find ways to enlarge their societal and environmental impacts or just plain get started in the social space, and to facilitate Networking among students and social practitioners who are passionate about making a difference and changing the world.

Who is coming out?

We have two keynote speakers, Chuck Templeton and Megan Kashner along with numerous other companies and social incubators.  Over 130 students are coming out as well and you can still register at NIUCause.com and click Register Today!

1st annual implies that it will be a recurring event….any details on next year’s summit?

One step at a time…we’re putting the final touches on this year’s event but we hope that in this next month once we’re done reflecting and taking a breath, then maybe next year we can hope to get some new businesses/speakers and reach our goal of 250 participants.

Was orchestrating this event more work than you thought?

Definitely, but it’s been very rewarding!  It’s been nice to interact with a bunch of these companies online as social media guy for NIU Cause and get them all together in the same place.  I see lots of the companies that are participating tweeting about how excited they are.  It really feels great that there are  people out there that are as excited as we are.

What skills did you develop from this?  What lessons did you learn?

Teamwork: at first there was just four of us going out to find sponsors for the event.  Then we started dividing the responsibilities out to more members to get more people involved.  You get a little overwhelmed at the beginning because you see all these people so involved but it’s actually pretty easy to find a place, just ask questions during meetings and jump in where you can!

How can students get involved?

Come out to one of our weekly meetings on Tuesdays from  5-6 pm in BH 227.  There’s no application… just show up.  Students can also follow us on twitter @NIUCAUSE  or on facebook for more updates!  http://www.facebook.com/NIUCAUSE

Rob also writes for CLNS radio and the Northern Star.  Keep an eye out for his articles online and in print as the baseball season gets underway!