Be a Voice. Not an Echo.

04/27/2017 19:10

(Maria Mendez and I Take Up David Agoff on an Offer to Enhance our Eloquence)

But first, ripped from my reading:

A century ago, in his Handbook of Public Speaking, John Dolman observed that public speaking is significantly different from a theatrical performance—it is "not a conventionalized imitation of life, but life itself, a natural function of life, a real human being in real communication with his fellows; and it is best when it is most real." 

Teachers once embraced this ideal as the Trivium, which is the lower division of the seven liberal arts and comprises grammar, logic, and rhetoric. It’s basically “input, process, and output,” which sounds a lot like business, doesn’t it? Back in the olden days, an educated person could not get around learning how to present ideas effectively while challenging and engaging self and others. Achieving the balance takes energy, humility and practice.

David Agoff and I often discuss Dale Carnegie (DC) perspectives on engagement in relation to the above. I have a little background in DC through corporate training, and he has a lot more based on his pursuit of optimal performance and his passion for Human Resources.  I’ve watched The Management Club he advises in action, and noted deep levels of student engagement when David walks students through the basics of getting to know people and truly relate to them. It's scholar- based community building in action, an excellent context for learning.

Now before I report a little on the seminar Maria and I attended, I’ll state at the outset that neither David, nor I, have any personal/professional stake whatever in selling others on this or any program.  But considering that speaking effectively is both life- and culture-changing - even "business guru"  Steven Covey offered discrete steps to developing one’s voice and helping others to develop theirs -we offer these thoughts to those who are interested, or would like to help others to more comfortably “speak up.” 

David emphasizes the deep emotional intelligence that’s reflected in the work of its seminars and workshops, explaining that while any genuine encounter could be considered fundamental to effective selling, DC's intent was simpler: “To knock down walls, overcome barriers, and to build bridges.”  Simple to describe, but hard to do.

And so at David’s kind invitation, Maria Mendez and I took a Spring Break adventure to Sacramento to fill a couple of vacant seats in a two-day DC training. In “High Impact Presentations,” we joined architects, project managers, CEOs, and managers reviving once-troubled companies to see what we'd learn.

I dreaded certain parts of going through the training wringer again: the videotapes that catch every quirk, the one-to-one coaching by coaches trained to find everything that could hold you back from being your best public self.

But we made it, and here are a few observations:

1)     Maria noted that the amount of personalized feedback received was valuable, and the training (was) really helpful in learning some formulas for things that don't come easy to me (e.g. answering questions)."

2)     Yes, speaking off-the cuff is something I tend to do rather often, sometimes at the peril of being misunderstood. Nice to know there are fairly easy techniques to provide well considered answers on the fly, even in the face of challenging scenarios.

3)    Seeing ourselves on video just as our students see us is something many of us aspire to do, but few of us get around to. Once you get used to it, though, practice can be fun and a great learning experience – especially for those who would like to be role models for something we ourselves have faced: exhibiting professionalism under pressure.

4)    Professional coaching emphasis is also placed on that which we as speakers naturally do well, which sometimes gets lost in the haze of self-criticism. A good coach helps us get real about our potential.

5)    It’s good to have objective, on-the-spot assessment of audience perceptions on the impact you have on them generally. Otherwise what can we know for sure?  Do you know, for example, that you are inspiring? That you have a charming accent that’s enjoyable to listen to? That the way you use your hands or make eye contact is effective? These are just general examples of speaker talents, but if you were a student, what would it mean to hear that kind of feedback outside the realm of most grading schemas?

We occasionally lose perspective on the impact we have on others. Supporting students is part of our every day routine; thoughts about any lasting impressions we leave gets lost in the rush of the hours. Going to any self-development seminar reminds us of our potential to make a difference even as we submit to critique and counsel. As we become students again, we teach. 

David Agoff offers a wealth of information and resources on self-development and emotional intelligence information if you’re interested in exploring the topic further. Here's one more interesting article to consider on the topic of helping students develop speaking/life skills.

And a special thanks from me to Maria Mendez: It was a great pleasure to spend time with you! Thanks for being game for this experience. I promise - the insights on research we discussed at dinner will show up in my work, and has already made an appearance in my classes.

Speaking of Inspiration

There’s been a lot going on at the COB. Some of these news items have been circulated, others less so. Everyone mentioned, and many who were not, deserves a Major Award.


To Jeff Decker and the students of the CSU Chico Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. At around the halfway point of the 2016 tax season, Jeff reported that the students assisted more than 560 people and refunded $763,479 back into the community. He continues, “This has largely been due to great volunteers who have put in more than 750 hours!  We are well on-track to reach our 110% goal (to beat last year's break-out performance of over $1 million back into the community by 10%).”


To Kristin Minetti and the American Marketing Association students, above, who garnered several awards In New Orleans in mid-March!  As she reported earlier, the AMA students were recognized nationally as follows: Outstanding Chapter for Fundraising and Membership; Sales Competition:  2nd and 3rd in the nation; 17th out of 93 for the eBay Case Competition.  Solid evidence of students prepared, willing and able to speak up!

To David Agoff, who reports: “The Management Club (TMC) and its 50 members (shown above) held its very first "Networking Mixer" recently.  Tesla, Target, Kcoe-Isom, Altria Group, Cintas, Pocket Points, Aerotek, were in attendance. Each person was given one name of a famous duo and the goal was to find their "business partner." Towards the end of the event, each company gave a few words on how TMC members could improve their networking skills and door prizes were handed out. It was such a successful event, that most of the companies asked that they be invited back to work with the club again. Altria Group later emailed TMC President to let her know that out of all the schools and clubs that they have worked with over the years, The Management Club was by far the most receptive group yet. TMC looks forward to making their Networking Mixer an ongoing semester event.”   


To Rick Hubbard, on the occasion of his successful Inaugural Data Science Workshop Kickoff on March 24.

The anthropologist Loren Eiseley remarked that “so much depends upon how we choose to see.” Well, now it seems so much depends on how accurately we choose to assimilate, understand, and interpret Big Data. We ignore it at our peril.

Many students and faculty (see Joe Liu, above, who really is always working) came to hear Rick and colleagues present information on data science, business analytics, R, Python, and more. Kudos to all for making novices and experts alike feel comfortable. The cookies helped, too.  Times are changing; thanks for helping us figure it all out, Rick, and for keeping us current in an area others are rushing to teach. It’s vital to our understanding of…just about everything.


To Curt DeBerg, Founder of SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship), Julie Indvik, David Rahn, Colleen Robb, Bill Maligie, Richard Davis (Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Finance and Marketing Department,) and Jan Landess for their work with SAGE, and support of the students involved and everything it represents. Curt follows up:

“I think the U.S. Department of State’s investment in international exchange programs provides incredible returns. (Note- Curt refers to Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI) program for Student Leaders on Social Entrepreneurship sponsored by the U.S Department of State.)  If all goes according to plan, we will bring another 20 student leaders from West Africa to Chico again this summer. I’m grateful to all who made last summer’s SUSI project centering on social enterprise such a success. When you get a chance, have a look at this beautiful blog entry from Hussaina Aminu Aboki from Nigeria.

Husseina describes, among other things, her first class with Colleen Robb, and how her “eyes were opened.”  It’s so good to hear the voices of the world, and to know how many in the College of Business are working to make them stronger.


Coming Up

Let’s continue to support all the Fiery Entrepreneurial Thinking happening this month! The Center for Entrepreneurship, directed by Peter Strauss, welcomes Noelle Sadler, VP of marketing at on April 3rd at 5:00 pm in Colusa 100A.  On April 5th, Katie Simmons, President and CEO of the Chico Chamber of Commerce, presents at 4:00 pm in Colusa 100A.

These events are followed by the Chico Pitch Party – the entrepreneurial event of the year! – on April 12 at 5:00 PM in Colusa. Of course, there is more this month, much more.  Look for reminders ahead in your email box, and in the meantime – mark your calendars, and let your students know.

David Agoff notes that next Wednesday, April 4th, from 5-7, Colusa 100 is the place to be for the management Club’s signature event, Speed Interviewing. “This event continues to grow and is a valuable, practical way for students to hone their interviewing and first impression skills,” says David.  “There will be more than 20 professional “interviewers” from multiple companies and industries participating.” This Club has come a very long way over the last few semesters. Congrats to all!


When It’s Over, It’s Never Over : A Memorial for a Man Whose Voice Has Not Been Forgotten

After the success of Chico State’s 12th Annual This Way to Sustainability Conference, staffed by so many of our COB students, it’s fitting to close with mention of the lasting contributions of the late humanitarian, Professor Paul Persons, Bonnie Persons' brother. Every year, his family and friends honor his memory through The Paul Persons Award, given during the conference to someone who exemplifies, in their own work, the dedication and values Paul represented in his.

Newer faculty may not know of the impact Paul, who passed away in 2007, had in his community.  Paul was a fierce supporter of sustainability and other causes close to the heart of the Chico community. As a friend wrote upon hearing of his sudden death,

“’….Happiness is not a destination; it’s a method of travel.’ Paul personified this spirit. In the brief time we shared…our weekly chatter always conveyed his love for family, commitment to what’s right, infatuation with the environment, and (his) generosity.”

And so we close in the manner in which we began: with the example of a man “in real communication with his fellows;” a man considered by those who knew him as “among the best because he was so real;” a man no longer seen, but whose voice is still heard by so many.