How Marko Liu is Changing the Way the World Looks at Leadership

Marko Liu pictured working on leadership research data at Kravis Leadership Institute

Marko Liu pictured working on leadership research data at Kravis Leadership Institute

By Linnea Uyeno '20

Marko Liu wants to change China with his leadership research. He recently joined the Kravis Leadership Institute as a visiting scholar from Beijing, China for the next 19 months. So why exactly did Liu trade the bustling streets of Beijing for the quaint roads of Claremont, California?

Liu’s journey to Claremont started in 2010 when he was working in a human resources consulting firm in Beijing. While at his time as a Talent development consultant, Liu found a hole in the leadership development field. One day he was providing executive feedback to a CEO, and the CEO said that although his advice on leadership was valuable, it had come too late for individuals at his age (45 years old). At that point, Liu started to think about the importance of earlier development in leadership.

“I kept thinking about what he said. Leadership development may be a lifespan process. I [searched for] research on this topic. I found that there were few researchers with developmental psychology perspective on this topic,” Liu said.

What Liu stumbled across was a 2011 issue in the Leadership Quarterly Journal, focusing on the longitudinal studies of leadership development, written by prominent leadership scholars, Professor Ronald Riggio, Allen Gottfried and David Day etc. The Fullerton Study program that began in 1979 with 130 one-year-olds and their families confirmed Liu’s suspicions.

“In 2014, I decided to quit my HR job and transfer my career to academic research on this topic. I applied for a PhD and went back to the Beijing Normal University to focus on the combination of developmental psychology and leadership”

As Liu dug deeper, he realized that there were only a few research studies connecting early family environment to future leadership potential. Academics have not even differentiated how they define and measure leadership in earlier developmental stages differently from in adulthood.

“This topic needs to be explored continuously. I am planning to do some research to clarify the measurement, influential factors (parenting behavior etc.), and intervene strategies for the youth,” Liu said.

Liu hopes to bring leadership development research and practices back to China.

“In the U.S., from early childhood, parents, teachers, and society emphasize leadership. They try to improve kid’s self-identity as a leader, in order to help them to learn how to lead themselves, influence others and even change the world. In China, the current emphasis is on academic achievement. Leadership in China is still an emerging topic. However, in recent years, modern parents and teachers are starting to realize the importance of leadership development for the youth.”

As the need for more leadership development services grows, Liu hopes to spearhead the movement with the groundbreaking research he is doing at Kravis Leadership Institute.

“I have a dream to start up some programs in China to put my research into practice. I want to coach and guide Chinese parents and teachers to develop and cultivate youth leadership [skills] scientifically. There is a growing need for it in China.”

Liu believes his leadership programs could shape society through business. One day Liu hopes to have the bigger impact on society by developing the Chinese leadership cultivation products around his research.

“If a business could do this kind of thing, I think it would be a great help for society through the development of the next generation. Later on, I want to start some programs to influence the government and the education system, so that they do some leadership curriculum in schools. My graduate advisor in China is a consultant for the Chinese education department. I can probably influence the government to do some leadership programs all over the country. Once I do this, I will feel a great sense of achievement and value,” said Liu.

S&P Global CEO Shares Secrets to Success

By Linnea Uyeno '20

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Doug Peterson always took the jobs that no one wanted. Now he has the job that everyone wants. He is the CEO of one of the most influential companies in the world, the S&P Global. His unconventional career journey has taken him all over the globe, and it started here at CMC.

“When I was at CMC I knew I wanted to do international business, but I had no idea what that meant or how to get there. I was a math and history major.”

While studying abroad, Peterson learned Spanish and discovered his passion for experiencing new cultures. During his 26 years at Citibank, Peterson spent more than half of his career offshore.

“I worked as a banker in Argentina, and as a country manager in Costa Rica and Uruguay. I also was in Japan as a regional CEO.”

His journey to the top was not an easy one. In fact, many people questioned Peterson’s decision to move his career to a small country like Costa Rica.

“I always tried to take the jobs where I was going to learn the most. In Costa Rica, I learned how to manage people. It gave me the opportunity to learn about things that were way outside my comfort zone. It was not a typical career path, but it gave me humility.”In 2004 his unorthdox career path made him the perfect candidate for a larger role at Citibank. Peterson was sent to Japan to improve Citibank’s relationship with the government. After successfully mitigating tensions, Peterson was ready to lead a global company. In 2011, Peterson become CEO of S&P.

“[Looking back] the progression of my career sounds very logical, but it was not. Sometimes you don’t always have to take the jobs that seem like the ‘cool’ jobs that everyone is taking and [wants].”

If there is no “logical career progression”, what is the secret to becoming a CEO?

“Don’t expect that you are going to get something immediately. Take the jobs that no one else wants where you can adapt and build skills. There is value in always finding value [in every job you do].”

But there’s more to the formula than that. A CEO must have that ‘je ne sais quoi’ leadership presence. In fact, when Doug Peterson talks, you can feel the room warming up from his charismatic charm. For Peterson, this leadership quality was developed by learning the psychology behind management and through experiential learning.

“I [like to tell people] to study psychology, if they really want to know how an organization works and how people tick.”

Peterson shared his secret four part leadership model: vision, integrity, accountability, and communication. He stressed communication as the most important trait a CEO can have.

“In order to deliver your vision, build integrity, and an approach to accountability - you have to communicate. Communication is the glue that holds everything together.”

Peterson believes that the liberal arts education of CMC prepares students to be strong communicators. However, Peterson wishes that CMCers would focus less on securing jobs only at coveted firms like Goldman Sachs, Google, or McKinsey and expand their horizons.  

“All of a sudden you get tunnel vision. You don’t even know what it means [or why you want that job]. I guarantee there are people out there that say they want to be an investment banker and they don’t know what investment banking is. One of the most amazing things about being in college for four years is the opportunity to experience so many new things.”



 

Impact CMC Weekend Career Panel: How to Jump Start Your Career and Succeed in Spite of Failure

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By Robert Cain '21

As a grand finale to Impact CMC Weekend, the Kravis Leadership Institute concluded with a noteworthy career panel. Sitting at the table were Semantify VP of Product Strategy & Marketing Arjun Dutt CMC ‘07, First Data Product Manager Claudia Raigoza CMC ‘14, Skyview Capital Private Equity Analyst Don Swan POM ‘15, Assistant Director of Development of Valley Performing Arts Center Maria Paredes ‘09, and Glenn Hickerson CMC ‘59. 

To begin the panel, Raigoza mentioned how none of the panelist found themselves in their intended career paths. Dutt talked about his dream of becoming a child development psychologist, and Swan shared his love for sports business. Now, they find themselves working in product innovation and private equity, respectively. Swan told students to keep their eyes open to different opportunities, because “I never thought I would find myself working at Skyview in private equity.”

Hickerson, who retired from the aviation industry working in various management roles, told students to “follow their passions wherever they may take them.”

How students discover these passions led to the next round of lively debate amongst the panelists.

Paredes referenced how she struggled between choosing chemistry or art as a major due to the disparity in hourly wages. This led to her first point: knowing your values. “You must decide what you value most,” she claimed.

Dutt also noted that students should constantly seek out mentors positioned not just within their desired career field but also outside of it. This, he argued, “allows you to exhaust all of your options and experience different roles in order to accurately gauge your interests.”

But even after undergraduate students find their passion, how should they situate themselves in positions likely for success?

Paredes listed some skills such as creativity, leadership, and grit that campus recruiters look for in their hires. Hickerson argued for strong quantitative skills and a little economic understanding. Dutt reaffirmed the need for strong quantitative skills, but also professed how “it’s never the same two or three skills” that he looks for. He zeroes in on students who can view situations from unique perspectives. For example, he highlighted how he once hired a theatre major at his tech company for a data analytics role because of the applicant’s theatre training primed her with the ability to think on their feet, which is invaluable during meetings with clients. The lesson here is figuring out how to take what you learn in the classroom and apply it elsewhere.  

But what role did failure play in the current success of the panelists?

Raigoza led with “failure is not the opposite of success, it is an element of success, because everytime you fail, you get closer to success.” Swan added that students should “take on failure with a new lens.” Dutt provided a more practical example, because he is currently involved in a startup that is on the precipice of almost going under. He revealed that his biggest fear right now is that he may not be able to make the next payroll, since the company has run out of funds, and isn’t generating enough revenue to break even. But in light of this trial, he still managed to acknowledge how important it is to learn from failure rather than dwell in it.

During an interview with Raigoza, I ask her to describe her career journey in one word. She said, “bashert,” which is a Jewish word that means everything happens for a reason or meant to be. We tend to label failure with a shameful reputation, but Dutt, Raigoza, Swan, Paredes, and Hickerson are all proud to be products of failure and perseverance. They prove to us that we can’t let fear of failure define our lives or our will to succeed, and as Hickerson put it, “don’t be afraid to take risks... look for opportunities even if it involves a little bit of a risk.”

After hearing all of this advice, I not only feel more confident about facing failure but also more prepared to jumpstart my career. Are you?

 

 

 

 

 

A Dinner With Nanxi Liu

On October 2, Nanxi Liu came to the Kravis Leadership Institute to talk about her journey as an entrepreneur and social innovator.

On October 2, Nanxi Liu came to the Kravis Leadership Institute to talk about her journey as an entrepreneur and social innovator.

By Josh Meadows '20 & Paloma Pineda '19

On the evening of Monday October 2nd, we had the opportunity to host and hear from Nanxi Liu, co-founder of Nanoly Bioscience and Enplug, Inc. It’s hard to keep up with her since she’s barely older than us and she’s already launched 2 successful ventures with offices all over the world. She was featured in Forbes, won numerous awards as a beauty queen, musician and producer including an Emmy!

Nanxi gave the listeners a lot of great advice but if there’s one thing in particular that stood out, it would have to be the importance of networking and building a strong team. Nanxi told us stories of how, even when she wasn’t entirely sure of her direction, she would surround herself with people engaging in innovative problem-solving. Similarly, she would always try to associate herself with people with the largest network as a way of further expanding her own connections. Ultimately, Nanxi encouraged us to see that when you’re surrounded by innovative people, you then have the potential to get involved in their innovative ideas. This idea was particularly profound when Nanxi admitted that the current company she co-founded, Enplug, Inc., was in fact based on someone else’s idea. Regardless, she had the right skills and was connected to the right network to get the job done.

Similarly, Nanxi encouraged us to look at networking not just as an opportunity to connect with new people in similar situations but also as an opportunity to connect with people who have accomplished goals similar to those you are trying to achieve. That is to say, when networking as a student, don’t feel as though you should only be networking with other students… Instead, try to connect with people such as CEOs and accomplished changemakers. Not only are these the people who know how to achieve success, but they’re also the people who have the resources to start new ventures. Nanxi told us the story of how when she was interning with Goldman Sachs, she would ride the elevator just so she would have the opportunity to talk to the executives riding along with her. She didn’t listen to her supervisor who said he’d try to get her a conversation with the higher-ups, instead, she took control!

Finally, Nanxi encouraged us to look at entrepreneurship as team building. Everyone has a set of skills that they uniquely possess and utilize. A good team comes from connecting individuals with complementary skill-sets. It’s important to have clearly defined roles and that those roles complement each individual’s skills. Once you’ve established a team with clearly defined roles, all that’s left is to make sure the team has the motivation to succeed. According to Nanxi in regards to importance: first comes team, then comes motivation!

We feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to host Nanxi. It’s inspiring to see someone so young and close to where we are in our own entrepreneurial careers be so successful.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Build a great network
  • Things she looks at when she hires people: extremely talented in one thing and  one of the best people in the industry and integrity
  • Learn from top executives and don’t be afraid to ask advice or funding for your startup
  • Team is the most important component in a startup, second is motivation
  • Be aware of your competitor, and make sure anything you build in the same field is better

Debunking Myths: “What We Know About Leadership From Science”

By Sabrina Hartono '21 & Robert Cain '21

After spending the last 10 years in Australia and Singapore, Professor David Day joined Claremont McKenna College searching for a smaller, high-touch, elite, private college community and looking to repatriate after being overseas for ten years. Drawing from his most previous experience as a professor of organizational behavior and Woodside Chair in Leadership and Management at the University of Western Australia Business School, Professor Day is not only a professor in CMC’s psychology department but also the academic director of the Kravis Leadership Institute.

“I look forward to the opportunity to participate in leadership research and education --which is exactly what KLI does,” he said.

In the past and now at KLI, Day’s research focuses heavily on charting and understanding the trajectories of personal development, clarifying this as “looking at how people change overtime in their journey of becoming a leader.” He investigated this through some of his past projects.

He recently co-authored a study titled “Am I a leader? Examining leader identity development over time,” which was later published in The Leadership Quarterly. In 2010, he was awarded the Walter F. Ulmer Research Award from the Center for Creative Leadership (USA) for outstanding, career-long contributions to applied leadership research.

Additionally, one of Professor Day’s major focus for KLI is developing the Leadership Sequence at CMC.

“Doing the leadership studies sequence is a way of developing a much more sophisticated way of thinking about leadership,” he says. “If you believe the adage from social psychology that thinking is for doing, then you should have a broader repertoire as a result of the sequence and being involved with KLI. Therefore, you have just that many more ways to be effective as a leader, and that’s going to be a career-definer in terms of your potential to be hired.”

On October 5, the CMC community officially welcomed Professor Day during the Installation Ceremony as the Steven L. Eggert ’82 P’15 Professor of Leadership over a luncheon program at the Athenaeum. During the event, he spoke on the topic of “What We Know about Leadership from Science” where he debunked many of the myths and misconceptions about leadership.

He outlined ten common myths:
1.       Leadership is an art, not a skill

2.       Leadership is an exclusive human endeavor

3.       Leadership is based on a formal position or authority

4.       Leadership does not matter for performance

5.       Great Leaders are born not made

6.       Men are better leaders than women

7.       Leadership training is useless

8.       The only real preparation for leadership is leadership experience

9.       Leadership is culturally specific

10.   Leadership is rare and exclusive

Then debunked them:

1.       Leadership is both an art and a science

2.       Leadership is a universal activity demonstrated by humans, animals, and insects

3.       Leadership is a process, not a position

4.       Leadership matters for individuals, teams, and organizations

5.       Leaders are born and made

6.       Men and women have an equal capacity to lead

7.       Leadership is effective across all domains

8.       Experience without theory teaches nothing

9.       There are universally-endorsed leadership attributes and practices

10.   There are leadership skills and attributes distributed across the population

After reversing the perceptions surrounding leadership, Day concluded by proclaiming how “we can change the world with leadership.” Through this statement and the debunked myths above, leadership is shown as a world changing capacity hidden deep inside of us, each equipped with the potential to render maximum impact. Therefore, “even if you can’t be the leader, you need to be a leader,” as stated by Day.



 

How We Win: Exploring Nonprofit Impact and Success

By Robert Cain '21 & Sofia Trigo '20

Robert Cain ’21 posing for a photo with staff members from Habitat for Humanity

Robert Cain ’21 posing for a photo with staff members from Habitat for Humanity

In the first of a four part Nonprofit Success Series, social innovators and non-profit organizations gathered to learn how to best maximize effectiveness and increase their potential for success.

Leaders Scott Sherman, Senior Director of Social Innovation & Co-Curricular Programming, and Gemma Bulos, Director of Social Innovation and Impact, at the Kravis Leadership Institute explained that while working in the nonprofit sector it is incredibly common to confront frustration and feel utterly overwhelmed when attempting to achieve certain goals. In her introduction to the group, Bulos explained that this nonprofit success series would target how to tackle this ‘uphill battle’ that so many nonprofit groups face. She noted that upcoming events in the series would focus on diversifying revenue, building financial resilience, infusing social innovation into work, and learning how to influence policy.  

Throughout his presentation, Sherman emphasized the importance of optimism and creativity when considering nonprofit impact. He explained how organizations can build capacities and resilience for both themselves and their communities and pointed to three key principles of transformative action.

Scott identified these key principles as such: consistently speaking the truth and shining a light on injustices, transforming feelings of animosity into goodwill - what he coined a kind of social ‘aikido’ practice - and, lastly, creating an innovative solution that uplifts all stakeholders and produces a mutual ‘win’ for all involved parties. The group engaged in various interactive activities, encouraging them to explore these principles and learn about one another's work in the nonprofit sector.

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Sitting in on the activity for the first transformative action principle: ‘shining a light on injustices’, I was able to interact on a one-on-one basis with numerous nonprofit leaders. This, I realized, was precisely the goal for the event. Activities that encouraged, demanded even, students to genuinely converse and engage with leaders across the nonprofit spectrum.

Over lunch at the Athenaeum, I met Debra Watkins, founder and executive director of NECON: National Emergency Communications Organization Network and Pam Hogan, executive director of the Fender Museum of the Arts Foundation. Both women were leaders in their respective fields yet, nevertheless, eager to answer my questions and shed light on their roles. They shared the sentiment that nonprofit work required genuine ambition and advised me to pursue something I find truly fulfilling. Watkins, elaborated on her personal motivation to found NECON: the lack of communication and interconnection that exist between government agencies, coupled with the September 11th attacks. She remarked that this travesty provoked in her a keen sense of responsibility and civic obligation to help aid citizens in formulating an effective and immediate response to national disasters.

I was reminded, too, of Sherman’s earlier comment regarding the inadequate coverage of positive news. We are so tuned into harsh realities and tragic events that we often dismiss the immense impact nonprofit organizations are making around the country and the world. Surrounded by such passionate, dedicated and motivated individuals, I realized this very optimism Sherman mentioned. As an observer, the palpable sense of loyalty these leaders had for their organization and its motivating purpose was moving.

Later, I sat down with first year student participant Daniela Finkel ’21 who volunteers for the Andrew Grene Foundation focused on transforming and improving lives in Haiti.

"I think hearing everybody else talk about their experiences was really unique. I hear about a lot of different minor community service projects on campus but I rarely get to speak with people who are so invested in what they do. Most of the time if I'm talking about service it is with another student who is explaining their role in an organization but being able to hear organization leaders perspectives was super informative and eye opening."

Additionally, Tammy Marine, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley, gave positive feedback of the event. She listed her major takeaways as “the importance of communications and messaging, a reminder about the importance of relationship building in the workplace and with supporters, and just a general rejuvenation being surrounded by so many passionate and caring people in the nonprofit sector.”

And when asked whether or not she would recommend this conference to anyone else, she respond with a convincing “yes!”

But even after all of the engaging activities, informative lectures, and group interactions, the emotional highlight of the event was the brief connection shared between Tammy and first year CMC student, Robert Cain ’21. During the activity where participants shared the stories behind their respective nonprofits, Tammy shared her association with the Habitat for Humanity Foundation, which immediately struck a nerve in Robert because his home was built by Habitat. Nearly in tears, Robert interjected by asking Tammy if he could hug her. She kindly accepted.

Overall, the day filled with experiential learning, bond forging, and unforgettable memories; but we all gained something far more valuable than all of these items combined. By witnessing how nonprofit work transcends past regional, state, and even national borders, we learned that having an impact lies less in how successful the nonprofit seems and more so in how we affect the people we are tasked to help. In effect, impact equates to the number of lives changed.

SLE: Popping the CMC Bubble

By Linnea Uyeno '20

It is easy to get caught up in the CMC bubble. It gently prods us to do more on campus, pushes us to take an extra economics class, and convinces us to hang out with the same people. As I entered into my sophomore year at CMC, I felt a little ungrounded. I had been pushed into the bubble again without the guidance of freshman orientation week.

The Sophomore Leadership Experience (SLE) allowed the sophomore class to pop the CMC bubble, giving us a fresh breath of Malibu air. We ventured outside our friend groups, comfort zones, and looked deep within ourselves to reflect about our time at CMC.

At CMC we practice a lot of things: sports, school, and research. Sometimes we forget that even teamwork takes practice. SLE provided the opportunity for us to practice leadership, teamwork, and made us more aware of our impact on others.

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The three-day retreat had us running around the camp like elementary schoolers. We participated in ropes courses, team-building activities, and fireside chats. At first the activities felt a little juvenile. But, as our groups grew stronger, it made us all realize that what we perceive as smaller or simpler tasks are valuable in creating an effective team. 

“For the first time since WOA I felt truly connected to my class. The team activities disrupted the social groups of CMC, and they made me realize how many amazing people there are in my class. The activities really provided us a space for us to recognize this,” Vicky Flores Najas ‘20 said.

Gradually, something overtook us all.  It was magical to see what could happen if we all cheered each other on. Even individuals with deathly phobias of heights confidently walked across tight lines and climbed rock walls.

At the end of all the activities we climbed up a mountain and sat in small groups overlooking the calm water. I was filled with sonder. Looking out at the peaceful shore after such a long battle upwards, made me put my “hustle” at CMC into perspective. Sitting amongst my peers in the small group, I broke into tears. We began to unpack our feelings about the past, present, and future.

“SLE gave me the clarity on what I want to get out of my time at CMC and how I can achieve both my long and short term goals,” said Dina Rosin ‘20.

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At the end of the day, we all joined together at the campfire. We were instructed to write down the things in our life that we wanted to let go of this year, and toss them into the fire. People who seemed to have their lives put together had tears streaming down their faces. I looked around at all the melancholy stares of my classmates. Sometimes, it can feel like everyone in the Camp Claremont bubble is happy. It felt nice to know that my classmates were all dealing with something, and was comforted to know that we were all going through it together.

The next day we wrapped up the retreat by reflecting on the things that we wanted to take back to CMC with us. We brainstormed different ways we wanted to improve the campus and pitched it to each other. A few of the ideas that came out of SLE are being presented in front of ASCMC.

“When brainstorming social life at CMC, we saw a few problems we wanted to address, especially focusing on the dining hall culture. Our solution to these problems is the "Community Table” a table in Collins that will encourage people to eat with new people and not sit alone,” Nick Pibl ’20 said.

Listening to everyone’s pitches made me realize how many amazing thinkers and change makers we have within our class. I think we all came back to the campus feeling empowered and a little less alone on this journey. I am a sophomore, but that doesn’t mean I am supposed to have everything figured out. And that’s okay.

 

Meet Daniel Kan '09, CMC alum who recently sold his startup for $1B

By Linnea Uyeno '20

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According to Forbes, 9 out of 10 startups fail. Daniel Kan is an outlier. He has founded two successful companies since graduating CMC in 2009. His latest startup, Cruise, recently sold to General Motors (GM) for more than a billion dollars. With GM’s support, Cruise is working on building a fully self driving car.

So what’s the secret formula to creating a successful startup?

“I don't know if I have figured it out, per say. One of the biggest things is not necessarily the market or the product. I consider what is the end value I am providing to the user.  You have to fix someone’s problem.”

At his first startup, Exec, Kan provided an on-demand personal assistant service to the public. Both of his startups have directly worked at fixing someone else’s problem. However, this is only part of the formula. What makes Kan special is his work ethic. Mix a great idea with a great deal of perspiration and you get a self driving car. I guess the only way to build self driving car is literally through a little “self-drive”.

“If I am doing something, I want to do it all in. For the most part, all [my team and I] did was get up, go to work, go home, go to sleep, for two years. That was everything we did for two years. I think one of the things people are afraid of doing is diving into it. In this age of information, with computers, anyone can start a business. Things don’t have to be perfect in order for them to work. ”

If I am doing something, I want to do it all in. For the most part, all [my team and I] did was get up, go to work, go home, go to sleep, for two years.”

At the same time, self driving cars don’t really seem like something you just wake up one day and decide to build. I questioned Kan about his decision to enter into the self-driving car arms race. Why did he think he had the skills to accomplish something this futuristic?

“I don’t think there is anything that you can’t do if you put your mind to it, and if you break it into small enough pieces. I don’t necessarily have all of the skills to build a self driving car.  I had never built anything in robotics. [However], I do have the skills to find people that can help me. You don’t necessarily have to be the best at anything, but if you can find the right people you can build anything.”

A glimpse of Cruise Automation technology $10,000 conversion kit applied to an Audi in 2014. 

A glimpse of Cruise Automation technology $10,000 conversion kit applied to an Audi in 2014. 

Kan certainly has an unconventional approach to running a business.

“I try to think how I can make other people more efficient. For example, one of the things we do at our company is that everyone gets their choice of chair and laptop.  I [believe that] if you are going to spend eight hours of your day in your chair and your laptop, then you should have the best things possible. We want people to be focused on the job they are doing. If you can get people in that mode, you can really build something amazing.”

As an economics and psychology double major with a leadership studies sequence, Kan says that the liberal arts education at CMC helped him to develop creative and critical thinking skills.

“You have to make decisions every day in a startup. You have a limited set of resources, so to deploy them on one project you have to take them out of another project. I was heavily focused on the entrepreneurial side of the leadership sequence. [The curriculum] taught me how to think about tradeoffs and how to deal with conflict and emotions that are irrational.”

Kan also talked about how it is easier to take on a leadership role early on at a startup.

“You have the opportunity to do more because you have less resources. Scarcity provides the ability for younger people to take on a harder challenge. Larger companies aren’t going to take the risk. Startups have nothing to lose.”

Those leadership opportunities might be an option at a startup, but they won’t present themselves.

“One of the mistakes, I made early on was that I didn’t know that I had to ask [for opportunities]… In the past all of my jobs had a list of instructions. When the job is undefined you really have to go and find people to start making those definitions.”

For someone who has seen so much success he is incredibly humble. In fact, Kan says that sometimes he still experiences imposter syndrome.

“There are days where I am like ‘What am I doing? Why am I all of a sudden this person that people look up to?’ A year ago no one even knew who I was. It’s a little weird. I don’t really see myself as a bigshot. My life hasn’t changed much. I haven’t made any major purchases,” laughed Kan.

He doesn’t dwell on his success, or soak in the limelight. He is focused on the process, rather than the end result or financial gain.

“I am excited to see how self driving cars can have a big impact on society and help people. Uber has kind of helped with accessibility, but it’s expensive and not everyone can afford to use it. With self driving cars, the long term goal is to make accessible transportation for everything: goods, services, and people.”

Kan ended the interview touching on all the future doors his company could open.

“[Self driving cars could help] people who might otherwise not be able to take cabs to the airport and things like that. A lot of other interesting industries will spawn out of this that people didn’t think would have existed. I am excited to see what happens.  I think that is one of the main motivators for me.”



 

Annual SOURCE Symposium Reveals Community Impact and Internal growth

Photo of SOURCE students interacting with guests at the Annual SOURCE Symposium 

Photo of SOURCE students interacting with guests at the Annual SOURCE Symposium 

In its last event of the year, SOURCE, Claremont McKenna’s student run non-profit consulting group, gathered in the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum to host its second annual symposium. Professors, students and SOURCE clientele were among those in attendance.

Opening the event were managers Lily Muskal ’19 and Jack Segal ’18. Segal who has worked for SOURCE for the past three years and is a government-economics major, briefed the group on the status of their numerous projects, while Muskal, a rising junior and biology-economics major, focused on recent organizational developments and internal restructuring.

Segal and Muskal explained that this event was meant serve as a platform to look at and share the impact SOURCE had on the community this past year. For many intrigued students, this event also provided a unique lens to understand SOURCE and further grasp its main goals and objectives as a non-profit consulting group.

SOURCE has existed for 12 years and originated from a Kravis Leadership Institute business plan competition in 2005. It is an entirely student run non-profit consulting group, currently compromised of 37 student consultants. SOURCE partners with non-profits in the local community mainly within Claremont, Upland and Pomona, but has recently began to work in Montclair as well.

In his introduction to the group, Segal explained the basics of what SOURCE consulting entails. “The main point about SORUCE is our twofold mission that we’ve diverted to external and internal impact”, he said, “the first part is to leave a positive impact on the community by providing value-added, result oriented, services to non-profit organizations. The second, internal side, stresses providing our student consultants with practical leadership and development opportunities to prepare them for successful careers post-graduation.”

Both managers emphasized the tremendous growth SOURCE has experienced over the past 12 years. In 2011, SOURCE focused primarily on advancing its student development component and in 2015 the team celebrated its 10-year anniversary, bringing in over 140 nonprofit members from the surrounding community.

Muskal later detailed SOURCE’s client affiliation. “We have 7 very different, diverse, clients each year,”she stated. “We work with groups from theater nonprofits like ‘Ophelia’s Jump’ to environmental groups like ‘Sustainable Claremont’. Our most common projects are impact analysis, market strategizing, fundraising, and programming development. We are able to really dive into these projects because of our partnership model which allows us to spend an entire year [with] clients.”

After their presentation overview, attendees were invited to walk around the Athenaeum and visit the various round tables set up. Each table featured student consultants and their respective project this year. This interactive structure allowed for great one-one discussion and in-depth explanations of the consulting process.

First year consultant, Kenlyn Mirbach ’20, shared her motivations applying to SOURCE and experience thereafter. “I am super into community service and giving back” she said. “My ultimate goal is to start my own social venture at some point, so I’ve always been involved in community-service, but I didn’t know about the strategic side of nonprofits. This is why joining SORUCE was so valuable. It granted me the ability to be on the strategic side of nonprofits, not just volunteering. I feel confident that by working at SOURCE I learned how to give back from a higher level.”

Lead consultant Ethan Tom ’19, shared much of Mirbach’s sentiments. “In high school, I was frustrated because throughout the service trips and volunteer programs I participated in I saw a lot of things I wish I had more input in – it felt like a lot of our potential and resources were being wasted. So, in college, the chance to work from a strategy level and actually map out how resources are allocated sounded really interesting. My other favorite part about SOURCE is working with a group of like-minded individuals. We all came to college to some extent to prepare for a career, but doing it with people who are invested in the nonprofit community is all the more fulfilling.”

Walking around the symposium, it was clear SOURCE consultants were diligent and devoted to their role at SOURCE and its non-profit work. Each round table provided a new perspective of the SOURCE mission and impact. Not only did student consultants take pride in their past year of work but it was also clear that the internal SOURCE community was a major component motivating their success. Attending students were clearly intrigued by the sense of team-work SOURCE encourages and, for many, this event further propelled attendees to apply for open positions next year.

Shooting for the Moon, 2017 Moonshot Fellows: The New Wave of Social Entrepreneurs

Students brainstorming ideas at the Moonshot House. Photo courtesy of Wes Edwards ’18.

Students brainstorming ideas at the Moonshot House. Photo courtesy of Wes Edwards ’18.

Before heading off to their various summer internships and vacations, on Sunday, May 14th, 34 Claremont Colleges students (31 CMC, 2 Scripps, 1 Pomona) headed down to Lake Elsinore for a once in a lifetime opportunity. The group spent the next week together learning from each other and the seven accomplished social entrepreneurs living with them for the week. The program in its inaugural year, run by the Social Innovation and Impact Office of the Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI) at Claremont McKenna College, was called the “Moonshot House Retreat” named because Moonshot thinking addresses a huge problem and proposes a radical solution using breakthrough techniques, models and technologies that can change and disrupt systems for the better. The hope was that by the end of the week, the students would be inspired to change the world for the better, begin to learn the skills necessary for that to happen, as well as built a strong network of similarly minded peers. The week that followed the initial bus ride was beyond anyone’s greatest expectations.

On Sunday afternoon the group arrived at the spectacular beachfront home located on the shore of Lake Elsinore, the property offered a huge kitchen (important as the students cooked breakfast every day), plenty of outdoor deck space, a lawn big enough for morning yoga and spikeball, and a beach volleyball court. In talking about the location, Gemma Bulos, Director of Social Innovation and Impact at KLI, stressed that they felt it was important for the students to feel that they were in a relaxing and creative environment, especially coming off the heels of final exams. After a relaxed afternoon of getting to know one another, the group gathered to listen to the stories of the social entrepreneurs who would be mentoring them over the course of the coming week. To put it simply, the group was an all-star cast of Echoing Green Fellows. Echoing Green, an organization who works as a catalyst for change by recognizing and investing in the most innovative social entrepreneurs who are solving the world’s most pressing problems, has recognized these changemakers who are changing and shaping the future around the globe. Alongside Gemma and Scott Sherman, Senior Director of Social Innovation and Co-Curricular Programming at KLI, their fellow Echoing Green Fellows included Mark Hanis a “serial entrepreneur” who began his first enterprise, Genocide Intervention Network, while still a Junior at Swarthmore, Rose Wang and Laura D’Asaro, co-founders of Six Foods, a company that makes chips out of cricket flour that was featured on Shark Tank, Kalimah Priforce, founder of Qeyno Labs, a group that empowers black youth through coding and hackathons, and Lauren Burke, founder of Atlas: DIY, a cooperative empowerment center for immigrant youth and their allies that offers college and legal resources. As a special surprise, Cheryl Dorsey, the President of Echoing Green, was also able to spend a few hours with the group Sunday evening. This type unfettered access and one-on-one mentorship with some of the most successful social entrepreneurs in the country is unparalleled and beyond any of the students’ wildest dreams.

Over the next five days, the students learned what it meant to be a social entrepreneur, the challenges along the way, but also the tools that it took to begin thinking about how to create a social enterprise that could change the world. These “moonshot” ideas were what the retreat was named for, and in Scott’s words, were supposed to be ideas that could “…affect up to a billion people.”

The first real workshop day, Monday, was all about creativity. The students were asked what the biggest problems facing the world were, what their talents were, and how they could solve them. The solutions didn’t have to be realistic, or even practical—the goal was just to get the students to begin dreaming bigger. On Tuesday, students spent the day finding their own stories. They were asked to think about what challenges they had faced through their lives, and ultimately, what issues they were passionate about solving. These stories were then shared with the entire group. To quote Sydney Baffour ’20, “Hearing everyone’s story and understanding their background not only brought the group together, but also made me reflect on myself and where I was going…It was a truly humbling experience.” By Wednesday morning, the students had tentative ideas about what issue they wanted to tackle, and how they were going to go about creating a social enterprise to solve this issue. The rest of the day was spent iterating on these ideas—which sometimes involved writing out a full plan on a giant whiteboard and then realizing it wasn’t going to work and erasing all of it. The unofficial motto of the day was: fail hard, fail fast, fail often. On Thursday students refined their ideas and began practicing a one-minute pitch for their idea. The students went to bed not knowing that a huge surprise was coming on Friday.

The next morning, after one final round of pitch practice, the group boarded a bus and headed into downtown LA to the US Bank Tower. Once there, they took the elevator up to the top floor. Each student then slid down the glass slide that runs outside the building; the thinking being that if you can go down a glass slide off the edge of a 70 story building, giving a pitch should be a piece of cake. After the slide, the students were split up into six groups where they each gave their pitch. From there, each group voted on a winner to go on to a final round where they would compete for prizes. Some of which included asking Mark Cuban for advice about their startup, and spending time with Cheryl Dorsey to talk about their enterprise. These were just two examples of the six—each finalist won an incredible mentorship prize. The final ideas pitched on the top of the US Bank Tower, the tallest building in LA and the closest to the moon you can get in the city, were highly varied and very polished. Listening to the students speak one would be hard pressed to believe that they had only come up with, and designed these ideas, in the last few days. The pitches ranged from aquaponics at the middle school level to a “sustainable etsy” that allowed Indian women to sell their wares directly to the global market to an after school debate and politics empowerment program designed to get more students of color running for political office. The pitches were truly more than anyone could’ve hoped for at the end of one week.

As students came to realize on the first day of the program, each of us has an incredible, unique set of skills and passions. On one of the walls in the Moonshot House hung the quote by Aristotle, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” I cannot think of a more appropriate way to sum up the incredible conversations and general feeling left at the end of this incredible week.

The 2017 Kravis Leadership Institute Moonshot House was the most incredible program I’ve ever had the privilege to attend. With the formation of the Social Innovation and Impact Office, the Moonshot House, signals a somewhat new direction for KLI and perhaps CMC as a whole. Next year, KLI will launch a series of new social innovation related programs through the Social Innovation and Impact Office. Additionally, the student group impACT has been drastically revamped for the upcoming year; the group’s mission is to foster social entrepreneurship through networking, workshops, and competitions such as the Hult Prize. Taken together these should have a significant impact in raising the profile of social innovation at Claremont McKenna College.

A special thanks to Angelica Ferreira, KLI Events Logistics Coordinator. The program would not have been possible without the incredible logistical work of Angelica Ferreira.

A Q&A with KLI’s Team Leads

Listed below are several questions answered by the 2016-2017 KLI Team Leads: Mitchell Gaiser ’18, Pema Donyo ’17, and Jessica Azerad ’17. It is easy to say these accomplished leaders are energetic, but read more to get to know our Team Leads!

Listed below are several questions answered by the 2016-2017 KLI Team Leads: Mitchell Gaiser ’18, Pema Donyo ’17, and Jessica Azerad ’17. It is easy to say these accomplished leaders are energetic, but read more to get to know our Team Leads!

Question: How are you involved with KLI?

Jessica Azerad (JA): I am the Team Lead for the Programs Team, which means that I help put on programs for CMC students wanting to enhance their leadership and social innovation skills. But as a Team Lead in general, I work with Pema and Mitch to put on community building events for the KLI staff.

Pema Donyo (PD): As a Team Lead, I am responsible for planning programs for KLI student employees and building KLI’s community. I’m also the Lead Research Assistant, which involves guiding the research team on different studies of undergraduate leadership development.

Mitchell Gaiser (MG): I am the Team Lead for the Institute Assistant team which includes Journalist and Social Media Assistants. I help to represent the functional area of KLI Institute Assistants and work to build community among KLI student employees and staff.

Question: How has KLI helped you develop your leadership?

JA: When I started working at KLI, I knew close to nothing about anything. I remember going to team meetings and being too afraid to give my opinion. I remember looking at all the tasks that needed to be done for every program and not imagining how it would all get done. But now I’m the head of the Programs Team, I set the agenda and lead the meetings. It’s my responsibility to make sure that everyone is staying on top of their work, getting help when they need it, and that they’re having fun in the process. Working at KLI has made me more accountable, taught me a lot about project management, and overall made me comfortable in any work environment.

PD: It made me realize the importance of listening to others. Everyone should feel like what they want in their experience at KLI is addressed. For example, I’ve worked with Courtney Chan ’17 on the Research Team since we were both freshmen. Our roles and responsibilities have increased since then, but that was through communicating to senior Research Assistants or the Research Coordinators about what work we were interested in. Now that I’m on the other side, I want to make sure I’m also being receptive to what KLI employees would like from the Institute and from us as Team Leads.

MG: I’ve attended so many KLI events that put me face to face with some great leaders. These events include the Kravis-de Roulet Conference (KDR), the Women and Leadership Alliance Workshop (WLA), Board Meetings, and Unscripted: My CMC Narrative, just to name a few. Hearing the speakers at KDR and hearing about the experiences from alumni at WLA have inspired me in so many ways, including developing my leadership. Additionally, facilitating Unscripted and meeting many of the presenters at these events have helped with my public speaking and networking skills. KLI is an amazing institute with an incredible staff and I am so grateful for the opportunities KLI has given me.

Question: What are you looking forward to this semester working as a Team Lead?

PD: Meeting the new hires! And picking out food for the student lunches. I loved the student coordinators last year, Bridget Moran ’16 and Ted Hall ’16, and want to help continue the awesome legacy they left behind.

MG: I am excited to plan some fun events with Pema and Jessica! We are thinking of possibly having a beach day, a trip to Dave and Busters, doing a KLI March Madness competition, and tons of other things that will foster a strong KLI community.

Question: How do you define leadership?

JA: I would define leadership as the ability to motivate others (or yourself) toward completing a certain goal.

PD: Leadership is understanding what others need and being in a position to make it happen. One leadership skill I’ve learned is delegating tasks while still being respectful of others’ time (in school projects especially). I once assigned too much work to a group member and this person wasn’t able to complete it on time. It was on me, and I’ve learned now to be aware of others’ time limitations.

MG: I define leadership as the ability for one to navigate his or her own life. In accomplishing this, others are affected as well: people typically look up to those who seem as though they have everything together and can serve as a role model for their life. Being able to do this is incredibly difficult and I hope to one day have a complete set of leadership skills that enable me to serve as a leader.

Question: How have your leadership skills help you overcome an obstacle?

JA: Leadership skills come in many varieties: problem solving, critical thinking, accountability, decision making, and others would all contribute to helping someone overcome an obstacle. All of the KLI Programs require a lot of logistical planning and over the years I’ve gotten better at predicting the setbacks before they happen, and being prepared to face them head on. I’ve learned how to roll with the punches, when food delivery is late, when someone is absent and I need to fill in to give a presentation, just when something goes not so according to plan, that’s where real leadership skills have to come out to the forefront. This past SLE, the logistic coordinator and I were supposed to arrive to the site three hours before the students, but heavy traffic made it so that we were only there 45 minutes beforehand. With a hundred things to set up and only two people to do it, it was a mad dash everywhere. But we kept a level head, prioritized our tasks, trusted that we each were doing what was needed without constantly monitoring each other, and when the students arrived everything went smoothly.

MG: I have used my leadership skills such as presenting, networking, and public speaking that I have developed to overcome one of my own personal obstacles which was a fear of talking in front of people. I volunteered to facilitate a KLI event called Unscripted: My CMC Narrative and found out that I’d have to give a short speech. I was really nervous but I did well and this gave me the confidence to speak in front of others. This past summer, I was put on the spot by my boss’s boss at my internship and had to give an improvised speech in front of about 40 employees who I didn’t know at all, and I did great! I wasn’t nervous because of the skills I have learned here at KLI and I delivered a speech that was both informative of what I had been learning, and also pretty funny evident by how many chuckles I got out of the audience.

To learn more about the KLI Team Leads, you can check out their biographies here. We look forward to a successful year ahead!

KLI Welcomes Gemma Bulos, Director of Social Innovation and Impact

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KLI welcomes Gemma Bulos to the KLI Team! Gemma is a multi award-winning serial social entrepreneur (SocEnt) having launched three organizations in three continents prior to joining the KLI staff. As the Founding Director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative, she trains grassroots women in Sub-Saharan Africa to become water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) technicians, trainers and social entrepreneurs. GWWI was shortlisted for the Humanitarian Water and Food Award and Gemma was named one of the Top 10 Water Solutions Trailblazers in the world by Reuters Foundation. Prior to stepping in to lead GWWI, Gemma co-founded A Single Drop for Safe Water, developing income-generating community-led water service organizations in disaster prone regions of the Philippines. For this innovation, Gemma received international accolades including Echoing Green as one of the Best Emerging SocEnts in the World; Best SocEnt in the Philippines by Ernst Young; Most Influential Thought Leader and Innovative Filipina in the United States by Filipina Women’s Network; and Best SocEnt in Asia by the Schwab Foundation with a special recognition at the World Economic Forum. Her programs also won accolades including the Silicon Valley Tech Museum Tech Award sponsored by Applied Materials and Warriors of the UN Millennium Goals sponsored by Kodak Philippines. Gemma was invited to bring her knowledge and expertise as a Social Entrepreneur en Residence (SEERS) Fellow at Stanford University where she helped launch a social innovation curriculum where students had opportunities to engage and work alongside award-winning SocEnts through service-learning seminar courses, internships and fellowships abroad.

CMC Advances In Hult Prize Competition

The Hult Prize has recently announced the winning team from Claremont McKenna College that has advanced to the 8th annual regional finals of the competition.

The Hult Prize is a crowdsourcing platform for social good, named one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine. The innovative crowdsourcing platform identifies and launches disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. This year, the Hult Prize is focused around finding solutions for the millions of people around the world affected by the refugee crisis– a challenge personally selected by President Bill Clinton.

The winning team members from Claremont McKenna College include Sarah Sanbar ’17, Khadija Hassanali ’17, Vanessa Liu ’17, and Umar Farooq ’17.

The team competed in the Hult Prize at Claremont McKenna College’s event on November 12th and built a solution to this year’s challenge, Reawakening Human Potential. Their solution is a refugee run news website.

The team will now move on to compete at the Hult Prize regional finals in March 2017, which are being hosted at one of Hult International Business School’s five campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. Claremont McKenna College will compete in San Francisco.

Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder of the Hult Prize attributes the success of the competition to the global youth revolution. He said, “We continue to be moved by the large number of students from around the world who are capitalizing on the opportunity to develop business models that target those who are in most need. We wish every team the best of luck and thank Claremont McKenna College for supporting this initiative.”

Following the regional finals, one winning team from each host city will advance to an intensive 8- week summer business incubator, where they will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business. The final round of competition will take place in September, where a jury panel will select the annual Hult Prize winner. None other than President Bill Clinton himself will award the USD 1,000,000 Prize to the winning team.

“The Hult Prize is a wonderful example of the creative cooperation needed to build a world with shared opportunity, shared responsibility, and shared prosperity, and each year I look forward to seeing the many outstanding ideas the competition produces.” – President Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

About the Hult Prize Foundation
The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship, which brings together the brightest college and university students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The annual initiative is the world’s largest student competition and crowd-sourcing platform for social good, and has been funded by the Hult family since its inception in 2009. To learn more, visit www.hultprize.org.
Press Contacts sjoseph18@cmc.ed

How Leadership Starts From Within: A Recap of the 8th Annual Women and Leadership Workshop

By Linnea Uyeno '20

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER LEADERS: Cheri Strelow (left) with her daughter Katrina Soelter (right) at the Women and Leadership Workshop.

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER LEADERS: Cheri Strelow (left) with her daughter Katrina Soelter (right) at the Women and Leadership Workshop.

As a freshman at CMC, I have had the opportunity to attend a few career-oriented conferences on campus. While they have been informative, they have tended to feature predominantly male panelists. This year’s Women and Leadership Workshop was a completely different experience for me. It was truly inspiring to listen to the success stories of alumnae. They shared perspectives that opened my mind to a variety of different topics: talking about overcoming discrimination, starting families, navigating work-life balance, and becoming leaders in their respective industries.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Victoria Halsey, Vice-President of Applied Learning for The Ken Blanchard Companies, offered a few tips that I would like to share with my female peers who weren’t able to attend the conference. As a writer, I have always understood the power of articulation. However, as a woman, I have never put much thought into how I must express my thoughts differently than a man. Dr. Halsey opened my eyes to this, and started the conference with a framework to help women lead themselves.

There is this unique confidence characteristic that all women at CMC have. You don’t realize what it means until you are outside of it”, Claudia Raigoza ‘14
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. Halsey pictured here presents her steps to self empowerment as a female. 

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. Halsey pictured here presents her steps to self empowerment as a female. 

She pointed out the fact that a strong leader must know themselves well before they can lead others. They must know their strengths and weaknesses, so that they can leverage their talents and seek help on their shortcomings. Situational self-leadership is about knowing how to help others help you. “Often times as women we feel like we have to do things ourselves,” said Dr. Halsey. In the workplace, many women feel like a task will be taken away from them if they ask for help. Frequently, women are worried that they have to appear perfect to be seen as equivalent to male coworkers. In fact, “sometimes, asking for help can lead to over-supervision,” proclaimed Dr. Halsey.

In order to combat this, Dr. Halsey suggested that we rephrase the way we ask for help. Instead of saying “I need help” you can say “Do you have five minutes: so that I can run my ideas by you. Then I can make a decision.” By doing this, you are taking ownership, and are giving your leader the opportunity to relax. This language gives you the power to be the decision maker. “We create the leaders we get by the language we use,” said Dr. Halsey.

Dr. Halsey ended the talk on an empowering note. “This language is one of the greatest gifts that you have as a female. It allows you to be able to find the right people, so that you can ask for what you need, rather than just sitting quietly hoping that someone is going to teach you.”

 

After the keynote speech, we all headed to McKenna Auditorium for breakout discussion groups. We had the opportunity to explore different career clusters such as: tech, science, consulting, real-estate, non-profit work, law, finance, entrepreneurship, entertainment, education, and more. Each table had a few alumna that shared her perspective on her specific industry. Then we split up into tables focused on specific questions ranging from asking for a promotion to how to navigate social interactions at work. They offered encouraging words of advice.

I continued the conversation surrounding situational leadership with alumna and Vice President of IT at Warner Bros, Cheri Strelow, and her daughter Katrina Soelter, who works as a Financial Advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors (a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC)

“Be a self-advocate. Know what you want, and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance or for a specific role. I have done this a number of times. My mom and I always talk before I have go into any of those conversations. We will literally script out what I want to say. The best way to do it is to actually to remove yourself a little bit from the situation, so that you can see where the other person is coming from and how your language can support that,” said Katrina Soelter.

The pair exchanged understanding nods, as if they had cracked a secret code to navigating inner-office politics as a female. Both of them have overcome gender barriers. Cheri Strelow was one of the first women to walk the CMC halls, as a part of the Pioneer class of 1980. She later became a trailblazer in the IT industry. Her daughter, Katrina, shared the advice her mom passed on to her.

“I just kept asking [to be an advisor]. My bosses were thinking a five year plan, but I was thinking a two year plan. When I asked, I would come prepared. I would have the script ready. One of the things my mom has taught me is to not be afraid of silence. Don’t be afraid of being succinct, and then waiting. Sometimes silence is more powerful, specifically in workplaces where women might feel like they are not being heard, or if they feel someone has made a comment that may not be appropriate. I believe that sometimes it can be more powerful to look at someone. Then you are not pushy. You have made your point,” said Katrina.

Next, I had the opportunity to interact with alumna and KLI Fellow, Claudia Raigoza’14, who is a Product Manager at First Data Corporation. “There is this unique confidence characteristic that all women at CMC have. You don’t realize what it means until you are outside of it. There is this confidence that is learned [from] being in such a small arena with like-minded and completely different individuals. It’s an experience that I can’t even put into words,” said Claudia.

It’s events like Women and Leadership Workshop that promote this unique confidence. Frankly, I was inspired by the stories of these strong female leaders and trailblazers. I know that they too, have walked down the career pathway. They may not have had the easiest road to the top. However, now that I have seen the success that they have had along the road, I feel like I too can walk along the path with a little confidence in my heeled step.

Kravis De-Roulet Conference

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By Connor Bloom ’19

On Friday March 3rd and Saturday March 4th the Kravis Leadership Institute will be hosting its 25th annual Kravis-de Roulet conference at Claremont McKenna College. This year’s theme, Inclusive Leadership: Transforming Diverse Lives, Workplaces and Societies, will explore questions relating to inclusive leadership: what is it and why does it matter? In a world often divided over contentious issues, what would it be like if we instead listened to each other’s stories and sought to empathize with one another’s life experiences? How might these skills help us construct a more inclusive worldview? Could inclusion and inclusive leadership hold the keys to transforming organizations and even societies? These questions and more will be explored during the two-day conference. The conference design will include many opportunities for dialogue, Q&A, interactive learning, and idea sharing with speakers and participants.

The conference kicks off with a welcome address surrounding the theme of Envisioning a More Inclusive World by Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director at the National Institute for Civil Discourse, at 11:30 a.m. in the Security Pacific Room, M.M.C. Athenaeum. Throughout the rest of the conference, high profile speakers will give a series of addresses and panel discussions about the identifying behaviors, lessons, and solutions relating to Inclusive Leadership In Practice.

Day Two will primarily focus on speaker sessions, interactive learning, and dialogue revolving around Fostering Inclusive Interpersonal and Team Dynamics, Building Inclusive Organizations and Societies, and the Next Steps on the Path to Inclusion. Guest lecturers and panelists include: Ed Schein, Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, The Organizational Culture and Leadership Institute, David Thomas, Professor at Harvard Business School, and Michael Benitez, Chief Diversity Officer and Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at University of Puget Sound, among many others. Collectively the speakers come from all professions — the public to private sector, from education to consulting. The full list of guest speakers and their bios can be found here.

In today’s world where discussions of diversity and inclusion have finally been brought to the forefront of news, our theme is more salient now than ever before. We look forward to having you attend and create a more inclusive world together.

Why We Need Civil Discourse During These Divided Times?

By Linnea Uyeno ’20

Carolyn Lukensmeyer holds up her takeaways from the conference about inclusion and diversity.

Carolyn Lukensmeyer holds up her takeaways from the conference about inclusion and diversity.

Fundamental tenets of our democracy are currently under threat, according to Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. She has worked in the White House as the Consultant to the Chief of Staff and served as Chief of Staff to the Governor of Ohio. Through her work in political offices, she was inspired to start AmericaSpeaks, so that ordinary people would have a voice and the tools and platform to help strengthen our democracy.

The decline of democracy did not just begin in the 2016 presidential election. In fact, the 2016 election was more of a symptom than a cause, according to Lukensmeyer. The political divide between Republicans and Democrats has been growing deeper for some time now.

“Throughout most of modern political history, if you took the 535 members of congress and looked at it as a bell curve there were places where some conservative democrats and liberal republicans overlapped. They were willing to compromise, and they shared some of the basic political philosophy. If you look at the bell curve, now, there is absolutely no overlap,” said Lukensmeyer.

So why have the seas parted and turned salty against one another? Well, Lukensmeyer points to the Supreme Court’s Decision in Citizens United as a root cause.

“In 1992, when George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton ran against each other the combination of their campaign contributions and in total spent 92 or 93 million dollars. When Mitt Romney and Barack Obama ran, the total amount spent on the 2012 presidential campaign was more than 7 billion dollars,” said Lukensmeyer. Essentially, the decision gave corporations the same campaign funding rights as an individual. It has changed the face of campaign funding.

Additionally, Lukensmeyer holds the media responsible for increasing the division. “The creation of information technology has undercut the business model of journalism,” said Lukensmeyer. The rise of the internet caused advertisers to shift their support out of print, and it reduced the amount of money spent on long form journalism. While it may have democratized information, it has led to everyone being a broadcaster.

“The internet’s structure does not put people that disagree with each other in dialogue in a meaningful way. The amount of negative content and responses on the internet has increased exponentially.”

Furthermore, it is easy to get stuck in a media silo and to just absorb political information that confirms your political views. People are becoming more polarized because they are absorbing content that only speaks to one political party. This problem is only exacerbated by social media sites like Facebook that have an algorithm for only showing you content that they know you will enjoy.

“You need to access news sources that don’t just affirm what you already believe,” said Lukensmeyer.

The increasing polarization of the media and congress has led to people being unable to have civil discussions.

“The divides have grown deeper. During and after this election we saw and are still seeing the demonization of Trump voters by Clinton voters and vice versa. We, the people, have got to take the step of learning to be in contact with people who think differently than we do, and learning to how to listen to understand rather that to convince,” said Lukensmeyer.

Why does this lack of communication pose a problem? It creates political gridlock. Furthermore, it destroys the deliberative nature of democracy. The process of civil deliberation creates a system of political accountability that is essential to democracy. If we aren’t talking to one another, a demagogue can divide, conquer, and rise to power.

“My concern for your generation… is that you have been under a explicitly anti-government narrative coming from mass media and politicians for your entire lives. Many of you start with an anti-government bias, and the positions you hold about it are not fact based. I am not sure if your generation carries enough perspective to protect fundamental institutions of our democracy,” said Lukensmeyer.

So what can you, as a college student, do? Well for starters, take pride in your citizenship, and do not take it for granted. Citizenship is not a right. It is a responsibility. In order to be a contributing citizen it is important to engage in civil discourse with people that you disagree with. In the liberal community of Claremont, this can be a difficult task. However, push yourself to challenge your beliefs by reading or listening to alternative perspectives with an open mind. Maybe even call a relative that you disagree with, and attempt to have a civil conversation. Lukensmeyer’s organization has an app that helps individuals do this.

Take your cellphone and text 898-00 and in message line type civility. You should do this activity with friends. The app will send back prompts for you and your friends to talk about, and it will guide you through a civil discussion. Then, once you have had this conversation with friends, you are encouraged to take that framework and step outside of your comfort zone by having a civil discussion with someone you fundamentally disagree with.

“Most of us have pretty strong reactions to people that have different viewpoints than our own. What most Americans don’t do is to take the time to reflect on what it is in me that makes me react so strongly.”

Find that thing that makes you itch for justice, and scratch it. For example, you might select rank-choice voting as a systemic change you believe in suggested Lukensmeyer.

“It’s great because it cuts the incentive to run negative ads against your opponent and can reduce polarization. Get a group of students together that are passionate about implementing rank choice voting in California. Take a petition to your state and members of the assembly and the senate, and the secretary of state,” said Lukensmeyer.

Some of the reforms our system needs seem so basic. The fact that they haven’t been accomplished makes it seem insurmountable.

“Different centers that hold power today aren’t going to give the power up until someone forces them to give the power up. The weight of historical institutional power is on the side of the system today, and it takes a huge push from money or citizen power, to break through the institutional power.”

“Is it idealistic to think that we could overcome the current political situation?” I asked Lukensmeyer.

“I would never say that. One of the great gifts to humanity is the idealism of each new generation. It is part of what keeps the world on a positive progression, as Martin Luther King said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’. There may be in specific issue areas a lack of facts and support to help you act on your idealism in ways to produce meaningful social change, but your idealism is a great asset,” said Lukensmeyer.

Re-thinking Leadership: Deborah Meehan on Racial Inequalities and Individualism

By Sofia Trigo ’20

Deborah Meehan gives presentation during the Kravis De-Roulet annual conference. 

Deborah Meehan gives presentation during the Kravis De-Roulet annual conference. 

Deborah Meehan is the founder and executive director of the Leadership Learning Community where she works with a network of over 9,000 people who fund, run and study leadership development and share a commitment to improving leadership development programs both nationally and internationally. In her presentation at the Kravis Leadership Institute’s 25th Annual Kravis-de Roulet Conference, “What in our Current Approaches to Leadership Development Contributes to or Undermines Greater Social and Racial Equity?”, Ms. Meehan explored how individualism and concepts of meritocracy permeate the ways we think about leadership and inequality. She also examined the influence race and racial tensions can have on leadership and leadership development programs. After her discussion, I was able to sit down with Ms. Meehan and continue discussing leadership and its current relationship to individualism and race.

After wrapping our discussion, I was struck by just how complicated it is to re-think leadership and effectively change how companies and organizations conduct leadership development programs. Ms. Meehan’s point that leadership exists within a context is something I feel we often dismiss as we so quickly praise the ‘corporate heroic model’ or the individual leader. I began to wonder how much this societal emphasis on the individual leader has influenced students here at Claremont McKenna College conceptualize leadership among their peers. I began, too, to realize how important, yet, under acknowledged, team work and team building is to effective leadership. In both her presentation and interview, Ms. Meehan reminded me of the individual progress and societal growth re-thinking leadership can inspire and encourage. Below are excerpts from our discussion together.

Q: Could you talk a little more about what you mentioned in your talk regarding ‘rethinking leadership with a race conscious lens’?

Deborah Meehan (DM): By race conscious lens we mean once you’ve started to think about your leadership development programing there are so many ways that you will need to equip people and so many ways in which you’ll need to run your program if you want to contribute to greater social equity. It starts even with recruitment and all the barriers that exist in participation. How you think creatively about those barriers is critical. Whether you’re able to provide some kind of special equity fund for people who have children or transportation issues, or, whether you’re willing to, in the design of your program, to challenge philanthropy about who is getting money and why. Then, in the actual design of your program, what kind of curriculum exists? I had a poll that I didn’t use during my talk that discusses leadership development curriculum and what should be included. For example, do you have a curriculum that explains the racialization of opportunity structures in this country? Does it help individuals to understand this systemic problem and provide them with tools and an understanding of how best to disrupt it? Are you teaching people how to talk about race? Are you willing to be straight-on about white privilege? In the design of the program, are you privileging experts that are white and outside of the lived experience that is most rich when it comes to ‘change work’? How do you co-create programming with the participants to tap their expertise? In leadership development, a big question is: how can you create a learning community so that everybody can learn together from the actions they take and then how do you build sustainable networks from that.

Q: You also discussed how leadership is often thought of as super individualistic, particularly in America. How do you think we should go about changing this conception of leadership?

DM: Right, we like to call that individualism in leadership the “corporate heroic model.” Changing this requires a cultural shift. That’s why; we say making that one meta-shift right now would be huge for us in the future. We have to get people to start expanding what they understand leadership to be. In fact, I don’t agree with the paradigm ‘leadership and followership’ that was the theme last time I was here for a conference. I think it encourages people to abdicate leadership roles. Would you say that anybody who was on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement was a follower? My feeling is everyone participating was enacting leadership and Martin Luther King Jr. played an amazing role in terms of being a representative and the voice for many that were mobilized to lead. There were students, legal organizations, janitor’s unions, the southern Christian leadership conference – there was enormous collaboration and negotiation that was happening behind the scenes. Yet, because we are so attached to the individual and leadership, we fail to talk more broadly about the massive mobilization of leadership in the Civil Rights movement.

Q: Could you elaborate on how you see teamwork fitting in with our individual-framed concept of leadership?

DM: I mentioned in my talk the example of a woman who exceeded all goals set out for her by encouraging teamwork and working with a team, and yet, simply because she promoted the team rather than her own leadership, she was not acknowledged for her success and was told she wasn’t being ‘leader-like’. This is another example of that cultural shift we need to begin making. I even think that in companies, people are recognizing you need teams but we set up performance measures that undermine teams and teamwork. People do not get evaluated as a team, they get evaluated as individuals. This standard encourages a kind of competition where individuals aren’t driven towards teamwork but rather to outshine everybody else. There are so many current structures in place that are undermining re-thinking and enacting leadership as more inclusive and diverse process.

Q: What do you mean by leadership existing within a context?

DM: I can actually use an example from this KLI event! I was sitting yesterday with a woman in one of the small group conversations who is a student here. She was talking about how she got involved in this program that was looking to challenge the fact that arts on campus were so male identified. Then, in doing that work, women of color responded saying, yeah, but you know what, women of color are even less represented, and this communication and conversation grew from there. Well that’s her leadership and it’s happening in a specific context. It’s not as if she is going into a leadership program, getting skills and is now suddenly a leader. Leadership is about what we are moved by, who we can connect with, and how we can make it happen together. Leadership programs, however, aren’t structured to help individuals work more effectively with other people in the contexts in which they lead. We have to start re-structuring leadership programs to acknowledge context and to bring leadership supports to groups of people where they are already engaged in change work if we are to do a better job of supporting social and racial equity.

Finding Passion in the Mountains

By Connor Bloom ’19

GROUP PHOTO: of the team of students and staff that participated in the retreat. 

GROUP PHOTO: of the team of students and staff that participated in the retreat. 

On Saturday, January 28th twenty Claremont McKenna students began their day early and headed over to the Kravis Center to catch a 7am bus to the Kravis Leadership Institute’s second Passion and Purpose Retreat co-led by Scott Sherman, Senior Director of Social Innovation and Co-Curricular Programming and Gemma Bulos, Director of Social Innovation and Impact along with Shreya Bhatnagar ’20, Sydney Baffour ’20, and CC Schwab ’19—three students trained as Social Innovation Consultants (SIC’s). After a relatively short bus ride up into the mountains around Big Bear, the students unloaded their bags in their cabins and went straight into workshops. The students spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday morning doing activities designed to help bring out their creativity, innovation, improvisation, and ultimately their passions.

The first activity that the students were tasked with by Scott was to find someone in the room that they didn’t know and ask one another a series of increasingly personal questions. In describing the activity Scott noted that it is incredibly important in today’s world to be able to relate to people, to get to know them, and to make them feel valued; it is through making these types of connections that you can accomplish change. While some activities such as this were more serious, others pushed students out of their comfort zones in completely different ways.

One series of activities saw students work on their improv skills in various situations, encouraging them to think on the spot, even make mistakes and then run with them! Students also got to hear both Scott and Gemma’s stories—the meandering paths that they took to being social entrepreneurs, the lesson being that life isn’t always a straight path to where you are going. After hearing their stories, students took a half hour alone to themselves to write out three completely different life paths that they could see for themselves if they had no constraints. When they came together to share, many students found that the activity gave them a renewed sense of purpose and hope, both in what they can accomplish in their lives, and in what others chose to do with theirs. A common theme in life trajectories seemed to be giving back to the world or a community in some way. Saturday ended with a campfire and a capella sing-alongs (not always on key). With the smell of campfire smoke in their sweaters, the students retired to their cabins for the night.

Sunday morning saw the SIC’s—Shreya, Sydney, and CC—leading the activities. After collectively coming up with what they perceived to be the nine biggest problems facing the world today, students worked to come up with solutions. They were encouraged to write solutions, no matter how crazy or infeasible, on sticky notes and post them up around the room. After the solution portion had finished, each student took one solution idea and devised a realistic game plan to implement it. These individual implementation plans were then shared with the rest of the group.

As the students hopped back on the bus to head back to campus, there was a general sense that they had really gotten something tangible from the two-day retreat. Although they may not know exactly what their purpose is as they returned to campus, they were definitely feeling more passionate about going out there and finding it. Ellen Broaddus ’20 summed up the retreat nicely saying, “I think in college we sometimes learn that every decision must further our professional ‘plan’, but this workshop showed me that there is value in mistakes and dead ends and that as long as you work towards finding your passion, you’ll end up where you need to be.”

The retreat would not have been possible without the behind-the-scenes logistical work of Tori Gaines, Leadership Programs Coordinator, KLI.