Freshman Half: The Science of Making Life Better

 First year student, Mimi Thompson '21, sharing during an activity.
First year student, Mimi Thompson ’21, sharing during an activity.

Linnea Uyeno ’20  

One of the most impactful experiences before students officially begin their first semester at CMC is the Welcome Orientation Adventures. Now, freshman have a second opportunity to reshape their CMC experience and identity through KLI’s Freshman Half Retreat. This year, KLI took students up into the frozen Pali mountains to learn about the “Science of Living a Happier Life”. It is far too common that second semester freshman feel disillusioned returning to college from winter break.Through the Freshman Half Retreat, freshman were able to gain the skills, mindset, and community to tackle second semester and prepare them for the rest of their college journey.

The KLI programs team designed the retreat to integrate specific skill sets such as strategies for time management and resilience with fun community building games. Through improv and creative exercises, freshman conquered their fears of failure and social anxiety.

“My favorite activity was centered around indicating stressors in our social and academic lives, and then doing fun improv skits to see the different ways to tackle the problem,” said Mimi Thompson ’21.

Additionally, the retreat also taught students how to genuinely connect to their classmates.

“Freshman Half taught me that happiness comes from being brave enough to be vulnerable. I know that being open to people can be challenging, but now I realize that genuine relationships are essential to happiness,” said Carly Truscott ’21.

Most importantly, the retreat helped freshman to envision where they wanted to take their college experience and to define their passions and purpose. In small groups, students had time to unpack feelings and talk about their hopes, goals, and dreams for the future. It gave the freshman the space and environment to write down and truly reflect about their passions away from the social constraints of CMC.

The Freshman Half bridged the gap in support systems, and gave freshman the ability to return to CMC with confidence.

“The KLI Freshman Half retreat helped me to feel more prepared to effectively tackle the issues that I will face in college. I now have the tools to better manage my time, focus my priorities, and care for my mental health,” said Elena Castellanos ’21.

At the end of the two day retreat, freshman left the experience feeling empowered and excited for the future.

“It was a motivating experience, which made me want to get back to CMC and put it into practice,” said Caitlyn Louzado ’21.

The campfire had burned out, but something special had been kindled during the retreat. There was a sort of inertia that filled the air with passion and compassion.

How to Lead and Influence Without Formal Authority, A Workshop with Professor David Day

By Robert Cain ’21

 Professor David Day and workshop attendees discuss sources of power.  
Professor David Day and workshop attendees discuss sources of power.  

For many of us, leadership is nothing but a confusing concept that leaves us feeling perplexed when we don’t fully understand its relevance. It can also leave us feeling guilty when we don’t frequently implement it in our daily lives. We often underestimate our ability to lead due to insufficient exposure to formal leadership roles, unmet age requirements, or even lack of experience. However, you and I both have the potential to be successful leaders right now!

On February 2, KLI Academic Director and Leadership Professor David Day conducted a leadership development workshop in conjunction with the Soll Center for Student Opportunity called “Influencing and Leading Without Formal Authority,” which focused on the art and science of getting people to say “yes” to your requests.

Professor Day initiated the workshop with a few questions and caveats. He warned us that we would not walk away from this workshop being a super influencer. “If you take what you learn from this workshop, internalize it, and then practice it, you will be significantly more successful in getting people to say ‘yes’ to your requests.” He then raised two questions, asking us about what we hoped to gain from this two-hour workshop and the last time we tried to influence someone. Justin Rodriguez ‘19 noted how “we will be leaders at some point in our lives, so this workshop is serving as early preparation.” Professor Day agreed, but also made the distinction that “you are a leader even if you don’t have a formal leadership position.”

For many of us students, this is a welcome relief because we don’t always have easy access to formal leadership positions, excluding the positions offered in clubs and organizations existing on campus. Professor Day’s statement showed me that leadership development starts when you are ready. So why not now?

Good leaders can ethically persuade others to their viewpoints. Professor Day noted three achievable outcomes when trying to persuade someone: resistance, compliance, or commitment. Resistance occurs when a person opposes your request or influence attempt. For example, trying to convince your parents to buy you the latest iPhone upgrade, but they say “no”. Compliance occurs when a person agrees by doing what is asked. If we continue with the same example, then your parents would agree to purchase the iPhone upgrade. Finally, commitment occurs when a person enthusiastically agrees to the request, which could equate to a buyer happily agreeing to make a purchase. In this instance, it would amount to your parents physically purchasing you the iPhone upgrade. Yay!

It’s clear that resistance is the least desired outcome, so how do we increase the amount of compliance or commitment our requests receive?

First determine if you desire compliance or commitment, and then select which common sources of power and principles of persuasion are necessary in your influencer strategy.

Sources of Power

As a freshman student, I sometimes feel as though my skills and professional value get short changed due to my age. Nor my or anyone else’s value or leadership potential should ever be determined merely by age alone. Many sources of power and leadership exist. So if we cannot access formal authority, then we can use other sources.

For example, if you comprehend specific course material well, then consider tutoring for that subject. Once people realize your ability to solve one of their problems, they will be more likely to view you as an expert. As a result, your reputation as an influencer will grow significantly, causing more people to request your skill set in order to solve their problems.  

Last semester, I tutored students in calculus 1 and 2, many of whom disliked their professor’s style of teaching or the dynamic of group tutoring sessions. It started by helping friends with practice problems to  hosting large review sessions for midterms, which then lead to becoming an official math tutor—bear in mind that I am only a freshman. The moral here is that skills are an opportunity for you to exercise your expert leadership, while remembering the benefits offered by the principles of persuasion.         

Principles of Persuasion

1. Reciprocity

A lot of the time, we approach situations looking to receive a benefit rather than give without expecting anything in return. Science shows that people repay in kind, so why not make giving a part of your influencer strategy? One nifty tip that Professor Day shared with us is how to properly close a conversation after lending someone a helping hand. Instead of saying, “don’t worry about it” after helping someone say, “if the roles were reversed, I know you’d do the same for me.” This instills a sense of obligation in the person rather than letting them off the hook entirely.

2. Scarcity

People want more of what they don’t have. For example, when online stores announce that a limited supply remains in stock, people feel more inclined to make a purchase. We can adopt similar language when formulating persuasive propositions by telling people what they will lose rather than what they will gain from agreeing to your request. It is not unethical to frame things in a way that will grab people’s attention.  

3. Authority

Many college students feel unqualified to hold positions of authority due to lack of experience or formal leadership roles. People defer to experts, and we are all experts in something; formal leadership doesn’t need to validate this fact. You can also build your perceived authority and expertise by first mentioning weakness in your request and then showing how the strengths behind the request will more than make up for any weaknesses. In this way, you not only can show you know what you are talking about (expertise) but also build trust with the other person.

4. Consistency

When asking people to commit, get them to commit verbally or in writing. According to Professor Day, “people live up to what they write down.” This will make people much more likely to follow through on their promises.

5. Liking

Research shows that we tend to cooperate with people who are more like ourselves. Always look for similarities, give genuine praise, and provide compliments when attempting to influence others.  

6. Consensus

People follow the lead of similar others. It is a natural human instinct to fear being left out. Ethically exploit this fear by establishing the successful majority and showing the person you are influencing where he or she is currently situated in relation to the majority.  

Many students have expressed to me sentiments of bewilderment in regards to understanding the underlying purpose and value of KLI. As a KLI student employee, I found this workshop to exemplify one aspect about what KLI actually does. Ignoring the obvious leadership aspect, it enhanced student’s ability to achieve success in the real word, which is relevant and applicable to students across all majors.      

At the end of the day, we all have the ability to lead successfully, either in formal or informal capacities. However, this mindset begins with us believing it for ourselves. “If we don’t think we are leaders, if we don’t think we are powerful, then when we get into situations where successful leadership is required, then we are at best tentative,” said Professor Day, who then implemented a piece of his own advice. “I’ve invested my two hours into this workshop, but I know if the roles were reversed, you would do the same for me,” he jokingly concluded the workshop.  

Lessons Learned in the Entertainment Industry

By Sofia Trigo ‘20

 David Day, Michael Grindon '76, Gerry Sanoff '76, and Jay Conger at the event 
David Day, Michael Grindon ’76, Gerry Sanoff ’76, and Jay Conger at the event 

Sitting around Michael Grindon’s ‘76 Pacific Palisades patio, it was hard not to admire the greco-roman columns, perfectly groomed lawn, and impeccable pool. As KLI Journalists, Robert Cain ‘21 and I had the opportunity to attend the Kravis Fellows event hosted by entertainment legend, Michael Grindon, and his longtime friend in the industry, Gerry Sanoff ‘76. 

Grindon and Sanoff, although both attendees of Claremont Mckenna College, officially met amid work at Sony Pictures. For 15 years, Michael Grindon worked as President of Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI) and has worked for prominent entertainment companies such as HBO and Columbia Pictures. He currently works for Legendary Television as President of Worldwide Distribution. Gerry Sanoff works as a freelance writing consultant and has enjoyed contracts with Sony, CBS, and NBC. Prior to entering the international arena, Gerry spent 12 years writing and producing TV shows in the United States such as Matlock and Police Academy. The two provided an in depth fittingly funny analysis of the entertainment industry and its constantly changing dynamic. 

Indeed, hearing both Grindon and Sanoff describe their respective experiences managing and writing, captured two distinct paths in entertainment: Business/Management and Creative/Content Development. 

Grindon began the talk with a question: Are we experiencing the Golden Age of TV or its messy, confusing future? From there, he talked about technological progress – most notably streaming services – and how the traditional TV production model has changed enormously over time. Indeed, he revealed – to a very surprised group – that the largest television viewing platform is YouTube, which receives over 1 billion viewing hours a day! 

Sanoff provided another lens in which to consider the entertainment industry. Talking to the group, he emphasized the importance of cultural awareness. As a longtime entertainment writer, Sanoff currently adapts and remakes American TV shows for a particular foreign audience. He shared various funny encounters that chronicled his range of experience around the world. Sanoff also explained that the business is a tough one: “If you get beaten down, then you must get back up. In the entertainment industry, you must be able to take profound criticism because you will be rejected 80% of the time.”

 Michael Grindon speaking to event participants
Michael Grindon speaking to event participants

Both Grindon and Sanoff emphasized leadership development and interpersonal connections as foundational to succeeding in the entertainment industry. Grindon explained that, “There are many challenges for a good leader.  The greatest challenge in any particular situation depends on the type of leadership required.  Leading men in combat will be very different from leading a group in a corporate environment.   Key items to remember: define the goals for your team, make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do and how to do it, be generous with sharing information and praise, and do the right thing whenever possible.” 

Sanoff also shared similar sentiments and reiterated the role respect plays in effective leadership. He described often feeling alienated and never fully embraced by his international colleagues. Over time, however, he realized that by actively putting in effort to learn about different cultural traditions, norms, and values he could forge lasting bonds with his co-workers, regardless of their background.  

After both speakers concluded their discussions, I was left with a sense of excitement and community. It was incredible to watch CMC alumni come together to discuss their career paths and future goals. Grindon and Sanoff were so open to questions and offered current KLI students advice on their professional pursuits. 

Robert, my co-journalist explained that, “Coming from CMC as a Media Studies major, I know my field is very underrepresented; but, the opportunity to see and interact with a CMC alumni who is thriving in the media-entertainment industry gives me much hope for the future.”

As someone broadly interested in writing and the entertainment industry, this was an incredibly eye-opening and informative experience. I learned about the varying kinds of work in the industry and was pushed to think critically about what it is I truly want to do with my life. Michael Grindon and Gerry Sanoff epitomized the CMC values of working hard and pursuing one’s passion, and helped provide me with a tangible idea of what future in the entertainment industry might look like.

Still an Analyst: From Leadership to Finance

By Tierra Patmavanu ’18

 Pema Donyo '17 and Tierra Patmavanu ’18 at CMC's 2017 Job Fair represeting Cain Brothers
Pema Donyo ’17 and Tierra Patmavanu ’18 at CMC’s 2017 Job Fair represeting Cain Brothers

           My experience as a research assistant at the Kravis Leadership Institute for Professor Ron Riggio was a fundamental part of my development not only as a student at Claremont McKenna College (CMC), but also as an investment banking summer analyst at Cain Brothers.

            It seems like yesterday that the Class of 2018 sat down for a sophomore class dinner at the Athenaeum. At this event, I met Professor Riggio and explained my interest in research and the Kravis Leadership Institute. Shortly after, I started working as a research assistant. While I did not have explicit experience in leadership studies, Professor Riggio saw my potential. Cain Brothers also recognized my potential – the potential to grow and develop not only professionally, but also personally.

            It has truly been an incredible summer experience. From contributing to a live sell-side deal and helping with creating a winning sell-side pitch book, and managing the initial client due diligence process in preparation for an upcoming kickoff meeting with Rob Fraiman, the President and CEO of Cain Brothers, I have experienced a tremendous amount of growth. The skills that I have developed at Cain Brothers such as the ability to take criticism, adapting to a quickly changing environment, developing self-awareness of my boundaries and learning to say no, are skills that I have continued carry on in my academic career at CMC. But what genuinely resonates with both the Kravis Leadership Institute and Cain Brothers is the mentorship. At the Kravis Leadership Institute, Professor Riggio and Professor Julie Christian from the University of Birmingham, England served as remarkable mentors. At Cain Brothers, I found the same type of mentorship from both junior and senior bankers.

            While there were challenging times, my experience at Cain Brothers was unbelievably rewarding. It taught me the importance of realizing the bigger picture and of maintaining your authenticity as a person. CMC cares and Cain Brothers cares as well. During my last year at “Camp Claremont”, I am looking forward to continue building my acumen in finance and accounting and enjoying all of the experiences senior year has to offer.


About the author

Born and raised from Las Vegas, Tierra Patmavanu is a senior at Claremont McKenna College. After graduating from CMC in May 2018, Tierra will work as an investment banking analyst with the Mergers & Acquisitions team at Cain Brothers in their San Francisco office. This past summer Tierra interned at Cain Brothers as an investment banking summer analyst. As an Edward J. Sexton PPE Fellow, a Robert Day School Scholar, and a 2017 CMC Nominee for Harry S. Truman Scholarship, Tierra will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Sequence in Financial Economics from CMC’s Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.

Success Redefined: An Interview with Kyle Weiss

By Robert Cain ’21

 Kyle Weiss '15 who cofounded FundaField, a nonprofit dedicated to helping underpriveleged students through sports. 
Kyle Weiss ’15 who cofounded FundaField, a nonprofit dedicated to helping underpriveleged students through sports. 

Over Thanksgiving Break, I interviewed Kyle Weiss ‘15, a recent CMC graduate and former Kravis Leadership Institute employee, to inquire about his career history, CMC education, and his definition of the meaning of success. Co-founding FUNDaFIELD, “a non-profit organization, run by students, dedicated to enriching the lives of less fortunate kids in the developing world through sports,” he has made strides in making a global impact through innovation and forward-thinking.

His past experiences highlight unique aspects of the CMC education and challenges conventional views of success.    

The atmosphere of CMC is extremely career-driven. From perfecting your resume and acing interviews to selecting accurate career interests on Handshake and reaching out to alumni, CMCers are trained to pursue success as early as their first year of college. But what exactly is success, and how is it quantified?

I have observed a common theme at CMC: students declaring a major and pursuing a career path strictly for financial gain. CMC advertises expertise in certain majors and industries—consulting, economics, financial services—and many students feel compelled to follow them for the simple reason of it leading to the highest paid salary. When I asked Kyle about this topic, he noted how CMC students pursue a career because their views of success align with that of former students, societal expectations, or CMC norms that funnel students into specific industries without them thinking twice about their decision.      

“Saying some CMC students equate money with success is true, but I think reality is more nuanced than that. I think that many CMCers equate success with success, and by that I mean they equate the image of success with success. They all want the big brand-name job. They want the familiar feeling that comes along with the next accomplishment,” Weiss claimed.

But even with clearly defined career paths, CMC students still experience immense pressure to succeed, as Weiss states that “more of the challenge with CMC is the pressure. There is so much pressure  that students turn to well-defined paths because they see how other students before them equated that particular path with success.”

Unfortunately, this ideology forces students to choose majors and careers based strictly on narrow interests, leading them to disregard questions like “what do I actually want to do? Do I want to work in front of a spreadsheet all day? What kind of impact do I want my work to have?,” as proposed by Weiss

It’s not all about the dollar bills. Of course, we all want enough money to comfortably support ourselves and future families; but if the pursuit of success blurs our vision with dollar signs, then is it really worth it? Is all the money in the world worth sacrificing career fulfilment?

In Kyle’s case, he founded FUNDaFIELD in order to better the lives of children in the developing world by “enriching the lives of less fortunate youth and providing soccer fields and equipment to African schools.” “By utilizing the therapeutic power of sports to support the rehabilitation and recovery process in post-conflict and post-trauma regions around the world,” he built sustainable change in areas that needed it. FUNDaFIELD has raised over $500,000 to date and built 10 soccer fields in three countries.

Kyle’s success with FUNDaFIELD shows how small, meaningful actions eventually result in a positive outcome for both the giver and the recipient. If you are persistent and intentional, they just might “spiral into wonderful opportunities,” Kyle explained

Looking back at his CMC experience, Kyle regrets not having more appreciation for the GEs, because he now realizes the importance of “seeing things through a bunch of different lenses. The world is changing too fast to narrow in on one skill. Depth is still critical, but breadth gives you the ability to dynamically react to any situation.”   

I wanted to know what makes Kyle get up in the morning; what motivates him to pursue success? He responded with a list that did not include the word money: making an impact, traveling, meeting new people, constant inspiration, learning new things, exposure to new ideas, strong relationships, and building something out of nothing. Discover what makes you get up in the morning, and pursue that rather than zeros on a check. I think you will be surprised at how often the two intersect.    


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

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 and he became the CEO of S&P in Nov 2013.

“[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

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.


  • 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.