It’s been said that we are the average of the 5 people that we spend the most time with. Which is why it is important to surround yourself with people that will help you average up.
The key is to associate with people that have talents completely different than the ones we have. So we have to be open and vulnerable, venture outside of our comfort zone, by trying different things and engaging in new projects.
In essence, that is much of what the MBA program has been for me so far. By joining different groups and associating with people that have different talents, you will also be putting yourself in a position to add as much value as possible. Those relationships and collaboration efforts will be mutually beneficial.
The key is that you have to be open to hearing other points of view, you have to be flexible and listen to ideas that may be totally opposite of what you think. But most important of all is that you must allow the creation of an environment where everyone feels safe so that ideas are flowing without fear of judgment.
I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do projects with great professionals, who have different skillsets and talents than the ones I have.
None of this would’ve happened if I had stayed with the same group in all my projects and classes due to fear of messing up the chemistry, or being in a group with a workflow that wouldn’t match mine. I took risks and it paid off.
I thought I was organized and had a great workflow until I met, al tocayo, Alejandro Hernandez.
In a case study competition we had, he started the meeting by stating an agenda, the topics that we would cover and how much time we would dedicate on each. That last part is one of the best habits that I’ve picked up.
When the person in charge of timing says that we have to move on to the next subject nobody will feel attacked because the decision to dedicate only a certain amount of time to each topic was made as a team.
Effective and Professional Presentations:
In another project, the first meeting we had was just to do some brainstorming. At the end, we agreed to do some due diligence to bring to the next meeting and share it with the group.
I thought my OCD and minimalistic approach was my competitive advantage, and I prepared a detailed Word document with short sentences, bullet points with key information, and links to all the sources. I was sure that it would be seen as great work.
And along comes Matt Avery, sharing a PDF document, with stock photos, fonts, and colors which followed the style guidelines of the school. And this was just to share his ideas with the group.
I then learned that he uses a great tool called InDesign by Adobe.
Oral Presentations and Public Speaking:
Given that I’m not a native English speaker, I knew that I had to work on my oral presentations. For that reason, I had a goal of always volunteering to do the oral presentations in all the groups that I’m part of.
An opportunity showed up in our Organizational Behavior & Management class. Each group had to pick a member that would deliver a short part (2-3 minutes) of a famous speech for the next class. I got the “I have a Dream” speech (I know, lots of pressure). So I watched over and over again a YouTube video of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering the speech to see the tone he used, moments of inflections in his voice, body language, etc. And then I practiced over and over.
Although I had to read the speech while I was delivering, I believed I had done a good job. And then it was the turn of my classmate Chris Meyering to deliver his speech. More than a speech I would say it was a great performance. This is what happened:
You will only grow if you take risks. Thanks to many of my classmates, I have incorporated strategies and tactics that I didn’t have before in my tool-kit.
At work or school, opportunities will show up to collaborate on projects that may not be in your area of expertise. Take those opportunities, do the best you can, and keep learning. These are the actions that will allow you to average up.
Find out who are the different experts in your environment. There is always someone that is known as the guru using excel, social media marketing, programming, making power point presentations, etc. Find them, join their projects, and don’t forget to have fun and make meaningful connections along the way.
Learning and sharing knowledge is my passion, let’s connect if it’s yours too.
Alejandro I. Sanoja