Back to School... My Day at Stanford University
Yesterday I had a unique opportunity to be a part of an MBA graduate course at Stanford University. I was invited by a friend who worked with me at Good Morning America for years, Allison Kluger. Allison along with JD Schramm invited me to be a part of two special series at Stanford Graduate Business School, one called Women in Leadership; View From the Top, and the other one called Reputation Management.
When arriving at Stanford, the first thing I was taken with was the breathtaking campus. I loved experiencing the youthful collegiate feel while walking through campus, however upon entering the classroom, you immediately remember that you are among the elite in education.
Allison and JD offer their students a unique opportunity to hear from successful people in various areas of business including presidents of big corporations and founders of important modern companies like Google, Disney, and Jetblue. These students get an unprecedented opportunity to hear from real life experience about success, leadership, and in this case, reputation management. Part of what I always say is “surround yourself with good mentors to learn from,” and that is exactly what this course is doing!
In Reputation Management they teach the students that you have to conceive what you want your reputation to be, then offer it or make it happen, and then of course, sustain it. At times, you also must defend and protect it or even rebuild it. There are moments of pivot and I have had a lot of those in my life so I had a lot to talk about! You have to come up with how you want people to perceive you and simply deciding on that and constructing the perception is not enough, you then have to live it and sustain it. I explained that when I position myself as a health & wellness advocate, or an expert in a field, I can’t just say that it is so – I go out and walk the walk. If you are a leader in technology, you better get yourself to the leading conferences, forums, and events int that field. Make it your mission to meet higher-ups who have already succeeded in that business. I sometimes accept a job that pays less than I’m used to simply because I want to BE a part of it. You have to build your brand and decide how you want people to view you so that you can continue to succeed in whatever field you choose.
I think that for those going through a masters business program it is just as important to learn about the importance of establishing and maintaining a reputation as it is to learn the techniques for building a strong business model. This is especially true in this age of social media where your reputation can turn in a heartbeat. It is important to learn that sometimes it is necessary to say no to an opportunity that might seem inviting and profitable, if it means putting your reputation and credibility at risk. I've probably said no to almost as many things as I've said yes to in my life.
I really enjoyed the day and the entire experience. What the opportunity actually required of me was to take a step back and take a look at my life and my career with a completely different viewpoint so that I could come up with what my message was to these students. I think that it is interesting and refreshing at some points in your life to step aside and look at your life with fresh eyes. Often, we go through the motions and put one foot in front of the other, but taking the time to reflect on your decisions and your accomplishments is a really great exercise to go through.
What else did I walk away with from my experience? I learned that getting an MBA is really hard! The students work their tails off, these programs are no little thing! I applaud the students for being a part of such an interesting and dynamic educational series and I thank Allison and JD for allowing me to be a part of it… I could get used to this guest teaching thing!