I created a presentation for the Northwestern University Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. I presented to a group of Ph.D students and alumni at their Professional Development day.
I used The Wizard of Oz as the backdrop to share a few lessons focused on succeeding in “Industry,” as they call it. I call it, “The world of work.” <–actually I think I stole that from Pam Slim.
Here are the 6 + 1 areas I covered. The +1 being Networking / Conference Networking.
I covered the role the good witch Glenda played in Dorothy’s journey and also let them know that not all mentorship experiences are the same. I compared 2 personal mentorship experiences I had and how they were both valuable but very different.
When Things Don’t Work Out
When Dorothy followed the yellow brick road as she was instructed to do by her mentor and made it to Emerald City she was in for a rude awakening. She made it pass the gatekeeper by showing her ruby slippers but when it came time to see the wizard she was told, “The wizard is not seeing anyone today.”
I let them know that things don’t always work out…the way we plan. I shared my personal story of being rejected by The Big East Conference several times after grad school, but a connection I made there would later get me a position at the University of Connecticut.
After being told that she would not be able to see the wizard, Dorothy started to cry and say that she will never see her aunt again. The gatekeeper felt her pain as he also had an aunt. That display of vulnerability got her the opportunity to see the wizard.
I let them know that there are times when we have to stop wearing the armor and acting the way we think we are “supposed” to act and just be human.
I shared a personal story about admitting that I did not know how to study when I first got to college and how I was not greeted with laughter but support.
Dorothy finally gets to see the wizard who lets her and her friends know that he can help them, but he wants them to do something for him first. He wanted them to bring him the broom of the wicked witch of the West.
I shared the story of how I got the opportunity to be with them that day; it was through a generous act which lead to being discovered.
I also shared a template for creating proposals based on understanding what others want and what you have to offer.
Dorothy went after the witches broom, was captured, then saved by her homies (Scarecrow, Lion & Tinman).
They found themselves cornered by the witch and her goons. The witch set the scarecrow on fire. Dorothy acted quick and threw water on him. The water also hit the witch which caused her to melt–Go figure all you had to do to kill the witch was a rain dance.
I shared a personal story of having my back against the wall and feeling that I was not being recognized and promoted for what I bring to the table. The room gasped as I shared how I told the company, “You should fire me, if you don’t promote me because in essence what you are saying is that I’m just dead weight.”
Dorothy brought the broom to the wizard and at the end of the day she found out that he was just a regular man. She also discovered that she always had the power to make her way home, but she would not have believed if she did not go through what she went through.
The lesson for my new Ph.D friends was that they have a lot to offer and have the capacity to do whatever it is that they want to do. Of course I had to end with one of my favorite Jay-Z quotes:
This is Jay everyday, no compromise. No compass comes with this life, just eyes; so to map it out, you must look inside. Sure books can guide you, but your heart defines you.
There was a conference in their near future so they wanted me to make sure I covered my work over at The New Art of Conference Networking: #Hashtags to Handshakes
All in all it was a great day.
Do you know a university who could benefit from having me stop by? Send them on over.
Mike Ambassador Bruny