This Maymester, CU Denver Business School students spent time abroad learning about leadership and entrepreneurship in a global context through the CU Denver in Ireland: Leadership and Entrepreneurship course offered by the Office of Global Education. For the course, students chronicled their ‘lessons learned’ through blogs.
Students were immersed in the culture of the Republic of Ireland in Dublin with excursions to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Students gained key insights on cultural differences, what they mean, where they come from, and understanding one’s own cultural characteristics. Students also worked in teams on specific projects to gain a first-hand overview of key leadership principles for creating strategy and managing teams in new and international ventures.
Leadership concepts were introduced through projects and case studies relevant to international business and entrepreneurial opportunities. We’ve captured some highlights from those lessons learned.
Affirmation is reassuring for the path you lead. We had an exercise expressing words of appreciation to our fellow classmates. In a front line supervisor training class years ago I learned the value of saying “thank you” to people that you interact with in business, and how the little kindness can go a long way. While this exercise was much more personal on having others recognize the traits you display and the type of person you are, it reassured me that some natural traits are successful for my goals. I wish I would have recorded the kind words to save for a moment when some motivation is needed.
“In order to trust you have to be willing to be vulnerable.”
This conversation stemmed from a discussion with our faculty leader, Jan Rutherford, on entrepreneurs and leaders willing to delegate tasks with full trust that the project will get finished with care and thought. He had put an emphasis on the fact that trusting the people surrounding you and your company are invaluable. I posed a question regarding whether trust is earned or automatically given because I find myself being a cynic on the trust front. Trust is a tricky thing for me, it is closely related to disappointment. This is where I identify a weakness in myself; I take disappointment extremely harshly (probably too harshly). But in hearing the discussion on the importance of trust relating to vulnerability I saw a light in the tunnel that I had created for trust.
Throughout the day this was affirmed by the multiple entrepreneurs that spoke with us. The fact is at some point in your career and in leadership you have to give up some control to your team members to reach potential. This does not mean that at times you will not be disappointed or hurt by a situation, but you cannot let this disappointment and hurt inhibit you from future success. There is caution to be taken in certain circumstances, but I want to take the bitterness from the past and turn it in to remembering all the help and support I have received so that in the future I can have the vulnerability to trust.
Today marked day two of working for our company, CSIT (Centre for Secure Information Technologies). The company, or research institution, provides security solutions for businesses and does a lot of research and development for emerging cyber security problems. Our deliverable for this company will be assisting them with recruiting and retaining top American talent into their cyber security Master’s (MSc) program.
On this trip, I have learned a lot about leadership and start-up culture. What I have found to be the key ingredient in a successful start-up firm is a vision that people can rally around. I’ve observed this is many places I have worked in the past. If people aren’t motivated to work toward a common purpose and “mission”, they will invariably start to view their jobs as a place to go to collect a paycheck.
Gary Hamilton, one of the inspirational speakers we heard from today, has an amazing story. My largest takeaway from our time with Gary was…burn your boats. His point, don’t have a plan B – make a decision, support a cause, be all in, don’t question yourself. I like this. If you’re setting yourself up with an escape route then you’ll never truly commit or trust in the decisions you’re making. Have the courage and purpose to fully entrench yourself in the path you’re choosing. Fear cannot be a motivator – if you’re providing yourself with “a way out,” then you, and everyone around you, will see through that. Risk is risk is risk, generally not all risk can be eliminated, but I’ve learned from many of our speakers, that it’s best to take a stance, make a decision, and move FORWARD.
Listening to our speakers today at Trinity Classroom, I gained a lot of insight of what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and how to drive a team to success. Learning from the speakers their struggles and successes, put in to perspective what is takes to be an entrepreneur, and real life struggles that I will most likely encounter. There is a huge difference from reading text books and listening examples, compared to hearing the words spoken first hand. I took away the most from Ciaran Flanagan and Joanna Murphy. Ciaran in the sense that his experiences were realistic, and his personality was evident in his stories. It was heartening to hear his strategies and behavior in running Idea didn’t stray far from his charming character.
Joanna had an inspiring force that called to my inner feminist. I want to believe that women can do what men do in business while maintaining a level playing field, but I know there are barriers still in the American business markets. I am aware that I make less than my male counterparts, especially in the STEM industries, and there are certainly battles that I will face in starting my own business. Joanna was empowering by openly discussing the struggles she encountered and how she got passed them. She didn’t hide the negative experiences, nor the life moments that detoured her from her businesses. She exposed them, and examined them as normal life and business detours. I was glad to see a successful woman speak about her experiences and how she has she succeeded in business and life. I left feeling inspired, rather than bogged down by my position.