5 Pieces of Advice I Took From A Meeting With A College President

Recently I had an opportunity to listen to a talk from a college president on life, leadership, and learning in higher education. Here are 5 of my take-aways from the encounter.

Take advantage of training opportunities, particularly in the area of finance. Gain a basic understanding of things like a balance sheet, cash flow, income statements, etc. Managing money in higher ed is not much different from managing yourself in that you need to make sure that you have more money coming in, than going out.

This sounds simple in theory, but it can be really difficult to accomplish. It’s important to understand how and where the money flows. If you can develop some fundamental knowledge about finances, you will make yourself extremely valuable in your profession.

Building relationships is crucial to fundraising. When trying to raise funds, don’t think of nameless organizations, but instead think of people, because ultimately, it’s individuals who make decisions to give.

Giving is an emotional activity. It’s not rational. People need to understand how your initiative will save lives, or change lives. When someone gives, they give with someone else in mind. Maybe they personally know someone who will benefit as a result of their gift, or have someone who helped them, and they want to help another.

People with resources are looking for people they can trust, to help them to figure out how to use their resources in good and responsible ways.

If you can develop the ability to build the kinds of relationships with others where they believe in you, and come to trust you and the things you align yourself with, you will be very successful.

Remember work-life balance. As you continue to make considerations for what to do next in your career, don’t forget about your family, and other personal relationships that are important to you. If you’re not careful, your work can literally take up all of your time. In every decision you make, don’t forget about your emotional and personal health.

Book Suggestions:

A Failure of Nerve by Edmond Friedman–talks about anxiety within organizations. Many of the challenges organizations face fiscally and interpersonally come down to the culture of the organization, and the interpersonal challenges of the people within it.

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni–It’s about 4 organizational processes that help organizations to be successful.

Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Accountability–We often assume too much about relationships but don’t often know how to manage those relationships well. Never underestimate the emotional components of organizations. Don’t underestimate the importance of developing skills to help others to be accountable for the commitments they make

Don’t let your education get in the way of learning. You learn while obtaining your degrees, but then you keep learning. In other words, Degrees are not the final say.

If you want to become a great leader, seek out opportunities that help you to learn what your strengths are. Take advantage of opportunities that force you to look in the mirror and force you to ask yourself “What am I really like?”

Identify a small number of people who you feel know you well, and who care about you. Don’t pick someone who you report to, or who report to you. Send emails to those people asking for responses to the following 3 questions:

  1. What 2 things would you suggest I continue to do?

  2. What 2 things would you suggest I start doing?

  3. What 2 things would you suggest I stop doing?

Learn to self-reflect and truly listen to what people are saying to you. If you really want to lead people, you need to learn how to be open, transparent, and vulnerable.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW



Get New Notes in Your Inbox

Enter your email address to have new notes delivered to your inbox.

Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

You may also like...

Share Your Thoughts: Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: