12 Self-Promotion Strategies for Introverts

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Introverts are awesome! They are the calm, humble, thoughtful people who are quietly doing a ton of work and taking very little credit! Introverts tend to be deliberative and self-aware; they tend to be detail-oriented; they spend a lot of time thinking and reflecting; and, they can give intense focus and concentration to a task.

Introverts are also the best leaders for proactive teams because they listen to their followers and are receptive to the team’s ideas (Harvard Business School, 2010). Introverted leaders view their positions as a responsibility to take care of the people and organizations entrusted to them. And, they tend to be great problem solvers – developing solutions based on observations, research and reflection.

Given these characteristics, how do introverts make connections and sell themselves in the workplace? Here are 12 self-promotion strategies for introverts:

1. Use social media. Introverts tend to excel at writing. Excellent social media content can set you apart from others. Another advantage of social media is you can choose to engage when you feel inspired or schedule a regular time to be active when you feel most sociable.

2. Give a presentation. Introverts tend to be more creative and energized when they can think alone. Planning a presentation for a conference or staff training allows you the time and space to research, plan and prepare (all things that introverts are great at doing!) and then showcase your knowledge and skills.

3. Be prepared. Introverts are thoughtful processors, which can create anxiety around events or conversations that require thinking on our feet. Prepare for meetings or social events with one or two ideas that you can contribute based on the topic or purpose of the meeting.

4. Be confidently quiet. Being quiet can sometimes be misinterpreted as being insecure, annoyed, or uninterested. Although you may be thinking deeply about the topic being discussed, be aware of your body language, non-verbal cues, and other signals you may be unintentionally sending to others.

5. Build one-on-one relationships. Introverts prefer deep meaningful relationships rather than having lots of contacts. Focus on developing strong connections with influential people in your life – mentors, stakeholders, supervisors – rather than trying to please or engage with everyone.

6. Provide solutions. Introverts are keen observers. They miss very little, although others may assume they are not engaged. Introverts are also great at connecting the dots and executing. Use the information you learn, observe the gaps, connect the missing pieces, and use the information to propose solutions or improve your work.

7. Create your community. Identify the other quiet observers around you and take intentional action to make a connection. Other introverts are likely to understand your needs and can help provide support and encouragement. Also, seek out other self-proclaimed introverts who are successfully navigating the extrovert world and who can give you guidance and suggestions (such as Keith Ferrazzi).

8. Build a portfolio. Introverts tend to avoid tooting their own horn. A portfolio does the talking for you. Use examples of your work to demonstrate your skills during an interview or meeting. It can include photos, certificates, writing samples, lists of projects, or letters of recommendation.

9. Schedule meetings. Spontaneous meetings can derail an introvert. In order to stay in touch with other staff members, schedule time into your calendar for catching up or reviewing projects. If you miss your opportunity in an impromptu meeting, you can also follow up afterward in an email or one-on-one.

10. Network intentionally. Introverts are great at research and asking poignant questions. Before you attend an event, pick one or two people you want to meet. Research the person(s) and develop a few potential talking points or questions.

11. Create trust. Introverts are great listeners, and by using your listening and empathy skills you can make others feel calm and secure. People remember the way you make them feel more than what you say. When you can establish trust with others, you become seen as fair, ethical, and competent.

12. Serve others. Introverts are characterized by humility, a desire to serve others, and the ability to empower others. These are  also the traits of servant leadership – a powerful style of many leaders of high-performing companies. The best leaders treat others with respect and acknowledge the contributions of others. When you find ways to make other people successful, help them accomplish their goals, and support others, your load becomes lighter, your path becomes easier, and you become unstoppable!

5 Ways to Treat Students Like Family

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Giving my daughter cheap advice at the Live Oak Music Festival

When I look into the eyes of my students, I often imagine my six-year-old daughter sitting on the other side of the desk in eleven years. It’s unlikely that she will be sitting  across from me, but she may be sitting in another office somewhere. What will bring her to the dean’s office? What experience do I want her to have? What advice will she get?

My daughter is just entering the public school system. She will be completing first grade in a few months. She loves school and is an avid reader, but last week she received a behavior ticket. I won’t say what it was for, because years from now when she runs for presidency I don’t want her campaign tarnished by her mom’s blog post that disclosed she threw applesauce down the slide and soiled another girl’s clothes (oops! there I said it!), but it has me thinking about behavior and choices.

Personally, I’m hoping my daughter makes all her mistakes in first grade, and it’s smooth sailing from here into adulthood. But since I realize that’s likely not going to be the case, I’m embracing these incidents for what they are…teachable moments. I also realize I will not always be around to clean up the metaphorical applesauce and, as a mom, I hope that there will be caring adults throughout my daughter’s life who will also help her navigate through the messy, sticky situations that come up.

Whether it’s a mistake, a personal challenge, an academic setback, or another life event that  brings someone else’s child to my office, I try to treat all students with the respect, compassion, and attention I would provide to my own daughter in these five ways:

1. See their potential. Students who have been admitted to the university have already demonstrated they have great potential. Students also each possess unique strengths they can draw upon during challenging times. Looking for strengths and encouraging students to envision what is possible demonstrates our belief in them.

2. Believe them. It takes courage for students to share their stories. When we listen and validate their feelings, emotions, and concerns, students can ask for what they need and tell us how to best support them.

3. Give accurate information. Myths, out-dated information, and misunderstood policies can create stress and confusion for students. Empowered with information, students can make educated and appropriate decisions.

4. Advocate. Advocacy can take many forms. It can be connecting students to resources, speaking up for underrepresented students, creating a safe environment for students to express themselves, or educating ourselves on critical issues  in order to contribute to positive change.

5. Offer unconditional positive regard. Psychologist Carl Rogers developed the term unconditional positive regard, which means showing complete support and acceptance of a person. By showing students our acceptance and setting aside our judgment, we create a safe space for students to take risks, explore their possibilities, and maximize their full potential.

7 Blind Men and An Elephant

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Working in a large public institution has given me the opportunity to observe several leadership styles. Given the segregated nature of the functions of the institution, it is not surprising that many leaders have adapted their leadership style to ensure the survival of their department. At times, this can be frustrating because in my experience it creates seemingly unnecessary conflict.

I was recently reminded of the story of seven blind men and an elephant. In the story, each man is feeling a different part of the elephant. The one touching the tail thinks it is a rope. The one at the leg thinks it is a tree trunk. They start to fight about it. Whether or not the conflict between the men and their perspectives was resolved depends on which version of the story you believe. The lesson I take away is that we all think we know how it is but in reality we only see a piece of the whole.

I like this story because each of the men was right. In my own work life, I have recently started trying to identify the elephant. How can it be that we are viewing the same issue from opposing positions? What could the issue look like from your side of the elephant? And how can I best describe my side in a way that helps us both get a better idea of what the elephant really is?

In some cases, this has required assembling an elephant that doesn’t yet exist. In creating collaborative programs within the institution, different departments bring their components or values. Sometimes they are open to integrating these components and often they want their components to be the whole elephant.

I have recently encouraged the students I work with to see how they could combine their seemingly different perspectives to create a greater outcome. This is especially challenging because the temptation is to recreate our existing structures – silo-ed departments, specialized colleges, two-party systems. Everywhere we look we can find examples of people holding on to their piece of the elephant.

It’s All About Relationships

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A short trip down memory lane takes me back to the small liberal arts college where I earned my undergraduate degree and to the two large public institutions where I earned my advanced degrees. While I am grateful for the technological advances that allowed me to email my professors, upload my assignments, and research my dissertation through the library’s online catalog, the experiences I remember most are my conversations and interactions with faculty.

My first psychology professor was a young doctoral student named Dr. Swan from the adjacent graduate school. She was recently married and just establishing herself as a faculty member. She was someone I could relate to and wanted to emulate. I hung on her every word, dissected her wardrobe, listened intently for clues about her life as a new wife and mother, and basically remembered very little about the developmental life stages and Freudian theory.

Fastforward ten years. My dissertation committee chair was a leading researcher in special education and disabilities. He held high positions in organizations leading the way in this field. He advised countless doctoral students, yet always gave me his full attention. After spending hours editing my dissertation and pouring over each chapter while being mindful of his critiques, what do I remember most about my committee chair? He taught in a hospital in Malawi, raised two daughters, bred golden retrievers, and liked to wear Hawaiian shirts.

I remember the personalities of my professors more than the equations, formulas, and theories they lectured about for hours. When I hear students talking about taking a class from a well-known professor, I know they are often drawn to the professor’s character more than the class content. Powerpoints, digital projectors, laptops, and wireless internet are powerful tools but they can’t replace the people behind them.

Students can find the answer to almost any question with a simple Google search. Our challenge as educators is to help them understand which questions to ask. And that happens in relationship – the way we model critical thinking, our response to complex social issues, and our commitment to life long learning. The information students need is already at their fingertips, but the transformation that takes place in higher education still requires a human connection.

6 Strategies for Helping Parents (without violating FERPA)

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Parents are important partners in supporting student success. They are also part of our university family. I enjoy interacting with parents and encourage them to contact me if they have questions. However, due to FERPA privacy laws I am restricted in how much information I can share with parents.

Here are six strategies I use to help parents when they have a student in crisis or in need of support:

1. Provide information about campus policies and deadlines. When a student or family is in crisis, knowing their options can relieve the pressure of the situation. I frequently explain course and term withdrawal policies, medical leave of absence deadlines, and options for taking incompletes. Many parents have questions about what will happen to a student’s on-campus housing if the student is no longer enrolled full time or takes time off during the year. Information can empower them to make informed decisions.

2. Give information on campus resources. Again, information can be empowering. There are many resources available for students and parents. With knowledge of these resources, parents can encourage their student to pursue a tutor, talk to a counselor, seek out an academic advisor, apply for disability resources, or visit an instructor during office hours. There are also resources specifically for parents, often called Parent & Family Programs, which help parents get connected with the university.

3. Share in generalities. I may not be able to talk about the specifics of a student, but I can share my approach to handling different situations. For example, if a parent asks whether her student came to see me about a roommate conflict I can explain how I would handle the situation without disclosing whether or not I met with the student. I might says, “Typically I ask the student about the situation and notifying Housing if it is occurring on campus. I may also ask the other student to meet with me. If the issue involves safety, I would notify campus police to check on the situation.”

4. Share tips for communicating with college-aged students. It can be helpful to explain to parents that this is a time when young people naturally seek independence and choose to find their own solutions. Parents might consider having a conversation with their student about how often a student will check-in with a parent to reassure the parent that he is ok. If a parent is paying for the student’s tuition, it might also be reasonable to ask for some assurance that the student is progressing academically.

5. Ask questions! I may not be able to disclose much information, but the sky is the limit on what parents can share with me. I ask parents, “Is this unusual behavior for your child?” “What is he like?” “What has he told you about his experiences here?” This helps me assess whether there has been a change in the student’s behavior and/or how much he is disclosing to his parents. This can also be helpful in determining the relationship between the parent and student.

6. Provide words of encouragement. It makes a difference to parents when they hear that other students have experienced similar situations and been successful. I frequently tell parents, “There are many paths to success.” It makes a difference to parents when they hear that other students have experienced similar situations and been successful. I frequently tell parents, “There are many paths to success.” If a parent has shared about the student, I may focus on the strengths of the student and say “From what you have described, it sounds like your student has tremendous potential” or “I hear that your daughter has great self-awareness.”

I do not share any FERPA protected information with parents, including confirming or denying whether a student is enrolled, a students academic performance, where a student lives, or whether I have contacted a student. There have been exceptions in situations when a student is an imminent threat of harm to self or others. A student does have the option to sign an information release agreement if he/she would like a parent to have more information.

Thoughts on being a "model minority"

Today I was the MC at the Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association (APIFSA) Professional Development Luncheon, which is one of my favorite events of the year. The APIFSA was formed by a small group of professionals who at one time or another had all attended a leadership institute for Asians in Higher Education. I attended the leadership institute in 2007. I was skeptical because although my mom is Chinese and she was born and raised in Thailand, I myself am only half Asian and often don’t feel like I fit the API stereotype in terms of appearance. However, at the institute I realized that my mom’s influence had a profound impact on the way I see the world. My values, personality, and daily interactions have been shaped by her strong cultural influences.

Ever heard of a Tiger Mom? Well that was my mom. I played the piano and violin. I was expected to practice every day. In my mom’s book, “A” was for Average. And I wasn’t just expected to receive A’s – I was expected to be number 1 in the class. There was no questioning whether or not I was smart enough or capable of being number 1, if I wasn’t number 1 it was either because I wasn’t putting in the effort or my teacher had made a mistake. In 7th grade when I transitioned to middle school, my mom found out I was placed in regular math instead of pre-algebra and she demanded that I be retested. And my favorite story is when I graduated from my Master’s program my mom gave me a graduation card with the pamphlet to a PhD program inserted inside.

Not all Asian moms are Tiger Moms. That’s because the Tiger Mom is a stereotype, just like the “model minority” is a stereotype. The model minority myth leads mainstream America to believe that as a group we have overcome racism and discrimination and achieved success, and we no longer struggle to access education or financial security. Sure…some APIs have achieved financial stability, and there are many Asians earning advanced degrees. But the model minority stereotype can be misleading and dangerous.

Even after being acknowledged as the “model minority,” Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been accused of being enemies, aliens, spies, and terrorists, and subjected to special reporting requirements, incarceration, and deportation. While there are varied and historical reasons for lumping APIs into one category, the individuals who comprise this group represent the full socio-economic spectrum, from the poor and underprivileged to the affluent and highly skilled.

API is a broad term that is typically applied to any person having origins in the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, or Hawaii or other Pacific Islands – which includes over 40 different ethnic groups, such as Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, and peoples of Hawaii, Guam, and Samoa.
As an aggregate group, APIs are well represented in higher education. Asian American and Pacific Islander students make up 16 percent of the CSU student populations. In 2010, the CSU conferred more than 11,000 degrees to Asian students and 3,400 to Filipino and Pacific Islander students. These CSU graduates are helping to drive California’s aerospace, healthcare, entertainment, information technology, biomedical, international trade, education, and multimedia industries.

This should be a source of pride for our community, yet there is a myth that APIs are “taking over” higher education. The data shows that the increase in APIs in higher education has mirrored the increases found among other underrepresented populations during the same time period. This perception is created because APIs tend to be more concentrated in a small number of schools. There are over 4000 universities in the United States, yet 2/3 of all APIs are concentrated in just 200 institutions with nearly half of all APIs attending college in either California, New York, or Texas.

APIs are the fastest growing minority population in the United States. According to the 2010 Census, the Asian American population in the United States grew 46 percent between 2000 and 2010, faster than any other major race group in the country, including Hispanics. The Census Bureau’s latest population projections estimate APIs to reach 41 million by 2050. APIs represent about 6% of the US population and 6.9% of management and professional occupations.
However, while the API population is growing and becoming more educated…we still face challenges, and continue to consistently be underrepresented in leadership positions. While there are many API students doing well at the top of the academic curve, there are just as many struggling at the bottom of the curve who are being overlooked. There are significant differences in degree attainment between these 40+ sub-groups.

There are significant numbers of API students who struggle with poverty, who are English-language learners increasingly likely to leave school with rudimentary language skills, who are at risk of dropping out, who are subject to violence and discrimination on account of race, class, gender, ethnicity, or language. Yet the “model minority” myth continues and often shrouds the real needs of APIs.

Research also shows that APIs aspire to leadership at lower rates than other race groups. APIs continue to be under represented on the Board of Directors of Fortune 500 companies. In 2012, APIs held only 144 out of over 5,500 total board seats, which is only 2.6% of the total Fortune 500 board seats. In the nonprofit sector, only 47 of the top 100 nonprofits have any API representation on their boards. And APIs hold less than 3% of the total board seats in the top 100 nonprofits.

Why is this important? Let me go back to my Tiger mom. My mom may be highly critical and have high expectations, but she also came to this country as a teenager with little to her name other than her student scholarship. My mom was a first generation college student, and she built a successful business while taking care of our family and our extended family. My mom would haggle over the price of a pair of socks, but she is also the most generous woman I know. She came to the US alone to attend high school, and she worked hard and sacrificed to be where she is now.

Whether you had a tiger mom or not, I guarantee that you are where you are today because someone (a teacher, an aunt or uncle, a friend, or maybe someone you’ve never met) has stepped up and maybe even sacrificed for you. This is why today is one of my favorite days of the year. Each year an accomplished leader in higher education comes to our campus to offer mentorship, share inspirational words, and remind us of our responsibility. We have a responsibility to be that person to someone else. Be a leader, a mentor, a role model. Find opportunities to take risks and practice your leadership skills. Volunteer in your community. Whether you’re passionate about advocating for APIs or another cause, I urge you to put your education and position of influence to use to improve the lives of others.

Hello World!

Launching a new blog is always exciting and a little daunting. The first post is like the first brushstroke on a blank canvas. It holds all the potential of becoming a brilliant masterpiece and risks becoming cast aside with the half-knit sweaters and unfinished scrapbooks.

I have been a hobby blogger for almost six years. Writing has always been my creative outlet and stress reliever. So it made sense for me to create an outlet for the ideas, thoughts, and musing I have about work.

I decided to start this blog to share my own experiences and also to create a conversation and build a community. I have worked in student affairs for more than ten years, and I feel privileged to work with some of the brightest students in the country. I know that I am not alone. My days are filled with touching, hilarious, and hair-pulling moments…and I hope to share them all here!