Posts filed under ‘Current Events’

A Subtle Reminder of the Significance of Soft Skills

By Lauren Moody

We must not underestimate the importance of communication. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. Heading into the internship with no corporate background, I did not know what to expect. However, as soon as I figured out how the company’s complex matrix worked and the communication style it used, everything seemed to gel much quicker. Every company is different, and one must research its communication style based on its website and by interacting with its employees via LinkedIn or information sessions. This post provides insights to communicating in a corporate environment and highlights the importance of: listening, thinking, and speaking, working with a team, and adapting to every environment.

In today’s business world, we rely on the ability to understand numbers and obtain a multifaceted number of technological skills, but people often underestimate the power of soft skills. Soft skills are personal characteristics that enable someone to connect with others in an effective way. They are everyday activities in a work setting, ranging from sending a clear and concise email to presenting in front of a board room or a crowd. The way one communicates affects how others perceive their information and determines whether their message is delivered in the most coherent fashion. According to a Harvard research study, 85 percent of job success comes from having the soft skills necessary to relate to others, whereas only 15 percent comes from hard skills such as technical and knowledge.

Listen, Think, Speak

Something that we often overlook: listening is the key to holding a relatable conversation. Listening is more than hearing something, it’s being able to understand and interpret what that person is saying. In every setting, listening enables us to understand people’s need and wants. In fact, good listening leads to overall business success, from employee and customer satisfaction to more creativity. It is an engaging process, as the listener utilizes both verbal and nonverbal body language to portray their concentration and interest in the speaker.

Maximize Your Ability to Work with a Team

As the world’s leading sports athletic wear company, Nike emphasizes teamwork throughout every department. Every work setting requires the ability to work with others. During the summer, I had the opportunity to listen to Stephanie Strack, Vice President of Nike Express Lane, and she said the ability to bring out the best in others is a crucial requirement to success. In order to do this, you must understand others’ needs (through listening) but also through clear communication. While speaking with the Vice President of Global Sales, Mike Best, I learned that he sends a weekly reminder to his teams that clearly outlines their goals. This weekly reminder illustrates both his individual team’s goal and the company’s goal, while also uniting the team towards its common goal

Stay Agile and Adapt

“Stay open. Stay agile and adaptable.” – John Hoke, VP Global Design

In order to maximize your role’s impact, you must be able to conform to each role and task you are faced with. Things may not always go as planned, and you define yourself by how you react to each situation. A workplace makes changes rapidly and requires its workers to adopt the same mentality. Whether encountering a new update in technology or relaying a difficult message, understand what requirements are necessary and take the most appropriate approach.

Despite all the technological innovations of today, we must remember the importance of personal interactions and relationships are necessary. With practice, you will see overall improvements in your career and personal life. Prioritize listening in order to understand others, leading to better team work, and remain adaptable to every situation. What may seem small ultimately plays a large importance and determines the strength of your impact.

Image Credit:



November 4, 2017 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

Women in Business: Be Assertive and Get What You Want

By Alsey Davidson

According to Business Insider, only 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Why is that? Some people say it’s because of natural trait differences, varying educational opportunities, or general societal standards. However, one of my theories is that women are either too afraid to be assertive, or they are seen as “bossy” or “bitchy” if they are assertive.

Many articles show how women are treated unfairly in the workplace (gender inequality, workplace bias). This post is not another one of those articles. Instead, this post is about my personal experience in the business world and what I have learned about being assertive. My goal is to draw on my own experiences and help show other women that being assertive can lead to being successful.

This past summer, I worked with a team of 20 men and one other woman.alsey During this experience, I noticed that my actions were sometimes viewed differently because I am a woman. For example, oftentimes I felt that the men were caught off guard when I spoke up during meetings because I was a younger female. Another time, I requested a meeting with a senior executive, and my male coworkers told me I was being too forward. It bothered me a bit at first, but I learned to brush it off by the end of the summer.


One of the most important things that I learned is that you can get what you want by asserting yourself, but you certainly won’t get it if you don’t say anything. Please note that I am saying assertive, not aggressive — i.e. defending your own rights without hurting those of others.  There is a difference, and you should be sure to not cross over into aggressiveness.

Now, I will discuss one time when asserting myself led to a very positive outcome. An important takeaway from this experience is that I wasn’t afraid to be assertive because I truly felt I deserved what I was asking for. I hope that women can learn from my experience if they are in a similar situation.

When I first received my job offer, I was not happy with the initial salary. When considering whether or not I should negotiate, I was told by my (male) coworkers that it might make me “look bad” or “seem unprofessional and ungrateful.” At first, I worried they may be right. Will I seem rude and ungrateful if I ask for more money? Then, I spoke with my career advisor and, fortunately, my opinion changed.

My advisor told me, “You should 100% negotiate. Why wouldn’t you?” When I ended up negotiating, I was very straightforward and assertive with HR; I told them that believed I deserved a higher salary due to national averages and that I needed more money to account for the high cost of living. It was as simple as that: my negotiation efforts led to a $10,000 increase in salary. HR understood my argument and met my request.

From this experience, I learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for something. If you present your case professionally and rationally, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get what you want. So the next time you think you deserve something, go for it. Don’t worry about seeming bitchy, bossy, or aggressive. If your company respects the rights of women, and if you truly deserve what you’re asking for, you should receive it.

November 18, 2015 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

The Stain of Fraud: Time to Communicate a New Story

By Ryan Trocinski

I have not known the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill without the stain of academic dishonesty. From the first day I stepped on campus in 2012, my classmates and I have carried the shame of 18 years of fraud. We have watched the countless questions and accusations fired at our student-athletes, most of whom enrolled after the paper classes ended. We have endured the mocking jeers of others who assume that every class at Carolina is a joke. Instead of the university we applied to, a university we believed was defined by academic rigor and growth, we have been laughed at and ridiculed by people all over the world.

The truth? We deserve it. We screwed up. Our university, my university, took the “Carolina Way” and dragged the once world-respected code of ethics through the mud.

To be clear, I had nothing to do with the paper classes. They began before I was born. To be honest, I even grew up a Duke fan. Somehow though, in spite of all the negativity swirling around this university, something about this place still draws me in. As I reflect on the past three years while I write this post, I realize more and more that I am above all proud to be a part of this university; I am proud to be a Tarheel.

In a world of NCAA violations, cover-ups, and athletics-first universities, I am proud to be a part of a university that is leading the way in opening ourselves up to independent investigation. I am proud that my school has taken unprecedented steps to expose ourselves so that we may learn and improve. I am proud that the Wainstein report exonerated both Roy Williams and Larry Fedora, and I am proud that over 800 student athletes who bleed Carolina blue on their field and in the classroom represent this university. Most of all, though, I am proud to walk through this campus each day surrounded by some of the brightest students, faculty, and staff in the entire world. What makes this school special – and what remains special despite our failings – is that we are a people and a community not defined by failure, but by the incredible impact we have on this world. UNC alumni are working all over the world, and we are changing the world in ways big and small.

We have submitted ourselves to public judgment through the Wainstein report, and the outcry is that we are a school and an athletic program built on dishonesty. In a reminder that I hope you do not need, this university is not defined by academic fraud. Instead, the people and a common desire to turn an incredible education into meaningful impact define this university. UNC has taken every step possible to eradicate any and all academic impropriety from Carolina, and perhaps it is time for us — as current students, as alumni, as faculty, and as a university — to stand together with the simple message that we will not be defined by failure but by growth. That although the Carolina Way is tarnished, UNC will be leading the way into new measures of ensuring academic honesty. Perhaps it is time to remember what made this place so special in the first place.

We have an opportunity to remind the world that we are still extraordinary, still different, but in an entirely new way. We have a chance to prove our commitment to academic excellence and the growth of individuals and this university. The reaction to the Wainstein report is defining us as a broken and battered institution, rather than as a university that has led the way for 225 years and will continue to lead the way into a new future. As a university, we have an opportunity to redefine what it means to be a student-athlete. Let us step forward as the new leaders in academia regarding the fight to maintain academic honesty and integrity. Let us remember the leadership and excellence that defined the University of North Carolina for more than 200 years.

Our approach must be fourfold. First, academic oversight must be firmly in place and layered through the efforts of Chancellor Folt, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham, the UNC faculty, and all of the coaches here at Carolina. Second, we must commit to continue to study what went wrong, not just here, but in college athletic programs all over the country as we strive to become the leader in academic reform and purity once more. Third, we must communicate our findings to other universities across the United States. Universities are failing to monitor student-athletes all over the country, and UNC has the resources, desire, and leadership ability necessary to step into a role at the forefront of the fight against dishonesty in college athletics. Finally, the University of North Carolina must begin to communicate our renewed commitment to academic excellence. Public perception of UNC and continued media coverage has revolved around the Wainstein report since its release, and it is long past time to begin to change this negative publicity with facts. We can be a university that leads college athletics into an era of academic honesty. We can return to the true University of North Carolina — a university forged and tempered through countless years and trials from the past but emerging as a leader of today and tomorrow. In short, we can again be the Carolina I applied to: a school defined by its people, its growth, and its impact all over the world.

The best part? We get to choose. We get to choose the message we want to send. We get to choose the kind of university we want to be. We get to choose not to be consumed by what was done in our past but rather by what we will do today and tomorrow.

My name is Ryan Trocinski, and I am proud to be a Tarheel.

December 2, 2014 at 12:15 pm 2 comments

The Elephant in the Room: Handling a Public Opinion Crisis

By Will Young

Have you ever been part of an organization facing a public opinion crisis? If you answered “yes,” you are not alone. Almost every organization has experienced public unrest at some point.whoops The problem? Many organizations are ill-prepared for dealing with such crises, and you can’t ignore that the crisis exists.

Richard Mahoney, ex-CEO of the agriculture giant Monsanto, explained how to best handle public crises of opinion in “The CEO Series.” By taking his advice to heart, your organization, whether that be Home Depot after a security breach or the NFL following a domestic-abuse scandal, will be better prepared for future trials in the court of public opinion.

Let’s break down Mahoney’s 10 rules for effectively handling issues of public policy.

1) Make Your Case Early. Make a case for your company before people begin asking questions. You cannot easily put the rabbit back into the hat, once someone finds out about your organization’s wrongdoing. Instead, try to come across as composed and confident, providing answers to questions, which in some instances have not yet been asked. What is the general message here? Be proactive. Providing information when you want, rather than when others want, can make the difference between an effective public policy and a disastrous one.

2) Provide a Credible Source. You cannot always circumvent obstacles of public policy. Once an issue begins to gain traction, you must provide the public with a credible source. UNC attempted to do this with federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein, albeit a little late. By offering an unbiased, outside source, who was credible thanks to his past career, UNC was able to provide answers to people both in and out of the Carolina community. Many companies rely on well-educated and well-paid public figures to answer their critics. Instead, you should consider choosing someone from the local community who can be trusted to speak honestly and candidly about the situation. Once this person is established, make sure the conversations are continuous and truthful.  No one will listen to a lying spokesperson who answers critics on a selective basis. Credibility is everything.

3) Avoid Unrealistic Expectations. Do not ask for unrealistic compromises from the public. They will refuse them. You must remember that in today’s world the public expects to get what they want while taking little risk to get it. Remember this fact when thinking about steps one and two. While you may be making significant progress, the public will not take this progress as a sign of your future generosity. You must continuously prove how what you are doing benefits the public and why they should believe you. 

4) Be Prepared for the Long Haul. You should not expect issues of public policy to be easy to handle. Matters of public opinion are complex and often involve multi-faceted responses. Be aware of these challenges and be prepared to overcome them. Not only should you expect to simply make your case, but also you should provide a credible source to help terminate the situation. Changing opinions takes time; give the public the time it needs to accept your progress. 

5) Don’t Discredit the Opposition. It makes you look weak and puts you directly against public opinion. Instead, work to dispute facts with logic. By making logical arguments you may help win over public sentiment. However, by discrediting your opposition, you only unite the critics. Whether you like it or not, the opposition has brought you into a public debate, and it makes much more sense to disprove their points than it does to try to prove their inferiority.

6) Consider “Losing.” Have you ever been in an argument and realized that winning the argument isn’t even important? Such is the case with many corporations. Simply allow your critics to have their way and live to fight another day. If you consider the worst possible scenario and can live with the outcome, then waging a battle may not be worth the time and effort in the first place. College Greek organizations should take note of this point when they face issues. Is it really worth the future of your organization to wage a war on public opinion? Consider admitting you were wrong, accept the consequences, and move on from the situation.

7) Defend Yourself to the End. Once you have decided to fight the battle, don’t do it half-heartedly. The worst possible way to handle a public crisis is through an unorganized and half-hearted attempt. Once you have decided to fight, commit, and commit fully. Make your case and be firm. Don’t waiver and realize later that you should have been stronger from the start. It will often be too late.

8) No One is Above Public Policy. Issues of public policy are sometimes thought of as inconsequential and reserved solely for public relations departments. Don’t make the assumption that public policy is not important. If the public feels as though you are not taking the issue seriously, they may become angry. Rather than waiting for the public to become distressed with your organization’s lack of concern, get leadership involved early. If you do so, this action tells the public that you listen to their concerns and take them seriously. While having a CEO respond to complaints is not always foolproof, at the very least, it lets people know you are hearing their concerns.

9) Make Reasonable Requests. Similar to having realistic expectations, you must make reasonable requests of the public. If you find yourself asking the public to trust your organization without giving them concrete reasons to do so, you are in for a rude awakening. Make sure whatever you ask for is logical, and if it isn’t, don’t ask for it.

10) ALWAYS Make Reasonable Requests. When you think you have come up with reasonable requests, go back through and check again. This step is crucial. No matter how well you complete the other eight steps, if what you are asking for is unrealistic, your policy will fail. Be reasonable.

Handling issues of public policy is rarely easy. At some point you are likely to find yourself on the wrong side of public opinion, and when you do, you’ll be glad to be prepared.

November 22, 2014 at 9:13 am 2 comments

Men: Give Women a Lift

man helping womanBy Taylor Kenan

While women for decades have been a part of the workplace, gender inequality persists. Not only do women earn less money on average, but many also work in an environment that makes them feel less valued than men. However, Caroline Fairchild notes that “companies with women on boards and in executive leadership positions have been found to outperform.” Therefore, she states that men must step out of their own experiences and try to learn more about women.

Perception of women. Many mothers now work two jobs at once: one at the office and one at home. Women’s entrance into the workforce was supposed to change the family dynamic at home, but in many cases it has not. Many mothers still have the majority of the responsibility for raising the children, cleaning the house, and cooking the dinners.

Also, a woman’s responsibilities at home can affect others’ perceptions of her at the workplace. A woman with children is less likely to be hired because an employer perceives her second job as a mother as an interference with her actual job. Ben Waber notes that in our society, “men get bonus points for being fathers and women get penalized for being mothers.” In contrast to a woman with children, a man with children is more likely to be hired because he is seen as more responsible.

This view of parents is an example of one of many double standards held for women. Once a woman has a job, she faces even more double standards. For example, men who voice their opinions and are assertive and bold with their communications are more respected. However, coworkers often do not like a woman with these same traits because she is seen as “too masculine.” She then feels like she cannot be bold and competitive.

Gender behavior differences. This perception of women has an effect on their behavior at work. Caroline Turner notes that research shows that women talk less than men in business meetings. Many women feel less confident than men in the workplace because of the way they are treated. This lack of confidence leads to women being more submissive and less likely to speak up.

Turner further states in her article that men treat work as a competitive game and work the same way that they played as children. Girls, on the other hand, were taught to share and wait their turn as children, so they work that way as well. Therefore, women tend to wait their turn to speak at the office, which may never come. This politeness causes others to see them as less powerful. But were boys not taught to share and wait their turn as children?

The way that men behave indicates that many were not. It indicates that many men have been raised to go after what they want and to be confident and not stop for anyone else while women have been raised to give others a turn and wait and make sure they are positive about a decision before taking action.

Men for women. Of course, other men have been raised to consider others more–to be polite and share. Some men in the workplace understand that women deserve to be heard just as much as men are, and that they might face more obstacles and need more support.

The change needs to come from these men. And change does not have to be drastic. Bryan Pelley states that he simply pays more attention to how women are treated during meetings, urges them to be more confident in themselves, and most importantly tries to always treat everyone as a unique professional with different strengths and weaknesses.

Women have come a long way in the workplace and will continue to fight for their equality. However, sometimes others perceive their confident and assertive manners as pushy and unattractive. We need more men who understand that women can and will provide good ideas to the discussion once they are more valued and supported. The help of these men will speed the process of making the workforce more gender equal.

November 14, 2014 at 8:54 am 1 comment

How Your Wanderlust Can Land You Your Next Job

By Courtney Clapper

Are you passionate about travelling the globe? More and more students are studying abroad every year but are consistently unsure of how to use this experience to their advantage during interviews and job applications. I have been lucky enough to study abroad several times during my undergraduate career and feel that this experience consistently sets me apart from other candidates during interviews. It’s all about how you market it.temple

Students should highlight this experience on their resumes under the education section and always try to discuss the experience during interviews or professional networking sessions. If a recruiter or professional has been to that area of the world, the travel story serves as a common conversational point that strengthens your relationship. If not, recruiters may take interest in discussing travel in general or enjoy hearing about your experience in that country. Either way, it can’t hurt.

Studying abroad sets students apart because it shows that they can respect cultural distinctions, adapt to and thrive in new environments, embrace challenges, and think critically to solve problems. Next are some additional skills that students gain abroad that they should highlight in any professional interview.

Cross-Cultural Communication. Studying abroad teaches you how to communicate with people who speak many different languages and grew up in diverse environments. Most students in the United States do not get exposed to as many different cultures and types of people as students who leave the country. Studying abroad enables you to truly immerse yourself in a different culture and learn about all of the components that make it unique.

Additionally, you can gain much by discussing personal study abroad experiences with students who studied in different programs. My study abroad experience in Hong Kong was quite different than the experience of my friend who studied in Morocco, but communicating these experiences to each other broadened our perspectives and taught us values that are unique to different areas of the world.

Self Reliance. Students who live in another country must become completely confident in their ability to overcome obstacles. You face many unique challenges while living in a different country, particularly when language is a barrier and you must be responsible for your own decisions. I frequently got lost while traveling to different areas of Asia and never had texting or calling capabilities on my phone. I was completely responsible for getting myself out of those situations and figuring out where I needed to go. This experience taught me to be more observant and responsible for my personal safety.

Furthermore, you can no longer rely on your parents to solve problems for you when you are abroad. Your study abroad experience shows recruiters that you are a reliable adult who can take responsibility for your actions. This additional accountability while abroad often increases other positive characteristics, such as maturity and independence.

Awareness of Globalization. Being aware of other cultures and familiar with other country’s values is more relevant than ever as globalization intensifies and knowledge of other nations becomes increasingly expected in the workplace.

Most modern corporations have a global mindset and are more likely to hire someone who is passionate about other cultures.

Studying abroad can particularly enhance the resume of students preparing for careers in business, government, journalism, and international relations. When I apply for internships with a global emphasis, my passion for other cultures is evident by my participation in these travel opportunities. Many global employers are looking for bilingual candidates, so if you learned another language while abroad, you are on an even faster track to success.

I have found that recruiters are particularly intrigued by study abroad destinations that are less traditional, such as locations in Asia. I am a business major who has traveled to China and India, two incredibly powerful countries in the business world. Recruiters are always impressed that I aligned the places I have studied with my future career goals. Research your major and find out what locations are relevant for that career around the world and then go study there. What better way to relate to professionals in your desired field?

Studying abroad taught me a lot about Asian culture, but it also showed me how to communicate with diverse groups of people, lead teams of many distinct individuals, think critically, respect cultural distinctions, and become a confident and independent adult. All of these skills are relevant in pretty much every job, no matter the field.

If you market the communication skills you learned, self-awareness and responsibility you gained, and critical thinking skills that you enhanced while abroad to a potential employer, I guarantee that you will stand out more than students who didn’t get out of their comfort zone and experience the world.

November 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm 2 comments

The Bloomberg Way: Chairman Peter Grauer’s Insights on Successful Leadership

By Reddin Woltz

Peter Grauer is a successful leader. As chairman and CEO of Bloomberg LP, he leads his 10,000 colleagues by example.

Throughout his ongoing career, Grauer founded an investment firm, served as a managing partner at Credit Suisse, and served on the board of directors for over 20 companies. Grauer has dedicated himself to Bloomberg since 2001.

In his September 2012 presentation to Kenan-Flagler Business School students, Grauer gave advice on how to work with and lead a team. So what is his formula for success? Keep reading.

Hard Work

Looking at a successful person who seems to have it all, we might dismiss his or her success and attribute it solely to a lucky break or a fluke; but Grauer asserted that one cannot achieve success without drive and determination. In his presentation, Grauer cautioned, “Don’t think you’ll get rich overnight. There is no substitute for hard work.”

Having interned for Bloomberg LP, I can attest that employees work diligently, efficiently and frequently. Bloomberg values its employees and rewards their dedication and contribution. Grauer is a firm believer in rewarding employees’ successes to promote a productive workplace.


Grauer exhibited modesty in his opening to the audience by referring to how his stomach flipped and his heart pounded as he stood to present to KFBS students.

Humility in business is important because companies are founded on collaboration. Regardless of the industry, teamwork is crucial to corporate success. No one person will ever master every skill needed to run a company, and everyone will eventually need help. The key to solid leadership is to remain humble in success and appreciative of assistance.

“Trees don’t grow to the sky—we have to be humble about what we do,” said Grauer. Humility at Bloomberg is necessary; Grauer noted that the men and women he works with never know how good they are until he tells them.

Collaborative teamwork among modest employees is the key to Bloomberg’s success. The company culture fosters humility through its flat corporate structure. All employees, from managers to interns, work side-by-side, and all of the meeting rooms have glass walls. Employees do not have official titles.

The idea behind how Mayor Bloomberg created the unique work atmosphere was to foster a productive environment that discouraged hierarchy and encouraged team collaboration. Thus, humility at Bloomberg is necessary.

Clarity of Vision

Solid leaders have clarity of vision and the ability to relay their expectations to co-workers. Because Bloomberg runs on collaboration, leaders must clarify what they want from a colleague so that they can do their job. If an employee is unclear on what the manager needs, how can they deliver a successful product?

Grauer asserted that leaders are responsible for clarifying their goals and then communicating them to their team.


Grauer attributes part of his role as Chairman of Bloomberg to his daughter and her desire to ride horses at the age of six. As a loving father, he found the closest stables to New York City and took his daughter for her first lesson. Grauer stood watching his daughter in her lesson when a man walked up and introduced himself; his name was Michael Bloomberg.

“It’s all about being in the right place at the right time,” said Grauer.

In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Goldwell discusses how luck—a serendipitous meeting, for example—plays a part in most success stories. Hard work is still a large part of the equation for success, but Grauer believes that luck has a hand in success.


Chance, and their daughters’ love of horses, brought Grauer and Bloomberg together at those stables over 25 years ago, but the men developed their relationship into a friendship and ultimately a business partnership. In 1996, Bloomberg asked Grauer to join his Board of Directors and, in 2001, Bloomberg named Grauer the chairman.

Despite his status, Grauer spends time reminding his co-workers of their importance to the company. He spends as much time as possible with his co-workers in order to build relationships and encourage interaction. His office, like those of all Bloomberg employees, is open and makes him accessible to everyone because Grauer believes in the power of building relationships among colleagues.

“Never underestimate the development of relationships,” said Grauer.

Through heeding his own advice, Grauer is a successful leader, and, by instilling these characteristics in his employees, he has made Bloomberg the top financial data company in the world.

Photo Credit: Jessica Newfield, MBA 1st Year, Kenan-Flagler Business School

November 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm 1 comment

Older Posts