The Power of Helping Each Other Grow

I had the privilege of attending a reception at Marquette University last Friday evening and I was struck by the energy in the room. The event honored the new Applied Investment Management program, started because one student–William Heard–wanted real-world experience to augment his academic studies and he moved mountains to convince people at Marquette and within the community that this program would not only succeed, but create benefits way beyond campus. He was right.

On Friday evening, students, faculty, advisors and supporters gathered to celebrate the program’s early success and to talk about the work they’re doing together. There was more than a little amazement expressed at what has grown out of one young man’s insistence and persistence.

The students’ energy, although not really a surprise, is not as common as one would think. Ask any professor what one of the hardest aspects of their work is and you’ll hear about getting and holding students’ attention. That these kids had to be accepted into the program by writing an essay, interviewing with a panel of faculty and industry experts, and proving their academic abilities with high grade point averages, suggests that they’re a cut above. In talking with them, it was clear that the expectations of the program are making them stretch and they’re proud of their ability to do so.

Faculty members, too, were enthusiastic about the quality of these students. They’re dedicated to their work, excited about what they’re learning, and hopeful to have a leg up when they get out into the competitive world of finance and investment banking. For professors, this means less energy expended on getting kids’ attention and more invested in helping them grow at an accelerated pace.

Success always creates a happy buzz and it’s fun to be around. But more than the event itself, it was the attitude and energy of the people that stayed with me. To a person, they were awake, aware and engaged. Every conversation was about exchanging information and the learning went both ways. Kids were asking real-world questions; adults were learning about how these students view that world, their opportunities, and the things they need to know in order to be successful. People were listening to each other with real interest. They were having fun!

I wondered why more companies don’t have this same feeling as I walk their hallways. Why are so many people bored? Why are so many business networking events dull? With so much to learn in our global community, why isn’t there more excitement and enthusiasm?

There are lots of reasons, of course. But here’s something to think about. At the Applied Investment Management program reception, there was a generosity of spirit that underlied every aspect of the work. People were truly interested in helping each other grow. The university and business community had found a way to support this work financially, intellectually, and personally. Certainly there are expected outcomes and appropriate metrics. Given the energy and focus of everyone involved, those are nearly assumed. Maybe that offers a clue. Determine the desired outcome. Build a system and infrastructure designed to deliver that outcome. Find people who are genuinely interested in the work and provide lots of ways for them to interact in the spirit of learning, growing, and succeeding. Beyond fundamental competencies, insist that anyone involved in your venture be awake, aware, and engaged. Finally, support them with a generosity of spirit that expects a lot and trusts that they will do what’s necessary to succeed.

Categories: Business, General Advice

About Susan Marshall

founder susan marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.