Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Blame It On Juan!

Upon reading this prompt, several things stuck out to me. As everyone stated very clearly, the problem with this group was that Juan lacked strong leadership qualities. From the prompt, this is true. Juan was quick to volunteer and  conduct meetings. However, an even more startling problem is that no one else seemed to step up and take a stance and even offer another nomination. Their silence was consent and they didn't really talk about who they feel could have been even more effective as a leader than Juan.

Another problem I found was that the members brainstormed and there didn't seem to be a meeting where the ideas that were proposed, were presented to the group and everyone voted on a project, after having investigated the logistics of every idea/proposed plan.

Money is always a key issue as to how things get done. I feel that as a group, there should have been a person put in charge of coming up with ways to raise money in a separate committee that worked in conjunction with Juan's group. Had each idea been researched and developed throughly, through Juan's guidance and the groups initiative, the idea of fundraising and having money would have not hindered them.

With planning any event or meeting, you always have to have several backup plans in place to avoid the last minute scrambling of finding an idea to do. There is common knowledge that things always do and will go wrong; you can never plan when they will occur, how they'll occur, and what will occur. As a leader of a group, you plan and have fail safe procedures that give you a foundation to stand on and eases the stress level.

Having been a leader of group, once you lose your people, you have to work overtime and its stressful. Juan should have apologized, when he made a mistake and accepted responsibility for the failures, he could have prevented. On the other hand, the members of the group should have tried to support him and not given up on the tasks-despite the frustration and walked away. Also, if the members felt frustrated, someone should have pulled Juan aside, offered to help and him and talked to him about what he needed and how everyone could support him to make the best event possible. Furthermore, if the members of the group had questions, they should have asked them sooner rather than later and asked Juan clear and concise questions about their role, what he wanted from them, their objectives as event planners and how to further their mission.

Overall, the majority of the problem was communication and being open. I have found that you have to prepare for any task-gather data, find out your mission, time restraints, the things that need to be done, and having a backup plan. When you have the meeting, you have to be open to questions, ideas, concerns. At meetings, you have to encourage the members to ask questions, present ideas, and be accommodating and more importantly, delegate and fully explain your ideas, thoughts, concerns, and propose solutions and investigations. For Juan and his group, they failed to communicate. Juan, as a leader, took on a task when he didn't have a clue about what to do and hadn't prepared for the challenge. This lead to issues in communication, which affected the group and the celebration.

The Interview

For my leadership interview i interviewed my boss Bruce Humphries. Bruce is the wood shop supervisor and teaches two classes in metal sculpture classes in continuing studies. Since i've worked under Bruce he has been a good boss, and has treated me with the same respect that i give to him. So far he has been a good leader and a pretty good role model to me. he even gives some of my co-workers some good advise when needed, i haven't need ed his words of wisdom yet, but i know i can go to him if i need a little light shed on certain situations. Bruce is an example of what i like to see in a balanced and knowledgeable leader. i recorded my interview with bruce and here it is.

Poor Leadership

The team failed because of one factor: poor leadership. Each step of the way, Juan’s ineffective leadership facilitated a cascade of unfavorable consequences, and ultimate failure.

First, Juan failed to define a clear objective for the assignment. The student organization was geared towards educational outreach and peer tutoring services for chemistry majors—and yet they were asked to host an anniversary celebration event, unrelated to the group’s mission statement. Fine, but this means the group leader (Juan) must be sure to define the event’s purpose in a way that is meaningful for the group specifically. Maybe the celebration could be considered in the light of promoting educational outreach; or Juan could explain that it is a part of the group’s mission to support, and be committed to, the longevity and success of the university. Thus this anniversary event is very much collaborative with the organization’s objectives. Yet, it seems that Juan was unable to garner sufficient enthusiasm and commitment from his team. Additionally, It was up to Juan to define individual objectives; if specific assignments are not given out, nothing will be accomplished. It sounds like Juan missed this vital step as well.

Further, it seems clear that Juan did not do all of his homework. The funds and resources the team had to work with were undetermined; therefore much time was wasted in considering ideas such as a concert that would not have been feasible. By the time Juan realized they were short sufficient resources for a concert, the team only had three weeks left to have a finished product. With meetings only once per week, that is not nearly adequate time.

That leads into Juan’s next failure: the failure to be proactive. If time—and number of members—is short, increase the number of meetings, find outside help, and figure out how to tweak the project so that it can be accomplished by the deadline. Of course, being proactive earlier on would have made things easier: instead of shooting down the concert idea completely and causing panic, maybe the team could brainstorm a way to make the concert fit the budget. (Different venue? Different band/performer? Fundraise?) Tackling the problem in this manner may have kept the team fully intact.

Finally, Juan was clearly ineffective at rallying his team when frustration and disappointment was plaguing it. The point when a team’s morale plummets is a leader’s most important moments, the time when a leader is needed most. Juan’s half-hearted attempt to ‘facilitate another brainstorming activity’ was never going to be received well by a team who just learned that their brainstorming thus far had not produced good results. It was up to Juan at that point to initiate the flow of ideas, of alternate solutions, of a path to success. Maybe remind the group why they are part of this project (back to my first point) and why commitment to carry through with it is so critical. Obviously, failure to establish these points when the team first started the project makes this rally all the more difficult.

All of these missteps add up to one thing: poor leadership. This shows that being a leader by title is not enough. One must accept not only the authority of leadership, but also the responsibility.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Would You Respond to that

From my point of view the group didn't do anything but brainstorming, brainstorming is good and is a crucial part of a organization like this, but at some point you have to take action to get things done. the leader, Juan didn't give the team any direction. and even after Juan told the rest of the group that the concert was out of their budget, Juan and the others didn't brainstorm an think of anything else.
also if the group was suppose to come up with an event with a month, i honestly think there should of been more meetings, then like one meeting a week. if the group were to meet at least twice a week, a lot more ground could of been covered, and the productivity would have increased.
the event that the group chose was a bad choice to. not only did the concert not fit with the organization's mission but it was out of their budget, and if Juan didn't know the budget at the beginning of the first meeting, thats saying something; he wasn't prepared. also finding out the things you would need for a concert wouldn't taken a long time, assuming the group had a computer, otherwise it would have taken more time, but if they more meetings such information could have retrieved more quickly. a dinner would of been a good and pretty simple idea, or like a award ceremony for students that did some recognizable would have nice too.
the other group members could have spoken out a bit sooner to have gotten better results from the meetings instead of the failure. If anything, i'm sure there were some other really good ideas, and some concerns about the group's progress, but why no body said anything else that could of helped in the second to last meeting is beyond me.

The Group + Juan

J When you point your finger at someone, there are always three fingers pointing back at you. In Juan’s case everyone pointed him for being the primary faulty component in the committee leading to a downward spiral of failure. While reading this essay I noticed that before Juan started there was an issue. If I were Juan, I would have wanted a moderator to watch over the group before any types of decisions were made. Having a moderator that is linked to the school, as a faculty or staff member would ensure that people would take the mission more seriously. It is best to have someone older and more experienced as a mentor/moderator throughout the process to relay information and ideas about the mission’s progress.
Another issue that caused the group to fall through was the group itself. The lack of interest they had towards the end is something that should not happen. Missions are all about helping out other people and their own feelings and emotions towards their leader distracted them. The main idea that should be understood in a committee is when the goal is to help others out its imperative to remember TO HELP OTHERS OUT! Even though the committee was upset they should have set their feelings aside and look at the real matter at hand which was, “to sponsor educational outreach and peer tutoring to chemistry major.”
Now looking at the leader, Juan, there are many issues that could have been dealt with before the group crumbled. Juan started off the on the wrong foot, he did not really relay the purpose of the mission at all. He started off with brainstorming where the group thought of concerts and benches. Neither idea that was stated relates to the mission at hand. It would have made a lot more sense if the reason they hosted a concert to raise money to sponsor the chemistry majors. Concerts are always fun they attract a large audience so if they kept going down this creative route with the mission in mind they probably would have come up with something.
Juan seemed a little over his head in this one. From the beginning I feel as if was unsure with knowing how to lead. If it that were the case he should have realized that he might have not been the best leader and stepped down from his position. Everyone is a leader regardless of the title they have or don’t have and anyone in the committee or outside of the committee would have been better prepared to run meetings and run the mission.
The whole team should have worked better together and there should have been a leader that understood the purpose of the committee, in charge. It boils down to getting a group of individuals that work progressively and productively together and a leader that knows what to do and how to attack certain obstacles. From there it goes into how well the group and leader work together on the same level with ongoing fluent communication.


Like Arlen mentioned, Juan did not stay on task while planning for the event. Juan needed to be clear on what the goal of the one-hundredth anniversary was for and he wasn’t. Putting on a concert or buying a bench does not show how successful the peer-tutoring program has been. There

Jobs should have been designated at the first meeting. The entire team should have been assigned to come up with ideas for the event during the first meeting. Juan should have had some ideas so the group could see an example of what an acceptable event would be.

The team then should have voted on the top three event plans. The team then should have been split up to research an event plan focusing on the budget and time and bring this information to the second meeting. Research is a big part of finding out whether or not an event is feasible and realistic.

There was also no communication via email, blog, or facebook outside of the meeting. When planning a big event constant communication is important for the event’s success. If the team were to post their research for the top three events on a blog page, they could all be ready to take the next steps in voting for the top event and execute plans in the second meeting. As team leader Juan needed to be in charge of this and oversee/check in with each research group.

The team’s frustration is understandable. There were many problems that could have been prevented with better planning, but to walk out on a meeting shows a lack of concern and pride for the organization. If the team does not care enough to stay and work out issues at a meeting, how can they expect others to care enough to donate to the peer tutoring organization? Juan lost control of his team from the first meeting. He did not have a clear direction for the team, so the team didn’t follow Juan; they left.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Response to Juan

Well for one, Juan and his teammates failed to organize something that revolved around the actual cause. But another problem was that Juan was unsuccessful in taking charge and finding one project for the group to focus on. Setting aside the fact that each idea strayed further and further away from "sponsoring educational outreach and peer tutoring to chemistry majors"...It felt as though every time the team got together, their ideas became more extravagant and more costly. When Juan volunteered to be the leader, he should have realized what responsibilities he was going to be taking under his wing. And not to blame it solely on the leader, but when Juan was seen struggling, his teammates should have stepped up, or maybe one or two people in particular should have stepped forward and tried to get things in order.

There is nothing wrong with holding a meeting to brainstorm ideas, but choosing between raising money to buy a bench or holding a concert are polar opposites financially. One idea costs at most a couple hundred dollars and the other costs thousands of dollars. "Members were disappointed and confused about their role in planning" what I've learned from being a leader and listening to a leader is that if the person in charge does not specify certain tasks for each person, it's harder for things to get done. Being a leader is not only being the final say in the matter, it's also your responsibility as the leader to facilitate and make sure everyone else is on task. Without assigning people with specific jobs, nothing will get accomplished.

If a concert was relevant to the 100th anniversary, Juan and his other members would seriously have to factor in the cost of fundraising, how would they raise money to book a venue, get local bands to play, rent equipment, advertisements, ticket prices, a lot goes into hosting a concert. I think for Juan, he set too high of expectations for himself and his teammates. The goal is to be practical and stay focused on the task at hand. By the end of the month, the other teammates realized what a lost cause it was to be a part of Juan's group, they realized he wasn't being successful in his leadership position so more than half bailed.

Being a leader is not an easy job to take on, but with the right ideas and plans, anything can get done.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Few Thoughts On Juan

    There are three main issues this said Juan had leading his group. First, he apparently failed to address the mission he and his group were initially given, he came unprepared for the meetings, and he also seemed to never come to the meetings with any ideas.
    Juan tried to organize activities for the anniversary that did not stick to his original mission. According to students in his group, their mission was to "sponsor educational outreach and peer tutoring to chemistry majors". However, I fail to see how buying a bench or writing a musical number assessed this goal. Juan started out on the wrong foot. Instead of finding activities to encourage interest and assistance for chemistry, Juan tried to find methods of making the event entertaining. To make the event interesting is not a bad objective, in fact it would most likely benefit the activity's effectiveness if it were interesting. Still, the events Juan came up with were only interesting and not relevant to the purpose of the student organization.
    Juan also failed to come to the meetings fully prepared. It is imperative for event planning to consider financial assets. An event cannot be ratified without confirmation that said event is withing financial capabilities, knowing his financial limits would have helped Juan not waste his time. As the group leader, it was Juan's responsibility to inquire about the amount of money the event would have at their disposal.
    Juan also failed to come prepared with ideas to his meetings. A group is meant to collaborate and refine ideas, but a leader it is important to come prepared with ideas to bounce off of. A leader should not come to their group's meeting expecting other's to initiate for them. Collaboration works best with rough ideas to start out with, that other members can then smooth and polish out into better ideas. Juan should have done some of the brainstorming prior to the meetings. Perhaps the other's in the group became frustrated when Juan tried to "facilitate another brainstorming activity" instead of actually providing solutions to their problem.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Public Speaking

Anxiety and I are familiar friends. Not necessarily public speaking anxiety, but anxiety in general. There are points where fear grips me so tightly that I am unsure if it will ever let go; if I will ever be able to function properly again. I used to back myself into a corner, hyperventilating and nauseous, before dissolving into a full blown panic attack that usually ended with me sitting on the floor. Despite this dissolution of my sanity, I would not have considered this a problem. I did not look at it that way. Those that are anxious do not necessarily see the problem until it is over. The way this article is written offends me, actually. It is not what is written that I have a problem with, it is the tone that irritates me.
I am not saying that people with public speaking anxiety should not seek out help. However, it is not a huge catastrophe. It is perfectly possible to get along in life without ever having to do a public speech. Even for a 'leader'. I think that people that have something to say, will say it. If they have true belief and confidence in what they're saying, there is no fear to speak out. If a 'leader' had to give a speech, I would be under the impression that, since they should be fully confident in the subject of the speech, there should be no more than the butterflies of nervousness. But not full blown anxiety.
I view anxiety as a condition fueled by society. If people stopped bullying other people, stopped being condescending, stopped doing all these negative things to their peers, then maybe there would be one more wonderful contribution being made. What on earth do we have to be anxious about when we speak? I used to be terrified of speaking in class if I was unsure about the topic; the supreme point when speaking up should have happened. The thoughts were unusual and I usually scolded myself afterwards for thinking them: "I'm going to sound dumb." "I don't really understand this, maybe if I listen longer, I'll get it." "My question isn't that important." "Somebody probably already asked this when I wasn't listening." "Nobody wants to hear my speak."
I know full well why I think these things. My public speaking anxiety is different from my regular anxiety, and a little strange. I started out never having a problem with talking out, even now I'll do it. I'll force myself to speak because when I have something to say, I will make sure I am heard. You can't change anything by sitting still and being quiet, after all. It was when kids started getting mad for my questions. Sometimes they would be stupid, sometimes legitimate. But when I was the only one throughout grade school that cared about understanding what was going on in class, when I was the one that drew out class conversations and made their 'pain' last longer, being in class with me was ... an experience. In my high school (and some of middle school), nobody would speak out. Everybody just wanted the class to be over as soon as possible (which makes me wonder why they bothered to go at all), so the fact that I was in that class and wanted to know more, angered everyone. "She asks all those questions." "The teacher expects more from us because of her." "Here she goes again." "Come on! I just want to move on."
It was during high school that I started realizing people really disliked me. I made them look bad. So I started being quiet, and asking smaller questions, or nothing at all. I stopped talking. I didn't have the confidence to not care what all my peers thought. It wasn't that simple. This lasted for awhile, until I started realizing I didn't understand what was going on in class anymore. And that wasn't okay. The public speaking anxiety that had happened upon me was affecting my schoolwork. So I stopped caring. After all, I was a big time actress in high school and I never ever got stage fright. I could project my voice as loudly as anyone else, and I never forgot my lines. The more involved I got with the drama club later in high school, the more I spoke up again.
Bringing time management into play is a little more difficult though. Though, once you realize that you spend more time worrying than doing, you have power to control it. If you fill up your day properly and in an organized manner, you wouldn't have time to worry. You would simply have to get it done. You wouldn't have time to sit around and fiddle with yourself about speaking up. If you didn't, you wouldn't get another chance. It would pass you by without a second glance. Time management becomes important to continue functioning; to make yourself do things. Put yourself on a schedule and understand that it is stuff that has to be done, and watch as you make it happen. That's how it works. Everything is written down for you, all the things you need to do. You will have more to maintain than your mind will have to divert for anxiety; reducing it.
And in the end... I learned that it isn't important what people think. Learn what you need to learn. Do what you need to do. Be who you want to be. You never truly know what other people are thinking. How could you know if they are honestly fed up with what you say, ask, or do? There is a quote I found recently that sums it up wonderfully: "That knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping, and even the biggest failure, even the worst, beat the hell out of never trying."

Public Speaking

One thing I've learned about public speaking over the years; is that a lot of people have it, people you wouldn't expect to have it. If you see how I am around my friends, you would never believe that i was/am afraid to speak in front of an audience. I've always had that phobia. When i was in middle school my teachers would always have the students read something in front of the class. When it was my turn to go, my hand s would get so sweaty, and i'd start to stutter, and i'd feel really hot and my entire body would get and my face would get sweaty. I would do and say what i would have to say, but very monotoned and quick because i wanted to get the trial at hand over and done with despite my grade of the assigned task.
I got better with public speaking in high school. I did what Paul Martin Lester said one of those tips; I got a rush and started to like the adrenaline rush, and just pretended to be out going, but only on stage though. It was partly that and that i got tired of not expressing myself and letting my voice be heard when i wanted it to. I realized that no body would always ask me my opinion about things and that if i stayed quite all the time then no one would really care if i said anything or not because i never said anything to began with. Yeah i did let my voice out with my art but if i wanted to reach more people i would have to speak up and talk for myself and get my point across on my own. It wasn't just public speaking, with just talking to some people in general, some times i would feel so intimidated by an individual's presence, and then have about 20 of those people in one class room and you have to say something or preform in front of them. i was always thought about look stupid and making a fool out of myself in front of people. As time went by, i became more comfortable with myself, because i saw that other people were human and had fears like me, and were just like me in some ways and i just said fuck it, and faced my fears and just did it, when it came speaking in front of a class.
Because i did it so much in high school, it became easier and i got better at it, and i didn't get all sweaty and hot, or as nervous as i use to. i did most of the speaking in front of a class room, in my english classes when we had reenact scenes of books, plays, or movies we were studying at the time, or in my civics class when we would research and have discussions about politics and government we would have to take sides based on on our own views and have to explain our own thoughts and reasons for taking the stands we took. My teacher even recommended to join a debate team, which i did't join because i had a lot already going on at the time. I got so use to speaking in front of people that i even taught an art class at a recreation center by my school with a few friends. But it's been a while since i had to talk in front of an audience i would probably have to practice before i get as comfortable as i use to be in high school when i was doing it a lot.
what really helped me was admitting my fear of speaking in front of people and facing it, and learning how to defeat the the thing that was preventing me to do it. Because i was and still am quiet a lot, i think a lot, about all my insecurities, and how i can get over them, and the act i have to do to over come, whats was holding me back. I was always afraid of making my self look stupid in front of people, but sometimes i would want something so bad that i would ignore that voice in my head and go for it anyway. Over time i realized that i have done things that made come out of my shell so much that i kind of got use to it, or looked back and thought "well i've done some thing worst than this, so why not". and with a lot of lectures with from dad about speaking up and not letting people get over on me and about being shy and etc. He told me that a man knows when to talk and when to listen.when think back to why i was so quite i really cant remember the reason but i think it was because as a child i would be loud and making my mom mad, and i did want to make anybody angry if i accidentally said something wrong

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Public speaking is something that is a beautiful skill to have. It can bring out the best in people once they become comfortable with it. Public speaking is something that requires a lot of things but most of all Charisma is the key to it all. To have the confidence in yourself and the courage to engage an audience is what it is all about. I've been speaking aloud since I was in elementary school so as I matured it was something that stuck with me I suppose but I can say that in social situations I have never been the conversation starter.
When I was a freshman in high school I was never very charismatic. I was this 5'7 kid with braids who just stepped out of a middle school. I was not very confident in my look and I knew I would face the same people that I didn't care for too much back in middle school plus the new kids from the other middle school. So I was shy to say the least. I would sit off to the side in the class room and not say much. At lunch I sat with people that I didn't know too well...I had friends don't get me wrong I just wasn't very outgoing and outspoken as I am now. Through out 9th grade as I met more people I started to develop myself and my social life. Instead of following the group I began to understand how to lead the pack and speak up.
As 10th grade began I changed my image and even developed a new taste for clothes I used to see as wack. I cut off my long hair and became a more mature me and continued to grow and meet people. I even had the courage to join the school choir and sing and perform in front of people. I even would dance a little as we praised god. I also began to befriend older students that used to intimidate me. It was like I discovered the secret to an active social life. One that I controlled. I didn't notice at the time but I was developing Confidence in myself. You be able to believe in yourself if you want others to believe what you say or what you want them to believe.
When I was in 11th grade I was like Kanye West you couldn't tell me nothing. I mean I knew what I was gonna do when I was gonna do it and nothing was gonna stop me. I joined the track team to prove my friends wrong and I did it and stuck with it and fell in love with the sport. What I have accomplished through track is courage and yea relentless ambition but thats not relevant to this ha ha. But to accomplish any thing you have to have the courage to stand for what you believe in and public speaking you have to have the courage to stand there and speak on behalf of yourself because thats who you are defending.
I sorta evolved into myself as many of us do as we advance through stages of life. My senior year I had become comfortable address anyone I wanted to. I was no longer burden by what others thought of me or afraid to be the leader. I recognized myself as someone who is capable of doing what ever he wants if he applies himself and thats the type of attitude I carry in anything I do and I think that Defines Charisma. If you can't see yourself doing something then more than likely its not accomplishable for you. Until you release your mental constraints that hold you back from doing great things you won't achieve them. A bird can't fly with clipped wings, just like a person can't publicly speak with out Charisma.

Public Speaking

Public speaking can be difficult for anyone. There's a lot more to it than one might think initially. Public speaking is a whole process. First, you need to prep for your audience. It is crucial to know enough about the topic you're speaking on to make valid points and have important things to say. It takes research and organization, much like writing an essay. Then comes the memorization--even if you have things written down, public speaking is not reading from a paper, and it's important to know what you want to say beforehand. Then, you need to carry yourself in a way that suggests that people should listen to you; you need to be engaging when you speak, you have to enunciate and project your voice...there are a lot of aspects to the art of public speaking. It's completely understandable why so many people (including myself) have a hard time with this important role in leadership.

Most of what the article by Paul Martin Lester focuses on is the anxiety part of public speaking. I think even the most outgoing people get jittery every now and then about speaking in front of a group of people. Lester has some great pointers in his article to help with the overcoming process of public speaking anxiety. I think it is important to address this topic because it certainly is a part of life that many people struggle with, but with proper teaching can turn into a positive learning experience and a practice in overcoming.

I have been involved in the theatre since third grade, attended a performing arts high school for acting, and am currently a directing major here at Uarts. I am terrified of public speaking. I have an extremely difficult time putting my thoughts and explanations into words. It's incredibly frustrating and I become impatient with myself and disappointed in my inability to articulate. While reading the article, I found that I am often in the position Lester was in during his undergraduate years in the classroom.

Over several years, I've become exceedingly more comfortable with speaking in a classroom setting, and just speaking in general, but even so, I'm still in the process of overcoming my own public speaking anxiety. It's much more difficult for me to make my presence known in a group of people I don't know well. I have to constantly remind myself that I have worthwhile questions to ask and responses to make. Lester's tips were good reminders for me and great starting points for others who suffer with anxiety.

In addition, Blanca's time management presentation last week can also be a helpful aspect of public speaking. For those of us who do have speaking anxiety, time management can be used for preparation and rehearsing beforehand. Time management also forces organization which as I said previously is a crucial aspect of public speaking.

"Learning to Live with Public Speaking Anxiety" by Paul Martin Lester made me feel ok about my lack of comfort on this topic. It's reassuring to know that even Lester, who now speaks in front of hundreds of people, once had an equally difficult time with speaking publicly.

My Voice

I found the article pretty interesting. There was defiantly a lot of suggestions for teachers and students that I agree with. Personally, I've never had a problem with public speaking. I find public speaking very intimate and exciting. My personal motto is to go up to the stage and entertain everyone.

When I think of public speaking, I think about Nabokov’s theory on writing. The writer must be the enchanter, teacher, and storyteller. When it comes to speaking, I tend to enchant the audience by being warm, receptive, and making them feel comfortable. I embody the storyteller by adding personal anecdotes where I can and inviting the audience to be a friend and inviting them to be apart my conversation. As the teacher, I tell the audience what I need to tell them, once I enchant them with my storytelling.
I agree with the author when they said public speaking must be practiced. Everyone has a different style of speaking and communicating and not one way is the correct way. When speaking, the speaker suddenly becomes aware of their vulnerabilities. Personally, one of my insecurities is my voice. I hate the way my voice sounds, especially when its on a microphone. My first and natural reaction is "Oh God!" but I just do it and have fun.

I feel also know, as a speaker, you have to know how to engage your audience and keep their attention. Some leaders, due to their personality and leadership style are boring to listen too; while others are more energetic and charismatic, which always engages audience. Depending on the way your culture is and who you are talking too, the way you engage them and communicate can either help or harm your presentation and how they receive your message.

As far as time management, I find myself never spending too much time practicing for a speech. I just give it. Most of time is dedicated to researching and knowing the facts that I'll be speaking about. By knowing the facts, you'll be confident and comfortable and everything will fall into place.

I've learned throughout my public speaking character that I'm pretty good at it and that you must always engage your audience and paint a story with your words; you're speech must have an easy structure and a beginning, middle, and end. Most importantly, you have to be confident and take your time; just imagine you are having a conversation. That’s all public speaking is: a conversation

I only remembered that drugs were bad.

Picture this. It's the year 2009 Tuesday morning. Snow is everywhere. I'm attending community college at CCP (Community College of Philadelphia). I'm in a classroom setting filled with people who are dying to see me present my speech in the Public Speaking course. Everyone in the classroom knew that I was an Acting major and they expected an Oscar award winning performance. I looked to my left and to my right at my peers. I could see the anxiousness in their eyes as they were eager to see what I was going to do. Everyone begins to clap as Taneisha finishes her speech on women rights as it relates to education. "Educated women are essential to ending gender bias, starting by reducing the poverty that makes discrimination even worse in the developing world." "Very good speech," stated Professor Conway. "Arik your next." I marched up to the front of the class with my raggedy note cards. The notes were kind of damp because of the moisture in the air. I was so embarrassed. I didn't know why I existed. Before I said anything I heard slight chuckles which made me slightly nervous. I started off really good. I said "Today I'm going to talk about the harmful effects of heroine, I'm going to give a brief description of heroine, what it does to the body, and then I'm going to share a tragic story about someone who was addicted to heroine." I was doing good. I started thinking about how loud the class was going to clap and what Professor Conway was going to say "Well done Arik, very nice speech." I began to praise myself a little to soon and suddenly my mind just went blank. I also dropped one of my note cards on the floor which threw me off even more. The class looked at me ready to hear the speech and I couldn't say a word. I stuttered a few times throwing out random facts about heroine and because the class was about to burst into laughter, I ended the speech saying one thing I remembered from my research. I said "drugs are bad." I walked back to my seat with haste, flopped down and looked forward away from everyone's faces. They burst into laughter. What was wrong with me. I did all the research. I mean yeah it was 3 days before the speech but I knew everything I was going to say. I felt like a loser. I would've picked on me. After a while I started to laugh along with the class because I realized It was just a classic case of public speaking anxiety.
Most of us believe parts of life are inherently stressful. In fact, most of us have been taught to believe that life as a whole is very stressful! To deal with any type of stress effectively, you first must understand that life itself, including public speaking, is NOT inherently stressful. Thousands of human beings have learned to speak in front of groups with little or no stress at all. Many of these people were initially terrified to speak in public. Their knees would shake, their voices would tremble, their thoughts would become jumbled . . . you know the rest. Yet they learned to eliminate their fear of public speaking completely. You are no more or less human than they are. If they can conquer the fear of public speaking, so can you! It just takes the right guiding principles, the right understanding, and the right plan of action to make this goal a reality.
I'm starting to understand what hinders me from being a good public speaker, but I'm still not a master at public speaking though. It's still a skill that I'm working on. When I look back at that experience, It makes me utilize the 24 hours I have in a day. This breaks down into 1440 minutes. Each person gets the same amount. I can't save them like vacation days. When they are over, the time is gone. Whether I spent my time wisely or foolishly, it doesn't matter, I can't get it back. So, if I can't manage "time", what can I manage? I believe public speaking anxiety can be cured.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Public Speaking

For me I have never really had many problems with public speaking. I respond if I have something to say or to add and I don't if I don't. Being in the major and line or work with theater it is hard to not be in situations where you have to speak publicly or to a large group. I find working with peers is the hardest not necessarily professors or teachers. Peers don't have to try and listen to you and they may not even pay attention in some circumstances.
The tips in the article I think are very helpful. However some of the suggestions I find could be difficult. In this environment of art school many of us are focused on our craft and therefore don't focus as much as we should in our liberal arts courses that mostly offer situations for speaking about classwork or homework. There just isn't enough hours in the day sometimes to focus on all those steps. Also in my experience after a long day of classes the brain can't compartmentalize it all to focus long enough.
Obviously someone with public speaking issues would make it a point to implement these tips if it is a desire for them to improve. No one can force them to do this though. For me knowing how to react to help people with these kinda issues are ideal. I don't think it takes
someone with a phd to notice if someone is uncomfortable or nervous, you just have to me observant and sensitive to them.
Being in college now I don't think much of public speaking so it is a little strange to me to hear it is still a problem so far into some peoples education. It seemed to me most people don't want to speak because they either aren't doing the work, do not care or just aren't fond of participating and have other things going on in their mind.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Easy Way Out

Public speaking is definitely something I struggle with, but only in certain situations. It depends on two factors: my confidence of my knowledge in the topic, and how intimidated I feel by my peers and/or professor. If I have a lot to say, then I am eager to vocalize it, and have no problem doing so. But if I am in a group of people whom I hope to impress or I care how they judge me, then I get nervous and sometimes don’t speak up even if I want to contribute something. I have always wanted to impress my teachers, perhaps more so than my peers; thus intimidating teachers give me the most anxiety.

The first formal speech I remember doing was in my freshman year English class. We were to prepare a five-minute discourse on a theme/aspect of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I have a vivid memory of this speech, not only of my actual presentation but of preparing for it as well—because I was completely worked up over it. I ended up doing well; my anxiety caused me to be, if anything, over-prepared. I remember rehearsing it over and over, timing myself, tweaking words and phrases each time, and then going over it in my head before it was my turn during class instead of listening to others’ speeches.

That assignment garnered my confidence in public speaking. In fact, overconfidence a couple of times led to being underprepared and suffering embarrassment and a lower grade. Over time, I had learned that preparation was absolutely critical for me to succeed in public speaking, as Lester implies in his article, “Learning to Live With Public Speaking Anxiety.” I would watch people “wing it” in front of the class/audience and succeed—and I would think wistfully about how I am simply not one of those people that can speak so well spontaneously when under pressure. This is the reason I never took debate—I always chickened out because I knew it involved a level of spontaneity under pressure that I could never do.

But I’ve always wanted to be good at that! Can it be learned? I would try to learn by arguing all the time with my brother (who is a great speaker/debater—he should be a lawyer); I always lost the argument. And not because I was wrong! In my head I know I have solid ideas, I’m just not able to vocalize them on the spot. Those debates with my brother always brought about little regrets because I would think of things later that I should have said—that would have won me the argument. Unfortunately life doesn’t often give second chances. Upon reflection, though, I think practicing like that has helped me improve. I still don’t win debates with my brother, but I’m better and I think he sees that sometimes: instead of shooting down every statement I make, he’s started to hear me out more, pay my opinions more respect.

And I think that is why I have tried so hard to become a better speaker: I want people to listen. It’s frustrating when all these ideas and opinions that I am passionate about are imprisoned in my head, so I have practiced trying to vocalize them in a convincing, effective way.

The place in which I got the most practice—and from which I progressed the most in public speaking ability—was in my junior-year history class. My teacher, Mr. Melbach, was the most intimidating teacher I’ve ever had. I revered him so much that I was terrified of saying anything “stupid” in his presence. Not only was it the expectation that we contribute to all daily class discussions, but each class he would randomly pick four or five students to stand up in front of the class and give an “oral.” He would ask the student a question over the material or subject matter and she would have to answer on the spot. Each student would be called upon to do an oral about six times per semester; they made up fifty percent of our grade. He didn’t care whether you were afraid of public speaking or not; in his opinion, it was a necessary skill, and if you just “sucked it up” and did it over and over again you would learn. I think he was right. My orals improved progressively over the year, and my grade reflected it. My classmates showed likewise improvements.

This example is why I disagree with some of Lester’s assertions. He suggests writing out questions/comments and giving them to the teacher after class instead of vocalizing them during the discussion; he recommends preparing questions to bring to the discussion beforehand, or doing virtual discussions via e-mail. While I agree that those methods often lead to higher success rates, I don’t think it prepares us for public speaking under pressure that life will inevitably demand. I always did well when I prepared speeches by rehearsing them again and again, but life certainly does not always give you that opportunity. It is a different—and I would say more valuable—skill to be able to react and speak quickly to unexpected or unknown material. And nothing can teach you to do that except practice.

Speaking Out Loud Can Be Hard to Do

I wouldn’t say that I’m deathly afraid of public speaking, but as a child I was extremely shy; rarely speaking up in class or raising my hand. Overtime I’ve come out of my shell. True when you first meet me I still come off as being shy, quiet and introverted. But once you get to know me I become more talkative. Not to say that I’m the one who is always the center of attention around my closest friends, I’ve always been the listener more than the one who contributes a lot to the conversation.

After reading Lester’s article it made me understand how for some, public speaking can be such a problem. I think everyone can relate to an extent, no one wants to look stupid when they have a huge presentation to give in front of the class, or when you have a speech to give amongst a large crowd. Everyone has the fear of looking flustered or incompetent in front of anyone. Sometimes I think it’s hard to think up a clever answer or rebuttal on the spot. I never really enjoyed debates in high school, for one it made me feel completely self conscious of being on the spot and having all my classmates look at me and two, I was always afraid I wasn’t going to have anything smart to say or be able to argue quickly enough.

Group discussions I enjoyed more. I think topics that I’m interested in make me feel more motivated to be a part of the conversation rather than something I know nothing about or have very little interest in. For those people Lester mentioned who get light headed, red in the face and dizzy at even the thought of speaking in class, I think the most important thing to do is approach your professor like Lester mentioned. If the teacher knows there is a problem, it won’t cause an issue later on or hinder your work performance.

I think children and young adults tend to forget that even adults are petrified of talking in public, face to face or in front of a group. Over the years I’ve become less self-conscious about what other people think or say, most of the time it’s just all in my head. What helps me is to ask questions. This helps me feel more confident about speaking up in class, my teachers know that I care about the course and also know I’m paying attention.

Ever since coming to Uarts I have definitely learned to speak up for myself. Whether it’s asking questions in class, emailing my teachers or calling someone on the phone, it’s important to communicate and keep informed in any type of way. Being able to communicate with people in all sorts of settings is necessary. Public speaking is just one of the many forms of communication that people use in order to get their feelings and messages across. I enjoyed reading Lester’s article, it made me sympathize with those that find it harder to speak in public and helped me realize everyone gets a little nervous.

Live and learn

Throughout high school I cannot point out one day where I didn’t find myself raising my hand furiously during a class discussion. I always had to be the first one to answer the questions and get them right. I think it was always a sort of competition for me that I enjoyed playing out in my head. The teachers enjoyed the way I reacted to a discussion, but most my fellow classmates would hate that I would want to answer every question. I learned that even though I love to talk and participate, I should also grow and learn to listen as well. For my remainder year in high school I learned to listen to others perspectives and then answer to my fellow peers thoughts. I enjoyed speaking out loud and presenting to my classmates, it was mostly because I was comfortable and knew my entire class. I went to an all girl’s private catholic high school and for the most part it was like hanging out with my sisters every day for four years. Once college came around I was a little nervous to start over. I wondered how my classes would be and the peers I would meet. First year of college went by in a flash; I can hardly remember what it was like, but I still remember being the first person to raise their hand in every class, answering every question with a the mindset of knowing that I’m not alone in the class.

My sophomore year has been a little different from freshman year and high school. During the beginning of school year I was really excited to start off exploring my passion for photography and meeting new classmates. After kicking off first semester I found myself getting tongue-tied, sweaty palms, heart pounding, light headed kind of nervous. I tried to slap myself out of it (not literally), but it wouldn’t work. I tried to think of puppies and other happy thoughts to get my mind off of the anxiety that was building up every time I had to introduce myself to a new group of classmates. I couldn’t understand why I would get so nervous, I knew nothing bad would happen if I stood up in front of a class and talked about myself and who I am, but yet my emotions thought otherwise. I started to hate participating in class; I started to push aside my good ideas because of the anxiety I could not control.

Now it being second semester I think I have realized what it was that has been getting me so nervous. I think it has been just getting comfortable with a group of people that I know nothing about and vice versa. Throughout high school I knew everyone and I was comfortable with sharing my ideas as they formulated in my head. Freshman year I was surrounded with the same group of people in every class it was the same section and I learned to gain confidence when it came to speaking in front of them.

This year it’s completely different. I have six classes and in each class there is not one person that I have another class with. I have had to adjust with the change and I think its been baby steps, but being out of that comfort zone and throwing my ideas into an open class discussion with peers I have never met and know nothing about it good for me. Experiencing new people and the ideas that they bring to the table has been a positive change that I now enjoy and look forward to hearing. Class discussions still get me a little nervous, but it gives me a chance to listen to others, breathe in, gather my thoughts, and respond with a more self-assured answer and being.

I have related much with Paul Lester through his article Learning to Live with Public Speaking Anxiety. Reading about professionals that speak almost everyday and still getting nervous has assured me that I’m not alone in this. I grabbed a lot of information that I will use from his list of suggestions to help with anxiety. My next challenge is to not get nervous with the public introduction during our Wednesday class. I think I should be fine, being nervous might be distraction but I have learned its something that is possible to overcome.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Just Keep Speaking

Throughout school I have always had a problem with participating in class. I would often get teacher comments saying that I was insightful and could add more to class discussions. Although all of my teachers pointed this out to me, like Arlen, I didn’t feel like my voice made that much of a difference. If a teacher called on me, I would always have something to say but I never wanted to raise me hand to voice my opinions.

By the end of my freshman year in high school and seeing all of the leadership opportunities available, I wanted to get involved. I applied to be sophomore class co-president. I had to prepare a speech. I was confident in my writing abilities so I wasn’t worried about coming up with what I wanted to say; it was just the speaking part that made me nervous. I practiced my speech in front of the mirror and in front of my mom before I gave the speech to my class. Finally, on election day, I was shaking and I it felt like my heart was going to pound right out of my chest. I made a few jokes throughout my speech and when the entire room erupted into laughter I realized how I had the ability to get the reaction I wanted from people. I felt more comfortable and was proud of myself after conquering my fear of public speaking. I won the election and have been practicing public speaking ever since.

I soon began to think of public speaking as a performance. As a dancer I know how to prepare for a performance so I thought about how I could apply those same skills to public speaking. For dance I have to practice a lot to feel comfortable showing what I know, so in public speaking I know I need to practice my speech so I can feel prepared to speak. If I have notes prepared for class, I know I’ll have something to contribute to the conversation. Being prepared really helped me get over some of my anxiety.

In Paul Martin Lester’s article “Learning to Live With Public Speaking Anxiety” he had some tips for instructors, which I found interesting. As a student with public speaking anxiety I don’t always feel like I have resources or ways to express myself. I get worried that my participation grade in class will suffer because I’m not participating enough. I thought it was interesting how Lester put some responsibility in the instructor’s hands. It definitely helps when teachers ask to bring something to class. It gives me time to think over what I would like to share and I don’t feel put on the spot.

Time management is a great tool to ease public speaking anxiety. Preparedness and knowing exactly what you’re saying is half the battle of public speaking. Setting aside time to read a speech aloud or to prepare some notes before class can really help quell some anxiety. Also an understanding of culture can help with public speaking. In high school I understood “Dana Hall” culture so I was able to appeal to my classmates. Understanding culture is a great way to figure out what’s important to certain individuals and the ability to verbalize an appreciation for culture keeps people interested. I’m super nervous about the three minute intro assignment but I’m excited because it is yet another opportunity to improve my public speaking skills.


Speak Speak Speak

     After reading this article I found myself relating to many of the symptoms described by Paul Martin Lester, author of Learning to Live with Public Speaking Anxiety. My particular connection to Lester's article was within his description of his worries about whether or not his comments were profound enough for the class or even worth the bother. I find that I give myself similar internal dialogue during a class discussion. I often engage myself on a comment I would like to contribute, spending precious time editing or doubting what I would like to say. I then forget to actually engage the conversation and find that by the time I have mustered up the confidence to speak, my comment is no longer relevant. 
This is my major flaw to class conversation. Not that I do not have any contributions or that I am not smart enough to keep up with the class, but rather I tend to demean the worth of my opinion to the point where I no longer believe it to have a place in the conversation. However, I find that I become more free with my opinion when I have positive reinforcement. When others understand me and can build off my arguments I find that I am more confident in speaking openly. It helps knowing I'm contribution helpful or insightful opinions.
    At college I find I am frequently challenged to speak to the class. I am discovering that I am being placed in discussion based circumstances, more so this semester than last. My Voice and Speech class in particular is very focused on oral presentation. Our midterm exam is to present a research project in a lecture format to the class. We are graded on posture, voice placement, and articulation. Aside from Voice and Speech, many of my other classes also demand public speaking. Being able to speak publicly is critical to performance. College at The University of the Arts has assisted me tremendously i being able to address crowds, this experience was something I never got much practice in at high school.
   Lester himself states the issue with anxiety in public-speaking is that "there are too many people in the academe who suffer from this condition and don't get help, and too few professors who know how to help someone overcome it." I believe this anxiety can be neutralized much earlier in one's life. In my opinion, high schools could strive for more interactive environments. Environments that encourage out-of-the-box thought and oral presentation. Compared to the class interaction I experienced in high school and the class interaction I have now in college, high school might as well be a silent auction (except with less raised hands). It simply shocks me to here that even colleges fail to push students to contribute to conversations and that teachers cannot communicate to students well enough to assist.
    Perhaps it is the artistic environment that makes the difference. I know that within the acting department at UARTs, most of an individuals growth is based upon your own investment in your craft as well as personal discovery. Neither of which can be easily achieved without consistent communication with your instructors. The only way a teacher here can help their students is for the student to be able to organize their thoughts and feelings, articulate them into understandable assertions, and be able to build off suggestions.
    On a separate note, Lester also makes a comment about stress and its effects on your ability to speak publicly. Blanca Gonzalez, a teacher and academic advisor at The University of the Arts, gave a lecture to our class about the benefits of time management. One of the benefits was time management's reduction of stress levels. Perhaps one way to better your ability to speak confidently in front of crowds or to contribute to class discussions would be to prioritize your life.The stress lifted from your shoulders after managing your time may just improve your public-speaking abilities.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Student Leader

I interviewed Molly Corcoran, a Sophomore Dance Major who is a peer mentor, and was an orientation leader this past orientation. I agreed with a lot of her ideas about leadership and learned a lot about what taking the opportunities here at UArts can help with leadership and future goals.

Would you consider yourself a leader? Why or why not?
I would consider myself a leader. Obviously there are many ways to
define a leader, but I feel like I am one. If anyone, my closest
friends to new students I'm just meeting, need help/advice I'm more
happy to give it. I like it when I can make someone's life a bit
easier. Whether it's directions on how to register for a class or
taking charge and dividing up the work on a group project that I'm
involved in, I always try to help out the best I can.

How has your education or background let you to be a leader?
Growing up I was always on student council at school and other
leader-type groups. Last year I participated in Emerging Leaders and
it definitely re-enforced ideas and concepts of leadership that I had
started learning and applying prior to college. Also my family has a
lot to do with me being a leader, in many different ways. My
grandmother, a widow, raised four young children on her own and made a
life for herself and them. My mother is the Director of Human
Resources at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and oversees thousands
of employees. My dad followed his dreams and became a music while at
the same time always being there for whatever my sister and I needed.
By watching them and the leadership qualities they exude, I pieced
different parts of them together to create my own leader role.

What do you like the most or (least) about the job?
I've always loved being able to help people. I find it very rewarding.
Sometimes a pitfall of a leader can be taking on too much, whether
it's your own choice or someone elses. You need to be careful that you
don't take more than you can handle.

What future changes do you see in this field?
Along with the rest of the world, I think leadership will be greatly
impacted by technology. It's so easy to hop on the internet to do
something (you don't even need a computer to do that anymore!) or
shoot someone a text. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing to have
the technology that we do these days, I just hope that it doesn't
become solely based on technology. To me, leadership is very
personable and using a keyboard to put leadership qualities into play
doesn't have the same effect on me.

Did you find being an orientation leader beneficial to your leadership skills?
I LOVED being an orientation leader. It was most definitely beneficial
to my leadership skills. I had never been in a situation like that
before. It really tests your skills when you're given a group of
students who are new to an area that you know well but at the same
time they really aren't that much younger than you. There's a fine
line between being a helpful peer and overpowering.

What did you gain out of the experience of being an orientation leader?
I can definitely think on my feet faster. Going into it you think you
know all the questions that could possibly be asked but then out of no
where is one you had never thought of. It also made me learn about
UArts even more. I obviously knew about my own college and some of the
other programs but I made sure to learn about the other ones since
there was no way I would have only dance majors. I also loved it
because I was able to meet so many new people, some being new students
and others upperclassmen, and was able to create friendships with

What activities are you involved in on campus?
I have a work study position in the Dean's Office in Student Affairs.
The Student Affairs division includes health services, res life,
student development and activities, and counseling services. I know
the staff in all of the offices and will help out whenever they need
me. I'm also a peer mentor. I'm a mentor for my group from orientation
along with two other groups. I'll plan events (on and off campus) and
be available for the people in my group whenever they need me.

Do you feel in a college environment especially an arts college,
leadership is lacking? Why or why not?

I think students at an arts college have leadership skills whether
they know it or not. With art, the result you get is what you put into
it. I'm always hearing about students scheduling rehearsal space for a
dance, staying in the studio until the wee hours of the morning to
perfect their sculpture, coordinating outside rehearsals for a music
ensemble their in, etc. Though it's not typical leadership, it's
definitely there.

Is it beneficial to be a leader?
I believe it's beneficial to be a leader. Not only are you helping
other people, you are bettering yourself. You become more confident in
who you are and the decisions you make. It teaches you to value your
own opinions as well as others.

Do you feel being a leader effects not just what you do in school but
your own personal life goals?

For me, yes. My leadership qualities keep me focused and driven. In
order to make it in this field you need both of those. Not only
professionally but personally those qualities are needed as well.

Do you think it is important for students to be more aware or involved
in their college experience?

Yes I believe so. In order to get the most out of something you need
to be involved in it. Especially at this school, things are ever
evolving so if a student isn't aware or involved so many opportunities
will pass them by.

What is the job like of a peer mentor? Do many students come to you often?
Being a peer mentor is essentially being readily available to the
students in your group. If it works out, I try to plan events
(especially in the beginning of the year when everyone's new) but
obviously this becomes tough with everyone's crazy schedules. A lot of
the times I'll bump into students in my group if they are in the same
major as me or similar majors that use the same space and I can hear
about how things are going and let them know of anything going on that
I think they might be interested in. Since I don't run into everyone
I'll send out email updates (that pesky technology again!) with things
ranging from reminders about registration to wishing them a nice
break. There are definitely some students that I have stayed in touch
with and have become good friends with while others I've never even
heard from. I think when people hear they're getting a peer mentor,
they think of all the negative connotations that come along with it
like they're being treated like a child who doesn't know anything. In
reality, the peer mentor position is just the opposite. All the peer
mentors remember their first year and our goal is to be a person and
friend who can be called whenever whether it's just to hang out or
with a more serious questions. These are the students who need to
remember that we are not older teachers, we are peers.

Do you feel like the students here at UArts really take advantage of
certain opportunities enough like peer mentoring?

To me it's pretty mixed. Either you take advantage of certain
opportunities full force or you stay far away from them. Like I said
before with the peer mentoring, I think many students don't fully
understand the opportunities and instead of trying to learn about
them, they tend to shy away.

What are some of your goals here at the university and for the future?
I felt that this year I became even more involved on campus by being
an orientation leader, peer mentor, and attending many events. I would
like to keep learning about the different things on campus and become
even more involved. For the future I would love to dance
professionally for some time. After that it's always been a goal of
mine to own and operate my own dance studio. All aspects of my life
will need leadership, but that is something that will not survive
without it.

It's a Long Way to the Top

Human beings have the ability to strive for what they believe in. They can have dreams, goals, and complicated thoughts. So when I say that it is not unusual for humans to compete, this is nothing new. There are all sorts of ways to do this, and not everyone enjoys it or participates. The point is, however, that just because we're in an art school, doesn't mean we don't enjoy a little bit of competition amongst ourselves. It is certainly not as intense as beating the other team in football, but in our line of work there is a need to do better than our peers, for our own benefit. Still, one cannot say UArts is a competitive school. We push each other to better ourselves, but we are not down each other's throats about it.
This, of course, is how I met Kay Gehshan. In the beginning, during my first semester in my department (Graphic Design), Kay already stood as someone driven and admirable. She was organized, gave extremely constructive criticism, and was the driving force behind a lot of my own personal motivation. She continues to be all of these things and more today. There is a motto she has that has been extremely helpful during the hard times: "Check yourself at the door." First and foremost, we are here to work and learn, not to gossip, blog, or rant our way through classes. It is not necessarily that Kay is a direct leader, in the way most people would think, however, her sense of organization and motivation propels everyone else forward; it is a hard act not to follow.
Right off the bat, I wanted to know if she saw herself in this way, so I asked her: "Do you feel as though you are a leader?"

"It's not that I think I'm a leader, its more the mentality of doing something often. Like habit."

She just doest these things; she likes organizing and knows she can handle all the stress and negativity, trying to turn it into a positive. This brought up some curiosities that would soon be answered, however I realized I needed to know what her definition of leader actually was. And to Kay Gehshan it is someone who is confident, intelligent, open-minded*, understanding, aware, and a listener. ( *Open-minded was one of the more important points.) It is up to a leader to decide when to put the foot down, or when to let things happen. It is about being able to work on your feet, keep calm, and check yourself at the door.
The more I spoke with her, the more I understood the way she did things and how it worked. It wasn't just her confidence, it was a combination of that plus all the qualities underneath it. Of course, she had her own motivations too: teachers, coworkers, classmates... all of them assisted in wanting to push herself to do things right. She says she is always so busy, with so much work, and each semester trumps the next. In fact, she had never wanted to be a leader, most people don't. It just happens! Have I mentioned she started her own club from nothing? Yes, Kay is the leader of the Rock Climbing club. She plans all of it and takes care of it. This, too, singled her out to me. After all, I'm in this Leadership Program because I want to be a better Captain to my Fencing Teammates. I simply inherited my club, Kay made her own and she has tons of members already!
She is someone to learn from, to befriend, and, most importantly, to talk to. It is wonderfully important to understand that people that share opinions and offer motivation and leadership in any way shape or form are useless if they won't talk to their 'followers', or friends. Sometimes, it is just nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, or someone that you strive to be like. I think these are important qualities for leaders, and I think Kay Gehshan has it covered.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today's Leaders Are Starting Off Young

It's interesting how much can be gained and lost by growing up. It seems fact that the longer you've been alive, the more you know, but comparing interviews with Bradlie Yanniello, a high school senior, and Jonathan Ouf, a 1st grader (with a 3rd grade reading level, he'll have everyone know), Jonathan has seemingly obvious points that Bradlie missed completely. As our minds mature, we often forget the simple things that carry the most importance. That being said, Bradlie was able to articulate the more complicated aspects of being a student leader and perhaps more practical ideas. (When asked what Jonathan had to offer to his classmates as a leader, he responded, "I can give DSI's and Macs to everyone I know and also, anything with my imagination").

The point is, leaders are learners and we must recognize that just as young leaders learn from us, we have just as much to learn from them. Leaders are the present, not the future. Today's leaders are the students who are still learning, still figuring out their goals, viewpoints, and passions, and contain a drive to set an example and make a statement. Student leaders aren't waiting around to step up their game for 'adulthood'; they're leading now.

Bradlie Yanniello is a senior at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts. Her role as a student leader is to ensure that "people can become more resourceful of what they have and more creative when these resources are not readily accessible". Bradlie believes that being a leader is being able to take command while still listening to the input of her peers and helping the whole to consider each others' thoughts. Jonathan stated simply: "A leader is like a captain".
Bradlie is interested in earning the trust of her peers before she can really appear to them as a leader. She says,"Taking on a leadership position makes you view people in a straight-forward way. Leading people makes you more aware of human behavior and how humans react to you, ultimately deciding how they will follow you". She also goes on to say that people all have their own way of leading and although educational leadership courses can be helpful to some, others are born leaders and ultimately, all leaders learn through experience.

Both Jonathan and Bradlie agree that being a student leader has different responsibilities than leaders who are out of school and/or older. Students have to earn a different kind of respect from their peers that our elders often gain automatically. Whereas Bradlie says that "You become a leader with experience, not calculus", Jonathan is very excited about the idea of college courses in leadership. He sees this as a "great opportunity to do lots of stuff". Jonathan's very optimistic about learning and although quite confident in his leadership skills, never defends himself at the thought of learning more skills.

The last question I asked in my interview was: What permanent changes do you plan on making in your school, community, or people? Jonathan replied: "To help people feel better and if they’re sad I can cheer them up. And that’s just a lot of great stuff." He responded as though it was an obvious answer. But isn't this really the core reason of why we are all leaders? To help people. We get so easily tangled in our maturing minds, looking for scholarly responses with big words and fancy ideas and we often look right past the most important and sincere answers. Children can state things so simply that adults, college students, and high school seniors like Bradlie strive to say in complicated and involved thoughts.
When everything is stripped away, we're leaders to help people. You don't need experience or wisdom to do that.

To Be Young, Black, and Gifted: A Portrait of an Emerging Leader

You've probably seen her walking down Broad Street or in the lobby of Terra. She stands out due to her height. She's short but don't let her height fool you. She is inviting, fun to be around, funny, and clever. She is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. Honestly, she made me feel comfortable upon arriving her at UArts. In fact, she was one of the first upperclassmen I met and second from major that I met. After having this interview with her, I realized that among the traits I listed above, Cheyenne Barboza is thought-provoking, driven, family oriented, inspired, methodical, dedicated, passionate, creative, and more importantly, a leader in her own right.

Cheyenne is from Waterbury, Connecticut. It's one of the four major cities of Connecticut and has an emerging theater scene. She is a graduate of the relatively new Waterbury Arts Magnet School. Her decision to attend UArts was an easy one: the Directing, Playwriting, and Production major, allows her to study and focus playwriting as an undergraduate. This program also allowed her to grow as a playwright and have her plays read and developed through the help of her peers and the staff. Furthermore, the city environment allowed her the opportunity to transfer to Broadway  or California. 
Also, Cheyenne really loved the artistic and collaborative environment UArts fosters and how all of our classes-wether liberal arts or studio classes-are interconnected.

There are many things to love about Cheyenne. For me, the most obvious thing about Cheyenne is how family-oriented she is. She comes from a close-knit family. She talks and texts her mom and dad daily and regularly engages her family in conversation. Having met her family during a production of her one-act play Wingman, I can say that Cheyenne's family is funny, down-to-earth, supportive, and defiantly know to have great time. Cheyenne would agree. 

When asked to named some people who inspire how and are leaders, her first two choices surprised me in some ways. They weren't celebrities. They were two people closest too her. "My mother. I love my mother. My nana. My nana, she's 88 years old, still driving, taking care of people. She volunteers at the senior center…she's not the senior there….she takes care of the 60 year olds and she's an inch shorter than I am." Cheyenne describe her nana as a ball of wisdom and knowledge that continuously surprises her with her accomplishments, rules on life, and how she treats everyone she encounters. Another person, that inspires Cheyenne is her former teacher, Bruce Post. He was Cheyenne's english teacher for over 5 years. Over the years, Cheyenne and Bruce have built a mentor and mentee relationship, that has allowed them to be frequent collaborators and friends.  What struck me the most was how much Cheyenne lit up with an energy that I myself have when talking about my english teacher and dear friend Ruth Gladney. For Cheyenne, these three role models exemplify leaders. All are " ….active in their community. They are engaged in the world around them. They make things happen and don't sit and complain; they get up and go after what they want. They are active in the things they love and want in this world." 

I asked Cheyenne a fairly simple, yet complicated question, "Do you consider yourself a leader?".  I have yet to answer this question for myself. Cheyenne, without missing a beat, replied yes. Cheyenne, humbly, feels that she's a leader because she likes to be active and in her words  ask  "What can we do next? What we can we do now in the present?".  Cheyenne expressed  that she is a leader because she is in love with what she does and stays motivated to lead by her peers. With such a positive attitude, she has taken on a leadership position as the leader of the African Diaspora Collective. 

Cheyenne describes The African Diaspora Collective as, "an organization on campus, that focuses on events and ideas tailored to individuals of the African Diaspora, living in the United States. Whether they're from Africa or the Caribbean or Australian". The goal of this club is to  not only educate the members on how those of African descent have created their culture within our society, but also encourages those within the organization to reach out and help unity all members of different African descents, within the Diaspora. The another goal of this program is to help encourage and reach out  to the younger people in the community, with the hopes of teaching them how to be leaders and about their history. Cheyenne has been involved with this program since her freshman year and has been the organizations acting leader for the past year. As a leader, her job is to communicate with the members of the organization, maintain the mission statement, delegating tasks to members of the organization, and acting as a filter for her members-to listen to their ideas and create a plan of action that embodies the collective ideas everyone has, that is effective and efficient.

One of my most provocative questions, and Cheyenne would certainly agree, was what, in her opinion, makes a good leader and how does she decide who makes an effective leader. Her answer: "A leader is someone with logic; someone who can put aside their personal views, for the logical view of the group. A leader needs to make sense of the opinions and be fair to opinions and produce work; keep your group on task, focus, and happy, because if they're happy, they will collaborate; there will be no turmoil and sabotage and theres only product everyone would be proud of".

Cheyenne, during our brief talk raised a lot of questions within myself. Perhaps my most intriguing question to her was what were her strengths and weaknesses. Cheyenne's self awareness, logic, and common sense, are her strongest attributes. Despite, In her words, being a procrastinator, Cheyenne's other traits and qualities easily hide this weakness that she may have, What I love most about Cheyenne is that she and I are a lot alike: we like to learn and hang around people, who are smarter than us, that we have a lot to learn from. Also, Cheyenne and I  both love english and love to talk about issues in the world and how they affect us. She plans on moving to different countries-Spain and Australia are high on her list, and learning how everyone's aesthetic of theater differs in each country. Cheyenne plans to be a playwright and hopes to be either a literary manager or someone in charge of making decisions involving the production of a play. Cheyenne is defiantly an emerging leader, who is and will make a mark on the world and be continuously inspired by everyone she comes in contact with.