Cyndie Meersman is the founder of a unique student organization at Texas A&M University called The Business of the Arts (BA), an organization that she hopes one day will become known for developing artists’ entrepreneurial skills. Cyndie confesses she didn’t actually start the organization to help artists. She started BA to expand her own career options by putting a leadership position on her own resume. Selfish? I don’t think so. Cyndie is thinking strategically; she’s thinking about how she can make herself more valuable to prospect employers.
Experience Builds Value and Rareness
In working through the not-insignificant process of establishing a formal student organization at a major university, Cyndie learned a thing or two about herself. She also learned a thing or two about navigating process in a large organization. She learned about recruiting, programming, strategy formulation, and so on. That decision to put a line on her resume turned out to be a lot of work and that work made her all the more marketable after graduation. For those of us already headlong into our careers, we can look at Cyndie’s experience, nod our heads, and smile. We admire her gumption. We admire her honesty too.
For those who are a little closer to Cyndie’s age, perhaps you are still thinking about what careers you should pursue. Or, maybe you are among the more experienced among us and faced with or desiring a career change. Whatever the case, there is much to be learned from Cyndie’s process of getting herself ready for the next stage. When my podcast co-host Joan Quintana learned that Cyndie was working on a new organization, she gave her a copy of my book “Think Beyond Value: Building Strategy to Win.” Cyndie read the book and then joined us for a little strategic conversation on the podcast.
“One of the biggest Eroding Factors that I’m really focusing on is the student turnover rate because I’m graduating in May,” Cyndie said. “I know that the person who co-founded the organization with me will become president and he’s going to do a great job but he graduates in two years.”
Cyndie is referring to eroding factors, the first E in the V-REEL™ Framework for strategy development which is the subject of my book. By thinking through Value, Rareness, Eroding Factors, Enabling Factors, and Longevity, Cyndie was able to quickly identify and prioritize issues she needed to address to ensure the longevity of the new organization. She immediately started working on Enabling Factors that will help overcome erosion brought on by student turnover. Cyndie cited the group’s strong faculty advisor, relationships with related and more established entities on campus, and an engaged membership as enablers of of her new organization’s longevity. Most importantly, Cyndie was thinking strategically, gaining experience and, among her peers, becoming increasingly valuable and rare.
Thinking Beyond Value Makes Success More Likely
I challenged Cyndie to turn the focus of her V-REEL™ assessment from BA to her own personal ability to create value. The conversation grew even more interesting.
“The V-REEL™ Framework helps me think about and realize what I have to offer an employer,” she said. “It gives me confidence in talking about those things.”
Cyndie admitted that she was uneasy with self promotion. Like many of us, Cyndie hesitated because she didn’t want to come across as boastful. In school, she was often encouraged to market herself but she was unsure just what that meant. Thinking through V-REEL™ seemed to help.
Thinking about yourself as someone who can create value in the world and preparing yourself to adapt to the world is useful personally and can help you better market yourself to prospect employers. We all need to be realistic; don’t brag but do know how you can create value for an organization. If you’re thinking in terms of value creation, maybe that tempers arrogance or that sense of being boastful or self promoting.