My 1 Motivator — The End Goal

After my recent post on pushing through failure, I received some really positive feedback from the higher ed community to continue pushing through—and thanks a ton for that!

I also received a few messages and emails asking what it is that makes me want to push through. Where did the motivation come from? How do you pull yourself out of a failed attempt? To clarify, my startup itself didn’t fail. Has it taken off fully? Nope. But the failure I discussed was a huge setback in my race to launch.

Layout 1So to answer your question regarding what pulled me through my failure directly, Anthony, Jen, Christina, Jordan, and the random email I got that I tried responding directly to but couldn’t for some reason (whoever you are)—my startup is simply a step toward a larger end goal. Looking at it as a step in my career path rather than a career in itself allowed–allows–me to focus on the big picture. Of course, it took me a few months to actually realize this.

What’s my big picture? First impressions. That’s pretty vague, but that’s it.

In a not-so-humble-brag-kind-of-way (mostly because humble brags are actually more of a brag than a regular brag), relationships are my thing. Some people are good at accounting. Some are good at sports. Some can build the hell out of a house. I understand people. Really well. I’m also like a human CRM. I can have one conversation with a person and tell you a year later exactly what we talked about and connect them to a totally unrelated person based on a random commonality. In the end, all relationships start (obviously) with the first impression and the ability to manage that.

For many students, the college fair is that initial person-to-person impression that a prospective student has with an institution. leadpath works to improve a small piece of the puzzle. It’s a step. Other first impressions are ads, campus visits, or a simple phone call with a current student doing an admissions phone-a-thon. My big picture is to consult with institutions to improve first impressions—to make this process easier with technology and training. Each strategy is unique and each institution requires a different approach.  The challenges are incredible and something that I look forward to.

The business competition was a failure, for sure. But it was only a failure in the sense that we didn’t walk away with $50K. We did walk away with really refined pitches. We walked away with over 70 conversations with institutions spanning the education spectrum. We walked away with input from a couple hundred individuals who took the time to help guide the build out. We walked away with a ton of knowledge. And for my big picture, those things are worth significantly more than the initial $50K.

If you get discouraged with a paper, a project, a business venture, or some other personal challenge, it’s easier channel your disappointment into motivation when looking at the bigger picture, the end goal.

Also, I’m a big Stephen Covey fan. His book on The 7 Effective Habits of Highly Effective People was written two years after I was born and I have read it a number of times. It’s every bit as true as the day it was published.

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On Failure and Following Through

About a year ago I had an idea brewing in my head. Get rid of paper road cards and replace them with a system better than the current scanner tech on the market. I’ve sat through countless college fairs as a student and alumni representative of my alma mater—students hate them. It’s not a secret. I have also probably entered thousands of road cards as a student employee. I hate them. And so, I thought there had to be a better way.

I’ve got a serious passion for higher education enrollment management. I love marketing. I have an MBA. What better way to combine these things than by creating a business product that solves a problem in the higher education industry?

So I went about building a team. As a team, we went about creating detailed financial models, extensive technical specifications, and exhaustive marketing analyses. We met with institutions and school counselors in person, online, and over the phone. We got lots of feedback but one overwhelming response kept coming in: this is fantastic.

And so we entered a business competition because we needed some money to hire a developer. And also, why not enter a business competition?

Well. We lost. Like, didn’t-make-it-to-the-second-round kind of loss.

And six months later I’m here–finally okay with the fact that we lost–writing about it.

After we lost, the reality of losing really set in. I didn’t know how to respond, personally. The product sat in a state of stagnation for the entire summer. Sure, we still had some great conversations with schools and reps and continued to refine our pitches to always be prepared for that random angel to give us a call. But I personally struggled with how to move the company forward.

As I come up on the date when the idea first hit me, I’m reminded that this setback will be the first of many. A strong competitor will enter the marketplace. Development will be delayed. The team will change. The idea will evolve.

That’s the business of starting something. But the real business is following through.

Over the past three years I’ve made significant connections on both the institutional and corporate side of this industry. As leadpath moves into its next phase with renewed energy, I just want to extend thanks to everyone who has offered advice along the way, whether it was business strategy, product development, or simply allowing me to ping you with a million questions. It meant—and means—a ton and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

And if version 3.0 doesn’t come to fruition in the way I hope, well, I suppose I’ll just keep following through.

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#EMchat – #ProDev for EM and School Counseling Pros

The role of #EMchat–since the beginning–has been to provide a structured platform to discuss hot topics in higher education enrollment management. While each  moderator has their (our) own opinions, we try to guide a conversation that is open to all sides of the topic. I’d like to think that we were successful in facilitating that last night.

Heated debates are fantastic. Twitter is a sounding board for professionals who are truly passionate about their careers and industry. #EMchat, #SAchat, #FAchat, #SCcrowd, #SCchat, #HESM — These are all communities where you see thought leaders even more. And typically, you also see more divisive opinions. That’s the world of education. That’s how it is.

But here’s what I took away from the chat last night. NO ONE is serving students or setting a positive example for young professionals when we place blame on a whole sector of an industry (both sides)  instead of collaboratively working toward a goal.

You typically see conversations centered around professionalism and identity more in the #SAchat realm. We’ve never had an actual #EMchat on it. I like a debate. In fact, I love a debate. I work on Capitol Hill. What I don’t like is name calling, generalizations about professionals (or anyone, really), or diminishing the role of someone–or group of people–with sweeping, juvenile statements. BOTH sides were guilty of this last night. Some people handled it well and some didn’t.

Basically, that’s not what #EMchat is about. We facilitate. We network. We learn from one another. I took away some great points from the chat last night, and I think there are topics that can definitely be expanded on in future chats. But I also took away a sick feeling that I somehow contributed to promulgating a highly negative conversation between two professional career tracks that I greatly value.

I’m sure we’ll see more #SCcrowd and #SCchat chats on professional development opportunities for school counselors. We’re discussing the EM career path with NACAC directly in December. I encourage everyone to check it out.

Here’s a little background on the High School Counselor Challenge:

And here’s the link for the transcript!

-Alex

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#EMchat Marketing Panel – 10/9/2014

We’re excited to be trying something new this week on #EMchat! Join us this Thursday at 9PM ET for a panel on institutional branding and marketing. We’ve pulled together a great group of professionals from across the industry to discuss best practices and trends…and it’s live!

This week’s panelists include:

Michael Wolaver, Owner of Magellan Promotions: The Collegiate arm of Magellan Promotions specializes in helping institutions find the right products to “raise awareness, increase engagement, reward and recognize achievement, and above all create excitement” for their brands. Michael is an #EMchat regular and if you’ve ever picked up an #EMchat button at a conference, he’s the man to thank. He’ll be kicking the chat off with a brief presentation highlighting the best approaches to building a brand strategy for your department.

Jeff Kallay, CEO and Cofounder of Render Experiences: We recently held a great chat with Brittney from the Render Experiences team and are excited to have Jeff join us for this panel. Jeff has become “the nationally respected authority on the emerging “experience economy” and the all-important campus visit experience.” Render Experiences works with institutions to craft campus visits that give an edge, helping them to truly stand out from the competition.

Jake Youmell, Digital Services Program Manager at Carnegie Communications: Jake is another #EMchat regular, as are the rest of the team members at Carnegie. Jake is most interested in the intersection of technology and education and brings experience from across both of those sectors with previous positions at Boston University, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and Google. At Carnegie, he works directly with client institutions to ensure long-term success with digital solutions.

Adam Castro, VP of Enrollment Management at Bloomfield College: If you don’t know Adam, this must be your first #EMchat. According to his Twitter bio, he’s “a true believer in the sweet science of EM,” and it shows through in his understanding of where the EM industry is heading and appreciation of data in the field. Also, he’s a Dogfish fanatic and that makes him pretty awesome in my book.

Eric Nichols, Dean of Admissions at St. Anselm College: Eric is another #EMchat regular and is this week’s moderator (on the Twitter side!). He’s on the road this week meeting directly with prospective students and we’re thrilled that he’s still managed to make time to help pull this panel together!

The video panel will be moderated by Alex and Eric will handle the Twitter side of things. While we’ll have a set of questions directed to our panelists and are looking forward to their expertise, Eric will be pushing out related questions to our participants during the chat. There is A LOT going on and we’re positive that it’s going to be great!

_________________________

Here are the directions for accessing the panel (make sure you mute your mic!):

Join the meeting: https://join.me/magellanpromotions

On a computer, use any browser with Flash.  Nothing to download.

On a phone or tablet, launch the join.me app and enter meeting code: magellanpromotions

Join the audio conference:

Dial a phone number and enter access code, or connect via internet.

By phone:

United States – Hartford, CT   +1.860.970.0010

United States – Los Angeles, CA   +1.213.226.1066

United States – New York, NY   +1.646.307.1990

United States – Thousand Oaks, CA   +1.805.309.5900

Access Code   904-729-856#

Other international numbers available

By computer via internet:

Join the meeting, click the phone icon and select ‘Call via internet’. A small download might be required.

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10 Exhibitors to Visit at #NACAC14!

NC2014WebHeaderThere are a TON of fantastic exhibitors at this year’s #NACAC14. 202 to be exact…as of last count! There are also some great sessions planned, phenomenal speakers, meet ups, and the potential for the #NACAC14 selfie-of-all-selfies (so make sure you say hi to Meghan Dalesandro at the welcome reception!). It’s going to be an incredible event, and if you’re going, I’m wildly jealous.

In the last three years (crazy to type that) of #EMchat, we’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible higher education companies and organizations out there–but more importantly, we’ve had the chance to meet the people who make them what they are. “Meet” is totally subjective, right? Sure, some of us have met in person while we’ve only spoken to others online or on the phone as we plan that week’s chat. But there’s a common thread with all of us; we’re interested in the advancement of higher education and access for all students. We not only know the importance of education, but we place an intense value on it.

This list certainly isn’t the end-all be-all of companies and organizations doing great things in higher ed who also happen to be at NACAC, but these are definitely some of our favorites to chat with and learn from. So here’s our list followed by a brief recap of each company that we believe you should definitely make time for during your trip.

In no particular order:

1. Carnegie Communications (Booth 509): The Carnegie team is incredible. They’ve been our guest for numerous #EMchat discussions and drop serious knowledge in the world of digital marketing, lead generation, and making the right connections with the right students at all the right times.  Carnegie’s blog is a personal favorite of mine and their entire team has gone above and beyond when it comes to contributing to our #EMchat community. Loving #NACAC14? Check out the #CarnegieConf in January. They’re also passing out #EMchat badge ribbons (and we know how much you all love badge swag).

2. Magellan Promotions, LLC (Booth 430): Michael Wolaver and his team of collegiate promotional experts know their stuff when it comes to choosing the right products to get your institution out there in front of students and families, but more importantly to make a lasting impact so they remember you. Need a creative idea or product to make your school stand out? They’ve got you covered…and they can tell you the trends for next year as well. One product trending in their booth this year is the #EMchat button — be sure to grab one!

3. Rapid Insight (Booth 341): Enrollment management is built on relationships, yes. It’s a fact that it’s also built on data. These are the gurus. When most of the world thinks about enrollment management (probably admissions in their minds) they’re thinking that it’s competitive for students. We know how competitive it can be for EM teams — Rapid Insight’s tools for predictive analytics are on point. So is their team–wicked smart (appropriate when talking about a company based in New Hampshire).

4. RuffaloCODY (Booth 611): A higher ed behemeth (in a really positive sense). Like these other companies, you know who they are, so why bother stopping by? Because. They’re RuffaloCODY and they have an absolutely incredible team. You’re familiar with some of their recent acquisitions, right? Scannell & Kurz AND Noel-Levitz? Over the last three years, those two companies have been #EMchat staples, sharing serious white papers, posts, and really friendly conversations. Of course you should say hi!

5. Technolutions Slate (Booth 835): “Admissions Evolved.” That sums them up, for sure. Need an admissions solution? They’ve got it in their suite…and if they don’t, word on the street is they can make it happen really fast. I’m also going to personally attest that they’re a great company because well, Tim Dunning works there. Even if you’ve got every solution your institution could possibly need, stop by and say hi to Tim–he’s been a part of #EMchat since the beginning and will also likely have an excellent beer recommendation for you!

6. AACRAO (Booth 805): Networking, networking, networking. And consulting. And resources. And just knowledge. Lots and lots of knowledge. Chances are you know multiple members who can attest to the greatness that is AACRAO. I don’t know what’s going on in their booth, but I can promise that they’ll have some great folks ready to share their passion for the industry with you for as long as you’re ready to listen.

7. Render Experiences (Booth 1323): Formerly TargetX Campus Visit Consulting, this team was one of our most recent #EMchat guests. In the part of the industry that holds one of the most pivotal (my opinion) moments for prospective students, campus visits, you’d expect the consultants to beyond with-it when it comes to building relationships. And that is exactly what you get. This team is super knowledgable and knows what it takes to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits your campus.

8. Chegg Enrollment Solutions (Booth 700 & 705): All that orange should absolutely grab your attention–and for good reason. When students see Chegg they undoubtedly think cheaper textbooks and more scholarships. Now they can add tons of other great tools. But you’re not a student. That’s okay. They’ve got a suite of enrollment solutions spanning search, marketing, and recruitment. Stop by and say hi to Gil Rogers. He’s blowing up Instagram–you should recognize him by now.

9. Hobsons (Booth 909): The Hobsons team (although having changed over the years) has been a part of #EMchat since we started in 2011. Their [corporate] head is in the right spot–focusing on complete student lifecycle management. NACAC may just be for EM pros, but I bet you could take some pretty interesting information back to your campus on how to tie student relationships together from the first point of contact to well past graduation. Just like all of our top 10, Hobsons has a super friendly staff who definitely know what they’re talking about.

10. NACAC (Booth 600): Because. Well. NACAC.

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#EMchat & #SCcrowd Take on #ReachHigher!

We’re excited to continue to bridge the divide during this week’s #EMchat—and what better week to do it than during #NACAC14! We’re teaming up with the #SCcrowd (School Counselor Crowdsourcing) group for a dual Q&A chat. School counselors from all over have been prepping questions to ask EM pros about the admissions process, financial aid, and higher ed in general. AND, this is the perfect opportunity for EM’ers to do the same (just in the opposite direction).

We’ll be prepping a few questions for the chat, but from the looks of things it doesn’t look like there will be much work needed on the MOD end this week (thanks, school counselors!).

This chat  is also timely as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher (check out #ReachHigher) initiative continues to gain momentum, inspiring students (and families) across America to take charge of their future by pursuing post-secondary education. The initiative promotes the President’s North Star goal that challenges America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

As education professionals, we know that this goal can’t be accomplished without strong collaboration across the eduspectrum. Join school counselors from all of #K12 and other higher ed professionals as we help one another in creating better processes, promoting ideas, and improving our education system.

We’ll be using the #EMchat hashtag during our chat on Thursday at 9PM ET, but make sure you use both #EMchat and #SCcrowd during the week as we continue to source questions for the chat!

My co-mod for the night will be Ross Wolfson (who you should be following!), founder of #SCcrowd. Read all about him here!

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#EMchat Hosts Render Experiences!

render logoWe’re excited to have the Render Experiences team joining us for this week’s #EMchat. Not familiar? You should be!

As summer comes to a close and we head into travel season, your institution should be thinking about more than how they’re represented on the road. Fall is a perfect time to reassess and redesign your physical campus experience for those students who have taken the next step in checking you out. Why offer them anything but your best? Here’s how Render helps:

render experiences

Render’s mission is to optimize the campus visit experience as an avenue to meet enrollment goals and recruit best-fit students, and they’re joining us this week to talk about their vision and work with over 600 campuses.

Join us this Thursday at 9PM ET as we chat with Render Consultant, Brittney Joyce – Bring your questions, bring your experiences, and bring a beverage (I’ll be enjoying a perfect blend of Dogfish’s Punkin and 90IPA)!

In the meantime, if you’re heading to this year’s NACAC 2014 Conference, be sure to schedule your 10-Minute Render Rap Session!

Cheers! Alex

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