Leadership Comes Full Circle
A Challenge to Change
In the early spring of 2010, I sat in a basement lecture hall at Purdue University and listened to a man spout visions of leadership for a revitalized movement in engineering education. He challenged us to grow the community, to share our thoughts and work with everyone, and to contribute to change by reaching outside of the safe walls of academia. He shared his thoughts on popular literature and how it relates to our efforts to change engineering education, a unique approach to the typical Journals and Conference proceedings we trust as gospel. This man encouraged us to post our work online, students and faculty alike, in order to advance the community and reputation of Purdue as the foremost thought leaders in engineering education, particularly outside of academia. At least this is the message I heard and took away. I heeded this call to action: ordered a slew of books, published the papers I had written for class as white papers on my website, shared my presentations on SlideShare, and joined all forms of social media. I had already been doing some consulting work, but took this challenge to finally brand my efforts online. And without too much effort, the online branding and sharing proved fruitful and brought more opportunity my way.
Fast forward two and a half years
A couple of weeks ago (8/16), I accidentally deleted my website database, and hurried to recreate what I had built, but improved and slightly more strategic using SEO, analytics, and social media to draw measurable traffic to my site. Two weeks in (8/29) and I get a seemingly random email from a man who had been connected to my blog via Twitter. He wrote to say “I like your style and stuff,” and invited me to a phone call to chat about our common interests. This man is David E. Goldberg – a retired academic professor, entreprenuer, author (see latest HuffPo article), presenter (see a TEDx video - 7 Missing Basics of Engineering), and leader of change in engineering education (See the Big Beacon Movement).
Yesterday afternoon, David and I spoke about our interests and missions to make a difference in engineering education. As he was telling me about his background, I remembered that presentation in the basement lecture hall of Purdue, and was frantically searching my computer to see if I could make that connection, when Mr. Goldberg revealed that he had presented at Purdue in the spring semester of 2010. Here I was talking to the man that inspired my mission to share my work and contribute to something greater than myself. He challenged me to share, and that is exactly what drew him to my website this week.
I was blown away at how small the world had just become, and how one man’s mission to lead had come full circle. Did anyone else take away a similar message as me that day at Purdue two and half years ago? Was this even the intention of his presentation? What are the chances that we would once be reconnected by the very thing he led me to do?
To be a Leader, You must have Followers
Being a leader means many things, but one of the most important qualities is that someone actually follows your lead. I believe yesterday, once the connection was made, it was equally rewarding for both of us. A leader inadvertently connects with a follower. I can imagine that David felt great pride in learning that he is making a difference by his efforts. I felt pride in knowing that I had accomplished what he unexpectedly commissioned me to do: to share and build community. Here we were connecting and discussing how to influence change together.
A Lesson for All – Share and Build Community
What are the take aways? Share and build community. Share your ideas. Share your passion. Share your motivation, inspiration, successes and failures. Through sharing, you will connect with others, a community will be built, and a movement will commence.
Shortly after that day at Purdue, Big Beacon – a movement to transform engineering education officially began. The mantra of the movement is (see image above, too):
The status quo will not go easily, but go it must.
The technological forces changing our world have illuminated a new path, a path leading to a whole new engineer, an engineer appropriate to our time and the foreseeable future, appropriate to the eager young people of our world, appropriate to those who wish to join the excitement of our times actively, directly, wholeheartedly, and now. Therefore, we come together, in the light of growing awareness and heightened urgency, and shine a big beacon upon needed change.
Readers Chime In:
How are you both leading and following? What is it that you are most passionate about that calls for sharing and building community? What are your plans to “shine a big beacon upon needed change?”