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Some breakfast table wisdom and another day’s wrap-up

April 30, 2008

But first, your daily slideshow. Near the end I went San Diego scenery crazy, so enjoy!

We had our sponsoring professor breakfast this morning, and there were a few nuggets of wisdom passed around our table that I wanted to share with everyone.

First of all here’s my sponsoring professor; he was really busy and could only be here for two days. Such is life.

Our table consisted of myself, several other students, a guy named Rick who is currently in the industry and Dr. Charles Bennett from St. John’s University’s College of Risk Management (check out all his designations here). Here are the things we talked about.

  • Lead with questions. A direct offshoot of From Good to Great that I keep mentioning. Rick said, “Don’t be afraid to say you don’t have all the answers. Just tell them you’ll find out the answers or let them know how to find the answers for themselves.”
  • Differentiate yourself as a leader. The Chairman of insurance broker Willis, Joe Plumeri, differentiates himself by his wardbrobe and his personality. He rocks a short, pink tie like nobody’s business, and he is one of the most boisterous, engaging, piercingly sharp people in any room. This picture doesn’t have a pink tie, but believe me, he was working it last night. And his tie knot was HUGE. Ridiculous. But the takeaway here is that, to establish yourself as a leader, you have to find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of your employees. Not in an arrogant way, but in an identifiable way that is at the same time endearing and empowering. Like wearing one of these to work like I plan on doing.
  • Talk shop: Don’t just focus on talking business all the time. Talk college alma mater football, talk golf, talk politics (with a splash of humor to keep from stirring the pot too much), talk current events, talk music, talk anything. Be personable and persistent. Not annoying.

And since I’ve delayed posting this, I’ll recap the day so far also.

  • The aforementioned sponsor breakfast.
  • Morning session on speaking risk management. It was all about how to communicate the urgency, the effectiveness and the relevancy of risk management to your boss, to your colleagues, to your employees and to your friends. It’s a dynamic profession, and it’s exciting. Don’t believe me? Just ask!
  • THE MOST BORING KEYNOTE PRESENTATION EVER (!!!) for lunch. It started with a terrible spinach salad and ended with a dry, monotonous keynote presentation. Proof positive that, even if you have a Presentation Zen-style PowerPoint that is engaging, funny and informative, you are the one who makes or breaks the presentation. Ouch…nails on a chalkboard. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
  • Had an “educational roundtable” discussion which basically involved a hypothetical (“based-in-fact”) case study of a junk foods company. Successfully cemented the fact that I will never be an employee benefits office because I can’t deal with workers comp cases. Booooring.
  • Wine and cheese reception in the exhibit hall where we had our choice of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon or (gasp!) merlot. I hadn’t seen anything but the former two all trip, so it was a decent change. I also got a hole-in-one on the virtual Tiger Woods golf game, but the video was of me following that up with a splashdown right of the same hole. Oh well.
  • Reception sponsored by the nation of Bermuda (yes, that’s right) and their “capital of risk” financial campaign. Sushi, quesadillas, “Dark ‘n’ Stormy”s, prime beef cuts and all…great stuff.
  • We’re heading to the House of Blues to check out Aon‘s reception with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy as the headliners. I’ll let y’all know!

For now, here’s Garr Reynolds’ take on a handy career advice book:

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