Friday, August 1, 2008

Reinventing the wheel

Great leaders learn from the mistakes and successes of others. I sure didn't as a young leader. I blindly charged ahead, making costly errors one after the other. Over my 25-year career, I'm made some whoppers.

Fortunately, I've learned from most of my mistakes and also try my best to learn from others.

In Student Government, very little is "new under the sun." The project or service you're trying to provide or create probably has been done or tried before. You can save your SG a lot of time and pain by learning from those who already have done it, perhaps better than you as well.

That's what ASGA provides: a way for you to connect with other SG leaders and advisors who are in the same boat, are dealing with the same issues, are struggling with the same problems. Those of you who are ASGA members, take advantage of the vast resources we offer. Our team spends thousands and thousands of hours updating information on colleges and universities so you don't have to!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How to connect...

Was looking at the SGA web site at Colgate University last night and noticed that the president and vice president both include links to their Facebook profiles. They have graphics next to their photos that encourage students to "friend" them.

This is the first time I've seen this used at an SGA web site, and I think it's a great idea.

Being a better leader is all about connecting with others who may know more than you or who can help you learn and improve. In this case, connecting with their peers is both wise and politically astute.

I encourage you to make sure your constituents can find you, can connect with you, and to make sure you have many ways of reaching out to them (phone, fax, e-mail, web, Facebook, MySpace, and more).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Take a risk to create

When you create something that has never existed, there is risk and a lot of unknowns. When we founded ASGA, no one had ever developed a national resources specifically for student governments. There was no "blueprint" to use, no roadmap to follow. With constant input from our members, surveys, and research, we continue to hone and enhance our resources and change and improve to better serve our members.

The risk I spoke of shows up in lots of places. When we produce our national conference, for example, we sign a contract with a hotel that can handle 600 students and advisors. In return for waiving the fees on meeting space, the hotel requires to guarantee that they will generate 700 room nights. If the conference doesn't happen, for whatever reason, ASGA is then obligated to pay for the rooms that students/administrators would have used to come to the conference. Yesterday, the hotel's room "pick-up" report showed that conference attendees have now reserved enough rooms that ASGA has fulfilled its end of the contract. Whew!

There are risks when you start a new program or new initiative in your SG. There may not be financial risks like this, but there are risking to your reputation and that of your SG. But creating something from nothing is exciting and invigorating and can really serve the needs of your students. Take a risk this year to create!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gimme a break!

Most Student Governments continue to almost completely shut-down during the summer months. Why? Their members are interning, studying abroad, working, or resting up for the fall semester.

But most colleges and universities continue to operate and make important decisions during this time.

If your SG is on hiatus during the "break," it's time to reconsider this. At least have one person checking in with administrators once or twice a week to keep in touch. She can then inform the rest of your e-board and senate through e-mail. If you need to take action, you can arrange to vote electronically or by conference call.

It's time to "break" with the old and acknowledge that colleges and universities operate year-round. For an SG to not be up-and-running throughout the entire year is a mistake and a disservice to your constituents.