Foto Friday: One Year after Traverse City

This week’s photos are a small collection from my time in Traverse City last year with many of my fellow cohorts for our Law, Ethics and Policy Course. It was a ton of fun and we learned a lot not only about the course topic but each other as well.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy o Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

 

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I’m so proud that all of us are now graduated or soon-to-be graduated and are moving into the next phase of our professional journey. Some of have begun their first full time positions while others are moving onto their third or fourth position, but have advanced in the higher ed hierarchy. Still others are continuing on to doctoral programs or staying in their current positions but enhancing their students’ experience with the knowledge and perspective that the program has provided them. Either way, I’m proud to be able to say I got to know these awesome peeps last summer and am so proud of everyone for all their successes from the past year! Miss you all and can’t wait until we all can meet up (ACPA15?? NASPA15??) and catch up!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Real Talk: Positivity is Exhausting

The Student Affairs field is full of positivity. We get negative situations, challenges, etc. from faculty, students and staff, but are constantly turning it into positive experiences and always are taking advantage of those “teachable moments”. There’s always a “light at the end of the tunnel” and it has become our job to find that light and work with our students et al. to get to that light, even though it might be a rough journey.

Its one of the most rewarding parts about this job, to see positive outcomes from negative situations. The learning on both, our end and the individuals we are helping, is second to none.

But always being the positive and motivational person can be exhausting. Sometimes one just needs a good bitching session, or to be honest about how the job can really suck and no matter how hard we work, sometimes the situations we work in or the students we work with, don’t reach that “light at the end of the tunnel”.

For me, I sometimes just need to recognize and be frustrated and sad for the low points or students and situations that I couldn’t help, before I can learn and move on. However, we really don’t get that opportunity, because we 1) don’t have any real outlets to do so, and 2) there are always a plethora of other students, staff and situations to handle. We bottle up the negative, sadness and frustration and power through. Thus the positivity continues, and to me, eventually becomes forced and no longer genuine. We seem to be afraid of saying how we honestly feel for fear of retribution from the SA Gods rather than handling and confronting our feelings and emotions. Perhaps its part of why SA has such a huge problem with retention.

I have my friends and family that I talk with, but sometimes it’d be great to have SA Peers to talk and vent with about it all. But it becomes a vicious circle because let’s be honest…we “Students Affairs” each other all the time. We never seem to leave this frame of mind that is Student Affairs and step down to just be human and exist as emotional individuals.

Perhaps this is just me. But I’m struggling with finding the balance of being the positive motivator and worker, with handling the frustration and sadness that I encounter in some of my work.

Now, knee-jerk reactions to some of my comments will make many want to say something positive, or that perhaps its just a perspective thing. People will want to put a positive spin on it for motivation and encouragement. And while, that is always appreciated, perhaps positive motivation is not always what is needed. Perhaps what is needed is honest and raw feelings and recognizing them as part of the job. That being said, if you ever need to vent or cry hit me up, I’m always willing to just listen and vent and cry with you as we  go down the path of student affairs, free of judgement and opinion.

Courtesy of facebook.com

Courtesy of facebook.com

Just a few thoughts as I continue my journey through Student Affairs and learn about my field, myself and how we can become even better people with professions rather than professional people.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Moral Leadership Ponderings

Courtesy of mentesbrilhantes.wordpress.com

Courtesy of mentesbrilhantes.wordpress.com

In recent days the topic of moral leadership has been dominating my conversations. The college I work at has taken an aggressive stance on the situation occurring at the US and Mexico border and this “moral leadership” was the said driving purpose for our stance.

I’m still working my way through understanding and comprehending but thought it’d be helpful to write it down. In doing so, I thought I’d also share it with you, and perhaps it’ll help you, my few dedicated readers, being to think about and define for yourself what moral leadership is.

I asked several colleagues and friends to give me a definition of moral leadership off the top of their heads. I received a myriad of responses. Everything from being an “ethical leader” to a “progressive leader”. I also got responses that referred to not only the leadership style but included the actions, practices and lifestyles of a leader. In a few other conversations it was defined as being a respectful and responsible leader to those one directly leads while others mentioned that the issues and situations a moral leader undertakes goes beyond the individual organization/group.

The plethora of responses varied more than I thought. No one person seemed to have the same definition.

Now, I’m not an expert on moral leadership, and only touched on it in a few of my courses during my graduate studies. But from my understanding I’ve gathered from studies and my recent conversations is that it is a combination of everything that I’ve read and heard and not just one thing. It’s not only being morally responsible and respectful of the global world and ones impact on it, but also responsible and respectful of the individuals you lead. It’s balancing personal morals, ethics and practices with those of the organization/group one leads with the global community. It’s building up rather than down and moving forwards through the failures. It’s another area that requires strict balance and  understanding. It requires an individual to acknowledge biases, strengths and weaknesses and comprehension of their organization/group. A moral leader does not need to be perfect, but rather responsible and accountable.

From my unofficial and amateur research I’ve briefly conducted, I conclude that there is no one good way to be a moral leader. But there are many poor ways to be one. (No, the irony is not lost on me).

It seems that when you claim to be a moral leader or practice moral leadership, you are claiming to be the ideal leader. The perfect balance of local and global issues, a balance with self bias and global thought, a level mind with personal vs organization agendas, a balance with communication and collaboration, etc.

Now, we all know that no one is everyone’s ideal leader and everyone is a far from perfect leader. So, I come to this conclusion: that moral leadership is an ethereal concept that we attempt to aspire to but as humans can never accomplish. It’s a goal for a type of leader to become and work towards.

These are just random thoughts buzzing around my noggin as I wrap my mind around “moral leadership” and current events on my campus. Hope you enjoyed traveling through my thoughts about moral leadership! :)

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

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Foto Friday: My Wives and I

Today’s Foto Friday is one of my all time FAVORITE profile pictures. It was taken a few years ago when I was on staff at UM-Flint, and was attending the Theta Chi Fraternity Carnation Ball with the Student Life Office. For me, attending that event was like a huge Greek Reunion, outside of my own letters. As a Kappa Sigma I love my letters, but I also love Greek Life as a whole. Some of my closest friends are non-Kappa Sigma Greeks and we love joining each other in celebrating our anniversaries. It was great seeing friends from the past and present celebrating Theta Chi’s anniversary that year, but it was even more amazing to see two of my best friends, Amanda and Shawntae…my wives:

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

As you can see from our photo shoot that night, we’re three awesome, classy (with a c), attractive, stylish, fun, and faaaaabulous people with tons of spunk and attitude. :)

Now, we came about being husband and wives from all the time we spent together, supporting one another, listening to each other and just crying, laughing and celebrating life together over the many years we’ve know each other. We met each other through our respective Greek letters, and if you’re Greek, you know that’s already a bond that’s there for life. But from there we became BFFs.

After a particular harried week of life, we had made a joke one day that we saw more of each other than our significant others and family and we were like husband and wives. And from then it just stuck. Even today when one of us calls or texts each other the first word other than hi for the other is either “HUSBAND!!!” or “WIFEY!!!!”.

But honestly, Tae and Amanda were their for me during some of my darkest times in college and after, and they were absolutely amazing after I came out and went down a dark path for awhile. And I owe them everything for helping me keep my sanity and life together more times than I can count.

Now a days we are all growing up and moving apart, but if you are ever in downtown Flint for ArtWalk or Buckham Alley Fest and hear “HUSBAND!” or “WIFEY!!” get out of the way because we’ll be running to each other like banshees out of Hell for hugs.

So hope you enjoy my trip down memory lane and if you’re interested in any of our fashion selections from that night, just let me know. :)

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Watch and Learn

So, I have a habit of seeming unproductive when I first meet co-workers and colleagues. In particular on the professional level, but it also applies to my general demeanor when meeting people who enter my life. Now this may sound bad, being unproductive, but in the long run, it has helped me  personally a great deal and as a professional is has helped me to serve students and grow as a practitioner more than ever.

I have a few practices that I use when first meeting new colleagues and co-workers to help me get a better understanding of them beyond the “first impression”.

If I’m new on campus, I schedule meetings with all the key offices and players that I will ultimately work with on a regular basis (and being in student involvement my last position ultimately had me at over 30 meetings, but it’s been worth it). I introduce myself and inquire about having a meeting to talk about my role, and how can I help, support and collaborate with them on projects, be it theirs or mine and to learn more about their office and services.Sometimes this will be over coffee, other times lunch and even others in their office. I let them select the location. Most will be eager to meet, even if it is only for political capitol in their own pockets.

I normally schedule a one hour meeting. During the meeting, I make a conscious effort to keep my introduction and information on my role(s), office goals, etc. limited to an average of 5 minutes. For the rest of the hour I let them control the conversation. I let them talk about anything and everything they wish to share, be it office politics, their personal journey to the institution, their office, their programs, their staff. Most times people can go on and on about themselves (its human nature). But if there is ever a lull, I ask several key open ended questions that get them going again:

1) What can I do to help and support your office?

2) What programs or events have you wished to collaborate on with my office/predecessor and were not able to?

3) How did you come to work at (institution name)?

4) Any advice, suggestions, or people I should meet with and why?

While they talk, I listen and take notes. I ensure to interact and have a conversation with them, but all the while, the I’m really paying attention to several other aspects of the individual and the conversation:

1) What they are talking about and how they are talking about it

2) Their non-verbals, i.e. posture, nervous ticks, obsession with their iPhone

3) Their responses when new ideas, collaborations  or offers of support and resources are offered

4) Where their loyalties lie and who is in their “circle”

5) Do they use “us”, “we”, and “our” or “me”, “I” and “myself”?

6) Is there a connection between the environment they selected to meet in and their professional personality?

7) And finally their interactions with me and if they are politicking and placating or being genuine.

These practices can also work in a general meeting setting when you’re first meeting a new colleague. but rather than having a one on one conversation and utilizing open-ended questions, key in on making note of those “Other Aspects” as they begin to interact in the meeting, topics and issues. Sometimes seeing how a person acts and works in a general meeting can almost be more telling than in a one-on-one conversation.

None of these are hard and fast rules or tips that will work all the time or for everyone, but they sure do work for me the majority of the time and maybe they can help you acclimate yourself to a new colleague or staff member and better understand how you can or need to work with them in order to be most productive and efficient :)

Courtesy of diylol.com

Courtesy of diylol.com

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Foto Friday: Tempering an Egg

So, I’ve come to absolutely and positively love cooking. It’s my go to after a stressful day and where I can be as creative as I want. The only other thing that can do that for me is when I play my violin. :)

I stumbled across these gems this morning when I went to look for another photo to use. However, when I saw these, I decided these were too badass awesome and hilarious to not share today. The photos are from a few years ago when I first began to cook. I was trying to make mac and cheese for a Holiday Potluck Party at a friends house. Part of the directions told me to “temper an egg”.

The correct process of tempering an egg is when you whisk an egg(s) into a bowl and then add hot water or milk (depending on what you are making) slowly in small increments in order to bring the temperature of the egg to hot or boiling. Once you bring it to a warmer temperature you can then add it to the primary hot mixture and the egg won’t curdle or scramble.

Now, being a novice in cooking, I was confused. I texted my BFF Shawntae, who was working on her dish as well for the party to see if she knew. When I inquired about her knowledge of tempering eggs, she was just as clueless as me. So, this was my first instinct to tempering an egg (prior to Googling it):

Courtesy of Brian David Proffer

Courtesy of Brian David Proffer

Courtesy of Brian David Proffer

Courtesy of Brian David Proffer

Courtesy of Brian David Proffer

Courtesy of Brian David Proffer

Needless to say, that my original thought as to how to temper eggs was wrong. I mean, I yelled at those things for a good 5 minutes and they just sat there. They didn’t even get angry! (I kinda hoped they would jump out of their egg cartons and start going all ninja on me…alas they didn’t. LOL.)

Just so you know, I temper eggs often now and have become quite a little homemaker. :)

It was funny to come across these and see how far my cooking has come since my old bachelor days in Flint, Michigan. Hope you laugh as hard as I did when I came across these this morning!

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Find Your People

So, I took a hiatus from blogging as you already know to enjoy my vacation but also to really redirect and rethink why I blog, what I want my blog to be and what I want to say. But honestly, I think my blog is exactly me: Random, Individualistic, Funny, Unique, Trial and Error, Genuine and basically engulfs who I am as a person and professional. I mean seriously: An Asian Cowboy with a love of neon, rainbows, John Deere and pandas? :) #ecleeeeeectic.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

But now I’m back to blogging. :) … as a 30 year old… :P. Yes, I turned the big three zero last week. Nothing has changed except its even more funny now when they check my ID and try to tell me it’s fake. :)

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ll know that it’s been a significantly rough week for me.A lot of “opportunities” to work on. Some more stressful than others, some simple projects while others more…beastly. Now, as a dedicated ENFP, I have a tendency to have a period of time when I’m in panic mode when shit hits the fan. But over the year’s I’m been able to train myself to breath and triage the immediate needs and then let things simmer until I can look at everything with a good perspective.

However, this week’s “opportunities” have rearranged my entire summer and I’m going back a few months in planning and my timeline to get everything done. Now, this has occurred several times in my professional career, but it seemed to be the icing on the cake amongst a few other things I’ve been dealing with as a professional and trying to develop myself, my craft, and figuring out where I ultimately see myself in Student Affairs.

Needless to say, my normal 15 minute panic “time to digest” period was extended to about 48 hours. I didn’t really interact on my social media, didn’t blog my thoughts and pretty much shut down. Yesterday I was honest and posted about needing some extra support and perspective. And boy, did my social media family come through.

As I sat reading some advice and encouraging words from colleagues and friends yesterday morning, the first of several co-workers stopped by to offer support and an encouraging word after hearing of the significant program change I was given the day before.

It was then that I began thinking of support groups that we all need in our professional lives. We all have then in our personal lives, but we also need them in our professional lives and sometimes these are two different groups. I have built a strong support group of friends, co-workers and colleagues on multiple platforms. And they are actually there when support is needed. So my advice today and ultimately my post, is while you create, program, administrate, advise, and everything else you do as an #SAPro, build those relationships of support for one another. And be selective, be purposeful and place those people you want around you. It is one of the few chances in our field when you get to pick and choose who you get advice from, find support in and have as a foundation when you might fly off the handle who can bring you back to Earth.

A few tips though:

1) Collaborators are not automatically support: Just because you collaborate or work with someone doesn’t mean they should be in your support network

2) Be honest and open with them about the good bad and ugly: If you can’t be then you probably shouldn’t have them in your support network

3) Be able to RECIPROCATE: Give the support back when they need it, its the old “watch each other’s backs” philosophy

4) Be yourself: You need to be yourself. In time of difficulty your true self came show more than you realize and to build a true support network those in your support network should know your weaknesses and strengths, your “crazy spots” and how to provide support to you.

5) Take time to do things outside of work as well.

6) Drop them like a bad habit if need be: If person begins using your support network to improve their professional career or their higher ed political career at your expense, or are not being genuine and open with you, or even not being able to be confidential with your talks then they should be dropped.

I hope these few thoughts and tips help you build a great network to help you get through the difficult and dark times that we all have. But its the strength of yourself and the support you get from those in your support network that will get your through.

I want to thank everyone who sent a good word or piece of advice in the past few days and know I appreciate it all and love you all!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

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