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DFT Tip #17: The Never Ending Party

This week we posted this DFT Tip, artwork by Lia Rothschild, on our Facebook page. The idea is, you shouldn’t have to be in the room with a group you lead for them to have positive experiences. Another way to think about this tip is the old adage

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

You could stand at the front of a room and call on the people at your event to chat with you. Everyone might be having fun listening to all the conversations you have with each person. But as soon as you leave, you’ve left those people with nothing, because the focus was them talking to you. But, you can break those same people into groups, give them a ridiculous task to work on together, or help them find a common interest. When the focus is on the connections and activities they can do without you, you can leave, or sit down and take a break (you deserve it), and the party will keep going. Remember, if you make yourself indispensible, you may feel powerful, until you realize you can never leave for your work to be successful. You want your organization and events to become breathing things within themselves, based on the culture you create.

Welcoming Nathalia to the Team – Our Wandering Kick-Butt Intern

nathalia brasileiroTHE Nathalia is a social sciences and humanities graduate of Corning Community College, moving onto Communications and PR at Brooklyn College. She was first involved with leadership as a student senator and then was the PR director for Student Association for a year. She is one of the amazing interns currently at Swift Kick. She is also a great member of our #SLChat community. 

Some epic fun facts about Nathalia:

1. I was born and raised in Brazil! [Her American accent is amazing, though it has led to some interesting mix ups.]

2 .I was never allowed to have a cat or a dog growing up so we had a chicken named George Washington.

3. I started learning English as a second language when I was only 5.

4. When I was 14 I told my parents I wanted to move out and it took me two years to convince them to let me come abroad.

Nathalia will be taking over as co-leader of The Student Leader Collective, working in office with Sabina to make sure your community and the leadership team continues to grow and improve.

In Depth with New Intern Jeremy Chen

Here in the office, we are super excited to have Jeremy spend a month with us through an NYU program matching incoming college freshmen to internships. It’s been fun having him join us on the company retreat and every day, as he joins in on the shenanigans in the office.

Jeremy was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and currently lives in Newport Beach, California. Of course for this internship, he is living at New York University. He just graduated from Corona del Mar High School.

He is excited (and a little nervous) about attending the University of Michigan in the fall. We know he is going to do great, but we are happy to have him here in the meantime. He will be studying engineering in college.

Besides school, he likes to play tennis, work out, cook, and watch Netflix. Talk about well-rounded! He also loves dogs, particularly corgis. But cats, on the other hand, not cats! He is deathly allergic. Meow.

 

 

Jeremy has only been here slightly over a week and he is already Feeding His Butterflies and trying new things. Expect blog posts from him soon over at The Student Leader Collective. He is also helping us make our systems more efficient, as we continue to work to make our company better and better.

In short, Jeremy is awesome.

Swift Kick Company Retreat – An Inside Look at the Epicness

from the resaurant’s site

Another quarter, another company retreat. The Swift Kick team (Tom, Sabina, and new interns Nathalia and Jeremy) spent all of Tuesday, July 1st, getting down to business and also romping around our side of town. We were sad, however, that new intern Trisha couldn’t join in because she got sick. Sad faces forever!

We started the day with some “getting to know you” activities: “I am …” statements and showing childhood photos that best describe us. We also explained the company overview so we are all on the same page.

We went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant called Mexican Radio, a mere walking distance from our office.  Our food was delicious, though Nathalia was the only one who didn’t ask for a special change to her menu item. The waiter must have loved us…A lot of great conversation happened, especially about technology. There is now an inside joke happening about Tom’s plans for machines to take over the world. We are a nutty bunch.

After lunch, we got down to business, to defeat…our quarter strategy. We planned out all our projects and when each task is going to get done. We have an awesome process here at Swift Kick that leads to success every time.

Tom getting ready to cry over the game

 

After we finished planning, it was time to get to the important part of the day: The US vs. Belgium World Cup Match. Needless to say, it didn’t end very well and led to Tom hugging walls while Nathalia and I giggled over the players last names matching with our first names. Jeremy sat quietly up front and wondered what he had gotten himself into.

After the game, Tom proceeded to hand out tissues in case we wanted to cry over the loss of our country. Then, we wrapped up the business part of the retreat with letters to ourselves to get back in 3 months, a company tradition.

 
We closed out our day with a trip to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory with one challenge: you HAD to try a flavor you’d never had. Some of the flavors we tried were pandan, black sesame, green tea, and lychee. Yum!!!

 

 

We took our traditional company retreat selfie (we are hip, we are cool), and parted ways good friends and a great team.

 

The 3 S’s of Community

Image from bluewolf.com

Community building is key within any organization or team. The best teams feel like something each member wants to be loyal to. They should be committed to making the group as a whole succeed, not just themselves. Three very important parts of creating a community are shout outs, strengths, and support. 

Shout outs:

Make people feel great about their accomplishments. Every time someone does something good, within the group or in their own life, share that with the group as a whole, so you can all celebrate together. This makes each person feel valued as a member.

Strengths: 

Every group has individuals with different backgrounds and talents. Use these differences to create a unified team. When a person feels that they are using their unique skills and points of view to benefit the group, they feel that they “count.” Take time to get to know each member and give them opportunity to shine where they shine best, as well as learning new skills.

Support:

Finally, a community should feel like a place where friends are. Work to create connections and friendships throughout the larger group. (Warning: avoid cliques, though!) In the end, we stay loyal and excited about the human connections we make. Would you show up weekly for a group of strangers?

 

 

 

A Fond Farewell: Moving on from Swift Kick

DSC00147

This first half of this year has been an eventful one for me. I graduated from my master’s program after two tough years, turned 25 years old, traveled for national conferences, searched for a full-time job, and perhaps most importantly, had the privilege to spend some time with pretty amazing people here at Swift Kick.

I started at the end of January, coming into the city to meet the team and from there, it was a fast-paced journey into a brave new world for me, contributing ideas, new content, and bringing the fun to a growing organization. As a team, I assisted as we created a podcast, newsletter, and forged ahead for the months to come, continually improving the experience we offer our community members. I learned a lot during my time with Swift Kick, about myself and about how to achieve success that I know I’ll lean on as I start my career.

Personally, I gained confidence, knowledge of how to get around NYC (relatively), and met some great people, many of whom I consider friends. We shared laughs, frustrations, and quality experiences that I’ll remember fondly long after I’m gone.

As a professional, I learned how to embody and realize a vision, how to work better as a team, and I also made some great connections in the field that I cherish dearly since I feel as though I never would have had the privilege and opportunity to do so otherwise.

I look forward to continuing to help The Student Affairs Collective and the whole Swift Kick family grow in any way I can. I support their goals and mission and I want very much for them to succeed because I believe they can make a positive impact on how student affairs professional serve students, which can change the world.

I also am happy to announce that I will be working a Husson University in Maine as a full-time professional in student affairs, starting in July. I know a good chunk of my success is due to the growth I experienced while at Swift Kick.

As I wrap up here, I just want to say thank you to Tom, Sabina, Jay, Megan, and the leadership teams for an amazing few months. Anywhere else I work has a lot to live up to.

Anyone who wants to stay connected with me can find me on Twitter, and on my blog.

All the best, and as always, live long and prosper, my friends.

Note from Sabina, community manager at Swift Kick: Working with Dustin has been an extreme honor and great pleasure. Not only did he make more of a mark on our wonderful company than any intern is ever expected to, he truly helped create a work environment that cannot be beat. Here at Swift Kick, we have a knack for being incredibly productive while having a blast. The more shenanigans, the better. Dustin fit right in. Thanks for the laughs, your Muppet’s Swedish Chef impression, and running around Canal Street with me on Random Acts of Kindness Day. Most importantly, thanks for your friendship. We send you off to Husson with pride and absolutely no doubt that you’ll be the best addition to their institution that they could possible ask for.

Swift Kick Never Puts Baby in a Corner – Megan’s Intern Reflection

I just had my last meeting with Tom to close out my internship with Swift Kick :(. You know, I am not new to this internship thing. Before my time with Swift Kick, I had been an intern with a few different companies so I was no stranger to the general list of intern duties: paper work, coffee fetching, the usu. This was not the case with Swift Kick.

#SAChat plushies

#SAChat plushies

During my time as a virtual intern at Sift Kick, I acted as Co-Leader of Student Leader Collective and #SLChat, created the hashtag plushies that travel to different Student Affairs conferences, two years worth of #SAChat awards AND I helped to organize the first annual Random Acts of Kindness Day in April.

I feel like my personal strengths were utilized for the projects I was involved with. For one, I am a really great crafter. I was trusted to make the awards and hashtag plushies on my own. I also have some graphic design skills, so I really appreciated the opportunities to develop these skills through making the RAK Day logo and print-out cards.

I loved being a part of the Swift Kick crew! As an intern I feel like I had the opportunity to grow personally and professionally- Swift Kick helped to facilitated this growth. Being an intern was more than coffee fetching and grunt work, my skills and opinions were valued.

So thanks, Swift Kick! I had the time of my life.

Megan Wood

Megan during Swift Kick Quarterly Retreat Chinatown Shenanigans

 

Note from Sabina (community manager at Swift Kick):

Meeting and working with Megan have been a dream! She contributed so much to our company and communities, too many things to count. She’s a hard worker, fun addition to meetings, and is guaranteed to make every moment exciting. This girl can do anything, literally. We are going to miss you so much, but we know you’re going to be doing amazing things as you craft and dance through your life. Thanks for teaching us Southern phrases, for the video chats that were half business and half girl talk, and for the plushies that I cuddle with every time I open my locker here at the office. :) 

Sabina De Matteo & Megan Wood

Oh and thanks for agreeing to create a long distance hand heart with me :)

4 Tips To Impress Your Community Members With Handwritten Notes

handwritten note
 
Last week, the community manager of YEC sent me this letter (pictured below) via snail mail. The sad reality is that my first reaction was that it must be a computer generated note because the YEC has at least 1000 members and there’s no way one person would handwrite a note this long for every member. So I inspected further by looking for repeating letters and printer ink. It must be computer generated, but the more I looked at it, I realized it’s actually handwritten which impressed me and led to me writing this blog post.
 
On one hand, it’s sad that our society’s definition of “community” is so low that I assumed it had to be computer generated, but on the other hand, it makes for an amazing opportunity to impress the members of your community.
 
Here are four tips to impressing your members with handwritten notes:
  1.  Right Away – did someone just join your community? Did someone just get a raise, have a baby, or lose a parent? In any situation, get your letter out right away, because with the lag time in snail mail, your letter will arrive right after the enclave of support from email, Facebook, and Twitter wear off.
  2. Hangable – I send all my handwritten notes out on our Free Hugs postcard. Not only will the person appreciate the handwritten note, but they also now have a great card to hang in their office. Every time they look at the hanging card, they’ll remember how they felt when you sent it to them.
  3. Change is Good – We have a new Free Hugs postcard printed every year. By printing a new card each year, we can then send another handwritten note to the same person and not only will they enjoy the note again, now they also have another fun card to hang on their wall.
  4. Habitual – I suspect that Morgan from YEC didn’t write 1000 letters all in the same day or week. Instead, I suspect she has it on her calendar that once a day she writes 2 or 3 cards. By making it a habit to write a couple cards each day, over time, she is able to reach all 1000 members without her needing an emergency trip to the chiropractor.

Now it’s your turn. Use these four tips to increase engagement within your community through handwritten notes.

Student Leader Spotlight: Mark Patrick Clements, Corning CC ’15

School and Year: Corning Community College, ’15

Major: Human Services

Leadership position: Student Trustee

How do you define leadership? 

Broken down to the basics, leadership is service. Every single person at Corning Community College has something unique, something singular to offer to the world, but many of them don’t know it because they have not been given the opportunity to recognize their potential, to realize their value, and to believe in their abilities. My job as a leader here at CCC is to serve each one of these students, to help each one of them in every way possible to become the best they can be. Each one of those students can then take their gifts further—their potential, their value, their abilities can then be used to serve and help those around them, who, in turn, will do the same with those around them. Think about it: I help you believe in yourself and discover your abilities, and then ten years from now you help John Smith with the same thing and then he helps someone else. And that cycle just keeps on going; it keeps on giving. It–leadership–truly is world-changing when approached and viewed in the proper perspective.

When things in your leadership position get particularly stressful, what helps you through it?

Knowing that what I’m doing really does make a difference is essential to helping me get through those times. You have to be able to see the big picture, to know that, in the long run, what you’re doing is the right thing for those whom you lead. Leadership isn’t about following the crowd or doing what feels good. It’s not about doing the easy things or looking good in front of other people. Leadership is about doing the right thing; it’s about standing up for what is right, even if it means you’ll be standing alone. Being a leader CAN be stressful, but having a clear understanding of the importance of your leadership does help make it easier.

What is one experience (any kind) you think everyone should have?

Everyone should have the experience of being part of something bigger than themselves. Whether it’s volunteering or being a member of a sports team, being part of something bigger than yourself helps fill that need we all have to belong, to feel accepted, to be part of a family. For me, the meat of this type of experience—the heart of it—is that it allows people to experience the feeling that they truly matter. Because, you know what? Each and every one of us DOES matter. The irony of this is that many people shun this type of experience because they think, “Oh, what can I contribute that’s special?” I can say from experience that those who think they can contribute the least can actually give the most.

What was your number one take-away from DFT?

The importance of connections through relationships, definitely. The quality of the relationships we build with others (being authentic!) plays a key role in determining how we interact with others and DFT emphasizes that. It’s not about me. It’s about how I can help you. It’s about what I can do for you. Being available for others in this way builds true, authentic relationships, relationships that can change the world.

What is your go-to happy song?

Wow, this is hard. I love so many different kinds of music! I’d have to say “Help Somebody” by Van Zant is a song that I often find myself listening to when I’m trying to stay focused on what’s important and what makes me happy. The lyrics present such a powerful narrative of the speaker’s grandparents and the advice they have to give now that they’re coming to the end of their time on earth. When push comes to shove, there’s so much that we worry about that really doesn’t matter. What’s really important is staying true to yourself, and helping others if you can, because–let’s face it–we ALL can help somebody.

Community is in the Little Things: Raising the Tide

Here at Swift Kick, one of our core values is “Raise the Tide.

In other words, we’re in this together, so contribute to the greater good of the community.

I really took this core value to heart when I started working here, and found how easy it was to create a sense of love and community even on my own personal social media, by raising the tide. I also found that raising the tide doesn’t have to be anything big at all. In fact, it’s the little things that really count. 

Some examples I have tried out:

  1. Shared internship opportunity links that my friends informed me of on my Facebook page. I am out of college, but many of my friends are still in undergrad. You never know what a simple share might do to change someone’s next semester plans.
  2. Shouted out Fordham Compliments (my school’s anonymous compliments Facebook account) about their project to get every single senior a compliment by the end of the year. Today I found out that the project was 100% successful. I really tried to help them do this, and I am so glad about the results. It’s amazing how a seemingly impossible task becomes possible if everyone chips in.
  3. Told my friends about an on-campus foodie blog   my friend is starting. He was surprised and thankful I shared the link. I am just jealous I am not still on campus for this! ;)
  4. Stayed on the lookout for job opportunities for my post-grad friends. If I hear about something, I send them the information. It has worked a few times already!

I don’t mean to list these things to sound braggy or say I am a great person. I am a work in progress, always. But I am so thankful that I work here at Swift Kick, where I was taught actionable ways to help the people in my community feel good about themselves and the work they do. 

I find that these little things, often a simple click of a button, or status shout out, means so much to another person. They are often so shocked and thrilled that you took the time and thought to help them out. It costs me nothing, but it has potential to bring big results. It also means that people know I am someone they can come to when they need to reach a bigger audience or find some information. 

As a social media manager, these lessons are HUGE for doing good work. In an academic setting, imagine how loyal and proud a student would be to an organization at their school that was always looking for ways to help the members out, and also the greater community. This value rings true for anyone.

Try it out. Who can you raise the tide for today?

 

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