The One Factor that Ensures Your Kid’s College Success. And Now Yours.

In 1986, Harvard’s then-president, Derek Bok, wanted to know if there was a way to predict whether a kid would succeed or fail in college. What was different about those who kicked ass as undergrads? Bok wasn’t really interested in improving the school’s admissions process. Harvard, after all, already annually fielded a freshman class that was, according to just about every measurable metric, the nation’s best.

What Bok wanted to learn is whether the school could study those kids who transformed those early exceptional metrics into exceptional performance, making the most of their four years in college, and apply those lessons to changing how Harvard served all of its students. A large-scale study was conducted over the course of several years and one finding in particular surprised everyone. Continue reading

An Unlikely, and Enjoyable, Networking Guide

I am currently reading the book MWF Seeking BFF, by Rachel Bertsche. I originally picked it up because it was getting a great deal of buzz, and also because, as an aspiring blogger myself, I am intrigued by the 52 Something in a Year genre.

But as I began to read, it became clear that what I expected to be a fluffy retelling of 52 wine-soaked girl nights was actually chock full of the same kind of relationship research that we used to build myGreenlight.

Chicago-based Bertsche sets out to try every possible channel to make new adult friends. While her ultimate goal is to meet a new, geographically-appropriate BFF (“best friend forever”, for anyone unfamiliar with the lingo) to augment her college and childhood friends in New York, what she effectively does is build a broad and diverse network of friends, acquaintances, and possible future resources.

By the midpoint of the book, she has a social schedule to rival Keith Ferrazzi himself.

In the process, she meets many people who share her desire to connect with more friends, but who are unsure of how to make it happen.

For so much of our lives, we depend on fate to deliver friends to us. When you are in elementary school, the boy next door is your best friend because he’s most convenient. The girl who sits next to you in English class becomes your confidant because you are working on the same projects. Sororities and fraternities provide a steady pipeline of social comrades during our college years.

Once we get to “real” life we are so comfortable with taking the friends who happen across our paths, that taking explicit steps to meet the people we want to spend time with feels artificial and contrived. But through Bertsche’s experience, it is clear that relationships built from purposeful outreach are just as genuine, and significantly more abundant, than the ones that happen by accident.

One long, slow dinner, coffee date, and yoga class at a time, she builds true friendships with a significant number of her prospective girlfriends. And along the way she makes frequent reference to the research that backs up the key success factors in growing real relationships – self-disclosure, supportiveness, interaction, and positivity.

The key takeaway is that purposefully seeking out connection is an effective way to expand your social circle, and real relationships are worth investing some effort.

Have you ever had to start over with building your social circle? How did you do it?

Solutions for Six Common Networking Challenges for Introverts

Welcome Tip of the Week readers! I’m Kibibi Springs, myGreenlight’s Community Director.

Here’s the transcript of Nancy Ancowitz’s Social Capitalist Skills Session with Tahl Raz – enjoy!

Also, read Tahl’s blog about being an introvert here.

The Social Capitalist Skills Sessions are 30-minute recorded chats focused on helping listeners master specific skills and disciplines in the relational and social arts. myGreenlight members have access to our full, searchable library of previous calls.

While you’re here, we’d love suggestions for future Skills Sessions: What would you like to learn from myGreenlight? We are constantly developing new content to directly meet the needs of our members.

Take Control of Your Inbox – What Deserves your Attention?

This morning I woke up and checked my email, as I generally do. And in my personal email inbox I found exactly 4 new notes. And they were all from actual people.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? Like going to the mail box at the curb and finding only handwritten letters. The stuff of fairy tales.

But this was real. The side effect of a New Year-inspired effort to rid my inbox of all of the various unread subscriptions that have been cluttering the scenery for far too long. Fifteen (15!) versions of Living Social, daily sale flyers from every store I have ever visited, LinkedIn updates from groups I visited once – all gone.

It was cleansing, to say the least.

It was hard to cut the cord on some of them. Several of the newsletters contained some excellent content. Some of the reminders are truly valid and useful. I do enjoy a good sale, or half-price rock climbing expedition (not that I’ve ever been on one – but the idea is attractive.)

The problem is that in the midst of the cluttered heap of spam and bacn (better than spam, not as good as personal email), it was impossible to focus on anything at all.

Things feel strangely empty in my mailbox – like the living room now that the holiday decorations are put away. But the space makes it so much easier to focus on actually reading the things that made the cut.

I am vowing to be more judicious about what I sign up for going forward, although it is challenging to control my desire to know everything all the time. But as with most things, it’s better to focus on a few things that matter instead of being distracted by endless options clouding the scene.

How do you manage information overload and decide what gets your attention?

Mini Mission Monday

First things first.  Happy 2012!

In honor of the introduction of our 3rd Core Course – The Learning Action Plan – today’s mission is all about planning your personal development for this year.

Your Mission:

Identify one thing you want to learn this year.  It might already be a resolution, or just a thought in the back of your mind.  Write it down and spend 30 minutes researching ways to move the needle on that learning objective.

Possible options:

  • Identify an on-line course
  • Sign up for a live course – continuing education, a seminar, a workshop
  • Find a book – buy it or go get it at the library
  • Ask around in your network for ideas
  • Find a mentor/accountability buddy to keep you moving

12 Months to a MIT Degree

With independent learning on the brain, so to speak, as we finish myGreenlight’s Course III (the Learning Action Plan), we came across this blog and thought it was interesting enough to share. Scott Young is currently undertaking what he is calling the “MIT Challenge”, wherein he is independently completing the coursework from the 4-year MIT Computer Science program and plans to complete all of the material within 12 months.  The vlog here where he reports on his progress to date gives a really interesting perspective on the benefits of goal-directed, independent learning.

Check it out.