February 26, 2006

I Love This Stuff!

This post will be some random musings as I've just returned from the Wisconsin United Residence Hall Association (WURHA) Conference at Marquette University. I do need to say first, Marquette's student leaders did a great job hosting this conference. It was comfortable and quick, elegant and organized. Now, onto some thoughts:

-These conferences, if I haven't stated it before, are a great way for a professional to get re-jacked about what they do. Watching student leaders of all experiences and backgrounds meet each other and make what mostly likely turns out to be long lasting connections warms my heart.

-Huge shout outs to some great individuals I met during some programs I presented (if I mispelled your name I apologize): John, Jason, Adam, Sasha, Katie...and others...all put their best foot forward and shared some pretty amazing things.

-Congrats to UW Stout on receiving the bid to host WURHA next year. At the same time, good effort to UW Green Bay for bidding as well (I believe that this is the first time they bid to host a conference in a long time). To GB, I appreciate and respect the saddness and dissappointment you may be feeling about not getting the bid...we were at that same place last year too with NACURH...keep your head up, regoup, and realize your hard work gave you some great experience (and a great learning step if you ever decide to bid again!).

-Good to see some professional friends Chris, Paul, and Eric and new professional friends making the trek to support their students! Keep up the good work!

-To the UW Oshkosh delegation, you guys rocked! It's always to fun to see you guys bring your own brand of leadership and enthuisam to the table. Especially Melissa as NCC/WCC: you did a good job again making sure these folks were organized and motivated. -I got a chance to meet the real live date doctor. David Coleman, the actual guy who the movie 'Hitch' is based upon, was the keynote. He was fantastic and inspired me to think of a new idea for a speech and/or program. Very funny too. It's nice to see keynotes really be earthy and real while being poignant and forthcoming.

-From a neophyte keynote speaker as myself, I will say that you really appreicate the craft more and more every time you see someone else do it. I overheard David say he does pretty close to 200 gigs a year and he's not looking rusty at all.

I, and I'm sure othes, see these conferences as an oppurtunity for our student leaders to spread hope. And I mean the kind of hope that gives you that spark to try something different, yet continues to flow through you that if something doesn't work, you're willing to try again and grow from what you learned. To all professionals and residence life departments: I know that in this day and age budgets are tight and travel budgets are tighter...but these are the future leaders not only of your profession but others as well. Please do what you can to support these delegates to show without them having to worry about their own collegiately strapped wallets.


February 21, 2006

Humor, a Quickie!

Got a lot of stuff going on this week before heading off to the Wisconsin United Residence Hall Assocation (WURHA) Conference but two moments today reminded the power of humor (as I alluded to slightly in my last post).

I have a new insurance agent. If anyone is looking for a great deal let me know. But the reality is that in this fast paced world of hard selling and smoke/mirrors tactics (especially for a business like insurance) it's refreshing to meet someone who enjoys what they do and does a good job creating a lighter atmosphere for his customers. During our conversation he will throw in a quip or funny comment. Usually this incites a chuckle from me, or sometimes more funny banter. Every once in a while I'll nervously ask a question about something I may be uncomfortable asking about. He'll joke (not about my question but gives a humorous response, alleviate the tension of what I'm asking) and I feel as if I understand his responce better. He also looks like Ray Liotta and sounds like my friend Jefe.

I had a close chat with a longtime associate, but seldomly seen colleague here at UW Oshkosh. Specifically I sought him out since I knew ahead of time that the chances of him throwing out humor while dicussing some heavy personal topics would be likely. And so he did, like a comedian not making fun OF someone, but reflecting on how funny life is in general. Always remember that laughter is the best medicine. Even in the professional workplace a good joke or chortle can always be appreciated.

More next week! Also check back soon as I will be adding a new website for my Future Leaders of Student Affairs (FLSA) initiative.


February 15, 2006


A topic that is probably one day late for those of you who celebrated yesterday. But I speak of a different passion. A passion I was reminded of this weekend in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

For those of you who know the story or heard me talk about it, the musical artist Willy Porter has had a pretty big effect on my life. I was first introduced to Willy's music in high school when I would attend the Dead Alewives Comedy Troupe in Milwaukee. At the time it was just Willy and his guitar. I was amazed that one person could play guitar that well (for those of you who are John Mayer or Dave Matthews fans you would appreciate Willy's guitar playing...to quote my friend Kyle "How is it possible that his hands move that fast?").

Willy's musical ability is as strong as his songwriter. He's mostly folk but has enough of a modern kick similar to a Tori Amos or Ani DeFranco. His lyrics often tell a story more than a message. You can almost envision the people he sings about. And as a live performer, he'll invent songs on the spot based upon audience suggestions.

In addition to the fact that one of his songs, Watercolor, is of course the song in the Mia story I often tell at conferences, and his music is always good, the thing I admire most about Willy is his dedication to his craft while maintaining who he is as a person.

Willy has traveled all over the country playing in some pretty popular and well known places in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, as well as doing tours in Europe. He's opened for Tori Amos, Jethro Tull, and the Cranberries. And during all of this he keeps his home in Milwaukee, and recently has bought a studio there where he will launch his own record label.

And he still balances his passion for music with his other passion: his wife and kids. At a concert once he actually called her when she pregnant with their first child and had the crowd say hello to her. He will constantly talk about the funny things his kids do (they're still young) and during concerts really comes off as a humble hard working man.

When talking about dreaming and achieving what you want, many people, including myself, are often worried about being able to be ambitious and do what you want while also having and raising a loving family. Obviously some sacrifices are made along the way. But it's possible to achieve those things as long as you're willing to work toward and be patient with how things develop in life.

Willy's life personally and professionally demonstrates that this can be achieved. And on Saturday as I listened to him talk about how his son gave the name for one of his songs (Sleepy Little) and how his daughter inspired another, I was once again inspired to know that you can always be connected to your roots while achieving your ambitious dreams.

For more on Willy and his music please check out these two sites:
www.willyporter.com Official Site
http://www.archive.org/audio/etreelisting-browse.php?collection=etree&cat=Willy%20Porter%20%5BBand%5D A site where you can download live music from performers.

I'd like to also say thanks to some friends of mine who hung out with me last night. Without getting into too much personal detail this Valetine's day was more rough than previous days. But last night I had a great group of folks remind that laughter can remedy any ailment, and I appreciate them for that. Thanks friends!

February 06, 2006

Good Friday

I apologize in advance for any misleading reference to a pretty important Christian Holiday. This post actually is in reflection of my Friday meeting I had with students and staff of North and South Scott Hall.

Without getting too much into it, I'm currently co-facilitating a commission to look at student leadership for both North and South Scott Hall and what it should look like for the future. I bring this meeting up because it is these moments when I really enjoy and embrace the chance to work with students. We have a total of 7 students on our commission. Although not all were present due to personal conflicts, the five who were there contributed positively. I really appreciate all they had to share.

This moment reminds how often we need to have these types of meetings with students. For those who work in student affairs, it's easy to guess and use anecdotal evidence to try to figure out what students need. Sometimes though, it's inspirational and relieving to hear what the students have to say for themselves. Even if the meeting only yields ideas for little changes and future planning, that's a better start than sitting in your office beating your head against the wall thinking about how to help students out.

As a side note, professionals when you're listening students give feedback it's easy to want to explain and defend some things we do naturally. I say wait, be patient. If they want a justification they'll ask for it. Otherwise soak in the advice or thoughts and find out how to make it work.

For students who participate in these meetings, remember two things: 1. your honest contributions are the best. Don't worry about anyone's reaction or face or response. You're the ones 'in the trenches' seeing what student life is like on a day to day basis. 2. never be discouraged if for some reason you don't see immediate or great change. Sometimes the wheels of bureaucracy and red tape take time to work though.

I thank Joe, Andy, Rene, Renee, and Tracey for inspiring me that day and reminding me that you are a great resource.