I just returned from five days in New York City with 10 of FIU Business’ top students. This was the third time in 6 years that I’ve led students to the city and every time I go, I learn something new. Now it’s nothing earth shattering, but still, learning is truly a life-long process and this trip was no different.

During the first trip in 2012, which was by all accounts done by some very heavy lifting, the theme was about alternate careers in the financial word. You didn’t need to be an “I-banker” to be truly successful in the space. The best quote from one of my former students was rather striking: “I don’t know if I want to dedicate my life to working hours and hours for a bank that may not value my hard work and contributions” Poignant thoughts indeed.

In 2014 it was all about managing risk and maximizing Alpha. For the HR pros who are wondering just what the heck I mean by that it’s simply a performance metric of an investment compared to a market index. The greater the Alpha, the greater the reward in for an assumed risk.

This years trip theme centered around relationships. I found it to be a recurring theme from the presenters at the various firms, and the conversations that the students were having amongst themselves.

“Relationships Matter” one student commented. Interesting observations from such young and impressionable minds that have yet to enter the workforce full time. They weren’t just saying the words, they truly meant it. They hustled, networked, shook hands, and were incredibly driven to achieve their dreams of working in the world of finance.

Me? I made some notes, networked, and was in the background smiling. I was incredibly proud of how they were learning not only those very visible lessons, but also the ones not so visible. Here was a group learning how to navigate a big city, show up on time, wearing the appropriate attire, and asking very pointed and direct questions. I’m convinced that even my youngest students (sophomores with really high GPAs) learned the value of time and place.

There are days when I wonder if I’m making a difference in the lives of our students? If all the hard work will eventually pay off for them and for the College? Will the students be able to bounce back with a resiliency that will not deter them from achieving their goals?

This trip answered all of my questions and yet prompted an entire series of new ones. But I do know that my first question was answered…

I am making a difference. One crazy day at a time.

And that my dear friends, is one hell of an Alpha.


What has JP been up to lately?

by John on March 25, 2016

It’s been a crazy few weeks here in Miami. Projects have been finally coming to fruition, changing the way we’re working in the office.

I’ve also started teaching classes again and that’s caused me to feel like time has started to compress. So if you’ll indulge me, I’ll catch you up on what’s been happening in my world via the bulleted list:

  • We implemented a new software tool for automated resume critiques. VMock is starting to change the way we review resumes. Who says that you can’t have a little HR Tech in the college career office space?
  • I was in Panama for 4 days last week. It was hot and humid (so I got a preview of our Miami summer). Beers were $0.65 each in the supermarket and bottled water was $1.00. The Coca-Cola now uses HFCS as opposed to cane sugar. Yes, it was cheaper to drink beer and coke, I had more bottled water than beer or soda. I guess I’m growing up a bit.
  • Americans don’t really know the extent of our non-discrimination hiring laws. Go visit a place where it’s perfectly legal for a hiring manager to ask “Are you married?” “Are you planning on having children?” and then come bitch about how bad it is here.
  • Fresh Corvina ceviche is sublime. Wow, that was a great dish
  • It’s not always about the food, the restaurant, or the atmosphere. Sometimes the company and conversation are the best memory
  • You always need to be nice to colleagues in other departments. When they step up to help you because they want to, that makes a world of difference.
  • Cuban cigars are still overrated. There are so many great “boutique” cigars on the market right now that prove the “Cuban Mystique” is simply just that, mystique.
  • One of the best questions a manager can ask is “What else?”. It causes everyone to think through all the possible scenarios to find where things can be improved.
  • If you leave a good out of office notification, people will actually read it. Life is too short to leave boring OoO notifications
  • You will never have all the bases covered. Mr. Murphy will always try to pay you a visit.
  • For those in the know, it’s getting a bit better. Day-by-day and slowly, but it is getting better. Thank you for the love and support
  • Pray for Peace. #JeSuisCharlie #NousSommesCharlie


#7Songs – Number Two

February 1, 2016

I like Steely Dan for all the wrong reasons. That’s what my wife Karen will say, she’s sick of hearing me play their songs, and my good friend Raul openly criticizes me for liking their music, but I really don’t give a ****. My love for Steely Dan was cemented during a trip to North […]

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