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What I Learned and Loved about Speaking to the Chapman Business School MBA Students at FIU

Written by Debra Olshan Cooper,
President and Founder of Your Career Design lab

If someone had told me five years ago when I started my third entrepreneurial venture, Your Career Design Lab, that I would have the honor and privilege of speaking to high schools, colleges, and universities—both undergraduate and MBA students—about telling their authentic stories as a way to find their dream career, I would have said, “No freaking way.” However, my mindset has changed drastically. My intention is to share with young adults that the purpose of their existence is not outside themselves but in the stories, they tell about themselves and to others.

I have had the privilege of speaking with over 20 institutions whose career development departments, individuals heading various business, entrepreneurial, and communications departments, who believe in the methodology and the importance of knowing WHO YOU ARE and How to tell a compelling story that is changing students across all disciplines.

A Heartfelt Thank You to the Chapman School of Business

A BIG thank you to the individuals who made my talk last week on storytelling and branding one of the most engaging conversations with some of the most intentional students and groups. This illustrious group of students in the MBA program at the Chapman School of Business at FIU grasped the methodology that we are responsible for creating our reality.

Everyone involved, including Lynette Diaz, Operations Manager, who helped me with the due diligence paperwork that I often find confusing, Marisabel Perez Trejo, the Program Coordinator for Professional MBA-online, to PJ who facilitated my presentation, Maria Sierra, Associate Director/Operations, Angel Burgos, Executive Director, Graduate Programs, who got the whole ball rolling, Diana Medina, Associate Director of Student Services, and finally, Sara Ormazas, Associate Director. What a team! Honestly, I have never met a team of individuals so dedicated to their passion for their profession.

The Power of Authentic Stories

From the moment the workshop began, I felt a rush of energy from the students who were so engaging and shared of themselves. Each individual had such a clear purpose of what they wanted to be and where they were going in the world. They were seeking their WHY. There was one woman, who told an amazing story about her interview with Aflac. She told the group that it was her story of how her grandfather got the insurance he needed after an illness that saved his life and their family. By telling her authentic story to the interviewer, she said she was hired on the spot! Her true, authentic story, her vulnerability, and her value exemplified what it is to create a connection.

The Hero’s Journey: A Workshop Highlight

During the workshop, I shared a movie that is near and dear to my heart: The Hero’s Journey. It is based on the theologian Joseph Campbell who coined the term “Follow Your Bliss.” It explains how every movie from Twilight to Dune incorporates the idea that we all are on our own hero’s journey. Doors will open for me that won’t for others; others will slay dragons and I may not. It is what every mythological being goes through. We start in a cocoon with our families and then we go out into the world of adventure. There is fear, anxiety, worthlessness, not good enough, and we get initiated and then there is a return to community. Listen to the Mel Robbins 7 Steps to the Hero’s Journey.

It is magic when your ideals align with educational institutions that see value beyond textbooks. I have enjoyed speaking with alumni and students at institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, California State University Northridge, University of Miami, University of Florida, Molloy College, University of Delaware, Wharton School, and FIU, to name a few institutions of higher learning that understand the concept of HIGHER learning.

Embrace Your Hero’s Journey

I hope that all of you reading this understand that your Hero’s Journey is based on your failures and your successes. It is based on your background and the world at large. Keep dreaming big, keep creating your reality, and whether you are an undergrad or an MBA student with years of experience behind you, your career in life—the journey—is always yours to become your own HERO.

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