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Michigan Credit Union League

2021 AC&E Preview: Dr. Samuel Jones Takes Center Stage!

During the 2021 Annual Convention & Exposition (AC&E), MCUL will welcome Dr. Samuel Jones to speak during the Aug. 24 Center Stage! morning presentation.

Dr. Jones is a professional speaker and award-winning entrepreneur whose programs seek to impact professionals at all levels by helping people to implement strategies to succeed in work and life. His programs and presentations intend to inspire people to discover a deeper purpose in their work. His engaging methods motivate attendees to enhance their performance. And more importantly, he shares strategies that can transform partnerships into winning relationships.

Dr. Jones’s unique presentation style of sharing wisdom through storytelling and experiential learning activities leave audience participants with memorable, actionable takeaways they can implement immediately.

Leading up to the AC&E, MCUL spoke with Dr. Jones about his personal philosophies and what attendees can expect from his presentation. The following is an abridged version of that discussion...

MCUL: Your Ph.D. is in Educational Leadership. Where does your interest in leadership come from? What led you there?

SJ: When I became an assistant basketball coach at the college that I started my academic career at, I realized that I really loved leadership and wanted to do more of it on a bigger scale...when I transferred over to student affairs, I really got fascinated with leading more students rather than just athletes and fascinated with working with colleagues in the education realm and then, of course, just really growing my personal leadership by reading about other leaders and their life stories.

When I finished my master's degree in PR, I realized that maybe the only way I'll be promoted in that arena is if I get my PhD, and what better way to get a PhD than in something that you really love, which is leadership.

What is the one thing you’ve seen that is consistently keeping organizations from achieving their potential?

I think the biggest key is just a fear of challenging the status quo. You get new opportunities, new employees, new students every single year and somehow the status quo just continues to kind of keep you bottlenecked and then frame [everything as] “how we did it last year.”

For me, leadership is all about that ongoing lifelong learning and leading yourself. That's one of the biggest principles that I've been working on with organizations — before you try to lead anyone else, first start with yourself. Take responsibility for what you're trying to get accomplished and know that you need other people.

You have to make sure that you always have yourself in the best frame of mind for how you collaborate and communicate with other people.

So, I think that's the biggest piece that organizations fear: challenging the status quo. And I think that's what covid has done for this entire world. The frame of mind that this is how we have to do business, such as “you can't work from home.” A lot of organizations had that frame of mind before covid, but now we realize there's so many other things we can do with technology.

I think the challenge now is not to slip back into, “Well we're in a safe place and everything is going to go back to normal.” I get what people want, but the environment now is still forcing us to keep challenging and shifting and changing.

Following COVID-19, many organizations are more vulnerable than ever. How do they deal with fewer resources while also trying to enhance efficiency, performance, relationship-building and workplace culture?

I think there's two things. Number one, I think organizations have to meet their members where they are — understanding the frustration and uncertainty and fear that everyone has.

Number two, we have to find ways to really make bigger investments. It's amazing how sometimes, when challenging times come, everybody gets tight and they hold their pocketbook and say, “No, we can't do this anymore. We can't invest.” But that is the best time to make the biggest investment. And I think helping people to not only just have the vision, but make sure that you're creating new behaviors to get you to meet that vision.

Why do you put such emphasis on experiential learning? How does that change the teaching experience?

Well, I think it changes the teaching experience in so many different ways. Number one, it creates a safe place for people to learn … a safe learning environment. Number two, I think it puts people in the practice of experiencing a shift in their mindset.

Sometimes, when we get uncomfortable, we don't recognize that. We just constantly shift back to where we're comfortable, right?  But when you start doing certain activities and you recognize, “Okay, well I didn't realize he got me to do this and this is my comfort zone. But now he's getting me to do this and I'm uncomfortable and now I'm conscious of how uncomfortable this feels. And now I normally just shift back.”

I think the last piece is, it just increases engagement. Anytime that we're engaged, we're more likely to pay more attention or we're more likely to learn. It is more likely to stick with us.

That's the way I love to learn, and the ideas tend to stick with me. So, when I get back to my home, or when I'm working with the client, those reminders come back to me because I have emotional ties to the things that I've learned.

What can people look forward to with your presentation and how do you hope people walk away from your presentation?

I'm going to share a lot of ideas that encourage attendees to rethink their beliefs — not change their beliefs, but just rethink their beliefs to be open to new and different ideas to, to be open to understanding other people's journey: their experiences, their needs, their wants, and then last but not least, you give them the encouragement to go back and be just a little bit different than before they came to the conference.

I don't share information to get [attendees] to change their life. I'm sharing information to get them to just tweak something and their environment or make a shift and get different and better results.

My hope is that my session is going to remind everyone that they have great things within them. They have great people around them that work with great organizations and, more importantly, they have a great mission for serving their members.

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2021-08-16 00:00:00