5 Things I've Learned
Scott Mays, ’11 MBA, is a member of the Carlson School Alumni Board and director of finance at UnitedHealthcare. He received his bachelor’s degree in music from Colgate University and had a successful first phase of his career in international development with the Peace Corps and arts fundraising for the San Francisco Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra. After he received his MBA, he pivoted into healthcare. He understands most of all that motivating and inspiring others is a key to success.
1. Lead with gratitude.
Thank you for taking the time to read this column. Relationships are key to getting things done in business, so there’s tremendous value in expressing gratitude to a colleague, customer, or business partner. Start your day with an appreciation email or call and you’ll brighten two people’s day—theirs and yours.
2. Give the gift of pleasantness.
I had the opportunity to lead a finance team which served internal customers. Initially, our customers didn’t have a very high opinion of the team’s performance. After borrowing training from our customer service department, we started answering emails and calls with “how may I help you” and actually became easier to work with. Not long after, the positive feedback came rolling in.
3. Stories are sticky.
Conveying your messages via well-crafted stories is way more memorable to your audience. In an interview, a candidate not only told me they were a detail-oriented problem solver, but also brought that declaration to life through a series of brief stories that detailed what they did and the result. They got me excited about what they could do for my enterprise and got the job.
4. Activate your (alumni) network.
Your professional network is like a gym membership—it works the best when you use it. Reach out to fellow alumni for coffee. Get involved with your local or corporate alumni group. There isn’t one? Then initiate one yourself and lead it.
5. Set a moon shot goal and tell people about it.
Once our daughter learned to ride a bicycle she declared her “moon shot” goal was to ride to a local bunny sculpture, a three-mile round trip. We practiced riding around the block but failed in our initial attempt. As a family we tried again recently and achieved her goal. One of my personal moon shot goals is to run the Philadelphia Marathon this November and raise $10,000 for the rehabilitation hospital that has helped my father learn to walk again after his stroke. Will I be as successful in hitting that goal as our daughter? I am sure going to try and now have you to keep me accountable.