Outgoing GBSA President Lynnette Jackson's speech
Posted 6.4.07Outgoing GBSA president and Scott S. Cowen Student Leadership Award recipient Lynnette Jackson spoke to graduates about perfecting skills, learning lessons, and developing friendships while at Weatherhead.
Thank you, Dean Reddy.
Reflecting on the time spent at Weatherhead, I recall the numerous skills we have perfected, the lessons we have learned and friendships we have developed; it reminded me of a childhood story: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum. This story is about teamwork, overcoming obstacles and believing in oneself. In addition, it displays a collaborative form of female leadership. If you are not familiar with the story allow me to give you a brief synopsis: a young American girl named Dorothy lives with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in Kansas and is not having much fun as a young girl on a farm with no other children. She plays with her dog and companion, Toto. One day, Dorothy's world changes as a giant tornado whisks away her house to a fantasyland of Oz -- a magical place filled with munchkins, flying monkeys and wicked witches. She finds herself in an unfamiliar place. Her goal is to meet with the wizard, who grants wishes, so she can get back home. During her journey down the yellow brick road and through the magical land of Oz, she meets a cast of characters who are also looking for the wizard to grant them wishes -- a scarecrow who thinks he needs a brain, a tin man who desires a heart and a lion who boldly searches for courage.
Business school has taught us to use frameworks. My framework today will follow the story of the Wizard of Oz as I talk to you about having brains, having a heart, having courage and finding home.
Brains -- "Do you think if I go to the Emerald City with you, that the great Oz would give me some brains?" asked the Scarecrow.
Under the leadership of this distinguished faculty we have learned, we have prepared, we have developed and we have practiced our skills. We have increased our vocabulary, analyzed income statements and balance sheets, learned how to determine the bottlenecks, run a regression, determine the net present value of a project, used the capital asset pricing model and can determine the weighted average cost of capital. We have learned about risk and return, we know about economic value added (EVA) and economic value to the customer (EVC), the 4Ps and the 4Cs, we can use Porters’ Five Forces and can recognize a sustainable competitive advantage, we have developed our systems thinking and project management skills, we know about emotional intelligence as well as appreciative inquiry, we have reflected on our values and refined our critical thinking skills, we have traveled the world either literally through International Institutes and/or through our classmates and faculty members.
I am confident we will deliver when it is time to execute.
Heart -- "Do you suppose Oz could give me a heart?" asked the tin man.
Having heart is about being compassionate, being able to inspire and having empathy. Most important, I believe heart is about giving credit where credit is due. On behalf of all of the graduates, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the staff members at the Weatherhead School of Management who have made our journey to this day easier. Whether it was assistance with financial aid, serving as a coach in a Case competition or helping us find jobs -- THANK YOU! Thank you for giving up a Sunday afternoon to ensure that our graduation day would be perfect -- and it is.
Having a heart is acknowledging and thanking the people who helped you along the way. As the leader of GBSA I wish to thank my extraordinary team. They are an incredible group of individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to Weatherhead. As a team our strengths and competencies in areas complement each other. We are much stronger collectively than we are individually. So, thank you, Christina Freeman, Matt Evans, Andy Male, Rishi Darda and Christina Heinrich for your service to our school and personal friendship to me.
Now that we are alumni, having a heart is also to serve as mentors to future generations of Weatherhead students. We need to be there to support and guide our future colleagues and let them know that we believe in them. So while we are stretching forward and focused on our individual goals at our new organizations and companies seeking mentors for ourselves, let us not forget that we are standing on someone else's shoulders, someone who served as a mentor to us. Like my father told me as I was growing up, "Life is like a game of tennis; if you never serve you will never win."
Courage -- "Do you think Oz could give me courage?" asked the cowardly Lion.
Courage sets the leaders from the pack. The willingness to take risks -- not foolish risks but calculated ones. It's about shaking things up and being a voice for change, being that catalyst. Courage is doing what is right, being an ethical and upstanding citizen even when you are tempted to take the easy way out. Courage is putting your ego aside and admitting when you have made a mistake and asking for help. In times of increased global competition and the ever-changing landscape of the world the winners are going to be the ones that are willing to leave their comfort zone for a more challenging position. "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow" (anonymous).
When Dorothy arrives at the Emerald City the wizard notices her ruby red slippers. This symbolizes her competitive advantage. In a large group of people she stood out. We will soon be surrounded by others with the same skills and talents we have. We must find our own ruby slippers, that element that will differentiate us in a crowd.
"But it is a long way to the Emerald City, and it will take you many days. The country here is rich and pleasant, but you must pass through rough and dangerous places before you reach the end of the journey." (Baum) "Follow the yellow brick road." The yellow brick road symbolizes the path you will take to uncover your dreams, yes there will be road blocks and maybe some witches along the way, but follow it anyway. Redesign it and update it from time to time, it will certainly guide you to your Emerald City. We all have different views of success, and the symbolism of the Emerald City can mean wealth to one person and owning and running his or her own business to another. It can mean developing business as an agent of world benefit or running a nonprofit in town to raising a family. Whatever that Emerald City is to you, just believe in yourself. I am confident you will reach your goal.
As the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion get closer to Oz it is obvious that they already possess what they are seeking. Just like Glinda the good witch tells Dorothy at the end of the story, "it was in you all along." It has been in you all along -- now is the time to fulfill your dreams and find your way home!
As I close this afternoon, I will leave you with some lyrics from the Tony Award winning soundtrack -- The Wiz. The song is entitled "Home" (performed by Stephanie Mills).
"When I think of home I think of a place/ where there is love over flowing. I wish I was home/, I wish I was back there with the things I have been knowing /…maybe there is a chance/ for me to go back, now that I have some direction/ it sure would be nice/ to be back home/ where there is love and affection…and just maybe /I can convince time to slow up/, giving me enough time in my life/ to grow up, to start again/ suddenly my world has gone and changed its face/, but I still know where I am going/. I have had my mind spun around in space/ yet I watched it grow/….this might be a fantasy/, but its taught me to learn /so its real, real, real to me,/ we must look inside our heart/ till we find a world full of love, like yours, like mine, like home!!”
Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.