Tomorrow I am visiting my alma mater, James Madison College at Michigan State University, to volunteer in the 9th annual "Career Day." I will be a member of the business panel, discussing my career path and answering questions from seniors who will be graduating this spring.
This will be the third time I've participated, but the first time as a representative of Stewart Title Company. I've thought about questions I've had before and others I might get, as they pertain to title insurance...
James Madison is not a business school- if I had to categorize it, I'd say it is a "political" school. So, I think my advice will be to focus not on the aspects of politics that have to do with governing, but rather the idea of politics as interacting with people. Whether our businesses relate to products or services, almost all facets of business can be reduced to the core idea of sales... and sales is really at the heart of how people interact, in both our professional and personal lives. If I think about what's helped me be successful in title insurance, it's not being able to discuss Plato or The Federalist Papers- it's been my ability to develop relationships.
Having good relationships with my coworkers is critical: They're the ones who help me do my job so I can maintain my credibility. The relationships with the people who refer business to me are crucial, too: I rely on them for my success. And, of course, my relationships with my clients are paramount: Without them, I would have no success at all.
Yet, as far as I know, there is no college degree in "Relationships." What a great curriculum that would be! Imagine a young American workforce trained in how to confidently and ethically cooperate, compete and sell. I love my alma mater, and I did learn a tremendous amount of information... I would also say I learned some useful skills such as analysis and critical thinking. But if I'd been required to learn basic sales principles early on, I'd have started developing them that much sooner in life, and be that much further along now.
Well, the road is open for the young! Tomorrow I'll look forward to meeting future brokers, attorneys and bankers... and maybe even some future title insurance folks! :)