Three Letter Leadership

By: Todd Gehrmann, CEO

Simplicity is not simple. If it were, then everything would be easy. And it’s not. People in positions of power have a tendency to overcomplicate. They build consensus. They hold meetings. They crunch data in their decision-making. All of this can be helpful when making decisions about complex matters. However, the most powerful ideas are often the most simple.

Lincoln delivered the 272 words of the Gettysburg Address in three minutes.

Steve Jobs insisted that the iPhone have one button and simple was his mantra.

Three-letter leadership is about using simple words to achieve superb results.


And is as close to an invisible word in the English language as you can get. It is used hundreds of times a day throughout conversation. So why does it make the list? And is inclusive. It implies that there is more, or if used as a question that you expect more. “And” can be powerful if used properly and in the context of leadership. I recommend using it in two ways. When sharing expectations, “I’d like to see the latest sales report and get your opinion on how we can improve our closing rates.” Or when gently pushing someone to give you more, “And?”


As my friend AJ likes to say, “but” is just a passive aggressive no. This is one that tends to be used more in a negative way. Nonetheless it is still a powerful yet simple word. It should be used in limited quantities and carefully. If during a performance review I say, “You are doing a great job, but…” what comes next is what is truly being heard by the recipient. Try using “and” in place of “but” and see what happens. Your message becomes one of hope. It becomes more forward looking than rooted in the past. “I think you are doing a great job and…”


Yet also implies a positive outcome. It is an inspirational word when used well by a leader. “Q2 is off to a good start. We haven’t hit our target yet.” If you tell a mentee that you think that she is making progress but needs to do more, using the word yet lets her know that you believe in her ability to achieve the goal. “I like the direction you are heading even though you have yet to complete the task.”


The word how opens up the door for important dialogue that you can use to provide leadership, insight, and expectations. If a direct report is working on a project and is providing a progress report one of the best questions you can as is “How?” How are you approaching this challenge? How have you tested this? How are you planning on completing this on time? This three-letter word provides you the opportunity to lead in an inclusive way. You become part of the solution and you get the detailed information you need to lead effectively.

There are dozens of powerful three-letter words that will make a difference in the way you communicate and the way you lead your team to achieve results. What are some of your favorites and WHY?

To learn more about how you can become a better coach, mentor, or manager contact FOCUS Training today at or apply to become part of the next Accelerate Institute class at


Everything You Need to Know About Getting a College Job

By: Megan Ashbrenner

Heading to college for the first time is an exhilarating, but scary experience. Many people find themselves wondering, “What if I don’t fit in?” and, “How do I make friends in a place where I don’t know anyone?”

The good news is almost everyone feels this way when they go to a new school or a new city. The great news is there is a solution! One of the best ways to become more organized and meet new people is to get an on-campus job.

Having an on-campus job helps you become more organized and forces you to prioritize your other activities accordingly. For many students, the adjustment to college is a difficult one, especially when learning how to study on your own time. Working while going to school is a great way to figure out how to plan your time in a way that lets you learn and accomplish your work most efficiently. Some employers even let you do your work in any downtime you may have between helping other students.


Where to lookJob

On-campus jobs vary from location to location. Some schools only have a few to offer, others have various departments and many different student staff positions within those departments. For example, a lot of university stores and restaurants hire students to staff their kitchens. Housing and support services are also great places to look-places like admissions, financial aid and the individual college offices usually look for students to do administrative work. This could be anything from scheduling appointments and meetings to handling applications and tuition checks.

Find it Online

Most schools have a section on their website for student employment; if searching for “student employment” doesn’t work, try searching ‘auxiliary.’ There, you will likely find an online application to fill out. Make sure you fill out every section to the best of your ability, and if they ask for something extra (like a resume or short answer responses), make sure you do them! Most positions will not be able to take you into consideration if you do not follow the application instructions exactly.

Ace the Interview

When it comes to interviewing for a student staff position, treat it as what it is: a real interview, for a real job. If you go into the interview and say, “I just want a job,” “I want to work here because it’s convenient for me,” or “I need to make some money,” you won’t make the great first impression you’re striving for. Instead, talk about wanting to be involved in your campus community, meeting new people and making the best experience you can for your peers. If you are asked for an example, make sure you give an example! And though it may seem like common sense, answer the questions. It’s the quality of the answer that matters, not the length. Of course, everyone gets nervous and may ramble every now and then, but try to not go off on a tangent with your response.

On-campus jobs tend to be very flexible about your schedule, and as an added bonus, you are working with other students who understand what you’re going through. This will turn some of your co-workers into some of your best friends, which is almost as good as having the job in the first place.

Networking 101 By Kate Stolz


As you move forward in your life and career, the term networking will come up. But guess what…you’ve already done it! Networking is a give-and-take relationship and you already have plenty of these. It doesn’t have to be you sending business cards to Mark Zuckerberg. You can network with people you know, people with whom you feel comfortable.

I can remember my high school days,  sitting in “Careers 1001” with Mr. Anderson and hearing about the importance of networking a million times. It was one of those things he underlined, bolded, and used big gestures to ensure we fully understood.

What I didn’t realize was the real importance of networking.  This over- communicated, over-emphasized concept had real significance. It turns out Mr. Anderson used those hand gestures for a reason. He wanted us to see the value.

My class and I understood that networking was something that a teacher thought was important. In my mind, that was equivalent to a teacher saying, “We are going to do something fun today.” This normally meant a group project where there were assigned partners or maybe something really fun like a public speaking activity. Oh, the fun.

It wasn’t until I saw networking in action that I realized what it can do for me. And the fact of the matter was that networking was easy

You remember when you talked with that one neighbor and somehow got a babysitting job? Or remember when you talked with that one friend about how you didn’t have someone taking you to homecoming and BAM, you had a date? If you have talked with someone, and gained something in return, you have experienced first-hand the value of networking.

Despite my every move to ignore Mr. Anderson’s lesson on networking, I realized that it is a valuable piece of a successful future. Networking happens every day, and it is our job to engage in it, even if it’s just with the people closest to us!