Eight steps to maximizing leadership potential

By: Ellyn Sjoquist

The founder and CEO of OrgSync, Eric Fortenberry, visited The University of Akron on Nov. 2 as the inaugural speaker in Akron’s Leadership Speaker Series. His presentation drew on his experiences as a student organization leader turned CEO, and he encouraged students to use their college experience as a time to focus on personal and professional development.

 

Gain Leadership Experience

“If you only take one thing away from this, it should be that I encourage you to take on leadership roles; college is the time,” Fortenberry said. “There’s no reason not to do it now.”

He encouraged students to take risks and do things that may be uncomfortable for them.

“Dive in and go for it,” he said.

 

Dream Big

Fortenberry challenged students to imagine what their lives would be like if they threw out all the givens and just started over.

“Think about what you would do if you could do anything at all,” he said.

 

Find Your Vision

“[Vision means] having one foot thinking forward with the other strongly grounded in the present,” Fortenberry said.  He described to students how he first began the idea for creating OrgSync, and how it became an energizing force in his life.

 

Create a Plan

Fortenberry suggested that students create both short- and long-term goals that are focused and specific.

He shared a quote from his father: “You can’t boil the ocean.” Fortenberry explained that it isn’t smart or productive to bite off more than you can chew. He encouraged students to find one thing that they do, and do it well.

 

Seek Mentors

“One of the best things you can do is to surround yourself with the right people who complement your skill set,” Fortenberry said.  He shared stories about treating former professors and employees to dinner or coffee in hopes of getting some free advice.

 

Commit Yourself

Fortenberry explained that in his career as an entrepreneur, the hardest times he has experienced were the times when he began to question himself. He challenged aspiring leaders that in those times of doubt, it is their responsibility to step up with a bright, positive energy so that others follow suit.

 

Build a Team

In team building, Fortenberry stressed the importance of honest communication to keep everyone on track for the same goals. He said that people are a leader’s number one asset.

“You’ve really got to love those people and love what you’re doing,” he said.

 

Execute Your Vision

Though hundreds of people have ideas, Fortenberry said that the ability to implement those plans is what sets apart effective leaders. He encouraged students to be flexible and adapt as they look for opportunities.

“You’ve only got one life, one chance,” he said.  “Find what you care about and be passionate.”

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