End of Summer Reflections

Author: Scott Beaulier, Dean of NDSU’s College of Business

Time flies when you’re having fun! Classes start up here again at NDSU in just four days. Summer has basically come and gone, and it’s time to reflect on how I spent the past few months. Readers of my monthly Emerging Prairie column might remember that my May piece offered a few tips for making the most of the slower, summer months.

Here is a quick reminder of my four main pieces of advice:

  1. Create a book list and stick to it;
  2. Network;
  3. Work;
  4. Get out and EXPLORE! Go on an adventure.

For the most part, I did a pretty good job at sticking to my own advice. Below are a few notes recapping and evaluating my efforts in all four categories.

Create a book list and stick to it

With the exception of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I found too tedious to dive back into again, I read all the books on my list. In fact, the other NDSU deans and I have formed a reading group around The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership, which was one of the books on my list. I also found myself reading “fun” books like Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince and The Cubs Way by Tom Verducci. The Cubs Way was a nice discovery. It outlined the strategy employed by Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon in building a championship team. If I were to start my list over, I’d put it on there as recommended reading because of the many business and leadership lessons.

Network

I networked a lot this summer: I was nearly a regular at Fargo Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs & Issues” breakfasts in addition to attending Drone Focus, TEDxFargo, and the Tech Summit. One highlight of my networking efforts came completely out of the blue one Friday afternoon when our state governor, Doug Burgum, stopped by to spend a couple hours getting to know me. As many readers probably know, the Governor is brilliant and “gets it” when it comes to the role business knowledge and training play in our state’s success.

Work

There’s a joke among academics that August 1st represents the day professors say to themselves, “Oh shoot! I only have three weeks to accomplish what I should have done over the last three months.” I miss the freedom that comes with a traditional faculty role — as a dean, I found myself working a lot over the summer. But, this work had a different feel to it — there were fewer fires to put out each day and more time to think about priorities and direction for the College of Business in the coming year. As students and faculty return to campus, I’m prepared to hit the ground running.

Go on an adventure

Of course, summer is about getting outside, and I was sure to make time for some adventuring. As I discussed a bit last month, any vacation with our kids is an adventure in its own right, but a lot of our adventures were right beneath our noses in Fargo. We hit concerts like the Goo Goo Dolls and festivals like the Street Fair; we bought bicycles (my first bike since high school!) and took our kids on long rides; and we discovered several great eateries, including the excellent Taco Bros food truck! 

Adventuring — whether here in Fargo or up at Lake of the Woods, which was an early birthday present to me from my wife — is critical for sparking creativity, appreciating the beauty of the world, and finding the motivation to keep going with both work and play in the future.

With classes starting up again next week, Barry Hall is feeling busier each day. Rather than dread the hustle that comes with new beginnings, I’m excited and find the start of the semester to be one of my favorite times of the year. A lot of that excitement, as I think about it, comes from the energy and restoration from a summer well spent.