Georgetown Celebrates 200 Years of Service


Though founded in 1789, Georgetown University received its official university charter on March 1, 1815.  Approved by President James Madison, the charter grants the university the authority to issue diplomas and certificates, which solidified Georgetown’s role in service to a growing nation.

So let’s take moment to reflect. What makes a Georgetown student or alum different? As President Obama says in his congratulatory remarks, “Simply put, this country and this world benefit from your commitment to Jesuit principles, to being men and women for others.”

Women and Men for Others is one of our nine hallmark values that define our community and set expectations for our students, faculty, administrators, and alums. It is – at its core – a call to service. For the last 200 years, Georgetown alums have applied their education in service to others. In doing so, they have realized the expectations of a great university.

And now it is our responsibility to carry that legacy forward for the next 200 years.

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The Oscars, Patricia Arquette, and Wage Disparity


The 87th Academy Awards came and went on Sunday, February 22 to decidedly mixed reviews. The marathon-long program had its moments, from Neal Patrick Harris parading in his underwear to Common’s and John Legend’s emotional rendition of “Glory” to Lady Gaga singing classics from the Sound of Music. It was also a soap box for a variety of worthy social causes from environmental sanitation to teen suicide to clean government in Mexico.

One of the most vocal calls for social justice came from Patricia Arquette, winner of the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance as a single and divorced mother in Boyhood. During her acceptance speech, she called for wage equality between men and women, referring to the fact that women generally make less than their male counterparts for an equivalent job.

There is no doubt that there is a wage gap (though how much is disputed) and that it should be closed. There’s no reason for it to exist. Talent is talent. Yes, individual men and women make different life decisions that affect their earnings, but two individuals regardless of their gender should be paid the same for equivalent work.

So how do we close the gap? On the one hand, there are those who advocate for government intervention and perhaps regulation. But that seems overly burdensome – imagine the government enforcing HR policies, payroll, and hiring decisions for every organization in the U.S.  It could completely undermine the labor market – and possibly lead to perverse unintended consequences.

On the other hand, some argue to leave it up to the market. The problem with this solution is we already do – and the gap persists.  Clearly, that’s not working.

So what’s the answer? A bit of both plus a new ingredient: open data. The government should use its bully pulpit to encourage organizations to pay equally for equivalent work but ultimately leave it up to the market. So how will that change anything? Employees now have access to new sources of data thanks to new startups and organizations that are driving transparency in the labor market.  Want to know the median salary of an IT project manager with 2-4 years in Washington DC?  Check out (it’s $81,512).  There are other sites such as and With so much data – and the tools to analyze it – there are new sites launching every month (just search Google).  Armed with this new data, employees can make more informed decisions about jobs and salaries. The best talent will gravitate to those organizations who pay fairly and equitably.

Of course salary isn’t the only factor when making career decisions. Other considerations such as benefits, location, work-life balance, and mission can be as important if not more important. But with access to new sources of data and information, employees can make better decisions, and ultimately close the wage gap. And employers will have to respond accordingly to attract and retain the most talented, regardless of gender.

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Cybersecurity Awareness, Pt. 2: The New Normal

Circuit PhotoLG-Yuri Samoilov-Flickr

(Photo via Yuri Samoilov, Flickr)

Just two weeks after I posted about Cybersecurity issues, I found an article on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce blog titled ‘We Need to Do More’: Getting Real About the Cybersecurity Skills Gap. It further stresses that there’s a sense of urgency on all levels about cybersecurity and that it’s a priority for everyone.

The article cites  statistics on employment from Burning Glass and notes that job openings in cybersecurity are twice as high as any other area in IT. Those jobs are commanding higher salaries and “compensation packages for chief information security officers are rising rapidly.” All of this is increasing the demand for educational programs, and they expect there will be a lag while professionals work to get the right training and qualifications.

A February 26 LA Times article reported on last week’s hearing of the Armed Services Committee with Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper. At the hearing on worldwide threats, he stated “Although we must be prepared for a catastrophic large-scale strike, a so-called cyber Armageddon, the reality is that we’ve been living with a constant and expanding barrage of cyberattacks for some time.”

Low profile to but persistent assaults are taking a toll and could add up to a lot of cumulative damage. These have become the new normal and the Chamber of Commerce has it right when it suggests we need to change our mindset about attacks from “not if, but when.” This is a challenging time for cybersecurity, but also an exhilarating time for professionals who have more opportunities to step up into leadership positions.

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We’re LIVE! ITL launches “Inside Transformational Leadership” Podcast

Mondays at 8 AM PT 11 AM EST on VoiceAmerica Business Channel

We are excited to announce the start of our weekly podcast “Inside Transformational Leadership”, a show dedicated to examining the “inner game” of transformational leadership. ITL Director Kate Ebner will host insightful and inspiring conversations with corporate leaders, leadership coaches, academics, and community organizers.  We’ll also take questions from our audience. Email your questions or topics you’d like covered to or send us a tweet at @GeorgetownITL.

Live podcasts take place on Mondays at 11am EST, though all episodes are archived so you can listen any time. Our first show kicked off with Dr. Neil Stroul, who talked about the theme of “stories we tell ourselves” and making leadership development a life quest.

Listen Now! >> 

Spread the word to fellow grads, students, leaders, and coaches.  Follow us on Twitter @GeorgetownITL!  Download the podcasts to your iPhone today!  Just search for “Inside Transformational Leadership”.

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How Uber is Changing Work


Ask most people to describe Uber and the typical response is that it’s an iPhone app that connects people who want to get somewhere to on-demand drivers. It’s a modernized and convenient taxi service made possible by new technology (i.e. smartphones, analytics, etc.) and drivers with flexibility.

Ask Uber what they think of themselves and they will tell you that they are a logistics company seeking to disrupt how people, goods, and just about anything gets moved from point A to point B. Their app is just the tip of the iceberg. Need proof? Yesterday, Uber announced that it will open a robotics research facility to build self-driving cars. How can they do that? Well, they have sales of $1 billion and a valuation of $40 billion.

So if you’re a taxi driver, you’re worried.  And there have been legitimate protests.  But what about other professions?  We’re ok, right?  Well, it depends.

The Economist just published an article about the On-Demand Economy. Essentially, companies like Uber are changing the nature of work, not just for taxi drivers, but for many professions such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants. Technology and changing social habits are giving rise to freelance workers available at a moment’s notice, much like Uber drivers.

These changes will reshape the nature of companies and the structure of careers. How? For one there will be more freelance workers. The Economist estimates there are already 53 million in the U.S. –  and the number is growing.  While those who value flexibility in work may benefit from this trend, many will not have access to benefits typically enjoyed by full-time workers such as pensions and sick leave (though they can now get affordable healthcare). That has to change with new labor laws and regulations that ensure all workers have access to resources and opportunities.

Secondly, it will become more important for professionals to master multiple skills and to take more responsibility for their professional development and learning. We all have to make a life-long investment in learning.  Those with in-demand skill sets, the ability to adapt, and the know-how to market themselves will be at an advantage. Career paths will also become more varied and diverse.

So there are two conversations that should be taking place. First, on a broader level, how should we as a society support the growing number of freelancers and contractors? Secondly, on an individual level, how can I as professional stay up to date with my skills?

Companies like Uber are not going away. As with all change, there are trade-offs, winners and losers, and no easy answers. Just ask any DC taxi driver today…or your Uber driver.

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Analyzing the Economy in Real-Time

big_data_economyOn January 29, the CCPE Data Analytics program hosted in partnership with Data Community DC Micheline Casey, the first Chief Data Officer of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Micheline talked about the need for the Federal Reserve to set up the Office of the Chief Data Officer – 100 years after the founding of the Fed – as a means to leverage new data sets and sources to provide new insights into the economy and inform decisions of the Federal Open Market Committee.

With new data sources and tools, the Fed has started to focus on “now-casting” (in addition to forecasting) to better gauge the pulse of the economy in real-time and with more granularity. She talked about using Twitter feeds to monitor consumer feedback on financial products, tapping into data generated by Square for gauging the health of small businesses, scanning e-commerce sites for price data, and aggregating tax data from Intuit (of course all in compliance with privacy regulations). Her bottom-line message: The Office of the Chief Data Officer is just getting started in its mandate to use big data to help the Fed better achieve its mission of price stability and full employment.

Follow Micheline at @michelinecasey.

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Cybersecurity Awareness


(Photo via Yuri Samoilov, Flickr)

Cybersecurity dominates our lives, although we may not always be aware of it. Recent news stories have covered cyber threats that range from high level government activities to Sony Pictures data to social engineering tactics like phishing. Hacking is serious business and the criminals are becoming more sophisticated. Awareness of this issue is crucial on every level, from how we create passwords to government protections.

An article on trends for 2015 from the Society of Human Resource Management quotes research from PricewaterhouseCoopers stating “global cybersecurity incidents are predicted to increase by 48 percent this year.” In a survey from the Pew Research Center, 91% of American adults say that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies. Americans are concerned about government access to data, but even more concerned about advertisers collecting data, especially when it comes to the privacy of our children’s information. A greater percentage of survey participants wanted more government regulation in that area. In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama expressed concern of vulnerability and urged Congress to pass legislation to meet the evolving threat of cyberattacks.

As we continue to integrate more technology into our daily lives, through new devices and third-party storage like clouds, it is imperative that information security remain a high priority for every individual and organization, and that strategies are evolving to meet new challenges.

For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity page and the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Information Security Survey.

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Revise, Don’t Resolve

Train Switch SunlightIt’s that time of year when our minds turn to New Year’s resolutions. I’m not a fan though. This often sets us up for disappointment. Making a new list every year can be defeating. According to an article in Forbes that cites research from the University of Scranton, only 8% of people who make resolutions achieve them. We can truly beat ourselves up about what we can’t check off the list. Life happens and we can’t be consumed by our lists. Here are some ideas that work for me (or that I’m working on!).

  • Revise: Look over last year’s resolutions and revise them to fit your life right now. A lot happens in a year and the importance of some resolutions may have shifted.
  • Fail: Appreciate the experience. No one achieves everything on the first try. Think like Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Learn: As adults, we want to learn fast and achieve results immediately. Think like a child, enjoy the process and work until you get the desired results. Note that I didn’t say ‘get it right.’
  • Grow: Look back on what you accomplished in the past year and take some time to celebrate. Use that energy to propel yourself forward.  I started off 2014 thinking that I might enroll in a particular certificate program at CCPE. Where I ended up was in the Social Media Management Certificate program and I’m now contributing regularly to this blog—not what I expected to be doing at this time.

Remember that a year isn’t a long time. Life is a work in progress, so don’t be consumed with resolutions. Enjoy life and revise as needed.

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The Job Market: Short Term vs. Long Term

robotsOn December 15, the New York Times published two articles side-by-side.  The first article had the title “Economic Recovery Spreads to the Middle Class“. The second article was entitled “As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up“.  They are seemingly contradictory at first sight.  But dig deeper and you can find the connection.

Yes, the labor market is finally feeling the effects of our economic recovery.  With increasing consumer spending, healthy hiring, low interest rates, and plunging oil prices, the U.S. economy is poised for moderate growth. This has translated into moderate wage gains for many American workers.

But for how long?

This is where the second article becomes relevant.  It highlights structural changes in the labor market brought on by technological advances. Many professional jobs once thought impervious to technology – those in knowledge or service jobs – are now (or will be) under pressure due to advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics.  Think about it: self-driving cars, robotic surgery, decision engines – these are all technical advances that are happening now, though on a very small scale.  One day, the technology will be good enough to scale.

So what to do about it? We shouldn’t stop technical advancement because there are simply too many benefits.  But we can’t assume everyone will “win”.  As the article points out, “the most worrisome development is how poorly the job market is already functioning for many workers.”  This is where education’s role becomes paramount. The most important skill that schools – from K-12 to higher ed – can impart on graduates is the ability to learn how to learn.  Those with critical thinking skills, strong writing and communications abilities, and mathematical and technical fluency will be forever adaptable.  Those without, won’t.

It’s great that the economy is improving and workers are beginning to reap some of the benefits…in the short term. But we have to keep our eyes on the long-term.

As they say, the best time to mend a roof is when the sun is shining.

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Online and Onward

Universities are always looking for innovative ways to provide educational opportunities that are open to everyone. CCPE is no different. We have a tried and true portfolio of certificate programs, and our students benefit from the in-person interactions with faculty and fellow students. You see this at our downtown campus every day. Some programs work best in person, but for others the key to providing well-rounded and accessible programming lies in our ability to adapt to the changing state of education and try out new methods for teaching.

As students look for ways to fit school into their busy schedules, and technology rapidly moves forward, the solution for many is online education. For those reasons, we are offering an online version of our PMI-approved Certificate in Project Management program starting in March 2015. We’ve partnered with Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) and Program Management faculty to create an online program that offers the same rigorous & effective programming that you’ve come to expect from Georgetown.

Read more here.

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Back to School: 6 Tips for Integrating Learning into Your Lifestyle

You work full time and you might wonder how to fit classes into your schedule, but the decision to go back to school could pay off both professionally and personally. Institutions of higher education can help you transition back into school and take part in an engaging and rigorous educational experience at any age. Here are some helpful tips for non-traditional students:

1. Find the Right Reason and Stay Motivated
Don’t go back to school just to list another certificate or degree on your resume. Taking classes can be a way to increase your workplace value and your salary, but be sure to choose something that excites you.

2. Use Your Experience
Whatever your age, you’ve already got experience that will help you. You’ve likely held more than one job and learned how to adapt and grow in each of them. All of us face a multitude of challenges and things competing for our attention, so take some time and find that place inside yourself that sees learning as exciting and new again.

3. Manage Your Time
Time management can be an issue, but think about your daily life. Each day you take care of your tasks at home and work. You’ve adapted to changes in your life—moving, having children, changing jobs, adopting an animal—with regularity. You’re already an expert in time management. Use what you know to adjust your priorities and your schedule.

4. Transition at Your Own Pace
Start slowly by taking one class a month or jump in and take an accelerated program. Figure out what works for you. Get your family on board and let them know you need their support. And that you appreciate it!

5. Take It All In
Learning is give and take. You listen to other perspectives, discuss, and revise your world view every day. Going back to school will focus your attention and give you new opportunities to learn. Your teachers and fellow students will be of all ages and walks of life. They, in turn, will learn from and value you for your experience.

6. Be a Lifelong Learner
Successful people continue learning and don’t let fear of change hold them back. Think about what you feel passionate about, focus your energy to learn as much as possible, and live every day in pursuit of your goals. Deeper study into your area of expertise or a new career could be what it takes to keep your life satisfying and fulfilling. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

For an inspiring story on lifelong learning, watch this Ted Talk.

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Join Us!

join_us-copyIt’s that time again … another information session at CCPE! (Yes, Halloween is also coming up.) Please join us for a Certificate Program Information fair on October 30.

Here are the details:

  • 6:00pm-6:30pm: Event registration opens
  • 6:30pm-7:15pm: Information Fair- opportunity to meet with faculty and program advisors
  • 7:15pm-7:45pm: General Q&A with Associate Dean Edwin Schmierer

We look forward to meeting you and promise not to scare you. (Our building is not old enough to be haunted.)  RSVP here.

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Veteran Success at Georgetown

With Veterans Day coming up on November 11, we want to shine a spotlight on our veteran students. There’s been a buzz around Georgetown since we were ranked #1 College for Veterans in 2015 U.S. News & World Report. It’s not surprising though—at CCPE we speak with veterans every day and witness their enthusiasm and dedication to professional development firsthand.

All of our certificate programs are approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Assistant Director Lauren Dyer is the Certifying Official for CCPE. She works with an average of 3-4 veterans every day and meets several in person each week. Over the past year more than 130 veteran students have taken one of our certificate or custom programs.

Here are some recent highlights:

If you’re a veteran interested in continuing education, start by reading Lauren’s post: 5 Steps to Use Veterans Benefits.

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Georgetown’s Mission in Action

Melanie_resizedOn Oct 17, a group of CCPE alums from the Organization Consulting and Change Leadership (OCCL) program and fellows from the East-West Center gathered at the School of Continuing Studies downtown campus for a discussion on change leadership. She called it The World Café on Change Leadership in the U.S. and Globally.

Christina is a leadership education specialist with the East-West Center and she received a certificate in Organizational Consulting in Spring 2014. She had a feeling that bringing these two groups together would result in a meaningful and reflective dialogue.

IdeasWhile I sat in on the event, watching the participants interact and listening to their great ideas, I realized that these alums embody the spirit Georgetown, particularly the value of Women and Men for Others (you can read more about Georgetown’s mission and values here). By volunteering, they were using what they learned at Georgetown and sharing it with the world. As a member of the Georgetown community, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing this in action.

Read more about the event here.

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Why Overhead is Critical to Social Innovation

Overhead.  It’s a dreaded word in management. Ask managers what they think when they hear the word “overhead” and the response is usually bloat and inefficiency, or an expense that by all means needs to be minimized or reduced as much as possible

This is especially true of non-profits, charities, and social innovators who are trying to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems.  Their spending is scrutinized by donors, recipients, politicians, and the general public.

But according to Dan Pallotta, an activist and fundraiser, we have it all wrong.  Focusing on minimizing overheard causes social innovators and charities to think small. It is only through leveraging overhead that social innovators can have a big impact on some of the world’s most intractable problems.  To think big (and do good), you have to embrace overhead. In his words, “We don’t want to be the generation that kept overhead low.”

Watch his 19-minute Ted Talk below.  It’s changing the conversation on overhead, charity, and social innovation.


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Leading the Charge

Amy Levine and Kyle Burns (right) accepting   the UPCEA New Program Development Award

Amy Levine and Kyle Burns (right) accepting the UPCEA New Program Development Award

On a perfectly crisp fall day, Kyle Burns (Director of Custom Education and Instructional Design) and I drove north on 95 for 2 hours and arrived at the University of Delaware ready to focus on learning, advancing and growing our professional skills in Continuing Education.  The UPCEA Mid Atlantic Regional Conference was hosted by the University of Delaware and included over 100 participants from multiple institutions, all who came together for 3 days in order to share ideas and lead the charge in continuing education.

While an obvious highlight of the conference includes being asked to present on “Launching New Certificate Programs: The Market-Based Approach,” the true excitement came from being recognized by our industry peers with the Award for Excellence in Program Development.

Kyle and I accepted the award on behalf of the CCPE team (all 13 of us!) and I feel honored that our team was recognized for the Furloughed Employee Program.  Remember the government shut down that started last year?  Well, CCPE responded by creating a program, in a matter of hours, for affected government employees and contractors in the DC area.  Acting on our commitment of service to our local community, we were able to offer 18 free courses to more than 675 government employees.  During the New Program Showcase, we were able to test the boundaries of what is possible for noncredit continuing education. To demonstrate that a highly motivated and conscientious administration can pull together the resources of a university to meet an excepted need in the community.  It demonstrated that in a changing learning landscape, noncredit continuing education in particular is uniquely positioned to meet emerging need with speed, agility and quality.

Congratulations again to the CCPE team for truly, “Leading the Charge” in noncredit education.

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Innovation and the “Consensus” Tax

board_roomBefore making a major decision, most managers seek consensus. This is generally good, right? Well, the answer is – it depends.

Mark Wessel, a member of the Forum for Growth and Innovation, a Vice President of Innovation at SAP, and an investor with Washington, DC’s NextGen Angels, recently wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about the “consensus tax”. While gaining consensus has its benefits – multiple perspectives, stakeholder buy-in, etc. – there are often overlooked disadvantages. Some are obvious – gaining consensus is messy and often slow. More importantly, it diminishes risk-taking and experimentation – which more companies must do.  Consensus often leads to mediocrity.

So what can managers do? Mark offers three recommendations:

1. Be flexible: Not all investments are the same. Organizations and managers must analyze different opportunities with different lenses and criteria. A one-size-fits-all process to evaluate potential projects will not work.

2. Empower Employees:  To be nimble, hire smart people that you trust. Make sure they understand the mission and vision, and how to define success. Then let them go and experiment. Otherwise, you as a manager will drown in endless meetings with little progress.

3. Cultivate a Culture of Trust, Accountability, & Risk-taking: As Mark puts it, “Don’t punish failure. Punish waste.” What’s the difference?  If someone fails but had the best intentions for the organization, pushed boundaries, and had a reasonable plan or process, there’s a lot of good that can come from that. The organization and employee will learn and adapt, which raises the probability of succeeding next time. But if someone fails deliberately or tries the same plan twice (i.e. didn’t learn and wasted more time/ resources), then there must be consequences.

So when making decisions, there are times for consensus and times for experimentation. To find the right balance, managers should be flexible, empower others, and focus on culture.

Follow Mark @maxwellelliot.

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Bring Your Future Into Focus

Fall is in full swing here at CCPE. It’s hard not to add a pun about ‘falling in’ or insert a photo of autumn leaves or gourds, but, all silliness aside, it’s been an exciting semester so far. Some of our courses have been so full that we’ve had to come up with creative solutions to accommodate more students. Just two days ago we started our very first online course in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of International Migration, and by all reports it’s off to a great start.

It’s already October so you might think that you have to wait until the next semester to start a certificate program, but it’s actually a great time to register for a course. The schedule is full of courses that start next week and into early December. Our portfolio of professional certificates is always evolving and we’re pleased to offer several new programs this year: Advanced Marketing Management, Cybersecurity Strategy, Data Analytics, and Education Policy and Program Evaluation.

Advanced Marketing Management was created to fill the needs of senior marketing professionals and, along with our Marketing and Digital Marketing certificate programs, covers a full range of marketing expertise. Cybersecurity Strategy and Data Analytics cover two hot-topic areas that are increasingly important as we become more and more reliant on technology in our daily routine. This fall marks the debut of Education Policy and Program Evaluation courses at our downtown campus bringing together participants from higher education institutions, k-12 schools, think-tanks and advocacy non-profits to learn to develop evaluations.

A question we get asked quite often at information sessions is “How do I apply?” That’s a great question and several of our certificate programs are application-based, but the majority are open enrollment. In fact, you could enroll today! For most certificates, open enrollment means that you can pick a program and sign up for a course at any time they’re scheduled throughout the year. In order to complete a certificate program, you must successfully complete the required and elective courses for your chosen certificate within two years. To see the full list of certificates, click here.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
―Karen Lamb

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USO Franchise Program Finishes Strong in El Paso

Class of students completing the custom learning program: Franchise Venture Planning

Class of students completing the custom learning program: Franchise Venture Planning

This past Saturday marked the conclusion of a multi-iteration custom-learning program in which wounded, ill and injured soldiers received an educational experience designed to teach them about Franchise Venture Planning. Sponsored by the USO and offered twice on campus, and three times at sites around the country in the past year, this program has helped some of our deserving veterans see new employment possibilities as they transition from military service to the civilian workforce.

Faculty member Dr. Ben Litalien has been with our service men and women each step along the way. He continues to offer support and guidance through LinkedIn group conversations and connecting his students through his vast and helpful network of franchise professionals.

The enthusiasm for the program, and more for the students that it serves, caught on as local press at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas provided coverage of the course. (See news story here.)

At CCPE we could not be more pleased and humbled to have partnered with the USO to make this program happen. Our custom learning programs are always designed to give a high quality, high impact learning experience – and this is one incredible example.

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Move over, IQ & EQ. What’s Your CQ (Curiosity Quotient)?

formulaWe’ve all heard of IQ and EQ. But what about your CQ? According to Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, an international authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing, CQ stands for curiosity quotient, which is a measure of how inquisitive and open to new experiences you are. While not as researched as much as IQ or EQ, people with high CQ tend to generate more original ideas and are counter-conformist.

Why should you care about your CQ? Today’s business world is defined by increasing complexity and disruptive change, and evidence suggests that those with CQ have a higher tolerance for ambiguity and a commitment to lifelong learning. Coupled together, these two traits result in adaptability, which is needed to manage complexity and change. And if you don’t have a high CQ, the good news is that it can be developed over time.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

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