A few nights ago I got an e-mail (shared with sender's permission below) that I will never forget from a student I met in Iowa when I spoke to all six campuses of Des Moines Area Community College last September:
I was hoping to get your number so that I could call you personally and thank you over the phone but this will have to do. I thanked Coach K today for bringing you to our school as I believe it was a major reason I won the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. Thank you. You gave me the key to winning not only the JKC scholarship but the All Iowa and Coca Cola Silver Scholars awards as well.
I hope you don't mind but I gave you full credit and I passed your advice on to others. I hope this leads to you doing more seminars and leading more people to fulfilling their life changing dreams. So on behalf of myself and my family, thank you, you helped changed our lives.
I was stunned by this e-mail.
I speak to colleges around the country and have given many students advice. I rarely hear from them again.
When people ask me my favorite part about what I do I tell them it's the hour after I speak when students ask me for follow-up advice and share their stories; I could do that all day. People like Josh inspire ME, and I couldn't believe he was giving me any credit for his winning the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship ($30,000/year for undergrad and $50,000 for grad) and becoming (according to his advisors who also emailed me) the first student in Iowa to win the prestigious award.
In that moment I realized something about Josh that will help you win big scholarships too.
Josh asked for advice. He took the advice. And then he said thank you.
That is the formula to succeed (a formula I also share in my book). Learn from the people who have done what you want to do.
I want to share with you the formula that led to Josh winning the JKC scholarship and changing his life (below). Think about how you can adapt this strategy to your life this week:
1. Show up
Josh first made a decision to show up to my speech. It was a voluntary event. He has a family, work, and college. He could have been doing many other things. But decided to show up to something other than class that he believed could help him succeed in college.
What club, event, or opportunity have you been avoiding? What experiences on your campus are you missing? Show up.
2. Stand out
After one of the speeches the (amazing) founder of the honors program at DMACC arranged for me to have lunch with some of the honors students.
Soon after this guy came up to me, introduced himself as Josh, and asked if he could sit down and ask me for advice. He was bold and confident and eager and I loved it.
We talked for a while and I was impressed with his drive. He realized he had a college expert in front of him and wanted to take full advantage of it.
After our conversation he asked if he could follow up with me. I said yes of course. And when he did, I remembered him easily and continued to answer his questions via e-mail.
When you're around someone you can learn from, introduce yourself. This is not a time to be shy or wait for them to start the conversation. Be bold and friendly and make them feel valued. If you do, they will never forget you.
3. Ask for advice
Josh didn't introduce himself to me and just start going on and on about himself. Instead, he gave me his background story (which I always LOVE to hear) and then started asking me questions to help him reach his college and career goals.
I was honored and happy to help.
Sometimes students don't know what to say to me beyond saying how much they loved my speech. But others take full advantage of the moment. They realize they have a college expert in front of them and ask for advice to help them grow.
You have many college experts on your campus every day. They're called professors, advisors, student life coordinators, honors directors, and career counselors. Have you asked them for advice this week?
4. Take the advice
I never know if students are going to take the advice I give. Josh did. Giving the advice is easy and fun. Taking the advice is the hard part, and Josh did all of that by himself.
What is one thing you know you need to do to work harder towards something you really want? What advice have you been given lately that you haven't acted on but know you should?
5. Say thank you
I still cannot believe Josh's graciousness in sending that e-mail. I will treasure it forever. And you can bet that when Josh e-mails me next he will go to the top of my priority list.
So what are you still doing reading this blog? You've got places to be and people to meet ;)