What I Learned About Student Affairs From… House Of Cards

Yes, that is a Drake lyric. Don't judge.
Yes, that is a Drake lyric. Don’t judge.

SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers for all three seasons of House of Cards may be present. Yes, I said all three seasons; you’ve had a week and a half to get on Netflix and watch the new episodes…

House of Cards, Netflix’s most popular show and the first online-only show to win multiple Golden Globe Awards, (Robin Wright’s Best Actress- TV Drama; Kevin Spacey’s Best Actor- TV Drama) was always going to be a part of this post series. I loved House of Cards from the weekend that I watched the first season a little more than a year ago; in fact, I loved it so much I watched the second season the following weekend so the wait to the release of Season 3 on February 28th was a VERY long one for me. After finally getting a moment to breathe this past weekend, I decided to finally watc and between the hours of 6 AM and 11 PM on Sunday binged on the entire season- and I was so impressed by season 3 that I knew it was finally time for this piece to happen.

Why do I love House of Cards so much? It’s a great show overall- it pulls the curtain back on the Beltway, ties in current issues in our society without feeling forced (from season 1’s highlighting the power select billionaires have on politics to season 3’s tensions with Russia), and introduces us to the luckiest (or unluckiest more recently) man to ever have become President on a television show: Francis “Frank” Underwood. As awful as Frank is, I have to admit I identified with him when I first started watching- his feeling stymied as a Congressman, desire to be more than he is and to use that power for (relative) good when he gets it, and above all his ability to be politically savvy all endeared me to him, making it hard to eventually despise him even though he royally screws up in Season 3 (I’ll get to that later). Moving from being the House Majority Whip to President in the span of a few months is a Herculean feat, and Frank seems to do it with ease over the course of three seasons. While I’m hoping no one works in an institution that is as politically volatile as the world Frank Underwood inhabits, having a good sense of politics is crucial for survival in the world of higher education (Bowman and Deal didn’t make politics the focus of one of their Four Frames for nothing) and we can all benefit no matter where we are in our careers.

So, what does House of Cards actually teach us about being political in higher education?

Here's one with a Beyonce lyric- is that better?
Here’s one with a Beyonce lyric- is that better?

Know the lay of the land and be ready to seize opportunities when they arise.

In the first season, Frank attaches himself to reporter Zoe Barnes to use her as a mouthpiece, takes up the education bill that President Walker wants passed and pulls out all of the stops to get it pushed through, and builds connections with power players like Raymond Tusk to get to the VP spot. Not to be outdone, Claire takes matters into her own hands in season 2 by building up a relationship with President Walker’s wife to gain information she gives Frank to use as ammo and by getting Frank to help her build her own political future in season 3 through a recess appointment to become the Ambassador to the United Nations. These two function as a power couple that put others like Fitz and Mellie Grant to shame- they’re ruthless, corrupt, but somehow they seem to continue to rise through the ranks and avoid major scrutiny (for a while, anyway). How do they do it? Claire seems to answer this question when approached on the campaign trail late in season 3- nearly 30 years of practice. The Underwoods study their opponents and allies, use smaller tasks as a way to build up to larger victories, and they never miss an opportunity to get ahead, no matter what the cost.

Clearly, I’m not suggesting that you commit murders, threaten your staff and push them out of their jobs, or cause national or international incidents to get ahead in your role- this behavior will catch up with you in time if you are doing it (even Frank and Claire aren’t exceptions to this). However, we can definitely learn from the playbook that Frank and Claire Underwood use throughout House of Cards. For one, make sure that you’re learning something new about the political climate of your school every day. Get to know people who are at all levels in the organization and find out what they’re working on, historical trends and traditions they’ve seen come and go, and what they perceive the operating philosophy of your institution to be when it comes to dealing with students and staff. Look for ways to take smaller assignments that you get that you may not even really want to the next level- as a supervisor, I feel more confident in giving someone bigger responsibilities when they do well with the smaller things- especially if it’s something they may not have been interested in at first. Doing a good job can give you the leverage to ask for and receive the green light to work on pet projects, and you gain skill sets that you can take elsewhere. Finally, make sure that you’re always thinking of your future and what the next step will be- don’t forget to be conscious of the work you’re doing now but always be searching for ways to fill in gaps in knowledge, skills and experience for that next role, and always be soft searching (looking at postings for roles one step ahead of you can give you a sense of what you need to get there).

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Lessons learned from House of Cards AND American Horror Story: Murder House: NOTHING good can come from involving Kate Mara in your marriage. NOTHING.

You don’t work in Hollywood- all press is not good press, despite what you’ve heard.

As Frank continues on his journey to becoming the leader of the free world, he runs afoul of a number of journalists- from the ill-fated Zoe to Lucas Goodwin and eventually Ayla Sayyad and Kate Baldwin- and picks up bad press related to a variety of incidents, including the teacher’s strike (season 1), Claire’s recess appointment, the controversial AmericaWorks program, defunding FEMA, everything related to Russia in season 3 (too much to go into here) and jumping into the presidential race after declaring he wouldn’t run. At first, Frank is able to dodge serious harm and walks through the Capitol like human Teflon- but when he finally makes it to the Oval Office, the negative attention damages his credibility enough that by the end of season 3 he ends up having to fight off formidable primary challengers as a sitting president (compare this to being an internal candidate for a job with years of experience in danger of losing out to a new professional straight out of grad school for context), proving that the press may giveth, but they certainly do taketh away as well.

When our offices or institutions get into hot water, it can be tempting to write heightened attention and scrutiny from the press (meaning as small as the school paper and as big as the New York Times) off as a way to assuage our fears. However, one bad story can wreak havoc on a school if they don’t get in front of the story. Don’t believe me? Google “ SAE University of Oklahoma” and see the power of the media- if bad press can get a decades old fraternity chapter closed in hours, it’s clear the media isn’t to be trifled with. If you find yourself in one of these situations, your communications team and general counsel will end up becoming your new best friends- reach out to them and seek their advice, then follow it. It’s better to admit fault and take steps to change than it is to ignore and become irrelevant or extinct in some cases.

frank_underwood_Loyalty

Don’t turn your back on your allies- doing stump speeches solo is not a good look.

If seasons 1 and 2 are all about Frank’s choices that get him into the White House and the relationships he builds to get there, season 3 definitely felt like a how-to in screwing up a good thing. In the span of 13 episodes, Frank manages to piss off Claire, Doug, Remy, Jackie, Heather Dunbar, the Russian president, and many, many more people who were on his side going in, making it incredibly hard to run a campaign to stay in the White House. The final scene of Season 3 (won’t spoil THIS because it’s WAY too important) makes clear how badly Frank has messed up, and if we get a Season 4 I’m not too sure it won’t end with him sitting on the curb outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue alone and embarrassed. Frank seems to forget the Platinum Rule of making one’s way to the top- remember everyone whom you had to step on to get there because you’ll meet the same faces when you’re on the way down.

Very few of us will make it to positions similar in stature to President of the United States, but in many cases we will have the opportunity to take leadership roles in our offices and institutions or will be given the privilege of moving on to newer, more advanced opportunities several times throughout our careers. For some of us, these moves may even happen internally due to support given by our personal Cabinet or Board of Directors. It’s critically important that we remember the people who help us get to our next destination and that we do our best to support them when we make it to where we want to be. You’ll figure out what this looks like for the people in your life- whether it’s a thank-you note, a recommendation or reference, a collaboration, or just continued contact and displays of appreciation, make sure that the people who matter to you know it and above all that you don’t do things to actively disrespect or injure them. Again, it’s likely that when things go wrong these are the folks you’ll turn to, so make sure that you still have them in your corner when you need them.

Finally, and most importantly, never pass up a chance to show off your personal style- especially when your initials allow you to do things like this:

FU_Cufflinks

I hope you’ve enjoyed my most recent entry of my What I Learned… series- please feel free to add comments or suggestions for future posts below! Keep an eye out for my PHEATURE Phriday post on OU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon debacle- not one to be missed…

J

What I Learned About Student Affairs From… How To Get Away With Murder

 

HTGAWM[1]

When I wrote and uploaded my post from this series focusing on Scandal, I had no idea that it would eventually be read 4,000 times- but once it caught on I knew that a post on How To Get Away With Murder would have to follow at some point. Now that our long national nightmare is almost over and Shondaland returns to our TV sets tomorrow night, I decided it was finally time to take a closer look at the newest of Ms. Rhimes’ trio of top-billed shows and how it can be used to highlight key lessons in student affairs.

I’m not just selecting HTGAWM to get hits (although that’s definitely a factor here); the lives of Professor Annalise Keating and her Keating Five captivated me from the beginning. Want proof? Here’s what I said on Facebook the night of the premiere:

HTGAWM_GotDegrees
OK, so I didn’t know the correct spelling of her name at the time… sue me 🙂

I love this show not only because of its amazing lead character- though Annalise really is impressive in her own way and I love what fellow Rhode Islander Viola Davis has accomplished- but because of the inside perspective we get on her students’ lives and what the overall law school experience is like. Whenever we see higher education on our TV screens, it’s typically of the 18-22 year old undergraduate variety (with the exception of Community, which may or may not be next on my list…) so seeing the graduate/professional school experience dramatized provides great fodder for conversation. That and the whole flashback, double murder mystery angle makes for some great TV, particularly if you’re in college administration.

What I Learned About Student Affairs From... How To Get Away With Murder

So what can we learn from Annalise and her crew both when class is and is not in session?

The Keating Five (and most other graduate/professional students) are in need of serious student support resources.

Middleton University’s law school is one of the best in America- on par with Harvard and Yale Law if we take our main characters’ word for it- but we might not know it if we looked at the lives of the students. I’m assuming that Middleton doesn’t have grad housing, but if they did Wes may want to look into it; law students living next to drug dealers who get mixed up in coed murder plots isn’t really a good look. Connor Walsh, our resident nymphomaniac, could probably benefit from some visits to the campus counseling center for his many, many issues. Michaela Pratt could probably benefit from some sessions too, as well as a trip to the campus LGBTQ+ Center with her fiancé when he visits again. All of the Keating Five could use some hobbies and exposure to extracurricular activities like the Law Review they were exposed to early on in the show- clearly they get into trouble when they have time on their hands… In short, law school is no joke and Middleton clearly has a lot of room to grow when it comes to easing the pressure for their charges.

Student affairs professionals know all too well the struggles of the students on HTGAWM even if they don’t have a JD- no matter what you study, graduate school is a challenge that we may not necessarily prepare students for enough before or during their course of study. Our country is college-obsessed; we do everything we can to clear the way for students to make it to an undergraduate experience and to develop K-16 pipelines- but with the job market changing to the point where today’s BA equals yesterday’s high school diploma, not stretching the conversation to at least include the idea of post-baccalaureate study puts students at a disadvantage if they do end up reaching for more education. Colleges tend to do a solid job of offering career education and services, but graduate preparation tends to fall on departments- what if students decide to go to graduate school in a different discipline (I highly doubt for instance that my Psychology or Africana Studies advisors could have prepped me for my Higher Ed program no matter how amazing they were)?

If students do end up making it to grad school, they do so often with obligations to partners and families, jobs, a pile of undergraduate student debt, and an even bigger pile of stress and pressure to make the next few years count. Are our institutions doing what we can to support them? Do the grad programs or schools in your institution have offices of student affairs? Connections to other resources on campus? Do they highlight opportunities for learning and growth outside of the classroom? Better yet, are you collaborating with SAPros in grad schools and programs to give students in our undergraduate programs a taste of what graduate school life is like? Offering these types of opportunities can give students a better mental image of what life after the BA is like- so they don’t end up like our Middleton heroes.

Refusal to check one’s privileges can really throw a monkey wrench in your work- even if your dad is a federal judge.

Walking, talking privilege and great comedy relief in one compact, preppy package...
Walking, talking privilege and great comedy relief in one compact, preppy package…

 

As someone who has attended and worked at elite institutions of higher education, I’ve seen enough Asher Millstones to last me a lifetime- he’s cocky, arrogant, culturally appropriates like it’s his second job, flirts openly with his indirect supervisor (although it’s probably Bonnie’s fault for taking it further), and just plain gross. He probably deserves to be knocked out with the trophy that was stolen from him late in the season. However, he does seem to have a moment of introspection and reflection in an episode where he has to work with Annalise and the rest of the team to help clear the name of a defendant from one of his father’s old trials. After finding out that his dad allowed a senator to perjure himself in order to get a federal appointment, he has to confront not only his father but also the idea that many of the advantages he received in life as a result of his dad’s position were based on lies- which for a while is too much for him to bear. In the end, he comes clean to Annalise about what he knows in exchange for the trophy and for protection of his father’s legacy- a step towards acknowledging his privilege without completely destroying his family.

What can we learn from this? All of us- yes, ALL- have privilege in one way or another. Even if your identity is targeted on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and ability, if you have a Bachelor’s degree you are in the top 30% of the country when it comes to educational attainment (Master’s Degree? Try top 10%. A Ph.D or professional degree would put you in the top 1-5%). Simply living in a good neighborhood or a more wealthy state or region of the country can provide us opportunities that we don’t even realize until we think about them. The point of checking privilege is not to get bogged down in beating yourself up for having it or to have pity on those who are targeted- it’s to recognize how your background affects the work you do, the decisions you make, the people you choose to hire and promote, etc. and actively working to remedy any unintentional situations where you show bias. Sometimes you have to do it strategically like Asher did so you don’t endanger your position, but it’s still important to take action. Tears and defense mechanisms won’t make things better- self-awareness and swift movement will.

Trying to save everyone will only lead to you losing yourself.

I couldn’t do this post without taking a minute to focus on Keating Five member Laurel Castillo- we did go to the same university for undergrad after all (don’t believe me? Frank references it in the first or second episode). Laurel represents Brunonia well- she’s brilliant, kind, and wants to get her JD so she can use it to help the underprivileged. Great, right? The only problem is that she seems to look for the good in everyone and help them even when it’s to her detriment and to the detriment of her team. In an episode where she tried to help a teen who was accused of his father’s murder, she almost blows the case and her own reputation to clear his name. She takes on extra work with the local legal aid office to build a better relationship with her boyfriend, Kan… but ends up cheating on him with Frank and compromising herself (and getting embarrassed when Frank’s girlfriend catches them in the act). Overall, I still like her and will still claim her as a fellow Brown alum, but I’m going to need for her to get her life together.

Student affairs professionals get into this field to help people- we clearly don’t do it for the money, short hours or ease of work- but at the same time we need to recognize that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. If you’ve done work particularly with alcohol and drug education, you’re probably familiar with Prochaska’s stages of change that describe the work necessary to create change on an individual level; spending excess time on people who are precontemplative and not ready for change is an easy way to get frustrated and burnt out very quickly in this field. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a student is to expose them to resources, build up an argument for changing their behavior, and then leave it up to them to do the rest of the work- at the end of the day this is THEIR learning experience (you’ve completed yours) and they need to be in the driver’s seat.

Finally, boundary setting with your students is crucial- no loose appendages on dead girls’ phones, please…

What I Learned About Student Affairs From... How To Get Away With Murder
Not the question you want to get asked by your spouse… or Human Resources for that matter…

If you’re a regular HTGAWM watcher, you know where you were and what you were doing when you saw the scene I posted at the end of my last “What I Learned…” post that begins with Annalise removing her makeup and wig and ends with the best question between two married tenured professors ever: “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” Sam and Lila’s affair is a blatant, clear violation of ethics and most institutional policies. It’s a a no-brainer if I ever saw one… which is why I’ll focus on the real culprit here: Annalise. No, she hasn’t slept with anyone yet (unlike Sam, Bonnie and Frank)- although her relationship with Wes suggests something is up between them it’s not of the carnal variety- but she clearly has issues with boundaries when it comes to her students. Her office and home occupy the same building, and she doesn’t do much to separate the two and keep them out of her business. The Keating Five come and go at all hours, which leads to Wes catching Annalise in a compromising situation and eventually to the center story of the season: Sam’s death at the hands of her students (again, mostly Wes’ fault… seems to be a pattern here). At the end of the Winter finale it becomes clear she’s probably done much more to trample on traditional student-professor boundaries- it’s truly a wonder that she’s able to keep her messiness a secret and if she still has her job by the finale it will be an act of God.

Common sense (or your grad program’s professional ethics/proseminar class) would tell you that sleeping with students is a no-go, but there are many, many other ways to cross boundaries that are much more innocuous at face value. Are you inviting individual students to your apartment or office late at night without witnesses if you’re a live-in staff member? Are you allowing students to know intimate personal details of your life? Do you take students out for meals or for drinks (illegal if they’re under 21, still potentially shady if they are of age given the circumstances)? If you’re doing something with your students that you only do with friends, or if you’re doing something that could be turned around on you later and used to make you look bad, don’t do it. If your boss wouldn’t do it with you, don’t do it. If it generally doesn’t seem like it makes sense- don’t do it! You have plenty of time to be friends with your students when they graduate or no longer work for you- and at that point, no one will have anything to say about impropriety. Remember, kids- true love and friendship waits until May… and Public Safety usually doesn’t take days off!

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That’s the end of the road for HTGAWM lessons- hopefully this post will be as enthralling for you as the show will be tomorrow night. As always, feel free to add any additional thoughts in the comments below. Friday will be the first of a new series that will feature things that caught my eye this week- Pheature Phriday (PROTIP Phriday isn’t going away but is on break until next week)!

J

What I Learned About Student Affairs From… Breaking Bad

What I Learned About Student Affairs From... Breaking Bad

Spoiler Alert: Details from Seasons 1-5 of Breaking Bad follow, as will comparisons between a major drug dealing/money laundering business and higher education… be warned and draw your own conclusions on that. Those w/o a sense of humor should close the browser window now… 🙂

I’ll admit, this post almost didn’t happen- for most of the time that Breaking Bad was on the air, I personally thought the show was overrated and overblown. So you have a high school chemistry teacher who decides to sell drugs- and? I’m supposed to be impressed? It felt way too unrealistic for me to actually get into at first… which is why I waited until last Christmas to start watching it. The first season of the award-winning AMC show focusing on the partnership of Walter White and his former student Jesse Pinkman wasn’t impressive to me- but as the show picked up in the second and third seasons, I found myself getting caught up in the craziness and loving it as much as my friends had when it originally ran.

When I finally made it around to the series finale the day after New Year’s (yes, it only took me a week), I realized why I enjoyed it so much- and why this was an excellent candidate for my What I Learned… series: the partnership between Walt and Jesse is one of the best examples of the blend of the academic and the commercial worlds that I’ve seen in pop culture. Walt is fiercely protective of his product and the formula to create it, and Jesse is intensely focused on the administrative details of their work- finding new dealers, setting prices, etc. The two often butt heads because they don’t take time to listen to each other, and the cast of supporting characters on the show highlight other important aspects of the academic-corporate fusion that higher education has become (or that higher education has always been as some might say). In short, Breaking Bad is some of the best television out there- 16 Emmys (including 4 for lead actor Bryan Cranston) and 10 million viewers for a cable finale don’t lie- and it’s also an amazing teaching tool for budding student affairs professionals. Plus, with Better Call Saul coming in a couple of weeks, it’s time to get caught up on why we should care about Albuquerque other than their hot-air balloon festival…

So, what can we learn from Heisenberg and company?

Students don’t stop being important just because they’ve graduated.

Walt and Jesse had a prior teacher-student relationship before striking it rich as big-time meth dealers; while Jesse clearly didn’t pay attention during his Chemistry classes, Walt made enough of an impression on him that he eventually chose to work with him. Though he was one of the few teachers that did care about him, Walt initially thinks very little of Jesse- as any professor or administrator working with a student who blew them off would- but through some individualized attention, numerous challenges (being kidnapped and taken to Mexico, being beholden to a criminal mastermind, taking out neo-nazis just to name a few) and more than a few difficult conversations he builds a close bond with him that could rival any bond between a lab director and his most prized grad student.

As professionals, we clearly have enough to handle in working with the students who are currently attending our institutions- it’s ludicrous to think that we can expect to have turnarounds like Walt and Jesse. However, there are plenty of great students that we work with and whom we may lose touch with when they graduate; who says we have to lose touch with them? I usually tell the students I work with that I’ll connect with them on social media when they leave school so I can keep in touch with them- and so that way if they need to reach out to me, they can. This also means that if I wanted to reach out to them to connect them with a student who’s currently struggling and may need some advice, or another student who might be looking for jobs in their field that they can help out, or if I’m looking for an alumni speaker to bring back for a training, I can do that. Staying connected allows us to think of our students as colleagues and friends in a way that is more appropriate now that they’ve left school and are adults- it’s not always a perfect idea but definitely something we should do, especially if the students are interested in student affairs. I ended up back at my alma mater because I built up these connections- they can pay off for everyone involved.

What I Learned About Student Affairs From... Breaking Bad

Have a legal problem? Better call Saul (or General Counsel).

There’s a reason Saul Goodman is the center of the show’s one and only (as of now) spinoff, Better Call Saul– if a failed chemistry teacher and a pothead becoming the best methamphetamine cooks in America is stretching reality, Saul’s willingness to be openly sleazy and downright criminal shatters reality. Saul employs fixers, uses his receptionist to make fraudulent calls to DEA agents to stir up trouble, sets up money laundering business after money laundering business, and generally will do anything to make a quick buck off of his clients no matter the cost. However sleazy and sneaky he may be, he ends up being a critical part of the operation, keeping both Walt and Jesse out of jail or the morgue more than a few times.

I’ve mentioned getting to know your general counsel before you have a major issue- hopefully they’re not of ill repute like Saul- but in times where you do have a critical concern coming up, it’s time to pick up the phone. Schools across the country are being hit with lawsuits, particularly around issues of sexual assault and harassment and Title IX- and the expectations for institutions change usually just as we get a sense of what it is we’re supposed to do and how to do it. Building a good relationship and learning more prior to crisis is crucial, but knowing how to act when there is crisis is imperative as well. Organizing your thoughts and questions prior to meetings so you don’t waste their time, providing them a student affairs perspective when needed, and talking through how to make them happen without compromising our values are steps you need to take to best use their skills.

Respect your faculty partners, their intellectual priorities, and their schedule.

Jesse runs afoul of Walt over and over and over- so much so that Walt reaches a breaking point late in the series and almost has him “taken care of.” Jesse brings undesirables to Walt’s house when his family is around, makes deals to sell when they don’t have enough product, often disrespects Walt’s need for their trademark ice blue meth to be pure, and gets the two of them mixed up in drama- making for a terrible business model (even if it makes for a great show). Walt’s decisions aren’t always the best either, but in many cases he asserts that if it weren’t for his academic expertise they would have gotten nowhere as a team. When he steps away from the business and Jesse is forced into working for another harsher “partner”, the overall quality of the product suffers and the business falls apart. In the end, it’s clear that they needed each other, but Walt’s ability to step up both academically and commercially really made him the better partner- and Jesse’s constant failures made him the weakest link.

I doubt that any of us will have the opportunity to work with a faculty partner in this way (selling meth = not a good idea), but as I mentioned way back in my NASPA R1 review when I attended a session on learning to “speak faculty”, student-faculty relationships are a crucial part of the college experience. As student affairs professionals, we should make the facilitation of these relationships a priority by bringing our faculty colleagues in as partners. However, if we’re going to involve faculty in our work, we need to be inclusive and appreciative of their needs. Show respect and appreciation for their academic expertise, and take time to learn what their strengths and interests are. Understand that our cultures, values, and climates are different, and try to learn some of their ways without feeling like you have to sacrifice their own. When it comes to the business (working with students), meet on neutral turf- maybe the campus center or another open space that isn’t always a residence hall- and give them tasks to do when participating in an event instead of inviting them and just expecting them to walk around and socialize. Most importantly, don’t be the flake in the relationship like Jesse was- keep up your end of the bargain but assert yourself and act like a true partner, not a subservient minion.

breakingbad_Mike

Be your best self when transitioning out of a role.

If Saul was my favorite character on the show, Mike Ehrmantraut is definitely a close second- as the resident “fixer” of the show (and a third partner later on in the game) he represents the kind of common sense pragmatism that I look for both in characters and colleagues. He goes where the work is, is strategic and methodical when he works, and does a great job with risk management. As a former cop and private investigator, he’s able to dig up even the most obscure details and use them to his advantage. In many ways, he’s more of a mental equal for Walt than Jesse ever was and was a far better partner. Towards the end of the fifth season, Mike decides that he’s had enough of Jesse and Walt’s shady, sloppy business and takes a buyout. When he does, he makes sure to tie up all of the loose ends, pay off all of the folks he’s associated with, and to leave funds behind for his granddaughter Kaylee. In the end, things don’t completely work out the way he planned, but he leaves on his own terms- and leaves behind a solid model for walking away from the business that Walt ends up following almost to a T at the end of the show.

Student affairs is a constantly changing business, and few people stay in roles or at institutions for half of their career anymore. Nothing lasts forever, and all of us should be constantly looking for ways to grow or new places to go to continue growth. However, as everyone says in this field all the time, it is indeed a small world after all- and all of us talk. When you’ve finally found that next opportunity, make sure to be like Mike- finish up any lingering projects, leave behind transition materials, thank those who were supportive of you and say proper goodbyes, and stay in touch with people who were important in your journey. I can’t guarantee that your happy endings will be better than Walt’s or Mike’s, but I can say that having a reputation of leaving with grace and dignity can definitely help you move forward.

Finally, stevia and cigarette addictions are the devil…

I mean, really… few people know how to manufacture and plant ricin like Walt does but still… I’ll take my chances with cane sugar 🙂

breakingbad_stevia

That’s a wrap! Hope you’ve enjoyed and feel free to add additional tips or your thoughts below- here’s a clue to next week’s post:

See you on Friday (notice I didn’t say Phriday… I’ll explain when we get there)!

J