Jennifer Fish Recaps Day 2 of USNA Leadership Conference
Jan. 29, 2013
Three Bison student-athletes traveled to Annapolis, Md., on Sunday for the United States Naval Academy Leadership Conference, which runs through Wednesday. All-Patriot League fullback Travis Friend of the football team, Jennifer Fish of women's rowing, and men's soccer goalkeeper Mike Lansing have joined assistant men's soccer coach Pat Long at the conference.
Each student-athlete will be checking in throughout the week, and today Jennifer recaps the first full day of the conference. Click HERE to read Mike's review of the group's arrival in Annapolis.
Jan. 28, 2013
Due to some freezing rain in Annapolis, we began our morning with a 30-minute delay, but after the weather conditions improved the conference resumed to its normal diligent military time schedule. A Navy bus transported everyone attending the conference, representing an impressive 50 colleges and universities, from the Loews Hotel to the United States Naval Academy’s campus.
Following our arrival, we were led into Mahan Hall and were welcomed to the conference by Michael H. Miller, Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. He stimulated the audience’s mind by describing three main characteristics of leadership: trust, honor and integrity. He said that great leaders are not born, but instead “built block by block,” and blocks are formed by taking on responsibility and making informed decisions. An impressive line of speakers followed his introduction, and we were all excited for the day to officially begin.
The Honorable Louis J. Freeh, former director of the FBI from 1993-2001, was the opening keynote speaker of the morning. His main emphasis related to leadership concerning trust and relationships. He expressed his opinion of trust in a relationship, and stressed the most importance aspect of a trustworthy relationship stems from a person’s character. He extended his ideas further, saying that trustworthiness is built of three main aspects: people making decisions, selflessness and building blocks.
He described the building blocks of trustworthiness with six concepts: character, credibility, empathy, listening, taking blame and communication. After Mr. Freeh’s speech, he invited three former Navy Seals up to the stage to join him in answering a few crowd questions. Their main ideas centered around the ability to trust someone they had just met, and to impart trust in a person but to “keep a close eye on all of their actions.” One Seal used the phrase “trust but verify.”
After a short refreshment break, the speakers resumed with a discussion panel, comprised of a mediator and three panel members: Mr. Benjamin Sliney, Major Russell Lewis and Mr. Jonathan D. Messinger. The panel’s theme was “Crisis Leadership: At the Helm in Heavy Seas.” Mr. Sliney began by saying his first day on the job as the National Operations Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration at the Air Traffic Control System Command Center was on September 11, 2011. He told the story of the entire day along with his thought process in times of tremendous stress. He allowed the crowd to imagine the situations that needed to be made in order to keep the country safe, while not letting his emotions overtake his ability to think clearly.
The next panel speaker, Major Russell Lewis, was commissioned into the British Army’s Parachute Regiment in 1994 and led multiple “brutal” operations around the world. He specifically described one experience when he encountered a suicide bomb attack, which killed three of his men. His story was both tragic and impressive, but most of all exemplified his courageous leadership. He gave the audience some main points to focus on when in a leadership role: “make decisions, keep calm, work the problem (setting aside your personal emotions).”
The third panel speaker, Mr. Jonathan D. Messinger, is the Exxon executive who led the Valdez Oil spill clean up, the best selling author of 11 Days in May: The Conversation That Will Change Your Life, and an inventor (including his creation of “The Apprentice” television show). He told his personal story and decision-making process of the oil spill clean up and stressed the importance of having a “moral rudder.” He told the audience that in order to be a great leader one must have a personal philosophy: “know where you stand, know who you are and know what you believe in.”
The mediator of the panel concluded the discussion stating that a crisis leader is able to make fast actions and decisions in high stress environments.
The morning concluded after the discussion panel, and the conference ventured to the main dining facility on campus, King Hall. We enjoyed a family-style meal, typical of all midshipmen meals at the Naval Academy, but found a new appreciation for the diversity of choices at the Caf and Bison. We got to take a special visit to the Midshipmen Store and I was thoroughly impressed by all of their “Go Navy” paraphernalia. After the spirited school store visit, we went to the Bo Coppedge Room for small-group discussions about the morning. The discussions are called “breakout sessions” and provide an informal setting for everyone to discuss their thoughts and ideas, while getting to hear input from others. This communication setting is something I look forward to using back at Bucknell for team activities.
During the afternoon break, we were kindly given a tour of the Naval Academy’s athletic facilities, including their new boathouse, which was particularly exiting for me! Their facilities for the varsity, club and non-athletes were all impressive and motivating to tour through. Navy has multiple physical fitness tests each year that all individuals must pass to be eligible for a position in the service when they graduate.
After our walk around campus, we sat down for a delicious three-course meal at the Naval Academy Club for dinner. Mealtime discussions centered on the day’s leadership ideas and ways to incorporate our new knowledge back on Bucknell’s campus.
The evening concluded with an inspiring talk from Coach Dale Brown, retired Hall of Fame basketball coach from Louisiana State University. He is known as one of the best coaches ever to live, and his words were so charismatic that every single person in the audience was enthralled. He spoke about the four major hurdles in life and that the ability to overcome each one ultimately allows you the opportunity to be a successful leader. He stated the four hurdles are: “being told you can’t do something, failure, experiencing some sort of handicap, and lastly knowing yourself.”
His speech ended with a standing ovation from the audience, and was a special way to conclude our first full day at the U.S. Naval Academy Leadership Conference.
-- Jennifer Fish '14