Posted on February 12th, 2013 in Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen

In talking with Whitewater Student Government this weekend we asked this question of one another:
Which quote connects to you most?

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”      ~ Jackie Robinson

“Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.”   ~ R. G. Risch

“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. “         ~ Dwight D Eisenhower

“If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”             ~ Bryant H. McGill

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners”   ~ Laurence Sterne
“If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Insulted and Humiliated

What do you think??  Why does disrespectful behavior get in the way of leadership doing their good work?

Lots of thinking for a Tuesday!

8 Influential Women Who Served Others in 2012

Posted on February 1st, 2013 in Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen

I came across this list today and thought it reminded me of the many contributors to 2012 with their leadership.  Than k you for Girls, inc for the post!

8 Influential Women of 2012

Sarah Goetz, Volunteer Engagement Specialist, GIRLS  Inc,


In order to inspire women and girls to have high career aspirations it is important to make sure they are exposed to positive female role models that are making a difference. Therefore, we should be intentional about recognizing the accomplishments of important and influential women in our society. Below is a list (in no particular order) of who I think are some of the most influential women of 2012.

Marissa Mayer

In 2012, Mayer was named the President and CEO of Yahoo! She is the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company and one of only a small group of female CEO’s belonging to that elite list.  Mayer has received a lot of scrutiny in her new role.  A large portion of this scrutiny has centered around the announcement of her pregnancy, her decisions regarding her maternity leave and parenting, and her ability to effectively run a company as a new mother.

Malala Yousafzai

A teenage school student in Pakistan, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in October by the Taliban for advocating for girl’s education. Fortunately, she is recovering. She has inspired many others to join her cause and demand educational and social freedom.

Michelle Obama

The First Lady of the United States is an advocate for ending childhood obesity and even launched the Let’s Move initiative in 2010 in an attempt to resolve this growing problem in our society. Michelle’s book American Grown: The story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America was published in May 2012 with all proceeds going to the National Park Foundation. Also, her influence most likely swayed more than a few voters to her husband’s cause.

Sheryl Sandberg

At this point it is obvious social media has been fully integrated into our lives and is here to stay. So, Sheryl Sandberg is an obvious choice as one of 2012’s most influential women. Sandberg is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer and has played a leading role in the company’s growth and influence in our society over the last few years.

2012 Female Olympians

Dubbed the year of U.S. women, there were too many superstar female athletes in the 2012 Olympic Games to choose just one! Not only did they unite our country as we cheered on Team USA, but they were an inspiration to many aspiring athletes.

Angela Merkel

Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and is the first woman to ever earn that position. Over the years she has established herself as a leader in the European Union and has received a lot of recognition this past year as she attempted to help resolve the European debt crisis.

Ann Curry

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary caused a significant amount of suffering nationwide. So, Curry took it upon herself to help ease that suffering by encouraging everyone to perform 26 Acts of Kindness. This movement has caught on like wildfire and is leaving an incredible impact on individuals and our society!

Maryam Durani

Durani is an advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan. She owns and operates a radio station that addresses women’s issues in her country despite threats to her own life. This year the U.S. State Department recognized Durani’s work with an International Women of Courage award.

Who do you consider to be some of the most influential women of 2012?

Leadership Interviews

Posted on December 3rd, 2012 in Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen

Welcome Everyone to December!

I’ve long been a big fan of the Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio.  It’s a program hosted by James Lipton.  They began by televising their craft seminar for students of the Actors Studio Drama School, originally a joint venture of the Actors Studio and New School University in 1994, with Paul Newman, a former Actors Studio president as its first guest, and soon became Bravo’s flagship program.  Most of the show is a one-on-one interview conducted by Lipton, with vidoe clips of the actor/director’s work.  It concludes  by the host submitting a questionnaire to the guest. The questionnaire concept was originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot on his show Apostrophes, after the Proust Questionnaire.  The questions are:

The ten questions Lipton asks are:

What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
What is your favorite curse word?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

We thought this same format might be an interesting way to learn about the many leaders we have on campus that make up what UW-Whitewater is, and  hopes to become.

Our first guest is Dr Mark McPhail.  Dr McPhail is the current Dean of the College of Arts and Comunication and has served UW-Whitewater since 2010. We thought it would be best to start with a leader that is part of the leadership team for UW-Whitewater’s area closest linked to “Inside the Actor’s Studio”.

Brief Bo: He received his Ph.D. in rhetorical and cultural studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where his dissertation was titled “The Language of Racism: A Contemporary Rhetorical Analysis.”

McPhail earned his master’s degree in performance studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Emerson College, Boston.

He has held previous administrative positions at Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, Ohio; the University of Utah, Salt Lake City; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Emerson College.

A poet and photographer, McPhail also enjoys scuba diving, bicycling and martial arts.

His Answers

If you could have a dinner with someone who shows or has shown great leadership who would it be and why?

Nelson Mandela, because of his enormous capacity for forgiveness and compassion toward those who treated him unjustly and unfairly.

What is your key to success?    A willingness to try again after failing.

What is your definition of leadership?
Leaders are those that have capacity to understand the difference between problems and possibilities, and to imagine and enact solutions with discipline, compassion, and integrity.

What advice would you give to students about their college experiences and leadership?
Never believe that any job is below you, or that you are too good for any type of work.  Never hesitate to take decisive action, and take responsibility for the decisions that you make. Live your values. Take care of others.

What are your top 2 goals for the 2013?   I am looking forward to:

1).  Supporting faculty, staff, and students success in the college and university by building a stronger endowment.
2).  Learning to play a musical instrument.

What is the last great book you read?
100 Voices:  Americans Talk About Change, by Professor Mary Clare of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

What is something you are curious about?
Eastern culture and philosophy.  I have had a strong interest in Japanese and Chinese art and spirituality for most of my life, but have only traveled to Asia once.

What is something in life you haven’t done/been part of that you wish you had?
I wish that I had studied a musical instrument when I was younger.  Both my parents were musicians, but none of their children had the opportunity to pursue music.  I also wish that I had had the honor to serve in the military.

Our thanks to Dr McPhail!

Until next time – keep looking for ways to make positive change around you!

Jan Bilgen

Defining Integrity

Posted on September 24th, 2012 in Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen

Greetings on this bright fall morning!  As a new week lies in front of us, we have a request.  Post here examples of UW-Whitewater family members demonstrating behavior that you think indicates they value integrity in their daily lives.



Consider these thoughts & excerpts on integrity from Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“Integrity is one of the most important and oft-cited of virtue terms. It is also perhaps the most puzzling. For example, while it is sometimes used virtually synonymously with ‘moral,’ we also at times distinguish acting morally from acting with integrity. Persons of integrity may in fact act immorally—though they would usually not know they are acting immorally.

When used as a virtue term, ‘integrity’ refers to a quality of a person’s character; however, there are other uses of the term. One may speak of the integrity of a wilderness region or an ecosystem, a computerized database, a defense system, a work of art, and so on. When it is applied to objects, integrity refers to the wholeness, intactness or purity of a thing—meanings that are sometimes carried over when it is applied to people. A wilderness region has integrity when it has not been corrupted by development or by the side-effects of development, when it remains intact as wilderness. A database maintains its integrity as long as it remains uncorrupted by error; a defense system as long as it is not breached. A musical work might be said to have integrity when its musical structure has a certain completeness that is not intruded upon by uncoordinated, unrelated musical ideas; that is, when it possesses a kind of musical wholeness, intactness and purity.

Integrity is also attributed to various parts or aspects of a person’s life. We speak of attributes such as professional, intellectual and artistic integrity. However, the most philosophically important sense of the term ‘integrity’ relates to general character. Philosophers have been particularly concerned to understand what it is for a person to exhibit integrity throughout life. Acting with integrity on some particularly important occasion will, philosophically speaking, always be explained in terms of broader features of a person’s character and life. What is it to be a person of integrity? Ordinary discourse about integrity involves two fundamental intuitions: first, that integrity is primarily a formal relation one has to oneself, or between parts or aspects of one’s self; and second, that integrity is connected in an important way to acting morally, in other words, there are some substantive or normative constraints on what it is to act with integrity.

Any attempt to strive for integrity has to take account of the effect of social and political context. The kind of society which is likely to be more conducive to integrity is one which enables people to develop and make use of their capacity for critical reflection, one which does not force people to take up particular roles because of their sex or race or any other reason, and one which does not encourage individuals to betray each other, either to escape prison or to advance their career. Societies and political structures can be both inimical and favorable to the development of integrity, sometimes both at once.”

Cox, Damian, La Caze, Marguerite and Levine, Michael, “Integrity”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

Happy Friday!

Posted on June 29th, 2012 in Uncategorized by John Jensen

Happy Friday Leaders,

I want to leave you all with a quote before the weekend begins.  Take some time to think about it, but I think it speaks a lot about the need for us as leaders to be proactive.


“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Enjoy your weekend!

John Jensen

Leadership=Service, My interview with Dave Kelly

Posted on June 6th, 2012 in Perspectives on Leadership,Uncategorized by John Jensen

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Dave “Gonzo” Kelly.  Dave is a motivational speaker who is known around the country as an expert on leadership development.  Dave is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and has experience with Circle K, Key Club, and Student Government.  He was kind enough to allow me to get his thoughts about what it takes to be a leader.  Quite simply, in Dave’s thoughts, leadership boils down to one word; service.

“If you serve other people you are more likely to get what you were looking for.  You may even get things you never even thought you would.”  Dave explained that too often, individuals try to take on leadership roles for personal gain, but in fact, if you take leadership roles for other people you will often find that you gained more than you would have from doing things only to further yourself.  Dave explains that service is spelled “service” and not “serve-us”.  Dave’s definition of leadership is, “It’s an attitude of serving other people.”

Dave conducts leadership development programs all across the country, having been in 46 American states.  One of these programs is titled “Confidence in Leadership.”  “The key is confidence.”  Dave explains that confidence comes from taking on responsibility and accomplishing victories, even small ones.  When I asked Dave what advice he would give to a student who believed they had no leadership skills, he responded “Get engaged with community service or service to other people.”  Your service does not necessarily need to be community service, but you need to be doing something that helps out other people.  The attitude of serving others “allows you the opportunity to grow”, Kelly said, “You engage with other people, you learn more about yourself, you develop social skills, communication skills.  Doing something successfully is a victory.”  “People will see your abilities and your talents and start looking to you as a leader.”

So how do you do this?  You need to get involved in some way.  After you have found an organization or group to be involved with you must “find the service component.”  When you’re helping other people you will grow and your leadership skills will grow too.

Dave’s best piece of advice for us is to “Take chances and take on risks.”  Accepting responsibilities and accepting roles are the best ways to grow your leadership skills and help yourself show others that you are indeed a leader.  Dave often speaks of optimists, pessimists, and must-a-misseds.  A “must-a-missed” is an individual who never sees an opportunity in front of them.  Even when an opportunity arises that doesn’t seem like it is going in the direction you think you should go in might just be the opportunity you need.  One opportunity can always lead to another.

I would like to thank Dave Kelly for allowing me to interview him for this blog.  Dave may be found at, I encourage all of you to go check out his website.

Until next time,

John Jensen

“I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another” -Thomas Jefferson

The Power of Smiling

Posted on June 5th, 2012 in Tips and Secrets,Uncategorized by John Jensen


I have found from personal experience (and from a considerable amount of research) that one of the most important aspects of becoming a leader is the ability to smile.  Smiling allows you to connect with people and it allows others to connect with you.  A smile can be the difference between securing a job or being passed by for a different candidate.  It can also make all the difference in first impressions.  Even though we always say “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We can’t help but do so subconsciously.

Most of us know that smiling is important when it comes to impressing people, and anyone who has any experience performing in choir, dance, or any sort of performance has had it drilled into their heads since they first began.  One mistake we commonly make is believing that we are appropriately faking a smile.  A true, genuine smile is called a “Duchenne smile”, named after anatomist Guillaume Duchenne who studied emotional expressions. (Interesting note: Duchenne did most of his tests on severed human heads because he used electrical currents to stimulate muscles.)  Psychologists have found that while there are many types of smiles, the Duchenne smile is the one that genuinely reflects the emotion of happiness or enjoyment.  So what’s the secret?

The secret to producing a Duchenne smile is primarily to be sincere in your emotion to smile.  On those occasions, like an interview or speech you might need a bit more help.  The key is to fully engage your face in the smile.  If I told you to smile right now, you would most likely just create the smile with your mouth.  A Duchenne smile includes raising your cheek muscles to create “crows feet” underneath your eyes.  In a genuine smile your eyes will squint, your cheeks will be pushed up, and all parts of your face will be engaged.

Here are 2 examples of a Duchenne smile (these gentlemen understand the impact of a genuine smile):

If you can master the Duchenne smile you will almost always make a good first impression, or a memorable one when combined with other visual impacts. The worst thing that could happen is you stimulate positive chemicals in your brain and you feel happier.

Keep smiling,





Posted on June 1st, 2012 in Uncategorized by John Jensen


Welcome to the UW-Whitewater Leadership Blog.  This blog is dedicated to providing different perspectives on leadership and helping provide tools to help grow leadership skills that will help you for the rest of your life.

My name is John Jensen and I will be one of the main editors and contributors to this blog.  I am the incoming President of Whitewater Student Government, as well as the President of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity here at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  It is my hope that through this blog I will be able to share my knowledge on leadership as well as engage in a learning experience with all the readers of the blog.

I wanted to start out my postings with telling a story that I believe applies to this blog (specifically the photograph at the top of the page)

The first time I came across this story was while reading the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.  The following is an excerpt from the book (page 179):


“I heard a nice little story the other day,” Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait.


“Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air — until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. ”


“‘My God, this is terrible,’ the wave says ‘Look what’s going to happen to me!'”


“Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, ‘Why do you look so sad?’ ”


“The first wave says, ‘You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?’ ”


“The second wave says, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.’”


I find this story to be more and more relevant the more I think about it.  As leaders we must always remember that for a short time we separate ourselves from the rest of our peers as leaders, but at the end of the day we are all a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

I look forward to the upcoming months and engaging in a learning experience with all of you to help improve UW-Whitewater and the world we live in.

Until next time,


“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” -Marie Curie

John Jensen’s View of Leadership

Posted on February 27th, 2012 in Perspectives on Leadership,Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen

This week we asked John Jensen for his view of leadership.  John is a sophomore majoring in Political Science with minor in History. He is currently the Vice-President of Whitewater Student Government and currently seeking the Presidency of Whitewater Student Government.

John said…

My theory on leadership derives from the following quote by President Harry S. Truman, “To be able to lead others, a man must be willing to go forward alone.”  The reason why I believe that this quote is so important to the concept of leadership is because I also believe that every leader must be a follower.  However, not every follower is a leader.  The leader is the person who was following at some point in time, but then decided that a new direction was necessary and began going towards a different goal.  That individual became a leader when other followers realized that they wanted to go in this new direction as well.  The position of being a leader does not require that you have any “followers”, what it does require, however, is a healthy relationship with anyone who does follow.  A leader must always be able to justify why they are leading themselves and perhaps others towards a new direction.  As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”  The key characteristics of a leader are; Courage, Confidence, and Communication.  Courage, in my opinion, is not defined as having no fear, but rather how well you can stare your fear in the face and overcome it.  Confidence in yourself is completely necessary for anyone else to have confidence in you and your ideas.  And effective communication with your followers, yourself, and other leaders will help any leader further their goals and become a better leader.  


Tempestt Ballenger’s view of leadership

Posted on February 21st, 2012 in Perspectives on Leadership,Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen


Tempestt Ballenger is majoring in Operations Management with expected date of graduation being Spring 2013.

As an undergraduate Tempestt is the Impact President, 3rd Floor Lee Resident Assistant, and NRHH member Internships and Purchasing Intern for Aptar-Mukwonago.

Tempestt said, ” One cannot just become a great leader overnight, leadership is something that is learned and acquired over time. It comes about through experience with trial and error, compromise, influence, and perseverance.”

 Trial and Error: We must know failure so that in the moments we do succeed we can be grateful that our hard work and efforts paid off. Like FDR said “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Compromise: A true leader is aware of the individuals who follow them and others. So in times of discord they act as a non partial mediator and makes compromise for the greater good of everyone.

Influence: The tools for greatness and innovation surround us everywhere we go. I think it is a leader’s job to shine light on these tools so that others may seem them and are inspired to achieve greatness for themselves and others.

Perseverance: Most important of all these things. It is easy to lose faith and give up when times get hard. But it is in these tough moments that we either fold under the pressure or push our limits to greater heights. So even when life gives you 1000 reasons to quit, leaders must find at least 1 reason to continue on and remain hopeful for change.

Now this may not be your definition of leadership and in truth if you ask me next week I may say something different. But leadership itself is about transformation. It is about the transformation of society, of individuals, and most of all ourselves. Leadership comes in many forms and each form is specifically tailored for each individual need or task. That is the beauty of true leadership, it constantly changes and with it so does our world for the better.




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