The Skills, Habits, and Strategies of Successful People

For our February monthly meeting, FBLA was pleased to welcome Dr. Todd Jochem back to speak with the club again.

Dr. Jochem is a graduate of Indiana State University where he earned his undergraduate degree. He also earned his Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He formerly coached Men’s Varsity Football at Pine-Richland High School, and his professional work has included the development of autonomous vehicles, to name a few of his few projects in the field of robotics. A successful entrepreneur himself, Dr. Jochem himself started and sold two companies of his own within the robotics field as a successful business executive.

To begin his speech to the club, Dr. Jochem titled his address “The skills, habits, and strategies of successful people” to introduce his topics for discussion. He posed the following question to our members: “How do you become a successful person in your life?”

Our speaker explained that the essential skill for professional success, which may be strengthened and improved, is communication. Dr. Jochem explained that communication is twofold— split between being both a good listener and a good speaker. He also added that speaking is also of the utmost importance for professional success.

Continuing with his explanation of the skills of successful people, Dr. Jochem elaborated upon another skill: the ability to write, and to write effectively. He emphasized that Generation Z, who have grown up with technology around the existence of social media and character limits makes professional writing a challenge. Our speaker highlighted that, although these setbacks exist, the ability to write is critical in a professional environment. He related this experience to senior class members of the club, understanding that many are in the process of writing college applications. Adding a critical relevance to his message, he further elaborated that writing skills are even more relevant in college coursework and in the workforce. Dr. Jochem concluded this point by adding the need to communicate information to supervisors, or communicate success in job applications is a relevant application to future employment.

As his final skill, our speaker discussed the impact that setbacks and failures can have on one’s goals. He said that for everyone, you must become accustomed to others telling you “No”. He explained this is especially true in job interviews. Persistence, Dr. Jochem explained, that in the wake of these setbacks, it is necessary to have a clear set of goals in mind and stick to them whenever you encounter an obstacle. To branch off this idea, Dr. Jochem included conflict in life as part of this example. He emphasized that hand-in-hand with setbacks, conflict is inevitable and it is necessary to know how to find win-win situations. Our speaker explained that the best way to resolve a conflict is to understand the other person’s side and find a resolution you both can agree upon and that rarely will you ever get everything you want and ask for. Be persistent, with another party’s needs in mind, and advocate for the needs of your own.

Dr. Jochem transitioned to the next part of his presentation: the habits of successful people. He summarized this idea as being “The things one can do every day and will become part of how you operate.”

The first of these habits is dedication, which goes hand-in-hand with persistence. An example of one of these habits is to ask “Why?” in times of failure. Dr. Jochem explained this simple action shows the conscious effort to improve oneself. He continued to explain the simplest of his topics: hard work. Relating this to his own experiences, our speaker explained how coaching in athletics sets the training ground for hard work across other aspects of life. He directed his focus to our members in the audience, explaining that some might want to be a millionaire or go to the moon, which he grouped together as “uncommon goals.” Dr. Jochem then posed the question: “Can you have uncommon goals without an uncommon work ethic?” He explained the best way to be successful in these goals is to do extra work that other or less motivated people will not do. Our speaker explained that for uncommon goals you must work uncommonly hard.

One of Dr. Jochem’s final habits which he mentioned was that in order to achieve certain goals, one must be accustomed to making sacrifices. He explained when he decided to enter the robotics field, Dr. Jochem had to decide to move to Pittsburgh and enroll at Carnegie Mellon University. At the time, he explained, Pittsburgh was not the most lucrative city and had never heard of CMU before as a prominent institution. Our speaker also discussed the decision to seek higher education, or follow many of his friends and make a decent starting salary right out of high school. Dr. Jochem said there will always be a time when a sacrifice has to be made to reach your intended position in life.

Our speaker once again transitioned into his discussion of the strategies exhibited by many successful individuals. He asked the following question: “How do I get from sitting in this seat to where I want to be in 10 years from now?” Dr. Jochem explained that it is necessary to set goals. He outlined that one of the most successful ways to be goal-oriented and stick with a plan is to think in the short term. This includes focusing on plans for “tomorrow” rather than focusing far in the future, or at the endpoint.

He continued with another skill and discussed the importance of thinking strategically. Of chief importance, Dr. Jochem commented upon the fact many critical decisions in both life and work must be made on incomplete information. Dr. Jochem reiterated the importance of practicing this skill since it will be commonplace later in life. He related this example to many of FBLA’s seniors, explaining a choice between hypothetical colleges closer to home and far away. Dr. Jochem explained that one should use their resources, but overall should stick to their gut feeling.

To conclude his discussion of successful strategies, Dr. Jochem offered two additional pieces of advice. He made it clear to our members that, “You are who your friends are,” and young professionals should surround themselves with the “right” people. He expanded this understanding to include partners in marriage, and that these people reflect upon your character as much as yourself. Our speaker’s other piece of advice included to “understand the rules of the game”. From his professional experience, Dr. Jochem explained many of his clients were retired members of the military. In these circumstances, he explained the importance of presenting yourself correctly and had to adjust for his audience.

At the end of his presentation, Dr. Jochem summarized three important aspects of his presentation that were key takeaways for our members. Primarily, he emphasized that a successful entrepreneur, as well as a person in life, must be willing to take risks. Dr. Jochem explained that in many life circumstances, never trying something also means never knowing the outcome. He highlighted the importance of not being afraid of failure and added that often in life, failure is more common than success. Dr. Jochem continued and advised our members not to be defined by others. Our speaker explained our successes and failures are entirely our own, and only you are able to define yourself. Dr. Jochem extended this point to be twofold, particularly with social media, and explained that we shouldn’t be defined by other people, either. He explained believing in yourself and your values is enough to produce success. Our speaker closed his address by explaining that failure in life and in your goals will help to grow confidence. He closed on the note that, with confidence, you will build the life you want with your ideal job, family, and character, to name a few.

PR-FBLA sincerely thanks Dr. Jochem for taking his time to share his expertise with us.