Chris Howe, BA’15, works as Operating Manager at GrantMe. Chris is an active member of the Young Thunderbird Alumni Council and serves on the advisory alumni council for the Men’s Volleyball program.
Tell us about your role. What are your main responsibilities?
I’m responsible for ensuring that our daily focus on making a difference in the lives of students translates to the right day to day work for everyone to achieve our goals, including me!
I work with numbers and the people within our business to ensure we’re growing as effectively as possible. I’m also responsible for finding great people to join our vision of unlocking human potential through an empowered education. If this sounds like you, I’d love to hear from you.
Did you expect to be in this type of role/organization upon graduation?
Not at all. I came out of my BA with a deep interest in helping people and thinking about human problems on a systems level, though couldn’t have framed it as nicely at the time. I was lucky to get an internship with lululemon who taught me the basics of personal development and goal setting which set me up for creating the challenges I want for myself in my current role.
What excites you about this role/organization?
The ability to directly help students see a path to their education that doesn’t involve debt, and welcome those students who may have never thought post-secondary school would be an option. Working on a tool that is currently empowering students to take control of designing a debt free educational future is truly exciting for me.
We have launched an exciting Leadership Series that will connect and engage alumni around the theme of leadership. With that, what does leadership mean to you?
For me, leadership starts and ends with service to others. In order to properly be of service to others, we need to understand our own needs and take care of them prior to assisting others. I’m in a very privileged position to wake up every day and have the ability to support others and work together to create something that can put good into the world at a scale beyond my individual efforts.
What lesson have you learned from a leader you admire?
They hold people big. An impactful leader believes that people are worthy of trust, are fully capable of accomplishing their goals and are strong enough to fail and grow from the experience. When a leader holds their own capacity bigger than those they lead, they may find themselves feeling fear around giving opportunities to those they support. In other words, they hold others small. When people are held small, they may not feel the confidence to try and be the best version of themselves within and outside of the company. In this way, I feel the greatest gift you can give those you support is your belief in their abilities.
What ways do you demonstrate leadership?
I don’t exactly see leadership of others as an intentionally demonstrated act, though perhaps more the side effect of personal leadership. If I was to think of a way I might demonstrate leadership, it would be when I look for places to be lead by others. The best leaders I know happen to be exceptional followers in situations where they trust others know something they can learn from. When I hold those in my community big, I find myself constantly learning from those around me and developing myself into more of the person I want to be.
Do you have a practice of goal setting?
I set goals at least once a year, though this practice has evolved since my first introduction to a structured practice as an employee at lululemon. It began with ten, five and one year goals divided into personal, health and career categories. From there it evolved to setting annual rules for myself with the goal of aligning my assumed values with my daily actions. Every evolution of my use of goal setting involves some degree of reflection, creating a vision of my future, setting goals that excite me and translating them into quantifiable daily activities.
What methods do you use to keep on track with achieving your goals?
I boiled a few of my core goals down into very small daily goals that in their easiest form would take a total of 15 minutes and wrote them on my mirror. This helped remind me on my low days how little it would take to “win the day”. In borrowing from a joke writing technique from Jerry Seinfeld, I then posted a calendar on my wall and crossed off every day I would win the day.
Being kind to myself has helped me to not fall off the wagon when I have a streak of days without days crossed off. This usually involves taking a moment to acknowledge how far I have come thanks to previous goals I have set, noting the number of things I have on my plate at the time and then reminding myself that I am doing my best.
I’ve found that I’m especially good at reasoning myself out of a goal in the moment when I feel overwhelmed with life. In these moments, I find it helpful in the moment to recommit to a shorter timeline before making the decision to adjust the goal. In this way, you can acknowledge the goal may no longer be relevant but still stay in integrity with yourself until a time when you are better equipped to look at the usefulness of the goal on a fresh day.