The Boston University chapter of the Sigma Kappa sorority teamed up with T.J. Sullivan, a college leadership speaker, Tuesday night to talk about leadership in student organizations. More than 75 students gathered in the Law Auditorium to listen to Sullivan speak about how to be an effective student leader.
Sullivan, the chief strategist with ForCollegeForLife, a college speaker’s agency. He is also the host of the e20 Podcast, a podcast that inspires people in their 20s to make the most of their lives, Sigma Kappa President Christine Capozzi said as she introduced Sullivan.
Capozzi, a senior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, wrote in a message prior to the lecture that Sullivan’s event had been scheduled since August to help inspire leaders whose members are lacking in motivation.
“I’m hoping that people who come to the event will realize their potential as leaders to engage … and to gain skills and ideas that will make them more effective leaders,” Capozzi wrote. “Even for those who aren’t leaders in their organizations, they will still be able to understand their roles in organizations to still bring about change and keep improving their organization as a whole.”
During the lecture, Sullivan said student organizations should always make their events and meetings more attractive to members.
“We all need to be thinking a little more innovatively about how to make our organizations more fun, more interesting, more relevant for our members so that we’re not seeing a bunch of apathetic people shuffling along and acting like they’re prisoners every time we get together,” Sullivan said during the talk.
Sullivan said student leaders need to market to their members rather than make things mandatory.
“Mandatory equals lazy,” Sullivan said. “[It’s like saying] we don’t even try to make events good, we just make them mandatory. That is never going to help you. It is the worst leadership lesson anyone could give you.”
In order to figure out how leaders should act now, Sullivan challenged them to think about how they want their organization to look in 20 years.
“When you look [back] at it, are you going to be proud of what you see or are they going to be doing the same things, same problems, [have] same morale about things you have today?” Sullivan asked. “If you want to change that and if you want to make sure the group in 20 years is really cool, relevant and still drawing in people, start the work today.”
Students who listened to the speaker said Sullivan was captivating, and he knew how to relate to college students.
Elise Maturo, a junior in the School of Education, said she went to the event because she heard that Sullivan was a great speaker.
“He was really funny but, at the same time, made it really serious,” Maturo said. “By doing that, our attention was with him the entire time. It wasn’t boring by him telling us how to fix our organizations and be a better leader.”
Danielle Boissoneau, a junior in SED, said Sullivan’s argument was abstract compared to usual leadership seminars.
“A lot of the points he made we very different from what these leadership things are usually about, which was really cool and different to see,” Boissoneau said.
Tori Coughlin, also a junior in SED, said she was able to understand Sullivan’s argument, and she could relate to what he was saying because of his personality.
“It was definitely eye opening, and he was very engaging and got our attention.” Coughlin. “It was pretty dry, which is more my sense of humor, but that definitely made it fun.”