Cho So, '16, and Chuchu Liang, '16, take notes during a training workshop for Student Entrepreneurs in STEPS 101 on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. The talk is part of a six part series and focused on developing personal skills, behavior and mindsets for successful organizations.

Founders Fitness explores influence and the art of difficult conversation


Lehigh University adjunct professor and distinguished entrepreneur Stephanie Olexa taught student entrepreneurs about the influence and the art of the difficult conversation in a Founders Fitness Workshop held in STEPS on Nov. 13.

The workshop’s mission was to help students build personal and leadership skills. Olexa said she expected students to gain the courage to have the difficult conversations they may have been putting off.

The students participated in several activities, during which they worked in groups. Olexa showed the students videos that displayed conflict and asked students how they would resolve the conflict. She then allowed the students to assist each other in reenacting these problematic scenarios with their proposed solutions.

“(This workshop) was applicable to my professional future,” Cho So, ’16, said.

Besides having students collaborate with each other, Olexa also educated the audience about transactional analysis, the ego state model and how these realte to different types of interactions. She taught the students how to stay in control should they be faced with a difficult conversation.

“She taught very interesting theories,” Chuchu Liang, ’16, said.

This workshop was the third installation in a six-part series. The first two parts, which were about presence and decision-making, were also led by Olexa.

“The first two workshops were well attended and the students who participated were very engaged,” said Amy White, a communications specialist for Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity, and Innovation. “We’ve received positive feedback from students saying how much they appreciated this type of offering, because the content is a different, and complementary, take on what they are learning in many of their entrepreneurship and other courses. We’ve also had some upperclassman say they wish they had had access to this type of content and training earlier in their educational careers.”

The series’ underlying purpose is to present students with more than just entrepreneurial knowledge. It strives to help students with personal development.

“The workshop series provides students with co-curricular training, focusing on the personal skills, behaviors, and mindsets needed by those who want to build successful sustainable organizations, said Lisa Getzler-Linn, co-executive director of Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.

Student entrepreneurs can look forward to three more workshops that will be held in the spring, as well as iDeX idea exchange events. One of these events will be the annual Women’s Empowerment Week panel. The institute is also in the process of organizing community events that may include an entrepreneurial resource bus tour and maker faire. Additionally, 56 Lehigh students will be taken to California’s Silicon Valley for a week-long immersion in the entrepreneurial ecosystems of that region during the incoming winter session.

Students interested in pursuing entrepreneurship are encouraged to attend these events. Until then, Olexa urges student entrepreneurs to be confident and follow her number one piece of advice: Be brave.

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