Students encouraged to take on leadership, fail fast, ask questions, and dream

University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship recently honored the winner of the 2019 Siegfried Award for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Sarah Robb O’Hagan, founder of Extreme You and former CEO of Flywheel Sports, with a private dinner and award ceremony. Prior to the ceremony, O’Hagan, Rob Siegfried, CEO and Founder of The Siegfried Group, LLP, and Dr. Tony Middlebrooks and Nat Measley of Horn Entrepreneurship led a workshop for Horn students and guests.

Step up and be a leader

Middlebrooks, Associate Professor in the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware, kicked off the workshop with a focus on leadership. As most students will begin their careers in a role outside of a leadership position, Middlebrooks encouraged students to focus on providing leadership, even when they are not in an official leadership position.

“When you take leadership as maximizing value, whether that’s maximizing your value or an organization’s value, that makes you stand out among all your peers,” explained Middlebrooks. “If you can influence others toward a common vision, you can find success even outside of leadership positions.”

Fail fast

Award recipient O’Hagan led a workshop session on changing perspectives. O’Hagan’s career has been bolstered by her response to failure and now the New Zealand native loves to change people’s perspectives on something we are all deeply afraid of.

“Our failures are where we grow the most,” O’Hagan shared. “I had so many years of learning the hard way that I see people as overly terrified of failing, but once you’re through it, that failure is usually the catalyst to unleash a new level of self-awareness, resilience, and grit.”

O’Hagan’s failures have led her to tremendous success, leading teams at Nike before holding prestigious roles across the sports and fitness industry. The award winner reminded students it’s mostly about mindset, and that a positive outlook can make all the difference: “Instead of viewing failure as the end to a career or project, view it as a door to new success.”

Asking questions, reflecting, and dreaming

Rob Siegfried also spoke to the students about the importance of asking questions, dreaming big, and reflecting on important next steps. “The idea of Sarah’s Extreme You is to challenge yourself to be the best that you can be, and I think we would all do well to take that into all aspects of our lives.”

Rob said that challenging yourself to improve is how you get the most out of life, but also stressed that balance is important in maintaining happiness. He believes that we can unlock deeper truths and find the energy to dream through constant reflection and by asking ourselves thoughtful questions.

“You can’t just be one-dimensional,” Rob explained. “Balance is important because it helps you maintain many dreams while providing the flexibility to focus on what might be most important in that moment. Ask yourself questions and reflect: how can you be a better friend, a better employee? You have to let yourself be free to dream and accept that they will change over time.”