Retention through Relationships for Colleges and Universities
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Retention through Relationships for Colleges and Universities

January 5, 2020

Chad Littlefield here Co-founder of We
and Me, Inc and I’m here at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to speak to a
bunch of future rocket scientists, computer engineers, etc as a part of our
Retention Through Relationships Program our Retention through Relationships
program is this a combination of coming in and working in person with student
leaders and staff to equip the skills of creating connections skipping the small
talk building relationships of trust to create ultimately conversations that
really matter that inspire people to stay and pursue whatever it is that they’re
after and not leave because of feeling isolated at any point. In a room full of this many
really brilliant people when we meet somebody for the very first time we tend
to ask one of four or five questions which is crazy and so part of the
experiment that I would love to dive into today is like what if we didn’t?
what if you didn’t find out where somebody was from when you had a
conversation with them? What if you didn’t start with that small talk? how many of you really really loved obligatory small talk? like you’re just like chatting about the weather kind of because you need to fill space my curiosity a couple people so take that as I saw that number of hands I’m
curious for you how many of you really enjoy conversations that keep you up
late at night with a roommate or somebody where you’re like really get to
dive into something yeah okay so and I think that right now is a piece of
context setting I think right now we’re living in this this world in this
culture where that’s filled with sips of connection it’s really easy to get cheap
sips of connection but it’s a little bit more effort to get a gulp those big
conversations a little bit fewer and farther between. In the last week how many of you have had more than three conversations that
you would categorize as small talk in any context
look around that means in the last week alone almost all of us were standing
across from another human being having some obligatory small chat that was like
this is really like working and the other person was feeling this is really
working and then we parted ways and did it two more times and so I think that if
we can crack that because what I’m not suggesting is that you just like go in
real intense and like what is life teaching you right now all right that’s
not a suggestion that I have for you and so part of our experiment today is how
do you find that happy medium blend between creating conversations that
matter skipping the small talk but not asking for people’s social security
number on the center of your tables you’ve got a card that looks like this it’s
probably a lot smaller and in a minute what we’re gonna do is a little
experiment so I’m gonna stop talking and we’re gonna do a this question swapping
experiment that’s gonna see what happens when we meet each other and we don’t ask
what do you do where are you from “The cards allowed us to have a different
context to be able to talk to different people with it besides having the
meaningless conversation it allowed us to really get deep into something
quickly without having to really come up with the question ourselves.” “As human beings we tend to focus on ourselves when we talk rather than focusing on the
other person so I feel like that’s one of the main things I learned is to take
a step back during conversation and think about what we’re talking about and
what’s happening in the moment rather than think about the future and what am
I gonna respond with” In general the culture especially is created for
speaking and our listening and if you break down conversations into little
LEGO pieces they’re made up of questions and answers and so when you change the
questions you change the conversations and you change the conversations you
start to shift culture “If someone broke down that wall that was more likely for you to share something more important I guess” “At the end of it all we ended up
having like a really meaningful conversation and instead of just going
oh thanks for that conversation I felt like a stronger connection and we
actually left that conversation both gaining something a little piece of
knowledge of each other that helps better relate and just appreciate each
other as a person more” When you look at career competencies of students that
are going out into the world for jobs the top 10 things that organizations are
requesting more than half of them have nothing to do with the technical
experience or ability you have to do with things like leadership and
communication and all the soft skills that are really hard to learn that
nobody ever is top and one of the things that comes back is that the program and
this Retention Through Relationships that we’ve put together a combination of
training and interactive keynote and big group and small group hits on all of
those competencies and dynamics and so it’s not just a moment in this room but
it actually helps students advance their own careers aims and that is really what
it’s about it’s about making a difference for the in the lives of these
students and helping them make a difference in the lives of the people
that they serve

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