Posted March 18, 2012 by Katie Falbo 

Investing in the Future Pays Off Today

The 2012 annual conference conference started off on a strong foot with Shane Lopez's keynote address, which encouraged delegates to work to make the future better for ourselves and the people around us. According to Lopez, we, as union professionals, play a crucial role in making this happen.

How do we make the future better, you ask? By capitalizing on our students' and staff members' strengths. When you focus on what someone does LopezKeynotebest, that person is much more likely to have hope for the future. And hope matters. A lot.

A hopeful person is 12 percent more likely to make gains in academic performance, 14 percent more likely to reach more workplace outcomes, and 10 percent more likely to be happier overall, according to Lopez. How do you instill hope? By having enthusiasm for the future, and instilling this enthusiasm in those around you.

Lesson of the day? 

Don't just know your strengths; put them into practice every day to make the future better for everyone around you.

React to your strengths by:

  • Identifying one of your top five strengths each week for five weeks.
  • Using that strength in a novel way at least five times per week. 
  • Recording your actions/interactions in a journal, on a blog, or via social media to start the conversation around your strengths and how they may affect others in your workplace, social circles, and/or family.
Katie Falbo

Katie Falbo is the Conference Services Manager at University of California–Santa Barbara.

Katie Falbo is the Conference Services Manager at the University Center at University of California–Santa Barbara, where she has worked for the past three years. In her free time, she enjoys going to her local farmers market and cooking up the delicious foods she finds there.


I really enjoyed this session. It made me realize how important it is to communicate to students what their strengths are. Some students need assistance realizing their strengths. The other aspect of this presentation that I really appreciated was the emphasis placed on realizing and accepting the strengths of others. This really helps build relationships and makes others feel valued on campus. I find that too many times it's easy to have one "go to" person instead of going to find people that may be the best for the task. This requires individuals to step out of their comfort zone, leave their "go to" person and trust the strengths of others.
Comment posted 03/19/2012 10:08 AM
I appreciated the message of hope, and as I reflected on the keynote, I realized how often I say "I hope....", but never gave much thought to what my hopefullness does for me, and thereby the students I interact with. I am also excited to try the 5-day strenghts challenge--post-conference. I also want to encourage my colleagues to try it as well & look forward to the outcomes!
Comment posted 03/19/2012 11:54 AM
I love the 5-day Challenge and the idea of utilizing our strengths and working to make them stronger. In a session earlier today, we talked about how many people focus on their weaknesses in order to become a more rounded individual... but at what cost? Being really great in 5 areas versus being mediocre in 20 will really set you apart.
Comment posted 03/19/2012 12:59 AM
I thought this was very inspirational. We all know that life gets hard every once in a while and while we may beat ourselves up over it, most of us find ways to overcome that matter. I personally think that hope is every bit responsible for doing this! Hope is everything, along with faith. That is all we need to get through the bad times!
Christian Lawrence
Comment posted 03/19/2012 1:40 PM
It's very easy to focus on the negative in our lives; we live in a society where the media celebrates downfall and the negative and barely pays attention to the good in our world today. I do think that it takes a lot more work to be that person that provides hope for the future, not just for ourselves, but for others. We need to celebrate that hope on our campuses for our colleagues and for our students. I too am looking forward to the 5-day challenge post-conference. Having gone through some coaching at the Strengths Cafe, the ability to look at things through a different framework is very appealing and I look forward to working with that back at home!
Joe Gutowski
Comment posted 03/19/2012 1:53 PM
After reading through this story and the comments, I hate that I missed this keynote. I'm looking forward to learning more about my strengths and how I can use them in my daily work life.
Comment posted 03/19/2012 4:10 PM
I think Shane was a great opening keynote. His message of being positive and focusing on our strengths is one that we all should adopt.
David Pennock
Comment posted 03/19/2012 4:59 PM
Loved Shane Lopez's keynote! What a wonderful message with applications both professionally and personally. As a mom of a 3 and 5 year old, I am looking forward to briningg a more positive approach home to my kids. As a professional, I have some tools to engage our fantastic staff. So excited! Thanks Shane and Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Lisa Kring
Comment posted 03/20/2012 0:08 AM
Really enjoyed Shane's words of wisdom. Looking forward to continuing to develop my 'positivity' theme by emphasizing the potential hope to help realize the future being better than the present.
Laura Schoenike
Comment posted 03/20/2012 8:08 AM
What are all the ways that a campus student union can impact the view of the future of the students of the institution? This is an especially important question for the thousands of students that are users of the facility, not those that are connected through student employment or organization affiliation. Can a campus student union's building project impact enthusiasm/hopefulness about the future? Can spending time in a such an atmosphere foster belief that great things are possible? The content of Shane's presentation goes beyond just the strength's of the staff of student union's, it is applicable about the strength of the union itself.
Michael Schmit
Comment posted 03/20/2012 10:41 AM
This session has inspired me to be more aware of myself and the contributions I make to my institution and the students I work with everyday! I feel reenergized going forward and cannot wait to see what the future holds!
Justin Cirisoli
Comment posted 03/20/2012 12:00 AM
I am so glad that ACUI Annual Conference attendees had a chance to take the Strengths Quest assessment. To know that anyone at the conference can strike up a conversation using their SQ Top 5 is awesome. AND as someone w/Individualization, Developer & Maximizer - I LOVE talking to everyone about their strengths!
Jennifer Keegin
Comment posted 03/21/2012 12:21 AM
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