Lessons from High Point University
Over the past few decades, I have visited many university campuses around the world. Whether a public institution or an Ivy league school, in the Americas, Europe, or Asia, I have had the opportunity to see many beautiful campuses. I learn from each visit.
It’s rare that I am talking about a visit nearly a year later, but I find myself still thinking about my visit to High Point University (HPU), the institution spearheaded by my friend, the charismatic and visionary leader, Dr. Nido Qubein.
Why am I still taking about it? Perhaps because I left with more than I arrived with: more ideas, more inspiration, more ways to innovate. The ideas stayed with me long after I climbed into my Uber to leave campus.
My experience was a powerful reminder of the power of uniqueness and differentiation.
Here’s what I learned:
– Lesson: Differentiation can start from the unexpected.
I’m a big fan of music of all genres. I proudly serve on the Board for the Columbus Symphony while also embracing the music of my other home in Nashville. From the minute I stepped on campus, I was struck by the music. The classical music piped across the campus creates a unique ambiance, reflecting the university’s refinement, reminding students to aspire. It was relaxing. It was also unexpected.
Create an Inspiring Environment
– Lesson: Aesthetics may matter more than you realize.
HPU has invested more than $500 million dollars in their Innovation Corridor, a unique collection of classroom buildings focused on STEM course work. And while they’ve focused on the academic experience and the equipment needed to foster cutting-edge experiential learning, HPU has also created pristine landscaping and clean, open buildings that serve as a testament to meticulous planning and high aesthetics. A visit to the extraordinary Mariana H. Quebein Arboretum was amazing. Every academic building was pristine. Consistency in maintaining your environment signals your dedication and commitment, setting the tone for what people can expect from your organization.
– Lesson: Nurturing creativity is paramount.
The creativity seen throughout the HPU campus encourages exploration and questioning. Bronze sculptures of historical innovators and leaders are everywhere. I could sit with Amelia Earhart or Ronald Reagan or with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a surprising way for me to boost my creativity and aim higher. In your organization, fostering a creative culture can lead to innovative solutions and can inspire employees to think beyond the ordinary.
The Impact of Leadership
– Lesson: Leadership shapes an organization.
Spending time with Dr. Qubein revealed how his vision and philosophy were mirrored in every aspect of the University. In your organization, aligning your team with your vision can create a cohesive culture and a clear sense of purpose.
The Importance of Differentiation
– Lesson: Differentiation is about creating a unique value proposition.
Dr. Qubein’s leadership has emphasized this at HPU, focusing on every detail, creating a compelling vision, and striving for excellence. The focus on the development of practical life skills is a compellingly unique value proposition. That distinction is also the reason 99% of HPU graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school within 6 months of their graduation – that’s 14 points higher than the national average of colleges across the country. Differentiation and uniqueness is part of everything on the campus. On a private tour with Nido, he explained how the campus was designed for fostering life skills. To differentiate your organization, consider how you can create unique value and uphold a high standard of excellence consistently.
Reflecting on my visit to High Point University and my time with Dr. Nido Qubein, I’m reminded of the immense potential of differentiation. Whether it’s in the form of music echoing across campus, the bronze statues, the carefully designed gardens, the meticulous care for aesthetics, or a culture that fosters creativity and growth – it’s these unique elements that make an organization truly stand out.
During my visit to HPU, I was truly inspired by the university’s commitment to thinking differently and boldly. From its stunning architecture to its unconventional approaches to education, HPU challenges traditional norms and seeks to push boundaries. Organizations should not be afraid to question existing paradigms, explore uncharted territories, and embrace a culture of calculated audacity. HPU’s boldness serves as a reminder that greatness often emerges when we step outside our comfort zones.
Remember, a commitment to differentiation and uniqueness isn’t just about being different; it’s about creating a unique, valuable experience that resonates with those you serve. And that’s a lesson worth taking back from High Point University.
More Quotes from Dr. Nido Qubein
Image Credits: Skip Prichard.