Tag Archives: UCLA

My “Academy Award” speech was all about YOU!

When I took the podium to accept my award, I began just like those fancy Hollywood actors.

“I’d like to thank those who made in possible — my amazing students, the ten thousand managers, geeks, engineers, nuclear scientists, entrepreneurs, game designers, and other brainy folks who survived my unorthodox teaching style, and are now changing the world (except for a few of you slackers…. Just kidding). Let me share ten things…”

But first, full disclosure: this was not that hyped-up Oscar ceremony where you have to wear a tux and navigate the paparazzi. And there were no swag bags or wild after-parties.  I call it my Academy Award because the “2018 UCLA Extension Distinguished Instructor award” is way too long to be a title. My trophy was for the best instructor performance in the category of Engineering and Technology, chosen out of 2,000 total Extension instructors.

Some background: Since 1986, I have taught on campus or on-site short courses through UCLA Extension in my expertise areas — strategic thinking, strategic project management, personal reinvention, and career/life planning.

I love this gig because I every single person enrolls to better themselves, and I get to learn about industry issues and what’s not working, along with their personal hopes, fears, and dreams.

“Before they cut my mike short, here are the meta-messages I teach in parallel with the technical course content.”

1.    Stop competing with other people.

This sounds paradoxical to high achievers but If you play this game, you set yourself up for disappointment. There’s always somebody smarter, faster, better looking, or luckier than you. Focus on developing your very best potential. that’s a game you can win.

2.    Go for what you want!

Get clear about your goals. Write them down – think it and ink it. Diversify your goal portfolio with personal, family, financial, career, relationship, fun, toys, community, spiritual and whatever goals. Start with the rocking chair test… Imagine at age 95, looking back on a successful life, what would you be most proud of doing, being, and having?

3.    Manage Your Career Like a Business

Think like a one-person business enterprise, because you are.  Your company is your current customer, you deliver services, you have competition. Think like a business.  Start with a purpose statement, AKA your personal mission. Manage your functions– marketing, service delivery, finance, R&D (learning), human resources, technology — like the hotshot CEO you know yourself to be.

4.    Develop a distinctive edge

Sure, you’re a great systems engineer, but so are 50,000 others and you all look the same. Don’t be a commodity. Differentiate yourself. Stand out from the crowd by adding skills outside of your main domain. The systems engineer who also builds incredible teams will always be in demand. Make 30% of your learning outside of your main field. Hybridize yourself.

5.    Be your own best friend

It’s so easy to crap all over ourselves, especially after setbacks.  Hey, self, cut yourself some slack. Sure, do your best, but when it doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up. Learn and get better.  When you F.A.I.L., spell it out right — First Attempt in Learning.

6.    Manage Your Internal Dialogue

Tune into your self-talk, and watch your h your wild Monkey Mind in action. Notice that most of the messages internally voice are self-putdowns, doubt and criticism? Think about it …if you spoke this way to your friends, you wouldn’t have any! Upgrade your internal messaging to be supportive and self-inspiring.

7.    Hang around with positive people

Are the people around you going for their dreams in life, or are they negative and cynical? Does your circle of friends and colleagues uplift and support you? And do you do the same for them? Build up a network of positive, cheerleading friends. Painful as it may seem, you may need to back away from the putter-downers and drama kings currently in your life. Wish them well, love them, but protect your spirit.

8.    Develop Your Super Powers

The world moves too fast to stagnate.  The pace of change requires we keep learning, stay agile, and manage our inner game. Walking the same trail creates a path, which becomes a rut, and then a grave.  There lies within each of us dormant qualities waiting to be discovered. Awaken them

9.    Help others to succeed achieve their goals

The best way to achieve your dreams is to help others reach theirs. When you do make a positive contribution to others, you empower yourself. Pay it forward because what goes around comes around.

10. Make Schmidt Happen!

Start taking action! The universe rewards action. Sitting back, waiting for the perfect time weakens your self-esteem muscles.  What can you do today that has a fast-forward ripple effect on your future?


To learn the Super Power strategies I teach, click here to register for my one hour Project Super Power System training at no cost.


Terry Schmidt is a business strategist, keynoter, and author of Strategic Project Management Made Simple, and chief honcho at ManagementPro.com. He helps leaders at all levels to develop the skill set and mindset to accomplish outstanding results.

Your Assignment: Get Rejected

“You want us to do what?!”

That’s what the forty engineers and IT experts in my Reinvent Yourself and Thrive course at UCLA Extension’s Technical Management Program said when I gave them their out-of-class assignment. Their homework was to make an unusual, strange, or ridiculous request of a total stranger where the odds of rejection were high.

The results of that assignment were life-changing to many of my participants because they busted through a mental barrier that had stopped them from taking some real-world risks that could pay off in positive ways.

I have seen far too many competent men and women restrict their behavior and avoid taking survivable risks because of internal censoring and disempowering self-talk. Whether it is speaking up more in meetings, asking someone for a date, or initiating an unpopular idea, we often stop because we imagine the pain of rejection and mentally magnify.

Half of the class actually did the “rejection therapy” with both instructive and humorous results and reported their results. The next day Joe (changing all names here) asked a total stranger to give him $100.  José asked the hotel valet if he could park cars for an hour. Mary requested her waiter at dinner to give her a foot massage.  Luis asked the construction worker on the UCLA campus if he could operate the bulldozer. Fred asked a homeless man for some spare change. Sarah requested a free refill on the meat in her hamburger. Joseph pleaded with a well-dressed business guy to loan him his shoes for the evening.

Everyone succeeded in getting totally rejected, except for Mary. The waiter politely explained that he could not her feet right now, but he would be getting off shift in an hour. (she declined)

What was the learning lesson? It is so easy to stop ourselves from taking action, because of stories we make up in our mind, that we would get rejected, people would think badly of us, etc. In real life, for things that really matter, we often do the same thing. We create flimsy excuses in our mind not to go for things just to avoid the imagined pain.

I challenge you to go out and get rejected today. Be respectful, don’t be creepy, but make a request that is so outlandish you’re guaranteed to get rejected. As the saying goes, whenever doesn’t kill you makes stronger. Knowing that you can handle rejection, strengthens your courage muscle, so its ready when it really counts.

I’d love to hear your rejection story, post it below.


Terry Schmidt facilitates culture-changing and life-inspiring event which boost performance and productivity.  His audiences have included nuclear engineers, psychiatric nurses, state governors, geeks, and CEOs. Check out www.ManagementPro.com for more information.