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Called to Coach
Giving Nebraska Athletes an Advantage With CliftonStrengths®
Called to Coach

Giving Nebraska Athletes an Advantage With CliftonStrengths®

Webcast Details

  • What does "NIL" mean for student-athletes, and how is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln helping them leverage it?
  • How is UNL supporting its student-athletes in developing life skills during and after college?
  • How is CliftonStrengths pivotal in student-athletes' self-knowledge and pursuit of career goals?

The college sports landscape has undergone significant change this year, as the NCAA has adopted a rule change that allows college student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL). The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), whose sports teams are known as the Nebraska Cornhuskers, has been a leader in supporting its student-athletes as they navigate this new terrain through its Husker Advantage program. Combining student-athletes' grasp of their own CliftonStrengths with life skills and career development programs as they prepare for life after sports, the university is seeking to assist its athletes and maximize their opportunities. Tom Lemke, Assistant Director of Life Skills for Nebraska Athletics, and Joe Petsick, Executive in Residence at UNL's College of Business, join two former UNL student-athletes -- Sierra Hassel and Daniel Pearson -- on the webcast to explain UNL's pioneering work in this area.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 46.




Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

The program that we branded as "Husker Advantage" ... is ... our effort to educate our incoming student-athletes on how to get ready for the name, image and likeness landscape that is new to college athletics.

Tom Lemke, 5:59

As an entrepreneur myself, it became obvious to me, after getting to know a lot of these student-athletes, that many of the attributes that they utilize to become the best in their sport translate incredibly well to entrepreneurship.

Joe Petsick, 22:41

These same strengths that are making me good at gymnastics are the same strengths that are gonna make me succeed anywhere else.

Sierra Hassel, 48:38

Jim Collison 0:01
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on October 12, 2021.

Meet Our Host for This Episode

Jim Collison 0:20
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above me there on our live page. Just click on that; it'll take you to YouTube. Sign in with your Google account and join us in chat. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send -- and this, this one in particular, you may have some questions -- send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe to the Called to Coach podcast on your favorite podcast app or right there on YouTube. Dr. Tim Hodges -- there we go -- is our host today. He's the Executive Director of the CliftonStrengths Institute and Assistant Professor of Practice for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln College of Business -- that's a, that's a handful! Tim was also a guest on our very first season of Theme Thursday for Belief with, with one of our good friends, Kelly Winkler, way back in May of 2015. Tim, welcome back to Called to Coach!

Tim Hodges 1:21
Thanks, Jim. It's been a while. It's great to be back.

Jim Collison 1:23
Good to have you. We have kind of a whole slate of activities to talk about today. Tim, as we get rolling on this and the success that UNL has been having with strengths, and we call it the CSI -- that's not the TV show CSI; you got that right above you, right, the CliftonStrengths Institute there. Why don't you jump in, set the groundwork for this, and then we'll bring some of these guests in as well. And some great questions we have for them.

Tim Hodges 1:48
You got it. Well, Jim, I'm so excited to be here. And this is kind of a collision of my two careers. In addition, so I did all three of my degrees at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and then spent 20 years as a full-time employee at Gallup. And you mentioned my Belief talent; I felt really called to come back to the University of Nebraska, to serve as the Executive Director of the CliftonStrengths Institute 3 or 4 years ago here and have loved every minute of it and really excited to get to highlight some of the programs we have going on here.

Don Clifton and the Clifton Strengths Institute

Tim Hodges 2:16
You all know the name Don Clifton; what you might not know is that it all started just a few steps from where I'm sitting right now at the University of Nebraska. Don was a student here, served in the, in the military, returned to campus and became a professor here -- was a popular professor of educational psychology. And many of those theories of The Dipper and the Bucket, studying great mentors and learning people's strengths -- first with teachers and, and then on to other professions -- which then ultimately caused him to become an entrepreneur that began a company called Selection Research Incorporated, ultimately became Gallup over time. So the roots run pretty deep around here at UNL with the CliftonStrengths, and a lot of the original research was done just steps from where I'm at right now.

Tim Hodges 2:59
A few years ago, the Clifton Family Foundation and Gallup made an investment in the University of Nebraska to start the CliftonStrengths Institute, which is what I have the pleasure to lead today. We're, we're at an exciting point in the semester right now; we're just wrapping up our Intro to Strengths course, where all 800 new students in the College of Business have completed the CliftonStrengths assessment and received one-on-one coaching from a peer, a peer in a student, in a student strengths coach role. You also will hear a little bit today about the Clifton Builders program, a program that's focused on developing leaders and entrepreneurs. And two of the graduates of that program our guests on our show today. So, really excited to get to share a little bit about that. There'll be more about the CliftonStrengths Institute and the overall work we're doing at UNL in the chat, and we'll provide links to that.

Tim Hodges 3:49
But first, really the focus today goes back to our, our beloved Husker athletics and the programs there. And even there, there's connections that go way back. There was a graduate student by the name of Tom Osborne, who was kicking around the college at the time. Don was a professor and, and obviously Coach Osborne, one of the, one of the best coaches in the history of college football and maybe college athletics. And many of the theories that, that he learned and he implemented in the, in the locker room and on the field were things that he learned from Dr. Clifton. And went on to serve on the board for Don's company early on and has been a great friend of Gallup ever since. So those connections go way back.

The Husker Advantage Program

Tim Hodges 4:28
Currently, we're really restarting some of those partnerships around Husker athletics, and I want to introduce you to Tom Lemke now. Tom is the Assistant Director of Life Skills for Nebraska Athletics. And Tom has been a great partner to us over the years and then particularly this summer, as he's been leading life skills and other programs. So, Tom, I guess maybe my first question for you, if you could say a little bit about your role and, and say a little about that Husker Advantage program that you've been leading, and how it integrates CliftonStrengths into that conversation.

Tom Lemke 5:01
Yeah, thanks, Tim. So as the Assistant Director of Life Skills, I focus on helping the student-athletes get ready for life after sports. So we do different career development programming throughout their time in college. There's a couple required events that they are mandated to go to each year, and they're all focused on personal development and career development. So their freshman, sophomore year, it's a little bit more community driven, just getting connected with members of the community; where their junior and senior year, it's a little bit more career focused. So focusing on the job and internship search. And most recently, we implemented the Husker Advantage program, which is for our incoming freshmen.

Tom Lemke 5:39
So the summer before their freshmen fall, they get, get a chance to get on campus, get their feet wet with the college experience, take a couple classes, start working out with their strength coach and practicing with the team. They also get an opportunity to connect with our academic staff and with our life skill staff. So what that looks like with us is the program that we, we branded as "Husker Advantage," and really essentially what this program is it's our effort to educate our incoming student-athletes on, on how to get ready for the name, image and likeness landscape that is new to college athletics. It's a, you know, an ever-changing landscape of college athletics. And this is the latest in that, in that front. But we really just tried to, in that programming, incorporate skills that can be beneficial overall.

Tom Lemke 6:27
We, we kind of understood that not everybody is going to want to or have the same opportunities to take advantage of name, image and likeness. So we didn't really try to reinvent the wheel, as far as NIL programming, really focusing on just skills in general that can be beneficial for life after sport, as well as in the name, image and likeness pursuits of our student-athletes. So some topics we focused on in the 5-week session, so they met with us once a week for about an hour: We talked about building your brand on social media. So we brought in our experts from, from our creative and emerging media staff and our partners at Open Doors to just talk about, you know, how to build your brand on social media platforms, you know, building the perfect posts; increasing followers; increase, increasing engagement; how to communicate, you know, your interests and the things that, that you can help out a company with through your social media profile.

Tom Lemke 7:21
We also talked about just communication and networking in general as well. So bringing in business professionals to talk about how to go about making connections in a face-to-face conversation, because that's, I think, really an art that has been lost in the last couple years as the world has gone more digital and texting and social media, and not a lot of people, especially younger people, understanding how to have that face-to-face conversation and connecting that way. So we focused on that and focused on preparing them for postgame interviews, press conferences, things like that. And then with NIL, we also talked about personal finance, you know, how to navigate budgeting, saving, investing, preparing for taxes, things like that. And then overall, just understanding our NIL policy, because ultimately, we want student-athletes to stay eligible and compete for championships. So if they're doing things wrong in the NIL landscape, that could impact their ability to do that.

Tom Lemke 8:12
One of the first things that we did with the student-athletes was we had them take the CliftonStrengths assessment. Why we did that -- we just really wanted to help them understand what they're already good at, and how they can communicate that with people that they connect with, whether it's for an NIL opportunity, or maybe it's just networking to potentially find a job in the future. How can they use that knowledge of their Top 5 strengths to leverage their success both on and off the field, in the classroom and really just, in any activity that they go through in their time in college?

Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) for Student-Athletes

Tim Hodges 8:44
Tom, you mentioned the letters "NIL" a couple of times here. For those not familiar yet -- because this is really an emerging topic -- what is, what is NIL? And maybe give us an example of a student or two who, who might, who might benefit from something like this in different ways.

Tom Lemke 9:00
Yeah, so NIL stands for "name, image and likeness." And so what this allowed was for student-athletes to take advantage of, really, their, their image and, and their name, as far as business opportunities go. So prior to this year, a student-athlete couldn't, for example, if Chipotle wanted them to do a promotional, promotional activity for their company, they weren't allowed to do that before because of their status as a student-athlete. The NCAA and, and Congress allowed that this year. So now student-athletes have a multitude of opportunities to take part in events like that.

Tom Lemke 9:38
So we've, we've had student-athletes already taking advantage of this. I know, for example, our entire offensive line has partnered with a, a burrito place here in town called Muchachos to form the, what's called the "pipeline burrito." And so every time that burrito gets purchased, the entire offensive line gets a cut of that purchase. And they promote it on their social media accounts, wearing their t-shirts around town, just different things like that. It really, it really opened up just, you know, resume building opportunities for the student-athletes, as they partner with different companies around town. And it just offers them an opportunity to increase engagement with their followers and fans. And I really think it can be very, really beneficial for our student-athletes moving forward. Because you know, before, you know, a student on campus was able to do that if they weren't tied to the athletic department.

Tom Lemke 10:30
So I think it just kind of levels the playing field, I guess, as far as opportunities go for the student-athletes to just really take advantage of the platform they have as, as a Husker, as just being a Husker automatically opens up a conversation and gives you something easy to talk about. And if that can lead to business opportunities in the, in the future, you know, I'm all for it. I'm excited that the athletes have a chance to do this now.

Tim Hodges 10:55
Really good, really good. Well, Tom, thanks for the work you're doing in life skills. I'd like to talk to a couple of our, of our recent graduates from the University of Nebraska now. Sierra Hassel and Dan Pearson are going to join us here. Sierra and Dan have both been engaged students with the CliftonStrengths Institute in different ways, as coaches and as Clifton Builders, students with entrepreneurial and leadership talent. They're both in graduate school now, successful graduates of our program and, and on to the next phase of their career. So Sierra, maybe let's start with you. Tell us a little about yourself and, and, and why you think learning about strengths is important to student-athletes.

Sierra Hassel 11:32
Yeah, absolutely. So a little bit about myself: I graduated Nebraska in 2020. And so I was lucky enough to be with CSI and Clifton Builder before this partnership with athletics. So I'm glad I was able to do that and not miss out. But I, since I graduated, I've been able to have a few different internships: one with women leaders in college sports, and then now with Longhorn Foundation at the University of Texas. But strengths have always been so important to me, since I was able to get my foot in the door, and really impacted my career, whether that was just on campus and after. But for student-athletes, especially, I think it just helps you show that those same strengths that made you successful as an athlete are going to be the exact same strengths that make you successful, whether it be in the classroom, on the community, and then also after you graduate.

Sierra Hassel 12:25
It's kind of a scary time, leaving and then thinking you're starting all over. But you really aren't -- the same strengths, you already have so much experience with getting anything done and achieving really big things, especially being on campus at a Division I university as a student-athlete. Those same strengths are going to get you the same places. And so I think that's really important. And it's been very beneficial for student-athletes. And I'm excited that the Huskers are now a full partner. And I know Dan and I got the experience, but I think it's for everyone.

Tim Hodges 12:57
Well, Sierra, I missed, I missed having you in my class; you had Mark Pogue, our founding Executive Director, as the instructor for you, for your Clifton Builders cohort. But I'm reminded of how great you are every time I open my door, because your name's on the wall as one of our, our Clifton Builders of the Year from our first, our first year. You've been, you've been the Big 10 Women's Athlete of the Year, successful gymnast, seeing your own talents come about. But I remember a conversation that you and Mark had shared with me that kind of changed the trajectory of where you wanted to go with your career. Do you mind sharing just a little bit about that?

Sierra Hassel 13:29
Yeah, absolutely. So Mark, I think it was our first class with Mark, and we were doing a Venn diagram. And it was like, What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? And then like, what can you get paid for? And in my head the whole time, I was majoring in accounting; I still got my degree in accounting, but I was like, I'm just gonna go get the CPA, be an accountant. And I still had gymnastics on the side, 4 hours, 5 hours, however long we were there a day. And so that, like, balance was really nice for me.

Sierra Hassel 13:58
And then the second gymnastics was kind of taken away from me, I was like, Oh, wait. In that diagram. I remember I wrote it, and it was like, the second semester of college, and I wrote, like sports administrator at the top after I did the Venn diagram. And then I didn't really think much of it. I was like, OK, likes athletics, I love the student-athlete experience. Most of us do not go on to be athletes after our 4 years, so I really like setting kids up for that success afterwards. And then I was like, I love business. I like accounting. I like that. So I wrote "sports administrator," and then I probably threw the piece of paper away. And then like, 2 years later, I did my internship and I was like, Wait! I was like, This is exactly what I want to do. And he was always, like, 5 steps ahead of all of us somehow -- who knows how. But he really saw the best in everyone.

Sierra Hassel 14:50
And I think that's just one thing that really stood out to me was, it was kind of crazy that he knew and that strengths, you don't even realize how impactful they are. And it was just almost like my subconscious was like, "Hey, you're really good at this; you should do this." And then you hear all these things like, "OK, what's your major? Go ahead and do it," instead of starting at your strengths.

Tim Hodges 15:10
Yeah, I know that Self-Assurance was, was in Mark's top talents, but so are Futuristic and Activator. So you weren't gonna sit still in his classroom. So that's awesome. We're really proud of, of what you're what you're doing now, Sierra, and where that's gonna go in the future. Dan, I'd like to bring you into the conversation. I did have you in class, but we'll keep that between us. You did, you did well, you graduated. You're in you're in grad school now, preparing for a future career potentially in athletics administration as well. But Dan, tell us a little about yourself and, and how, particularly how knowing your strengths helped you as you took on leadership roles on campus.

Daniel Pearson 15:48
Yeah, so I am originally from near Boulder, Colorado. And I came to Nebraska, actually, because of kind of just the overall student-athlete support that they have. And really the life skill, skills department, in particular, drew me. And then this fancy new business school was built. And we were immediately introduced to these 5 random words at the time. Mine are Competition, Command, Achiever, Focus and Activator. And little did I know that that would kind of drive me through my 4 years to kind of lead to where I am today, whether it be my opportunity with the Clifton Builders program -- we really dove as far into those strengths and engagement and leadership that you could possibly talk about in a short, you know, few classes together. But it was really a great experience and shaped me as a leader to become, you know, better in my position as a leader in the athletic department on campus.

Daniel Pearson 16:54
And now, kind of moving into grad school, I've been able to work with, you know, some higher administrators that want to learn about the strengths, because I introduced them early on in my resume. And that's immediately like a topic to talk about. So I think it really created me as a leader, just that whole experience with not only life skills in the student-athlete development, but kind of that intersection with the Clifton Builders program and the CSI in general. And it's really cool to see all the work that they're now doing to partner together, because I think without being an official partnership, it was kind of a tie already.

Tim Hodges 17:35
Yeah. Appreciate that. And Dan, your, your role as an athlete -- not just as a golfer, but then as a leader on the student-athlete advisory board, interacting with administrators like, like Tom and others throughout the department -- was, was really valuable, I know. A question for each of you here, maybe: How, how do, how do you think this whole strengths conversation can help student-athletes as they go to build their brand in the future? As you think about maybe what that would have been like for you, or how you think you'll set future student-athletes up in your future careers?

Sierra Hassel 18:06
Yeah, I think for me, the NIL, like Tom was saying, it is like available to everyone, but it might, might not be the same level that you could get out of it. But with strengths, I think it's important to understand that you're not just building your brand on being a good gymnast or a good golfer or the quarterback; you're building your brand on who you are. And when you understand your strengths and really are able to dive into those, you start to understand, "Oh, I really like this. But I really like it because I am high in Self-Assurance and Futuristic, and it's matching my strengths."

Sierra Hassel 18:42
And once you like step back, and we used to -- we did an assignment one day that was like, Write everything you do this week. Now, write which strengths you used to do that. And you realized that everything you do, it's that, those Top 5 just keep coming back up and back up. And so when you're building your NIL brand and a brand for yourself, yes, it's a brand -- because you're an athlete, it kind of helps. But it's the same brand that you're making, because you're really high in Achiever, and you can understand yourself better, then you can build your brand better.

Daniel Pearson 19:15
Yeah, and kind of going off of that, I think life skills has done a great job before NIL was passed at preparing student-athletes to be, you know, as prepared as they could for life after their graduation and life after sport, which is essential for student-athletes. But I think NIL kind of opened that opportunity to have that occur right now. And it's not just trying -- and I think this partnership with the CliftonStrengths Institute and really diving into the strengths of our, of the student-athletes at Nebraska has opened the door to people creating their, you know, kind of identity outside of sport and what they're passionate about outside of just, you know, competition, which I know we all love.

Daniel Pearson 20:04
But it's important to find those other things. And I think that partnership really allows you to understand yourself earlier on, which I think Sierra and I got a ton of as builders. But like we talked about, not everyone had that opportunity. And now it's kind of created a better chance for everyone to learn this and really, not only make it valuable monetarily in the present time, hopefully with NIL, but set you up, set yourself up for a future as well.

The University of Nebraska's Approach to NIL

Tim Hodges 20:36
Wonderful. Well, thanks, thank to you both for being great examples of what this can look like and excited for what's next. So I've got one other guest I want to bring in, and then we'll probably come back to the, to all of the panel for, for some questions here. But Joe Petsick, Executive in Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business, also an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Management Department, Joe has been involved in this from the beginning. In fact, Joe, I think you and a couple other administrators in the athletic department were maybe some of the first people in the area to even know what NIL was. So, Joe, you've been involved in this from the beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about what Nebraska's approach has been to the NIL conversation?

Joe Petsick 21:18
Yeah, Tim. Love to share exactly kind of how this all came to, came to light. So as Tim noted, my title, Executive in Residence, I'm not an academic; I'm actually an entrepreneur. And was in a position after an exit in my company to get more involved with the university, something I'd been doing in an advisory capacity up until that point. And part of my role in the college is to really look at the college through an entrepreneurial lens and determine how we might be able to do more with what's already here, or move in different directions. And early on, I really spent my energy trying to pay attention to what the assets and the strengths of the college world were. And I noticed right away that the CliftonStrengths Institute stood out, and the things that it was doing and helping students achieve.

Joe Petsick 22:03
So one day, sitting in my office, I actually happen to have a great view of Memorial Stadium. And I was doing a little bit of daydreaming and thinking about my, my time here at school in the mid- to early '90s, which was a great time to be a Husker fan. And I was thinking about all the, the former student-athletes that I know. And I actually started writing names down on a piece of paper. And I got about 30 names deep, and I recognized that almost everyone on my list was an entrepreneur. And it made me wonder about athletes and entrepreneurship and how many actually gravitated in that field. After doing a little bit of research, came to find that it's very common. Also, as an entrepreneur myself, it became obvious to me, after getting to know a lot of these student-athletes, that many of the attributes that they utilize to become the best in their sport translate incredibly well to entrepreneurship.

Joe Petsick 22:54
So it made me wonder, knowing that the things like the life skills and academic support programs that Nebraska has always been a leader in might have already identified something here and been working on programming. And I approached the athletic department with an idea about what the college could do to build the strengths and the tools that we might build to offer student-athletes. It wasn't soon after agreeing that that was something that we wanted to try to do, that the name, image and likeness opportunity became obvious to us all. It was about a year and a half away at the time. And really what we wanted to do is figure out how we could differentiate the university, how we could leverage some of the tools like the CliftonStrengths Institute to put Nebraska athletes in a position where they would be able to maximize their opportunity with name, image and likeness.

Joe Petsick 23:41
And I stepped back and started working on building out a program that would help do that, using assets within the college business. And we kind of broke it down into 3 components, which was to basically help the athletes, first of all, learn how to identify their individual strengths and their entrepreneurial attributes, and then teach them how to strengthen those, and then, ultimately, how to activate them. And we create an entire program around that; it's called the Husker Accelerate program, which is kind of a companion program to what Tom mentioned earlier, the Husker Advantage program. And the Accelerate program really is designed to help the student-athlete, in essence, build a business around themselves, if that's something they're interested in doing -- whether it's for names and likeness, or whether it's something they want to do upon, you know, their eligibility expiring and graduating, or if it's a side hustle or something interesting that they've always wanted to do or to already have, maybe have been doing.

Joe Petsick 24:32
And really that's, that was kind of the genesis of this and why we wanted to leverage these tools. And knowing that the CliftonStrengths Institute already had installed this and activated it to the degree that it had with current business students, we knew we'd have a head start and a great foundation to build from. And it's been great now to see that every single incoming student-athlete now takes the CliftonStrengths tests, and we had the BP10 available to them, and another area where we want to really help push and explore.

Tim Hodges 25:05
That's really good Joe. Thanks for, thanks for using some of your, your Learner and Strategic talent; I can hear that big time. You also have some pretty good Individualization talent. Give us a couple examples, if you can, of students that are, are starting to capitalize on some of these ideas. You don't have to get into specific names if you don't want to, but tell us, give us an example of what it can look like in practice, when a student begins to build on this.

Joe Petsick 25:28
OK, I'll give you a couple, right. So we can go from what I think, and Sierra mentioned earlier, not, not every student-athlete is going to likely participate in the same way or maybe you have the same opportunity. Nebraska, I think is a little bit, is a little bit unique because of having such strong fan engagement, that I think you see more athletes here having more opportunity than you might other places. But it can be as easy and simple as having an athlete work and do something in kind, right? Maybe they go to their favorite local restaurant with some of their, their teammates, and they sit down to eat and, upon being recognized, talk to the manager and realize that if they're willing to post something on social media, that they'd be willing to give them their lunch for free or to invite them back for a free lunch.

Joe Petsick 26:15
So that's something that some of these athletes might be able to take more advantage of, across the board. And that kind of opportunity, I think for most, would feel a little bit more like a side hustle, in a way for them just to make a little bit of money here or to get some opportunity. But then we have some of our athletes here who are recognizing that there's even something greater that they can build, that not only can benefit them while they're in school, but that they can take with them, once their eligibility expires and they move on. So they're actually building a business. And not only does the program help them get connected to resources on campus to help them build an LLC or a corporation and then go through the components to worry about trademarking licensing, but the real big part is to help them understand how they can take all these individual strengths and take these, you know, lean into their attributes, right, and really help build their business around using those strengths and focusing on those.

Tim Hodges 27:13
Really good. Thanks, thanks for that, Joe. I'd like to bring Tom back in. Tom, I'm curious from your standpoint, as Administrator in the athletic department, how, how has it gone so far? And where do you think, where do you think this is headed, if you could look into your crystal ball a little bit? I know we've got a lot of independent coaches that are listening live or will watch this recording, as well as administrators from other campuses who'd like to learn from our early, early lessons. So how's it going so far? And where do you think, where do you think things are going?

Tom Lemke 27:43
Yeah, I think it's gone great so far. Like I mentioned earlier, all the incoming freshmen had an opportunity to go through the Husker Advantage program and just because the returners hadn't had a chance to do so yet when they came in as freshmen, we also offered the programming to all the returners as well. So all, you know, 600-plus, of our student-athletes got exposed to this information and, and had the opportunity to take the CliftonStrengths assessment. And, you know, I think that's definitely something we're gonna continue doing as we move forward. But as the landscape with name, image and likeness continues to evolve, we're also going to evolve the program we put, we put in front of our student-athletes. And, you know, overall, I think, like I said, it's going great.

Tom Lemke 28:27
And definitely something we're going to continue doing is offering the strengths assessment, because, you know, how great is it to know what you're good at, from, from the get-go when you start your college career. And, you know, we've talked a lot about, in this conversation today, just building your brand. Well, what you're good at is part of that brand. So being able to communicate that with, whether it's a company that wants to partner with you on a sponsorship deal, or if you're going into an interview, and they ask, you know, that's, that's an interview question, you know, 9 times out of 10, you know: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Well, you can, right off the bat have 5 things to talk about and how you use those on a daily basis.

Tom Lemke 29:05
And, you know, just from, from my standpoint, my strengths are all about Executing and person and, you know, Building Relationships. And how great is it to know that what I do now lines up with those strengths. And so that's what we're ultimately trying to do with our student-athletes is just help them figure out what they're good at, and where that lines up for them when they go pro in something other than their sport. You know, whether they have an opportunity to play professionally or not, they're going to transition into the professional world at some point. So --

Support for Student-Athletes After They Graduate

Tim Hodges 29:34
Yeah, appreciate that. Tom, one other thing you had indicated is the support you have for athletes, not just as they're onboarding and coming on to the program but during the time in the program and even beyond. You're the PEO Officer -- the Post-Eligibility Opportunities Officer -- for the university. I'm teaching an MBA class that starts in a couple of weeks, and I'm seeing several student-athletes listed as students in that class. Help, help us all understand what, what you and other universities are doing to help support students beyond graduation.

Tom Lemke 30:04
Yeah, so the PEO Program, or the Post-Eligibility Opportunities Program, is a guaranteed postgraduate scholarship that all of our student-athletes are eligible for as long as they graduate from Nebraska and they exhaust their athletic eligibility here at Nebraska. And it's a $7500 scholarship that they can use for graduate school for any program at UNL or at UNMC they can use for study-abroad experience, or they can use for an internship experience. And to our knowledge, we're the only school in the country that offers anything like that, as far as a guaranteed postgrad scholarship. And that's a program we're really proud of. It's just an opportunity for us to, to help continue aiding our student-athletes as they try and increase their career marketability, whether it's further education, diversifying their worldview by studying abroad, or getting career-related experience on the resume.

Tom Lemke 30:57
So it's a really great program that, like I said, we're really proud of, and in the 6-year history, we've had over 280 former student-athletes take advantage of it and awarded over $2 million worth of scholarship funding. And so just kind of our way of saying "Thank you" on the back end for representing Nebraska athletics and our university in the right way.

Tim Hodges 31:20

Jim Collison 31:20
Tim, I'm gonna bring everybody back in. I think we've got an opportunity for some questions here. And then just whoever wants to chime in, as far as the answering these questions, would be great. Cara asks, Is your athletic department collaborating with other universities' athletic departments to model this transformational experience? And Tim, and maybe I'll ask, If folks are interested in doing that, how would they go that as well? But who would, who would want to take that question?

Tom Lemke 31:48
I can take that one. So we, our life skills team, we meet with other student-athlete development departments in the Big 10 about once a month, and this has definitely been a topic that's been discussed and addressed. I, I don't, I don't necessarily know that we're partnering with anybody, as far as the programming we're delivering. But that's a great opportunity for, you know, just the professionals within the Big 10 that are, you know, focusing on the same thing, you know, ultimately helping student-athletes, can just bounce ideas off of each other -- what's working, what's not working, what should we be implementing? So that's a great resource that we're able to connect with other institutions. And, you know, I'm happy to discuss our programming with anybody.

Tom Lemke 32:29
So if there's ever anyone that does reach out to me and asks what we're doing, as far as whether it's NIL, or just career development programming, or really anything that we do in life skills, I'm always more than willing to connect with those folks. Because ultimately, you know, we're here to serve student-athletes; and whether that's student-athletes of Nebraska or student-athletes across the nation, I'm more than happy to be a resource for that.

Jim Collison 32:51
And I'd say if you have questions -- if you're watching this webcast, and you have questions, the easiest thing to do is send us an email: And we'll get that routed kind of to the right, to the right person there. Anybody else want to weigh in on that before I move on? Tim, this question's on you. Lisa asks, How have you used CliftonStrengths to lead the institute's team and partner with athletics and other units?

Tim Hodges 33:17
Yeah. Thanks for the question, Lisa. Yeah, we, obviously we use strengths in everything we do here in the CSI. We're tasked with really 3 responsibilities. First is to serve students in the College of Business well. And what that looks like is every student who's new to the College of Business takes an Intro to Strengths course. It's a required course, 8 weeks, 1 credit; pass, no pass. I lead the lecture. We have a recitation that meets each week where we've got smaller groups of 50 students, led by a group of 5 TAs. Those TAs are our student strengths coaches, who we select. In fact, this week, we're doing interviews for our next group of student strengths coaches. So 800 students, 80 TAs.

Tim Hodges 33:58
But the highlight of the course, unfortunately, isn't my lecture -- although I do the best I can. The highlight of the course is that each student gets two one-on-one coaching sessions with one of those student strengths coaches. And that, we've just learned, that's the magic. And we're, we'd freely give that idea away to anybody. It's a lot of work. There's a lot of logistics involved -- selecting, developing and, and managing a group of 80 TAs and 800 first-semester freshmen, but it's worth it. This is our fifth or sixth year doing that and, and we're, we're so excited about the impact it's had. Literally every person in this building has had the opportunity to take their strengths. And by "opportunity," I mean, we required them to learn something good about themselves. And it's really become part of the college's strategic plan and, and, and really the culture here.

Tim Hodges 34:44
Beyond that, we've got requests that come in from around campus all the time, and love to support, whether it's housing or the Nebraska College Prep Academy or partners like in athletics or other academic colleges. And then the last part of our mission is really to be a resource beyond the University of Nebraska. And we've done that through a summer learning series that we hosted this summer and many different opportunities to speak at national conferences. And I even did one in South Africa, where I woke up at 2 in the morning to jump on a Zoom call a few months ago, and even had one of my students show up. So getting to the 9:30 a.m. class was tough for her, but somehow, the 2 a.m. time slot seemed to fit her schedule pretty well. So we -- the magic, though, is that we put our students in leadership roles. It's challenging, because essentially every year we have to re-create ourselves and reinvent ourselves as, as cohorts of students graduate and new students come in. But -- it's hard work, but it's absolutely worth it. Thanks for asking.

Jim Collison 35:42
Kim has a kind of a follow-up question. She says, Are there follow-up touchpoints around strengths development for athletes? How many, and over how many of their years as athletes?

Tim Hodges 35:54
Tom, I'll toss this one to you in just a second. But one of the things we talked about is, it's really good to get the codes out there and to give them an opportunity to, to learn about their Top 5. We're always looking for opportunities to make sure this isn't just an assessment, but it really is a conversation. So it depends on the student. I know some students are engaged in other programs where strengths are integrated. Some teams have taken it and run with it. Tom, anything you'd add?

Tom Lemke 36:19
Yeah, I would just say, you know, when we introduced the assessment to them and they took it this summer, Tim was also there to, you know, describe what the test was for and what their results meant and also just to talk about the CliftonStrengths Institute. And Joe as well touched on it when he came and met with the student-athletes, just with the Husker Accelerate program. So there's definitely different things that campus offers to kind of follow up on that assessment. You know, they, you know, we want to present it to them so they at least know those, and then utilize the, the great resources we have on campus, whether it's through the Builders program, or through the pop-up courses that are going to be offered through Husker Accelerate. So those are kind of the touchpoints for the student-athletes to, to follow up on. And we revisit it too when we work on resumes with student-athletes. If they've, if they've taken the assessment, we throw that on there, just so, you know, when it does come up in an interview question, they have it there to talk about and, and kind of expand on their knowledge of their strengths.

Tim Hodges 37:19
Dan or Sierra, any, any personal experiences about how strengths were utilized in, whether it was with Student-Athlete Advisory Board or with, with your own team that you competed with?

Sierra Hassel 37:28
Yeah, so for me, I think it's your last year as a Clifton Builder, you were able to do a project, whether that was you did something more entrepreneurial, or strengths-based. And so I had everyone on my team take the StrengthsFinders test for my own project, and then our coaches as well. And we were able to see everyone's Top 5, and then just kind of even that open communication of, Oh, like these 5 girls, their top is Competitiveness; no wonder they work this way in the gym. And then it was also great for our coaches just to understand that, maybe for me, like I'm not that competitive; I'm more, my Achiever is my top strength. So them trying to like put me against someone else isn't going to motivate me. And just allowing to understand that, based on people's strengths, you have to treat them differently. Honestly, they are motivated differently; they're going to succeed differently. And I think that really helped our team as well.

Sierra Hassel 38:23
And then just understanding your friends and peers and motivating your peers. If they aren't motivated by being compared to other people, or if they're motivated by Woo or Connectedness or Relator, even if you just need to have a true conversation with them and like understand what's going on, I think that was really nice for our team and then also just a bonding experience as well.

Daniel Pearson 38:47
Yeah, I think we also definitely used it within the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Sierra and I were actually both officers together. So that was helpful to make sure we all kind of knew whose strengths were being maximized, because that's really the main goal of strengths is you can create a high-performing team from any group of people if you know, like, what their strengths are and how to utilize them. And especially over my last year, we had to do all Zoom meetings for SAC. And that was definitely a big challenge coming into it. So I think that having the ability to, you know, utilize the strengths of the officers so we could still get great work done was really important in order to make it as successful a year as we could throughout the pandemic.

Jim Collison 39:44
Tim, Justin's asking a question in the chat: Do we have any idea how many students would have access to all 34?

Tim Hodges 39:52
That's a great, yeah. So we don't always know, because sometimes they just take the initiative and do it themselves, which is pretty exciting. And for, I don't know, $40 or something, they can upgrade from their Top 5 to their full 34. So we do see that happen sometimes organically. Within the programs in the, in the CliftonStrengths Institute, we do integrate it. So in the Clifton Builders program, which they do as sophomores, either as a major or minor in the, in management, we do unlock their full 34 and do some one-on-one coaching as part of that. And then in our student strengths coach training, they do a 3-credit course, Management 451, where we develop them and help them get ready. And part of that is also to, to learn their own full 34. Much of the class is actually practice-coaching with each other, and then they're coached by the instructor.

Tim Hodges 40:42
And then for part of the final exam, they actually coach the instructor. So while some professors don't look forward to finals week, I guarantee the, the instructors or professors in that course do, because they benefit from dozens of coaching sessions about their own strengths. So pretty exciting to see that. But yeah, we don't, we don't get into the full 34 right away, because the Top 5 is enough to get you going. But in some of those more advanced programs, we absolutely go there.

Jim Collison 41:07
Question for Joe. Just looking forward, Joe, if you think about, you know, the next couple years, some wish-list items for you of what you'd like to see, what kind of opportunities are there or what, what could be different just as we think about add-ons to, to the program?

Joe Petsick 41:25
Well, as it relates to strengths in general, one thing that I'd like to see evolve is the addition of kind of connecting each of the coaches to the strengths program as well, so that they can start to better understand what the athletes are going through, and how then I think the coaches might be able to even better communicate and connect with the student-athletes because of this information. You know, one of the things that we do here at the College of Business is the strengths are presented, you know, all over the place. Most everyone's, you know, nameplate outside their office, everyone's email signature always includes their Top 5 strengths. And I've come to recognize that I always, I always look at that before I interface with someone. And it often frames how I approach some of my conversations.

Joe Petsick 42:16
And I think it could be interesting to see how coaches could then embrace this, and -- I think Sierra kind of hinted at this earlier -- kind of use it as a way to better connect with an athlete, right? Sometimes, the approach and the way that the coach connects and delivers what they're trying to help the athlete understand they want them to do makes all the difference. And I think that would be great to see that, that as kind of the next step in the evolution there.

Jim Collison 42:42
Tim, you've been doing this now for a couple years. And as we think about what's, what's happening in the future, same question to you: From an Institute standpoint, what are you hoping for over the next couple of years with the Institute?

Tim Hodges 42:55
Yeah, where I'd like us to move from respond to initiate. So we're, we've got a great reputation around campus; we've got a lot of people asking us questions. I'm excited to think about taking new ground in, in some areas where people don't know they need us yet. And so we've got our eye on a few, a few different colleges and a few different opportunities. The other thing I really am excited about is how well our graduates are being placed into careers. I noticed in the chat, somebody mentioned what a, what a great developmental experience to be a student strengths coach. We've got a wall over here where coaches who've done over 100 coaching sessions during their time on campus get some special recognition at graduation. Every year, we've got several students who graduate with that.

Tim Hodges 43:39
So imagine walking into a job interview with a hiring manager, and they ask about some of your experiences on campus and you, you say you've facilitated more than 100 coaching sessions one on one. That's probably more than many of the hiring managers across the table. So really excited to continue to create those experiences for our students. And they're the heroes of our story. They're the ones that we really champion, and it's a great, great thing. I'm just trying not to mess it up.

More About Clifton Builders and Student-Athletes

Jim Collison 44:04
You're probably doing a great job there, at least I hope so. Are you willing to or able to share any more on the space about the course for builders? And is there a platform for that? What's, what's the right way to do that, Tim?

Tim Hodges 44:14
Yeah, great question, Kim. So yeah, the Clifton Builders is a competitive cohort. We, we're just taking applications now; typically get over 100 applications. We select about 30 or 35. And then they take classes together their sophomore year. A class that Sierra mentioned, Building a Life for Impact, where we integrate content around strengths and engagement and wellbeing and put the students in an experiential learning project where they, they actually conduct a Q12, a Q12 engagement consulting project with a small business. Instead of talking about it or watching me do it, it's more fun to actually go do it.

Tim Hodges 44:51
They also take a class, Management 321, on entrepreneurship. And with that, instead of talking about how to build a small business, we put them in teams and have them go create one. And in a few weeks here, there'll be a studio set up in the atrium of our building where the students will sell their product or service. And they can recoup their seed money, but then any additional profits are, are given to a charity that they choose. And then we also integrate more around performance development in other courses. We've got a website: is kind of landing page for our Clifton Builders program. And there's a lot of information there. We'd be glad to follow up individually if there's questions.

Jim Collison 45:32
Tim, I think we'll wrap with this question. We'll start with the student-athletes. Kim asks, Is strengths development unpacked for athletes from the lens of their actual experience as an athlete? So let me throw that, Dan, let's start with you. When you think about your role as an athlete, did we unpack those -- did you unpack them, thinking through that lens of your, of being an athlete?

Daniel Pearson 45:56
I think the very beginning, that was all I really thought about, honestly, through my freshman, like, sophomore year, maybe even. Like Competition No. 1, well obviously, you know, I'm competing as a D1 athlete, and then like Command, being a leader on your team. Achiever, wanting to like achieve all these goals that I've set out, like professional golfer. It was never really career focused, other than I'm an athlete; that's all I am. And I think through the Clifton Builders program and life skills, all the things that I was able to experience, kind of like what Sierra hit on earlier with changing that career path to what you love, and sort of, not necessarily not focusing on being an athlete, but also realizing there is life after sport. And I think strengths really allowed me to explore that, without it being super formal at the time.

Daniel Pearson 46:54
And all the hands-on experience with, I know in the Builders program with that Q12 survey and a consulting project with a company, it sort of allows you to reflect on, you know, Would I be happy doing -- finance was my major? Probably not, because I don't get to, you know, interact with student-athletes; I don't get to, you know, have a best friend that's also super passionate about sports that I can watch, you know, football all day with, or whatever it might be. I think that really, it allowed for reflection and growth to where I became more well-rounded, and really could focus on improving myself as a student-athlete and also in my career path as well.

Jim Collison 47:40
Sierra, same question to you.

Sierra Hassel 47:43
Yeah, absolutely. So I felt like, when I first step on campus we introduce ourselves as, "Hi, I'm Sierra. I'm from Johnston, Iowa. I'm on the gymnastics team. And I'm majoring in accounting." And that's it. And those are the four things that define you. And then just getting those strengths is just, you're able to leave and look at yourself in a different way as an athlete, and then understands that. At first, I just used my strengths for my athletic career too, and what makes me good. But my freshman year I didn't do so hot as a gymnast. So I think it really allowed me that time to use those strengths, and with life skills, and kind of being like Relator is one of my high ones.

Sierra Hassel 48:25
And then with life skills, I was able to volunteer so much my freshman year, and that really helped fill my days and my experience, and I really felt like I benefited from that. So that time to just realize that these same strengths that are making me good at gymnastics are the same strengths that are gonna make me succeed anywhere else. And I think it's really important too. First, you have to see it as an athlete, because that's kind of all you know. And it's nice to be like, Wow, these 5 strengths help me achieve this much. What else can I do with the same strengths?

Jim Collison 48:59
Tom, from an overall program perspective, anything you want to add to that, as we think about the student-athletes and seeing it through that lens?

Tom Lemke 49:06
Yeah, absolutely. So you know, just within our life skills team and our department, we're ultimately trying to help all student-athletes get ready for life after sport. And, you know, that that includes exploring their identities beyond just being an athlete. Like Sierra mentioned, when you first get on campus, it's easy to default to, "My name's Tom Lemke. I'm from Phoenix, Arizona. I play baseball." You know, finding out different things that you're interested in, finding out different things that you're good at so that when the time does come for you to hang, hang up the cleats or hang up the shoes or whatever sport it is you play, you're ready to make that transition because you've already thought about your other identities outside your sport.

Tom Lemke 49:49
And so that's what we're trying to do with, with just exposing our student-athletes to the, to their strengths early. Like OK, here's what I'm good at; what can I use those for -- whether it's my sport right now or, or a professional career after I'm done playing. So I think that that's ultimately going to just help our student-athletes, you know, keep evolving their identities just by considering their strengths.

Jim Collison 50:15
Tim, we are out of time. There's a lot of things to talk about here. But why don't you take a second to, to wrap it and thank our guests for coming today.

Tim Hodges 50:23
Yeah, for sure. Well, Jim, thanks for the opportunity. And for everyone joining us today and on the recording, I would, I would guess I'd just conclude by saying it takes great vision and leadership from people like Joe and from Tom and their teams to make this happen. But the real win here is the students, and Dan and Sierra, thanks for being great examples of what this can look like if people have an idea about how they might integrate strengths into the student-athlete experience on their campus. Fast forward a few years, and if you're doing it right, it looks a lot like the two of you. So thanks for sharing your experiences and being a great example of what this looks like when it's done well. Appreciate it.

Jim Collison 50:59
I want to thank all of you for joining us today for this. Hang tight for one second; don't go anywhere. Just a couple of reminders. We want to remind everyone to take full advantage of all the things we kind of talked about today. If you're like, you know, "Tell me more about this 'CliftonStrengths,'" go out to, and lots of great information out there for you as well. A lot of great things to take advantage of. For coaching, master coaching, or if you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, you can always send us an email -- and this, this for any questions you have as well: We'll get some information out to you as well. If you want to sign up for future webcasts just like this one -- you want to learn more about everything that's going on -- you can do that on our Eventbrite page. Go to Want to thank you for joining us today. Thanks for hanging out with us for this hour. Again, if you have questions on the program, your university wants to take advantage or talk to someone about this, send us an email: Thanks for coming out today. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Tim Hodges' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Relator, Belief, Woo and Positivity.

Tom Lemke's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Consistency, Harmony, Includer and Developer.

Sierra Hassel's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Focus, Self-Assurance, Relator and Futuristic.

Daniel Pearson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Competition, Command, Achiever, Focus and Activator.

Joe Petsick's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Restorative, Achiever, Strategic, Learner and Individualization.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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