Jim Stengel’s 'personal' Penn State connection to continue during ALC Conference

John Patishnock
June 15, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State 1983 graduate and Alumni Fellow Jim Stengel stays busy these days, running his own company and hosting a wildly popular podcast. The Alumni Association benefactor and media savant has remained especially close to Penn State over the years, and he’ll share insight and wisdom with volunteer leaders when the Alumni Association hosts the virtual Alumni Leadership Connections (ALC) Conference on Saturday, June 27.

The annual conference happens every other year at University Park, and this year’s one-day training opportunity will use Zoom technology to bring volunteers together from across the country.

The goal of the training remains the same as previous in-person conferences: to provide Penn State Alumni Association affiliate group leaders with the opportunity to connect with other leaders from across the country while providing valuable information that will help them to become even better leaders.

This last word, “leaders,” is especially important to Stengel, one of the world’s most respected and dynamic business executives and sought-after speakers on innovation and making meaningful connections.

Stengel, along with his wife, Penn State 1984 alumna Kathleen Hakim Stengel, whom he met at the University, created a generous endowment through the Alumni Association to support excellence in alumni volunteer leadership, supporting the very ALC Conference that he’ll keynote.

“Fundamentally, it’s personal to me,” Stengel said of why he makes time for his alma mater. [Penn State] made a big difference in my life, professionally and personally. So that certainly is Point 1.

“Point 2 is I believe in the purpose of the institution, and I think it does serve a unique place in our national, state, local, and global community. The third area is the people, I enjoy the people. I get a lot out of my interactions with Penn State. It’s personal, it has a strong purpose, and the people are the kind of people I want to hang out with.’

The Cincinnati, Ohio, resident has returned to Penn State to speak numerous times over the years, and he now leads his own enterprise — The Jim Stengel Company. He also speaks weekly with world-leading business voices, hosting The CMO Podcast. It’s a wildly popular endeavor, surpassing downloads of 450,000, and Stengel plans to share a few of the lessons he’s learned from these business giants with Alumni Association volunteer leaders.

“One lesson is the amount of time these people spend with their teams, and drawing out their teams’ full potential,” Stengel said, “and helping them be psychologically safe and honest with each other, building relationships and trust, and (having) frequent communications and empowerment in the true sense of the word.”

The word most prominent on Stengel’s company’s website is “purpose,” another powerful lesson that’s been reinforced during this time. Many of the successful leaders Stengel speaks with both personalize and internalize their organization’s purpose, bringing it to life and measuring it.

There are also some practical lessons that Penn Staters can incorporate into their personal and professional lives. Some are time-honored and proven to work well, such as building incredible teams. That isn’t new, Stengel said, though it’s taken on extra importance and increased value.

The experienced leaders he meets with have always seen the power of that, he said, and now they’re taking it to a different level. There’s also the lesson of being open and honest with the people around you.

Some things never go out of style, whether you’re a CEO, a recent graduate, or carving out your own career path.

“Frequent and honest communication — everyone is talking about that,” Stengel said. “Accomplished people and pretty good communicators are seeing a breakthrough with frequency and the importance of their communications during this time.”

There are nearly 300 Alumni Association affiliate groups, spanning geographic regions, shared interests, and academic colleges. Visit alumni.psu.edu/groups to connect with Penn Staters today.

Last Updated June 15, 2020