“Adapt to your world”

One of my most rewarding experiences as an instructor is seeing and hearing from my former students.

I enjoyed that experience again on Monday when Nick Coy, who is the diversity director at Dutch Bros Coffee, spoke to my communication seminar students.

Almost 20 years ago Nick was one of those students, and over time I’ve seen his career path take some expected and unexpected turns.

That was one of the themes he discussed with my students on Monday. “Adapt to your world” was the four word takeaway that really struck me.

In answering the question if he thought a career path was accidental or in some way pre-planned, Nick said,”adapt to your world.”

His point was that you can never necessarily know when the next professional opportunity or challenge is going to present itself. He noted that last summer he felt there was a real need for companies to be hyper aware of diversity, inclusion and equity, following the killing of George floyd.

Nick was able to find a professional opportunity shortly after those horrible events that took place in Minneapolis in part because he was willing to adapt to his world.

In his case leaving one professional opportunity for another. It also meant a move. But for Nick the question really was where could he make a difference within an organization that aspired to values that he held important.

I like that phrase “adapt to your world” because it recognizes you can and must be both flexible and confident. Flexible enough to realize that sometimes you run your race at a particular organization and need to move on. And confident that your skills are such that a new employer will find you to be a valuable addition to a team.

It was so great seeing and hearing from Nick on Monday. But more importantly, it was necessary for my students to hear from someone who thought at age 21 he was going to be a broadcast journalist and has become something else. And I know he is personally and professionally happy.

You can’t ask for much more in life.

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