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Developing a growth mindset

September 28, 2020

4 ways to adapt and thrive in uncertain times

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the fall 2020 issue of ASU Thrive magazine. 

Written by May Busch, the former COO of Morgan Stanley Europe who is now an executive coach, speaker, adviser, author and executive in residence in ASU’s Office of the President. Find her at

My high school volleyball team was filled with first-time players and, most of the time, we couldn’t even return the serves coming over the net. That is, until our coach taught us the game changer: how to stand in “ready position.”

While we didn’t become invincible overnight, that one technique meant we were finally able to score some points.

Being in ready position when it comes to your career and life will help you adapt and thrive no matter what the world throws at you.

Here are four steps to get you in ready position:

1. Cultivate a growth mindset.

With a growth mindset, you’ll be able to adapt to whatever environment you find yourself in. 

According to psychologist Carol Dweck, people with a fixed mindset believe their talents are carved in stone so they tend to focus on proving they’re smart. In contrast, people with a growth mindset see challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and grow, and they achieve more because they put more energy into learning. 

This is similar to ASU President Michael Crow’s concept of being a “master learner” — someone who can learn anything. 

A growth mindset helps you reframe the situation and shift your perspective from one that’s based in fear to one that’s based in possibility. So ask yourself, “How can this become a good thing for me?”

2. Identify your core strengths.

Your core strengths are the foundational resources you can draw on in times of challenge and uncertainty. They’re the collection of attributes, skills and capabilities you’ve developed that make you who you are.  

This includes your experiences and the wisdom you’ve gained from them, your network of relationships, your character and values, and your reputation. 

Make a list and put it in writing so you can remind yourself daily. Just as it’s harder for someone to knock you over when you brace your core muscles, you’ll be better able to stay strong in your career when you tap into your core strengths.  

3. Be future focused. 

When you’re alert to possible future changes, you can get ahead of that change and put yourself in a fundamentally better position as a result. In fact, you can start to look for and see what’s ahead and even create that change. That in turn helps you recognize opportunities to step in and add value.  

Some call this “finding the white space” or identifying opportunities or niches that aren’t already occupied by someone else. 

4. Get ready to thrive! 

We know we’re in for an extended period of uncertainty and upheaval. But it doesn’t mean you need to be on high alert. It simply means staying aware of what’s going on around you and making adjustments as things change.  

Just like being in ready position helped us in volleyball, getting yourself in ready position personally and professionally will help you to thrive in the new normal.  

What will most help you get in a ready position? 

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3 ways to network virtually

September 28, 2020

Staying connected with others is more critical now than ever

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the fall 2020 issue of ASU Thrive magazine. 

COVID-19 really shook everything up, didn’t it? One day we’re climbing up that career ladder, then the next, due to no fault of our own, this pandemic pushed us into a land of masks and physical distancing.  

Gone, for now, are the days of in-person networking events and happy hours. That doesn’t mean we should give up on networking. Opportunity is everywhere, even if we have to look harder for it.

The most important thing to do during this time is to breathe and keep moving forward. And that means making time to stay connected with people you’re not necessarily able to see in person. 

To network in these times:

1. Interact with LinkedIn connections. 

We have all done it. You add someone on LinkedIn and then never do anything with that new connection. Instead, create a goal to increase your LinkedIn presence. For example, comment on every new job/promotion announcement and every happy birthday notice you receive. Message a certain number of your contacts to check in and see how they/their companies are adjusting to the current times.  

2. Join virtual activities.

They may be awkward at first, but why not give it a shot? Many universities, including ASU, are taking alumni events virtual. Industry organizations are doing happy hours and trivia nights. Can’t find one that interests you? Then start your own. Reach out to an industry group you are part of and offer to arrange an event. 

3. Make a meaningful connection with someone you admire/want to learn from.

Been looking for a good time to set up an informational interview but didn’t want to interrupt the person’s busy schedule? Have you always been trying to get an interview with an industry leader but never followed through? Now is your time. With the pressure off of in-person meetings, people are more open than ever to having virtual interactions. Request a simple Zoom meeting, offer to send an Etsy box so you are doing some kind of activity together, or finally propose that interview.

If we have learned anything from COVID-19 it is: There are always alternatives and we can adapt. The virtual world has expanded beyond social media; it is now the way we do business.  

Our personal and professional lives have moved online. With that transition comes a greater opportunity to find the virtual connections for your next great opportunity. Try an unconventional networking method and see how it goes.

Then do it again, and again, and again. Who knows where you will be in six months if you work on growing and fostering your professional network? There’s only one way to find out. 

Good luck out there. We will get through this; and you may even end up a bit ahead. 

Written by Taylor Drake, ’09 BA in film, who leads marketing for a major litigation support firm in Los Angeles. At age 30, she co-founded Bluestocking Society, an online networking community for female professionals. Find out more at