Getting Through Your PhD One Day at a Time with Dr. Stefanie Boyer

Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:42:35]

That’s just sounds so amazing. With it, that the so we talked about the scaling, what was that process like for you guys to take your competition from something that you guys had control over? You guys had your hands on to moving it to the AI? How did that process work for you?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:42:53]

It was not, it was not easy. But I mean, we still have the we still have our in person events, we still you know, we still have this, this is just you know, the next level, because now we have, you know, 70 plus schools that are able to participate in it, thousands of people are able to compete every single semester. And the first semester that we we did it the night before it launched, Apple changed their policy in their code, so that you could no longer go out to a website, and then stay in the app, it would kick you out of the app. So we had to completely change everything. One of our programmers was in India, and they turned off the internet, like for that whole part of the country, so he couldn’t do and then that was also when there was all these, like California was on fire. And another one of our programmers was in California, and we’re like, oh my gosh, what are we going to do? It’s so stressful? It was so scary. And you know, we had all these people that were trusting us and believing in us because as a faculty member, if your students are upset, and they give you bad evaluations, then that can prevent you from getting a promotion or from being able to like get your tenure or, you know, gives you a lot of pressure from maybe administration, especially if you’re at like a balanced school or more teaching type institution. So we were so nervous and it was one of those things where it’s kind of like your dissertation where you got to get it out there you can’t wait till it’s 100% perfect and even if you think it is you’re gonna have a surprise and realize that it’s actually not


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:44:30]

Yeah, no, that’s that’s that’s true. Getting it out there is important and the roller coaster ride, it’s got to be really something.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:44:39]

It is and you know, it’s like we we don’t do advertising. We use social media to get the word out and just word of mouth. So anybody whose students are focused on trying to communicate more effectively. And it doesn’t matter. Like you don’t have to have a sales job. If you’re a doctor, if you’re a lawyer. If you’re a police officer, it doesn’t matter what you go into, you need some selling skills, so anybody can use it. And it’s 100% free for college students, so anybody out there that has students, sign them up, and you know, they can they can train and compete for free.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:45:19]

So how did they get to that? How would How would they sign up for Rainmakers?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:45:23]

Sure. So you just go to And there’s a link right there that says, sign up as a player, as a student player, or if you’re a faculty coach, and you want people to participate, then you just sign up as a coach, we will approve you, and then you can register your own students.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:45:46]

And so then you’ll be able to kind of see what your students are doing. So in addition to them getting feedback from the AI, you can see what they’re doing as well.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:45:53]

Exactly, you can see their learning, improve over time. And you can see the depth of their performance when they’re asking questions. And when they’re presenting value all of these things.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:46:04]

That is so cool. That is awesome. Now, you did mention just a little bit ago about the social media and how you guys are getting the word out on social media, you helped write the Little Black Book of Social Media. Tell us a little about that.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:46:17]

I did, I did. You know, it was such a, it was such a fun process. Working on this book with my colleague Charmaine at around, we were both hired at Bryant the same time. And she’s like my partner in crime, every time people see us walking down the hallway together, like, oh, gosh, what is going to happen now? This is gonna be trouble. And so we had been helping people with their social and you know, they’re constantly coming to us asking, how do we improve, you know, LinkedIn, so I have a stronger LinkedIn profile. She is like, the queen of Instagram. And you know, they’re constantly coming to us, she runs our digital program, of how do I improve social, I have this business, I’m overwhelmed. I know, I need to be online. But I have no idea how sometimes they try to get an intern to run their social. And it’s like, what are you doing, you’re getting a student that doesn’t know anything about social to create your strategy, and figure like you need to create your strategy or have some help doing that. So we were just getting inundated with questions about how do we do this, and everybody wanted help. And even if we don’t help some people, we can’t help all of them. So we thought, you know, well, let’s take what we do to share the advice. And let’s package this in an easy step by step way that you can launch your brand, or you can, you know, promote or you can maintain, or you can grow your brand, on any different outlet. So it’s not just like, you know, here’s how to do Twitter right now, or Tick tock, or whatever it is that you want to do. Because all those algorithms change, things are changing constantly. But how can we present this strategy that’s simple that anybody can do it. So we just created this, we went in a room, and we white boarded the whole thing, which is, it’s such a great process to use if you’re doing a dissertation or writing an article or writing a book. And we took, luckily, the whole room was a whiteboard. And we wrote out step by step, if we were going to tell someone step by step what to do, no matter what outlet they were on, what would we say. And so we went from board to board to board and we wrote out and we’re like, okay, this is 30 days, this is 30 days worth or like 30 different steps. And so, each chapter is only a few pages, and it tells you like, what it is, why you need to do it, and example, and then it gives you a little assignment. And if you follow that, you’ll see, you know, on LinkedIn, your social selling index will improve, you’ll gain followers, and it doesn’t really matter, the outlet that it is you just have to decide, you know, how am I going to position myself? What is that audience? What value am I bringing to the table? And then you have to think about your engagement strategy. Because a lot of times we think, like, oh, I’m just going to go promote myself and say all these things, but it’s like one way communication. But social media is like a two way street. So you, you know, you can’t just put the messages out. It’s social media, right? So you have to like it’s social, you have to share people are commenting if the comment back, someone walked in the room, and they’re like, Hi, and you just ignored them. They’re gonna stop saying hi. So it’s like, you know, you have to take a lot of the things that if we were face to face, we would still do the same things online. But people, they put this barrier and they think social media is just like it’s just an advertising campaign, but really, it’s so much more than that.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:49:53]

So what we’ve done, obviously, we couldn’t talk about all 30 days right now, but what would your day one advice be to someone who feels like do I need to start taking social media seriously? Or I need to revamp what I’ve been doing on social? What’s the day one advice for them?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:50:09]

Sure. So day one, we have the people really look at, you know, what are their? What are the things that they value? What are their talents? And what is their experience, because before they can go out and you know, have this campaign and a content calendar and an audience and all these things, they have to know what it is that they want their brand to be about. So they look at, you know, what are the things that are really important to them? Right, that that value? What are the things that they’re really good at? Which is the talent? And what experience have they had? So like, what are they actually good at, um, if they put those all together, in like that Venn diagram, I guess that sweet spot is in the middle. And that’s what their brand is going to be about. And that’s how you can have that authenticity, so that you’re not something you know, you’re not trying to be something that you’re not, it all comes down to your core. So then everything that you do, the people that you find, that are going to care about the message, your weekly schedule of how you’re, you know, putting your messages out, and everything that you do is based on the foundation of that first day of figuring out who you are, position, your position.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:51:27]

I love that, because that’s one of the things that we talk to folks about when they’re writing their, their books. So folks that want to, to, to expand their authority, we tell them, okay, you got to get your message out there. And being a published author, a great way to do it. But one of the things that I tell them over and over again, is you have to speak with your own kind of natural voice, whatever, whoever you are, let that come through. Because you know, if you’re usually kind of jeans, sneakers and T shirts, but for the for the book, you get all dressed up in like glam shot and all this kind of stuff, you’re going to attract people who expect that. And then when you go to revert back to jeans, t shirt, and sneakers, they can be like who’s this and this slob and I can’t No, no judgments, there is just going to be a mismatch in what you were putting out there and what you feel comfortable with. And there is a jeans, sneakers and an t shirt crowd that you could serve, if that’s who you are. put that out there. And it’s fine. The people who care about you being all glammed up, they’re not going to come and that’s okay. Because the people who you’re meant to interact with and who you can you can connect with, in the best way, they’re going to come to you. Because you’re you’re you’re showing them who you really are. That’s a tough thing a lot of people to to get, I’m not saying you should put your worst foot forward, but at the same time,


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:52:50]

That’s great advice. Because it authenticity is so critical. And at some point people will realize if you’re not being authentic and and even if it’s just you and you’re going to be so unhappy, because you’re going to say like what do people really like they like this image of me, that isn’t actually me at all.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:53:09]

So very rarely people can come up with a persona that isn’t them. And they like to play that on stage. And if that’s you, then fine, but just understand that that’s going to take up a lot of your life. And so, you know, for most people, it’s just a lot, it takes less energy, it’s more comfortable, it’s less stressful, to just show up as you and the people who like that and connect with that, they’ll find you because you’re just putting that message out there. And it’s you know, there’s this term that people use “dog whistle,” when they hear a certain thing, it causes them to respond. Well, they’re going to you’re going to be sending out this dog whistle to your particular tribe. And they’ll hear it even though you don’t know exactly what you’re saying, to attract them. They’re just naturally going to gravitate towards you because of the connection that you guys have. So it’s it’s tough to, for some people to think that I’m good enough. And that’s another thing you got to get over is that you are, go out there and tell people who you are and help folks.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:54:09]

That’s great advice.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:54:11]

So if you are going to tell people at any stage along this doctoral journey, whether it’s getting ready to get started or in the middle of the dissertation, or you’ve graduated, and you’re moving on with your postdoctoral life, one piece of advice, what would you which stage would you point that piece of advice that what would you tell?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:54:33]

Gosh, you know, that’s that’s a great question. I mean, during your dissertation, that’s probably the the toughest part of the whole program of getting through. And that’s really that big hump that you have to get over and everything else is, you know, it’s easier. It gets so much easier after that. And I would just say that, you know, one day at a time, giving yourself goals that break, whiteboarding, getting your your tribe in place and your support. I know you’re saying like, what’s one piece of advice, but you really need, yeah, all of those elements, but then that can carry you through. So even when you when you finally graduate, whatever you’re working on, whether it’s that publication or designing a new course, or writing your book or whatever that next venture is, you can keep those same practices in place. Whiteboarding is never gonna get old, anytime you have an idea, like whiteboard that out and see. I mean, it’s just, it’s just such a great tool. And you got to have that support group throughout this, the people that are experts that can help you and support you. And that plan, if you like you said before, if you don’t have that plan, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going to get to that place. Right. Exactly. So you know, those little keys that will carry you along. And I think they’re just lessons that you can take throughout, no matter what stage you’re in.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:56:02]

Yeah, I love it. So the whiteboarding, I like to, um, but but definitely figure out a way to kind of collect your ideas together. And, and, and develop some sense of organization around those ideas, whatever that is for you. The team, like you said, I think that’s so important, just have some support structure around you. And, you know, dissertation done does that sort of thing, but you don’t need that necessarily. You can find friends, you can find family members, you can find colleagues that are going through something similar in the educational space, find something that works for you, I think we work for the students that we work with. But that’s not going to be everybody. And so it’s very important to find that support wherever you can find it. And then so it was it was teams, it was whiteboarding, and then the only way you’re going, it’s important to have some sense of intentionality about what you’re doing. Because, again, if you don’t, if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not like when you get there.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:57:00]

And you know what, and that whole, knowing where you’re going, managing your committee, managing their expectations, managing up, you know, you can’t just expect that people are gonna always tell you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and like, be really concerned about your best interest. You have to come in and say, I am going, we’re gonna have our next meeting. You know, in four weeks, in two weeks, I’m going to send you all of these comments that you’ve given me, and I’ll give you two weeks to review it, you know, and as soon as the meeting is over, you send them a message and say, here’s what I heard in the meeting. This is what I’m going to work on. And then when you send out in two weeks, the changes, you say, this is what I said I was going to do, here’s what I did, you have to just make it really easy for people to say yes. So that you can you have to manage up in that process and your life is going to be so much easier.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:57:53]

100%. I love what you what you said there about about all that. I will add to that, when you’re choosing your committee if you have any, any ability to do so, know what you want to get out of the dissertation process and get your get a committee member that’s aligned with that. So if you just want to graduate as quickly as possible, again, they’re going to keep the bar high enough that you’re going to graduate, the university is not going to let them produce a coloring book and call it a dissertation, the dissertation. But have a committee that’s okay with that, or that even appreciates that, that that planning. Because so many of them want you to think that you have to create the best thing since sliced bread. And that’s not necessary. So figure out what your committee’s kind of biases are in that direction. You know, if you want to graduate by a certain date, involve them in that process right away, how, what do I need to do to make this happen? And so they will start telling you, okay, here’s the dates, and here’s the things you have to do. So that you’re not confused that, hey, I finished this three months ahead of my deadline, and you’re telling me is gonna take six months to do this last little bit that I thought won’t take any time at all? You won’t, you don’t want to have that conversation at the end, you want to know right from the beginning. So that whole idea of managing is important. But also, to the extent that you can philosophically align with your committee that’s really helpful as well.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer [00: 59:11]

It is. And one other thing I know are been off for a while, just what really helped me a lot was coming up with a little matrix to identify where I wanted to go. And like I said, I interviewed at so many different places. And so it was really important for me and my fiance at the time to go through and try to identify what do we want, you know, and it’s really easy to get excited about maybe a big offer that you’re going to get, but there’s so much more to it than how much money you’re going to make. You know, it’s like how likely are you going to be able to make tenure and get the promotion so that you can stay there if that’s something that you even want and like how close are you to an airport or what’s the crime rate or how close are you to businesses are the things that you want to see So being able to go through and rank everything, and give it a weight of how important those things are to you, it actually really helped illuminate how great Bryant was going to be for us. Because initially, like I said, I was like, I don’t know about this, but they had so many things that I actually wanted. So having a process that you can go to where it can help you to make those decisions and stay on track. It’s so important.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.