Lessons From a Leader
“Be involved. Commit to what you say you’ll do—and don’t make excuses. The people before me kept me accountable... Keeping commitments is a habit you want to engrain.”
Finance and Real Estate
If you could write a prescription for becoming a leader, Nick Mattingly discovered a formula worth documenting. And he’s glad to share it—especially if he knows it can help others.
At first glance Nick might seem like any other promising young achiever—his long list of accomplishments, academic merits, scholarships, awards and activities demonstrates talent, effort and dedication. However, what stands out most about this quick-to-smile "people person” is at the essence of his character—what drives him—and that’s a passion to serve.
"I’ve always wanted to help people,” he says. "I’ve received a lot of help. I’ve been given so much—so many opportunities,” Nick says, gratefully. But he readily admits it was the hardships in his life that shaped and motivated him—including financial ones.
Based upon academic merits, Nick was directly admitted to the Kelley School, and to the Hutton Honors College and the Business Honors Program. He found early inspiration in a talk the dean gave, encouraging students to develop leadership and soft skills to help set themselves apart—since technical skills aren’t necessarily a prime differentiator in the workplace.
This message resonated with Nick and aligned perfectly with his passion. He loved to serve the community, so he set his focus on a few clubs and organizations where he felt he could make the most impact. He also began taking communications classes above and beyond the required courses to build his soft skills.
‘Coolest Organization on Campus’
Nick became an active member of Civic Leadership Development (CLD), a popular student organization that works with non-profits to serve the community in volunteer, leadership and fundraising capacities. "When I was looking at IU and Kelley, CLD sounded like the coolest organization on campus. I couldn’t wait to get involved,” he said. After serving two years as an active member, Nick became co-president his junior year and president his senior year.
He also joined Student Accounting Society (SAS) and became vice president of community service. He found SAS extremely beneficial for learning about and networking with the accounting firms as an underclassman. "It helped me a ton. I got to know accounting companies and attended their summer leadership programs—a great avenue for landing internships,” Nicks says, and credits this experience with helping him land his internship with Ernst & Young, where he is now fully employed.
He also became an active participant in Alternative Spring Break, using his break from classes to volunteer for Teach for America in 2008 and Junior Achievement in 2009. Besides the tremendous rewards Nick experienced as a volunteer, he grew as leader who was highly regarded by his peers and university administrators.
Evidence for this high regard for Nick can be seen in numerous awards he’s collected for his volunteer efforts. This spring, Nick accepted the "Be More Involved Award” on behalf of CLD for raising more than $15,000 during 2009 for the local Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization. He was also recognized as IU’s Most Outstanding Student Leader at the Men’s Little 500 Race. He was one of ten students selected to IU’s Homecoming Court, and one of IU’s "Top Ten Student Leaders”—just a sample of the recognition he’s received as a Kelley student.
Be Involved and Be Accountable
Nick’s advice for aspiring leaders: "Be involved. Commit to what you say you’ll do—and don’t make excuses,” he says. Nick credits other student leaders for teaching him this valuable lesson and says, "The people before me kept me accountable. People respect you for making them better. Keeping commitments is a habit you want to engrain.” He wished he’d known this earlier and adds, "Treat commitments like you are going for your favorite job—be on time, look sharp, and be prepared.”
Learn to Overcome Obstacles
Nick describes his background as "really humble.” It’s hard to imagine someone with Nick’s many accomplishments had his own share of hurdles to cross, but he readily discusses his challenges. Nick recalls a particularly difficult time early on in middle school, "I got really sick for a few weeks and had to miss a lot of classes. Around the same time, two of my family members passed away—it was awful.”
The devastation also took a serious academic toll with two straight quarters of failing grades. Nick had to quit sports, which he loved, and faced the threat of being held back a year. Instead of continuing a downward spiral, Nick saw this as the turning point in his life. He knew he had to turn things around and find the motivation deep inside.
He reaffirmed his own abilities and told himself, "I know I’m smart enough to accomplish anything I want to do.” And he was right. Not only did Nick improve his grades, he accomplished an astounding reverse: two quarters of straight A’s. He surprised his family and his teachers, made newspaper headlines, and learned a very powerful lesson of perseverance.
Nick’s continued dedication to academics earned him a 3.9 high school GPA. His academic merits helped him overcome the financial hardships he faced with the rising costs of college. He was awarded various scholarships that provided the necessary financial means to pursue his goals, including the Horatio Alger Scholarship and 21st Century Scholarship.
Follow Your Passion
Nick is very excited about his career with Ernst & Young. The firm has a community service program where employees dedicate their days to volunteer work. "I’m thinking of how great it would be to have community service ’weeks,’” he says, envisioning a way to further increase the impact. Nick’s passion for service has become a habit for life.
He sees himself volunteering his personal time too, and adds, "My main passion is to help people develop their financial literacy—learning how to evaluate a loan, how to get the best mortgage, etc.” Through Alternative Spring Break , he had the chance to teach Bloomington sixth graders some of the same concepts he learned in finance. Also passionate to continue his own education, Nick earned the chance to participate in Ernst &Young’s Your Master Plan program—a company-sponsored Master’s degree program in business.
Nick has learned a lot about leadership and the exponential effect of helping other leaders. He says, "Leaders emerge for many different reasons. The reasons I was able to become one of the top leaders on campus were my tireless efforts to learn, to improve and to make everyone around me better. My goals were to become the best leader on campus and, more importantly, to make the other leaders I worked with even better than me. Whether I reached the first goal is debatable, but I am confident the students leading CLD next year will definitely be better leaders than I ever was. That is the whole point of leadership.”
Courtesy photo from Alex Farris, Indiana Daily Student