Armando Rancano, the director of employee development at Wayfair LLC, said at a Weber State University lecture on Thursday that having a degree “means very little.”
“A degree is a certificate that shows you’ve gone through a certain amount of coursework,” Rancano said.
He went on to explain that what matters is what a student does while earning the degree.
“The networking, the people that you meet, the volunteer work that you do, the internships that you participate in, (are) so powerful (because) it build relationships,” Rancano explained.
Isaac Thomas, a business marketing junior at WSU, said he appreciated the lecture and that Rancano’s point of view about a degree was the “most poignant.”
“I guess it’s important for all of us to try and more than just take classes, but to really get involved in the school, in the community, in our major, and just be able to make the most connections that we can while we’re getting the degree so that when graduation does come, we’re more than ready to hit the work force,” Thomas said.
Rancano began his lecture by informing students he wanted to meet them.
He then proposed a question, asking the audience what factors lead to business success. Nine answers were given; however, it was not until the 10th response that Rancano deemed the most important factor.
Rancano said the most important piece of information he could provide about being successful was having the ability to build relationships.
“You can be the most talented individual in the world, but without your ability to build relationships, you’re not going to get very far,” Rancano said. “If I had to leave with you today one single thing, you need to have an ability to build relationships.”
Rancano related his entrepreneurial experience, further illustrating his belief about the importance of relationships. He said he had decided to launch a consulting firm with two partners, one of whom had many important connections and the other being skilled in technology.
“When you put together management teams, people tend to look for people like themselves, which is a big mistake,” Rancano warned. “You have to have people who bring different skills to the table.”
Rancano also gave advice on how to build those relationships, saying to express interest and listen to motivate others.
“Usually when you engage somebody in conversation, you will find that it’s people talking about themselves,” Rancano said. “Don’t be so concerned with telling people who you are. It’s incredibly powerful, psychologically, to do that.”
He went on to describe his experience in training call center employees, saying he teaches them to find what the needs of the customers are.
“It’s all about needs-satisfaction,” Rancano said. “We all have needs and we express them in different ways. Learn what somebody else’s needs are.”
Lauren Altdoerffer, who is the development director for WSU’s business school, said she enjoyed the lecture because it showed students how someone with real-world experience became successful.
“I really thought that this one in particular was wonderful, because it shared the message that curiosity in other people and relationships that you build with other people are what makes someone successful in their community,” Altdoerffer said.