Dr. C.W. Von Bergen
C.W. Von Bergen, PhD., John Massey Professor of Management
"You are never as good as you think nor as bad as others may think. Most of us have inflated views of ourselves that over time become very corrosive. Pride is truly punished by the gods while humility will be rewarded handsomely."
How soft skills matter
Your interpersonal skills are a primary key to success in managerial roles. Dr. Clarence Von Bergen, professor of management, shares how your simple ability to deal with people can allow you to stand out among your peers.
- Ph.D. in Finance — Purdue University, 1974
- M.S. — Trinity University, 1970
- B.A. — University of Texas at Austin, 1968
- Owned and operated a business for seven years
- Sabbatical in New Zealand.
- Author/co-author of 125+ publications
Which classes do you teach online?
Behavioral Management; Supervisory Management; Principle Centered Leadership.
Why did you start teaching?
In part, because I became disillusioned with my progress in corporate and entrepreneurial America. Because I had a solid educational background, I was able to move easily into higher education, which, in retrospect, I wish I had entered many years earlier. This career progression is very similar to what many students will be doing in their careers—moving into several very different jobs/careers.
What's the best advice that you have ever received?
Persist and persevere, and work hard and smart.
What's the best advice that you could give your students?
You are never as good as you think nor as bad as others may think. Most of us have inflated views of ourselves that over time become very corrosive. Pride is truly punished by the gods while humility will be rewarded handsomely.
In the Bible (John 8:20) and engraved on the library at the University of Texas are these wise words: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make your free." Search for truth!
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
What qualities make someone particularly successful in business?
I think self-discipline and self-control are key qualities necessary for life and business. Having some degree of self-control, also called willpower, is important for allowing people to maintain healthy lifestyles, such as engaging in regular exercise, controlling food intake and working harder. Willpower affects many areas of life, including personal decisions, social interactions and conduct in social settings like school and the workplace. Self-control, along with intelligence, is considered by psychologists to be two key human traits that produce many benefits for people and others around them. Fortunately, these two qualities can be developed and are not fixed. Impulsiveness and the inability to defer gratification are problematic.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that people in the profession face today?
The growing need for employees to exercise initiative rather than just "doing their job."
Tell us something that your students might find interesting, something they may not know about you.
Early in my career, I learned a valuable lesson from one of my supervisors that may be helpful to students. When I didn't deliver on a project, I had nothing but a list of excuses and blame. His response? "Don't tell me about the labor pains—just show me the baby." He wasn't interested in excuses, or blaming someone else. All he wanted was a completed project. A learning point, then, is that if you have problems with other team members or employees, don't run to the boss immediately. Deal with it directly as best you can, and if you have difficulties, come to the boss with what you have done and even a recommendation to resolve the matter. Become a problem solver, not an excuse maker.
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