Michael Wexler, a redshirt
freshman guard on the men's basketball team, took park in the WCC Leadership
Summit that was hosted by BYU last weekend. He shares what his experience was
like at the conference and some key information that he will bring back to
Q: How were you chosen to represent Pepperdine at the WCC Leadership Summit?
A: Honestly, I don't exactly know how I was chosen to be a part of the WCC Leadership Summit. Someone in athletics must think that I have good leadership qualities and that I could benefit Pepperdine Athletics from going to the summit. It was a huge honor to be able to represent Pepperdine and a great experience for me.
Q: What kinds of activities did you do at the summit?
A: During the summit we had a few guest speakers who were pro athletes, CEOs, and part of the BYU athletic department. We also played a lot of fun team-building games that were actually pretty competitive because no one wanted to lose; and through those games I got to meet athletes from every school in the conference. Lastly, we had a community service event where we went into Salt Lake City and packed hygiene bags for anyone who needed them for relief projects, which could have been hurricanes or other countries who were going through wars or for refugees.
Q: What was your favorite leadership activity?
A: My favorite leadership activity was when we all gathered in a room and did an activity called "join me on common ground" and basically what happened is we all stood in a circle side by side and there would be a person who would say "join me on common ground if, for example, you have military in your family" and the people who that applied to would take a step in the middle and then a step back to the circle. It was a really good activity to learn where people came from and what their background was, to just get a better understanding of maybe why people thought the way that they did or what they have experienced.
Q: What was the most inspiring part of the summit?
A: The most inspiring part was the realization that as student-athletes from our schools we have the ability to really bring a change to not only our school but the community around us. I learned that doing this doesn't always have to be through a huge event, but just by building relationships with the people around us and being a nice person, we can have such a huge impact on everyone's lives we touch.
Q: Who was your favorite speaker at the summit and why?
A: My favorite speaker was Ryan Smith who is the CEO of a survey company named Qualtrics. He was just a really down-to-earth guy who talked about his experiences as a first-time CEO. He told us how anyone can be a leader and not even know it, and how to be successful at something you have to be willing to be all into that. He also said that the biggest part of being a leader is being able to be the quickest learner. I thought all this applied to being a college athlete and a basketball player. It was also a very good message for our team because Coach Romar is always telling us that to be successful the whole team must be all in.
Q: What was the most important thing you learned from the summit?
A: For me it was a huge realization that I have to work on stepping out of my comfort zone to build relationships. As a freshman last year, I really stuck to what I knew, which was the team and a few of the friends I made from at school. But, from the summit I learned that just walking by people and saying hello is the start of a relationship and that will make people want to get to know you more and that is a huge part of being a leader - being trustworthy to other people.
Q: What was your most memorable/ favorite part of the summit?
A: All the speakers were great and the service event was really inspiring, but my favorite part was meeting all the other athletes and building relationships with them. It was really fun to see what other schools were doing in their athletic departments and it helped me bring back some ideas that we can use at Pepperdine to make everyone's experience as student-athletes better. But all the representatives from other schools were great and I plan to stay in touch with them.
Q: How will you bring back all the information you learned at the summit and share it with your peers here at Pepperdine?
A: The three of us who went from Pepperdine have already been talking and bringing up some ideas that we would like to pursue next year. We think the best way to get these things started is first by talking to the heads of athletics here, but then also bringing our ideas to WLC (Waves Leadership Council) and talk about what would be the best things to pursue. But personally, I plan to work on some of the things we learned, like building relationships with people, by trying to meet and get to know as many new faces as I can. In regards to being a leader, I want to lead by example and work hard all the time on the court and in the classroom and hopefully that will help all of us hold each other accountable as a team. Our team is great though, because we have so many leaders and people that want to get better so it's all of our jobs to become better leaders.