Can you imagine more than half a million trees being planted in forests simply because customers decided to receive their statements online? In March of 2012, Nelnet began a three-year partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant a tree for every borrower who joined us on the path to paperless – and as of March 2015, 612,965 have done so.
By partnering with the Foundation, Nelnet has helped support the quality of our country’s environment and well-being by choosing to plant in forests that were in great need of restoration. After seeing the devastating effects of the Hayman Fire in 2002, Nelnet chose to plant seedlings in Colorado’s Pike National Forest in an attempt to restore a portion of the 137,000 acres that were burned in the fire.
After the Pike National Forest was filled, we began planting in California. Once fully grown, these trees will improve air quality, recycle water, create shade, and provide food and homes for living things. They will also have the ability to produce roughly 65,000 pounds of oxygen – enough to supply 168 people with a yearly supply of oxygen.
“Being able to partner with the Arbor Day Foundation in planting over 600,000 trees is a huge accomplishment,” says Stacy Stevens, a supervisor in Nelnet’s Arbor Day call center. “When this program started, we thought we would plant around 75,000 seedlings a year. We never anticipated that it would grow to this extent so quickly.”
Nelnet is grateful for all those borrowers who have successfully helped us restore some of our nation’s most beautiful and precious natural environments.
No matter their situation, Nelnet is always working to ensure borrowers know their repayment options, including income-driven repayment plans, graduated payment plans, deferment, and forbearance. To assist borrowers who have missed some payments, we send communications that not only alert them of being past due, but also explain how Nelnet can help in all stages of delinquency.
We are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating borrower communications to be sure we are sending the most valuable information at the best times and using the most effective methods. Recent adjustments to our communication plan are reflected in our 2015 Delinquent Borrower Communication Summary. This document highlights some of the communications we send to delinquent borrowers in early-, mid-, and late-stage delinquency. To learn more, click here and download the 2015 Delinquent Borrower Communication Summary.
I have always loved Star Wars. When I first saw the original trilogy, I was completely consumed – good against evil, normal person who does heroic things, new images, concepts and characters, and the tension between the journeys of the protagonist vs. the antagonist.
While I initially put myself in the place of Luke Skywalker and can still identify with him, the character that now stands out the most for me is Master Yoda. I believe he teaches us leadership lessons that can be make us more effective as leaders.
He shared both challenge and wisdom and only when the student was ready
Yoda knew that there is always more to any story. Always something beneath the surface. But he only went as far and fast as the Padawans allowed him to. He offered the next level of understanding only when they were ready.
As leaders, it is tempting to presume that others process at the speed and in the manner that we do. Time constraints can cause us to move to task completion vs. capturing the learnings that are there for us every day. How do we know when our teams are ready for the next level of responsibility or performance? How do we confirm understanding? How do we issue challenge without a dose of discouragement? Yoda had an incredible ability to meet the student where they were at without compromising his firm belief in their potential.
He used power only when he needed to
I chose not to show Yoda with his light saber on this blog post. Yoda respected when to use The Force and only under dire circumstances did he use his light saber.
When does the use of our leadership power or our position authority lead us to The Force (equipping, inspiring, championing, challenging) vs. the Dark Side (coercion, manipulation, violation, dehumanization). Situational leadership instructs us to be mindful of the times to direct, to coach, to support and to delegate. Discernment is power and never forces.
He stayed true to The Force
While Yoda aligned with The Force, had a keen sense of the Dark Side. We all have that capacity. Yoda wasn’t about Yoda. He knew that The Force was bigger than himself and submitted to it. He knew he could not control it, but could access it as it was much larger than him. Was that Yoda or The Force that was doing those amazing things? It doesn’t really matter – he stayed true to The Force.
To what are we staying true on the leadership journey? Bill George, in his leadership book, True North, lists purpose, values, relationships, self-discipline and heart as components of authentic leadership. We are most effective as leaders when are in our authentic selves, staying true. Our Dark Side leadership can emerge when are deviate from the true and real.
He loved questions
Perhaps the Yoda character was, in part, inspired by the Socratic method of learning. By asking questions, Yoda honored the intelligence of the protégé. He didn’t presume because he could not truly know. He knew that the power of curiosity trumps the power of judgment. He knew that when the protégé found their answer, it would be better than any answer he could have given them. He knew that questions stimulated the part of the mind that was unknowingly blocked by the proteges.
Many executives lead with answers. To ask a question might mean that I don’t know something. To ask a question will prolong the process of getting the answer that I believe I already have. To ask a question opens us up to uncertainty. What if the answer is not binary? What if there are many options and we have trouble making decisions?
Questions lead to both answers and the truth.
He went deep into the soul
An encounter with Yoda was transformative. He looked below the surface. He believed more in the individual than they did themselves. He knew what was MOST important.
Aren’t the leaders that we respect and admire the most, those who truly understood us well? Challenged and confronted us? Examined our motivations, heart and character? By not going deep, we sell leadership effectiveness short. Great leaders go deep, know their “why”, become self-aware, examine the nasties that hide in their darkness and emerge transformed by facing the fact that Darth Vader is really their father.
I invite you to “Feel The Force” – that is your authentic leadership style that keeps Yoda’s lessons in mind as you fulfill your responsibilities of moving your business far beyond anyone’s expectations.
Evan Roth is a Certified Executive Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. He enjoys helping people thrive in the corporate world. You can find him at CoachEvanRoth.com.
On March 11, 2015, FSA announced a new tool on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) called the Loan Record Detail Report (LRDR) Import Tool. It allows schools to easily load LRDR information into Microsoft Excel. This should make it easier for schools to learn how their CDR was calculated.
For more information, check out the announcement on IFAP: http://www.ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/031115LoanRecordDetailReportLRDRImportTool.html
FSA’s new infographic makes it easy for struggling borrowers to see what they can do to get back on track. Download this infographic and share it with borrowers who are having trouble making federal student loan payments. It’s easy to print, email, or share on social media!