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spark*sessions are an opportunity for DOS Staff Members and Campus Partners to engage in personal and professional development in a relaxed environment. We’ll explore a popular book that aims to help you become your best self in all areas of your life.

We will do all the prep work for you and your only job is to show up ready to engage with an open mind. You’ll leave with main points, follow-up tools, and an action plan to implement lessons learned.

Get all of the information you want without spending the time or money to read the book.  We hope that you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to get outside of your office and learn new ways to inform and reframe your personal and professional life.

Please contact Chance Ryon,, if you would like to learn more about spark*sessions.

Our office hosts spark*sessions throughout the summer so please be on the lookout for email communication about these events and they will be posted here as well as on Anchor Link.

We’d also be happy to conduct a spark*session just for your office or division. A spark* session would be perfect if you have a professional development day coming up for your office or would like a speaker at your staff meeting, please reach out to us and we will customize a spark*session to fit your needs. We have had the fortune of hosting spark*session for Vanderbilt University Athletics Staff, the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships, the University Staff Advisory Council, the live-in staff members from the Office of Housing and Residential Education, and members of the Office of the Dean of Students.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Summer ’19 spark*sessions!

Spring 2020 spark*sessions

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman & Paul White

Facilitated by Chance Ryon, Program Coordinator, Office of Student Leadership Development

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace will give you the tools to improve staff morale, create a more positive workplace, and increase employee engagement. How? By teaching you to effectively communicate authentic appreciation and encouragement to employees, co-workers, and leaders. Most relational problems in organizations flow from this question: do people feel appreciated? This book will help you answer “Yes!”

Summer 2019 spark*sessions

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It’s the Manager by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter

Facilitated by Krystal Clark, Director of Student Leadership Development

It’s the Manager shows leaders how to adapt their organizations to rapid change, ranging from new workplace demands to managing remote employees, a diverse workforce, the rise of artificial intelligence, gig workers, and attracting – and keeping – today’s best employees. Who is the most important person in your organization to lead your teams through these changes? Gallup research reveals: It’s your managers.



iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M. Twenge, PhD

Facilitated by RC Stabile, Area Coordinator Highland Quad

As this new group of young people grows into adulthood, we all need to understand them: Friends and family need to look out for them; businesses must figure out how to recruit them and sell to them; colleges and universities must know how to educate and guide them. And members of iGen also need to understand themselves as they communicate with their elders and explain their views to their older peers. Because where iGen goes, so goes our nation—and the world.


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Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott

Facilitated by Brianna Nesbitt, Program Coordinator for the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center; Katrina Crawford, Assistant Director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center; Diana Morris, Assistant Director for Student Accountability, Community Standards & Academic Integrity; Harold Brown, Program Coordinator for the Office of Greek Life; Chance Ryon, Program Coordinator for Student Leadership Development

The master teacher of positive change through powerful communication, Susan Scott wants you to succeed. To do that, she explains, you must transform everyday conversations at work and at home with effective ways to get your message across—and get what you want. Scott teaches you how to:
• Overcome barriers to meaningful communication
• Expand and enrich relationships with colleagues, friends, and family
• Increase clarity and improve understanding
• Handle strong emotions—on both sides of the table
• Connect with colleagues, customers and family at a deep level

Summer 2018 spark*sessions

The Five Dysfunctions of Team by Patrick Lencioni

Facilitated by Krystal Clark, Director of Student Leadership Development

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has become the world’s most definitive source on practical information for building teams. The book’s impact extends beyond business schools, churches, non-profit organizations, professional sports teams and the military. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has sold over two million copies and continues to be a fixture on national best-seller lists week after week.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team outlines the root causes of politics and dysfunction on the teams where you work, and the keys to overcoming them. Counter to conventional wisdom, the causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable. However, they don’t die easily. Making a team functional and cohesive requires levels of courage and discipline that many groups cannot seem to muster.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less  by Greg McKeown

Facilitated by Krystal Clark, Director of Student Leadership Development

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?

Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?

Are you often busy but not productive?

Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?



Drive by Daniel H. Pink

Facilitated by Krystal Clark, Director of Student Leadership Development
Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake. The author examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose-and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action in a unique book that will change how we think and transform how we live.


Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown

Facilitated by Nancy Hawthorne, Affliated Chaplain Office of the University Chaplain & Religious Life & Krystal Clark, Director of Student Leadership Development

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.



The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

Facilitated by Krystal Clark, Director of Student Leadership Development

The Happiness Hypothesis is the most thorough analysis of how you can find happiness in our modern society, backed by plenty of scientific research, real-life examples and even a formula for happiness.

The Happiness Hypothesis is our 2018 Commons Reading Book.