Geeky Office Décor Series: Mauricio Gómez Montoya

This week we're featuring the awesome office of Mauricio Gómez Montoya, Retention Specialist with the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas.

Here's what Mauricio had to say about his space:

"I love my job. It’s challenging, rewarding and ultimately really fun. However, if I’m going to spend over 40 hours per week at work, I’m gonna make this place look and feel like home. I’m a huge Marvel & Star Wars fan, I also love sports and cultural artifacts. I’ve tried to blend these interests into the look of my office. Initially, I did this because of what I thought these items said about me. It made me feel “cool” and express my interests. I’ve noticed that the decoration of my office has inspired my students to trust me more if I put myself out there. I they feel like they really know me.

Over the last year, I’ve asked students if I should “rebrand”. I’m progressing in my career and it has made me questioning if there is room for a Tie Fighter or a Spider-Man poster in the office of a Senior Student Affairs Administrator. After many conversations with my students, I realize that there is. My students (and some colleagues) made me promise to not get rid of my “nerdy stuff” when I advance. They gave me a different perspective on the issue. It’s not what my office says about me, it’s about how students feel when they’re in it. One of my students said: "I feel intimidated when all I see are degrees and encyclopedias in my faculty’s office. But Spider-Man? I can talk about Spider-Man.”

Good practices in Student Affairs rely on relationships across campus. Relationships are based in trust. If your students (and colleagues) know you, they will trust you and if they trust you, they’ll listen to you. I’ve bonded on several occasions with students because of the conversation starters in my office. Whether it is the giant Spidey poster on the wall, the Gumball dispensing Yoda on my desk or the Jimi Hendrix portrait, students feel like they can relate and ultimately, feel more comfortable.

These conversations have lead me to think it’s time to redefine the idea of professionalism in student affairs."

What I really like about Mauricio's office is that it features Spider-Man (a personal favorite of mine), as well as the other diverse interests that he showcases in his space. I also appreciate how Mauricio shared the doubt he experienced as he thought about moving up professionally. I think we can all be our genuine selves no matter what we want to do professionally. Especially in our field, we should be encouraging professionals to be themselves so that we showcase a positive example for our students. I know it was transformative for me to accept that I can be myself and also be an effective leader and professional. It's awesomely poignant that Mauricio's students helped him realize that he should keep his geeky decorations up in his office.

Many thanks to Mauricio for sharing his space with us.

Stay tuned for more awesome offices in the coming weeks!

Thanks for stopping by!

Organic VS Promoted Content: Which Reigns Supreme?

* This post is edited from the original, which was featured on Socialnomics.

So I am personally all about all-natural, organic, and sustainable stuff. Whether it is the toothpaste I use, the food I eat, or how I buy pretty much anything in my life, having something feel real and not artificial is important to me. This combines with my respect for authenticity and transparency in relationships. My overall preference for the "real deal" even comes into social media with the curious question I’ve stumbled upon when it comes to social media marketing; should one pay to promote or not?

Within the past year, both Facebook and Twitter launched the capacity for users to pay to promote their posts and tweets respectively. Facebook already had their “Ads” that would show up on the side of users’ timelines, but these two new functions put your promoted content right in the personal feeds of your customers. It comes, understandably, from the need to monetize these popular sites, but the real question comes in as to what is the best use of an organization’s money when it comes to engaging your audience; are you really getting what you pay for? Obviously, ideally your content will make it’s way out into the world on it’s own but usually, customers aren’t just following you, they’re following all sorts of different pages, even your competitors for business.

So it seems logical, you want the edge so you pay for promotion and you squash out the competition. Right? Well, the jury is still out on that. Not to say that promoted posts are not useful, but they also aren’t shown to be the way to go for every business and for every post. Social media is about engagement, and using paid promotion for posts can come across as spammy and inauthentic. Facebook paid promotions can be useful to get the word out about a new offer you have for your business or for an upcoming event since they only go out to those who “like” your page, as opposed to Facebook ads that go out to anyone and everyone. The same goes for Twitter. Think about what you’re posting and what is worth it to pay to get out to everyone and sort of muscle your way into their feed.

Another consideration to make is where you are putting this content. Are your customers even on Facebook or are they on Pinterest? Does your content make sense for the social media site you are promoting on? Facebook is different from Twitter which is different from LinkedIn which is different from Instagram (which also now supports ads). It is important to be intentional about the core what, where, when and why of posts in order to get the greatest results. From my perspective, the general logic here should focus on a few points: moderation (as with all things), organic engagement & paid promotion, and lastly, cater to the medium. For this last bit, whether that means you cover your basis on every social networking site or hone in on one, you can save a lot of money and time by knowing where your audience is and creating content for that particular venue. Doing all this will create an authentic aura that avoids the negative connotations of spam ads and allows for you to get the word out on all the great things your organization is up to.

Thanks for stopping by!

A Geek's Guide to Leadership


 "This is a stream of consciousness on some leadership tenants that even this endearingly awkward geek can abide by."

My journey to considering my self a leader has been a long one. I was always a pretty shy and humble kid (and still am to some extent) who never wanted to be the center of attention or take charge. It was only once I went to college, found my niche, and was able to have the pleasure and privilege of attending leadership workshops as well as take some awesome courses on leadership, did I build my confidence as someone who had something to offer as a leader. We all are unique and our leadership will take equally unique forms. That being said, there are some general attributes that I feel make for good leaders, which can be adapted and interpreted in their own ways, creating your own mix of how to get things done and lead a team towards a common goal.

I also use the word leader pretty loosely. While I supervise students, I also see myself as a leader in my campus community, working to forge ahead with projects and efforts that will help all students, prospective, current, commuter, and residential.

A lot of this connects to another post of mine about how to maximize the best of geek culture for building community. Check out that post too to learn more of my geeky revelations!


A big thing for me is being authentic, genuine, and real. I never want to seem like a phony to my students or some one I'm not to my friends and colleagues. I share my geeky passions regularly and have my office decorated with all my toys and posters. I also let my colleagues know what I think about what we're doing, especially if I don't agree with it. I have gotten great feedback on this, with people appreciating me speaking my mind in a thoughtful and respectful way. Being a leader means being someone people can connect with and speak to about whatever it is they need. You shouldn't ever seem inaccessible or uncaring. I am human, I have thoughts, feelings, opinions, interests, and needs. I don't try to hide this from anyone. I have found it has been very beneficial to let my geek flag fly and to be a genuine caring person to those I work with. People know what I'm into when they want to collaborate (more on that later) and my work comes to be connected to my passions. It all coalesces to make work a more fluid part of my life, where I don't have to hide who I am when I clock in. I do the things I want to do and can do well, which ends up being better for everyone.


I enjoy working on a college campus since it encourages (most of the time) collaboration. We're all working towards the same goal, and we all have limited resources. Work constantly flows in and out of different offices for different efforts like orientation, homecoming, and other large scale events. I also appreciate the opportunity for me to connect with particular offices I want experiences with and that I can just jump in and help out. When people know what I'm genuinely passionate about, I can take the lead on projects that connect with my interests. On this topic, being open to helping folks with anything they might need is another great aspect I've learned over the years. I have become a resource for folks to collaborate on starting podcasts, helping with blogging, and getting rolling with social media efforts. Being open to helping builds good rapport and capital in your organization. A lot of the time, your reputation proceeds you so it is good to be helpful to folks when you can manage it. At the very least, connect folks with each other if you can't help them or don't have time. Each person will be appreciative and you'll have done your good deed for the day!


Something I've continually read in leadership books and articles is the importance of gratitude. It helps us be happier, it helps other feel good, and it is a generally positive thing for anyone to do, especially leaders. Appreciation of the work we do everyday is something that is tragically missing from a lot folks' lives. As a humble leader, I'm very gracious for anything people to do to help me out. I feel like I don't deserve it but in the end, it's just positive thing to do to value the contributions people put in, no matter how big or small. It goes a long way to building a solid foundation for relationships to give honest, genuine thanks (especially in handwritten thank you notes). Rarely do we ever actually tell the people in our lives how much we appreciate them and what they do. Start doing it today!

This is a stream of consciousness on some leadership tenants that even this endearingly awkward geek can abide by. They've transformed how I view leadership and my confidence in being able to put my unique spin on it. Hopefully it is helpful to some folks out there, even with how you might inspire your students to be leaders in their own ways.

Thanks for stopping by!