Published : Tuesday, October 2, 2018 | 1:40 PM
In what was dubbed the year’s first “FLINTerview,” alumna Morgan Brown ’10 joined campus during Community Block to address Prep students. Brown was a guest of the FLINT (Flintridge Prep Leadership Initiative). The talk was the perfect kick-off for the student-led organization, which seeks to encourage leadership skills and provide leadership-building tools to students.
Tracing her journey from Prep to her recent move to Stockholm as a Product Manager for Spotify’s Content and Creators platform, Brown focused on a few key leadership-building events in her life and encouraged current Rebels to do the same.
At Prep, Brown held roles on the Student Senate, as a math tutor, president of the Leo Club, a peer counselor and on the volleyball and basketball teams. But it’s not the leadership titles that make a leader, she says, it’s leadership habits—habits that any Rebel can develop during their years at Prep.
She looks back at a defining leadership moment in her Prep career that she nostalgically calls “the Prom dilemma,” when competing pre-Prom parties made some students feel left out. Brown took it upon herself to organize and promote one unified party, where all students and parents could gather to take photos and celebrate the end of the year together. The event was a huge success, and it’s a Prep tradition that continues to this day.
It’s that innate tendency to problem solve that Brown says has served her well in her career so far, and she urges all students, no matter how young, to start viewing leadership as a set of personal habits instead of a list of titles. “Personal leadership matters,” she says.
Headmaster Peter Bachmann frequently describes Prep as a “people first” place, a mentality Brown has held on to over the years. She especially took the mindset to heart at Georgetown, when the dean of students encouraged incoming freshmen to see themselves as equals, not to weaponize past accomplishments or compete for superiority with one another. As a result, she spent her next four years following what she loved, developing a network of like-minded students and learning to leave ego out of the picture.
Other pieces of advice she shared with the audience of FLINT students included: adapt as a leader—ask your team how they like to work instead of forcing a style of work upon them; listen and be empathetic; value true diversity of opinion; notice the leaders you value most and borrow their habits; and lastly, “Don’t overlook the importance of early jobs and internships, even if they don’t exactly fit with what you want,” she says. “People won’t necessarily remember the small tasks you did, but they will remember your work ethic.”
Thanks to a few invested mentors and her own focus on “soft skills,” her career has grown immensely in the mere eight years since high school graduation. She encourages high school students to see these skills not just as “soft skills,” but as the foundation of strong leadership.
“These are habits that happen now. The other hard skills you can learn along the way,” Brown says, pointing to an online stats course she had just completed as a refresher.
Students left the talk feeling inspired and abuzz with possibility, thanks to Brown’s mixing of solid business advice with earnest, approachable, personal guidance. When asked what she wished she had done more in high school and college, she responded, “stand up for other people more,” followed shortly by “and maybe take a business class or two in college.”
Morgan Brown graduated from Prep in 2010 and went on to study music and history at Georgetown. She hosted a radio show throughout college and interned at a DC radio station and the Smithsonian before starting a four-year career at Pandora, where she managed content and helped spearhead a female mentorship program. She takes her leadership expertise next to Spotify’s Stockholm headquarters, where she’ll lead the Content and Creators team.
Flintridge Preparatory School, 4543 Crown Ave., La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 790-1178 or visit www.flintridgeprep.org.