Sean Limon

No job half done

Success or failure – those are the only options in Dr. Sean Limon’s mind.

Sean Limon at the Arctic Circle. Limon, instructional professor and oral communications coordinator at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, says the best piece of advice he ever received came from a Star Wars character: “Do or do not – there is no try.”

“That’s how life is,” he explained. “You do it or you don’t.”

Limon impresses this philosophy on himself, his students and his clients. Since earning his doctorate in organizational communication at Michigan State University in 2000, he’s become an expert in delivering oral presentations and enjoys training people to do their best. In 2006, after earning tenure at Illinois State University, he brought his skills to Florida and has been teaching Business Gators ever since.

In addition to his work at Warrington, Limon also runs his own business, Communication Implementation Coaching, which enables him to coach executives and teams of people on improving their presentation skills.

“It is such a rush because they come in and they’re typically not very good, [but] through the training you see this massive improvement,” he enthused.

When training corporate groups, Limon provides instruction before leading the group through a series of exercises – the same method he implements in his classes at Warrington.

“That is absolutely my favorite part [of teaching], that I’m giving them things they can use at work that are pragmatic and practical and tested,” he said.

Sean Limon with a group of students.

Celebrating first place in the 2022 Australia Undergraduate Business Case Competition.

Limon teaches multiple undergraduate and graduate courses on professional communication, organizational skills and consulting, including Professional Speaking in Business (GEB3218) and Professional Communication (GEB5215). He also leads a course that prepares undergraduate students for national and international case competitions: Business Case Analysis (GEB3523). In this course, students learn how to give presentations that function well in consulting scenarios and are competitive on an international scale.

The course doubles as a 16-week trial. Halfway through the semester, students are challenged to prepare and present a case in 24 hours. The case class is an intensive tryout, qualifying a handful of the class to compete internationally on behalf of the school. Students that make the team become teaching assistants in the class and are on the organization committee responsible for running the Heavener’s International Case Competition (HICC), an annual event that attracts international business schools to compete at the Heavener School of Business.

Being involved in the case competitions is Limon’s favorite part of his job, he says. In November, he went with the team to Mexico and Canada, where they won both competitions. Everyone on the team gets a nickname; as head coach, Limon’s nickname is “Bald Eagle,” reflecting his national pride and leadership style.

“Going to all these case competitions, I’ve had to really hone my skill as a coach [and] what we do; the structure, the messaging, the power points, all of that,” he said. “To be competitive, we have to operate at such a high level that I’ve been able to take all of that information and things that I apply [in my company] and bring that into the classroom.”

Sean Limon poses with a bride and groom.

Known for his storytelling, Sean Limon has officiated three weddings.

Telling stories of real-life situations boosts Limon’s credibility and makes his lectures popular with his students. His storytelling is appreciated outside of the classroom, too – so far, Limon has officiated three weddings.

From his classes, Limon hopes students will gain confidence in themselves as their presentation skills improve. He also encourages his students to adopt the idea of “extreme ownership” as they launch into their professional careers.

“You’ve got to take ownership for your own learning and for your own success,” he advised. “You can’t blame anyone else for a failure, you can’t blame the rest of the world because you didn’t turn something in on time. Whenever it doesn’t go right, take ownership and say, okay, it’s my fault.

“It’s one of those things where if you’re always looking to yourself for the reason something goes wrong, chances are, down the line, things won’t go wrong.”

Holding yourself accountable is a part of personal branding, Limon says. Everybody knows that Limon likes to make people laugh and that his favorite drink is bourbon; that’s part of his personal brand, while others might prefer to be more serious. Taking advantage of the opportunity to create those perceptions is crucial to developing a professional image.

While Limon enjoys being easy-going, he maintains a tough exterior when it comes to his case competition team. His commitment to helping them perform at their best links back to Yoda’s philosophy: anything less than success is failure. That’s why, when he gives the team a compliment, they know they can take it seriously.

“I want the students to succeed and do well and I know what it takes, so I’m hard on them,” he said. “Because that’s what they want; they want to win for Heavener and Warrington, they want to win for UF. When they do it, it’s a big deal for them, and I want to help get them there.”

Supporting the case competition team and his students makes Limon excited to get up for work in the morning. When he retires, it will be to the mountains where he can enjoy nature with a mug of coffee in the morning and a glass of bourbon at night. Until then, he’ll keep on pushing students to realize their full potential.

“My job is my hobby with the case team; I really am so passionate about and obsessed with it and spend a lot of time thinking about it and things like that,” he said. “The way I describe it is, my craft is my hobby and I’m incredibly fortunate that I feel that way.”

Sean Limon lecturing at an event.