LAS in the D Post Reflection

On the weekend of February 10th, the Leader Advancement cohort of 2016 traveled to Detroit to perform two days of service. First, we visited Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, where the cohort participated in leadership activities with the students. Jalen Rose Leadership Academy is a pubic charter high school on the North West side of the city of Detroit. Students who would like to attend the high school must apply for it their last year of middle school, making the school selective. Jalen Rose Leadership Academy opened its doors in 2011, and took its first class of freshmen that September. Students at Jalen Rose are exposed to leadership at an early age, making them prospective leaders of the future. LAS arrived at Jalen Rose around 2pm. The school had already released class, however, students stayed after to participate in the activities that we had for them. The students welcomed us with open arms and were very engaged in the activities that we shared with them. The school promoted a sense of inclusion, and the students felt very comfortable to be sharing their experiences with us. As an LAS student, I facilitated activities at Jalen Rose, making it one of my first times facilitating! Within the few hours at Jalen Rose, I felt that we were able to make a difference in the lives of many upcoming leaders. The amount of time that we spent at the academy was short, a mere two hours, however, we as a cohort were able to leave a lasting impact on the students of Jalen Rose.

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After leaving Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, we ventured into midtown of Detroit. We were invited to a presentation and tour of QuickenLoans, one of the largest FinTech companies in America. Upon arrival, I instantly knew that Quicken was different. The Chase building where Quicken is located had a real feel, and created a sense of belonging with a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. QuickenLoans leads the push to bring back the city of Detroit, and is a contributor to pulling new businesses into the city. Upon arrival we all ate pizza as a cohort. After eating a delicious meal fromPizza Papalis, QuickenLoans put on an inspiring presentation. The Quicken presentation changed my perspective of the entire city of Detroit. The presentation began with Buddy Henika, a recruiter for Quicken. Buddy explained the company and shared inspiring experiences he has had with QuickenLoans. At the end of the presentation, Buddy opened up the floor for questions. When one of my classmates asked, “Why did you join Quicken?” Buddy gave a great answer, “I joined because of the community aspect.” However , what really impressed me is that John Fikany, Vice President of strategy development, stood up and took the mic: “You have to find something you are passionate about, and for me, that was the city of Detroit.” As a student, it is not common for the Vice President of a company to be front and center in a room addressing college students, however, Quicken had their VP front and center. Mr. Fikany has the accolades that any professional would want, and even better, he is humble about his work. Mr. Fikany was a top executive at Microsoft, and previously was an executive at Oracle. He contributed to the success of two of the largest technology companies in the world. The philanthropy of John Fikany and QuickenLoans as a whole has inspired the upcoming generation to become more involved within the community. QuickenLoans will hire close to 1000 interns into the Detroit office. This within itself is giving back to the community. Quicken promotes innovation, and allows the upcoming generation to come into a professional workplace and thrive.

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After QuickenLoans, we went into the DIA(Detroit Institute of Arts). For me, the DIA was a good time to do some self reflection regarding the day at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and at QuickenLoans. Ive been to the DIA plenty of times, but I always enjoy looking at art. When looking at art I often express many different forms of emotion, which usually leads to me understanding how grateful I am.

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After the DIA, we ventured to  the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit. Linda Walter, mom of Senior LAS member David Walter,  is the director of the center. At the Outdoor Adventure Center we learned about the history of the city of Detroit. As the city grows in population once again, it is important to learn about how a citizen can make a difference in the community. At the center we also learned more about the environment and learned information about the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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The next morning, we went and volunteered at Cass Community Social Services. Cass Community Social Services fights poverty and creates opportunity for those in need. Cass provides food, health care, housing, and jobs to those who need it. When working at Cass, I could tell that everyone loved helping out the community. It was truly eye opening to be working side by side with underprivileged people, because it destroyed the stigma of people being “lazy” that is often associated with homelessness. When working at Cass, I fully understood that the people who were utilizing the center just caught a bad break, and were working hard to get back on their feet.  Our day of service began! When at Cass, we were divided into groups. One group made door mats, one group worked in the kitchen, one group shredded paper, and one group organized donations. I was in the group that was shredding paper. The shredding job employs many people who have mental disabilities and are looking for work. The community center allows people with special needs to experience having a job, and to experience being integrated into society. Cass allows people of all backgrounds to have a shot at getting acquainted with society. The experience allowed me to realize truly how fortunate I was. There are many people in the city of Detroit that are living at or below the poverty line, it is truly sad:  it honestly breaks my heart. Community Centers like Cass are the reason the citizens of Detroit are able to receive some relief.

NOW WHAT? Overall, the trip to Detroit was truly an eye opening experience. When on the trip, I deeply connected with students from Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, as well as volunteers at Cass Community Social Services. My biggest eye opener on the trip was seeing all of the poverty in a neighborhood so close to mine. The city of Detroit once was a thriving city, filled with manufacturing and life, however, over the last 40 years, the city has been deteriorating due to racist policy and limited opportunity for minorities.

As a student in the Leadership Institute here at Central Michigan University, I feel that it is my job to promote an inclusive environment, and produce an environment where EVERYONE is able to have an opportunity to thrive and demonstrate their God given talents. The city of Detroit lacks opportunity. The once great city lacks the investment that it needs to thrive again. Businesses such as QuickenLoans has started the idea of renovation and development, but the next generation of leaders are  going to be the ones that are going to leave the lasting impact. The foundation has been started, but must be continued by the millennials who are graduating college in the next few years.

During the trip, I connected deeply with one of the students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. We were engaged in good conversation, and I asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up.” He responded with, “I know I want to be an anesthesiologist. My cousin is the first person who went to college in my extended family, and he is an anesthesiologist.” I was really inspired by his response. The boy I was speaking to would be the 2nd person in his family to go to college, and that really inspired me. Instead of shooting for a “average” life, the boy wanted to go big. He was inspired by his cousin to do great things, which in turn inspired me to be grateful of the opportunity I had here at CMU.

As an emerging leader, it is important for me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, rather than holding a bias about an area. The city of Detroit is a beautiful and upcoming city, however, if one had a bias about the city, they would not be able to truly experience its beauty. As a leader, I need to work on being a compassionate and always inclusive. The trip really exposed me to people from all different walks of life, and they have inspired me to always be inclusive in my actions. I will take this experience to reflect on how fortunate I am. When I have spare time, instead of participating in selfish actions, I will reach out to members of my community and participate in servant leadership the community so deeply needs.

In the city of Detroit there are many things that I am not familiar with, such as urban development. I do not know much about the revival of the city, only that QuickenLoans is leading the push to integrate business back in the city. In the future, I want to learn how I can help in the constant rebuild of the city, along with learning about the other businesses who are helping to restore the city.

In the city, we need more people who are dedicated to servant leadership. Most people in the world today are greedy and put themselves before others. The fix in the city of Detroit is having people who are the opposite. We need to create values that revolve around the principle of community rather than individualism. Once we are able to change the mindset of people, we will be able to begin the service to rebuild  the entire city. The city has the potential, we just need to give it the helping hand to get on its feet again and thrive.

Primal Leadership Presentation

When reading Primal Leadership, I learned many qualities of leadership that I have not been familiar with. Being a direct and systematic leader, I often do not worry about the emotional feelings of those I am leading in all instances. Primal Leadership focussed heavily on linking emotional connections between leaders and followers. If a leader is emotional, he/she is able to connect and sympathize more with their followers. When emotionally connecting to their followers, it is often super important that leaders radiate positivity. A positive attitude can go a long way. A person can tell when a leader is positive or negative, and this can often shape the entire way someone looks at a situation. Reading the book completely changed my thought process. I never understood how important connecting to people on an emotional level was.

Now what?: As a leader, I need to try to bring as much positivity as I can. If I want to lead a successful team, i need to ensure that I connect with them.  Looking into the future, I will ensure I make those connections necessary to make my team the most efficient team i can make. Being a future leader, I must take what this book said to heart. Even if I am having a bad day, I must still show gratitude and positivity to my followers to ensure my team is functioning at the highest level.

Leadership Lectures

In this blog, I will discuss three of the most  prominent Leadership Lectures of this semester as a first semester freshman in the LAS program.

My first session was with Erin Smith Gaken. She described the 12 excuses people make for making unethical decisions. Her presentation was completely spot on. Even though I try to ensure I am the best version of myself each day, I have participated in some of these 12 excuses. The one that stuck out to me most was “ethics is a luxury and i can’t afford it.” Often college students use this one the most. Since we are all poor in college, sometimes we make decisions that don’t necessarily reflect our character, but reflect the situation that we are in as people. Moving forward, I will try to make decisions with ethics in mind. I know that it will always not be the easiest choice, but it is necessary to make ethical decisions and continue making them.

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My second session was with Josh Lee. Josh’s presentation focussed on building teams and branding a business or idea. He explained in his presentation how many successful firms advertise with emotional claims. Josh explained the importance of advertising and how important it is to be able to pitch a brand in 30 seconds. We formed teams and pitched our ideas of how our organization would be successful, we used interpersonal communication skills to build our thoughts. Josh Lee explained the importance of making a strong team that embraces the values of all of the members. In the future when creating teams, I will appeal to the emotion of my audience and put together the strongest team I possibly can.

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My third session was with Brooke Helm, director of the College of Science and Engineering residential college. Her presentation was based around ensuring good communication with others, and how important it is to realize that it is okay to be a follower sometime. Brooke showed a video that allowed her audience to realize when it is time to be a follower. After some time of discussion, all of us in the room were comfortable with being the first follower if we ever needed to. Brooke really went into detail regarding how communication is key. It is important that we as leaders do not get caught up in the “Mouse Trap of Communication.” This phenomenon includes not recognizing efficient communication methods and reverting to methods that may not be as efficient. It is often possible to get tripped up over content of a message rather than how it is delivered, however, delivery is very important when it comes to being a leader. Leaders know how to present a message that will be most effective in the setting necessary.

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Connections Conference

On November 4th, the Leadership Institute along with other leaders from Central Michigan University got on a coach bus and headed North. The Destination? The Great Wolf Lodge of Traverse City. The purpose? To branch out at Connections Leadership Conference. The bus ride was a great experience! I was able to network with some people I have not met before and connected with many people before the conference even began. I have been to many leadership conferences in the past, but many upperclassmen have told me that this was their favorite out of them all, which made me very hype. Upon arrival at the Great Wolf Lodge, we were greeted off the bus by Dan Gaken, the Director of the Leadership Institute, along with many other staff members of the Leadership Institute. We headed up to our room, where we met our roommates for the evening. We immediately called the beds and made sure nobody else took the beds, because guys are territorial and thats what they do. Upon returning from the rooms, we headed down to the lobby where Dan Gaken opened the conference for the weekend. Dan gave his traditional “Leader of Today” speech which fired up the entire crowd. We were informed that the weekend would be divided up into four sessions along with two institute sessions. I knew that the weekend was going to be amazing!

For my institute sessions, we opened with communities within our school and how we will reach out to our community to access our full potential.We learned how we must interact as a community along with behaviors our community should practice, along with behaviors we should avoid as a community. The institute sessions allowed us to work within our own community of LAS along with students who were at the conference from other leadership areas as well. The institute sessions let each individual student branch out from their set groups and interact with all of the other groups to learn new ideas and leadership strategies to bring back to their original groups.

My first session was with Erin Smith Gaken. She described the 12 excuses people make for making unethical decisions. Her presentation was completely spot on. Even though I try to ensure I am the best version of myself each day, I have participated in some of these 12 excuses. The one that stuck out to me most was “ethics is a luxury and i can’t afford it.” Often college students use this one the most. Since we are all poor in college, sometimes we make decisions that don’t necessarily reflect our character, but reflect the situation that we are in as people.

My second session was with Josh Lee. Josh’s presentation focussed on building teams and branding a business or idea. He explained in his presentation how many successful firms advertise with emotional claims. Josh explained the importance of advertising and how important it is to be able to pitch a brand in 30 seconds. We formed teams and pitched our ideas of how our organization would be successful, we used interpersonal communication skills to build our thoughts. Josh Lee explained the importance of making a strong team that embraces the values of all of the members.

My third session was with Brooke Helm, director of the College of Science and Engineering residential college. Her presentation was based around ensuring good communication with others, and how important it is to realize that it is okay to be a follower sometime. Brooke showed a video that allowed her audience to realize when it is time to be a follower. After some time of discussion, all of us in the room were comfortable with being the first follower if we ever needed to.

My last session was with a couple from Central Michigan University. They focussed on setting goals and reaching your goals. It was very important to set goals that were SMART- specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time sensitive.  We learned that the first step to achieving a goal is writing it down, because until that moment, it is only a thought. When you put it down on paper, it is a goal.

Now what?: After the Connections Conference, I have learned many new aspects in Leadership. Being newly elected to my fraternity executive board, I will take some of the goal setting aspects and interpersonal communication back to my fraternity.  Communication is very important in everyday life and  is also with my fraternity. Being an emotional leader is also very important. As a leader, it is necessary to make emotional connections with your followers rather than just have them be your followers.  I will be able to incorporate all of these skills in my daily leadership actions. I now know the stressed importance of communication, reliability, and emotional connections when it comes to leading a group of people.

 

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

On September 10th, 2016 I experienced something great with even better people. What I am talking about is the Mentor/Mentee retreat. As a program requirement for LDR100, my cohort of 50 boarded a bus with our 50 mentors and took a road trip. Our trip was to a place called Eagle Village, and at the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What I was getting myself was one of the best experiences of my life, and this weekend proved to exceed all expectations. It all started on the bus ride : we connected with our mentors, told stories, and sang songs. We all knew what the weekend held in store. SOMETHING AWESOME. I was so excited to spend time with my mentor, Dalton Sutherland. He and I were in store for a wonderful weekend.

We got off the bus and got our dorms ready to sleep in. After this we quickly got ready for our first activity which included sharing our “About me maps” that we did the weeks prior. On our maps were our stories of life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. During this time many emotions were flying around some got uncomfortable. As leaders, we knew we had to share these experiences with each other, and these experiences made us stronger as individuals and strengthened our groups as well.

Next, my group went to a room where we discussed our expectations for the weekend with the staff of Eagle Village. The hosts explained to us that it was it was a sacred space and it was okay to be our true selves at the retreat. We were excited as a group to take on the whole weekend together whole heartedly.

Our first group activity took place on the high ropes course. Mentor/Mentee combos went up into the course together and had to conquer the course together. I hated heights and so did Dalton. When it was our time to enter the course we both looked at each other and knew what we had to do. Be the best duo we could and tackle the course head on. Dalton and I hurried up the ladder and completely killed the high ropes course together. If it was not for Dalton I would not have even climbed up the ladder. During this activity I truly realized how important it is to have someone there for you when you need it. Dalton and I were both scared, yet we were able to conquer our fears by going through the ropes course together.

The night continued with basketball and volleyball where were able to connect with other mentor/mentee pairs on the trip. Large groups came together to play competitive sports and the competition made the events fun. This was a very sociable experience for everyone involved and this created a very fun night for everyone.

That night we had a group bonfire and had an open discussion and shoutout session to everyone in the cohort which was a very cool experience. Everyone bonded completely over the bonfire and everyone ended the night with s’mores and smiles.

As a cohort we all slept on the floor of the lobby that night and sang songs all night.

The next day involved another team challenge course. We were required to carry a sled full of balls through a log course without touching the ground or letting go of the rope attached. This challenge made us work together and also made some people frustrated. It was a challenge for all students to remain calm, and this added to the intensity of the exercise. We learned that we either going to win as a team or lose as a team, there was no other way around it.

The wonderful weekend was over as we boarded the busses and headed back to Mt. P. Mentor/Mentee combos fell asleep on each other while listening to cheesy 90’s music. After a long and near restless weekend, all participants had a wonderful times, the mentor/mentee retreat created smiles for miles.

After this experience, Ive come to realize how lucky I am to have an active mentor in my life. Dalton has been the go to guy for me when Ive needed help with anything, and I am lucky and blessed to call him my mentor.

 

 

 

Sparking Up Leadership

This fall, I attended a leadership seminar hosted by the Leadership Institute here at Central Michigan University. WOW was it a great time. Upon arrival, participants entered a room full of other leaders just waiting for the day to begin. We were given our name tags and also given a group of students who we would spend the day with. I ended up in the “Red Group” and was really happy to see that i had minimal people I knew in my group. For me, in these sort of events, I like to meet a bunch of people and reach out to those I do not know. Spark opened with a presentation from Dan Gaken, Director of the Leadership Institute. Dan reminded all of the students that, “you are the leaders of today.” This caused everyone in the room to hype up and be ready to take the day on with large smiles. Our first activity was to meet everyone at our table with some ice breakers and mixers. After we were asked to fill out a survey that would help us determine our leadership styles. We split off into groups and discussed our individual leadership styles with others who shared the same style. I ended up in the Systematic leader category, which is a leader who pays very close attention to details, but lacks the emotional empathy. When I explored more of my self, I was able to discover my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I knew that I needed to try to improve my emotional connections with others, and I am working on improving these skills everyday. After this activity, we had some really good Mexican food which definitely boosted morale for everyone, because who doesn’t love food? After lunch we went back into small groups and did partner activities that made everyone work together and trust their partner. One activity included leading a blindfolded partner through a room of active mousetraps without stepping on them. Such activities built team building between groups and instilled a trust within everyone participating. After some group activities, we came back together for a closing debrief. The day was wonderful! I was able to know my leadership style, practice bettering some of my weaknesses, and working in small groups.

Now what?: Such activities have definitely made me more active in team oriented activities and I will use what I learned in these group activities more in the future. Overall, Spark Leadership was a wonderful experience and I encourage everyone I can to participate in this wonderful experience! Being a leader, it is important to evaluate your strengths and work to improve some of your weaknesses in leadership. A leader must always be dominant in his/her style, however, a leader can always learn new things. After experiencing Spark, I am looking forward to identifying some of my strengths and working hard when we attend LAS in the D. Being a systematic leader, I will always use my skills in the workplace. Working with technology, I will always be allowed to utilize my systematic ability to learn new things in the workplace.

The Lovely Leadership Safari

As I arrived on campus for move in day, I was excited and  nervous at the same time. I was excited for the new chapter of my life to begin. I was blessed to have known 48 other excellent leaders before I even stepped foot on campus. As we all intermingled and helped each other move in, we all had one lurking thought in the back of our heads… Leadership Safari. Leadership Safari is a one of a kind leadership program put on as an orientation program to welcome Central Michigan students to their freshman year. The 5 day program is meant to introduce students to one another and to help start the building of long lasting relationships. As morning one of Leadership Safari dawned, all had positive attitudes. Everyone smiled, everyone loved, everyone was happy. Day one had many ups and little downs;we started to meet our groups and listened to inspirational speakers. We all were super excited for what the week would hold. Day two everyone woke up slightly less excited than day one. We participated in fun group activities. I chose beach volleyball because beach volleyball is awesome! We continued through the rest of the day  with smiles and positivity! Day three was the greatest! Day three was the team bonding day and we all participated in trust activities. Day three really let me interact with the group and allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. Day four hit like a train. Day four contained sleep deprivation, flaring emotion, and anguish. Day four made everyone sad and everyone really struggled with functioning on little sleep. We knew that the experience outweighed the negatives so we tried to keep pushing through. The last day was among us, we had our wonderful keynote speaker close the conference. The week of learning and meeting new people had come to an end.

During Leadership Safari I really learned about myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone and was able to connect with some really wonderful people. I expected that I wouldn’t have really been impacted by Leadership Safari, but wow, I was sure wrong. Some of my best friends at CMU so far were met within my safari group. Shoutout TREE MONKEYS!!!! During this experience I learned to be more open minded to the people’s ideas around me. I was fortunate enough to meet many different people from many different social classes, ethnicities, and cultures. Leadership Safari taught me the importance of being culturally adroit and not judging the book by its cover.

Now what?: As a current freshman, I would recommend Leadership Safari to any incoming freshman. I know the process and week may be long and grueling, but it was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life.The relationships built at safari will be life long relationships. I will walk the campus everyday knowing I have many friends walking in my shoes, I know that because I attended Leadership Safari, I will continue to be a leader and put the practices I’ve learned at Safari into my daily life.img_2379img_2376