by Matthew White
Wow, what a day! What a difference 12 hours makes.
I’ve been wondering about this day for a while; as I’m sure many of my classmates have been. We’ve all been recommended by someone; a mentor, supervisor, or friend who thought enough of us to say, “You should take a leap and do this.” I got the sense as I walked about the Turquoise Room of Scottsdale Community College that we were all in a similar boat. Everyone made polite conversation about the weather and the other typical fare of socially acceptable topics we all revert to with strangers. All the while the thought in the back of everyone’s mind that danced on the edges of the conversations lingered: “Why are the alumni so jazzed about this program?”
President Haines of Scottsdale Community College (Shout out to the Artichokes for hosting us!) kicked us off with a discussion about what leadership looks like. She revealed how the College is paving the way for education in the fast-changing world of technical skill development and workforce involvement. Ernie Flores shared how Scottsdale Leadership changed his life and the friends that he has found in the organization. Again, we’ve got another jazzed alumni up here so everyone’s looking around like “Ok – we’ll see how this goes.”
Gary Shapiro spoke to the group about the value of civil dialogue and the legacy of community leadership development programs. It struck me as Gary spoke, how many leaders have gone before this generation and the benefits we enjoy from their legacy and sacrifice. What sort of legacy will this group leave, I wondered?
Then it came time for our 90-Second-Commercials. . .
Everyone was nervous. Even I got nervous, and I actually like public speaking. Each time another name got called you could see on people’s faces half relief/half kicker-in-the-Superbowl-that-just-got-iced.
These were absolutely fantastic though. Each class member did such a great job – with too many stand-out and thoughtful presentations to list or highlight just one. All were powerful stories from so many different backgrounds: teachers, managers, entrepreneurs, dads, moms, volunteers, survivors. There was also a suspiciously high concentration of people from Nebraska so more to come on that here on the blog.
Following our 90-second-commercials we dove into our EmerGenetics profiles and how we each function on a team based on our thinking preferences. Dr. Merle Riepe did an incredible job of breaking down the various thinking preferences (analytical, conceptual, structural, social) and how they might approach situations differently. One fun highlight of the afternoon was our travel planning in teams of different personality types. Turns out the structured-thinking types didn’t consider drawing a picture and the conceptual types didn’t think to build a list. But more profound than that he posed the following quote as part of his presentation:
“Thinkers think and doers do. But until the thinkers do and the doers think, progress will be just another word in the already overburdened vocabulary by sense.” – Francois de La Rochefoucauld
I was dwelling on this quote through the afternoon and it occurred to me that the point isn’t for thinkers to do or visa-versa – our goal should be to partner across differences to accomplish something beyond any of our individual capabilities. After listening to everyone’s stories in the 90-second commercials I thought “What better a group than this to build something with – leaning on all our diverse strengths?”
After lining everyone up across the various preference orders we broke for the evening and headed to the Welcome Reception at the Hotel Valley Ho (Love that place!!). The evening was so well put together and well-attended by alumni and Scottsdale community leaders. Mayor Jim Lane admonished the group on the impact to be had in Scottsdale and the shoes to fill of Scottsdale Leadership alumni which have made a lasting difference in the community.
There was a different vibe at the Welcome Reception. People were more relaxed here – maybe it was the booze – actually, definitely the booze. But I noticed something else here tonight – some sort of electricity – something dissimilar from this morning when we started out together. People were enjoying their conversations; they were sharing their stories (the real stories not just what we occupy our days with), commiserating about 90-second-commercials, and laughing about shared experiences. It was something you could get jazzed about – maybe even alumni-jazzed.
Looking around at this class it’s true that we’re all so different, but we have so much more in common than that which sets us apart.
Heading out towards the door I gave a stranger from this morning a hug. As I turned for the exit I looked back up at them and saw a friend.
So look up Class 33. Look up towards friendship. Look up towards expectation. Look up towards the future. . . and the future is very bright.