Tag Archives: scottsdale leadership

Leadership Emerging

Cundiff_Nicole NEW

By Nicole Cundiff
Colleen’s Dream Foundation

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

Last week we put a bow on our Scottsdale Leadership experience. Our last class was filled with an in-depth look into not just our nine-month journey, but more importantly, into our future.

We began our day with a series of questions that required quite a bit of self-reflection.  We had to fill in the blank of various “I am” questions: “I am most resilient, hopeful and strong when I am __________.” These are questions that I wouldn’t normally evaluate, but I enjoyed taking the time to discover how I feel when I am at my best. This incredible exercise offered a deep look into our core values and challenged us to make life choices that directly or indirectly result in feeling resilient, hopeful and strong on a daily basis. We then used these values to help create a vision for our future.  We were tasked with writing letters to ourselves describing who we will be and what we will accomplish in a year from now. I loved this exercise because I am a big believer a manifestation.

When we open our letters in a year, I am excited to see how my life aligns with the vision I created last week. As a busy mom of three kids, I am work, yet fail, every day to create balance. I don’t want to miss any of their special moments, yet I have big dreams of my own. How do I achieve both? Well, the answer lies with defining my core values, making decisions that directly align with those values and setting the intention to make a difference. Sounds pretty easy, right? Probably not for someone like me, but I am up to the task and will let you know whether I was able to find balance next year.

What I found to be most powerful about the day was the push to get involved in the community and/or Scottsdale Leadership. From learning about what it means to be on a nonprofit board to speed-dating ways to get involved with Scottsdale Leadership, we were challenged to recognize the various needs in our community and to have the confidence to make it better. We have been blessed with an amazing experience and now we need to do something with it. We can’t just sit around and wait for someone to act on our behalf, but we have to be the change we want to see.

To round out the day, we had an amazing speaker discuss his leadership role in fighting for the legalization of marijuana after seeing the significant medical impact it has made in his daughter’s life. We were all in tears with his story and inspired by the action he has taken on her behalf. This is exactly the type of leader our world needs more of. We need to be bold, take risks, and most importantly, act!

Scottsdale Leadership has been a phenomenal experience. I have meet amazing people and learned quite a bit about myself and all of the amazing gems and resources that Scottsdale has to offer. I am sad to say goodbye to this experience and all my new friends, but I am so excited to see what everyone chooses to do with their experience!

Thank you to Margaret, Emily, Lindsay and so many others for making this such a meaningful year. You are making a huge impact in our community through this program and I am excited to utilize the tools you so graciously bestowed upon us.

Farewell, friends!

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Will the Scottsdale Brand Continue to Adapt and Stay Relevant?

Piltz_Amanda Sue CropBy Amanda Sue Briggs
Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

“Scottsdale would not be Scottsdale without the surrounding Valley.” That was the overwhelming theme of Beyond Scottsdale City Limits Day, held at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. However, as became apparent throughout the panels and discussions, some aspects of the City of Scottsdale have historically been more accepting of that fact than others.

IMG_8366The Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, led by Rachel Sacco since 1987, is an agency that helps promote the Scottsdale area as a premier tourist destination. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the first time the CVB suggested that multiple hotels partner with the CVB to promote Scottsdale – the destination – rather than the Scottsdale hotels, it wasn’t immediately a popular idea. But, as Ms. Sacco pointed out, “they have to come to Scottsdale first before they can book a night in a Scottsdale hotel.” That was over 20 years ago. Since then, hoteliers and resorts in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley have gladly voted to tax themselves in order to fund the CVB and its mission to promote the Scottsdale area as a premier tourist destination.

Collaboration is how the Scottsdale CVB found success when differentiating the Scottsdale area from its competitors, such as Palm Springs and even Phoenix/Tempe. “There is nothing more competitive than convincing people to come to your destination,” explained Ms. Sacco. It’s all about the brand of the destination – and the Scottsdale brand is one of the best in the world. Scottsdale only became that premier brand by its collaboration first with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa and Fort McDowell Indian Communities, then Paradise Valley in 1987, followed by Fountain Hills in 2000.

IMG_8383The tourism industry knows that Scottsdale would not be what it is today without the surrounding communities. And other cities often admit that they owe Scottsdale for some of their success. Gilbert, for example, which has passed Scottsdale in population, says that their town became “cool” because it’s “next to Scottsdale.” John Lewis, Mayor of Gilbert, said Scottsdale helps “open the door” to other Valley communities, which is a great thing for our entire region, because each community offers something unique and different.

But Scottsdale has not historically reciprocated that sense of community with our neighbors. Representatives from other neighboring communities spoke of Scottsdale’s “snobbish-ness”. They cited multiple cases, such as Scottsdale’s decision to look down its nose at the idea of connecting to nearby communities via mass transit, the fact that Scottsdale was the only city to decline the Phoenix Planning and Zoning Commission’s invite to work together, and Scottsdale’s inability to be “flexible when it comes to ideas about the future”.

Scott Smith, Interim CEO of Valley Metro, made the best case for why Scottsdale should change, be more cooperative with the region, and be more forward-thinking. One of the things keeping Scottsdale from doing things like light rail and other changes is the argument that Scottsdale has a brand to protect. The Scottsdale brand and its importance is undeniable: as Rachel Sacco from the CVB said, “it’s all about the brand”. But is keeping Scottsdale where it is – and being rigid and unaccepting of change – all for the sake of protecting its brand really the right answer?

Mr. Smith gave the example of Kodak, a company that vehemently protected its outdated brand in the midst of a changing industry. We all know what happened in Kodak’s case. Other companies chose instead to adapt their brands to stay relevant. Amazon, for example, began by only selling books, but adapted its business model to include a variety of products and consumer goods to meet the needs of its current customers as well as cultivate new ones. The result is a successful brand that is loved by fiercely loyal fans.

The Scottsdale brand is undeniably a successful and powerful image. Whether or not the brand will continue to adapt and stay relevant, well, I guess we’ll find out…

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What is Authentic Leadership?

Baker_Brant CropBy Brant Baker

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Okay, while it’s true that it was the project planning day, the real heart of the matter had to do with authentic leadership.

What is authentic leadership?  It is leadership that stems from knowing and acting out of one’s values.  It is genuine, honest, and self-aware.  And because these things are in place, it can therefore be leadership willing to take risk, and therefore, leadership that is ultimately more effective.

All of this takes some hutzpah.  To start, not everyone will be comfortable gazing at their navels.  This kind of soul-searching can be challenging at best, painful at worst.  And it’s not just a one and done deal: the authentic leader commits to a lifetime of self-evaluation and self-improvement.

But in the end this self-discipline will yield its own fruit.  When a leader knows his or her purpose, when there is a consistent practice of one’s core values, when we are able to lead with both our head and our heart, then and perhaps only then will all things align for truly effective leadership.

IMG_7913True, authentic leadership was very much on display during the 16th Annual Spirit of Community Leadership Awards Luncheon.  When over 400 leaders gather in one place, the air is heavy with a perfume of possibility.  Inspirational stories, dating all the way back to the founding of Scottsdale, bear witness to the marvelous legacy of the four original SL founders.  Any community that invests so heavily in creating great leadership is bound to reap a great reward for generations to come.

Sheryl Sandberg has said that “True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed.”  The idea here seems to be that authenticity is more important than perfection.  Do you agree?

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Our call is to have the courage to do what is necessary

Baker_Brant CropBy Brant Baker

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

To talk of education is to talk of tensions and competing demands.  Educational philosophies, political agendas, and funding challenges, mixed with student development, teacher standards, and standardized tests.  Sprinkle in economic development and labor force development, add a dash of visionary notions about the enterprise of education, and it’s no wonder so many people are overwhelmed by the conversation!

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Panel discussion on Arizona’s educational competitiveness (left to right): Moderator Jeff Winkler, Dr. Eric Meyer, Dr. Jan Gehler, Don Budinger, Sen. David Bradley, Lisa Graham Keegan, and Dr. David Garcia.

Our Youth & Education Day Chairs did a great job of presenting these various issues in education, and framing a large and complex topic.  Presentations on school choice, school funding, and Arizona competitiveness were interwoven with a number of interactive and intriguing class exercises, including one that had us wrestle as school board members with real-world issues.  The speakers and presenters were excellent, and as seems to be the norm for Scottsdale Leadership, I left intellectually and emotionally exhausted!

There is no question that society has come to place a lot of expectation on school outcomes.   Schools are often expected to be on the front lines of treatment for psychological disorders, drug and alcohol education, and a host of other important developmental milestones.  This despite the fact that only 12% of a child’s time is actually spent in the classroom (one of the most surprising and impactful statistics of the day).

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Amazing snacks provided by our host Rancho Solano Preparatory School helped us handle the full and demanding day!

Of course, funding is a mitigating factor in meeting the freighted educational agenda.  While many of the day’s speakers suggested that educational excellence can be found in any school, and at any level of financial support, it seems clear that sufficient and equitable funding is needed.  The formula for school funding in Arizona was developed over 30 years ago.  It is worth noting that enrollment in Arizona schools keeps growing, and so funding plans are almost never up to date with current realities.  It is also worth noting that Arizona schools have the lowest administrative cost in all fifty states.  Ultimately, investing in education really comes down to “pay now or pay later.”  According to Dr. David Peterson, the Arizona corrections budget is up 10% since 1981, while the state education budget is down by 13%.  We need to do better.

This sentiment was echoed in the closing remarks made by Scottsdale Leadership co-founder Gary Shapiro.  “As leaders,” he said, “our call is not to find what is equal, equitable, or adequate.  Rather, our call is to have the courage to do what is necessary.  

At the very least, that will mean setting aside some agendas in favor of a larger vision of collaboration between parents, districts, boards, businesses, and political leaders.  More proactively, the solution is for all of us to be involved in some way.  We can make the necessary investments (of both time and money), and reap all of the benefits of a well- educated citizenry, or we can pay later in the form of unemployment, drug use, and crowded prisons.  Again, only 12% of a young person’s time is spent in schools.  It is the work of the whole community to create social stability through impactful relationships and helping with extra-curricular activities (music, the arts, sports, service clubs, faith communities, and so forth).

How could you get involved?

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A Social Service Seed Has Been Planted in Each of Us

Chavez_Claudia CropBy Claudia Chavez
STARS

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

“I am doing this because it’s personal” –Ted Taylor, Executive Director, Family Promise of Greater Phoenix

IMG_7349On September 25, 2015, Class XXX witnessed the collective efforts of Scottsdale Social Service Superheroes in action.  Their goal: create more effective organizations, build stronger communities, and promote equity and opportunity.  Day Chairs Justin Boyd and Lisa Randall kicked off our first topic day with an introduction to our host site – the Paiute Neighborhood Center (PNC).  PNC is a  unique community  resource in that serves as a hub to numerous collaborating agencies including a charter school (Hirsch Academy), Boys & Girls Club branch, a bike apprenticeship program (Handlebar Helpers) and a family center (Scottsdale Prevention Institute), just to name a few.

IMG_7314Throughout the day, although the details shared by each storyteller varied, a recurring theme surfaced – these are individuals invested in what they do because it resonates on a personal note.  Danny Gallegos, Recreation Coordinator, originally focused on the management of Scottsdale parks.  One day, he was asked to help with the operations of the Vista Del Camino food bank, but was unsure if he was the right man for the job.  Today, he lends a helping hand to hundreds of individuals and families in need – individuals that could be your neighbor or co-worker.  Ted Taylor, Executive Director of Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, is a former business owner, consultant and social entrepreneur.  Driven by personal values of inspiration, simplicity and purpose, today he helps find shelter for over 100 families a year, including their pets! Commander Aaron Minor, Kelly Wills (Crisis Intervention Specialist), and Police Detective Robert McCabe shared their struggles and successes in keeping Scottsdale citizens safe from criminal activity while simultaneously serving as pillars of support for them during times of crisis and death, through the efforts of the Family Advocacy Center.

The stories heard on this day are too many to share in a single blog entry – the impact that they will have on the individuals lucky enough to hear them is yet to be determined.  Hopefully, a social service seed has been planted in each of us.  How personally that seed resonates may help determine the beauty of its bloom.

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An Awe-Inspiring Journey

Baird_Lindsey Headshot 2By Lindsey Baird
Brown & Brown Insurance

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

It is an odd feeling to be at a loss for words, especially for someone as outgoing and verbose as myself. Yet, that is the sensation I experienced for the majority of the hour and a half we were in the air. The only word that continually came to mind was “wow”. I found myself extremely overwhelmed at the serene beauty of the desert landscape that I have lived in and known my whole life. Seeing it from the bird’s eye perspective was a completely different experience, not to mention we had the fortune to fly a few hundred yards away from a bald eagle for a brief moment of our journey.  The helicopter traveled across Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, onto the reservation and caught up with the Verde River which wound us northeast through the Sonoran Desert. We took in the sights of the mountains, hills and cactus and then all of a sudden this gorgeous blue body of water came into view. IMG_2136Below the deep blue water stood the silhouette of the first dam on our tour, Bartlett Dam. Our SRP pilot, John, did a fantastic job of maneuvering the helicopter so that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. We took our fill of photos with “ooh’s” and “ah’s” as the dam made its way into each passengers view before gliding up and over the sparkling surface of Bartlett Lake. The fisherman below stopped to wave as we made our way up the lake and back into the Verde River, en route to Horseshoe Dam.

Evidence of the increased rainfall Arizona has experienced this year cluttered the landscape. The green in the brush and trees that surrounded the shallow water of Horseshoe Lake served to enhance the picturesque views stretched in front of us. It was almost as if you could feel the energy of the thriving wildlife just below our hovering craft. As we departed the Verde River and made our way northeast once again, the mountains grew taller and the saguaro cactus faded into miles of mature trees. I really cannot say enough about our wonderful pilot, John, who took the time to track down the trail of a waterfall as we trekked on towards Roosevelt Lake. A waterfall in the desert is certainly a rarity, this particular set of falls did not disappoint. Shortly after we departed the mystery falls, we found the10434312_10153011141176772_6454440225180548074_n mighty Salt River and followed it south until it reached the north end of Roosevelt Lake. To my recollection I had never seen Roosevelt Lake prior to this point, I was impressed. I recall thinking “that nice woman with the power point slides did tell us this thing holds about 1.6 million acre-feet, I guess this is what 1.6 million acre-feet looks like!” Overwhelmed. Again. Even more so after crossing the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, taking our photos and dropping down into the river and following the Apache Trail the short distance into Apache Lake. “There was ALL that water 3 minutes ago, and here we are again at ANOTHER lake?!” Impressive. At the southwest end of Apache Lake, near the damn, John trained our eyes to find a set of cliff dwellings about halfway up the canyon wall that held Native American ruins. It must have been quite some time before us that this group visited because there was simply no way to reach the mouths of the caves at present. After crossing over the top of Horse Mesa Dam and marveling at yet another feat of hydro-electric power, John spun us around to get a 360 degree view of a bald eagle’s nest tucked up in the cliffs alongside the river.

At this point in the tour the distances between dams became much shorter and we reached the Mormon Flat Dam after flying over Canyon Lake for just a few minutes. The progression of the river and dam system flowing down from lake to lake reminded me of a complex system of steps, descending from largest to smallest. The beauty of Mormon Flat Dam and subsequently Stewart Mountain Dam, enclosing Saguaro Lake, were framed by the terrain that surrounds them. The distinct vision when I looked out on the horizon from these beautiful lakes was of Four Peaks and how prominent the mountain stood just in the distance. Before I knew it the deep blue water had dissolved beneath us into a narrow river and became the Salt River once more. As always with anticipated journeys, the ride home was much quicker than the ride to our first destination. The return trip provided extensive views of the Tempe and Phoenix area as we approached our destination at the SRP facility. A landing as smooth as sitting down on the living room couch provided the perfect conclusion to an awe-inspiring journey.

1978617_10153011141416772_4353725743622727630_nOn behalf of the whole group, I would like to thank SRP as well as our pilot, Mr. John Knotts for the exceptional experience that was truly a once in a lifetime gift. Thank you!

 

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Scottsdale Treasures and Leadership Stories

Prince_Madison CropBy Madison Prince
SRP

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Initially I thought, history + bus tour = BORING. Little did I realize I would be anything but bored! Part of our journey in this program is to understand and develop our leadership style and this day really helped me identify the qualities I value in a leader. First and foremost it is PASSION! At each stop we heard stories of passion, vision and failure? YES failure (and lessons learned) is a big part of leadership and ultimately success!

The first inspiring leader of the day was Fred Unger. In his introduction, he said ” I like simple but simple doesn’t like me!” He told us how his vision for an urban downtown Scottsdale grew from his passion for making Old Town a great destination for everyone to work, live and visit. Though he encountered failure along the way, he has never given up. His vision is thriving today and can be seen by walking along the remarkable downtown waterfront and South Bridge, filled with residents, retail and restaurants. He sees some challenges ahead: how to keep the city vibrant, to keep media (like ESPN) coming back and to attract more businesses when every inch of buildable space is taken. Great leaders are problem solvers and he shared his future visions (and solutions) that gives Old Town residents like me goose bumps about what is to come!

talienin2The next stop was Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s living museum and a Scottsdale treasure I had never visited. He is from Wisconsin, the same as me, so I can appreciate the lure of a sunny Arizona oasis every winter! His passion was nature and this is reflected in his architecture. Taliesin means “shining brow” and describes his philosophy of building into nature. Best quote from the tour (said to his apprentices): Bring nature into your design; it will never let you down. He not only taught it, he lived it! The houses were constructed from rocks on the land, they used water from a natural spring and didn’t use electricity for many years. Apprentices attending the School of Architecture still live out in the desert in small shelters they design.

Los CedrosThe next stop was Los Cedros. This Scottsdale treasure is owned and developed by Miguel Sfeir as a result of his passion for citadel architecture and Arabian horses! Beauty can be seen from any vantage here: the outside views are spectacular, the intricate details of the design inside are remarkable and the horses are majestic. It’s a fun place to escape the city, while still being in the city.

SinghMy personal highlight of the day was Singh Farms and listening to Ken Singh’s story of passion. A commercial farmer for many years, he was most passionate about making money. It was later in life when he realized the importance of taking care of the earth, and this is his passion today. He said to us: In 50 years, the top soil will be eroded, making growing food difficult and if we don’t have food to eat, it doesn’t matter how much money you have! His organic farm is a model of responsible farming, and allows him to educate people about sustainability. It’s an important situation we (and future generations) will be facing and an issue I’m very passionate about!

The theme of the day was history but we also learned some interesting things about leadership. To be a great leader you must have passion but ACTION is what turns passion into reality. Taking action is not without sacrifice or failure and those who leave the biggest impact are seemingly not afraid of either. My biggest take away about leadership is that fear can be a limitation or a motivation, depending on how strong your passion is. Good things to think about!

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