Archive for category Leadership

How leaders set the tone

12 minutes.  That’s all the time you’ll need to watch and listen to Simon Sinek’s most recent TED Talk.  Let the message marinate for a while and reflect on how well you are creating a safe environment for those you lead.  As the leader, you set the tone.


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The YMCA is now “The Y” & Strong Kids Campaign Kickoff

The Y - Strong Kids Campaign Kickoff

Tonight, I attended the kickoff event for the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign.  There were hundreds of people—both young and old—in attendance at the event.  I am so impressed by the work of Jim Everett, CEO of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA and Larry Koomler, chairman of the board.  These are two outstanding leaders in the Boise Valley community.

The event began with a brief recap of the 120-year history of the YMCA, which included several short videos and speeches highlighting the development of a community organization that began in 1891.  In case you didn’t know (this was new to me just a few months ago) the YMCA was once called the Young Mens Christian Association.

The event quickly picked up steam by showcasing several touching and inspirational testimonials including: a young refugee boy (from Iraq) who learned (in less than 10 months) how to swim, make friends and become part of a new community; a middle-aged man who wanted to be a role model to his family and ended up losing over 60 pounds; a young woman who became healthy enough to start her own family; and a very young boy who is building confidence and learning the value of education (he also charmed the audience with his ability to recite and explain the YMCA’s values).

The energetic and accomplished Superintendent of the Caldwell School District, Roger Quarles, gave an inspiring message about the real impact created by the YMCA in his community.  He shared a story that delivered a powerful message: the YMCA helps build strong kids and a strong community.  Mr. Quarles focused on real impact over a very brief time frame.  His story discussed the difference made in the Caldwell community over a five-year span: pre-YMCA and post-YMCA.  Here’s a list of some his his most notable statements from the impact of building the Caldwell YMCA:

  • School expulsion hearings went from 100 down to a single case
  • The average student attendance rate increased from 85% to almost 98%
  • This year’s 3rd grade class became the highest performing 3rd graders in the history of the school district
  • The Caldwell School District has the highest increase in student performance in Idaho

Very impressive.  The YMCA truly helps build a better community by supporting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. They are instilling values in the lives of our community’s youth.  It seems as if everyone connected to the YMCA can state their 4 core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Even with all these impressive stories, the YMCA recognized a very important issue.  Most people in the country know about the YMCA and generally like the organization, but most people do not clearly understand what the organization is about.  The standard answer, as they mentioned during the event, is that a YMCA is a “gym and swim.” Many people also don’t realize the YMCA is a not-for-profit organization that is cause driven.

To help change this misperception, the YMCA is launching a national effort to revitalize its brand by changing its logo to reflect what most people say when mentioning the YMCA: The Y.  Check out the Treasure Valley Family YMCA page and take a look at their cool new logo, look and feel.

I have no doubt the Y will continue to improve its brand recognition and gain more dedicated volunteers and members to join its cause.  The Y is one of the few organizations I can think of that can get most of their staff, as well as thousands of volunteers and children, to easily state and explain its values.

For example, over the past few years I’ve read multiple applications from students applying to our Leadership Boise Academy program (a Chamber-led community leadership program for junior-level high school students in the Boise Valley) highlighting the Y in their definitions of leadership and community involvement.  Guess what?  Most students write about the four values without being asked to do so!!

We live in an amazing community.  The Y is dedicated to helping keep our communities strong.  The Y stands for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. This is a noble cause and I am happy to be a part of their call to give, volunteer and advocate on behalf of their Strong Kids Campaign. Will you join me?  Be a part of something greater than yourself. Here’s how to start.


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Master Mind: A Must for Personal/Professional Development

Who are you surrounding yourself with these days? What books are you reading? Charlie “Tremendous” Jones would argue the answers to these questions will determine the difference between who you are today and who you will be five years from now.

Earlier this year, two business associates/friends and I began creating a Master Mind group to help us continue our conversations with added purpose. That purpose was to learn from each other, help each other succeed and enhance our personal/professional/leadership development. We have since expanded our group to include a small number of people with different strengths and experiences. Every month we take turns leading the group and meet on the last Monday for lunch.

I spent two hours today with four members of my Master Mind group and walked away excited, re-energized and relieved. Here’s why I used these three words:

Excited = For the success and upcoming opportunities that lie ahead for my friends and trusted advisors in our group. I am constantly impressed by the talent, knowledge, experience and vision possessed by the business people in this Master Mind. These people are running successful businesses, expanding into international markets, and launching a whole host of other interesting and challenging projects.

Re-energized = I haven’t written a new blog since February of this year, but was inspired to get back on track with my posts. It seemed like a sign when one of the group members unknowingly referenced my last blog post when providing me with an analogy for my current leadership concern. He asked me, “Do you lift weights?” “Yes,” I responded. He then began to explain how leadership and professional growth are like lifting weights and I began to smile and chuckle. I stopped to explain my response and told him my last post was written about a similar lesson I learned. I then vowed to the group to return to my Web site and submit a new post on the topic. Stay tuned for more.

Relieved = I felt so much better being able to discuss what was on my mind with a trusted group of advisors. I believe you need many different people in your life to talk to about different things. There are topics I only discuss with my wife, then there are topics I discuss mainly with close friends, and yet others I focus on only when I’m with my work peers. My Master Mind group allows me to discuss topics in confidence about my career and bounce ideas off of them in a safe environment. Today I felt relieved to share a few career challenges/opportunities and receive open and honest feedback. I also felt relieved to know there are others going through challenges that make mine seem small and very manageable. Sometimes a bigger or different perspective is all you need to feel at peace and ready to take on the world.


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