Friday, December 14, 2012

Farewell to Mike

Today is a bittersweet day at LeaderShape.  Mike McRee will be leaving us today as he pursues a great opportunity at the Delta Upsilon Foundation.  We could not be more excited for him as he continues his dedication and vision to impact the Greek community not only at DU, but for the entire Greek system.  Mike will do amazing things there, no doubt.

Mike has been synonymous with LeaderShape for the past dozen years.  From serving as a DJ, to sitting in the kissing booth, to doing the perfect cheer, he has done everything that has been asked of him and more.  More precisely, he has done everything that needed to be done to move LeaderShape forward.  LeaderShape is better for having Mike been on staff…much better.  We will miss his music, his laugh, and his unwavering commitment to helping people lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible.  Mike will continue to be a facilitator (we won't let him off the hook that easy), but today we celebrate his work on staff.  

Mike's tagline in his email signature was the Aristotle quote that excellence is a habit.  Through his habits, Mike has made LeaderShape excellent and we thank him for his service to our cause.  

Thanks, Mike.  We wish you the best of luck.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Numbers, numbers, numbers. 

We live in a world where we want to quantify everything.  How many friends I have on Facebook.  How many steps I walked on the pedometer.  How many calories in that double cheeseburger (do I really want to know?).  We are bombarded with numbers and statistics to the point that we truly can become immune to their impact. 

However, numbers can help tell a story so let me share some with you.  Please really get what these numbers represent and don’t take them lightly.  It would be a mistake to do so.

80.  In 2012, for the first time in LeaderShape’s history, eighty sessions of The LeaderShape Institute were held from Doha, Qatar to Toronto, Canada to Boston, Massachusetts, to Eugene, Oregon and dozens of locations in between.  Eighty afternoons of reading Tomorrow’s Headlines, eighty opportunities to learn a different perspective, eighty more moments to realize you still can make a difference in a very complex world.  Perhaps most importantly, we now have eighty other communities who actually felt what a just, caring, thriving world feels like even if only for six days.

4,068.  So eighty sessions is the big story, but there are 4,068 other stories that are more important.  Over four thousand stories that were heard, told, added to, and shared in a way that they perhaps were never done so before.  That number represents the total number of participants who have attended The LeaderShape Institute so far in 2012 and we still have two more sessions this month.  Each one of those participants came to their session whether it be a national session or hosted by another organization with an idea about leadership, many of them thinking that they have learned what it means to lead prior to LeaderShape.  We believe that they all are better equipped to lead with integrity, adopt a healthy disregard for the impossible, and create the kind of world we all want to live in after leaving on Day Six.  Those stories are all different and yet all the same.  Stories of struggle, joy, confusion, and opportunity.  We all look forward to hearing those stories for years to come.

46,246.  All of those stories are now blended with graduates from years past to create the LeaderShape story.  What a story that is.  Those of you who have read Malcolm Gladwell are familiar with the concept of the “tipping point.”  The game I play from time to time is what number of LeaderShape graduates will be the tipping point for achieving our mission.  Is it 46,247?  Is it 50,000 which we will hit in 2013.  Is it 100,000?  When will we have reached the number that leading with integrity is now the norm?  I like playing this game because it gets more exciting every year.  I may not now when it is going to happen, but I know for sure that every year we are getting closer.  Not a bad game to play…do you agree?

1. Finally, the most important number has to be one.  Bet you saw that coming if you were paying attention.  With all of these wonderful numbers this year, they don’t mean anything if LeaderShape ever loses track of “the power of one.”  Each new participant, each new staff member, each facilitator, each food service worker who serves us at a session, each person that decides not to go to LeaderShape because they have “more important things to do.”  It is all about the one.  One conversation that changes a mind.  One idea that comes during a long walk with your family cluster.  One day when you decide to raise your game.  One moment that defines a life.

We all must never lose sight that numbers are made up of a bunch of “ones.”  Don’t care how much money you have; I care how you spend that one dollar.  Don’t care how many leadership positions you have held; I care about what you are doing in the one you hold now.  Don’t care how many participants have gone through your program; I care about whether one is different because of their experience. 

Measure that.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2013 Summer Internship Announcement

LeaderShape, Inc. is an international, not-for-profit organization committed to developing more people who lead with integrity. The LeaderShape Institute, is an intensive six-day experience which is conducted on a national basis for participants from across the country. It is also conducted in partnership with universities and organizations from across the country and is highly regarded as an outstanding leadership development program.

Since the start of The LeaderShape Institute in 1986, more than 46,000 young adults have participated in this program. The LeaderShape Institute was acknowledged as an “exemplary program” by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. For more information, visit our web site:

The Summer Program Coordinator serves as an important member of The LeaderShape Institute team. We will select two individuals to work in partnership in serving in this role.  They will carry out logistical and conference management tasks which are crucial to the success of the program.  The Summer Program Coordinators will work alongside the facilitators to help ensure success, while staying one step ahead of the curriculum so that all of the details are organized at the beginning of each program piece.  In collaboration with the LeaderShape Staff, the Summer Program Coordinators will carry out the following activities:

Program Coordination & Management.  Coordination of the national sessions of The LeaderShape Institute requires strong administrative abilities and great attention to detail.  Activities include assistance with session preparation, participant registration, and participant communication.  This will involve time spent working at the LeaderShape home office and time spent staying on location during sessions of The LeaderShape Institute. 

Program Planning & Organization.  Assist with the planning of the national sessions of The LeaderShape Institute by working with vendors and other organizations that play a major role in the overall success of each session. Coordinate travel arrangements and accommodations for participants and facilitators. Assist facilitators during the session by preparing materials for daily activities.  Work in collaboration with facilitators to ensure that participants have a high quality experience while attending The LeaderShape Institute.

Participant Relations.  Communicate the importance of preparing for The LeaderShape Institute by reviewing expectations and answering questions regarding the national sessions.  Work with participants to ensure that they have a high quality experience.

The ideal candidate for this position will be a graduate student in Higher Education/Leadership Development or a related field.  Dates for this position are May 28, 2013 through August 2, 2013 (approximately 10 weeks). This position will require relocating to Champaign, Illinois during this time and attending all of the national sessions of The LeaderShape Institute. The dates for the dates of the national sessions are as follows: June 9-14, 2013 (Tahoe City, CA), July 21-26, 2013 (Champaign, IL), July 28-August 2, 2013 (Atlanta, GA), and July 28-August 2, 2013 (Champaign, IL). A stipend and housing are provided and academic credit can be arranged with the graduate student’s host institution.

Please visit our website to apply. The deadline for submitting resumes for consideration is January 14, 2013.

Please contact Kristen Young via email at with questions about this position.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Cluster Facilitator "Thank You"

On Day 6 of LeaderShape, as the program wraps up, they ask the cluster facilitators to say a few words. All I could get out was “Thank you”. It was such a small statement that carried so much meaning. I am pleased to have the opportunity to share what exactly I meant by “Thank you”.

Thank you to the LeaderShape staff for believing in me and giving me a chance. I knew I wanted the opportunity. I wanted it bad. As a LeaderShape graduate, the organization’s concepts and ideals became a part of who I am. I aim to be LeaderShape everyday. I wanted to be a part of growing the LeaderShape community and watch the process unfold for a new group of participants. Thank you for providing that opportunity and supporting the faculty along the way.

Thank you to the process for showing me I was mistaken. As a cluster facilitator, I approached the experience as if I was on the outside looking in. I was excited about the upcoming six days of empowering the LeaderShape participants and observing raw emotion, strength, self-discovery, turning points, creativity and more.  I quickly understood this was not an experience only about the participants.  LeaderShape is about the community it creates and that community included me. At first, I felt guilty for gaining so much from the experience as it progressed. It wasn’t designed for me. I already had my LeaderShape experience.

It turns out, six years after my first LeaderShape experience, the process still continues.

I found that my contributions were greater once I allowed myself to join the process.  Thanks again to the process for showing me that LeaderShape is designed for all involved.

Thank you to my family cluster for accepting LeaderShape into your lives. LeaderShape happens in different ways for different people and it was inspiring to see how LeaderShape fit into each one of your lives.  It is difficult for me to put our experience into words, but I think, overall, our family cluster theme was a message of hope. We pushed each other to dream big, ask critical questions, encourage, celebrate differences, truly listen, grow confidence, live authentically and we laughed…a lot. I adored our intimate cluster time, but I think I enjoyed seeing our cluster intermingle amongst the at-large community even more. The community was better because of the ten of you.

Monarch Family Cluster
(Litsa is top center)

 Thank you to the LeaderShape faculty for exemplifying the greatest example of synergy.  What a group. We had it all.  This was the group that helped me re-examine how LeaderShape fits into my life and held me accountable throughout the process. Together, we utilized our talents and strengthened our weaknesses. We had honest dialogue about the curriculum, the community and ourselves.

You see, LeaderShape has this special charm about it. Somehow, in no time, you feel like you have created a new home. You peel away all the layers and examine your core. Those defining moments happen at different times for each person. Some people don’t realize when it happens. But it happens.

And then it’s over.

Although, LeaderShape challenges that.

Thank you to Day 7 for empowering the LeaderShape community to adopt a lifestyle of integrity. The most important day of the process is Day 7---each day following the LeaderShape experience. To get the most of the experience, the LeaderShape community must sustain the visions, goals and gags. Day 7 is about sharing LeaderShape with the world. And just like the LeaderShape week, Day 7 is a process.  The toughest part about Day 7 is living LeaderShape in a world that doesn’t entirely “get it”; the greatest part about Day 7 is the 49604 people that do. Whether you have directly experienced LeaderShape with someone or, by chance, realize you have LeaderShape in common, all you have to say is “LeaderShape” and you share an understanding and respect. The LeaderShape community is what makes Day 7 possible.

A larger LeaderShape community means more possibilities for Day 7.  It means more people will be living and leading with integrity ® and having a healthy disregard for the impossible ®. It means more visions will transform to realities. Growing the LeaderShape community will change the world.

Thank you to the potential members of the LeaderShape community. When I returned home from serving as a cluster facilitator, I continued to reflect on the concept of possibility. I have a vision that LeaderShape is a possibility for everyone.
At the conclusion of serving as a cluster facilitator, my priority for Day 7 was to join the Pebble Club. The Pebble Club is designed create possibility for the future LeaderShape community. The future LeaderShape community is what inspires me today.

Thank you.

Litsa Eileen Orban

Litsa currently works at the University of Alabama and has been involved with The LeaderShape Institute as a Participant ('06), On Site Coordinator ('07), and as a Cluster Facilitator ('12). Thank You to Litsa for sharing this post with us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 7: Your Big "But"

At the LeaderShape Institute, participants are challenged to think about what is really, truly, deeply important to them and then work towards creating a plan to impact the passion that was identified.

A plan like this includes setting goals (we call them stretch goals and manageable goals) and sometimes a big “but” can get in the way of making progress on our goals.

What do we do about our big “but” then? How can we overcome it and continue working towards creating a just, caring, and thriving world? A world where your vision can become a reality?

1)    Identify. What is your “but” – the thing (or things) that is keeping you from moving forward on a particular goal? It can be helpful to make a list of these competing responsibilities and set priorities.
2)    Evaluate. Can you turn your “but” into an “and”? By thinking in terms of “and” (I can do this and that) we are able to consider what is possible.
3)    Act. Start something now. Do something – anything – that can help move you to action. Even a seemingly small act can set forth an avalanche of productivity!
4)    Stick to it. There are a lot of distractions in our lives. Developing strategies to stay on task can enable you to use your time doing the work that is most important to you. Set alarms, create reminders, leave yourself motivating notes, enlist others to check in on your progress…whatever it takes to move forward on your goals.

What is LeaderShape?

Paul Stoddard reflects on his experience as a Cluster Facilitator in 2012. We hope you enjoy learning what the week was like for him.

There really aren’t that many experiences in a typical lifetime that change the way you think.   Just a few, here and there.  If you’re lucky.  Events and experiences that incite changes in the way you think or act or perceive just don’t happen that often.   People talk a lot about changing the way they think and they think a lot about changing the way they think.  But, they usually don’t change.  LeaderShape was one of those relatively rare events in my life that caused me to change how I think, led me to change how I think, and let me change how I think.

I went into LeaderShape relatively unaware of what I was getting into and relatively naive about the whole LeaderShape “thing”.  I really didn’t know much about what to expect.  And that wasn’t a bad way to go into it at all. 

Everyone’s experience of LeaderShape is bound to be a little different than anyone else’s and everyone’s experience is somewhat unique. 

For me, LeaderShape was a Week of Surprises:  surprises about the depth at which strangers can connect, surprises about the way that being pushed outside your comfort zone will trigger new attitudes and a rebirth of thought, surprises about myself, surprises about my team, surprises about how group dynamics can evolve and coalesce in such a very short time.

For me, LeaderShape was a Week of Awakening:  awakening in myself, marvelous and palpable awakenings in others, awakening of a fluid and blossoming group dynamic in my team, and awakening of new levels of awareness about others.

For me, LeaderShape was a Week of Learning: learning that leading is action, learning that leading is a choice, learning that leading is an attitude, learning that leading is about pushing past boundaries, learning that leading sometimes means loving enough to push someone to think differently, learning that leading is about stepping up, learning that leading isn’t about me but it has to start with me, and learning that leading is about throwing out your old ideas about what’s possible.

Are you thinking about LeaderShape? Cast off your cocoon and check it out!

We are currently accepting applications for Cluster Facilitators for the 2013 national sessions of The LeaderShape Institute.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Update: Of Dreams & Deeds

An update from Ayokunle Falomo, including a link to his spoken word video:

I would love to again share with you things that has happened after our last correspondence which led to me being featured on the LeaderShape blog. That is still an experience which I'm grateful for. Two days ago, I turned 22. I decided to commemorate it in a way that is very special and monumental to me. Before LeaderShape, I was almost a closeted poet, and mostly refrained from sharing my work with others (fear of rejection, of failure, of not being good enough, the list is endless) However, that changed! Poetry is something I am deeply passionate about, and LeaderShape helped me to accept the title of a poet as who I am. I am glad that I was able to even share my poetry at LeaderShape during one of the activities. For my 22nd birthday, I was able to, with the help of a videographer friend, make a video presentation for one of my poems and I thought I should share with you. 

One of the primary influences for the poem is Benjamin Zander's book The Art of Possibility which I almost can't shut up about. It has changed my life in a very radical way. The section which was a major influence for the poem is the "telling the we story" section. 

This is just one of the many dreams I have of course. And for the next year before my next birthday, I documented other things I would love to achieve which I wrote about on the blog here.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read this. I can't help but inform you just how influential LeaderShape has been for me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Legacy Movement

My name is Aaron Gray and I am an alumnus of Leadershape from Summer 2000. I still remember the vivid day in Champaign, IL when I embarked on a mission for a week to identify what my true passion is in life and chart out a plan to execute it. At the time, I wrote that I wanted to take all of the knowledge that I would obtain over time and teach people in low-income communities so they could lift themselves out of poverty. I have broadened out my vision over time and I am ready to go for it.

I am willing to swing for home runs and develop game changing models. Often times, that entails going after huge billion dollar opportunities, but what I am attempting to accomplish, is much more important than money. I am trying to save communities. 

I started The Legacy Movement to change the conversation about success and entrepreneurship in under-served communities. Our global economy is in crisis, and people are starving for knowledge, tools, resources, and people to help them improve their economic situations. The Legacy Movement addresses this problem by providing all of the above via our technology platform and access to an ecosystem of individuals and organizations who have similar goals. A good way to draw an analogy for our technology platform is that we plan to be the LinkedIn for doing deals. Anyone interested in buying a company, selling a company, or starting a new venture, (for-profit, non-profit, or social enterprise), this will be the premier destination for you.

Additionally, we have a focus on under-served communities: women, military veterans, and minorities. Our platform will be open to EVERYONE, but we want to focus on increasing entrepreneurship and business ownership in communities that are sometimes not direct beneficiaries of mass amounts of wealth being created in the U.S.

This point is extremely important, as we know that our nation’s public schools are in crisis, where minorities are only graduating 50% of the time from high school. Our military veterans come home and are offered subprime loans. Women, even with the tremendous strides they have made in terms of college graduation and upward mobility in the workforce, continue to hit glass ceilings and struggle to raise capital for their businesses. The Legacy Movement is attempting to improve on all of these problems by offering high quality education materials and a phenomenal network of people that will help create billions of dollars of wealth in the U.S.

There are THOUSANDS of business and social problems that need to be solved and emerging entrepreneurs are eager to create profitable businesses models around solving those problems. Innovators are innovating on innovation and it is truly exciting. The opportunities are ENDLESS. The cost to start a business is now cheaper than ever, and funding has become more accessible to the average person. However, one has to know where to look. Additionally, being part of an ecosystem of like-minded peers and those with experience who have had success and failure as entrepreneurs offers extreme value, and our platform will offer that. We plan to offer not just access to capital, but also access to education and people who can help one achieve his/her goals.

I have had an amazing 10-year career in finance and technology, having worked for some of premier companies in world, including the Florida State Board of Administration, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Greycroft Partners. The Legacy Movement will be announcing several outstanding partnerships with top-notch academic institutions this Fall so stay tuned. For more information, please visit