Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Book Review: Think Like A Freak

I'll be honest that I haven't been reading as much as I usually do. Most of that is an issue of the summer and being busy coaching baseball, doing yard work, taking and picking up kids from camp, and work. Mostly work. However, I've gotten back into it with a vengeance and began tackling the pile of books that has accumulated over that time. I do love my Kindle, but there is something to holding the book, dog-earing pages, and using a highlighter. Thus, the stack. I really did intend to read them when I bought them. Honest. Be warned though, I read more on the edges of leadership these days given that most of what is written about leadership these days seems to be repackaged. I must be getting old.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot these days about asking good questions because I believe that most of the major issues we face in the world are a result of asking bad questions. Asking questions of "who is to blame" instead of "what are WE going to do about it," is just one example. So I'm gravitating to books that help me think more clearly, more often, and more openly. I found a really good one that you should pick up by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner…two economists…hang with me.

They are the authors of Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics, and their latest Think Like a Freak. All of them made me go "hmmm" out loud because they look at issues, problems, and challenges from the perspective of asking good questions to get at the root cause not just what it would appear to be on the surface. Our news comes to us pre-washed and shrunk to sizes that apparently we consume best – two sentence tweets. With that, we miss nuance, debate, perspective, the works. I truly believe that if we moved past the lens that we have crafted to see the world and actually see the world for what it is, many of these challenges facing us could actually be addressed. 

Kicking the can down the road is not a solution any more. We will continue to find ourselves asking why we are in the same place as we were years before. Being economists, the authors write a lot about incentives and how to truly influence other people. As LeaderShapers, we embrace living in possibility every day and thinking about how best to influence others and ask good questions seems like an exercise worth doing.  I would pick up Think Like a Freak as it is their latest and I think best book. I think you will really enjoy reading it. It's hard to put down.

On to the next book in the stack.  Here we go…


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Catalyst: A Reflection

Earlier this month the LeaderShape Staff and our amazing Catalyst Facilitators took a few days to go on a retreat. We found a location that was quiet, that allowed for individual reflection, connecting with others and having conversations that matter. It was a great reminder of how important it is to take an opportunity (every once in a while) to slow down, look around, breathe, appreciate the goodness that surrounds you, and consider what is next.

And that is exactly what we did. We spent our time talking about what the future holds for Catalyst. The Catalyst program started nine years ago in response to a need LeaderShape saw for a one-day program that shared some of the themes of The LeaderShape Institute. We recognized at that time that not everyone is able to take 6 days to attend The LeaderShape Institute. It is often times very difficult to take time away from work, family, classes, friends, and every day life. We don’t want that to be a reason why people can’t be a part of the LeaderShape community of individuals working to create a more just, caring and thriving world.

With that as our foundation, our group talked about all of the ways our curriculum can be changed, enhanced, reinforced and modified to give each participant a great LeaderShape experience. Whether you spend 6 days or 6 hours at a LeaderShape program, in the time you are there we want each participant to find their experience personally rewarding and one which they walk away learning more about themselves and others. We look forward to what lies ahead for Catalyst in 2015. Keep an eye out for a new look, a new curriculum, and a continued dedication to helping participants identify their values, connect with something they care about, and make a change in the world around them.

Upon reflection, the retreat was just what we needed organizationally to refocus, reconnect, and continue to work with participants to make change in the world. What started as a simple meeting turned into so much more as we embraced the concept of going on a retreat. It is a piece that, in the hurry up, fast paced world we live in, we don’t take enough time for. Yet it is so very valuable. Through the Catalyst program thousands of people have the opportunity, for one day, to live in a world of possibility and as an organization, we are thrilled to be with each one of them for that day!

Interested in learning more about Catalyst? Visit the Catalyst FAQs post from last week.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Catalyst FAQs

Catalyst is LeaderShape’s one-day experience designed to help participants examine their values and strengths while maximizing their potential to work towards change.

Who is Catalyst for?
The curriculum was created for individuals who want to make a difference - ideally 60(ish) totally awesome participants. What makes a participant awesome? We think it starts with someone who is engaged and ready-to-go, eager to learn, and who want to take action to change the world (like for real).  

We partner with colleges, universities, and other organizations to bring the program to campus or a site of their choice. This allows organizations the opportunity to provide a common experience around “starting something extraordinary” with a group of people who can then get to work on something they care about. And encourage (and maybe even lead) others to do the same! Then things start to change and that is where the fun begins - because an impact is being made within an organization, at college, or in the community.

How is Catalyst different from a keynote speaker and other leadership programs?
Catalyst is a program that provides the time and space for participant contributions through a variety of formats.  And that is what makes the day spent with Catalyst stand out.

During the day, participants will work in large groups, with an assigned small group, in pairs, and independently. They will be in purposeful conversation with one another, engage in hands-on activities, and spend time in reflection. They will be the learner and in other moments they will step in and be the teacher.

The Facilitator* will also serve in a teaching capacity. And at times he or she may also serve as coach, encourager, challenger, or even take the group on a trust walk (Kidding! Just making sure you are paying attention like an awesome Catalyst participant would be doing). Whatever role the facilitator steps into, they are there to empower and push participants to think in ways that will help them to leave the day prepared to take action.

How will we spend our time during Catalyst?
Throughout the course of the day, we explore what it means to choose, for oneself, what to do with one’s time and life by exploring questions and concepts around the question, “Where do I want to make an impact?” There is then time to evaluate what skills and talents each person has to contribute, followed by examining how to make something happen in community with others (we can’t do it alone people!). The end of the day focuses on taking action so that when folks leave they have a tangible plan to take the first step.

Why just one day?
Time is valuable. Sometimes one day is all we have. Look at it this way…we get one ENTIRE day devoted to exploring where you want to make a difference, what skills and talents you have to contribute, and how you can get going. One entire day.

Bigger Picture
LeaderShape believes in the possibility of and is working towards the creation of a just, caring, and thriving world. If everyone lives and leads with integrity and and if everyone holds a healthy disregard for the impossible we can get there! Luckily we aren’t alone in the desire to live in this type of world. Catalyst participants are invited to join us in this monumental and meaningful work. We know they can make a difference.

*A member of LeaderShape’s Co-Lead Facilitator community who have been chosen through a selection process and trained to facilitate this and our other programs, such as The LeaderShape Institute.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Last week, we were able to host a retreat with the facilitators of LeaderShape's one-day Catalyst program. We are so thankful for the opportunity to spend time in community with these ambassadors of our cause and programs. More posts with thoughts and photos from the retreat and information about the Catalyst program are on the way. Keep an eye out for those over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 Palmer Award Recipients

We received almost 50 Palmer Award applications from LeaderShape graduates who are working towards their visions and making an impact on their campuses, in their communities, and on the world. It is a privilege to read these inspirational stories and see how the members of the LeaderShape community are helping to create a just, caring, and thriving world. Although all of the applications were filled with examples of taking action and making a difference, two stood above the rest. So now it’s time to announce the recipients of this year’s Palmer Award!

Emmanuel Eze, Boise State University
Emmanuel headed to Boise State University from Baltimore, Maryland. Many encouraged him to go elsewhere worried, that as a person of color, he would not be accepted in Idaho. The transition to Boise State has been a positive one, and has led Emmanuel on a path to “let others know that things are not always the way they seem; that we live in a world where people judge each other based on what they have heard or possibly viewed on television,” and to then help others recognize that “diversity is one of the best things that ever happened to humanity.”

A world free from oppression, prejudice, and discrimination for everyone, including people that have a hard time fitting into their new environment.

Making a multicultural inclusion music video was a goal that Emmanuel set for himself. Some of the outcomes he was looking for from the video were to promote diversity, inclusion, and acceptance at Boise State as well as to build community at the University and beyond. Through the relationships and partnerships Emmanuel forged with 13 student clubs and organizations, 7 departments, an elementary school, and Boise State alumni with experience in audio and video production, Emmanuel and his team created “Let’s All GrowTogether.”

Emmanuel is proud to share that the video has been well received shared University-wide.

What’s Next?
Twelve Universities and Colleges in Idaho are coming together to make another diversity inclusion music video and we should be able to get a peak at the project in the Spring.

Haley Mullins, Miami University of Ohio
Haley sees providing children with an education as a way in which she can reach her vision. The commitment she has demonstrated towards the Otwee-Miami School of Hope certainly shows us how true that is.

That everyone has the opportunity to achieve the goals they set for themselves regardless of whether or not they have access to adequate resources.

One of the goals that Haley shared set for herself was to raise funds for the Otwee-Miami School of Hope, a nursery school in Northern Uganda.  This year, the monies raised helped build an additional classroom onto the school. Haley was even able to travel to Uganda and assist in the labor herself. While there, she and other members from Oxfam spent time interviewing families in the community in order to gain knowledge that will aid in successfully establishing a sponsorship program that will provide children with the annual tuition and supplies necessary to attend school.

What’s next?
Next on Haley’s list of goals to support the Otwee-Miami School of Hope is to tackle is a fence project, which will protect students from the nearby road. She is also working to fundraise for classroom tables