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Archive for "Leadership"

Kansas YP Summit

Posted on May 2, 2016 by under Events, Leadership.    

Every time I feel like I’m almost caught up with the blog, stuff happens and I’m behind again. So, we’re almost caught up but we were busy this weekend so there’s still a lot of stuff to catch you guys up on.

Here are some pictures from the Kansas YP Summit last week.


I’m so glad work approved me to attend because they had some fantastic speakers lined up: Stephanie Sharp, Armando Minjares, Heather Morgan, my friend Aaron Wirtz, Richard Rierson, Christina Long, Ted Kriwiel, Mark McCormick, and keynote speaker Jon Acuff, author of Do Over, Start, and Quitter. Some friends of mine had breakout sessions in the afternoon as well.

I wanted to go to the pre-summit social at the ICT Pop-Up Urban Park but I didn’t end up leaving Topeka until 6 PM. The mingle was only scheduled to run until 8 PM so I was too late. At least I got to go to the actual summit.


Retired educator, Jan Davis, did an ice breaker activity in her opening remarks.


She asked us to form groups for three. This was my first group. That’s Kat on the left and Amy in the middle. Amy is with the Kansas Leadership Center and actually had a breakout session in the afternoon on storytelling.


This is my second group.


My friend Ebony did a wonderful job as the event emcee.


I also got selfies with a couple of the speakers — Stephanie, pictured above, and Aaron, pictured below. You might recognize Aaron from his TV commercials. He’s brilliant.




I remember meeting him when he first started working for the car dealership. Four years later, he’s an icon. I’m not surprised because he is a marketing genius. And, he’s super talented to boot.


I also some selfies with my coworkers.



Here’s a photo of Amy at her breakout session.


I paired up with Chelsea from our Topeka office for the activity. This is a picture of her “leaning” into her story.


Here’s a picture of our keynote speaker, Jon Acuff, who was both insightful and funny.


Here’s a selfie with my friend Ryan and his daughter, who was a wonderful breakout session assistant. I walked into the session a little bit late and she walked over and gave me a handout. She was on top of it.


Here’s a selfie of me with my activity partner.


Christina, below, has inspired me to design my own decade.


Ted, has inspired me to be more selfless.


And then we had closing remarks by Mark McCormick.


It was a truly amazing day and I feel very grateful that I had the opportunity to attend.

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Leadership Wichita 2014

Posted on August 21, 2015 by under Community, Leadership, Things to Do.    

Last year I completed Leadership Wichita. I had some amazing experiences, made some new friends, and got a really cool plaque for my office. Besides that, I wrote a letter to my future self that’s significantly shaping my choices this year (and years to come).


First let me tell you about Leadership Wichita. Leadership Wichita is a leadership training program through the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce that is unlike any other leadership training program I’ve ever experienced. There were eight sessions in total and I got to participate in some amazing, enlightening, life-changing activities that I would never have experienced otherwise. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I didn’t want my classmates to think I was weird but I did take a few that I’d like to share with you.

I got to spend half a day at Wichita West High School and learned that, despite all of its challenges, USD 259 is actually a great school district. They’re this really cool thing at West High where you declare your academic focus (whether it be Business and Culinary Arts, Engineering and Manufacturing, Fine Arts and Communication, or Health Sciences and Human Services) and you get to take classes toward that focus during your high school years. It’s a really great opportunity to learn whether you really have the passion or aptitude for something. For instance, had I known sooner that Engineering wasn’t for me, then I wouldn’t have wasted four years in college pursuing it. The students in the Business and Culinary Arts academy learn skills that they can use to become entrepreneurs right out of high school, if they so choose. It’s really cool.


But it was the kids that I got to spend time with that really impressed me most. Since there were 30 of us in our Leadership Wichita class, we were divided into four groups. Some of us got to spend time with each of the academies. Our lunch that day was prepared by the Business and Culinary Arts students assisted by some of our Leadership Wichita classmates. They prepared their award-winning school lunch that they were invited to Washington, DC to present at a national competition. The lunch had to meet budget (so that schools could afford to feed it to thousands of kids), nutritional requirements, and also be delicious. They served us buffalo chicken mac and cheese, some kind of red cabbage and corn salad, and a peach crisp topped with granola for dessert. It was a surprisingly delicious meal for about a dollar a person.

I wasn’t part of that group but I was lucky enough to spend time with the Engineering kids who were some of the smartest students I’d ever met. They were taking Engineering classes in high school that I didn’t take until college. They were learning CAD and printing things with their 3D printer. As a parting gift, they gave me one of these puzzles that they designed and made in their classroom. I got to design and make one of the pieces on the computer. It was awesome.


We also got to spend time at the Wichita/Sedgwick County joint training facility at Lake Afton doing shoot/don’t shoot simulations. The exercise was really nerve-wracking and gave me a greater appreciation for the stress that our law enforcement officers go through. They really don’t get enough credit for the work they do.



Another session was spent doing mock interview, receiving feedback, learning about working with the media, and we got to watch a live newscast at the KWCH station at the end of that session.



This is a picture of Ryan Bond, one of my Leadership Wichita classmates. We voted him into to the Leadership Wichita Board of Trustees.


This is a picture of me with one of my social media idols, Lou Heldman from Wichita State University. We’d met years ago through Twitter but since neither of us haven’t really gone to any tweetups recently our paths hadn’t crossed much. He was one of our presenters for our Leadership Wichita session about media. It was nice to run into him and listen to him speak on a topic that he’s very passionate about.


This is me with another one of my classmates who I really connected with, Stacy Gear. She is such an amazing person and super funny, too.


This is me with Michelle Stroot, another classmate who is quiet but also amazing. We were the two shortest people of the group.


Mom and dad both got to attend my Leadership Wichita graduation banquet.



My friend Faith came. My boss Ginger was there. Isaac and his wife, and Don and his wife were at the graduation banquet also.


It was such an amazing experience. All of the sessions were great (well, except for when they fed us jail food – LOL – JK – even that was really good too). During one of the sessions we got to write letters to our future selves, which brings me to the title of this blog entry. I had challenged myself to become more become more involved in the community. I have lived in Wichita for over 20 years now. It’s time that I invested in our community because this is my home. I’d always wanted to be more involved but I just kept putting it off and putting off. Well, after reading my letter to myself, I decided that procrastination time was over.

I made a couple of significant decisions this year. I joined the Andover Rotary Club. I had planned on telling you all about it in this blog post but now that I’ve made it so lengthy I decided I probably best save it for later. I also joined the Kansas DUI Impact Center board of directors. I’m also helping to connect others in my organization who want to get more involved in the community with nonprofits that they’re passionate about so, while I can’t be on ten nonprofit boards, at least I have people I know and trust who will be helping these other nonprofit organizations serve the community.


I owe my 2015 self in part to my Leadership Wichita experience. I cannot say enough about this program. It was really life-changing for me. Among all the things I learned, I learned that I can do so much more for the community than what I’m already doing. The experience ignited something that was already in me. It just needed a catalyst, which is what Leadership Wichita did for me.

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When Life Hands You Lemons

Posted on September 21, 2014 by under Leadership, Videos.    

When life hands you lemons, do you make lemonade? Or do you whine and skulk and moan and groan and complain? It’s not about what happens to you. It’s about what you do with what happens to you. No matter what life throws at us, we need to learn to always make the best of the situation.

I had the privilege of seeing Chris Waddell speak at a leadership conference last week. He is an amazing person and his story is truly inspirational.

To me Chris Waddell embodies this John Wooden saying, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Next time something bad happens or things don’t work out according to plan, resist the urge to whine and complain. Don’t be that annoying, always negative person on Facebook who is always grousing about something. Focus on all the good things and make the best of it. Once you start focusing on the positive, your life will change. I guarantee it.

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Throwback Thursday

Posted on August 28, 2014 by under Leadership.    

I graduated from Leadership Westar exactly five years ago today!


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Leadership Development

Posted on August 3, 2014 by under Leadership.    

I have some really exciting news to share with everyone. I get to cross another item off my bucket list. I received my acceptance letter for Leadership Wichita 2014 a few days ago. I didn’t want to say anything before because I didn’t want to be embarrassed in case I wasn’t chosen. LOL. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do, though.


Getting the “big” envelope was pretty exciting. It felt like I was applying for college. Actually, I take that back. It wasn’t like I applied at Harvard. Pretty much anyone can attend Wichita State.

It was a lot like applying for grad school though, where I actually had to take an exam, submit an essay, and provide two letters of recommendation. But then I scored high enough on my GMAT that I wasn’t really concerned.

With Leadership Wichita I didn’t even know where to begin. The program isn’t something that I could simply apply for. I had to be nominated. And, I wasn’t even sure how that would be possible because the nomination form is very specific about who to nominate. You couldn’t nominate just anyone.

Leadership Wichita is something that I’d always wanted to do but I couldn’t even tell anyone because I was afraid they’d just laugh at me. So when Ginger and Don both approached me this year about representing our company in this year’s class, I was super excited. It felt like Christmas!

It’s a huge commitment so they wanted me to think seriously about it. I didn’t have to think about it, though. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do so I knew that I would clear my schedule for the rest of the year if I had to. I had secured my nomination. There was no way I was passing on this opportunity.

I needed three strong letters of recommendation so I told Jim Ludwig right away. As my mentor, I figured that he would be supportive and write a letter of recommendation on my behalf. I had one letter of recommendation down and needed two more. I couldn’t ask a friend or relative because I wanted to submit a strong application. I didn’t want to be accepted simply because I’m representing my work. I wanted to be accepted on my own merit. I wanted to be a strong candidate worthy of Don Sherman’s nomination.

Dr. Gerald Graham was one of my professors in grad school and a well respected leader in the community. I knew that a letter of recommendation from him would carry a lot of weight. However, I wasn’t sure if he’d remember me. His class, Organizational Behavior (MGMT 862) was one of the first classes I’d taken in grad school so it had been almost ten years. Lucky for me, I’d received additional training from Dr. Graham through work over the years so we would see each other occasionally. Despite that, I still worried that he would say no and I didn’t have a contingency plan in place. What a relief when he said yes! I was so thrilled when his letter of recommendation arrived in the mail.


I knew that with Don, Jim, and Dr. Graham in my corner I had a pretty good shot at being accepted but I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I had my work experience and educational background covered, so I needed a letter of recommendation that shows my commitment to the community. I wanted to be a solid, well rounded candidate so I asked Natalie if the Treehouse could write a letter on my behalf since I helped with Labor Run 2013. I figured that this would show my community involvement.

I felt like I submitted a strong application. Don tells me that my package is great and he knows his stuff so that made me feel pretty darn good. I’m very grateful to everyone who helped me get in because I don’t think I could have done it on my own (though I probably would have kept trying).

This year’s program/schedule looks really interesting. I’m looking forward to getting started and representing my company well. I promise to make the most of this opportunity and make you all proud!

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