Your Leadership Journey: Life Lessons in Leadership Coaching
Todd Cherches; Carol Shear (ICF-CT president); Steve Cherches
We all know that our life experiences shape us as individuals. Yet, how often do we make the time and take the time to reflect back on those experiences to gain a better understanding of who we are and how we are as leaders...and as coaches?
In this fun, fast-paced, and highly-interactive workshop, we led the Connecticut chapter of the International Coach Federation (ICF) on a journey of exploration from the past to the present...and into the future.
Among the key themes covered in this 90-minute workshop:
* Exploring the metaphor of the Leadership Journey;
* Discovering who we are as leaders based on how the life stories from our past shape our present;
* Envisioning how we can apply the journey metaphor and our own life lessons in a coaching context.
On October 2nd, BigBlueGumball led members of the Junior League of Greenwich on a creative exploration of how they can leverage the power of visual communication, storytelling, metaphor/analogy, and visual imagery to more effectively and impactfully communicate the Junior League brand, message, and strategy to a variety of different stakeholders including prospective members, donors, underwriters, & the community.
Todd was honored to participate on the panel at the Adelante ("Forward!") professional development event this evening sponsored by JPMorgan Chase at their beautiful Park Avenue headquarters.
This was Adelante's 2nd Annual Professional Development forum, and is intended to "lead, motivate, and empower Latino professionals to explore opportunities in higher education."
Moderated (wonderfully!) by Todd's former NYU student (and JPMorgan Chase HR employee), Jessica Palacios, the other speakers and panelists included:
Opening Remarks by Priscilla Almodovar (Head of Community Development Banking, Commercial Banking, JP Morgan Chase)
Panelists: Yxa Bazan (BSA/AML Corporate Program Office, JP Morgan Chase); Michael Robinson (Columbia University); and Chavon Sutton (Asset Management, JP Morgan Chase)
Closing Remarks by Carolina Jannicelli (Global Head of Analyst & Associate Acquisition & Development Asset Management, JP Morgan Chase)
Among the various topics discussed:
*The Pros & Cons of pursuing an MBA (focusing on Columbia and NYU Stern)
*The Pros & Cons of pursuing a master's degree Full-time vs. Part-time
*Other professional development options that don't involve the cost and time investment of a formal program, e.g., reading books and blog; watching videos (e.g., TED talks); attending industry functions; networking; etc.
Todd's key contributions to the discussion were as follows:
 In addition to running your business, you teach Leadership and Teambuilding at NYU with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The Masters programs through SCPS offer part-time options. What has your experience been with part-time students? What are some of the challenges & benefits that you have observed?
Part-time students take one or two classes a semester (e.g., Mon & Wed and/or Tues & Thurs, and/or Saturday…either classroom and/or online). The CHALLENGES include the workload of a 40-hour a week job, and then adding to that 6-12 hours a week in the classroom hours, plus reading, studying, assignments, and team projects...plus possible commuting, family and/or other obligations. So you really need to be committed, and manage your time effectively while balancing both quantity and quality. You need to really be committed to learning, and not just checking the box to get that piece of paper. The BENEFITS of working while going to school include the opportunity to APPLY classroom learning at work, and report back on how it went. This provides instant feedback and real-time learning. For example, in my Transformational Leadership & Teambuilding class, each student writes two Learning Journals a week, connecting the 3 corners of the triangle of Class Content; Outside Reading; and Your Real Life Experiences (past, present, or future). Students with little-to-no real-life work experience may struggle to relate to or to apply what they're learning in class.
 Obviously there are alternatives to the full-time formal degree route. We’ve learned about the formal options, but what do you say to someone looking for more of an “a la carte” experience? Tell us about the niche your training company (BigBlueGumball) fills. How is it different from an academic setting?
The key is to always be learning…make EVERYTHING a learning experience and find teachable moments all around you. READ anything and everything…blogs, white papers, articles, books, (e.g., HBR Mgmt Tip of the Day, etc.) Watch videos (e.g., TED Talks). Attend lectures, panels, discussions, MeetUp groups, etc. Use LinkedIn effectively by joining different professional groups and participating in the discussions. See what others are saying, add to your network of contacts, and establish yourself as a thought-leader and subject matter expert in your field. Even start your own blog!
As for BigBlueGumball, our offerings basically fall into two general categories: (1) Management, Leadership, and Professional/Productivity Skills & (2) Presentation Skills/Public Speaking and Visual Thinking/Visual Communication. Our difference is that all our programs are fast-paced, highly-interactive, highly-experiential – non-academic, non-theoretical – everything has real-world applications to turn Ideas into Actions, and Actions in to Results. It’s all about results. And our mission is to "Educate, Engage, and Excite" -- and to make training entertaining.
 Thinking back on your own professional development, what is something you wish you had known sooner OR had done differently?
I’ve found, from personal experience, that the key differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t can be summed up in one word: CONFIDENCE. The confidence to speak up and speak out. To try new things. Take chances and risks. Seize opportunities. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. To fail and to learn from your failures. And to be resilient, get up, and bounce back from adversity. Years ago, when I was repeatedly passed over for a team leadership role, I waited and waited to be chosen, but never was. Finally, frustrated, I spoke up and asked why I was never picked. The boss's response: “You never asked.” People are not mind-readers. If you want something, you need to ask. The worst thing that happens is they say no. Finally, keep in mind these 3 P’s: PREPARATION (do your homework); PRACTICE (keep at it, and keep getting better); and PERSEVERANCE (keep working at it; be resilient, and never give up). The 3 P’s lead to success. Success leads to greater confidence, which increases your odds of further success.
Each July, BigBlueGumball takes the show on the road to a magical place called Silver Bay on the beautiful shores of Lake George in upstate New York.
For over 90 years, business leaders have been meeting at this unique retreat to discuss the most pressing issues of the day and contemplate the importance of leadership at what is now known as the "Leadership Forum at Silver Bay."
What is leadership? How has leadership changed over time? What is the value of leadership in today's business world? And how do we instill leadership qualities in the the next generation of leaders?
Those are just a few of the "big picture" questions posed at the conference.
BigBlueGumball had the opportunity to deliver a fun and thought-provoking interactive workshop in which we collectively reflected on our leadership journeys past and present, and envisioned our individual leadership legacies as we drive towards the future. We were inspired by everyone's stories... the lessons learned... the choices made... and the obstacles overcome.
A huge thank you to all who make this special conference an incredible experience, and thank you to our fellow conference speakers (listed below).
We look forward to returning in July of 2014 when we get to revisit our stories, share our experiences, and continue along on our journey.
Until then... happy and safe travels to all.... BigBlueGumball
Our fellow 2013 Conference Facilitators:
Bryan Mattimore - author of best-selling creativity books Idea Stormers and 99% Inspiration
Ron Ashkenas - author of Simply Effective, coauthor of The Boundaryless Organization. Managing Partner of Robert Schaffer Associates
Jeremey Donovan - Group Vice President, Gartner Research, author of How To Deliver A TED Talk
Sean Brawley - has worked for 20 years with Tim Gallwey, the author of The Inner Game series of books including the classic, The Inner Game of Tennis. Co-founder and lead trainer of the Inner Game School of Coaching.
Bob and Gregg Vanourek - authors of Triple Crown Leadership
Neerja Bhatia - author of Art of Resilience and Bliss is in Knowing the Self
Diana Brooks - longtime Leadership Forum member and terrific coach