Action Day!! Day 3 of M.A.D Leadership Chicago 

​The last three weeks I have been doing a series writing about this amazing conference I volunteered at in September. It was hosted by the Aspire Foundation and was a program focused on developing (mostly women) leaders who want to make a difference. 

If you want more back story, I would recommend you visit my blog to catch up on those posts. Today I am going to wrap up this series with the final day, my favorite…ACTION DAY!!

This is my favorite because without action steps or effort into a  tangible plan, a great conference can quickly go down the drain once it’s all over and regular life distractions get in the way…again. 

Action day when I attended a similar conference in London is part of what changed my life in this last year. I often keep my soapbox ready to chat about the value and importance of vision boards and Action Day falls into the same category for me. 

When I can articulate my vision, share it with others, write it down or have visuals for it, it will become more reasonable to achieve those things. You can begin to look for ways to open doors yourself or the right people who can help you or hold you accountable. After some time has passed you might look back and day, “Wow how did I make it this far?” I’ll tell you how. It’s because you had some version of Action Day. If you don’t know what you want or where you’re going, how can you know if you are even on the right track? 

On Action Day, you learn to say ‘Screw the Fear’ and give your vision some teeth. Action Day is not for the faint of heart as it will make you uncomfortable because a plan don’t mean ish without some action on your part. Yes, you actually have to DO stuff to achieve your dreams and goals. 

For the Aspire attendees, there were 4 sessions for the day:

1. Leading and Influencing Others

2. The Power of Your Network

3. Strategic Thinking & Time Leadership

4. Action Plans, Support & Accountability 

Again, the best way to wrap up this conference was with Action. So many people leave conferences with a whole lot of action and little thought towards implementation. But you don’t need a conference to have your own action day. You already know what you want to or need to work on. Follow through on the commitments you have made to yourself and others. Start today! 

Day 1 of M.A.D. LEADERSHIP CHICAGO 

Prior to the Aspire M.A.D. Leadership Chicago conference I wrote abour last week, there was a webinar to prepare. 

One question posed to webinar attendees was, “What is your main motivation to attend M.A.D. (Making a Difference) Leadership?”

  1. Improve Leadership Skills
  2. Make a bigger difference in the world
  3. Figure out future career and life goals 
  4. Make a life or work change
  5. Something else

Intentions are powerful. Declaring your direction and what you want to achieve can gain more results than going into any new project or adventure blindly.

Throughout the program, attendees had a chance to network and spend time speaking out loud about dreams, goals and vision. But what I loved was that it didn’t stop there. Goals do not mean much without action and that was a big focus of the event. Attendees could learn the steps for how to take action and create steps for making a difference. 

Before the event began, attendees checked-in and got to select their own journal to jot down notes, ideas, contacts, plans, follow-up, etc during the week. I attended an Aspire Foundation event last year and I still have my journal. 

This year’s event in Chicago included 12 sessions. I will take my next few blog posts day by day. Day one sessions included topics on the power and impact of being a MAD leader in today’s competitive organization and global economy which was led by Aspire’s founder, Dr. Sam Collins. On day 1 attendees also heard from Linda Cruse on how to create a life and career you love and be a catalyst for change. Linda Cruse is an international aid worker, disaster management specialist, author, inspirational speaker and social entrepreneur. You should check out her book Marmalade and Machine Guns.

Linda said a lot that resonated with me. She talked about the work she does around the world but how it’s important to create environments that foster independence. You have to train people you teach to be without you so they don’t become dependent. It is valuable to co-create then leave. That to me is not important only if you are assisting in third world countries but a principle that rings true in every country in any life. Parents, school teachers, managers can all take that same piece of advice and apply it. I know I want to. No one should want to create someone who cannot be independent to think, live and thrive on their own. 

Some other faves Linda mentioned are as follows:

“We come with nothing and we go with nothing. At the end of the day we have our purpose so don’t miss living your purpose by one day. How do you want to be remembered?”

“Why not? Two words that will change your life.”

“Have a board of directors for your life, in your life.”

“You become who you have coffee with.”

“Buy an experience for Christmas or Thanksgiving. You’ll talk about it for years. Buy experiences, not things.”

To wrap up day 1, there was also a panel session on making success. The panelists dove deeper into the ideas of balance and resilience being possible for MAD Leaders. 

One of my favorite takeaways was something someone on the panel said which was,”No…is a gift you can give someone. It’s you saying, ‘I can’t do it’ so they can find someone else versus saying yes then you can’t commit to it. 

Next week I’ll tell you more about day two of the Aspire Foundation MAD Leadership Chicago conference.  

The totally fab Volunteer Team I was part of

Aspire, Inspire, Trailblazing Women

​I love being in a room with powerful women and men, especially women. Powerful though not because of their title or status but because of their spirit. Aspire has done it again!

This week I spent volunteering for The Aspire Foundation M.A.D. Leadership Chicago conference. 

This was a symbolic full circle for me. Last year, I attended my first Aspire conference on Trailblazing Leadership in London (click link to read one of my most popular posts on traveling in London). If you have been reading my blogs for some time, you probably remember my posts (like this one here!) about that trip.

This week, I feel like I met the most beautiful souls. People who help you believe in humanity. People who believe in diversity including diversity of thought, of people, of ideas and dreams. People who were open, loving, thoughtful, compassionate and serious about making a difference to change the world, knowing that it starts with transforming their own lives so they can help transform the lives of others.

150 women attended each day from front line, manager and senior positions in the corporate, academic, local government, small business, nonprofit and charity worlds. There were attendees on scholarship, students, mentees, mentors and a few amazing men attended as well. 

As a volunteer, I got there early each morning and stayed late each night, giving my best energy, smiles, help and support to everyone who needed it. I helped with setup, breakdown, did the social media (Search #madleaders on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), checked attendees in at reception each morning, helped delegates during and between the sessions, supported the volunteer team and all other duties as assigned. 

I got just as much if not more from volunteering as the attendees did. I got to see the experience from a different point of view this time around. I was nervous about how that might turn out but it was a brilliant decision. I worked closely with Dr. Sam Collins, the Founder and CEO of Aspire whose mission is to Make a Difference to 1 Billion women by 2020. 

At the beginning of the conference and before it started I spoke aloud intentions for what I wanted to get out of it. What did I want to see for myself? What did I want to see for the attendees? What did I want to see for the volunteer team? Some of my answers were re-energizing, restoration, peace and clarity.  I feel like I got even more than I asked for and that’s pretty incredible for a few days.
There were 12 fantastic sessions over 3 days. I have so much more to share but I will cut this post short so I can give the other content it’s full airtime. Next week I’ll start sharing more details about the conference sessions and some take-aways that really impacted me. 

I had to start somewhere because I am so excited. This week gave me a renewed energy and outlook on my present and my future. I am a M.A.D. (Making A Difference) Trailblazing Leader. 

Onward #madleaders!