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Marion Mann’s Takeaways from ACE Leadership Symposium

The best blog post we can share today comes from our friend @MMANN47 – Marion Mann – with the Greenville Chamber. Her summary of the ACE Leadership Symposium is awesome.  If you’re not intrigued by the topics of diversity, inclusion, and “minority” leadership; you will be after reading this. Thanks for capturing the essence of the day Marion!!!

ACE Leadership Symposium Takeaways

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Talk To Everybody or Talk to Nobody

“They don’t talk to me, I don’t talk to them.”

“He speaks to her and asks her about her day, he’s never asked about mine.”

“She’ll walk right past me, speak to him, and keep moving.”

“He’s looked me right in the eyes and didn’t even acknowledge me.”

“She only speaks to ones she likes.”

“He only talks to the white people.”

“She only talks to the black people.”

“He only talks to the attractive ones.”

“I don’t know why he doesn’t talk to me.  I don’t care,  I don’t have time to worry about it.”

 Is the setting for these quotes the typical Middle School cafeteria during lunch time — NO!!!!

These quotes come from professional men and women in the workplace.  They’re talking about their Executive Director, CEO, Supervisor, or Manager.

True or not, right or not, agree or not.  This is the perception of some in the workplace.  Maybe even your workplace.

As a leader you can’t solve another person’s personal problems or issues and you surely can’t be responsible to meet all of their social and relational needs.  However; there is one thing you can do.  You can talk to them.  Talk to everybody. Speak to everybody.  Acknowledge everybody.

Believe it or not, there are some people who would improve their performance today, if you just acknowledged their existence.  And yes, leaders, talking to people IS part of your job.

So talk to everybody or talk to nobody.

Hey, if you talk to nobody, at least they can’t say you have a favorite (You know this part is for humor, right?? Don’t pick this option.)


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City Year Columbia – Young People Making a Difference

Today I had the honor and privilege to facilitate a session on Leadership and Inclusion with City Year Columbia 2013-2014 Corps Members.  Spending time with this diverse, inclusive, and engaging group of young people was awesome, simply awesome.  I hear many people talk about Generation Y and the Millennials, and unfortunately most of the comments are negative or pessimistic.  We hear about them being selfish, lazy, self-centered, impatient, and even spoiled.  Well, I can’t speak about everyone in a particular age group or generation, but I can tell you something about the City Year Columbia 2013-2014 Corps members – you can call them a lot of things, but you can’t call them selfish, lazy, self-centered, impatient or spoiled.

Here’s my strongest piece of evidence.  We asked each Corps Member the following question – What is your greatest hope regarding working with students this upcoming City Year?  Here are their answers:

  1. Give them (students) insight
  2. Having an impact on the students while having then progress.
  3. My greatest hope is that the students remember that no matter what circumstance they ever face, that they can always rise and push on.
  4. That I will be able to make the difference that I have heard other corps members say they have made.
  5. To make a difference in the life of at least one student
  6. Building strong relationships.
  7. Everyone will graduate
  8. I hope that I can see the difference I make in at least one student.
  9. To have an impact on students’ lives and push them towards graduation
  10. Inspiring students to believe in themselves and to take personal responsibility for their academic success and furthermore their lives. I hope to inspire students to understand that anything is possible if they believe they work hard towards their goals.
  11. That I build healthy and lasting relationships with them.
  12. To make a difference in my students lives
  13. My greatest hope regarding working with students during my time at City Year is that I can positively affect a student in the way my past teachers have affected me. I just want to let my students know that I am going to be consistent and there for them to talk to about academics and life.
  14. Seeing a positive change being made.
  15. I hope that I will be able to inspire students to take pride in their education and give them the tools they need to excel.
  16. My greatest hope will be that I make a positive impact on these children lives and help to strive towards decreasing the dropout rate across the world.
  17. I hope that the students I work with really take away something great from the time that we spend together.
  18. Making a difference in their lives
  19. I hope to leave a long lasting impression on at least one student
  20. That they will teach me and transform me and that I will also be able to impact their lives.
  21. That I establish positive and life-changing relationships.
  22. That I will touch one of the kids in the way that some of my teachers did for me. A lasting impression can help in decision making years down the line.
  23. To get students to believe in themselves
  24. To make a positive impact

Wow!!!! Every time I read their responses I smile.  There’s nothing selfish, self-centered, or lazy about these answers.  As a matter of fact, their answers aren’t about them, their answers are about the students they’re committed to serve.  These Corps Members recognize a fundamental principle to effective, ABLE Leadership – “It’s Not About Me”.  As I said earlier, this is awesome.  They’re here to serve a greater common good, a purpose that’s larger than their ego, a cause that’s bigger than their issues, a vision that they all believe in.

So the next time you look at “young people” and think all hope is gone and everyone is caught up in “self”, stop for a moment and think about 24 young people – 24 young people who are committed to make a difference, who strive for excellence, who are stepping outside of their comfort zone, who believe in the greater good, who are demonstrating real leadership, who call themselves City Year Columbia.  Great job.  Proud of all of you.  Be the best leader you’re ABLE to be.

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“Those People”

Here we go again.  Another person says something they shouldn’t have said about one of “Those People” and apologized for it.  Welcome to the party Philadephia Eagles Wide Receiver Riley Cooper.

As I’ve listened and watched everyone from radio commentators, to television personalities, to “gym rats” at the Y discuss how appalled and disgusted they are, I just smile.  Their comments include:

It’s 2013, how can someone say that?

I can’t believe people can be so ignorant.

I would never do that.

When will this end??

Again, after these and similar comments all I can do is smile.  Why am I smiling? Because sometimes I think it’s pretty entertaining to watch people lie to themselves.   Now putting entertainment aside, I’m tired.  I’m tired of all the empty, re-hashed, lack of outcome-driven talking.   I’m tired of us fooling ourselves and fooling each other.  Why do we do this?

Because we’ve been taught & told since childhood “not to talk about” certain things – So we’ve become adults that don’t know how to talk about them.

So here’s the conversation starter.  I’m going to say what no one in the national media has said, to my recollection.  I’m about to say what most of us already know and believe, but we dare not say.  I’m going to say something that can spark a conversation that has the power to change the landscape of race relations, and any other relation that involves “differences” in people.  Ready for what I’m about to say.  Here it is – three points.




Being prejudiced isn’t the real problem.  The problem is how we manage our prejudices when they begin to rise up and come out.  If we’re honest we see some of “those people” and thoughts come out of nowhere, we don’t want to think them, but they come out.  And then when we reach the point that we stop thinking it, as soon as one of  “those people” pisses us off it comes back.  Why does it come back, because it never left.  And oh by the way, it may never leave.

But when our culture can mature and we all put on our Big Boy and Big Girl pants we can engage in some #CourageousConversations with all of those people in the room together.  We may just learn from each other.  We may learn how to manage our prejudices.  We may gain some knowledge and awareness that will dispute and dispel our prejudices.  We may just learn how to control our prejudice.

It’s interesting when we conduct our “Those People Exercise”© in seminars people always say, “I was taught not to say that.”  Very rarely, if ever, will someone say, “I was taught not to think it.”

So Riley Cooper was probably taught not to say it (in public), but he probably wasn’t taught not to think it and therefore he surely wasn’t able to know how to manage it when it started to rise up in him.

What about you? Are you able to manage your prejudices?  How are you able to deal with those horrible things that you thought you cleansed from your spirit when they attempt to rise up during the most inconvenient times?


**Those People Exercise© is a unique experience where a safe space is create for participants to open up and share everything they’ve ever heard, been taught, saw, or thought about different groups/populations.




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