When I wrote my weekly blog schedule early this week, I was going to originally write about the pursuit of risk. However, a funny thing happened this morning as I started brainstorming and writing a rough draft over two cups of Paper Tiger coffee and a hot chocolate: I started to write and dream about an actual pursuit of risk for my own life. Risk came down from the realm of the theoretical and became a vision, a dream, a B.H.A.G. (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal).
As someone that is interested, inspired and intrigued by leadership, I thought: If I were to plan a leadership conference featuring local leaders from the Vancouver, WA/Clark County area, what would I do? How would I structure an event? Who would I invite to speak? How much would I charge? How would I inspire people to pursue becoming leaders?
What’s in a Name: Leadership Matters
Dr. Cornel West has written two of my favorite books: Race Matters and Democracy Matters. Being heavily influenced by his writings, Leadership Matters seemed to be a fitting title for a conference devoted to leadership.
Most leadership conferences make them sound larger than life. Willow Creek Association’s annual leadership conference is titled: “The Global Leadership Summit.” It’s name matches the power of the speakers that are presenting this year: Howard Schultz, Seth Godin, Michelle Rhee, among others.
For me, Leadership Matters says it all. Regardless of whether you are a global leader or someone that wishes to impact and affect your local community, leadership matters. Scalable at any level.
Keynotes of Inspiration
I love keynote addresses by big names, but often times there are too many superstars at big conferences. Where are the people that are in the trenches, doing the work, and daily leading groups of people to better the world?
I would start Leadership Matters with a single keynote address from a global or national leader. Someone to inspire and motivate the attendees, preparing them for the rest of the conference. I would give them 30 minutes to speak on their particular angle of leadership.
After their address, I would take 20 minutes to interview them, followed by 10 minutes of questions from the audience. This would set the stage for the entire event, providing a model for each speaker: structured address and spontaneous questions from a moderator and the audience.
As far as a global leader that I would love to open the event, here are ten leaders that would be amazing:
- Howard Schultz
- Bill Moyers
- Dr. Cornel West
- Larry King
- John Lasseter
- Madeleine Albright
- Oprah Winfrey
- Bill & Melinda Gates
- Jane Goodall
- Jodie Foster
Who Would Speak?
With the exception of the keynote address, the rest of the speakers would be local leaders selected from areas of government, education, business, arts, science, journalism, media, not-for-profits/NGOs, community service, and the public sector. There would be seven leaders throughout the day following the model of 30 minutes to speak, 20 minutes to be interviewed, followed by 10 minutes for questions and answers.
The problem with most things related to leadership is the high-cost associated with them. While I don’t believe that free is a very good model, it is imperative that leadership is affordable for those that would benefit the most. Here’s how I would initially set the attendance fees:
- High-School Students: $10
- College Students: $25
- Adults: $50
- Small Business Owners (1-50 employees): $75
- Large Business Owners/Corporate Officers: $100
While this is not based on any economical factors, merely a gut reaction, I believe that leadership needs to be affordable and accessible for the younger generation. Those that have the means should pay more, not because it would give them more value, but for the impact that they would have on those that are just getting started. Idealistic, yes, but realistic nonetheless.
So, it really comes down to this: so what? Anyone can have an event with inspired talks and in-depth questions and answers. But the power of what I see in my mind is providing a strong and viable call to action for everyone in attendance.
At the end of each leader’s allotted time they would give a specific and tangible call to action. The power enters the picture with each person in attendance being given the information necessary to make an impulse decision at the conference itself.
If the call is to volunteer, organizations needing volunteers would be on hand to equip and sign people up. If the call is continued education, involvement in the public sector, lobbying on behalf of public services, there would be the opportunities on hand to answer the call.
Leadership Matters. Period.
So, that is what I would classify in my life as risky. I wouldn’t be in it to make money. I just want more quality and qualified leaders in the Vancouver, WA community. What I love about sharing dreams and visions is that what seems big, hairy and audacious to one person is attainable and manageable to another.
With that, share what you would classify as risky, and ACT. Because as you move forward in your life and dream big dreams, you might actually become what you want to be deep down inside. But that does require you to step outside your comfort zone, dream, and share.
Will I see you at Leadership Matters?