Leaders Connect: How it Started
By chance, twenty-five years ago I launched my Leaders Connect Breakfast series in Ann Arbor, MI. At that time, I had been facilitating a small group of community leaders in a peer forum. I assigned the group a new book by my friend, Professor Robert Quinn from the University of Michigan Business School. The group members were so moved by the book, Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within, that they asked if I would invite Bob in to speak to the group. Ari Weinzeig, one of the founders of Zingerman’s, who was a member of the group offered to host the meeting upstairs at Zingerman’s Deli. We all invited a few friends, and 32 people were awed by Bob’s discussion of the “Deep Change or Slow Death” phenomenon.
There and then, the basic model for the Leaders Connect Breakfast was established. Twenty-five years later, I operate by the same formula:
Meaningful connection + Stimulating presentation and conversation + Good food = Rewarding and memorable learning experience
Since 1993 I have repeated this formula eight to ten times a year.
At first we continued to meet at Zingerman’s and then when we outgrew that venue, we moved to the IT Zone, which is now the Spark facility on East Liberty. The program continued to grow and about ten years ago, the breakfast series moved to Zingerman’s Roadhouse where I continue to host events. Along the way we picked up some amazing sponsors: Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Bank of Ann Arbor, and Rehmann. One of our other sponsors, Roger Rayle, owner of R2VIVE, has graciously video recorded and posted our meetings to the Leaders Connect YouTube channel. This year Leaders Connect has chosen North Star Reach as the non-profit organization to sponsor.
Once a month, at 7 a.m. on a Friday morning, sixty to one hundred community leaders gather for the Leaders Connect Breakfast to learn together and make meaningful connections. The event has become a unique opportunity for leaders to join together from five distinct segments of the community:
- Education (universities and public education)
The list of distinguished speakers (of which there are too many to mention all) include:
- Two University of Michigan Presidents (Mary Sue Coleman and Mark Schlissel)
- Authors (including Jeff Zazlow, John Bacon, John Baldoni, Steve Gil and Jim Tobin among others)
- University of Michigan Faculty (Jane Dutton, Bob Quinn, Kim Cameron, Wayne Baker, Len Middleton, and Gretchen Spreitzer)
- Two Michigan entrepreneurs of the year (Roger Newton, and Ted Dacko)
- Non-profit leaders (Cheryl Elliot, Neel Hajra, and Stephanie Blackbun Freeth)
- Government officials (Governor Snyder).
- Executives from large corporations such as Blue Cross /Blue Shield, Boeing, Plante Moran, and Thomson Reuters.
- This list is not exhaustive, as there I have been honored to host many other distinguished leaders. Check out videos of past events at Leader’s Connect
Leaders Connect has also hosted several special events including:
- School Safety
- Surviving Cancer
- Remembering 9/11
- Artificial Intelligence
- Annual MLK celebration.
I have also featured panel segments of various industries including medical device, health care, pharmaceutical, arts (Ken Fischer), athletics with three Michigan athletic directors (Jim Hackett, Warde Manuel, Dave Brandon) and two Michigan football coaches (Lloyd Carr, and Brady Hoke),
The 2018 season of Leaders Connect starts this Friday, September 14th. We have an exciting line-up for the fall:
- September 14th – Everything You Want to Know About Emergency Medicine
- Oct 5th – Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA
- Nov 9th – Lt Commander Eric Fretz (retired) – Leadership in the Military
If you have already attended Leaders Connect Breakfasts, you know how dynamic they can be.
If you are not already on the mailing list for the events but would like to attend future Leaders Connect events send me an email.