The Leaders Connect community will be gathering tomorrow for the first time since 2020. We have been operating on a twice-a-month basis via zoom, but now it is time to go live.
For the past 30 years, Leaders Connect has brought together leaders from various communities: the business sector, nonprofits, universities, government, and young emerging leaders and students.
What do we do?
First, we network.
People move around the room to discuss what they have been doing in their leadership roles.
They greet old friends, make new friends, introduce people they think they should meet one another, talk about their families, discuss the future, reflect on the past, share joyous events, and grieve past losses.
It’s a time of hope and celebration.
When I started Leaders Connect in the early 90s, it grew out of small groups I had brought together, as an executive coach, to work on improving their leadership skills. Some people from the original group are now speakers at Leaders Connect, including Ari Weinzweig from Zingermans, Steve Angerman who owned Running Fit, Diane Durance who was the director of IT Zone, and Paul Freedman, founder of LimnoTech.
As a group, we had been reading Bob Quinn‘s book, Deep Change. They were delighted when I told the participants that Bob was my friend and that I could bring him in to speak to the group. Our first meeting was upstairs above Zingerman‘s Coffee. The group invited others and we had about 20 participants. The session was such a big success that the group asked me to bring in other speakers.
The community grew from there. There was so much demand for participation that we moved to the IT Zone which was run by Diane Durance.
Eventually, we outgrew that space and moved to Zingerman‘s Roadhouse, where we typically would bring it anywhere from 75 to 100 leaders, crowded into the small room near the barbecue pits.
We have been able to sustain the meetings of the community without charging a fee. This has been possible through the support of amazing sponsors including, Bank of Ann Arbor, Office Evolution, Rehmann, and Zingerman’s. Roger Rayle has graciously videotaped most of the sessions, and they’re available on my YouTube channel.
In lieu of a fee, we encourage members of the community to contribute to a nonprofit, for example, to the Neutral Zone.
There now have been hundreds of speakers who have contributed their time to the Leaders Connect community. I will list here a few, the rest can be found on my website.
From the business community: Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford, Roger Newton founder and CEO of Esperion Therapeutics, and Stephanie Boyse, CEO of Tecumseh Products who came to speak during a fierce blizzard that almost blew her car off the road.
From the medical community: Dr. Robert McCurdy has presented several times via Zoom, giving the community updates on the Covid crisis and how it was affecting the medical community.
We have been fortunate to have several amazing speakers from the University of Michigan, including two presidents, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, and Dr. Mark Schlissel. Many of my colleagues at the Ross Business School have been some of the most favorite presenters, Robert Quinn, Jane Dutton, Wayne Baker, Kim Cameron, Len Middleton, and many others. Athletics have been presented through former University of Michigan coaches, Lloyd Carr and Brady Hoke. Former football star, Karan Higdon, give an amazing presentation about his plans for entrepreneurship.
From a nonprofit sector: Cheryl Elliott, President and former CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, and Amy Milligan of the Neutral Zone.
From government: former County Commissioner, Robert Guenzel, City Administrator, Roger Fraser, and Governor Rick Snyder.
For several years, we have celebrated Martin Luther King Day. Speakers have included Entrepreneur, David Tarver, and the University of Michigan, Vice President, Sonja Jacobs, and University of Michigan Athletic Director, Warde Manuel.
One of the more recent captivating speakers was Thomas Zurbuchen, from NASA and the University of Michigan, who showed us early photographs from the James Webb Space Telescope project.
These have been just a few of the hundreds of leaders I’ve had the opportunity to present and interview at the Leaders Connect sessions.
Providing the Leaders Connect community to so many leaders throughout Southeast Michigan has been a continuing joy for me. Hopefully, if we continue to be able to avoid Covid, we will be able to get back to live presentations in the years to come. Younger leaders like Robin Weber Pollak of Journeys International are stepping up to be part of the future of Leaders Connect.
Please feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about the programs, which include small group opportunities for people to meet with like-minded individuals. And please, join us Tuesday, August 30, from 4 to 6 PM at the Zingermans Southside meeting space. We will be outside with masks optional.
Register for the event here.