Leadership Creates Waves Then Ripples

The best leadership creates waves and ripples.

They say that success is a team sport.

That’s true.
But individuals can really make a difference too. And some people are so special that their good works create ripples that sometimes go unnoticed.
That thought crossed my mind when I attended a recent Boca Chamber luncheon honoring Plastridge Insurance as “Business of the Century.”
Among the attendees and speakers at the event were FAU Research Park President Andrew Duffell, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County President Kelly Smallridge and Chamber CEO Troy McClellan—three influential local leaders who can all point to Plastridge Chairman Tom Lynch as a mentor/catalyst for their careers.
And that’s how it works.
The best leaders create/help/nurture/empower/encourage other leaders.
I’m fortunate to have known many like Tom Lynch whose influence resonate far beyond their own work. These leadership “ripples” are not only gratifying to witness it’s often fun to connect the dots.
Most of my experience with leadership is centered around Delray Beach. It’s here that I saw former Chamber CEO Bill Wood help a long series of leaders reach the next rung by recruiting them to his board and watching them climb the ranks at the Chamber and in the community.
I also witnessed Mayor David Schmidt work with students at Atlantic High School taking many to Delray’s Sister City Miyazu, Japan and sparking in them an interest in international culture and travel.
I’ve seen Marjorie Waldo work her magic at a local charter school and then strengthen an important non-profit, The Arts Garage changing lives along the way.
I’ve seen Chuck Halberg support innumerable non-profits and create some organizations that have helped hundreds of people  including Impact 100 for Men and the Delray Beach Initiative.
My friend Perry Don Francisco’s leadership ripples/waves are everywhere: police officers and firefighters benefit from his work with Delray Citizens for Delray Police, their children  earning scholarships and their careers blossoming as a result of his support and advice.
Three other solid examples are former City Attorney Susan Ruby, former Police Chief Rick Overman and former Fire Chief Kerry Koen.
Susan hired excellent lawyers who went on to become city attorneys in other jurisdictions. She entrusted them with tough cases and as a result– during her tenure — a vast majority of legal work was handled “in house” and very successfully I might add.
Chief Overman turned our police department into a training ground for chiefs. Those who didn’t aspire to be a Chief still found opportunities to grow as detectives, career officers, K-9 officers and community policing specialists. Former Fire Chief Kerry Koen was also well-known for his ability to spot talent and grow it.
Two non-profit executives I admire are also busy minting new leaders: Emmanuel “Dupree” Jackson and his EJS Project are devoted to changing the trajectories of lives in Delray neighborhoods and Mark Sauer’s Bound For College (formerly Delray Students First) has devoted his life to giving opportunities to those who might not otherwise have a shot at college. The waves they are creating are just getting started.
And the list goes on.
Great leaders leave a mark. They influence lives. They leave their communities better than they found them and they nurture others who will go further. They create waves that make a splash, but their ripples endure for generations.
As Simon Sinek so wisely says: The leaders who get the most out of their people are the leaders who care most about their people. 
Amen.

Heroes Change Lives

Delray Students First is a local non-profit that is changing the lives of young people.

 

Mark Sauer is one of my local heroes.

The founder and visionary behind Delray Students First has a passionate desire to help young people break the cycle of poverty so they can find a better life. We are blessed that he landed in Delray and has decided to put his considerable talents, abilities and passions into changing the lives of our young men and women. After a long and successful career at the top of the sports and corporate worlds (past president of the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Blues), Mark has immersed himself in our community. Thank goodness.

One of those lucky folks who landed in Mark’s orbit was Delray’s own Tre’Quan Smith, a University of Central Florida wide receiver who was drafted in the third round by the New Orleans Saints this year.

Smith is currently experiencing his first NFL training camp training under the watchful eye of disciplinarian coach Sean Payton.

So imagine the delight when we got an email last week from Mark directing us to the New Orleans Saints website  http://(https://www.neworleanssaints.com/video/afternoon-wrap-for-monday-july-30) where we caught a first glimpse of Tre’Quan doing his thing which is basically catching everything thrown his way by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

The Saints are absolutely over the moon with Tre’Quan’s early performance—although Coach Payton sticks to the script with some cautious words of what he needs to improve. But based on what we know about Tre’Quan Smith, we can rest assured that he will do what needs to be done to make the most of this shot at the NFL.

Now my friend Mark Sauer will never say it because he’s humble and kind, but there are many young people like Tre’ Quan who have a shot at a good life because of the efforts of Mark and his talented team at Delray Students First.

The organization provides tutoring and mentoring to talented young people who need a dose of caring and love in order to succeed.

These are the type of efforts that change lives and communities. Mark and his lovely wife refer to Tre’Quan as a son—and that love, caring, attention and help has made all the difference.

There is a very good chance that Tre’Quan can have a successful career in the NFL. He’s talented, hardworking and hungry. If you watch the video you won’t see over confidence despite a strong early camp. What you will see is a humble young man who is dedicated to getting better, who is anxious to dive into the complex playbook so he can make the most of a unique opportunity that a whole bunch of people have worked hard to make happen.

While Tre’Quan gets the ink and is the most vivid story of Delray Students First’s success, he is not the only example of a life made better thanks to the efforts of an organization and its supporters.

Delray Students First empowers high school students in Delray Beach to reach their potential…We love that word empower. Because this program asks a lot of its students. They have to put in the work. They have to study, avoid temptation and work hard. If they do, there is a community of caring professionals and volunteers who will help them achieve.

But it does take a village and so Mark is an evangelist in search of resources. So if you happen to be looking for a great cause driven by great people—look no further. Delray Students First changes lives.

 

 

7 Traits Determine A Child’s Success

Author Paul Tough

Author Paul Tough

Paul Tough is an award winning journalist who believes he has found the 7 traits needed for children to succeed in school and in life.

I had a chance to see and meet Mr. Tough at the recent annual meeting of Leadership Florida, a statewide organization that has been involved in education for over 30 years.

Tough is the author of the best-selling book “How Children Succeed”. He did exhaustive research, interviewed dozens of experts, reviewed countless studies and spent a ton of time in a variety of school settings studying the personalities of kids who succeed.

He found that the following 7 traits were essential: zest (having passion), curiosity, self-control (ability to delay gratification), social intelligence (empathy), grit (resilience), gratitude and optimism.

It’s an amazing list when you think about it. Tough found that in wealthy communities and schools, oftentimes “helicopter” parents (those who hover over their children shielding them from life’s challenges and setbacks) aren’t doing their kids a favor. Over-protected children often don’t develop grit or self-control in a world that demands both. So when the inevitable hurdle is encountered, many of these kids crumble.

Consequently, some kids have it so tough—living in impoverished conditions or with a raft of social pathogens– that they need more nurturing in order to succeed in life.

I’ve been thinking about Tough’s talk, our brief conversation after his speech and his book since meeting him a few weeks back.

It’s hard to stop measuring whether friend’s, my own kids and myself have the traits he mentioned.

I also think that those traits (and others) determine whether people are good leaders and managers.

Think of an elected official and see whether he or she has passion, curiosity, social intelligence, grit or optimism. Do any of the aspirants for the White House possess all 7? Do your children? Do you?

When I take Tough’s research and apply his thinking to the local level, it sparks all sorts of ideas.

Boca Raton has an incredible public school system—“A” rated schools everywhere you look, with involved parents and well-funded PTA’s providing the extras. But in some of these wealthier enclaves are our children learning to be resilient? How can we allow them to fail occasionally, scrape their knees, learn and be stronger for the experience?

Recently, I wrote about a Bar Mitzvah I attended in Milwaukee. At the service, my friend gave a speech in which he told his son that it was OK to experiment and to fail and I thought that was an amazing gift.

In the book Start-Up Nation which chronicles Israel’s amazing entrepreneurial culture, investors view failure as a rite of passage, a way to build resilience and learning. Many won’t invest in an entrepreneur until they have failed, figuring you learn more from your defeats than your victories.

In Delray, our foundation Dare 2 Be Great works with children who often have all 7 traits, in abundance. Many of them have overcome brutal poverty, violence, family substance abuse and other dysfunction. We are there to provide them with the last bit of help they need, some money for school and mentoring. But after reading Tough’s book, I wonder about those left behind.

My friend, Mark Sauer, has a non-profit called Delray Students First, that provides the nurturing and intervention that many of these kids need. It reminds me of what Wayne Barton has done with his non-profit in Boca. Yes, there are children in Boca with needs.

Often, when we focus on our cities we fixate on development and on numbers: how high, how dense, how many trips generated etc. etc. And it’s important, those numbers are the starting point of a good conversation, but they are only a starting point.

When we talk about economic development, we often talk about incentives and “big game” hunting…how do we get the giant corporate headquarters to come to town? But the best economic development we can do is to invest in people. It’s called human capital.

We teach to the test in this state and in many others. But how do we develop children with zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, self-control, curiosity and grit?
That’s the conversation we should be having as a society.

Read the book, it’s compelling.

http://www.paultough.com/the-books/how-children-succeed/