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Highlights and Insights From Our National Leadership Forum

Growing Leaders just hosted Atlanta Habitudes® Intensive (a two-day train-the-trainer event) for those planning to use Habitudes in their school or organization, and then we hosted a sell-out audience at our 2017 National Leadership Forum. Both were hosted at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. The ballroom was full of educators, administrators, coaches, executive youth leaders, and employers who discussed the cultural shifts we see as Generation Y becomes Generation Z.

We always work to make this forum practical and interactive, research-based yet energizing for the leaders who participate. Below, I’ve tried to summarize some of the highlights for those who didn’t get to attend. Enjoy!

Dr. Jean Twenge

Jean is an author and professor of psychology at San Diego State University. She shared her newest research on Generation Z, a population she calls the “iGen”—young adults who are savvy yet stressed out and more aware than ever, yet unready for adult life. (Her book will be released this fall). Jean revealed the intriguing data showing the parallels between the rise in stress among teens and the introduction of social media in our culture. She relayed the need to equip students to focus on one task at a time instead of multi-tasking.

Dr. Britt Andreatta

Britt has spent most of her career in higher education and is now an internationally recognized thought leader in leadership and learning. She’s done TEDx talks as well as presentations on Lynda.com. At our forum, Britt shared from her newest book, Wired to Resist, revealed four ways our brains naturally resist change, and offered specific steps we must take to embrace a rapidly changing culture. The successful leaders of the future, she believes, are the ones who adapt nimbly and quickly.

Breakout Speakers

This year, we enjoyed an amazing line up of breakout speakers. Attendees could choose two conversations, including topics such as “Turning Entitlement into Resilience,” “How to Hire Millennial and Gen Z Team Members,” “The Most Important Roles of an Educational Executive,” “How to Leverage the Power of a Story,” and “How to Get the Most Out of Habitudes.” The common theme for each was simple: leaders must focus on student engagement first if they’re ever going to gain results.

Dr. John C. Maxwell

I served under John’s leadership for 20 years and was pleased to have him join us at this year’s forum. John is a New York Times best-selling author and the pioneer of four organizations, including the John Maxwell Company. Since our theme was “Fast Forward,” John explained how in today’s world, “fast” is faster and “forward” is shorter. Change happens more rapidly, which means long-range plans must be changed more often. He taught us how to be continually growing as leaders by building a growth mindset.

Dr. Meria Carstarphan

Meria is the only presenter we’ve asked to return to speak at our forum for a second year in a row. She serves as the superintendent of schools for Atlanta Public Schools, a district that endured the largest cheating scandal in American history prior to her arrival. She spoke to us about focusing on social-emotional learning among both staff and students. If we fail at this, learning outcomes won’t be achieved and graduation rates will not increase. We get behavior modification not heart transformation.

Jason Russell

Jason is the CEO of Broomstick Engine and a co-founder and board member of Invisible Children, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering communities worldwide by fighting violence and injustice. Jason also produced the most viral YouTube video on social justice ever, Kony 2012, which mobilized young people (and eventually congress) to give attention, money, and military to end the tragic slavery and child soldier recruitment of Joseph Kony in Southern Sudan. He talked about what moves the hearts of students and how we must challenge them to action, not merely write papers and take exams.

Aidan Anderson

Aidan stole the show. He is a 16-year old student, who played the harmonica, the guitar, and sang an original song. But in the midst of this, he shared his story about how he’s always been moved to generously give his gifts through service to others. The adults in his life had modeled how this looks—and starting at age seven he began raising money for those in need. He’s now raised millions of dollars via “Aidan Cares.” Aidan challenged attendees to call out the best in students instead of expect the worst. He told us kids will live up—or down—to our expectations of them.

Tim Elmore

I rounded up the list of presenters, sharing our research on Generation Z and how two of their largest challenges are mental health and moral fluidity. In three different sessions, I shared some content from my new book, Marching Off the Map, which will be released in July 2017. Our culture is moving from the age of information to the intelligence age, where our devices may be smarter than we are, and artificial intelligence will challenge us to be prepared morally and mentally for such a world.

Thanks to all who attended our National Leadership Forum this year. If you could not make it, I encourage you to subscribe to our blog (what you’re reading now) to receive the announcement for our next forum. We are committed to being the leaders our students need and to preparing them for a “fast forwarding” world.


New Book: Marching Off the Map:
Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World

Our new book is now available for preorder! Leading today’s students often feels like being in a new country with old maps that don’t work. Understanding and connecting with the generation in this land is often times frustrating and draining. We need new strategies on how to march off our old maps and create new ones.

This new resource collates decades of research and experiences into one practical guide that helps adults:

  • Inspire students to own their education and their future
  • Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition
  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and intellectually, through their teenage years
  • Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world
  • Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z

Pre-Order Here



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