The ESA Rising Leaders Forum was not your typical industry event.
Held last week, in Myrtle Beach, SC, this progressive experience was an evolution of the tried-and-true conference framework.
The Forum took attendees through a strategically designed program of training, brainstorming, storytelling and experiential activities to open minds, challenge, take leaders out of their comfort zone and foster growth.
Attendees participated in physical drills, challenges, strategic puzzles, interactive group idea development exercises and more.
“We used an array of proven leaderless events, designed to spark initiative, teamwork and collective problem solving,” says Terry Peters, former Special Forces Officer and ESA’s partner on the event’s programming.
“All of a sudden, these leaders are in an environment where they aren’t in control — it helps prepare them for unseen challenges and it opens their minds to avenues for growth, allowing them to better manage their teams back in the office.”
Peters, now CEO of Leader Solutions and Decision Support, LLC, concluded a successful career as the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan Sr. Enlisted Leader, while dually serving as the 3rd Special Forces Group Command Sergeant Major.
He and his team helped drive the Forum’s roughly two-day program, collectively with ESA and its Rising Leaders Council, led by Robert Few, founder of My Luci Life.
“Over the next few days you can expect to be challenged,” Few prepared the participants. “Expect to push yourself harder than you might on your own. Expect to learn, share — and expect to have some fun, while networking with like-minded professionals. Congratulations on making it out here and making a commitment to yourself and/or a rising leader, whose success you truly care about.”
Throughout the event, attendees woke up each morning just before sunrise, participating in a diverse circuit-training program, featuring defense drills, push-ups, leg scissors and cardio.
The group engaged in sessions on leadership, streamlining operations, project planning and reverse time management, mentorship best practice, tools for performance feedback and more.
They absorbed information and inspiration that would better prepare them to manage and navigate an increasingly complex technology/product landscape, build teams and make hard decisions.
Many of the outdoor activities, aside from morning fitness, required participants to plan, communicate, trust and engage with creativity and enthusiasm to succeed.
Rooms buzzed with conversation. When comparing the Rising Leaders Forum to experiences at other more conventional events, 90% of the attendees reported that they, “had a much higher level of engagement and felt more connected to others.”
Professionals learned from, and about, one another. They grew respect for each other in a non-threatening and comfortable environment — and as a result nearly 90% reported they planned to stay in touch after returning to their offices.
“In today’s business environment, it’s not about who you know. It’s about what you know. It’s about your passion and your willingness to put yourself out there,” says Few.
A staple of the event was the celebration of ESA’s Mentorship Class of 2017.Twelve pairs participated in the program this year, committing to in-person meet ups and monthly check-ins.
As the capstone of the Mentorship Program, mentees were broken into groups and presented on topics, including:
- Evolving customer expectations
- Maximizing operations
- Adopting new technologies
“It was so great hearing from mentors and mentees on how enriching, re-energizing and valuable this experience was for them,” says Few.
“My mentor made me feel like someone had my back,” said mentee, Mistina Franklin. “When I had that phone call at the end of the day, he helped guide me through some of the issues I was facing.”
For more information on ESA’s Mentorship Program, now accepting applications for the class of 2018, visit ESAweb.org/mentorship.
ESA and it’s Rising Leaders Group would like to thank the sponsors who made this event possible: APD, Altronix, Axis Communications, Honeywell, Interlogix, Qolsys, Snap AV and Tyco Security Products.
“They’ve shown they truly believe in this industry’s leaders of tomorrow,” says Few. “Without their support, the Forum would not be possible.”
Rising Leaders Group Council Members that were instrumental in the groups operations and event planning, include: Stephanie Wagner, Shannon Bertizoff, Colin Depree, Brandon Freedman, Shawn Crocker and Lucas Ingala.
Click here to view the 2017 ESA Rising Leaders Forum Photo Gallery
Check out our ESA Facebook Page, for real-time photo/video coverage from the event.