Editor's note: In May, United Way's Emerging Leaders had the pleasure of hearing from Steve Walker at their quarterly Leadership Lunch. Read on for Katie Hammer's recap of the lunch and summary of Steve's presentation.
As most Central Indiana residents know, the month of May is kind of a big deal. We wanted to be sure to contribute all we could to the most awesome month of the year, so we recruited Steve Walker to be our May Leadership Lunch speaker…and we’ll just say...he didn’t disappoint! Steve had some amazing advice for us, including some great quotes, a list of ten things he wishes he would have known earlier, and specifics on balancing all those things we have going on.
As chairman and CEO of Walker, Steve knows a thing or two about juggling a family, friends, career, community involvement…the list goes on and on! His main message to us was simple. You will never be as balanced as you want to be. He suggests that we don’t consider the parts of life as separate buckets, but as an integrated group of constantly moving pieces. Sometimes one piece will take more energy than the others, but that doesn’t mean that things will always be out of whack. Be patient and know that balance (as is life) is a journey, not a destination. Great advice! Read on for Steve’s list of ten things he wishes he would have known earlier, as well as his favorite source of inspiration.
Ten Things I Wish I Would Have Known Earlier - by Steve Walker
1. Life is not fair. The faster that you accept this fact, the better you will be. Evaluate your success by considering the goal that you intended to achieve and the effort you put in…not by what others think.
2. Never compare yourself to others. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Keep in mind that comparing yourself to others who have "more" than you is not beneficial. When it does happen (you know it will!), try to shift your thoughts to those who have less and consider what you can do to help.
3. Be careful of the influences that you let in. Make sure that the people around you are positive and that they give you energy and inspiration. As one of Steve’s favorite quotes says, "Friends are the people you don’t mind wasting time with."
4. Give back to the world in ways that are important to you. Choosing to do something that you are passionate about will make your experience even more impactful. In addition, focusing on helping others can be a great way to balance things you may be struggling with (work, stress, etc).
5. Be financially independent and savvy. Starting now, be responsible and aware of your finances. Make sure that you are making the right choices (knowing that they might not be the fun choices) and you’ll be better off in the long run.
6. Everyone is special. Remembering this can help you see the best in yourself and others. Try to seek out what makes each person unique!
7. Your strengths are also your weaknesses. Everyone has things that they are great at, but you must keep your weaknesses top of mind. If you are great at considering the big picture, know that you may be missing the details as a result. Good leaders compensate for their weaknesses by bringing other people to the table. Take the time to recognize the strengths of others, knowing that they could add value to what you are trying to achieve.
8. Always keep learning! The most interesting people are curious, passionate and always interested in knowing more.
9. Persevere. Don’t focus solely on the outcome. Keep an eye on what your intent is, be hardworking and move forward despite obstacles that may come your way.
10. Have integrity. Always keep in mind why you are doing something and if it lines up with your values. Make sure that you are considering the ramifications of your actions and that you are at peace with the possible outcomes.
Our group had some great questions, and (as anticipated) Steve had some great answers.
Q: Is there a correlation between your biggest trials and your biggest triumphs?
A: Absolutely! You will notice that you worst habits show themselves when things are going well and that you run your best game when things aren’t going well. Try to keep in mind that your biggest trials will make you better and that if things are looking up, you still can’t afford to get sloppy.
Q: How do you focus on your family when work takes so much time?
A: You don’t have to separate the work "you" from the family "you." Keep in mind that your family learns a lot from watching you. If you can show your kids how to balance work and family, how to build relationships, and how to prioritize things of importance, they will be equipped to do that too.
Q: How do you empower your employees to get involved in the community when you are running a small business with limited resources?
A: You want to be sure that your organization is seeking a higher goal and purpose than just making the most money possible. As a result, your staff and stakeholders will benefit. When you encourage people to have interests and passions within their community, they will be well rounded and better equipped to serve your organization well.
Lastly, Steve shared his favorite source of inspiration. Here’s hoping it will inspire you as well!
What is Class?
Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident in the knowledge that you can meet life head on and handle whatever comes along.
Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.
Class is considerate of others. It knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices.
Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent blueblood can be totally without class while the descendant of a Welsh miner may ooze class from every pore.
Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.
Class can "walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch." Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself.
If you have class you don't need much of anything else. If you don't have it, no matter what else you have, it doesn't make much difference.
Thanks, Steve, for all of this incredible advice! We can’t wait for the July Lunch, featuring Brian Payne, CEO of CICF. Be sure to register here to join us.
--Katie Hammer, Senior Manager of Donor Relations and
Emerging Leaders Program Manager, United Way
Editor's note: Children who struggle in kindergarten often face difficulties later in school. So when United Way of Central Indiana adopted its education priority, kindergarten readiness became a natural focus. Launched in 2007, the program to improve school transition began in two Indianapolis Public Schools neighborhoods. The campaign has had dramatic results, both in terms of helping youngsters improve their scores on a school readiness assessment and in improving the number of kindergarteners who attend on the first day. Read what Dawn Jukes, an IPS teacher who is also a lead teacher at the United Way summer camps, has to say about its value.
Imagine starting a new, highly-skilled job with absolutely no training. Imagine starting this difficult job without any relevant classes or in-depth study time. From day one, it's up to you to learn your new skills from those around you. Because of your lack of experience, it will likely take you weeks, or maybe longer, to just learn the basics.
Going through such a major transition without the tools for success can be difficult. Unfortunately, this is the scenario many of our new kindergarten students face every school year.
Too many students come to our schools without having gone to pre-school or other formal classroom environments. They lack the experience they need to create a smooth, successful transition into kindergarten.
As a teacher, I find it's often obvious which students have had significant exposure to books, learning games and time with peers their own age. While many of our kindergarteners do receive the benefit of time spent with a parent, grandparent or other caring adult to help prepare them for school, too many others are underprepared for both the academic and social expectations school requires.
The past few years, many of my students received a boost from United Way's Kindergarten Countdown Summer Camps. The program offers students the chance to preview kindergarten for a month before school begins in August.
What most people don't understand about kindergarten is that there are learning standards, just like in other grades. These standards require mastery of skills that help learning happen.
These are things that most of us take for granted, like how to hold a pencil, how to raise your hand if you have a question, how to open your milk carton at lunch and how to listen to a story. For instance, within the first month of school, students are expected to know how to read and write their name. This standard is hard to meet when students can't hold a pencil.
As a lead teacher with the Kindergarten Camp program, it has been tremendous to see what can happen in just four weeks. Last summer I taught a student who, like many others in our class, couldn't write her name. By the end of camp, her family told me that she had managed to find every piece of paper in the house and "autograph" it. They were astonished at the difference in her confidence level when she started school in August compared to a month earlier. I wish all of my students could have that same experience.
Sadly, when students start behind, they typically stay behind their peers who have had more exposure to the expectations and routines of the classroom. That's why my colleagues and I have been so impressed with the students that have attended a Kindergarten Summer Camp. These are students who come to us with some training for their "jobs" as students. They are familiar with the basics and better prepared for the challenges kindergarten has to offer. I wish it could be that way for all IPS kindergarteners.
I'm excited to learn that this year, United Way is able to offer the program to more students than ever before. That's great news for me. It means I'm one step closer to having my wish come true.
--Dawn Jukes, Teacher, Indianapolis Public Schools