The National Leadership Summit, Jersey City, New Jersey

Thursday, November 8th

Jersey word of the trip: pork roll, a delicious local protein that’s made up of mostly pork and packaged, known for inciting a civil war among Jerseyans over whether it should be called a pork roll or Taylor Ham [looks extremely suspicious]

I’m making my way to Jersey City, New Jersey today for the National Leadership Summit hosted by the National Society of Leadership and Success. For those that do not know, I am the President of the National Society of Leadership and Success for St. Cloud State University’s Chapter and this wonderful student organization has been a huge part of my academic growth and development along with personal growth and development for the past 3.5 years.

This is the first time ever that the NSLS is hosting a National Leadership Summit and only 100 seats are available and I was lucky enough to be able to go! The NSLS is the nation’s largest leadership honor society with 646 chapters and over 955,000 members nationwide.

Today is just a travel day with some exploring. I am flying out of Minneapolis and flying into Newark, New Jersey (EWR). Fun fact: I’ve actually been to this airport before, I just never left since it was my layover on my way to Sweden in January! I’m actually beyond excited to be traveling again! I have been itching to get out and see new places ever since I got back from studying abroad in June. Plus this is another state that I have never been to which makes me even more excited!

The flight was only 2.5 hours long which was not bad at all! In order to get out of the airport to the train station, I had to take the AirTram to some station that I don’t know the name of to Penn Station Newark.

Let me tell you something. Whoever decided to name Newark and New York that happen to be close by each other should not be able to name anything else. You cannot understand the differences between them. At least I wasn’t the only one repeating myself and eventually it got to the point where I said ‘New Jersey’ and ‘New York.’

IMG_3127It was about a 30 minute wait for the next train. It was only one stop to Newark Penn Station. When I got there, I had to jump on another train, called the Path, to Exchange Place, which is where I got off. My hotel, Candlewood Suites, was only about a 5 minute walk from the train station which was super nice!

My hotel is absolutely gorgeous too!

I had one mission when I landed….go to Hoboken to go to Carlos Bakery. I had to jump on the Light Rail, which is a tram. Super confusing, I know, because the train system in Minneapolis is called the Light Rail! The tram is literally right outside my hotel’s door. Our station was called Harborside and I just had to go 3 stations up to get to the Hoboken Terminal! The terminal had an amazing view of the waterfront and skyline!IMG_2777

IMG_2780Hoboken is so cute! There are so many cafes and restaurants! I was in love. I eventually made it to Carlos Bakery! It has been on my list of things to go visit ever since I was little. I’m so happy I got to go!! I decided to try a cannoli, WHICH WAS AWESOME! Since it was close to closing time, I was in and out within 10 minutes so I got to actually take nice pictures while I was in there!

IMG_2795Next stop: dinner. I hadn’t eaten all day and Carlos Bakery was my priority so now it was time for dinner. I couldn’t decide what I wanted but then I passed this place called Sauced and it was a sandwich shop! I got the Trailer Park sandwich which was breaded chicken, thick cut bacon, pickled jalepenos, fried onion strings, cape cod chips, lettuce, pepperjack, honey mustard, and mook sauce on a hero. If you were to ask me what mook sauce is, I couldn’t tell ya!

Then it was time to head back to the hotel, eat, and get some IMG_2812rest since tomorrow is the first day of the conference! On my way back I did miss my stop, but it was okay because then I walked around the water front which only added an additional 3 minutes to my journey back! I also have a really pretty view outside of my window since I am on the 6th floor of my hotel!

It’s amazing how a one hour time difference messes with me more compared to a seven hour time difference! I had the hardest time falling asleep and staying asleep without tossing and turning every hour.

Friday, November 9th 

It’s the first day of the National Leadership Summit, which is hosted by the New Jersey City University School of Business.

IMG_2830 (1)Check-in and registration started at 10:00am and went until 11. Then that’s when all the fun started!! We first got lunch which was a taco buffet, yummmmmm!!

Then it was time to officially start the conference! Kenya Rutland was the facilitator for the conference. He also facilitates the Live Broadcasts that we watch as well. The Welcome portion was presented by Chuck Knippen, the President of the NSLS. Chuck gave us some wonderful information about upcoming events and new items that they will be implementing in the next couple of years.

Here are some of the highlights that I pulled from Chuck’s introduction:

  • BHAG: big, scary, audacious goal (that’s what you want!)
  • We are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our leadership.
  • 70,000 hours is being dictated by what we chose to do
  • It all starts with our passion
  • How are we going to help someone else become successful? That’s one of the biggest questions when it comes to being a leader.
  • What’s your why?
  • Don’t underestimate your passion.
  • Be the first to stand up and step forward. (Some girl did this and won $200!!)
  • If you don’t believe in yourself as a leader, who will follow you?

Our first keynote speaker of the day was Rahim Fazal. He is a technology entrepreneurIMG_2835 and was one of the Top 40 Under 40 by SF Business Times and one of the Top 25 Digital Thought Leaders by Media. He is in the process of building a hyper loop between higher education and the workforce which is called SVAcademy. Its aim is to place one million women and minorities in high-paying tech jobs in Silicon Valley through an online fellowship program. The only job Rahim had while growing up was at McDonald’s and he ended up getting fired from there. During his junior year of high school, he started this customer service business which made him have to miss class a lot. Because of missing class so much, his parents assumed that he was selling drugs when in reality he was creating and running a tech company. With not having a lot of income to afford a lawyer consultation, him and his friend, Hussein went through 9 free one hour consultations with lawyers and ended up selling their company for $1 million during their senior year of high school. Talk about incredible!

Some of the key points I pulled from Rahim’s talk was:

  • Is it luck or skill that makes people successful?
  • What you want to do in life is not a conveyor belt, but it’s a catapult. The faster you start, the better.
  • A conveyor belt essentially means repeating the same thing each year at a career and going with the process. A catapult is when you get something new every couple of years and you frame it for both sides (you and the employer) which you want to see as allies. What can you offer first?
  • The best way to find your catapult is by creating a tour of duty
  • Luck = opportunity + preparation
  • However, Rahim sees luck as this: Luck = serendipity + skill
  • Skills are creative problem solving, storytelling, self-awareness, developing weak ties, asking great questions, self-regulation
  • The most important skills are human centered
  • You want to get to know as many people as you can and follow-up
  • Creativity and curiosity are key*
  • You want to try to approach everything you can with curiosity. Detach yourself from being right and then bring in that creativity.
  • You also want to acknowledge the position you are in and the burden you carry with wanting to be successful.

IMG_2836 (1)We then transitioned into our breakout sessions. I chose to go to the session called Market Yourself Like You Give a Darn presented by Dave Dirks. I figured this one suited me the best since I have been applying to jobs and I need tid bits as to how to sell myself to employers since I will be graduating in December! Out of all the sessions, I got the most out of this one! There was so much information that I didn’t know!

Here is what I took out of it/encouraging words/new things learned:

  • You CAN find the opportunities you want!
  • You want to differentiate yourself. Make sure people look at you differently than other candidates.
  • Breakthrough that level – know what career field you want to go into and learn research skills to uncover hidden opportunities
  • Understand how to network and leverage it and learn how to build a personal brand
  • The 80/20 Rule: 80% of available positions are never advertised; we choose 20% of the available positions [This is the reason why 250 people apply for 1 job]
  • ‘Cricket chirp’ is when people send their resumes in for a position and they hear nothing back from that employer…they just hear cricket chirps…
  • Relationships rule the day*
  • Did you know having an updated resume is NOT a job search strategy?
  • Job search strategy + research + marketing  + personal branding + personal marketing
  • Personal branding is all about knowing yourself, your reputation, and differentiation
  • You also want to point to the things you’re doing, such as blogging, etc.
  • Don’t let anything limit you!

Here are some ways to apply to jobs that are not advertised:

  • Step One: become a research powerhouse. Find out who the key decision makers of the company are, jobs leads, learn about new growth sectors, and find and join associations within the field
  • Use Google Alerts – news scanning; scan corporate annual reports, job seekers databases, and use LinkedIn for research
  • Step Two: Develop your brand! Put your best foot forward.

Perception is reality — reality is perception

“Don’t put where you are today as a stop.” – Dave Dirks

I cannot stress the importance of this session. Dave is such an intellectual guy and he was very inspiring!

After lunch, we had our last breakout session for the day. I decided to go to the sessionIMG_2848 called How to Be a Successful Communicator in a Virtual World located at the NSLS HQ. I wanted to go to this because I felt like this my field is heavily reliant on mass media that this would benefit me. Also, I wanted to see what the headquarters looked like! I might add that the headquarters is actually sort of tiny, but it has a nice home feeling to it!

During this session, I didn’t really take anything new away from it. It was basically just restating everything that I have been doing. I’m not sure if it’s because I am a mass communications major and I had the opportunities to do things like this or what. However, here are some of the things that stood out to me the most:

  • You should bold action items in an email so that they are easily visible
  • Limit wordy text (duh!)
  • Respond in color to see responses to questions (I really like this one so it’s more organized!)
  • Stay away from informal writing (this is ironic because in college most of my professors use very informal writing)
  • Send emails the right way via Boomerang or Mix Max
  • Include all necessary attachments and hyperlinks
  • Add icons/hperlinks for WordPress portfolio or LinkedIn account at the bottom of your email signature
  • Explore your Google Gear settings!
  • You want to find 3 other resources before asking a question whether that be in the workforce or the classroom

During this session, I was finally able to meet my Chapter Leader from the National Office, Rob. It’s awesome to finally put a voice to the face! [As the President, we have to talk to the National Office once a week and this way we earn pillars for our Chapter.]

By the time we got done with this session, it was downpouring! When we got back it was time for dinner. It was a Networking Dinner and we also worked on Community Service Projects. The two projects we worked on were:

  1. Cards for Veterans – We created cards as a token of appreciation and these cards will be distributed by the NJCU Veteran’s Services Department during the Jersey City Veterans Day Parade on November 10th.
  2. Women Rising Inc. – This wonderful organization has been helping women and their families. Their clients are in need of jobs, safety from domestic violence, freedom from substance abuse, and safe homes for children. They meet these needs by providing supportive counseling, crisis intervention, workforce development and job placement, shelter for victims of domestic violence, outreach, advocacy, and referrals. Women Rising is based in Hudson County. We wrote encouraging words to them in cards.

IMG_2856For dinner we had  chicken parmesean and salad. Super yummy!

By the time dinner was done it was around 7pm. We had the rest of the night to relax or do whatever we wanted. I was unsure as to what I wanted to do since it was still raining and I was tired. I went back to my hotel room and decided to head to New York City for a couple of hours since I was only one train stop away!

My first stop was to see the World Trade CentersIMG_2867I first saw the Freedom Tower, which is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex.

Across from the Freedom Tower was the National September 11 Memorial Museum. It was closed when we went there but it was still beautiful. It commemorates the attack on September 11, killing 2,997 people and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing which killed six.IMG_2874



I then headed to Ground Zero to see the North Memorial Pool and the South Memorial Pool. The North Pool is a memorial for World Trade Center NorthFlight 11 on February 23rd, 1993. The South Pool is a memorial for World Trade Center SouthFirst Respondersthe Pentagon, Flight 77, and Flight 93. The 2,983 men and women and children killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993, are inscribed into bronze parapets surround the twin Memorial pools, located in the footprints of the Twin Towers.

Across the street from the Twin Towers is Fire Department New York Engine 10IMG_2914 Ladder 10. Their door was painted with the American flag and it gives you chills. Seeing the people work in there was also chilling. You cannot thank this fire department enough.

Around the corner there was a Memorial Wall which was dedicated to the 343 members of the NYC Fire Department, as well as volunteer firefighter Glenn J. Winuk, a partner at Holland & Knight who died on that tragic day.

IMG_2926While walking around the surrounding blocks of the World Trade Center and the Fire Department I came across a mural called “One World, Our Children”. It’s to celebrate unity, strength, hope and diversity. It’s purpose is to celebrate the collective strength of working together. The murals features 9 culturally diverse portraits to raise awareness about the worldwide refugee crisis.

The next stop on my way was Wall Street. It’s eight blocks long running from northwestIMG_2938 to southeast from Broadway to South Street at the East River, in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. It was created by Arturo di Modica. I was interested in this because I am taking a political economy course and we’ve been constantly learning about the bears and the bulls in the financial district. The highlight of Wall Street was the Charging Bull. It weighs 7,100 pounds and stands 11 feet tall! It symbolizes aggressive financial optimism and posterity. There is also a Fearless Girl that is standing in front of Charging Bull which represents gender-diverse companies that have a relatively high percentage of women in leadership roles.

IMG_2963And obviously in New York you have to have some New York style pizza! I went to a place called Majestic Pizza and Calzone. Their slices were HUGE. I had a slide of three cheese: ricotta, parmesean, and mozzarella. I really love NY pizza because it has a softer crust!!

Since it was getting pretty late, it was time to take the Path back to Exchange Place. It was time to go to bed since I had to be at the conference by 8 in the morning for breakfast.

Saturday, November 10th

It was a little difficult getting out of bed this morning! But it’s time for the last day of the Leadership Summit. Breakfast was from 8:00am-9:25am so I decided to go right at 8:00am because the room could either be A) either really packed like it was yesterday or B) extremely empty. Can we guess which one it was? Empty!IMG_2995

For breakfast it was pastries and bagels. Again, delicious. On the table was a loaf ofIMG_3001 bread, peanut butter, and jelly. People thought it was for breakfast, I mean why else would it be on the table? Well midway through eating breakfast and when people are done eating their PB&J’s, they make an announce stating that we will be doing another community service project. It was to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…uh oh!! That was the joke of the morning and it was so funny! We still managed to make the shelter sandwiches!

The shelter is called St. Lucy’s Shelter which is a supervised 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, year-round emergency shelter facility for single women and men offering emergency housing and food for those in need. The shelter provides two meals a day and clothing, as well as a shower program and outreach services for the unsheltered homeless. As a group, we were able to make between 250 and 300 sandwiches for people who need it!

Blog-PicAfter breakfast it was time for the first keynote speaker of the day, Jeff Dess. Dess is a New York native and is known as the Disrupter Educator and is the co-founder of an educational platform called Trill or Not Trill. The purpose is to bridge the gap between popular culture and student development. The energy of Dess was absolutely motivating and inspirational. The title of his speech was Disrupting Success. One of the ways he likes to tell stories is when he says krik we say krak, which is a way they tell stories and allows one person to talk at a time and is commonly used in Haiti, where he is from.

Here are some of the best points from Jeff Dess:

  • To disrupt means to look at everything once regular and to have a change
  • Be prepared to do the work!
  • You cannot win without mentors or peers
  • DO NOT be a “sucka MC”
  • Protect your energy
  • Disorient yourself from archaic, racist, misogynist, heteronormative (traditional) mindsets
  • Disorient yourself from a comfort zone
  • Say “not today ego”
  • As leaders, we can always get left
  • Don’t let arrogance outshine your excellence and innovation
  • Have a radical imagination
  • Create your opportunities and then find the freedom from others

I 100% suggest listing to Jeff Dess speak! You honestly will be so motivated.

After Jeff Dess, we had our last breakout session of the conference. I went to Inclusive Leadership – Creating an Inclusive Space Through Dialogue. This session was mainly a big conversation with the rest of the group. It’s the way you see things and which lens you decide to choose that determines if you are inclusive or exclusive.

So why do we avoid certain discussions related to diversity, equality, and inclusion? What is the impact? What is the benefit of engaging more?

Diversity can be defined as strength through differences. Inclusion is defined as expanding the circle of engagement by ensuring everyone is heard and valued; it’s personal identity vs. assimilationEquity is defined as the access to opportunity and the resources one needs to achieve success regardless of identity (personal/societal).

Diversity + Inclusion += Engaged and high performance culture

Equality = sameness; Equity = justiceIISC_EqualityEquity

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough.” -Colin Kaepernick

This really put into perspective how you can be inclusive. We did various activities and watched videos and everyone looks at things differently. Sometimes we don’t even notice little things that could be easily spotted if we paid just a little more attention.

After the breakout session was lunch. We had sandwiches! It was such a nice day outside and the view from the room we were in for the summit was stunning!IMG_3018

Then it was on to our last keynote speaker. The speaker was Emiliyaemiliya1 Zhivotovskaya who is the founder of The Flourishing Center. She serves as a voice in the world of positive psychology and the science of flourishing.

So what is positive psychology? It is the scientific study of optimal human functioning.

Here are two key points from Emiliya’s talk:

  1. Set your timer on your phone 2-3 random times a day, then ask yourself, are you showing up the way you want too?
  2. Make your why bigger than your but

Now it was time for the closing workshop. I honestly am so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to attend this summit. I learned so much about myself and how to become a better leader that I hope I can teacher others whether that be on campus, through the SCSU NSLS Chapter or in the work force. The last thing we did was look at a couple of quotes that were spread out onto our tables and reflect on them. Which ones are the most important to us and how does it relate to leadership? My favorite quote was:

“The hardest task? Always doing easy tasks well.” – Unknown

I think that quote sums up what leadership is all about. You can’t be an efficient leader if you take the easy road. You need to be challenge and cross over those obstacles.

Lastly, we wrote one a notecard two ways to contact us and two goals. We then had to give it to a complete stranger and we will have to follow-up with them. Now that’s pretty cool!

IMG_3055After the summit was over, I decided to go do some exploring in New York! I honestly just did some walking around by the Freedom Tower and the surrounding blocks. I was just absorbing the city feeling.

I did what to try a New York Style Hot Dog whichIMG_3060 was so good! Clearly I love hot dogs and a Chicago dog will always be my favorite but this was different! On a NY dog there is spicy brown mustard, ketchup and sauerkraut.

I did see random people crawling on the streets of the city and I didn’t know what to think about it. But then I found out they were carrying weighted backpacks and it was for the military!

Since I was really tired, I decided to go to O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub, which is literally a block away from the Freedom Tower and memorial pools. This was a very local pub where everyone knows each other. The whole bar was covered in patches and I thought it was so neat. I asked the guy working behind the bar and he said that after 9/1 people were sending him patches of fallen police officers, etc and he just decided to hang them up. After the first anniversary people kept sending him patches and now people from all over the world still send them to O’Haras.

It was quite chilling hearing him talk about how his friend survived the 9/11 attacks due to a split second decision. His friend is now sick with lung problems due to all the smoke. The bartender even had a big book full of pictures right after the attacks since his friend was present during them…It was unbelievable and chilling.

After visiting O’Haras, it was time to head back since I had to be at the airport by 6:30am. I guess I was also really tired considering I didn’t even make it to 9pm!

Sunday, November 11th

IMG_3145It was a long day, but I ended up taking a Lyft to the airport. I can add New York and New Jersey to my list of places to live since they have Dunkin’ Donuts! My flight left at around 8:30am and I ended up sleeping through majority of the flight! I got back home at around 1:30pm and was happy to relax and reflect on this amazing, eye-opening experience.

Also, it was so difficult to find souvenirs that said New Jersey on them! They all were New York related even though I was in the state of New Jersey!! Ugh!!




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