Now more than ever, the need for the next generation of leaders to pick up the mantle is apparent. If you need convincing, look no further than the current congressional class – it’s the oldest in history. President Barack Obama even noted the concern, when asked what he intended to do after leaving office, he stated one of his goals would be to develop and mentor the next generation of leaders. A gentleman who has taken note is Mario Cobian. Founder of the LIT College Tour, Cobian canvasses the nation in search of students to develop into that very next generation of leadership we so desperately need.
LIT stands for #LEADERSHIP, #INNOVATION and #TRANSFORMATION and is a mentor-driven career accelerator designed to create student fueled change through mentors, internships, experiential learning and career development.
Lest you think this is just another leadership conference, think again. The LIT Tour has events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Silicon Valley, Florida and New York. In each city, a one day boot camp teaches students hard and soft skills in what they have structured as “tracks”. There are tracks for Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Media, Law and Finance among others. Each track includes keynotes and workshops facilitated by industry experts, emerging leaders but also student influencers in order to get a holistic generational purview.
The next stop on the LIT College Tour is New York City on November 17th, Cobian chatted with ‘LLERO ahead of the event, to share his reasons for creating LIT, it’s mission and what he hopes LIT can achieve.
‘LL: What was the seminal moment which led you to create the LIT College Tour?
Mario: It was really a variety of factors. Through my personal and professional business, [having] started my business at a young age and not having a mentor until my twenties. Also, seeing my interns not having mentorship and having the same issues today. So, we [initially] decided to host a small event for the interns to connect them to mentors and it snowballed. It was supposed to be a small panel and networking event a grew into a full-blown conference. We started getting folks from outside of California from Detroit, D.C. and Atlanta.
‘LL: You come from a marketing background. How was it making the jump from an agency to running a conference?
Mario: It felt really natural. I was also an education major, so if I wasn’t an entrepreneur I’d be a teacher. Second, I was a counselor throughout college at Outward Bound program and many of my first clients were all non-profits which focused on socioeconomic factors. So, it was a natural transition.
‘LL: ‘LIT’ stands for Leadership, Innovation and Transformation. The acronym certainly seems to really fit with the overall objective of the conference. How did it come about?
Mario: Leadership highlights the core principal of our program. It all starts with leadership getting students who are leaders to that next level, helping them take action. Innovation speaks to creativity, disruption and that’s the game changer. Transformation is the result of the mentorship and innovation, it really just tied all together. Finally, it is all about sparking and igniting one’s life and career.
‘LL: The structure of the conference is a bit different than most. Its one day boot camp. Can you tell us a bit about what that day encompasses?
Mario: All the panels, workshops and keynotes are geared toward our principles of leadership, innovation, transformation. They also span many industries and other elements that help students transition to the working world. One of the things we try to do is make sure the speakers are working in the industry so attendees can get that perspective. A lot of the curriculum is that which is not covered in college – real world skills to help them as leaders.