‘LL: There are certain panels that deal with psychology. At least amongst students of color there is this mindset of being a good worker, however, perhaps not a leader.
Mario: Absolutely, this goes not just for college students, but those who are in the early stages of their careers. It often comes down to belief systems, mindsets. As soon as someone understands how their brain works, they can understand why they are making the decisions they make (conscious and unconscious) then it is easier to change. That’s why we’ve incorporated it into the curriculum.
‘LL: The conference also, pulls together a team of professionals and industry leaders to serve as speakers and keynotes. What do you look for in a speaker?
Mario: It’s been a bit organic, and we don’t always go after the top of the heap. We look for a cross section, a student, a person in early stages and a veteran to provide that cross section of experience and perspective. When you have that, you reach a wider base and students love that. To see someone in their early twenties whose making it, they love that. Our speakers are representative of the community you live and work in, you’re going to see people that look like you.
‘LL: The next generation of leaders will be the millennial generation, who are tech savvy, however, may not be as strong with regard to interpersonal communication. How does the conference address that?
Mario: While we want our online platform to grow, we continue to focus on face to face interaction. Which reflects core principal of our program. Focusing on traditional communication skills and develop the emotional intelligence of these students, supplemented by tech where they can learn about career development. One thing folks don’t realize is that we will be looking for a small ratio of speakers to students, so that individualized attention can occur. Rather than wait an hour after a presentation.
It’s that concentrated focused attention that is amazing. Speakers networking with the students allows for this cross generational learning.
‘LL: What’s been the biggest reward thus far?
Mario: In my twenties, my first mentor came along, he changed my life. Just one person, that’s all it takes. Helping the students first and foremost and learning from my peers and the students! That’s the biggest reward.