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2017 BGCA National Conference

Being able to attend the 2017 Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Conference was one of the most wonderful times of my life. I cannot even begin to describe the passion, excitement, and encouragement that occurred during the four day period. During my time with the Clubs, I have been luck enough to attend two National Conferences: Orlando (2013) and Dallas (2017).

Because I fully understand that it is a privilege to attend this conference and that several Movement members cannot attend, I felt compelled to gain as much information as possible and share with you guys! I tried to spread out my sessions and hopefully cover several aspects of the Club so all readers could gain something!

Before I get into the sessions, I have to tell you some of the highlights!

  1. I met one of my Club idols: Chris Corrado! I know that several of you know who she is, but legit like this was one of the best moments of the conference. I walked up to her and said, "Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself...I am Brandy Harris..." and she jumped up and said, "Oh my goodness, the famous Brandy Harris!" Are you effing kidding me? It was like meeting NSYNC after a concert.

And then this happened...

Yea, that is Chris and one her incredibly beautiful, talented colleges reading my blog. MY BLOG! I literally almost started crying. I will never forget the experience. She was so unbelievable kind and everything I expected her to be. I know her on social media, but it was a truly wonderful experience. She is an incredible pioneer for the Club! I also got to meet National torch Club Advisor, Eve Respess. Like talk about the kindest woman ever!

Oh and no big deal...I also met the one and only BGCA President, Jim Clark and his beautiful wife!

Oh and Dr. Sir Damon Williams!

2. The 2017 Hall of Fame induction was amazing. This class was diverse, impactful, and incredibly deserving. At the Hall of Fame after party, I snapped a photo with Anthony Anderson. Yea, I know he looks like a wax figure, but it really was him...he actually asked to get one with me...

3. At the end of a morning session, one of the amazing Youth of the Year finalists said, "look under your chairs and if you have a YOU WIN card, please bring it to the front. I looked under my chair...nothing. By God, I crawled on all fours under chairs until i found one!

And then, I did! I chest bumped everyone on my way up and I won a Samsung tablet and Samsung headphones. Ah! I could not believe it!!!

4. I got to see so many old friends and made a ton of new ones. I also got to see our 2013 Youth of the Year from Lawrence Kansas...she is beyond incredible and I loved being able to see my lil Trei Trei!

5. Overall, I was able to participate in some life-changing, eye-opening sessions. Let's Dive In! Also, remember...If you have any questions or need mote information, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Happy Employees Equal High Performance: Powered by Happy by Beth Thomas

  1. The formula to become a GREAT place to work:

  2. Passion + Alignment + Leadership = GREAT CULTURE

  3. 29% of employees are ACTIVELY engaged or passionate about what they do or move the organization forward.

  4. 54% are disengaged or checked out

  5. 17% are ACTIVELY disengaged-busy “acting out” their disengagement and undermining their engaged colleagues.

  6. As it relates to engagement, what is most important to employees?

  7. Work/Life balance is the #1 factor in engagement from 46% of survey respondents

  8. Compensation is 57%

  9. The work itself is 50%

  10. Supervisor/Boss is 52%

  11. Job Security is 70%

  12. Disengaged associates cost U.S. economy more than $300 billion each year in lost productivity, higher turnover and diminished business success.

  13. It costs more than just the company money. If you are one of these unhappy, disengaged associates, you may be the FIRST to go when times get tough.

  14. The Positive Psychology of Happiness

  15. 50 % of a person’s happiness is based on their DNA, the other 50% is by choice.

  16. Happiness at work = higher productivity and success for YOU and YOUR workplace.

  17. It affects company morale, culture, and performance and retention- it is all tied to Employee engagement.

  18. 6 Things Wise Leaders do to Engage Employees & Lead Change

  19. Stop unknowingly creating tension

  20. Don’t expect them to behave like you, allow them to be themselves and embrace an entrepreneurial attitude that will stimulate engagement.

  21. Detect the most positive capabilities in people

  22. Focus on what they do right, rather than wrong

  23. Empower to discover potential

  24. Nothing more demotivating than micromanaging

  25. Let go, step back, observe

  26. Put them in the position of influence

  27. See how they react and engage in their new role. Stimulating engagement is a two-way street.

  28. Employees are most engaged when they feel a sense of responsibility towards their leaders and being an example to others.

  29. Share your success to build their momentum

  30. Sharing your success with your employees makes them feel that they are an important part of your accomplishments. It is a sign of trust that organically creates engagement.

  31. Be consistent and have their backs-Trust is Huge.

  32. This is the top reason people leave leaders.

  33. Loyalty comes from looking out for their best interests.

  34. Advice from Other Leaders

  35. Lead by example! Would your employees say you are a positive influence/leader or a negative one?

  36. Give employees something to reach for define success for your employees

  37. Create and embody the company (values, vision, and mission)

  38. Get involved with the company culture.

  39. Use transparency to inspire, and communicate often.

  40. Learn what motivates them-how they like to be recognized.

  41. Hold them accountable.

  42. Treat people with respect.

  43. Leaders have a responsibility to promote a positive culture.

  44. Control your emotions. You set the tone. Don’t be fake.

  45. If you are a leader, LEAD. Lead by example.

  46. How do you Achieve Happiness?

  47. Working long hours does not define success being engaged, happy, passionate and feeling valued does.

  48. You have to WANT it.

  49. If achieving happiness is important, what are YOU doing to achieve it?

  50. Are you focusing on it? Dedicating time to it?

  51. 1st step, define what happiness means to you. Ask your employees what happiness mean to them.

  52. Create an “I Wish” List instead of a “To Do” List to balance life and work

  53. Plan for something special

  54. Schedule lunch with a friend

  55. Be realistic

  56. Check off your to do list and reward yourself with something from your I Wish list.

  57. Weave some of your I Wish list into your to do list.

  58. Take a daily 15 minute “me time” break.

  59. The Power of Gratitude

  60. This stops the feeling of unhappiness

  61. Focusing on good make good things come

  62. Reduces envy and negative emotions

  63. Doing good for others is the #1 thing that contributes to long sustainable happiness

  64. Minimize Negative Thoughts

  65. Over 70% of the things we worry about NEVER happen

  66. Master your stories-deal with facts not fiction

  67. Stop your negative thoughts in their tracks

  68. It is never too late to create new habits

  69. Make a High-Yield Happiness Investment

  70. Help others be successful

  71. Reward and recognize

  72. Pay it forward

  73. Random acts of kindness-make it a habit

  74. Schedule Happiness

  75. Really, schedule it!

  76. Focus on it, work at it, dedicate time to it.

  77. Make a commitment to a weekly “me” event.

  78. Hang with the Gang that Gets It

  79. Your peers can drag your down or lift you up

  80. Create a personal board of directors

  81. How are you perceived by others?

  82. Law of attraction-positive people attract positive experiences

  83. The Boss

  84. 80% of people leave their boss, not their workplace.

  85. How to love your job even though you hate your boss:

  86. Look in the mirror and do a self-check

  87. Steal shamelessly-find out who has worked well with this person and model those behaviors.

  88. Building good working relationships with peers minimizes negative exposure to the boss.

  89. If you cannot wait your boss out, leave.

  90. What is Next for You?

  91. Your call to action, write down your plan:

  92. What can YOU do to become more engaged?

  93. What can YOU do to help or motivate others?

  94. What can YOU do to change your culture?

  95. What can YOU do to lead by example?

  96. What can YOU do to make yourself happier?

  97. What can YOU do?

  98. Designate a Happy Employee of the Month

  99. Ask your employees how they like to be recognized

  100. Ask your employees what makes them happy


BGCA Pulse Checks Panel Focus Group (This session made me very happy about the future)

  • 20 professionals were invited to attend this session to provide feedback and ideas for the future of gaging member experience.

  • These pulse checks are designed to get the successes and areas for improvement regarding your Club aside from NYOI.

  • They are not to be reported to BGCA, they are more for your knowledge.

  • They are quick and different and allow for insight into your Club.

  • These can be much more focused on quality experiences rather than numbers.

  • These are designed to be quick checks for reflection.

  • Every child should have more than one staff that provides a supportive relationship.

  • It is important to share this information with people to ensure we can move forward together. Share results with staff, etc.

  • Ideas for implementation:

  • Have conversations with members, individually or in small groups.

  • Where don’t you feel safe? How can we fix it?

  • What is your favorite area? Least favorite?

  • Who is your favorite staff and why?

  • Listening Hour

  • Give members a safe, structured space to share concerns, ask questions, generate ideas, etc.

  • Focus Groups

  • Get a group of members or parents together to share their thoughts on safety, programming, etc.

  • Surveys

  • Ask questions for people to answer that will give you insight on how your programs are going.

  • Token Voting

  • Each member gets a token to vote in a fish bowl.

  • Yes Side: I had a great time today

  • No Side: I did not have a good time today

  • Thumbs up, Thumbs down

  • Before leaving the area, take a thumbs up or down pulse check.

  • BGCA will release a number of options for Club staff to implement for Pulse Checks. (Some examples are attached)


Empowering Teen Voice (Most Powerful Session)

  • This session was focused on empowering teen voice and giving them a safe space to share ideas, concerns, etc.

  • Developing a strong teen centered program

  • Physical

  • Cognitive

  • Emotional

  • Social

  • Moral

  • What is teen voice?

  • Fostering youth voice involves:

  • Finding ways for young people to actively participate in shaping decisions that affect their lives.

  • Supporting youth with opportunities for choice:

  • Adults provide support and safety for decision making.

  • As YDPs, what is your role in helping teens find and use their voice?

  • Activity: Place flip chart paper around the room with various pictures on them. Provide members with post-it notes and sharpies. As they make their way around the room, observing the pictures, have them write down a word or phrase that speaks to them when they look at these pictures. Once they have made it to all pictures, ask them to stand by the one that most spoke to them. Share out why.

  • Maximizing the Club experience to elevate teen voice

  • Five Key Elements

  • Voice

Shared leadership



No input


Visionary Leadership: Josh Linkner (My Favorite Session)

  • His books include: Disciplined Dreaming, The Road to Reinvention, Hacking Innovation

  • The Five Obsessions of Visionary Leaders

  • Get Curious

  • Why, What, If, Why Not?

  • Challenge conventional wisdom

  • Observe

  • Jessica Mathews, Forbes 30 Under 30

  • Worked in a small village in Africa. Say kids with such high energy on the soccer field. Thought to herself, “wouldn’t it be cool if we could harness this energy and create energy?” She developed technology in soccer balls that had the power to light a light bulb for 8 hours. Then she became more curious and developed an energy producing jump rope that could charge your phone!

  • Hospital in Sweden

  • Window Cleaning Company worked at the hospital. Hospital had an idea to make the experience better for kids and make the task more meaningful. Hospital asked for window cleaners to dress in superhero costumes. Cleaners agreed and purchased costumes.

  • Added purpose and meaning to their work

  • Kids were happy, staff loved it, window cleaners had purpose and meaning

  • Crave What’s Next

  • You must have a willingness to let go

  • Planned obsolescence is real and craving what is next can help us eliminate it.

  • Saying “we have always done it this way” is dangerous.

  • Louis CK example

  • He throws his material away every year. While it is hard work, he always wants to remain fresh and innovative.

  • The Borrowed Idea: Idea Bank in Poland example

  • They observed UBER and LYFT and their spike in population and borrowed their idea. Had the idea to bring the ATM to the people instead of the people to the ATM. They tricked out a bank vehicle in an UBER type way. Sometimes we focus too much on our field and not the thing.

  • Coach K Example

  • After every play, the bench and coaches yell “NEXT PLAY.” There is no focus on what just happened, good or bad. It is forward thinking. They force their team to let it go and move on.

  • Defy Tradition

  • Judo Flip the Idea, Judo Flip the Standard

  • Cycle Racing Example

  • UCI is an organization that sets strict cycling standards for bikes.

  • This company examined UCI’s standards rule by rule and developed the FUCI bike that was the opposite of almost every rule.

  • American Ninja Warrior Example

  • Kevin was ready to be a contestant on the show. He watched film or EVERYON failing on the cannonball portion of the game. Everyone used a similar method to get across the obstacle. He adapted and used his feet to get across the obstacle. He was the first to do it and the first to succeed.

  • Get Scrappy

  • Being a visionary leader requires grit and determination

  • It is important to solve problems in a different way

  • Strings Away Example

  • Bike Company Example

  • A bike company continued to receive complaints from customers receiving their bikes in less than ideal conditions. The bikes did not travel well and customers were upset with bent frames, scratches, etc. they noticed that people who ordered electronics were not having the same issues. Their items were delivered perfectly. The company brainstormed ideas to improve the customer experience:

  • We could add Styrofoam-too expensive

  • We could upgrade our boxes-too expensive

  • Someone suggested the end result which was a huge success. They put a picture of a TV on box and customer complaints became nonexistent. They adapted in a scrappy way and figured out an innovative way to better their customer experience.

  • Adapt Fast

  • Always be ready to go!

  • BMW/Audi Example

  • Audi released a billboard with a picture of their newest car. On the billboard it states, “Your move BMW”

  • BMW responded with a billboard of their newest car and it stated, “checkmate.”

  • This rivalry continued for several rounds and both companies won. They created the LA Billboard Wars and everyone was talking about their products waiting to see their next move.

  • Tom Lix Whiskey Example

  • Tom Lix was about to go broke. His business failed and he knew he needed to do something to make money to support his family. He was an avid whiskey drinker and wanted to start his own whiskey line. He knew that successful, high end whiskey was aged in barrels for ten plus years. He didn’t have that kind of time. So, he adapted fast. He found a way to use pieces of barrels and pressure to get the same kind of taste in a fraction of the time. His whiskey is incredibly popular and he charges about $60 per bottle. Demand is through the roof.

  • Challenge: in the next 7 days, CREATE DISRUPTION


Youth of the Year Panel (Most Inspiring Session)

  • The 5 youth of the Year winners took the stage and answered questions proposed by Dr. Damon Williams. Key takeaways from this panel are:

  • Our voice is important and we have good ideas.

  • Embrace what we love. Make us want to come back.

  • Even though we act like we don’t need you, we do.

  • Don’t give up on us.

  • Empower us.

  • Give us opportunities that we will never forget. Take us on college tours.


Programming Panel Focus Group (Best Session for my New Position)

  • 20 professionals were invited to attend this session to provide feedback and ideas for the future of BGCA programming.

  • Things that work well regarding programming: parent orientations, focus groups about programming, Board involvement, parent involvement, member choice, embrace staff passions, be intentional and purposeful, identify what member needs are, evaluate programs, establish program lifecycles, all programs should be planned and scheduled, all programs should be age appropriate, etc.

  • We discussed the program planning cycle and why it is essential. Below is a sample of the template we were given.

What is New with BGCA Programs?

Down Time as Up Time

During this session, we downloaded the YDToolbox app and modeled games and ideas from it. The app is still in beta so more things will be added. We did an activity from the following categories:

  • Community Builders

  • Groupers

  • Energizers

  • Collaborations

  • Reflections

Honor Awards

  • The Arts

  • What’s Your Story

  • Members work on writing and literacy skills. They learn about story elements and more. At the end of the program, members write and design their own books and get them professionally printed. The books also include an About Me section where the member writes about themselves. This program builds confidence in members and their ability to be academically successful.

  • Good Character & Citizenship

  • Our Lives Matter

  • This program changes the narrative regarding race in the United States. Members are empowered to be civically engaged, understand culture and community, and more.

  • Education & Career Development

  • Readers to Leaders

  • This program targets 9-12 year old members. This program incorporates service and literacy.

  • Health & Life Skills

  • Juvenile Justice System Program

  • This program targets members who are at risk for becoming or are already members of the juvenile justice system. Members stay physically fit and learn new ways to stay academically successful.

  • Sports, Fitness, & Recreation

  • Soccer League

  • As a part of their membership, members are able to participate in a soccer league. Most of the members are of Latino/Latina decent and the demand for this program is huge.

(BONUS from Springfield): Management Training with Tanya Marion: Leadership Concepts 101

What is the difference between management and leadership?

  1. Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

  2. You manage things and you lead people.

  3. Management: paperwork, finances, you cannot get away from these things. It is expected you are doing these things well. Expectation is that these things are done correctly.

  4. Leadership: with the team, not separate. Coaches people on what to do and not to do.

  5. Be a leader, not a boss.

  6. A boss is autocratic. I am going to tell you what to do. I am in charge. You are out in front, telling people what to do.

  7. A leader is a coach. A leader fixes the breakdown and says Let’s Go!

  8. “If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.”

  9. Know your stuff as a leader, or know when you don’t know your stuff.

  10. Learn to lead through others: I don’t Shine if you don’t Shine!

  11. Get to know your team!

  12. Honor natural gifts and talents

  13. The goal is not to fix your weaknesses. The goal is to amplify your strengths and to surround yourself with the people who can do what you can’t do.

  14. Don’t just honor gifts and talents, but invest in them

  15. Communicate

  16. Two-Way Street

  17. Speak the Truth, Even if Your Voice Shake

  18. Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat

  19. Have fun at work!

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