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At the end of 2017, I was thinking about goals for the new year—goals for myself, my team, and Art + Artisans. I became focused on the concept of leadership. How could I best lead my company? How could I support each of my team members to lead; to achieve excellence? CREW had been sending me emails about their Leadership Certificate Program around that time. Leadership development is one of the tenets of CREW, and this opportunity sounded very high caliber.

It would be a big commitment. Three trips—each lasting four or more days—all out of state. There would also be assignments in between. However, the program would be taught by Harvard and MIT professors, as well as top speakers on topics relevant to today’s workplace. Subjects like “Handling Toxic People,” and “The Politics of Promotion and Influence.” These topics were perfectly aligned with my goals for the year. With my husband on board to single parent while I would be out of town, I enthusiastically decided to go for it.

I recently returned from our first meeting in Tucson. There, I was joined by the CREW National Board, as well as 72 dynamic women from around the continent. These women were at the top of their game in commercial real estate. Our course in Leadership Connection—taught by Dr. Gloria Schuck, of MIT’s Sloan School of Management—was a deep dive into the cornerstone of leadership, human connection. We learned from our brilliant speaker, of course, but we learned just as much from the stories, experiences, feedback, and problem solving that we shared honestly with each other. We explored topics like vision: to have a clear one, you must give yourself alone time to reflect and write. We discussed values: they are what control an organization; hire for values, you can teach skills. And we learned about the critical success factors for connection: vulnerability, imperfection, and feedback are not bad words. They help reveal your authentic self, which is what your team needs to see to connect and feel inspired. It was a challenging and thoughtful space. It gave me time to reflect on how I can best give of myself, inspire passion and collaboration, and let go of things that are not working.

In the months to come my fellow classmates and I will spend time absorbing and practicing what we learned. We have an outstanding booklist to keep us inspired and focused. We will have the amazing opportunity to select a mentor every month from senior leaders within CREW. They will meet with us one-to-one to help guide us on our leadership development path, answer questions, and share experiences from their own careers. And in June we come together again, in Cleveland, ready for the next challenge we will tackle together. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and to serve.

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