Learned Along the Way #1


As we’ve been preparing for our Get Connected Webcast next week with Rebecca Ryan and Next Generation Consulting, it’s gotten me thinking about our experience as young professionals. Since between us, we’ve started or helped start four young professionals organizations over the past 10 years and we both had some early success in our careers, I’m hoping that we learned something along the way.

In the spirit of trying to help others learn from our mistakes and experience so that they might be far more successful than we ever were, I propose this question for the two of us:

  • What are the most significant things we have learned through our experience as young professionals?

This is a particularly interesting question for me as an HR leader who has the responsibility to develop our next generation of leaders within my organization. I call on my own experiences frequently when coaching others on how to excel and be effective as a YP.

Here is my first offering of lessons learned.

#1: Make Big Plans

I think that this learning was a fairly easy one for us because we were both naturally inclined towards dreaming and defining compelling visions of the future. As young professionals, we had the advantage of both optimism and naivety. It turns out that people love talking about big dreams and plans. As we were founding organizations like Next Generation Omaha, we never talked about starting a networking group but rather we talked about creating an organization that would be “a catalyst to make Omaha a cooler place to live.” It wasn’t about forming a group, it was about transforming a city. And we had some specific ideas on how we could make it happen.

In my opinion, too many YP groups are being formed today for the sake of having a YP group. The really successful groups have a compelling vision that drives them. The magic of big plans and big dreams is that it compels people around you to think bigger thoughts. Most people want to be a part of something big, they want to make a difference. Engaging them in your vision for the future is important. This lesson has served me well through out my career as a leader because people want to follow a leader who has a clear vision of the future.


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