By Ernie Flores, Class 29
I began Scottsdale Leadership Class 29 in September 2014. Before our first class, I looked through the class bios to find MBAs, attorneys, doctors and business owners. I was not only intimidated, I felt like I didn’t belong in a group of such accomplished individuals. As the first class day began, I was still feeling uncertain about my participation in the program as we each presented our 90-second commercials in front of the class. During these presentations I began to notice that I wasn’t the only one who was nervous. I recall leaning over and whispering to another classmate, “I don’t belong here.” He leaned right back over and whispered, “neither do I.” By the end of that first day and meeting all my classmates, I found out that we all had at least one thing in common; we were all in pursuit of doing more and giving back to our respective communities.
Throughout the 9-month program, I found myself getting more and more eager for every other Friday class day. I was excited for a new adventure and learning experience with Scottsdale Leadership and spending time with the people I had once deemed “better than me.”
In the past, I never really kept friends. The only time a “friend” would call is when their car was broken and they needed my assistance for repairs. During our Lead It Forward project I was having lunch with a couple of teammates when the subject of friends came up and a team member (Kevin) asked what I do with my friends. I replied, “I don’t have any friends.” He looked at me and asked, “what about us?” and I replied, “you’re my teammates, not my friends.”
Fast forward to July, a couple months after graduation from Scottsdale Leadership … I was receiving several text messages from classmates asking how I was doing and requesting to get together for happy hours (that’s what friends do). One particular time, I received a text from Kevin asking how all was going. At the time my home air conditioner had broken so I replied, “AC took a crap in my house, but otherwise all is good.” His reply was, “bring your family and you can stay at my house.” I did not expect that. Kevin is a true friend, one of many I gained through Scottsdale Leadership.
I’d encourage anyone on the edge of deciding if they want to do the program to do it … it changed my life, and it can do the safe for you!