Leading for Today and Tomorrow

Leading for Today and Tomorrow

Are you acting as a force for change?

The Pat Brown Institute was founded in 1980 by former Governor Pat Brown. Seven years later, he brought the institute to the Cal State LA campus as part of his vision to position the institute as a major public policy organization focused on local, regional, and statewide public affairs. Last night I attended The PBI Awards Dinner for the first time. This year – its 30th anniversary – the event celebrated “California: A Force for Change.” These were my top three takeaways:

1. “First say yes.” 
These were the words of Kayla Stamps, the outgoing CSULA President of the Associated Students, and her call to action to get involved. Be fearless and realistic. “Then,” she said “just know that you don’t always have to have all the answers.” Common sense wisdom aside, that also happens to be one of the most profound lessons that nearly every entrepreneur ends up learning. Saying yes to being a leader isn’t about being the smartest person in the room. More often than not, it’s about having the confidence to fill the room with people smarter than you. When’s the last time you said yes to leading and taking action?
2. “They came to California.” 
This was the refrain in California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s stirring speech as he accepted the Public Servant of the Year Award. How when his grandparents emigrated from Mexico to the United States, they came to California. And how when his wife’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from China and could have moved anywhere in the country, they, too, chose to come to California. He talked about the specialness of this state. Its openness to new ideas, tolerance and the diversity that strengthens all of us. Its identity as a place of opportunity, regardless of skin color or family connections. As an immigrant myself, it’s part of my story and one of the reasons I love living, raising a family and growing a business here. What do you love about where you’ve chosen to live?
3. “We should be the leaders of today.” 
I didn’t know much about PBI’s impact in the community before the dinner, but was so inspired to learn about the institute’s work with young people in a highly successful collaboration with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. It was a program where PBI took LA Unified School District students and empowered them through training and education to lead a student-run and student-directed series of school board debates for one of the largest school districts in the United States. Karen Calderon, one of the program participants, said: “People always say that kids are the future or that they’re going to be the leaders of tomorrow. I think we should be the leaders of today.” What do you think?

That’s what the power of participation is all about.

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About the Top 3 series:

“Top 3” is a quick roundup on our key takeaways from some of the conferences and events we attend.

Bonnie Nijst
Written by Bonnie Nijst

Bonnie Nijst has been a wire service bureau manager, and VP of sales for both a publicly traded broadcast communications company and an Internet startup. She has also served on boards for organizations focused on economic opportunity, diversity, public health and civic engagement. She is president and CEO at FIDGET. Email Bonnie directly at bonnie@fidgetbranding.com or call her at 323.658.8000.