My Experiences at LEAD 2017
My name is Shajan Thomas and I’m the Paid Search Specialist on the Digital Marketing Team at National Vision. I work with online companies such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Facebook to serve ads for our products and services.
This past October, I had the opportunity to attend LEAD 2017: Unlock the Power of You, an intense, weeklong leadership workshop that is aimed at understanding yourself and how to relate that to leading others.
I decided to apply to LEAD because of the career development and growth that it potentially offered. National Vision offers many opportunities for career growth and I felt that LEAD would definitely push me in the right direction.
When I made the decision to apply, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Past attendees all said that it was an amazing experience; however, when I asked what the biggest take away was, the answer was always a version of “it depends.” This answer made much more sense once the week was over.
What is LEAD?
LEAD, which stands for Leadership Education and Development, is the Training Department’s annual event (formerly known as Leadership Symposium and LDC).
This year’s event was held the week of October 22nd – 27th, 2017 at the Emory Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta, GA. National Vision associates, representing all retail brands and the Retail Support Center, looking for both professional and personal development, were in attendance.
My Experience with LEAD
I went into LEAD armed with a healthy dose of cautiousness. The very first thing I noticed when I got there was everyone’s enthusiasm. Every single attendee was excited to learn, even though they weren’t sure what that would be. And this enthusiasm was infectious. This is one of the key features of LEAD – the program is designed to allow the participants to collaborate on developing the content they’ll learn, driven by predetermined topics.
Another unique take-away from LEAD is a higher level understanding of one’s self. Most people are already aware of their own behavioral and personality traits, but usually don’t do anything with this knowledge. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses is great but it isn’t very useful unless you have the tools to act on it. And this is exactly what LEAD does. It allows you to unpack yourself and make changes to help collaborate more efficiently, plan more intentionally and lead more effectively.
LEAD doesn’t teach you anything you didn’t already know about yourself, it teaches you to look at things from a new perspective and to apply what you know in a very measurable, actionable way.
New Perspectives, New Opportunities
After attending LEAD, it made sense why when I asked what the biggest take away was, the answer was always “it depends.” The program had attendees from all over the company with completely different responsibilities, and everyone’s take away depends on the traits that they struggled with.
For me, it gave me a new perspective of myself and how I work with others. And with this new perspective comes new opportunities for growth as well. This program also gives you the chance to hear the experiences and challenges everyone else has. We typically develop tunnel vision in our own jobs and responsibilities and tend not to think about how our actions affect others.
Overall, I think LEAD was a great experience and I would recommend this leadership conference to any National Vision associate looking for personal and career development. It has a lot to offer, not just in the short term, but also 5, 10, 15 years from now. The things I learned, the people I met and the experiences I had were definitely things that will help me in my career at National Vision.