If you were unable to attend, we missed you. If you attended, thank you for sharing your feedback and kind words of encouragement. A hard-working team from JA USA, JA Worldwide, and JA Georgia put this conference together, and they appreciate your input.
Global Priority #1: Define and Communicate Our Impact
The JA network told us that they would like JA Worldwide to lead the process of articulating our impact, providing a framework for measuring it, and communicating it more aggressively with alumni stories and brand building. We provided this in multiple GLC sessions. On the first day of the conference, we outlined the unifying impact theme of Activating Youth for the Future of Jobs and described the buy-in for this theme with all six regional leaders on stage. On both the first and second days, we heard presentations from Peter Schwartz, Mark Thompson, and the (very impressive) plenary panel who highlighted the soft skills/competences that are relevant for the future of jobs.
On the third day, we revealed that these skills have been measured by JA Europe for the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass and are now being “globalized” via pilots in JA areas and member countries across all six regions. In addition, we released OneJA.org, which includes a section on Impact that will include infographics (such as this one), reports, and other information to accelerate the cohesiveness of impact measurement and communication across the JA network.
We also outlined a strategy for communicating our impact more aggressively in our Centennial year, through the “I am JA” alumni-engagement campaign and our Centennial book, The Entrepreneurial Attitude: Lessons from Junior Achievement’s 100 Years of Developing Young Entrepreneurs, by Larry Farrell. Read more about both on OneJA.org.
Global Priority #2: Support Human Capital to Accelerate Sustainable Growth
While regional conferences focus on program-level training, our global conference focused on leadership development and mindset shifts. NGOs like ours find it difficult to raise funding for human-capital investments, so we decided to focus on this aspect of leadership, particularly as it helps us serve as a catalyst for sustainable growth. We were fortunate to find the top leadership coaches in the world, such as Marshall Goldsmith (see here for slides), and workshop leaders such as Michael Bungay Stanier (whom I’ve heard from many of you provided exceptional take-home value) to lead sessions with practical advice for teams and individuals. The GLC included over 30 speakers over the three days—and all of them were willing to do this for JA waiving their speaking fees, which are normally over $50,000!
One of the veteran attendees provided this lovely testimonial about the conference:
It was an incredible week of learning, inspiration, and connecting with the One JA family. The topics were relevant and the speakers, world class. Our team left the conference feeling more invigorated, confident, self-aware, and better prepared to take their leadership to the next level. Thanks, again, for your leadership and for preparing such a feast for us!
Global Priority #3: Expand Funding Base
Several breakout sessions focused on fundraising. Not surprisingly, these sessions were among the most popular. For example, Brandie Conforti led two back-to-back sessions related to fundraising and featured best practices from experts in the UK, Egypt, and Nigeria. The Q&A discussion was just as valuable as the presentations with practical advice for leaders. We also featured a global funder panel that included candid advice from some of our largest multi-region donors. Many regions had separate breakout sessions for their members who attended the conference, providing information on new regional programs. JA Americas, for example, has succeeded in attracting a commitment of funding from the InterAmerican Development Bank, representing our first successful instance of JA receiving significant funding from a multilateral development bank (MDB), which was one of the original aspirations for the establishment of JA Worldwide and the ROCs.
In addition, individuals are stepping up to share their expertise and contacts with the entire network. Stefania Popp, for example, has made the generous offer to share her formidable fundraising experience and management expertise with JA leaders as she travels around the world after she retires next year—a bold and brilliant idea. Many JA leaders have already invited her to visit so, she’ll have an interesting and impactful year of travel. And John McNutt, from JA Peterborough, Lakeland, Muskoka (Canada), offered to help connect JA locations with Rotary Clubs, and more than 25 have already sought his help. So simple, so smart, so generous.
Global Priority #4: Strengthen Network Alignment
Two years ago, we sat down with the leadership of JA USA and mutually agreed on the conference theme: One JA. Since then, we’ve worked hard to make the conference agenda focus on elements that would appeal to leaders that were seeking personal development. We also worked hard to articulate a vision for collaboration that is a two-way street among JA teams around the world. For example, we created a new JA Worldwide award to honor collaboration (congrats to JA Bulgaria, Romania, Norway, Latvia, and Greece for winning that award), and we highlighted some of the best quotes from the conference speakers, both internal and external, that made the point that we are stronger together than alone. Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):
- "I don’t have to be better than you, let’s work together and help each other."
- "Our values are not what we say, but what we do!"
- "The world becomes a better place not when we learn, but when we do."
- "Those with privilege have an obligation to help others open the window to their potential."
- "If I had to rebuild, what would I change?"
Our network also grows when we align our activities to provide benefits for our powerful and growing alumni network. At GLC, alumni from across the globe spanning three generations participated in an inspiring young-alumni panel led by alumnus Dave Meltzer, with closing remarks from alumnus Brian Sidorsky. If you hadn't thought about engaging alumni in your country, these alumni convinced you with their "I am JA" journeys.
Alignment doesn’t have to mean giving up local expertise and customization. The fixed, flexible, freestyle approach offers global alignment around fixed elements, regional alignment with flexible elements, and freestyle customization at the local level. One example of this is the JA Onboarding Tool we’ve launched in beta, which is made up of fixed videos embedded in a PowerPoint; flexible PowerPoint slides that are built out, but customizable; and opportunities to add freestyle slides to meet your local needs. Sign up today to be beta tester for this new global—but locally customizable—tool.
If you were able to attend, thank you for making the trip. The cost of travel and the time away from your home and office were a sacrifice that I’m deeply grateful for. If you weren’t able to attend, I hope you take advantage of the resources we’ve provided on OneJA and share in the good feelings from the conference. You were with us there, too, in spirit, and we were thinking of you.
Until next time,