JA University is a program that delivers fundamental principles of success to JA students, staff, and alumni in a way that complements the financial literacy, business, and entrepreneurship programs already delivered by JA. The intention of JA University is to deliver valuable personal and professional wisdom from well-respected and globally renown authors/speakers/coaches and increase the likelihood of JA alumni and students fully implementing and fully benefitting from what they are already learning from JA’s core programs. The program is being designed to be delivered online in multimedia, interactive formats that are both easy and effective to utilize, particularly for Millennials and the generations that follow.
In Fall 2016, Brian Sidorsky, a JA alumnus and successful businessman from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, approached Margie Wang, COO and CFO of JA Worldwide, about his vision. He envisioned working with JA to share fundamental success principles with students and alumni in a way that complemented the financial literacy, business, and entrepreneurship programs JA was already delivering. Brian attributed his own success in life and business to what he learned from JA, participating in JA Company program five times, and from established leaders in the personal and professional development world. Margie immediately grasped the power of Brian’s vision, and together the two of them began reaching out to well respected leaders in the personal and professional development industry to enlist their support in creating such a program.
The response from these industry leaders was 100 percent positive, and 15 individuals were invited to become Chancellors of JA University all saying “yes” to sharing their content, branding, and celebrity influence. They all loved the idea of working with JA to share the fundamental principles of success with young people.
Brian Sidorsky contributed the necessary funds to take the next steps in making the vision a reality, and the process of reaching out to leading speakers, authors, and trainers continued. Robert MacPhee, the former Director of Training for Jack Canfield and a founding member of the Transformational Leadership Council, was contracted to work with the JA team to begin taking the Chancellors' content and forming it into a program that could be delivered online to JA students, staff, and alumni.
The roster of JA University Chancellors includes 17 global thought leaders, with outreach to additional big thinkers continuing. The current outreach strategy emphasizes a desire to diversify the list of Chancellors in terms of gender, age, and international background.
In addition to contributing content (on a royalty-free basis), branding, and influence, several of the JA University Chancellors serve the organization through pro bono work in support of JA, all in the spirit of paying it forward. Here's a snapshot:
- Marshall Goldsmith and members of his 100 Coaches team are providing leadership coaching to key JA Worldwide team members and Senior Leadership Team on a pro bono basis.
- David Meltzer has spoken at several JA international events, including JA Europe Enterprise Challenge in Helsinki, Finland, where David spoke and also served as a competition judge, and the JA Europe Alumni meeting in Prague where David spoke and also met and coached a select group of young alumni on a one-on-one basis.
- Mark Thompson, David Meltzer, Brian Sidorsky, Bob Proctor, Marshall Goldsmith, Steve Rodgers, and Robert MacPhee attended and spoke gratis at the JA Global Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, in July 2017. In addition, Michael Bungay Stanier (from Box of Crayons) was introduced to JA through our chancellors and led a workshop on coaching for over 50 JA associates, again without a fee.
- The Chancellors introduced Linkage CEO Matt Norquist to JA, and he has offered gratis seats at their Global Institute for Leadership Development workshop to JA associates in exchange for a speaking role for Asheesh Advani, JA Worldwide’s CEO.
- Brian Sidorsky, David Meltzer, Mark Thompson, and Robert MacPhee attended the JA Board of Governors meeting in San Francisco, California, in October 2017, sharing their perspective with the Board on the importance and effectiveness of investing in JA's own talent pool and creating a coaching mindset across the network.
- Chancellor involvement led to the creation of the JA Worldwide People Development Committee, which focuses on talent identification and development within the JA network. The committee emphasizes sharing the same principles internally that are being developed to share with alumni through the JA University program
- A four-person Mastermind team, led by Brian Sidorsky and Steve Rodgers and including Robert MacPhee and Margie Wang, have met regularly over the last year to guide the JAU project plan, moving from concept to pilot, ready for feedback from JA young people.
These actions by our Chancellors are a small sampling of the opportunities and possibilities of those who are committed to working with JA to pay it forward and guide the next generations of global citizens and leaders to personal and professional success. We are particularly grateful to Chancellor Brian Sidorsky for sparking the idea of making secrets of success available around the globe and of tapping giants in the field as our founding Chancellors.
As of the end of January 2018, a demonstration module of the online content of the core JA University program will be ready to share with JA University stakeholders. The core program is currently intended to include seven content modules:
- Be clear about your vision, values, purpose, and goals.
- Take 100% responsibility.
- Believe in yourself.
- Develop a positive mental attitude.
- Surround yourself with successful people.
- Take inspired action.
- Be persistent.
In addition to the seven-module core online program, there will be a library of royalty-free resources, contributed by JA University Chancellors and others, to support JA alumni and staff who want even more information and support beyond the JA University core program. Resources are expected to include printed materials, audio programs, video programs, webinars, podcasts, live event access, and more. The library will be updated regularly.
MEMBER COUNTRY & REGIONAL LEADERS RESPONSE
The JA University vision was shared by David Meltzer, Brian Sidorsky, and Robert MacPhee at the JA Global Leadership Conference meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in July of 2017. The response from regional leaders from around the world was very positive, with several regions expressing interest in being the first to implement the JA University program.
YOUNG ALUMNI RESPONSE
Margie Wang had the opportunity to share the JA University concept and get specific feedback from a group of young alumni in Prague in August of 2017. Surveys returned from these young alumni indicate clear and enthusiastic support for the concept and provide many helpful ideas for how to deliver the program in a way that will resonate with Millennials, the target audience.
JA BOARD OF GOVERNORS MEETING
The JA University concept was shared informally at the JA Board of Governors meeting in San Francisco in October of 2017. Asheesh Advani spoke to the group about the vision and intentions of JA University. Brian Sidorsky, Mark Thompson, David Meltzer, and Robert MacPhee were in attendance to share further and answer questions.
JA ALUMNI SYSTEM INTEGRATION
JA Worldwide is currently establishing an online alumni community, called Gather, using a well-recognized online vendor platform. Gather is designed to connect with and support JA alumni on an ongoing basis. The content of JA University is being positioned to be an important part of the valuable information and support that will be delivered by Gather.
The next steps in the creation and implementation of the JA University program include but are not limited to:
- Complete two (and then all) of the online content modules
- Build the initial library of support resources
- Recruit additional chancellors
- Complete approval of JA University trademark (in process)
- Include the core program content modules and the library of resources in the on-line JA Alumni System
- Deliver a pilot program of the core content and gather feedback from participants
- Adjust the core program based on participant feedback
- Make JA University core program and library of resources available to JA alumni and students
- Raise the necessary funds to accomplish each of these steps
SUMMARY: A PERFECT MATCH
JA University is much more than just another program. It's a compilation of personal- and professional-development information and ideas that perfectly complement the value JA is already delivering in over 100 countries. It's a way for JA to be able to do what we're already doing and do it even better. And for the JA University Chancellors, working with JA is a way for them to do something they all want desperately to do: getting their work into the hands of more young people, allowing youth to learn these fundamental principles at an age where the knowledge and skills can make an even bigger difference. The alliance with JA, one of the world’s largest NGO focused on youth education, allows Chancellors to share their work with young people in ways that multiply reach that otherwise would not be possible. JA University allows JA Worldwide and the JA University Chancellors to work together to make a huge impact for future generations creating a self-perpetuating, virtuous cycle of support.