LWYS: Why You Should Come to a Conference at Westmont
Back in the beginning of June, the CATLab had the privilege of attending Westmont’s annual Lead Where You Stand conference. Starting on Thursday this week, we get the chance to give back to the community as we co-host the Enabling Impact conference with Salesforce.
As Enabling Impact approaches, our programmers have shifted gears from coding new features to preparing presentations. We thought we’d get ready by looking back at our previous conference, Lead Where You Stand (LWYS). You can check out our video coverage of the event here.
In our interviews with LWYS speakers and attendees, a few themes emerged. Here’s what people said about why others should attend the conference:
1. A Retreat-Like Location
Many people’s first impression of Westmont’s campus is that it feels like a summer camp. With spread-out buildings, winding paths, and hundreds of trees all nestled together in the foothills of sunny Santa Barbara, it’s little wonder Westmont strikes visitors as idyllic and retreat-like. Jeff Dykstra, CEO and Co-Founder of Partners in Food Solutions, said that the “beautiful setting” allowed “leaders who are running wall-to-wall to step back and take in this kind of content.”
Similarly, Jeremy Norberg, CEO and Founder of Assemble (and one of our speakers for Enabling Impact!), noted: "We’ve become very reactionary and short-term, and taking three days and taking a pause and thinking about how we lead is what [the conference] means to me. It’s Think Where You Stand while you’re here, and then I hope to leave and lead where you stand.”
2. A Place to Think Deeply
David Brooks, New York Times columnist and author of the best-selling book “The Road to Character,” served as the keynote speaker for LWYS. When interviewed about the conference, he talked about the fact that although college students primary occupation is to learn, it’s generally older people who need to set aside time for the kind of learning experience a conference offers.
“Students here are reading big books and they’re debating big ideas and they feel their minds expanding every day. And they get out into the real world, and they have spreadsheets and they have 9 million emails, and [they] don’t have the same mind-expanding experience [they] had in college. This [conference] is for people who are now ready to receive wisdom and relish just being around people and talking about ideas.” - David Brooks
Having this intentional space for deep thinking benefits anyone who’s able to attend, no matter their demographic: One of our developers, Nathan, highlighted Enrico Manlapig’s lecture on decision-making, explaining how he was inspired to put those principles into practice at the CATLab; Nolan Anderson, incoming president for the Westmont College Student Association, expressed his excitement to apply tools from the conference to his role in student government; Jeff Dykstra appreciated the stories and perspectives brought by David Brooks and Jon Meacham. “It’s refreshing,” said Hal Conklin, former Santa Barbara mayor, “to see a college really invest in leadership development not only for students but for the whole community.”
3. A Compelling Set of Speakers
When asked what made him want to come back to LWYS, Jeremy Norberg said, “It’s definitely the speakers.” He expressed admiration for Gayle Beebe and Reed Sheard’s “ability to assemble a diverse set of folks.” Elinore Ford, one of the student attendees, thought the conference was “a wonderful opportunity” to learn more about the business world, adding, “The conference is very specifically curated to bring in individuals from many different fields with diverse, international perspectives.” As one of our speakers summed up the conference:
“I think there are very few places you can come for a couple of days in as beautiful a setting as Montecito and hear this many different and high-caliber speakers. To hear someone like David Brooks speak three times… I’ve been to a lot of conferences around the world and have never seen the richness and depth of content” - Jeff Dykstra
Lead Where You Stand brought together business leaders, gave them a place to talk and think, and empowered people for leadership. Enabling Impact is similar: We’ve gathered together a group of experts in higher ed and technology, and the conference will be an opportunity to share ideas and build community. With a fresh collection of incredible speakers and the same great location, Enabling Impact is a conference you don’t want to miss. We can’t wait to see you there!
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