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Creighton faculty inspire at Young Professionals Summit

Inspire others. Empower yourself. Unite a community.

These were the messages shared at the 2017 Greater Omaha Young Professionals (YP) Summit held at the CenturyLink Center on March 9. More than 1,500 young professionals from various companies and career fields convened to connect and be inspired by leaders and change-makers in the Omaha community. The Greater Omaha Chamber organized the YP Summit; Creighton University was the lead sponsor.

“If you don’t need other people to help you, your dream isn’t big enough,” said Todd Darnold, PhD, associate professor in the Heider College of Business.

Darnold was one of three Creighton professors to hold breakout sessions at the summit. Each Creighton session sought to empower and enlighten young professionals. Beverly Kracher, PhD, the Robert B. Daugherty Endowed Chair in Business Ethics and Society in the Heider College of Business, was one of four professionals on the “Busting Blind Spots with Trustees Panel.”

Creighton also had a spot in the “Engagement Space,” where young professionals were encouraged to think of “my next step” whether it is to volunteer in the community or earn an advanced degree. They were able to learn of Creighton’s opportunities in the Graduate School and the Heider College of Business, and be inspired to continue their education.

Focusing on management, Darnold encouraged managers to “create an environment where people can flourish.”

His session, “The Minimalist Manager: Working with Purpose,” explained how minimalism is not defined by living in a tiny house, but by being driven only by what’s meaningful.

“Simply doing and having more won’t make you happy,” Darnold said. “You’re happiest when engaged in meaningful activities.”

Likewise, managers need to create an environment that supports personal and professional growth.

“Everyone deserves to believe that they can successfully complete their work,” Darnold said.

Leah Georges, PhD, assistant professor in the Graduate School, along with Jennifer Moss Breen, PhD, associate professor in the Graduate School, held a session titled “The Power of Followership,” discussing the importance of leaders and followers in an organization.

They began by showing a video of a man dancing at the Sasquatch Music Festival in 2009. At first, the man danced alone, but soon, another man eager to dance just as wildly joined him. Once one man joined, a crowd soon followed.

To be a leader, “be the first one to dance,” Georges said.

But is it a bad thing to be a follower? Not at all, said Georges. Get rid of the negative connotation, she advised.

“It takes guts to be the first follower,” Georges said. “It’s an underappreciated form of leadership.”

The best leaders, Breen said, are the best followers before they are leaders.

“If you want to be a powerful leader, be a powerful follower first,” Breen said.

And the best leaders rely on their followers.

“Be your leader’s wingman,” Georges said.

Other sessions included the “State of the City” forum, which brought together business and political leaders who addressed current issues and future plans for Omaha. Mayoral incumbent Jean Stothert and mayoral candidate Heath Mello both spoke of their desire to keep young professionals in the city.

The summit ended with a keynote address from Ari Shapiro, an award-winning journalist and co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, who spoke on the power of storytelling.

“Stories helped me make sense of the world we share with one another,” Shapiro said.

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