June eNews Guest Editor – Melissa VanSickle (LT 29), Chair, Board of Governors

I thought a lot about Leadership Tallahassee recently when I was watching a Seinfeld episode.  Jerry and George were discussing Jerry’s new man crush, professional baseball player Keith Fernandez, who Jerry recently befriended. The gang laments how hard it is to make friends once you are an adult.  Jerry says, “the group that you’ve got now, that’s who you’re going with” (as compared to when you were a kid and can be friends with anyone).  He goes on:  “If someone’s in front of my house NOW, That’s my friend, they’re my friend. That’s it. Are you a grown up? No. Great! Come on in. Jump up and down on my bed.” 

Isn’t that true? In school, we are around our classmates day in and day out, sometimes over the course of years. We see them in classes in the hallway and at afterschool events; on the weekend at birthday parties and events. Even if you were not a social kid in high school, you couldn’t help but become familiar with some of the people around you.

In college you probably spent a lot of time hanging out with your roommates and their friends. Didn’t you stay up late and talk for hours about things that were important in your life? In law school, my study group became my closest circle of friends and we would debate issues for days.

But then we grow up, graduate and move on to our professional lives where we are governed by deadlines, turf wars, ambition, new relationships, and eventually for many of us, children.  Our friendships become secondary and are often born out of convenience.

In some weird way, I think this might have been what attracted me to Leadership Tallahassee years ago. At the time, and the urging of my sister, Erin VanSickle (also a Leadership Tallahassee  alum) I applied to Leadership Tallahassee for the professional relationships and resume boost: the prestige of being selected for such a premier organization. In hindsight, I think part of me might have been looking for the personal relationships as well. I was newly single, had recently changed jobs, and was in a transition time in my life. It’s possible, whether I knew it or not, that I sought new friendships for the next chapter in my life.

And that is exactly what I got. Over the course of our program days, I came to know and respect my classmates.  We took advantage of the rare opportunity, in our adult  lives, to debate important issues with new colleagues, and make an impact to the community, all while fine tuning our leadership skills.

So what do we do now that our Leadership Tallahassee  class days are over? It turns out that most of us know.  A recent survey conducted by Leadership Tallahassee  determined that more than 50% of our 1,100 graduated are engaged in our organization. In fact, Barbara Boone and Amanda Wiggins will be at the Association of Leadership Programs National Conference in a few short weeks to talk about our record engagement in their talk titled “Parrot heads, Beliebers and the Beyhive: How to Create a Fan Culture Among Your Program Alumni”. 

Even after graduation, Leadership Tallahassee offers you a chance to be like a kid and make new friends. Plan to come to an upcoming Leadership Tallahassee Membership Luncheon or Fall Social Hour to see for yourself.  I will see you there!

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