By Ashley Lin and Sophie Burtman
Did you attend #NFLC18 this year? Designed to help members create, lead, and inspire, the National Fall Leadership Conferences are weekend-long events held in three locations around the nation each year. This past November, FBLA members united in Chicago, Illinois (November 2–3), Albuquerque, New Mexico (November 9–10), and Charlotte, North Carolina (November 16–17). If you weren’t able to make it, no worries. You’ll have another change at #NFLC19, and dates/locations are already up on the website here. In the meantime, we’ll be discussing the highlights of #NFLC18 in this article, specifically keynote speakers, workshops, and attendee interviews - featuring members themselves!
1. Keynote Speakers
Once again, this year’s keynote speakers for our Opening and Closing sessions were excellent! With messages ranging from encouraging students to take ownership of their lives and ambitions to showing our members that a single moment in time can change a person’s life, conferences attendees were able to walk away emboldened with a new confidence in themselves and their abilities. Without further ado, let us get into the speakers!
Brandon Lee White was born unable to even speak, but now is able to share his journey from an outcast to becoming school president, as well as his personal struggles. For six years, he battled with depression and the feeling of being an “unmotivated motivational speaker.” He uses his experience to help students overcome the tough, achieve the tough, and become tougher because of it. His message of “Love the Tough and Own It” aims to teach teens to take ownership of who they are, what they want and what holds them back. Throughout his career, Brandon has spoken at schools, the National Association of Student Councils, 4-H, and Career and Technical Student Organizations, such as FCCLA, HOSA, DECA, FFA, SkillsUSA, and, of course, FBLA. He spoke at Opening Sessions of the NFLCs in both Chicago and Charlotte.
Carlos V. Spencer grew up playing sports and was captain of every team he ever participated in. He was a natural-born leader and later was chosen to be the class representative to lead his class and speak at graduation at his NYS police academy, becoming the first African American to do so since 1917 when the state police was first established. As a speaker, his goal is to motivate, to change, and to empower the listeners. He spoke at the NFLCs Chicago and Charlotte for the Closing Sessions of each conference.
Clint Pulver is what you could call a “jack of all trades.” He received his pilot’s licence from OK3air and Utah Valley University (UVU) and his Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication, also from UVU. During college, he held numerous leadership positions. He is also a professional drummer and was recently awarded UVU’s distinguished Young Alumni Award. In the past, he has appeared on America’s Got Talent and in several feature films. His background is in professional business and sales and includes five years as a top producing sales representative and distribution manager in the Medical Device, Capital Equipment, Disposables, and Pharmacogenetic Industries. He is an entrepreneur who is experienced in the areas of business start-up, sales management, management training, negotiations, and growing multi-million dollar accounts. When Clint speaks, his aim is challenge people to believe in themselves and in the power of others. He believes that a single moment in time can change a person’s life. He spoke at the Opening Session at Albuquerque’s NFLC.
Frank Kitchen was born in Germany to a U.S. Army father and, as a child, constantly moved from place to place. He is the third African American to earn the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist designation from the National Auctioneers Association. His career entails making keynote speeches, conducting educational workshops, and leading training programs; all of which are designed to educate, elevate, and empower leaders, entrepreneurs, and educators to produce positive results in their communities, organizations, schools, and workplaces. In his spare time, he demonstrates his passion for servant leadership by spending his time working with nonprofit organizations. Frank spoke at the NFLC in Albuquerque during the Closing Session.
As Dumbledore sang in the Hogwarts song, “our heads could do with filling, with some interesting stuff” - and nowhere can FBLA find more interesting stuff than at NFLC. Our unique workshops are sourced from the greatest minds around the nation, and are designed specifically with members in mind. From exclusive tracks for the FBLA Middle Level program, to special State Officer and FBLA Foundations tracks, NFLC workshops strive to meet members where they are at. Even more exciting, workshop presenters were a group of business professionals from diverse industries, and we even heard from some student presenters as well!
For those of you at the Chicago NFLC, did you see the FBLA's Role in Legislative Affairs workshop? Hosted by the FBLA Student Representative for Government Affairs, Steven Segel, the workshop shared how FBLA members can effectively communicate with federal and state legislators, as well as advocate for CTSOs. As state legislature sessions start in the new year, we look forward to seeing chapters implement this knowledge! Other workshops Chicago NFLC featured included shark tank, an inside look at running Harvard Student Agencies (the world’s largest student run company), as well how to construct your college app narrative.
If you attended the Albuquerque NFLC, did you see the Making the Most out of Meetings workshop lead by National Parliamentarian, Michael Zhao? There, members learned how to run efficient and effective meetings using Parliamentary Procedure (missed it? No worries - ask your State Parliamentarian for an update)! Additionally, other workshops offered included strengthening chapter partnerships with March of Dimes, acting with integrity to build your personal brand, video communication essentials, and more.
At the Charlotte NFLC, a huge workshop hit was “Kiki, doth thee loveth me?” hosted by a few Middleton FBLA chapter officers from Florida. Here, members learned how to most effectively combine professionalism and friendliness for the ideal member communication mix - an interesting topic relatable for every chapter! Other workshops held at Charlotte included everything from how to create a LinkedIn profile, to unwritten rules and etiquette in the professional workplace, to learning how Wall Street works. Sound interesting? We’ll see you at #NFLC19!
3. Attendee Interviews
Introducing perhaps the most important part of our conference - our attendees! From National Officers to Middle-Level members, students from around the nation came together to make #NFLC18 the best one yet. Huge shout out to our hosting state officer teams in Illinois, New Mexico, and North Carolina, as well as the National Officers and National Staff who invested their time in designing the most most valuable experience possible. @NFLC18 attendees come from all different states, different perspectives, and different walks of life. Let’s hear what our members thought about their NFLC experience!
One North Carolina state officer, Abby Key, shared her experiences not attending one, but two NFLCs in Albuquerque and Charlotte. Serving as part of the host state officer team provided a peek “behind-the-scenes” of NFLC, such as facilitating workshops, and meeting National Staff members such as the famous Ms. Smothers. Abby shared “the workshops were coordinated, organized, the material presented was valuable… the keynote speaker was phenomenal at inspiring students,” and that attending NFLC was an opportunity she would not have traded for any other.
Kennedy Shereck, who currently serves on the North Dakota State Officer team and as Membership Director on the Mountain Plains Regional Council, attended her first ever NFLC this year in Albuquerque. “This was my first NFLC and I was not disappointed,” she said. “It was amazing.” She remembers the keynote speakers being very entertaining. She said of Pulver, “He took what he had and made an opportunity of it. . . We need to be helping people see their potential and the opportunities they have.” One of the standout workshops she attended was called “Lead Meetings that aren’t Snoozefests” by Jeff Becker. As a local chapter president, Kennedy felt that this workshop helped her learn how to lead meetings that keep members engaged and attentive.
The atmosphere at the conference was one of her favorite aspects of NFLC. “I felt so welcome. . . If it had been another organization, I don’t know if I would have felt so welcome as the only person from my state. . . And National Officers are just amazing.” In her opinion, the best part was, “definitely meeting and visiting with everybody. Meeting people has always been my favorite part of FBLA.” When asked what she would say to members who may be considering attending an NFLC in the future, Kennedy immediately responded, “Do it. You won’t regret it.”
As you can see, attending an NFLC is an incredibly valuable and rewarding experience for FBLA members. Whether you like to take notes at workshops or interact with members across the country, there is something for every kind of person. Although it is fun to travel and sightsee in the host cities, the lessons learned and the bonds formed between members are strong enough to last a lifetime. The National Fall Leadership Conferences provide the perfect opportunity for members to strengthen their leadership skills and network with other students from all over the nation. We hope to see you next year in either Washington, D.C., Birmingham, Alabama, or Denver, Colorado!