Learning from LEAD
October 12-13, 2018 we had 18 brothers attend LEAD in Minneapolis, MN and met up with a couple alumni while there. Read about Matthew Kaiser's first time at LEAD and Joe Shaver's 12th time.
I decided to go to LEAD this semester because I wanted to gain knowledge about the fraternity that I had recently joined. I was not sure what the weekend would entail, but my brothers reassured me that it would be worth it. On the morning we left, everyone in my car was in high spirits. The car ride was long but fun and as soon as we got to our hotel we immediately checked in and dropped our bags in our rooms. Then went to the first event. The first night was pretty laid back and made me feel more at ease about the weekend overall. The networking event had a DJ, and people were dancing and talking. I met some brothers from other chapters and found it interesting talking about the similarities and differences between our chapters, mainly how they worked with a larger or smaller chapter. It also made me proud of Iota Nu’s representation at LEAD. We were able to bring 18 brothers from our chapter which is more than many other chapters are able to bring.
The next morning everyone was up early and getting dressed in business professional, trying to prepare for the busy day ahead. The first event of the day speaker Adam Carroll. I thought it was a great way to start because he was a very engaging and entertaining speaker that helped us wake up and get excited for the day. Over the course of the day, I went to a variety of breakout sessions that consisted of fraternity matters, professionalism, and personal development. It surprised me that they had sessions solely focused on helping the individual. I had only been expecting events about Delta Sigma Pi. The day ended up flying by, but in a short amount of time I had learned a lot, met new people, and gained insights that I could take back with me to Truman. After the last sessions had ended, the Iota Nu brothers met up and discussed what we had learned. There were so many events that one person wouldn’t be able to experience them all so it was nice to talk with those that had gone to events I hadn’t been able to. After we discussed everything, we split into groups to tour Minneapolis. My group ended up spending a lot of time at the Mall of America. I had been there before when I was much younger, but it was a very different experience going with friends and exploring as much as we could. We ate dinner at the Mall of America, and just talking and joking over dinner ended up being an awesome brotherhood experience that I shared with them. Even when the mall closed at 9:30 we still weren’t done. After the mall, we went to Culver’s for ice cream and kept the brotherhood going. It was a lot fun talking to and learning new stuff about the people in my chapter.
The next morning, it was time to go back to Truman. Before we left, however, a group of us wanted one last experience in Minneapolis. So we checked out of our rooms and went to Minnehaha Park. There is a waterfall there that you can view from the top and the bottom. We walked around for a bit before we started our journey back to Kirksville. I knew I would be sitting for the next seven hours, so it was nice to stretch my legs and take pictures with everyone in front of the waterfall. It had started snowing that morning and after everyone had started getting cold we went to leave. The car ride back was just as fun as the one going to LEAD. Everyone still seemed in high spirits, despite sharing a car for close to 15 hours in one weekend, and it was a lot of fun spending the time talking to some of my brothers that I hadn’t been as close to before the trip.
When I signed up for LEAD, I expected to learn more about the fraternity. While that is absolutely true of LEAD, I also gained so much more from it. I met new people, gained new insights and ideas about activities my chapter could do, found out new ways to prepare myself for life after college in my career, and became closer friends with my brothers. My first LEAD has greatly exceeded my expectations, and I cannot wait for the next one.
I was initiated into Delta Sigma Pi in the spring of 2013. Over the past five and a half years, I’ve attended 12 LEAD events, two Grand Chapter Congresses, and two national leadership retreats. My experiences and reasons for going to these events have changed a lot over a short amount of time.
My first LEAD was in Indianapolis with four fellow Iota Nu’s in the fall of 2013. I honestly don’t remember much about the event itself. We left in the evening on Friday, got to Indianapolis around 1am Saturday, drove around on a one-way street for a while wondering why everyone was flashing their lights at us, and eventually got to the hotel but had to switch rooms because they gave us the wrong one. We got up a few hours later for the actual event and left immediately following closing that evening, getting back to Kirksville hours later, one brother getting sick in the car from pure exhaustion. So the trip was memorable, not really the LEAD event, but everything throughout the weekend makes up the full experience!
That being said, my reasons for going to events stayed the same for a few years: wanting to meet and network with brothers from across the area and country, getting to spend more time with friends in Iota Nu, and professional and personal development through the breakout sessions. And as I quickly learned – they’re fun and enjoyable! Besides Indianapolis, I also attended LEADs in Little Rock, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, during my collegiate years. In the middle of those was also my first Grand Chapter Congress (GCC) experience, held just outside Chicago. As a collegian, I thought GCC was one of the coolest events I’d ever been to: here I was with over 1,000 other brothers, all there to network and grow together. It’s hard to explain GCC without going yourself, but it’s basically a longer LEAD with more sessions, more activities, and more brotherhood! My last LEAD as a collegiate was in the fall of 2015. This was my fourth LEAD plus GCC, so I wanted to do more than attend sessions. I decided to volunteer at the Leadership Foundation table most of the day, getting to meet people in a new way—not just asking for money for Fraternity programs but also educating fellow students on the scholarship programs and the benefits of giving back to an organization that has done so much for you. At that LEAD, I also met a Central Office staff member and ended up having what turned into a preliminary interview for a new position that didn’t yet exist at the Central Office. Remember – you’re always networking! After a phone interview a few weeks later and a trip to Oxford after graduation, I started working at the Central Office on February 1, 2016.
Since joining staff, obviously my experiences at LEADs have changed, mainly that I now help run the LEADs that I attend. But I’m not forced to go to LEADs, so the reasons I go only grew. I still go to network and to build myself professionally and personally, but I also go to travel to new places around the country, to continually grow friendships that have lasted over the years and that will last for years to come, and to make a lasting impact on those attending, whether that’s being kind and helpful to a new brother who’s attending LEAD for the first time or having meaningful conversations with a Past Grand President about ritual and what we can do to make it better. I’ve been to an additional eight LEADs, one GCC, and two retreats since joining staff, bringing me to new cities like Dallas, Denver, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Albuquerque, constantly meeting more Deltasigs and making new friends and connections.
Some advice for brothers, new or old: go to a LEAD, even if it’s by yourself. Break out of your comfort zone to meet new people, explore new places, and learn new things!