Andy Stefanovich’s appearance at the Virginia Community Capital (VCC) Learning Session on December 15 created change from the earliest possible moment. During her introduction, VCC’s President and CEO Jane Henderson remarked on the speaker’s title: Chief Curator and Provocateur. “I feel like returning to my office and having everyone rethink their own titles,” Henderson suggested. And so began 80 minutes of alternative thinking presented to a blend of community development leaders and VCC staff.
“Let’s call this an anti-workshop,” Stefanovich signaled his bias against conventional business practices from the start. “It’s just a conversation.”
Drawing from a raucous collection of personal and professional anecdotes, Stefanovich led the group toward a vision of leadership for the coming years. In order to begin the journey, he offered ways to see the world differently, to look through a new lens. One way to take this step away from conventional patterns is through purposeful disruption. Stefanovich supplied colorful examples of the process in action.
"Therein lies the magic," says Stefanovich about inspiration.
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While occasional interactive exercises engaged the group of about 50 attendees, the typical goal here—to ensure continued attention—was not needed. The lively nature and message of the speaker had listeners looking forward to his next line, vivid metaphor, or startling revelation. He begged for leaders to “get out of the way,” allowing staff or partners, particularly those emerging into their professions, to fully express and explore their potential. He presented evidence that youthful imagination and expertise, particularly from the wired and wireless generation, can inspire novel solutions for complicated problems of their own times. He cited his own recipe for success: “Laugh, cry, and think a little each day.” With Stefanovich, emotion and passion are tools for better business and higher thinking.
This unique tack was noted by Steve Galyean, Development Director for Partnership Alliance Marketing at the Virginia Tourism Corporation, when he suggested: “Andy’s presentation caused me to stop and think about leadership and management in a different light. His delivery, at times comical and at other times deeply personal, strengthened his message.”
Another audience member, Trina Willard offered these thoughts on the session: “The Learning Session with Andy Stefanovich was an outstanding lesson in bringing creativity to leadership in business and life. His inspiring and dynamic message, delivered through personal stories of tapping into your own strengths, embracing authenticity, and perhaps most importantly, opening yourself up to learning from the people around you, was truly one of the best presentations I've seen in years!” Willard is a principal with Knowledge Advisory Group, a Mechanicsville, Virginia, firm providing tailored and flexible measurement solutions designed to improve decision-making, enhance efficiency, and demonstrate effectiveness.