My name is Stone James, and currently I am a Director of Economic Development for the City of Cathedral City. I am also a doctoral student with USC's Doctor of Policy, Planning and Development class, and I've had the honor of being part of EML Cohort 12. This is my experience.
What I found so compelling about this EML cohort is the intentionality in which it brought people together, and of the safe environment that it created for true, introspective discussion and reflection. It enabled us to think about where we are as individuals, where we want to go, where we came from, and then to know that we have a number of bright, similarly-minded people who care about us and want us to succeed.
"One of the things that's beautiful about it is the diversity of the people within the program. It brings together people who are bright, good-hearted, motivated and intelligent, from vastly different backgrounds."
It gives you a perspective that you ordinarily wouldn't have, whether that be if you were to query your family or friends or even the folks within your day job or if you're civically active. The experience with the cohort has been amazing because it gives you an opportunity to extend to different people, and meet and develop friendships with people that you ordinarily wouldn't develop close friendships with.
I have had good fortune. This is the second time that I've been at USC. The first time, I had earned a Master's of Real Estate about 15 years ago, and we had a small class of about 33. What I had explained to the cohort 12, and feel very fortunate to be part of cohort 12, is the fact that you truly have the opportunity to develop friendships that will last you a lifetime.
And so, now it's been 15 years since I left the MRED program, and there are people that I still speak with on a frequent basis. That program brought together very intelligent, good-hearted, like minded, motivated people with diverse backgrounds. And so, they have had a wonderfully positive impact on my life, and they have helped me and helped my family, and specifically I have a wonderful little girl.
There was a couple of them that I called on in a very difficult time, and the things that they were able to help me do for my little girl I'll never be able to repay. That was the power of me having been a part of that program, and I've tried to encourage the folks with this program that truly the more you put into it, the more you'll get out.
"[EML] can positively impact your life and you can positively impact other peoples' lives beyond what you could ever expect."
How to Apply Leadership Training at Work
One of the things that I have really enjoyed about this EML program so far is that what I learned on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, many times in the last two semesters I have been able to apply on Monday morning, and apply it in a real, impactful, and meaningful way.
Dr. Geffner also deserves a lot of credit for the success of the program. She's alluded to it in previous cohorts, the EML experience impacts all of your relationships, whether that be your marriage, or if you're a parent, a friend, a daughter, a son, or the coworker.
And so, I am taking the experiences that I'm learning in the cohort and I'm applying them in my role as a trustee for my daughter's school, at my organization as a Director, and as a Reserve Deputy for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
These lessons are vastly applicable. It's been wonderful to pick up these leadership skills. What field doesn't require really strong leadership skills, whether that's you as an individual, whether you're working in a team, or whether you're trying to lead an organization?
There's leadership at every level.
You're developing a better sense of who you are as a person, what's important to you, why you operate the way you operate, and then in turn how you can help influence, coach, and motivate the people around you in whatever capacity you're serving.