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You are the Storyteller-in-Chief

“Your brand is your image, the promise you make, and the results you envision for your organization.” Never have Trish Rubin's words resonated more with me. Today at AASA, I encountered content and design thinking  compliments of some very different types of AASA “movers and shakers.”

First up, I had the pleasure to converse with National Superintendent Roundtable leaders, Dr. Theresa Rouse of Illinois (via California), and Ohio Superintendent Matthew Montgomery. These two come from very different backgrounds, but both share a deep belief in creating a support network for their colleagues, and tackling the larger issues of practice that impact superintendents and schools, from the social emotional issues their students face, to the political waves that wash over us all. I am both impressed and inspired by their proactive, positive pursuit to promote, protect and support their fellow colleagues around the nation. Theresa has been at this for over 22 years, Matt more than six years, but it doesn't really matter. They are both excellence-minded professionals with global perspectives, and grounded values.

Next up, and newly introduced to me at this conference finally, is dynamic writer and designer Trish Rubin. Trish knows a thing or two about branding. The co-author of BrandED with Eric Sheninger, Trish just gets “it.” While I had read the books she's authored, I had never met her until yesterday. Wow, what a guru of design thinking. Trish understands that Maslow comes before Marvel, less is more sometimes and “brand” and value are synonymous in the modern school. Ultimately, Trish promotes a vision that leadership is about being the “storyteller-in-chief” your district not only needs, but must have, to find success today.

After a quick lunch at Guisados, a famous Sunset Boulevard joint in Boyle Hts., there was my next Eduhero and AASA and Success Practices Network leader Bill Daggett, once again sharing what Graham Local Schools – 1 of 25 model Schools in America – already gets: it takes a fierce commitment to championing a student-centered culture with energetic staff leadership to build anything that lasts. And we have to get #FASTER! Daggett eschews the tired attitudes of those in society who feel have offered our learners enough. He advocates for capacity building and aggressive goal setting. He understands that collective impact drives capacity building and change so that our next generation of children are served better than ever before.

Finally, I received a voice message and a note from my colleague, Dr. Bobby Moore, CEO and chief consultant of the EPIC Impact Group. Keeping busy working with the staff of the Columbus City Schools, he reminds me of our work together. “Collaborative partners with the expertise of educators that have walked in our shoes, solved our similar problems and who respect the challenges of change management in education, are hard to find.” While he doesn't waste time sharing, some may not know what I know. This year has been trying for Bobby in many ways. He has battled through illness like a warrior, and I have tremendous respect for the endless enthusiasm and positive attitude he maintains in the face of it all. That's why we are working with his national organization called EPIC Impact, that meets us where we are, stretches us to dream big, the helps us develop an action plan for success.” His culture work with my district, and many others, is at it's heart, about changing your own mindset to grow. And that's his focus when he's leading. It takes a special type of leader to endure what Bobby has. He literally walks the talk, which I trust. And that trust is key to change for most people. Modeling the way is the best way.

In the end, that's what I took away from today. AASA has so many leaders who have a sharp focus on building trust. Some see that project through different lenses, no doubt, but they all get that they are the storytellers, and they must be willing to stretch, risk, fail and soar, to achieve their dreams, and to develop and support those around them.

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