April 2018 – Kelsey Kerce
Crave is a leadership program founded by Michele Van Son about a year ago. In my experience, I’ve found that Crave has two hemispheres: One is the external community — our connections to community partners, the learning that happens with experts and mentors in the community. The other is the internal Crave community, which quickly grew to feel like family. While there are two sides to Crave, I found these sides to be deeply connected.
Take, for example, my relationship with my mentor, Chev. Chevalier Lovett is the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Organize Florida. He sits on the board of Crave and was appointed as my “Learning Partner.” With this title, Chev quickly began to feed me his favorite kind of knowledge: books. Wonderful books that I now assign to my eager-to-grow friends and to my employees. While reading these books, I began practicing their messages at every opportunity — at bachelorette parties, at networking events, with my friends — which brought me to the clear realization that it’s important that these books impact my personal development as well as my career development. This also made me realize that these two life arenas are crucially connected.
I began doing a monthly executive coaching session with Chev, wherein he gave me direction for my work with Playground City, advice for being a better leader, and guidance on how to plan strategically. Chev is not the type of guy who’s afraid to tell you when you need to fix things, but he’s also one who doesn’t hold back praise for growth. When I realized that, I felt like a better leader within my organization. I also realized that I felt better at home. Like I said, the hemispheres are connected.
Perhaps what I love most about my job as Executive Director of Playground City are the relationships I get to build with other leaders in the community. For this reason, I love our community partner meetings. Crave leveraged opportunities for these community partners to meet with some of the most successful and influential people in Orlando, each of whom was eager to share his/her expertise with us.
At the same time I was participating in these meetings, I was working through a “Why?” and “How?” book alongside Michele and the leaders within the community. During this time, I’ve seen more vulnerability and bravery among strong leaders than I’ve ever seen in my life — and man, I can’t explain what an eye-opener that was. To admire these people so much, and to see that they’re feeling and thinking the same things that I do, gives me tremendous reassurance that I’m on the right track.
When I first enrolled in Crave, I didn’t understand that I was searching for something; but as the year passed, the pieces started coming together. As I conclude my term with Crave, I see a clear path ahead of me, a guide for all the learning I want to accomplish, and a mirror showing me the gifts I have to share with my community along the way.