Back in July 2014, YoungPro Elite was a big idea… A dream.
Fast forward to November 2015 and YoungPro Elite now has the inaugural graduates of the program.
They’re the founding members. We call them…
The YPE 9s. They include:
- Dan Andrews (Chapter President) – YPE Member #1
- Kate Stromberg – YPE Member #2
- Max Milhan – YPE Member #3
- Hilary Morgan – YPE Member #4
- Kristin Brogaard – YPE Member #5
- Max Jordan – YPE Member #6
- Leslie Hebron – YPE Member #7
- Katie Leimkuehler – YPE Member #8
- Tasha Haselden – YPE Member #9
Over the past year the 9’s met every month where we completed the course curriculum along with helping each other overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities in our careers.
The curriculum consisted of the following modules:
- Vision + Goals
- Core Beliefs + Values
- Personal Branding
- Relationships + Networking
- Communication + Presentation Skills
- Wealth + Finance
- Health + Fitness
- Adverse Management
While the 9’s will continue to meet every month, last week Dan put together one final event for the year to celebrate what we had all accomplished together.
During the event, two things happened that took me by surprise.
First, as we were going around the table talking about our experiences over the past year, we recognized that everyone either got a promotion at work, left a job they didn’t like and landed a job that they were real excited about or ventured out on their own to start a new company.
Second, I was presented with a real thoughtful card that detailed the 9’s experience as members of YPE.
I’ve shared their thoughts below (leaving out names for privacy):
1 – YoungPro Elite gave me a perspective on my career that very few people have the opportunity to learn so early on: that purposeful self-awareness and planning give you a massive advantage. The program and my peers helped me ask the right questions to systematically break down the barriers I had in place that were holding me back. Those same techniques apply beyond career and into your personal life as well.
2 – By definition, a leader is “the person who leads or commands a group, organization or country.” Blake, you are much more than that. You are selfless, dedicated and a passionate visionary who will stop at nothing to advocate for young pros of the millennial generation. You are a champion. From young pros to Fortune 500 execs, your reach penetrates far beyond those who have participated in the program. You have created unwavering ambassadors of the brand. If that’s not success, I’m not sure what is.
It is honestly hard to put my appreciation into words. Thank you for creating YoungPro Elite and enabling us to learn and grow – both personally and professionally. It has been both an honor and a privilege, my friend. I cannot wait to see what’s next.
3 – I am thrilled to write this note to express my gratitude for the YoungPro Elite program over the past 12 months. Than you for offering such a fantastic course to our Denver Chapter.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, this program coincided with such an important time in my own evolution as a young professional. Starting my own business and taking the leap of faith to quit my salaried job was a huge risk and the program helped me navigate the transition. The modules and coursework forced me to examine my own core beliefs and values, leadership, organization, personal brand, finances and the list goes on. YoungPro Elite gave me the opportunity to implement new thought patterns and behavior that continue to positively influence both my professional and personal life. I’ve read the books that people suggest to help in professional development but this course brought the concepts to life in a way I had not experienced.
Thank you for your energy and effort on YoungPro Elite. I have not only gained from the program, but also made a great new group of friends that I trust will be in my life for many years to come.
4 – Thank you for taking the courageous step to focus on YoungPro Elite as your profession. While it may have stretched your comfort zone at times and pushed you to explore your own boundaries, you may not be fully aware of the people that were impacted because of believing in yourself and taking a risk. For that I am very grateful.
The information I learned and friendships I made at YoungPro Elite have benefitted me personally and professionally. They will last a lifetime. YoungPro Elite really made me dace my business and life realities. As an entrepreneur, every day is literally what you make of it. You can’t go to the office, space out for the day and still get paid. Every talent you have, as well as personal flaw, is front and center. YoungPro Elite has helped me identify those areas, work through them and achieve more! Whether it was helping prioritize my day, analyzing my business sense, overcoming fears, or creating a support network of great friends, none of that would have happened if you hadn’t chosen to take this leap of faith.
Thank you for challenging yourself and striving for more because it has produced those same results in countless others. I, for one, am very thankful and blessed to have been part of the founding Chapter of YoungPro Elite – Denver.
5 – Your understanding of the challenges I face was incredible and brought great clarity to my life. Equally as valuable as the training and resources YoungPro Elite provide, was leading your peers by example. After getting to know you more over the past year, I believe you embody the saying, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Your talent is only surpassed by your compassion and dedication to helping others.
6 – Many people look to you in admiration. Your work ethic overshadows us common folk but it’s your moral compass, which makes you a role model to so many. You’re a good dude all around and people see that. You’re not selling gizmos, you’re not trying to feed your ego and you’re not waiting for life to happen to you. You’re creating the life you want and you’re trying to make a difference in the lives of young pros. Your struggles challenged you, it’s obvious, and so you built a program to hopefully prevent other young pros to experience your same struggles. You will go far, my friend, and you’ve helped in so many ways already. I look forward to continuing this amazing friendship with you and let’s go show the world what we can do! I would not be where I am today without your help. Thank you.
7 – Rarely do you come across a person who is as driven as you are Blake – it has been incredible to watch you create and grow YoungPro Elite over the past year and a half. I feel privileged to have been a part of the first Chapter and I know many young pros around the country will benefit from YoungPro Elite in the future. You are a generous leader Blake. Thank you for providing both guidance and encouragement to our generation, we need it! Keep up the hard work but don’t forget to love the life you are living! Thank you for being a great mentor and friend.
8 – It has been a pleasure to get to know you over the past year. I admire how hard you have worked on this remarkable YoungPro Elite project and can see the passion you have poured into it. I want to thank you for including me in the program and it has been wonderful over the year to get to know our little peer group and gain some new friends. I’ve always believed that setting goals is an important part of life but being in a group that has allowed me to focus on those goals, while also developing other topics and learning about different skills and development points has been an awesome experience. Thanks for letting us ‘test’ the program out and for all the hard work you have put into it. From the past year, I know this program is going to be a success and that it will have value for a lot of other people just like it has for me.
I look forward to keeping in touch with you and the group for a long while and want to thank you again for including me.
9 – Thanks so much for organizing YoungPro Elite. I know it took a lot of time and effort on your part and we all really appreciate the work you put into it. I definitely gained a lot of value from the content, discussions, and meeting a solid network for individuals interested in advancing their careers and helping others. I truly hope we can continue to meet with the group going into the next year in some way. Thanks for being the connecting force for the group and consistently providing value and insights for me both inside and outside of YoungPro Elite.
Your positive attitude, dedication to the program and genuine personality, really made the entire experience that much better. It’s definitely not easy, especially for me to network in the traditional settings so I appreciated the format and structure of YoungPro Elite where it was easy to meet people in an authentic way. Looking forward to see where it will go in the future! I know you will do great things with it and I’ll be happy to continue to support YoungPro Elite in any way I can.
Now I don’t share these comments because of a need for recognition. In fact, I was hesitant to share them but one of my friends made a strong argument for it.
It should also be mentioned that if anyone deserves credit for what the 9’s have accomplished it goes to the 9’s and to Dan Andrews for doing an extraordinary job of leading our group. After all, they’re the ones who had the courage to take control of their careers and finish what they started.
The reason I share these comments is to stress the importance of young pros getting involved within a peer group; surrounding yourself with a group of people who will not only hold you to a higher standard but will always be there for you, good times and bad.
Yes it can be uncomfortable to open up to your peers with what’s going on in your career. It can also be somewhat scary to share your vision / goals and then have your peers hold you accountable.
Yet it’s in these times of discomfort and fear where we experience the greatest levels of growth as young pros along with creating genuine, meaningful relationships that will last throughout our careers.
This was one of the many lessons I learned this past from the YPE 9’s and for that I will forever be grateful to them.