Student Leadership Conference held at UT
February 14, 2017
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“Dreams you want to talk about become fantasy, the dreams you work to live become a reality.”
These are the words of Frank Kitchen, who was voted one of “America’s Most Eligible Bachelors” in Complete Woman Magazine and asked to audition for ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Kitchen is a professional motivational speaker who has spoken for more than 500,000 people around the world.
As the keynote speaker for the 2017 Leadership Conference, Kitchen inspired University of Toledo students to live their dreams just last Saturday.
The conference, held in Memorial Field House Feb. 11 at 9:00 p.m., included a variety of leaders from different companies who provided students with advice on how to turn their dreams into a reality.
UT Blue Key member Samuel Duling introduced Kitchen as “as memorable as his last name with a recipe on life and leadership experienced by students, educators, volunteers, entrepreneurs and professionals around the world.”
To pay for his college education, Kitchen booked speakers as a college director of student activities, but his plans changed once his students talked him into becoming a motivational speaker.
“The most important thing I remember is that one of my students came up to me and said, ‘Frank, you always push us to go live our dreams, what are you doing to live yours?’” he said.
Since then, Kitchen has been traveling around the world talking to people about living their dreams. He said his ultimate goal is to educate, elevate and empower people to become great leaders.
“Every action you take comes out to your name,” said Kitchen.
Growing up with a 21-letter name (Frank Cornelius Kitchen), he said he did not feel especially awesome or unique as a teenager. However, that later changed as he learned that his parents saw him as a difference-maker and life changer.
He was named Frank after his father who served 30 years in the military. His middle name, Cornelius, was inspired by his grandfather who served in World War II and his last name is everyone’s favorite room in the house.
“If you are a difference maker and a life changer, people are going to remember you for your name and your actions,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen also said that every great leader’s vision starts with a dream and, after some planning, that dream turns into a goal. The first step to work toward your dream is to share it with others because there are people out there willing to help you live your dream.
He shared his dream about challenging himself and finishing a marathon for the first time.
“If you really want to be motivated, try to figure out how your dream can impact and help somebody else,” Kitchen said.
The second time he ran a marathon, he remained stronger, ran better and could not quit because he knew he was doing it to raise money for his mom who had recently had a stroke.
“This time I finished the race; I felt fresh,” Kitchen said.
This is what inspired his brand and the idea of being certified FRESH in order to reach your goals.
Kitchen said that you have to have a focus that everything in your life reflects. It is important to be resourceful so that you are willing to do everything in your power to reach your goal, be enthusiastic about everything surrounding your goal, remain strong mentally and be honest with yourself about your decisions.
“Success is living your own dream so you define what your dream is,” he said. “Don’t worry about comparing yourself to other people, you can learn from other people.”
Another leader who talked about the importance of building and learning from relationships with people was leader of Corporate Communication at Dana Inc., Jeffrey Cole.
Cole, who is a proud UT Grad and current UT trustee, has traveled to 53 countries, met influential leaders and built relationships with them.
Over the years, his travel experiences have opened him to cultural differences, made him less sensitive to being offended and allowed him to grow a thicker skin.
He advises students to also travel outside of the United States to build long-lasting relationships, see things from a different perspective and grow as individuals.
First-year nursing major Cassandra Fernandez was very inspired by Cole’s presentation. She said that he gave his life examples, shared his mistakes, and opened up his world to the students.
“Something I took away was to be open to other people and not be easily offended,” Fernandez said. “The world is a diverse place; everyone has standards of what is acceptable in a culture and what isn’t. If we work with people from different backgrounds, we have to be understanding of that.”
Founder and CEO of William Lucas Company, Will Lucas, told his story about dropping out of college six times. He said that most of the leadership positions he has held were without a college degree.
“Can you imagine what you can do with one?” he asked students.
Lucas said that students’ number one priority should not just be to develop themselves but to also find people who can go on their journey with them.
“There’s a universal principle that says that one can tackle one thousand, two can tackle ten thousand,” Lucas said.
He said the meaning behind this is that one person can multiply their efforts when they bring someone else along.
“Multiply by aspiring other people to come along in your journey,” he said.
Jeff Witt, diversity and inclusion specialist from the University of Michigan, spoke out about leadership brand being a specific part of who someone is as a person.
“If you’re going to build a leadership brand and you want to influence people around you with your leadership, your brand is first and foremost, and it has to be authentic,” he said.
He said that students should do self-exploration to find out who they are, be comfortable with themselves and build their brand around the six words that define them best.
“Any great leader who is truly living fresh, they don’t only talk about it as a fantasy, they want to live it and turn it into a reality,” said Kitchen.