Black Meetings and Tourism

May/June 2012

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SITE REVIEW #2 GETTING ASPEN INSTITUTE OUT OF THE THE MOST what you always got. Or, you could have your next meeting at the Aspen Institute and you and your participants could come away with a life-changing experience. Since 1950 theAspen Institute, housed atAspenMeadows Y Resort (a Dolce Resort), has hosted a unique and transfor- mative two-week leadership program that has been attended by heads of state and corporate leaders from around the world. The program, which has since been reduced to six days, has sessions that are based on readings of the classics – everything from Chekhov to Martin Luther King Jr. Created by industrialist, Walter Paepcke, whose thought was to bring together some of America's top leaders to exchange ideas,motivate and instill in them another point of view, the leadership program, called the Aspen Seminar, is unlike any other,which makes it one of the most popular and one of the most effective. With text-based dialogue, the purpose of the Aspen Seminar is to challenge leaders to think more analytically and intensely about what they call "the good society". The leadership program is not designed to pacify by any means. Its purpose is to encourage though-provoking dia- logue that can increase one's leadership qualities. It's all about a conversation! Before attending the program, participants are sent a reading list that includes some of world's most critical thinkers and philosophers.The reading is not easy. In fact, it's anything but. But it stimulates a dialogue that reveals some personal characteristics from the participants. The readings, which are not designed to lead you to any particular conclu- sion, form the focus and content of the Socratic discussions. "Our hope is that the seminar will help you develop your internal compass," said Todd Breyfogle, director of seminars at The Aspen Institute. Moderated by Breyfogle, the leadership program, con- ducted as participants look out onto the Colorado moun- tains, actually begins with a group dinner that is designed to disarm and relax. At the gathering attendees are asked to reveal something about themselves that can't be found on their resume. It sounds simple enough, however, for some, 34 By DARLENE DONLOE ou can have an ordinary meeting, or you can have an extraordinary meeting. You can do what you've always done and get it's a struggle. Do we define ourselves by our work or by our lives? Are they one in the same? It's a simple, but poignant query. From the beginning the leadership program requires everyone to do a self- examination. The next day, armed with the readings, a skilled moderator and 15-20 attendees sit around a confer- ence table and begin to dissect such classic and con- temporary readings as "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King Jr., "The Danger of a Single Story," by Chimamanda Adichie, "Nicomachean Ethics" by Aristotle, Machiavelli's "The Prince" and Anton Chekhov's "Gooseberries." Heady reading indeed! The moderator's aim is to cultivate three com- plementary conversations: a conversation with the ages; a conversation with your fellow participants Aspen Sky Mountain Reflection and a conversation within yourself about what constitutes true meaning. After what can become an intense discussion, participants can emerge renewed, refocused and ready. The Institute is designed to help leaders clarify their core values and those of their organizations, build teams of trust and vision, deepen and broad- en their thinking about fundamental values and global trends, develop stronger institutional and personal clarifications of purpose and reassess fundamental components of work-life balance. "The Institute's unique method of text-based Black Meetings & Tourism May/June 2012:

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