It’s been an incredible 5-years, here are some of our biggest moments during the 5-years
PGC Basketball SNAPS
Are you familiar with PGC Basketball? I’ve forever said I believe PGC Basketball has the best culture of any organization I’ve been around. In June 2015 PGC held their SNAPS Leadership Conference in Texas. I was invited to speak in a couple sessions and although Lead ‘Em Up hadn’t officially launched yet (not until August), through my work on the Hardwood Hustle and leadership work with my local team, they trusted me enough to speak. In many ways, the SNAPS weekend helped serve as the launching pad for the early momentum with Lead ‘Em Up.
The weekend was incredible and was able to build some (and strengthen other) great relationships.
The Game On Nation Partnership
As we approached the launch of Lead ‘Em Up I had the opportunity to build a friendship with Steve Shenbaum. Steve owned a company called Game On Nation, a leadership organization based out of Bradenton, FL that utilizes games and activities to teach leadership & character. Admittedly the Lead ‘Em Up curriculum wasn’t as strong then as it now so I approached Steve about licensing a portion of his curriculum and incorporating it in with ours. This would help our product offering be stronger from the outset.
Steve and his team agreed and we partnered for the first few years of Lead ‘Em Up. Their curriculum added so much life to Lead ‘Em Up. It was incredible.
From a personal level, the opportunity to work together with Steve, Blair and the entire Game On team for 3-years provided a level of education, mentorship (and friendship) that people enroll into prestigious universities with the hope of receiving. I was able to see up close and personal a group who’s done leadership work at the highest level conduct their business, build curriculum and serve their clients. I learned so much from them during this time. What a great experience for me and Lead ‘Em Up. I believe it was equally fruitful and valuable for them as well.
If you aren’t familiar with Game On, you need to check them out here: https://www.gameonnation.com/
Spalding Basketball IQ
As we approached year two of Lead ‘Em Up our friend Jayson Wells (PGC Basketball Director and Nike Elite Coordinator) was hired by Spalding to lead all their basketball coaching for their summer NBA Basketball IQ Camps. The Spalding Basketball IQ camps consisted of 5-camps across the country connected to their Spalding-sponsored athletes (Chris Paul, Damien Lilliard, DeMar DeRozan, Chauncey Billups and Larry Hughes). During the planning process, Jayson presented a desire to have a leadership portion included in the camp. He said Lead ‘Em Up was his #1 recommendation. Spalding agreed.
For the next couple years we had a chance to travel the country working camps from Compton, California, to Winston-Salem with multiple stops in between.
These were special 1-day events where we’d invite in large groups of athletes in a specific region and give them an experience unlike anything they had ever experienced. Spalding was terrific. Their event partners at Relevant began friends. And the Spalding Summers were special.
Shout-out to Jayson Wells for making this happen.
Glazier Leadership Partnership
I love the story of our partnership with Glazier as I believe its a testament to hard work and a result of what happens when you focus on building something special; it allows you to attract, instead of chasing.
I’ve been familiar with Glazier since forever. As a former football player, I recall my coaches going to Glazier clinics forever ago.
When we first started Lead ‘Em Up the thought of teaming up with Glazier was a goal. Of course it was. In fact, I reached out at one point and attempted. They naturally viewed me as they would any other “vendor” and led me to their marketing packages, which was far beyond our current budget. So we did nothing.
A few years later as we continued to build, Glazier got wind of us and the work we were doing so they invited me to speak at a few of their clinics. Fast forward and now we speak at their clinics all throughout the country, we host their exclusive leadership coaching events, we led their first ever Captains Academy and they recently reached out about partnering on a new co-branded Captains Course for Athletes later this year.
The story of Glazier and Lead ‘Em Up is a fun and inspiring one. It serves as a reminder if you do good work and carry yourself the right way, you won’t need to chase anything, you’ll attract more than you need.
Graduation Commencement Speaker – WT Woodson
In 2017 I had the opportunity to walk on the stage in front 3000 people at EagleBank Arena on the George Mason campus as the commencement speaker for WT Woodson High School.
Talking about being in a place you never imagined you’d be standing in, that was it for me. Commencement speakers are reserved for the 1%, the special ones in society, not me, the owner of this little organization called Lead ‘Em Up.
Still to this day I’m humbled over that opportunity. I’m humbled that I was recommended (shout-out to Coach Rastogi) to the WT Woodson administration as a candidate and even more blown away that I was selected over all the other candidates who interviewed.
It’s moments like these along the way that serve as little boosts of momentum and encouragement reminding you, “you’re doing something right, keep going.”
What a special day!
There’s been so much more beyond these top-5, it was hard to narrow down. Check out our honorable mention list below:
A Lead ‘Em Up spotlight on NBC. Lights, Camera, Action
One of the best lacrosse events in the country we’ve had the opportunity for the last 3-years to serve as the leadership partner.
Nike Elite 100
In 2018, NIKE Elite 100 invited the 100 top Junior hoopers to St. Louis (and Lead ‘Em Up) for a special weekend. Night one was Lead ‘Em Up. We had a blast. What a night.
Cutting down nets (Whitman, Seneca Valley & Gburg)
Playoff runs are on another level of special, you can ask ANYONE who’s experienced it. For 3-consecutive years I had the opportunity to work with 3-different teams and each of the teams Whitman 2015, Seneca Valley 2016 and Gaithersburg 2017 won their Regional Championship, cutting down the nets, on their way to Xfinity Center to compete in the State finals. Those seasons were incredible.
Lorenzo Alexander rocking Lead ‘Em Up on NFL Network
In 2016 we welcomed three pro athlete ambassadors: Yael Averbuch (NWSL), Kevin Buchanan (PLL) and Lorenzo Alexander (NFL). I remember getting out of a meeting one morning and getting a series of texts and notifications about Lorenzo rocking his Lead ‘Em Up t-shirt during his interview on NFL Network.
Naturally any business starts small and grows. As Lead ‘Em Up continued to grow, we’ve brought on some dynamic and special people to the team; our Regional Coaches. We now have 7 across the country. Being able to work with them and help support them as they grow their markets has been so much fun.
Hoosiers, have you seen the movie? Of course you have, its a classic. Having the opportunity speak on-court for a United coaches clinic in the classic setting was an experience we’ll never forget.
Would you love to receive FREE Chick-Fil-A for an entire year? That is what we provided (shout-out to Kayla Smith from CFA) to our Green 13 winners (the 13 athletes we worked with in 2019 that were the most “Green”). Calling each of the players and letting them know they 1) were selected on to the Green 13 team and 2) they’d be receiving free Chick-Fil-A for a year was as awesome as you think it would be.
Seeing our exercises used on social media by teams over the country
This experience is hard to put into words but is without a doubt one of the coolest things we get to experience. Seeing how an exercise starts as a simple idea and then evolves into something that impacts young athletes all over the country, is an incredible thing to be a part of.
What a great run these 5-years. We have more growing to do and more impact to make.
Thank you for all your support over the years and your continued support as we continue building.
We want to provide you a tool to keep your players engaged, growing as leaders and continuing to feel connected to their team/teammates; The 21-Day Leadership Playbook.
This FREE 21-Day Leadership Playbook is filled with various Lead ‘Em Up exercises, uniquely modified for players to do on their own, as part of a team-wide exercise.
Have fun and #LeadEmUp