Paul Schmitz | CEO at Public Allies & Book Author
It’s mid-March and there’s a lot to look forward to! As the days become longer everyone is beginning to wonder when spring officially starts. Well, spring is on the calendar this month, so start boxing away your winter jackets and know that with Boulder 2140 there’s always more excitement to come. On March 19th, a day before celebrating the change of seasons, we’re featuring an author program and book signing at the Everyone Leads Reception.
Boulder 2140 is honored to welcome Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies and author of the book, Everyone Leads—Building Leadership from the Community Up. We interviewed Paul as a teaser to the program on the 19th, and it was nothing less than awe-inspiring. He’s been growing Public Allies, a non-profit organization, for more than 19 years and advances the mission of showing high-potential individuals that there’s a career path to meaningful leadership in communities.
Today’s prominent and growing social component in our lives calls for better communities. Spring is associated with the notion of rebirth and therein lays the coincidence. Just like flowers bloom and spread their petals for a new beginning, Paul opens people’s minds to new opportunities in their lives. Today, Public Allies’ efforts have developed more than 4,400 leaders across the nation, who are all dedicated to social change.
Paul learned the fundamentals of leadership during his own climactic journey through life. While growing up he never thought of himself as a leader, someone who could make a difference. It was especially difficult to visualize a meaningful future for himself after he was suspended from school, was institutionalized for addiction, and suffered from suicidal depression. He may not have believed in himself, but people around him did. They were critical to piecing his life back together, and that’s when he heard his calling: he would pay forward all the help he received. He would dedicate himself to creating pathways for high-potential individuals, who believe in purposeful change.
Paul gained insight from reflecting upon his life-changing experiences. The lessons he learned from his past were instrumental in shaping the success of his future. He learned to be open about the challenges he faced, to ask for help when he needed it, and to invite mentors whom he looked up to into his life.
He passes on the same process to the leaders of tomorrow.
Your job is not to prove how competent you are and what you can do alone, instead, how resourceful you are and what you can do with others. That’s what leadership is really about.
Paul gives special attention to those he networked with to jumpstart his exciting career path. He emphasizes that creating networking opportunities with people is critical for young leaders. Paul’s effective work through Public Allies brought him in touch with a former co-worker and now a current friend, Michelle Obama. This relationship with the first lady helped him become part of President Obama’s transition team as well as becoming a private advisor for the White House.
Paul recognizes that groups like Boulder 2140 create great networking opportunities to shape potentially beneficial relationships with other professionals. However, members should be mindful to use their best networking skills at all times. Surpass the superficiality and engage people in deeper ways, Paul suggested and added:
Ask yourself whether you’re building transactional or transformational relationships. The second is where you’ll build relationships that will be powerful in your life.
Paul plans to keep delivering the Public Allies mission. New programs for alumni will be launched, ideas from Paul’s Everyone Leads book are being established, and the fight for an increase of national service funding will be continued. Interestingly, Paul limits his long-term planning:
Looking forward is good, but anyone who creates a 10-year plan for their life is a little nuts. You never know where life is going to take you. For me, it’s been a remarkable journey.
Paul prefers to live life as it comes and capitalize on the aspects of it that he can control. He plans his short-term goals, which include inspiring young professionals at the March 19th event. He expresses: “I’ll hopefully inspire people to see new leadership possibilities in themselves within their communities and get them to believe even more in their ability to make a difference”.