Charles Lee Photo

Recently, I had the privilege of attending an inspiring seminar sponsored by Chick-fil-A Foundation and Gifted Education Foundation (a GCO partner), entitled “Beyond Inspiration: Moving Ideas to Execution”.  As I walked into the Chick-fil-A Discovery Center to find my seat, my eyes wandered around the state of art facility, I was ready to experience the learning lab and to be inspired!

Charles Lee, CEO of Ideation and author of Good Idea. Now What? How to Move Ideas to Execution, was the speaker for the seminar.  Charles helps businesses and organizations craft and facilitate amazing ideas via creative business design, branding and innovative problem-solving.

In his opening he stated, “The greatest collections of human treasures are in the graveyard. There are too many songs and too many books that have been buried.” With this image in my mind, a moment of sadness came over me for the people who did not have the opportunity to share their ideas with the world.  Then, a smile broke through when I thought about all the possible ideas being executed in the filled room.

Mr. Lee focused on three areas: creating a remarkable idea, idea-making best practices and developing a remarkable brand.  When creating a remarkable idea, ask clarifying questions so that our ideas can connect to the world. Ask questions such as Who are You?, What do you do uniquely? , and What does it matter?  He informed that a few best practices are to write down your ideas (rational and irrational) in order to stay focused and to take time to breathe in order for your ideas to grow and develop.  Mr. Lee encouraged us to develop brand attributes that are “authentically you”.  Making sure your visual identity is consistent with your brand is the utmost important internally and externally. These are just some areas discussed during the seminar intended to help inspire us to better execute our ideas.

After the seminar, we were escorted on a tour of the Chick-fil-A’s 80,000 square foot innovation center.   My colleagues and I were amazed by this huge warehouse that was designed to encourage people to think outside the box. The space was colorful with an open office environment that celebrated creativity and service. In fact, red boxes climb the wall and hung onto the ceiling until the boxes eventually formed an airplane. This space was truly designed to nurture innovation.

One of my colleagues, Linda Newton, who also attended the event shared how her approach to work productivity was impacted by the workshop. She said, “I have a tendency to be a bit too social at work and often get distracted by others. Some points Charles made concerning productivity have led me to implement two practices that are helping me to be less distracted and more productive. I now only schedule meetings after lunch and I work with my office door closed each morning until lunchtime. These are two simple, yet effective tactics.”

For me, exhilarating and motivating are two words that come to mind when describing my experience at the Beyond Inspiration learning lab with Charles Lee and Chick-fil-A Innovation Center.   As I think about the mission of GCO: to remove barriers to opportunity.  The very nature of our education advocacy work comes to mind.  We have been a strong voice in school choice by helping to expand academic options (i.e. tax credit scholarships, special needs scholarships, public school transfers, private schools and charter schools) for more than 15,000 children in Georgia.  Through our grassroots outreach efforts we have trained more than 60 advocates on topics such as how to talk with a legislator, how to use social media, and blog writing and interviewing skills for media.  Additionally, we created a School Choice Handbook to serves as a reference for anyone seeking school choice options.  Though thousands of children have benefitted from our efforts, there are thousands of children who still need our help.  Therefore, we will continue to be a champion for education reform and school choice options at the capitol and at a grassroots level.

As we continue to remove barriers, there is nothing more exhilarating and motivating to me than the goal of seeing all children in Georgia have the opportunity to receive a great education.  My hope is for children to experience an environment where their innovation can be nurtured and they can be inspired just as I was in learning lab and in my work place.