A couple months ago in a Young Leadership board meeting I confidently stated that we need to look at the Young Leadership population as a few distinct sub-segments, so we can better reach, message, and serve this group of people.
I’m a marketing guy, and that’s the type of thing a marketing guy says when he wants to sound smart. I got the nods and approvals I was looking for, mission accomplished.
Except I was wrong.
A few sub-segments simply can’t define this amazingly diverse group of 21-45 year olds. We can’t be put into nice clean boxes based on our age, marital status, income level, or number of children. And what I’ve come to realize is this . . .
It is precisely that diversity which makes Young Leadership such a unique and interesting group.
And it’s that diversity which drew me to Young Leadership just over two years ago, after my wife and I had separated, and I needed an infusion of new people, new ideas, and new adventures. My involvement with the group has given me those things and led to some interesting friendships, including . . .
- The transplant who came to town for a couple short years and showed me life is fun and to be enjoyed. Through him I went to concerts I never would have gone to, met people I never would have met, went to a Federation conference I may never have attended, and always knew a night hanging out with him would be unpredictable and unforgettable.
- The more observant friend who proved to me a serious deep discussion is far more intellectually interesting than surface small talk. The first time we ever spoke (which was at a YL Happy Hour) was a long discussion about cultural Judaism versus ritual-based Judaism, Rabbi’s responsibility of traditional rituals in reform and conservative temples, the use of labels to define the religious movements, and much more. The rush of trying to keep up with her and the conversation far outweighed the embarrassment of so obviously not being able to keep up.
- The 20-something who showed me I could not only participate in social events (which is already a big step for an introvert like myself), but also actually plan events people want to come to. Because of her I’ve hosted parties at my house, planned group events out, and gotten to hang out with other 20-somethings. Of course she also tried to teach me you can never update your Facebook status enough. She’s wrong about that, but right about many other things.
- The family friend who I’d only run into a few times in the last 25 years, but have now become friends with after seeing each other at a YL event. She proved to me that my situation isn’t unique, that there are others (or at least one other) going through a separation, trying to do what’s right for the kids, trying to move on with life, and intimidated at entering the dating scene for really the first time as an adult. By the way, are there any more of us out there?
This is just a sampling of how being active in Young Leadership has affected my life. But no matter what you are looking for, whether it’s networking, friendship, dating, volunteering opportunities, etc., there are people and possibilities here ready to make a difference in your life. That’s because all of us come to the Federation for different reasons, from different backgrounds, and each has a unique story. So when we all come together, we don’t partition ourselves into little sub-segments of clearly defined characteristics, we interact, make new connections, and broaden our own experience.
Next week, we’ll come together for the Young Leadership of the MJF’s 80s Bat Mitzvah party, taking place at Vic’s at St. Anthony Main (well, technically not “we” as I’ll be in Vegas working the AARP Member Convention – a very non-Young Leadership crowd). It’ll be a great event and a really fun time (the 80’s Bat Mitzvah party, not the AARP thing… unless you prefer alter kockers and tchotchkes to tantsn and kibbitzing).
If you live on the west side of the river, call Barb Adelman at 952-417-2347, and come to our event, and then get involved by attending future events and even serving on committees. If you live on the east side of the river, come to our event, and also call Dan Mogelson at the United Jewish Fund and Council of St. Paul (651-695-3189) to get involved in other opportunities with St. Paul’s Jewish Federation. Your participation will bring our group even more diversity, enriching the experience for us all.
INTERACTIVE TIME: Okay, the last sentence was the most corny, cheesy line I could come up with. Can you do better? In the comments below, type your own cheesy final sentence.
(Photo: Jason with Young Leadership at a conference in New Orleans, where 700 young leadership folks from across the country helped rebuild a community center in a Katrina-devastated area.)