I clearly remember my first experience with the Carlson Leadership Academies. I had just been elected a chapter president at Virginia Commonwealth, and I remember sitting there with my head spinning when my regional director called me up to tell me about “CLA.”
I’d never heard of it, and my expectations were pretty low, but I decided to go anyway.
Two months later when I showed up in Pittsburgh, my mind was blown. SigEp’s best alumni and volunteers had come together to share best practices for improving your chapter and accomplishing everything I’d dreamed of as a newly elected president.
By the end of the year, I’d taken what I learned at CLA and turned my nascent thirty-man chapter into a bulging fifty-man chapter with a top-notch Balanced Man Program and a good GPA.
As I start to prepare for this year’s CLA season, I wanted to see what others had to say about their own first experiences with the program. Last week I caught up with brother George Maciak, Western Michigan ’16, who attended CLA last year as a rising leader and is now returning as an officer vice president of member development.
This is what he had to say.
Q: What were your main takeaways regarding leadership development from last year’s CLA?
A: Right after I joined, I instantly knew I wanted to be more involved with the chapter. I had a ton of ideas on how we could continue to improve, and my chapter brothers asked me and a couple of other guys that weren’t on exec to attend CLA. When I went, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know SigEp put on that kind of a show! There were so many volunteers, and SigEp meant more to them than just a fraternity they joined in college. My favorite thing was learning so many lessons, both about life and SigEp, from those guys. CLA was the biggest contributor in helping me figure out what I wanted to do in the chapter and how to get there.
Q: Were there specific events that stood out as being most helpful?
A: I really liked that I had no idea what to expect. It opened my eyes to the fact that there is nothing else in the world like it. You can’t get this type of thing with any organization but SigEp. I learned a ton from the member development session, as it helped me and my chapter understand how to use all the resources around us.
Q: What difference did you notice in the brothers after they attended CLA?
A: We all took a lot of notes. Our vice president of recruitment took a lot from it, because he originally was unsure of what he needed to do. I saw a huge change in the things he learned from the session. Before CLA he’d only recruited one new member. After CLA, he almost immediately brought on seven more.
Q: Did you learn anything at CLA that’s helped you in other areas in life?
A: I learned how to continue to persevere through the hard things, which has allowed me to be a lot more successful in life.