A great day is when you get to blog about one of your favourite things. Today, I’m blogging about two of my favourite things: my favourite song, Oasis ‘Wonderwall’ and my favourite charitable organization, Chicago’s i.c.stars.
I know that Oasis never became the next Beatles. I’ve accepted that, unlike many Oasis fans. But you can’t tell me that this isn’t the best song in the universe and maybe three universes (or univii) beyond. This is my sooperdooper favourite version:
My favourite part of the lyrics are:
I said maybe
You’re gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all
You’re my wonderwall
I know two “wonderwalls” : the amazing organization, i.c. stars, and their CEO and Founder, Sandee Kastrul. They are true wonderwalls.
i.c.stars is 10 years old and is housed in this very cool loft space not far from Michigan Avenue in Chicago. They have a very simple yet remarkably loft-y goal: to develop 1,000 Community Leaders by 2020.
The concept is also simple.
Adults with a high school diploma or GED work in teams of 3-4 people on three client projects over the 16-week course of training to develop strong teamwork skills and resilience through real experience in business and technology. The project-based training is change-driven and prepares i.c.stars graduates with essential knowledge and skills to become tomorrow’s leaders. The 100% graduate placement has proven the remarkable success of this program, as i.c.stars graduates stand out in the job market with their community leadership and buessiness leadership skills.
They have hundreds of applications for 15 spots in each “cycle”, and, trust me, the people they accept are some of the best, most memorable people I’ve ever met. I have been greatly influenced by them for years.
I first met Sandee one afternoon when I was a student at the Kellogg School of Management in Chicago. It was the end of a long day and she was part of a panel of speakers who were talking about their work with people in the communities of Chicago’s inner city.
And I knew that she was a wonderwall, that she would not only meet her goal of creating and nurturing 1,000 community leaders, but would eventually accomplish much, much more, which I know she will.
I have been remarkably honoured to work regularly with the amazing, gifted people at i.c.stars.
And, yesterday, in Chicago, they honoured me. Totally out of the blue – I never expected it and didn’t have a second of advance notice. And the next thing I know, I’m at the podium addressing hundreds of business and community leaders in Chicago and telling them all about THINK Global School and our points of intersection with the world-class city of Chicago and their jewel, i.c.stars.
The first things that I said was the most important: that I wasn’t worthy of the honour of being at the podium. I feel the same way about the opportunity to lead THINK Global School. What i.c.stars is doing, what we’re doing at TGS, it’s so big, so important, so special…together, we’re working to change the world, one child, one young adult at a time.
One of the most energizing things in my personal and professional lives is spending time in Chicago with i.c.stars.
They’re my wonderwall.