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Episode 132: The Futurist Project Founders Kelsey McGrew + Stasia Walker on Investing In Leaders

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

This week we had the opportunity to speak with two of the founders of The Futurist Project’s Leadership Institute, Stasia Walker and Kelsey McGrew. They talk all about the Leadership Institute, how it came to be, what the program entails, what their goals are for the participants, and how you can get involved. This one is all about mentorship, community, and learning - enjoy!

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Episode Transcript

Stasia: You know, I think we see it as an opportunity to really help people feel empowered to show up the way they want to and the way they feel they should within their spheres of influence, whatever those are.

[intro music]

Welcome to the podcast, all you outdoor creatives. I’m Iris from WHEELIE. WHEELIE is a creative agency that specializes in helping brands articulate and amplify what they stand for through human-centered design, video-centered campaigns, and also trail system branding and mapping. We also produce this podcast because we love getting to talk to creative people throughout the entire outdoor industry. And this week’s episode is no different.

Our founder, Lisa Slagle, had the opportunity to speak with two of the founders of The Futurist Project’s Leadership Institute, Stasia Walker and Kelsey McGrew. This is kind of a unique episode because they talk all about the leadership institute, how it came to be, what the program entails, what their goals are for the participants, and how you can get involved!

They have actually extended the application deadline for this year’s program just for our listeners, so head to the link in the show notes after listening and use our code OUTSIDEBYDESIGN (all one word, no spaces) for a free application before the deadline of April 1st.

This one is all about mentorship, community, and learning - so let’s get into it.


Lisa: Stasia and Kelsey, welcome to the podcast today.

Stasia: Thanks for having us. We're excited to be on.

Lisa: It's going to be really fun. The first question we ask every single guest is to describe where you are and what you're looking at.

[all laugh]

Stasia: Kelsey, you go first.

Kelsey: Okay! Well, my name's Kelsey McGrew and I am in New Mexico and I'm currently in my closet. Looking at clothes from boxes that we are unpacked to bolster the audio experience for these listeners.

Stasia: Nice.

Kelsey: [laughs] What about you, Stasia?

Stasia: I'm actually in my husband's office because it felt like the quietest place in our house and it is so messy. Like the messiest. Like, I don't know how he gets work done here. [laughs] So that's where I am.

Lisa: And you are in Longmont, Colorado.

Stasia: Oh, yes. In Longmont, Colorado. Thank you. Yes. I’m in our house in Longmont.

Lisa: And so I'm super curious how you two are here in the same room, kind of, how did you get into the outdoor industry, what kept you here, and how did you get here, specifically, working together?

Stasia: I love it. Kelsey, you want to go first?

Kelsey: Sure. I can take this one.

Stasia: Okay.

Kelsey: So I'll start with the ‘how did we get into the outdoor industry’ question, ‘cause that kind of eventually translates into how I met Stasia. So this one is tricky for me because I would go all the way back to college when I worked at summer camps. I grew up going to summer camps, that's kind of what introduced me to rock climbing and similar activities. And then, so in college I wanted to work at a climbing gym, and then I also, in the summer, I spent my time working at a summer camp. So that quickly translated into working at retail shops through college.

And then after the retail shops, that kind of put me right into a startup, which really is what started my career in the outdoor industry. And then not long after working for that startup, I went through the previous existence of this academy and… which Stasia was the founder and director of. So I met Stasia through an interview process. I got to meet her and I just adored her and I wanted to follow her anywhere, work with her any way I could, keep her as close as possible.

And then, you know, years and years passed, because she left the industry for a bit to have some kids (all three of them, two at the same time). [laughs] And then she came back and I’ll let Stasia take it from there, but it's just been such a pleasure to be reunited and to work in a different capacity. And it's kind of a little bit of a dream.

Stasia: Yes, I totally agree. I guess if I would go back to say kind of your question on how I got into the outdoor industry, I think… I had worked in PR for a long time and, you know, worked in technology and started getting into endurance sports in the PR space in San Diego. And it was great, but you know, it wasn't like… it was like my work, and then I had my sort of hobbies in life.

And I really, I got recruited by Frank Whiting - who some of may know, he's a recruiter that’s been in industry for forever - to work at Eagle Creek. And I remember them saying like, “we want to hire someone specifically from the outdoor industry.” And I was kinda like, “wha?!”, what about someone who just loves all the things that you stand for? Like, I travel, I love every outdoor activity. So it was, it's funny. I mean, now I think, you know, we try to hire from outside of the industry more, hopefully, but it felt like I got a big break to get to do that. And so I started my career at Eagle Creek and San Diego and really got to experience doing marketing, PR, and launching social media, doing kind of all that stuff at that point in my career.

And from there, I ended up transitioning into working for myself for a while, doing PR, having a small, small little agency with a few people, and then went and started working for the Outdoor Foundation where I was their director of marketing, helping get kids outside. And I just, I really loved working on the nonprofit side, but I really always had a passion for the for-profit work and… and just really enjoyed, I think, working with professionals on that level. And so I think with that exposure, I got to be involved with all these different brands who are supporting the foundation and saw a need as I was doing that for investment in really like this middle-management kind of level in our industry.

And so that's when I started the Futurist Project as - well, the Future Leadership Academy - really as like a experiment and passion project with a good friend of mine who's named Deanna Lloyd. And that just turned into a real job and it was really exciting and fun. And that's how I met Kelsey. We sat down for coffee, I think. And tea. And discussed the possibility of her being in the program. And same, I felt like, oh my gosh, this is exactly the type of person we wanted, we created this program for. So it's been really fun to get to recreate the program so many years later and work together.

Lisa: I love that. Okay. So what is the Futurist Project’s Leadership Institute? Like, super basic for people who've never heard of it. What is it and why is it awesome?

Kelsey: At a super high level, it's a six month program for emerging leaders, that middle-management community that Stasia just spoke to. And it's a program that will entail all sorts of things that we'll get into later in the podcast.

But ultimately it's a program to prepare the emerging leaders, to unite them so that they have the sense of community and that they can lean on, and then also to amplify their voices as they're kind of entering this industry and growing in this industry.

Lisa: How are you qualifying middle-management? Like what types of people does that apply to?

Kelsey: That's such a good question, because it varies, right? Especially with the size of brand that you're working for or organization and whatever that looks like for you. So it really depends on the individual's journey, but overall we're saying you're not trying to get into the outdoor industry - that comes later - you have about three years experience in the industry. You're not- you want to be, maybe you're already managing one or two people, but you have this desire to amplify this career and to become more of a leader within your organization. So Stasia can speak more to this, but at least in the class that I attended, there was definitely such a mix of closer to entry-level but in a really large company where they already had three years of experience, but it just takes a while to climb that ladder. You had me, who was a manager, but I didn't have much experience ‘cause it was a startup, right, so there's not a ton of structure. There's not a lot of people in my company at the time. And so you also had your VP of certain departments in a much larger company, because for them, there were still so many steps and ladders for them to climb. So it kind of really depends on that organization. So it's kind of… I like to cater it to someone that is hungry for growth, hungry for leadership and wants to grow internally and externally with their brand. Stasia, how did I frame that? How would you change that?

Stasia: No, I think that's great. You know, I would just add, I think… we're focused on getting people from all different sectors of their jobs. And kind of the impetus was like, our whole industry began as really like a community and out of a necessity. Like, we want gear to do the things we love to do. And it was sort of this natural collaboration that happened. And then, you know, as companies got bought and as people got more siloed in their jobs, that sort of went away, that fell away. And so we see it as this opportunity to recreate that. So it's like, how do we bring people together who are at all different parts of these companies in order to learn from each other and collaborate?

And… and so we feel like having some diversity of experience, both in number of years and parts of industry, just allows for that so well, it allows for that natural learning from each other that doesn't always happen in companies today.

Lisa: That's cool. So how did you start the Future Leadership Academy?

Stasia: Well, we actually started it because, as we've mentioned, we were all part of in one way or the other, the OIA’s Future Leadership Academy. And unfortunately, during COVID, that program was paused - either permanently or temporarily, it's TBD - but it just couldn't be sustained any longer. And that really led to us having some conversations among the alumni about what's next. Like, how do we continue to grow our community? How are we going to continue to bring new life into it? And so, you know, a decision was made among the alumni that we really wanted to keep the program going. And so the four of us, Sablle, Kelsey, Carrie, and I came together and just decided we were going to do it, that we're going to start it together.

So we launched it. It's taken us almost a year to really put it all together, so to start our LLC, to figure out, to get the support of alumni, to sort of really figure out what we're going to do and how we're going to move forward. And so, now we're really excited. We've done a ton of planning. We're excited about our retreat locations. We have some great partners to help develop curriculum and content. So that's really how it started and that's where we are now.

Lisa: Amazing. Do you, would you share kind of what each of the four founders do, like during their day job? To kind of ground this thing in perspective.

Kelsey: Yeah, I can start. So we do all have full-time jobs, which makes this such a evening and weekend hustle, and early mornings. Actually our weekly touch base is very, quite early in the morning, so it's cute. We're all waking up, having our coffee, and just get to wake up together and get inspired to start the day. But my day job is the Brand Marketing Manager at Mountain Hardwear. So that's a nice full-time job, some nice travel involved. And it's keeping me busy.

And this is a really nice balance of that because the job really immerses me into the outdoor industry community, through all of our partnerships and events and showing up and keeping tabs on all the movement in the industry. So it's fun to keep an eye on everything and all these emerging leaders, and they kind of do compliment each other really well. So that's been kind of fun to see. But Stasia, you’re next.

Stasia: Yeah. And so I am pretty much at home with my kiddos. I'm also a therapist, so I see clients, really part-time, but you know, a few clients a week, which is, which is great for the diversity and it gives me an opportunity to have adult conversations, which is nice. [laughs]

And then Sablle, who is our other partner, is Director of Sales for Mountain Hardwear. And so she's got a very full job. And then our other partner is Carrie Watson. And so she started a business called Outside Looks and she does consulting for small retailers in the outdoor space. So she helps with their purchasing and a lot of planning and stuff that's way over my head and interesting, but she's very good at it.

And so we each come at it in a really different perspective. I would say Sablle and Carrie are very much like the numbers people who sort of understand sales and really kind of wrap their head around that perspective and kind of come at in a analytical way. And I think Kelsey and I both tend to be more of the feelers of the group, should I say, and have a bit more of that. So I think when we come together, it's a really cool partnership of women and I think we come at it at such complimenting skillsets.

Lisa: And I think this is really unique because it's four women and you all work at different brands, or different careers, and you've come together for one unique cause of helping build leaders within the outdoor industry. Right?

Stasia: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it does feel like a really… I don't know how, I've said this before, but it almost feels like… I think we each felt it was a calling for us to do this. And we felt so passionate about this specific thing. And I think each of us in our own ways really experienced some transformation at that point in our careers, like at that sort of twenties, thirties, you know, early thirties, or I should say mid twenties for you guys. But… and so I think we feel like we want to give back in that same way and really help people in the way that we felt that we were helped. And so I think that's why we're all really motivated to do it.

Kelsey: Absolutely. I can definitely attest to that. That is my exact personal journey, I think because of the caliber of impact it had on my personal life and my professional life and my own career trajectory, it transformed all of those things, completely. Which we can talk about more later. But because of that, providing the opportunity for someone else to have a similar chance, and boost and community and support and, you know, just learning opportunity, I think that is the greatest goal is just to provide that and give that back to someone.

Lisa: And so what's the structure of this program? You said it was six months.

Stasia: Yeah. So six months, and the whole program is a mix of in-person and online. So we start the program off with like an in-person overnight. Part of the program is that each person's matched with a mentor. And so that's sort of the time where you meet your mentor, you meet the class, we have some team building, some… I'm really into sort of not spilling the beans on everything we do.

So it's very, you know, it's stuff that people can be excited about that will be really fun and very true to our industry and our ethos. So come together, we do that. And then the rest of the learning is online until we have what is called our camp, so that's a four day, three night experience that we've already booked an amazing place for in Utah. So we'll have the camp experience, have some amazing speakers, and from there they shift and start working on a capstone project. And that's really where groups will come together and work towards helping a nonprofit in our industry or related. So it's like, there's all these nonprofits that will come forth and say like, these are things we're trying to solve for, but we just don't either have time or resources to do so. And so we'll… each team will pick a nonprofit to work with where they'll work to help, you know, almost as an adjacent department to help create some solutions. And so that's really like the last half of the program.

Then we have an in-person after that, where those ideas are presented and a quote ‘winner’ is chosen. And the idea is that we're able to give grant funding to one of those nonprofits to help execute on the plan that was created. So it's really, it is kind of a long program, but that's because we really want to give enough time for each element. And then also giving… the reality is, like, most people can't do more than two to three hours a week of work on top of their jobs. And so we really didn't want to overwhelm people with more work. So we kind of give it some time in order to do that and feel like there's true community formed. So yeah, that's the cadence. Kels, anything else?

Stasia: No, you nailed it. I think the biggest call out there that I would even emphasize is that this is for people with full-time jobs. I think sometimes people will see ‘six month program’ and think that that would take, you know, a full-time commitment as school would, or maybe even part-time. And it is complimentary of full-time jobs.

And oftentimes we find that employers are very supportive of this as they see it as a leadership and continued education opportunity. So they work with the employee to find the time to make it work and to kind of navigate that, but it is meant to be very complimentary of a full-time job.

Lisa: And so is this specifically for someone working in middle management within the outdoor industry, or is it for someone working in middle management anywhere?

Kelsey: Oh, I can take that one. So this one's fun because it definitely started with outdoor. You know, it started at Outdoor Retailer, very focused on outdoor, but one of our missions is to really be inclusive of the allied industries. It really is welcome to anybody that identifies as such. So that includes running, cycling, fishing, nutrition, non-profits, agencies, including, you know, creative agencies, media agencies, sales agencies, anything that is an allied component of the outdoor industry, we more than invite them to participate in this. They add so much value and different perspectives to the whole cohort.

Lisa: That's cool. So how do you want, with your organization and in your program, like, what is this vision to make the outdoor industry better?

Stasia: You know, I think we see it as an opportunity to really help people feel empowered to show up the way they want to and the way they feel they should within their spheres of influence, whatever those are. So, obviously personally, definitely, but also professionally. I think a lot of times, especially sort of that place in your career, in three to four to five years, it's easy to feel like you don't have a lot of power or control or not necessarily knowing how to, you know, influence your environment for the better. And we want people to feel empowered to do so. We feel like oftentimes people feel like they just don't have the skills or that perhaps they just don't feel seen in their jobs. And so I think if at the very least we could help people see that they have a community who’s rallying behind them, cheering for them and saying like, “Hey, let us help you identify your values.” Like, let's do the work to say “these are the things…” like, get really specific about what you're about and how, what is important to you. And then allow that to define and help figure out how they, what they want to advocate for in their workplaces, who they want to stand up for, how they want to be and what they really, truly care about. That's how we feel like we can do better in the industry. And, you know, as a therapist, of course, I'm really motivated by the idea of people living their truest selves and their best selves. I mean, I think that's such meaningful work, but I think when it comes to our industry, it's like it attracts such incredible people. Like, I just find that so many of my favorite people I've met through being in the outdoor industry. And so the opportunity to help them sort of live their truest self, a more elevated existence, I guess, feels like the most rewarding work that we can really do. And it feels like the best way that we can really create better change- or change for the better within our industry.

Lisa: Oh, I love that. As the owner of a creative agency, I always am such a big believer within my own staff of people creating their own agency - like, personal agency, you know? And I just kind of like that word play, but seeing a better option, knowing that you can actually take action and do something about it and then having the confidence and skillset to do something about it. And so I love that you're… you've built a program around personal agency within an organization, and I think that's super cool.

Kelsey: Yeah. And I would add, as, you know, Stasia really focused on how it benefits the individual. And from my experience going through the program, it definitely had that aspect very strongly, but I would add the community aspect too.

Before that I felt really alone in the industry and I didn't have a mentor or mentee, I just felt really alone. And so I'm sitting here making these critiques and observations about the industry and seeing these opportunities, but didn't have the support or resources to make that happen. And entering this program, I immediately have a mentor who I get coffee with every week. And we just talk about what's going on, what my challenges are, what his challenges are and what we see, you know, greater within the industry as well. And then to walk in, you know, on the first day and you meet about 30 people that all have like-minded hobbies and mindsets and motivation that you immediately resonate with on some level and connect with. And those… the program is intended for those relationships to grow stronger, through certain initiatives that we do and certain programming. I walked out with some of my best friends that I still talk to every single day, but also people that became my boss or became my coworker. I now have two people that I'm coworkers with that were also in the program.

And you just have this mycelium-like network within the outdoor industry of people to count on and rely on from all different departments. You know? And if your personal life, you have a question for a lawyer, well, my class had a lawyer in it for the outdoor industry! And so it's just, you know, and you also have, I don't know, it's just been amazing to see how much crossover there is even in marketing partnerships or opportunities and having five contacts across five different brands to come together and do this initiative. And you know those people already. It just makes the work more fun, meaningful, impactful, and it honestly just more natural. It just happens more naturally. And that just feels so good. And I think that community aspect of the program is something that really compliments that personal growth that Stasia spoke to.

Lisa: That sounds really cool. Do you… when does this thing start? Like what's, what's the timeline? Has it started already or can people still get in on it if they're interested?

Kelsey: So it's happening soon, but for your listeners we are extending the deadline for applications until April 1st. So you still have some time. Listeners also get a free application. So that's a $35 fee that is waved for your listeners. And the kickoff is June 11th and 12th in Colorado. This will be following Outdoor Retailer, so you don't have to attend Outdoor Retailer, of course, to come to this initial kickoff. It just happens to coincide for a lot of people that might be traveling in that area anyway. So it is happening soon and it will run through November when it finalizes with the graduation ceremony and those capstone presentations. So yeah, it is coming up soon and we're really excited. We will announce the class in May, so just a month before the actual overnight.

So you can head to our website, which is and we'll provide a code. And Lisa, you can tell everyone exactly where to find that code, but we'll give you a code to put in at the checkout and then you'll receive your application after you check out.

Lisa: That's amazing. And so is this program appropriate for freelancers or is it someone who has to work within the outdoor industry? Because we have a lot of super bad-ass freelance creative humans that listen to this podcast.

Kelsey: Oh, I love that question. It's absolutely for freelancers. Oftentimes, you know, a lot of employers are supportive in a financial component as well. So when it comes to the individual or freelancers, or even those between jobs, we do have scholarships available for anyone that needs one. They're more than welcome to apply, to help support with that financial gain, but all freelancers and individual… anyone, anyone that's interested is more than welcome to join. You don't have to be affiliated with a particular brand or organization.

Lisa: That's so cool. So what's like, what's your hope and dream for someone who goes through the program? Like, what do you think is going to be the before and after and like the transformation, like, obviously you can't control that, but what's your hope or dream?

Stasia: Yeah, I would say, you know, I think my dream would be that someone feels that they are where they want to be. So they feel the ability to, if it's making a change or if it feels like just living by their values- like we mentioned before, but living by their values. Saying like, you know what, this is a thing that I care about. And I'm just going to like, not have that be on the side. Like one of the first exercises and example we do is like going through, looking at the, your time just your day. Like, how are you spending your days? Knowing that adds up to like, a lifetime, you know. And then looking at your values and then looking to see how those align, like, are you spending time on the things that you say are the most important things in your life?

And I mean, we're all so guilty of that, you know, of those things shifting and not being necessarily the way we want to live our lives. And, and so for me, it feels like, if, you know, I always say this to clients too, but if you can make a 1% change, like if… if you feel like you're 1% more aligned that starts the journey of living a life that feels congruent, that your values are lived out in the life you're creating.

So the truth is, most people through the program don't stay at their job a long time and not because they leave their companies, but they're either promoted within the year, they might switch to a different company for a better opportunity, they might, you know, several have gone on their own and started new companies. But, but I do find this, like, lights a fire under people to do the thing they’ve always thought they wanted to do or live the way they've wanted to, but haven't. And that's my hope is that people feel like they will do that more. And that companies will see their employees that have gone through this program as people to rely on, as leaders, as like, the, “yeah, that person is someone who I want to be running a department or, you know, leading a team.” So I think that would be my best case scenario.

And I think when you talk about freelancers, I think… Gosh, we have benefited so much from having sort of people in those non-traditional roles within the program. I think it's so good to have sort of both sides of the industry, like the ones that are sort of doing the nine to five and those who've created their own careers to have conversations and to share ideas and to understand each other. I think sometimes there can be a disconnect between those two things, like, the challenges one group faces and the challenges the other group faces. And so just to come together and get to discuss those and, and figure out how each can sort of work better together. I think it's super helpful just for our industry as a whole and for individuals within it.

So I think if all of that happens, people come out- you don't have to be best friends, but I certainly hope you come out with people that you look to and say, like, “I know that I can trust this person to help guide my career or help input into my personal life.” I feel like that would, that would be a success for us.

Lisa: And why do you think living in alignment with your values is important? What do you think that does for a human being and also for the collective?

Stasia: That's a great question. You know, I think the way I would frame it is I think when we are living what I would call like our true selves, like living by your values to me is living out of a place of your true self…

Gosh, you know, it's so funny. I'm like, how do I say this to you? I think I'd say like, that sort of, when we do the things… the way we show up in the world and we do the things that we're created to do that we're, that we're meant to do, however you say that… and I think that's where, sort of, you know, from a practical perspective, that's where true things happen. Like innovation or authentic relationships or… today I see it so much as a way of really understanding diversity and equity and how we create those spaces within our lives and within our jobs. And I think all that happens when we're not sort of living from a place of survival or fear or any number of things that aren't really truly who we are. I think we can step into a place where we just show up as better people and kinder people and more creative people and all of that. So I guess for me, I feel like it's sort of the key to life, you know. [laughs] I… you know, Kelsey, I don't know. How would you, what would you say to that?

Kelsey: I totally agree with you. And I would just add that. I… I think this is such like a cheesy way of saying it, but I feel like it removes resistance. So I immediately picture like a river or like a bowling alley, whatever resonates with you. We'll go with that one, but say you're like the bowling ball or you're like floating down this river. And whenever you meet resistance, like you're hitting the side of the bank, you're hitting the bumpers, you know, and that kind of comes from resistance with your boss or like this, like, “oh, I just hate my job” or that internal resistance that we've all felt at one point or another. And to me, that's just like redirecting the course, right? Just like bumpers or just like the riverbank and it's keeping you in your flow of things. And so you can invite resistance and say like, “okay, I see you. I hear this, that I'm going to interpret as the need for change.”

So what does that mean? And I think a lot of people, without some of this kind of programming and guidance, you just live in this place of resistance, this place of like irritability or just you accept it and you live with it. But you know that you're not totally happy. And I think that when you can identify those values and you have structure and a support system, It helps you kind of like maintain the center of this river and when you meet resistance, you’re just kind of like, “oh, I just have to make this little change. I understand how that doesn't align with my values.” And it just kind of, like, keeps you flowing on this course to do exactly what Stasia said. And you're kind of just living like your truest self. And what I believe is like, you're your own purpose, you know? And you feel that, like, I believe that when you feel that energy and you're like the synergy and you feel it building, and you're so engaged and excited, like that's you doing what you're supposed to be doing.

And not to say that when you find conflict, you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, you are just meant to learn something from that scenario. So then use that to just bring you back. So you feel that invigoration more often.

Stasia: Yeah, I was going to say actually, Kelsey, too, like the thing that comes up to me, another analogy, I guess, would be the idea of flourishing. Like how do we, how do we help people flourish? And that to me is all about the living by the values, but it's also about recognizing the resistance, recognizing what it's teaching you, how to adjust and live, and even truly creating leaders that live out of a place of flourishing, because those are the people who are going to be kind and generous and vulnerable in the way they lead and compassionate.

And so I… I agree. I think it's like that opportunity to… and us to, as we get to do this program together, you know, as we get to… we always say guiding on the side, like, it doesn't feel like we're teaching people like, “this is how you live this life.” We're sorta like, we're here with you and we're all sort of figuring it out. And we're critically thinking about things together. And I do think as we do that together, we create an environment where flourishing can happen and people can sort of go back to where they are and hopefully live in a way that feels like they can flourish within their environments.

Lisa: That's really cool. And I think that's… I wish that I had had something like this, you know, at an earlier point in my career, because just to have mentorship and have people to talk to, like what, what a special thing within the outdoor industry, as well as the art of collaboration and having a safe space to bounce ideas around and be wrong and be vulnerable and grow and learn like that sounds incredible.

Stasia: Oh, that's… yes. Thanks for saying that. I agree. I… it's what we all wanted or hoped, or may have had at some point, but we all need these things.

Lisa: And is it… so is it more for people working within a company and freelancing rather than someone like an entrepreneur who has a company and is on that journey and has been on that journey? It's less, less of a founders club and more of middle management?

Stasia: I would say so. And Kelsey, you might have other perspective. I think there's a lot of programs for that person, that entrepreneur, and I think the things that they're doing and issues they're tackling are a bit different than this.

Lisa: Yes.

Stasia: So, yeah. [laughs] As you know. So I feel like, you know, when we looked at opportunities, we felt like, gosh, this particular space, like that three-to-five years, middle-management, there's not a ton of investment in. And it might not even be in management. We're not saying everyone has to be a manager. Of course, it's like that coordinator level as well. But there's not a ton of investment in that person, in these companies.

So yeah, we want to, we feel like it's really for that person.

Lisa: Cool.

Stasia: Yeah.

Lisa: Cool. I think that's awesome. I'm so excited for what you're building and I'm excited for the people who get to join the program.

Stasia: Oh, thank you. Thank you. We're really excited too.

Lisa: So how can organizations or brands get involved?

Kelsey: There are multiple ways. So first and foremost, I think identifying people within your own organization or brand that would be a good fit for the program and nominating them, which you can do on our website. I think that's some of the biggest support group, you know, identifying those future leaders and it's just investing in your own emerging leaders within your own organization. And I see so much beneficial commitment in that, and even relationship growth through that identification.

There's also of course the financial component, you are more than welcome to donate to the program into the operational side of things. There are scholarships that brands or organizations can sponsor, so that will help someone's tuition into the program to remove some barriers. And, you know, we're still exploring other fun ways to partner, there are so many unique organizations around, we've had some that offer more of a guiding service or an educational platform, and we're finding ways to kind of integrate that into our curriculum and kind of like cross-promote and offer those resources, and create them accessible for not just active participants, but also alumni. We'll have an entire alumni network that will stay connected post-graduation. And so we want to offer them a lot of resources. So there's a lot of opportunity for organizations and brands to get involved on that side of things as well.

Lisa: Amazing. And where again, can people go to follow you to ask questions to apply? And we will put this in the show notes.

Kelsey: Awesome. www.the And on there, you can find our email address, forms to do some of the things that we talked about. You can also follow us on LinkedIn. We have found that that's definitely our strongest social platform. We are on Instagram, but I feel the LinkedIn is more informative and engaging. So I would direct you to there.

Lisa: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time and your energy and what you're doing to change the industry. And, yeah, we will definitely include that discount code for our listeners who listen to Outside By Design. And I just… I'm really psyched for what you're doing.

Kelsey: Thanks, Lisa.

Stasia: Yeah, thanks so much.

Kelsey: And thanks so much for having us on here. It's been such a pleasure.


Iris: Thank you so much for tuning in to Outside by Design. This show is produced by WHEELIE.

WHEELIE is a creative agency that specializes in helping brands articulate and amplify what they stand for, what they believe in, and make really cool creative work that serves as a gift to your community. You can find us at our website,

And as far as this podcast goes, you can visit to find more episodes, transcripts, and the show notes. We are also found on Instagram at @wheeliecreative. Please subscribe, leave a five star review on your podcast app and share this podcast with a friend, that really helps us grow. And you can also support us by visiting one of our affiliate links, which you can find in the show notes.

With that. I'm Iris. Thanks for being here.

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