Why Raleigh? & how it changed my life! (or) Are you ready to be inspired?

Written by:  Keerthana Karunakaran - India

The first time I read about the Raleigh program in the Leadership exChange website, one line stood out to me which said "Be inspired for 730.484 consecutive hours" and I wondered if that was even possible. But now after the program if I have to choose one word to describe the whole experience it would be none other than INSPIRING.

As an (over)ambitious girl from India I was more than excited to start my leadership program in Raleigh. From the minute I reached Raleigh (with the most luggage among the gang) I could not help but be mesmerized.  Not just with the greenery adorned highways but more importantly stunned by the people in Raleigh.

The People.

The people in Raleigh, especially the HQ community are all so driven and motivated.  The keen spirit of community that Raleigh holds is contagious. A genuine respect for every individual and their dreams fills the air and there is always a helping hand everywhere. I understood what it meant to chase one's dreams. Every story that we heard, saw, and witnessed broadened our perspective and outlook towards life. We understood the importance of a trusted network in each person's journey. If you did not believe that the dots connect backwards, visit Raleigh, grab any HQ member and listen to their story and all your faith will be reinforced. I learned that one of the most important lesson in life is to not be afraid of failure for it is the biggest teacher on your path to success. Another beautiful coincidence in all these great stories was finding the balance while defining one's success. We were able to witness how happiness is not one dimensional rather a person needs to find a balance in order to feel truly successful. The beauty about being surrounded by such great individuals is that unconsciously this spirit of self motivation creeps in you as well.



The Team.

As 10 individuals meeting from around the world for the first time, we were all a little nervous. We came from such different cultures and backgrounds. The only thing we all had in common was that we all had AN IDEA each, about which we were all insecure, unsure and unclear yet had a hopeful dream around it. As we started our brainstorming sessions, we motivated and pushed each other every single day. It still amuses me looking back at how 10 individuals working on their 10 different ideas can be such a great team. I knew that I had made friends for a lifetime. My friends from Mexico taught me how to have a free spirit and enjoy every moment in life. My favourite Czech girl taught me how culture doesn't stop two people from being the best of friends! The Americans taught me how to be completely passionate about one's community and Nation. The Armenian whizz kid taught me how to be completely devoted to your work. I learned so much from each and every one of them. It is amazing how much you learn about yourself while surrounded by such diverse people. Towards the end we were proud of each of our work, our journey and each other's growth. They gave me wings to fly! The Think house rubbed off its magic on us as well!

The Lessons.

Moving on to the actual syllabus of the program, GLP Raleigh offered a New venture planning course and an Internship for each of us. In the New venture planning, we all worked on our own idea. We went through a rigorous course on how to build a business from scratch. Liz Tracy helped us through each step helping us understand the importance of Customer analysis, Market analysis, Product/Service design and a clear road to creating and testing out the MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This along with Ricky Hopper's Design Thinking workshop gave us a clear idea of the science behind building a product/service. This changed my life. Once I returned back to India, I got an offer to work as a Director of Operations with an Organization completely because of my knowledge on Design thinking, Lean Startup and HCD all of which I learned for the first time in GLP Raleigh. Today as I lay down the foundations for my Organization, I still go back to the blueprint and resources that we used during the course. They are the best designed efficient course models that one could ask for while building up on an idea.

The Internship.

For my Internship, I worked with Jessica Porta on building a new non profit organization called S2O- Survive 2 Own which focuses on empowering the victims of Human Trafficking through micro-entrepreneurship. This was unlike any other internship since I got to work hands on and got a complete experience of building a non profit organization. From building a website to framing the by-laws to setting up an operationsstructure, I had the privilege to learn and do it all.  I could not have asked for a better mentor! Jess is also the Director of Operations at HQ Raleigh and she taught me that age doesn't matter and that onecould be as established as one sets out to be even at a young age. Her passion for her project pushed me throughout and still inspires me every day to be a little better.

The Women.

The main reason that we all had such an amazing experience was because of two women. Ryan Finch, who was not just our Program Director,  but a friend, a mentor, a guide, a sounding board... I could go on! She helped each of us draw the best out of this program and made us believe in ourselves even in the toughest times. Without her, none of this would be possible. She is an ambassador for networking! There was a phrase that we always used for Ryan which is, "Ryan knows everybody" and it is true. So no matter what your idea is Ryan always guides you to the right connections to take yourself and your idea one step further. The next is the woman behind it all, Heather Mcdougall who is the founder of LE. She is the most humble and modest person you can ever meet.  She made sure that all the students not just in Raleigh but Rome and Prague as well got the best out of their journey with LE. We could not thank them both enough.

The biggest asset would be the network that I was able to build while I was in Raleigh. I was able to sit down with incredible people including Christopher Gergen-Autor of Life Entrepreneurs, Erin Worshen-Head of CASE-Duke, Keith Strombotne- Kidznotes who helped me plan out my idea and figure out the possibilities and opportunities in my area of interest. I was also able to visit places such as the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) which equipped me with strategies and resources to start my Organization. As mentioned before, I am an example of how Leadership exChangecan change your life overnight. I got to learn and grow each day of the program and it was one of the best days of my life so far. None of this would have been possible without Leadership exChange. Do not miss out on an opportunity to be a part of this wonderful community for it will definitely change your life and leave you inspired for long long time.

So Are you ready to be inspired ???

Keerthana Karunakaran - India

GLP Raleigh July 2016


Student: Top 10 Reasons to Join us in Prague!

Ten reasons for attending “Global leaders program” in Prague (SK/ENG)

Written by Bara from http://fitandhangry.com/

V auguste som sa zúčastnila na letnej škole v Prahe. Témou bolo “ženy a vedúce postavenie” a je to súčasťou amerického programu “Global leaders“. Musím povedať, že som tam zažila jedny z najlepších dvoch týždňov v mojom živote! Viac vám napíšem o tom konkrétnom programe v samostatnom blogu. Dnes by som vám chcela dať hneď niekoľko dôvodov prečo sa zúčastniť jedného z Global leaders programov v Prahe, ale obzvlášť by som chcela dať do pozornosti čo sa bude diať nadchádzajúci Január 2017: Impact HUB crawl (dva týždne) plus je tento pobyt možné predĺžiť o ďalšie dva týždne počas praxe v Impact HUBe v Prahe.

I have attented a great summer school last August in Prague. The program, Women and leadership, is part of the american “Global leaders program” and I had one of the two best weeks in my life! I will tell you all about the specific program I have experienced in a seperate post. Today I would love to give you couple of reasons why to join GLP in Prague in general, but especially to show you what you could be experiencing yourself during the coming program in January 2017: Impact HUB crawl (two weeks) plus it can be extended byt another two weeks doing an internship in the Impact HUB Prague.

  1. Veľa sa naučíte. Naozaj? Ešte aby ste sa nič nenaučili na vzdelávacom programe, že? Avšak s GLP ide o to, že sa učíte používaním nových a kreatívnych metód a naučíte sa o veciach, ktoré ste nečakali. Tiež sa naučíte o iných kultúrach, pretože vaši spolužiaci pochádzajú z rôznych kútov sveta. Naučíte sa o rozdielnych pohľadoch na ten istý problém and naučíte sa tie rozdiely akceptovať aj keď s nimi osobne nesúhlasíte. Naučíte sa rešpektovať a oceniť vašich spolužiakov a naučíte sa, že ste silnejší obklopený ľuďmi s rovnakým cieľom a vášňou ako sú tie vaše.


Užívame si obed s našimi lektorkami a koordinátorkami. // Having a nice lunch with our instructors and coordinators.

  1. You will learn a lot. Well duh. You better learn something when you are attending an educational program. But the thing with GLP is, that you learn by using new and creative methods and you learn about things you did not expect to. You will also learn about other cultures, as the classes are mix of people from all over the world. You will learn about other points of view on the same problem and you will learn to accept the differences even if you personally do not agree. You will learn to respect and value your teammates and you will learn, that you are stronger surrounded by people with the same goal and passion as yours.


Užívame si obed s našimi lektorkami a koordinátorkami. // Having a nice lunch with our instructors and coordinators.

2. Objavíš o sebe nové veci. Ja osobne som si nikdy nemyslela, že raz budem nadšená z predstavy, že by som mohla vytvoriť aplikáciu na šírenie povedomia o emocionálnom násilí. Avšak teraz, dva mesiace po mojej letnej škole, rozmýšľam nad tým takmer denne. Pre objasnenie situácie, tá aplikácia je niečo, čo sme vymysleli v rámci skupinovej práce v Prahe a na začiatku to vyzeralo, že je nemožné vytvoriť niečo, čo by raz mohlo byť skutočnosťou. Ale stalo sa to. Zrazu sme prekročili pomyselnú hranicu medzi „je to nemožne“ a „poďme na to!“ a teraz mám nadšenie pre veci, o ktorých som ani netušila dva mesiace dozadu. A to je len jeden z príkladov toho, čo sa mne a mojim spolužiakom stalo vďaka GLP. Nie ste aj vy  zvedaví čo by ste mohli o sebe objaviť?

2. You will discover new things about yourself. I personally never thought, that I could be excited about developing an app to help spreading of awareness about emotional violence. But here I am, two months after my summer school ended and all I can think about is how to make it work. Just to be clear, the app was something we came up during our team work in Prague and at the beginning it did not seem possible to create something that could become a real deal. It happened. Suddenly we crossed the invisible line between “that is impossible” to “let’s do this!” and now I am passionate about things, I had no idea just two months ago. And that is just one example out of many that happened to me thanks to GLP and to my teammates as well. Aren’t you curious about what you might discover about yourself?

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3. Budete inšpirovaní a motivovaní. Tento bod je tak trochu prepojený s tým predchádzajúcim, ale je to o niečom viac ako len objavovanie nových vecí o sebe. Predstavte si nasledovné: ste obklopení 10 až 15 ľuďmi z rôznych krajín z celého sveta, z rôznymi prostredí a s rôznymi príbehmi. Všetci títo úžasní ľudia sú na jednom mieste. Vy si môžete myslieť, že aj vy ste úžasní, a máte pravdu, ale… Áno, samozrejme, že je tu ale. Počúvate týchto úžasných ľudí, pozorujete ich (v tom najmenej divnom zmysle slova) a zisťujete, že existuje ešte toľko veci, ktoré ste neskúsili alebo o nich ani nepočuli. Chcete byť ako títo úžasní ľudia, pretože zrazu všetky vaše úspechy pôsobia zanedbateľne (aj napriek tomu, že nie sú) a chcete robiť viac lepších, väčších a úžasnejších veci. A práve tento pocit je na nezaplatenie a je tak cenný, že každý by mal chcieť zažiť takúto motiváciu. Náhlu motiváciu zmeniť nielen seba, ale aj cely svet. A viete čo? Môžete spraviť oboje ak máte okolo seba tých správnych ľudí, a práve ľudia sú témou mojich ďalších dvoch bodov.

3. You will get inspired and motivated. This point is kind of connected to the previous one, but it goes beyond just learning something new about yourself. Imagine the setting: you are surrounded by 10 to 15 people from different countries around the world, different backgrounds and different stories. All these amazing people at the same place. You might even think that you are pretty awesome person yourself, and you are right, but… Yes, of course there is but. You listen to all the amazing people, you watch them (in the most non creepy way possible) and you find out there are bunch of things out there you have not tried or even heard of before. You want to be more like those people, because suddenly all of your accomplishments seem small (even though they are not) and you want to do better, bigger, more awesome things. And this right here is priceless and so valuable, that everyone should want to experience these feelings. Feelings of sudden need to not only change yourself but to change the world as well. And you know what? You can do both with the right people around you, which are my next two points about.

4. Nájdete priateľov na celý život. Naozaj? Za dva týždne? Áno, naozaj a verte mi, ja nie som z tých, čo si nájdu nových kamarátov tak ľahko. Potrebujem čas na to, aby som zistila ci môžem niekomu veriť alebo nie, ale dva super intenzívne týždne vás posunu na miesta, kde ste nikdy predtým neboli. Našla som si kamarátov a našla som si PRIATEĽOV. Aby som k vám bola úprimná, tak posledné dva dni som preplakala. A nie že som mala slzy v očiach, to nie, ja som naplno plakala ako keby mi niekto zrazil šteniatko. A nie, ani toto nie je pre mňa typické. Nikdy v živote som neplakala za niekým, koho som poznala len dva týždne. Nikdy. Ale tieto dievčatá sa mi dostali pod kožu a ja som neskutočne vďačná za príležitosť ich stretnúť a spoznať.


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4. You will find friends for life. Really? In two weeks? Yes, really and trust me, I am not a person that finds friends so easily. I need time to find out if I can trust someone or not, but two super intensive weeks will push you to places, you have never been before. I found friends and I found FRIENDS. In full honesty, I spent the last two days of the program crying. Not tearing up, nope, full on crying like someone just run my puppy over. And again, I am not usually like that. I have never ever in my entire life cried for someone I knew just two weeks. Never. But these ladies got under my skin and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to meet them and get to know them.


5. Rozšírite svoju sieť kontaktov. Nie každý si musí počas programu nájsť priateľov a niektorí po tom ani možno netúžia, ale bola by škoda nevyužiť príležitosť a nerozšíriť svoju sieť kontaktov. Stretnete všetkých týchto úžasných ľudí (áno, viem, že som to spomenula už asi sto krát, ale stojím si za svojim) s rôznymi schopnosťami a niekedy v budúcnosti sa vám možno zíde ich pomoc, keď budete chcieť zmeniť svet. Kto vie?

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5. You will gain a great network. Sure, you might not be the kind of person that becomes friends with someone easily or you might not be looking for new friends, but it would be a shame not to expand your network. You meet all of these amazing people (yes, I know, I have already said that like hundred times) with different skills and backgrounds and some day you might need them to help you change to world. Who knows?

Tí úžasní ľudia, o ktorých hovorím // The amazing people I keep talking about <3

Takže prvých päť bodov bolo celkom všeobecných o tom, čo môžete od GLP očakávať kdekoľvek, nie len v Prahe. Poďme sa však teraz pozrieť na to, prečo je kombinácia GLP vzdelávania a Prahy tak skvelá.

  So the first five points were kind of general about the whole GLP experience and even though I have attended only the one program in Prague so far, I am pretty sure they are true for all of the GLP. But let’s have a closer look on why is the combination of GLP studies and Prague a great choice.

6. Samotná Praha. V Prahe som bola nespočetne veľa ráz za posledných pár rokov a ešte stále mám čo objavovať zakaždým keď sa tam vrátim. Prahu milujem hneď z niekoľkých dôvodov. Pre staré úzke uličky, historické budovy, parky v kontraste s rôznymi turistickými atrakciami. Pre tá živú atmosféru počas akejkoľvek časti dna. Môžete sa tam úplne vyblázniť a zažiť tie najväčšie dobrodružstvá aké sa vo veľkomeste zažiť dajú, alebo môžete svoj čas stráviť prechádzkami menej rušnými ulicami a hľadať útulne kaviarne kde môžete pochlipkávať čaj (alebo mojito, ja nikoho nesúdim) a začítať sa do vašej obľúbenej knihy.

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Výhľad z Pražského hradu. // View from the Prague’s castle

6. Prague itself. I have been in Prague countless times in the past years and I still have new things to discover every time I come again. I love Prague for so many reasons. The old narrow streets, the historical buildings, the parks in contrasts of the busy touristic places. The vibrant atmosphere at all times. You can go completely crazy in Prague and make it the most adventurous city break ever, or you can spend your time walking around the quieter streets and looking for cozy cafes where you can sip a cup of tea (or mojito, no judgment) and read your favorite book.

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Pražský hrad. // Prague’s castle.

7. Česká kuchyňa. Všetky dobré české jedlá sú buď vyprážane alebo veľmi ťažké, vo väčšine prípadov oboje naraz. Ale ja ich stále milujem. Pochádzam zo Slovenska, ale naša kuchyňa je veľmi podobná tej českej a tak všetky moje obľúbene jedlá nájdem aj v Prahe. Úprimne, nemohla by som sa tak stravovať každý deň, ale keďže posledné štyri roky žijem v Dánsku, tak si takéto jedlá doprajem len par krát do roka a to sa da zvládnuť. Napíšem článok zvlášť o mojich obľúbených reštauráciách v Prahe, pretože nie všetko české jedlo je dobrá, ak vkročíte do nesprávnej reštaurácie.

Vyprážený syr. // Fried cheese.

7. Czech food. All the good Czech food is either fried or really heavy, most of cases both. But I still love it. I am from Slovakia, but our cuisine is really similar so I can find all of my favorite meals in Prague. Honestly, I could not eat such meals on daily basis, but I am living in Denmark the past four years, so I get really stuffed with all the fried unhealthy food only couple times a year and that’s okay. I will be doing a separate post about some of my favorite places to eat in Prague, because not all Czech food is good if you enter the wrong restaurant.

Tatársky biftek o veľkosti torty. // Beef tartar in the size of a cake.

Veterník, môj najblúbenejší zákusok. // Veternik, my most favourite dessert.

8. Akékoľvek jedlo. Keď som vyberala fotky na tento článok tak som zistila jednu zásadnú vec. Poľahky by som mohla napísať článok s názvom „Čo som zjedla za dva týždne v Prahe“ a so stovkami fotiek, ale čo sme robili počas hodín, to už na fotkách nemám. Takže asi nikoho neprekvapí, že môj blog sa volá „fit a hladná“ a nie „fit a vzdelanie“. Ale vtipy stranou, lebo jedlo je v mojom svete veľmi vážna téma. V Prahe môžete nájsť jedla z rôznych kútov sveta a dokonca aj veľmi dobre pripravené, ak viete kde hľadať. A ja to vždy viem.


8. Any food basically. So when I was looking for pictures for this blog post I found out one thing. I could easily write a post called “Everything I ate during my two weeks in Prague” with hundreds of pictures, but what we did during the classes not so much. There is a reason for my blog being called “fit and hangry” and not “fit and education”. But jokes asides, because food is a serious topic in my world. You can find any cuisine you desire in Prague and you can find it in really great quality if you know where to look. And I always know.

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9. České pivo. Potrebuje toto vôbec nejaký komentár? Ja si nemyslím. Ale predsa len si to v skratke povedzme: české pivo je dobré, české pivo je lacné a môžete ho nájsť na každom rohu. Na zdravie!

9. Czech beer. Does this need any further comments? I do not think so. But just to sum it up: Czech beer is good, Czech beer is cheap and you can find it on any corner in the city. Cheers!

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A v neposlednom rade… 

 10. Zažijete jedno z najlepších období vášho života! Budete sa smiať. Budete plakať (alebo som taká len ja). Budete vyčerpaní (veľmi) na niekoľkých úrovniach. Zažijete toľko nových veci, stretneme nových ľudí a podniknete spolu rôzne dobrodružstvá. GLP je pre mňa viac ako len vzdelávací program, je to životný štýl a ja som veľmi šťastná a hrdá na to, že môžem byt toho súčasťou.

Posledný deň. // The last day.

And last but not least…

10. You will have the time of your life! You will laugh. You will cry (or maybe it’s just me). You will be exhausted (a lot) on so many levels. You will experience so many new things, meet new people and go on adventures together. GLP is more than an education program for me, it’s more like a lifestyle and I am so incredibly happy and proud to be part of the it.

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For more information about the upcoming programs go to: http://www.globalleaders.info/all-programs/

You can also check the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LeadershipEXCHANGEAdventure

Follow GLP on Twitter: @leader_exchange

Or you can contact me directly: fitandhangry@gmail.com

An Armenian in Raleigh July 2016

Two suitcases, and two bags for general purposes - the 19 year-old Armenian student from Czech Republic was already full of regret for including every moveable thing he had in his flat in the one-month-in-the-american-south survival kit.

On the second thought, he was travelling to a country that is one of the leading economies worldwide and is home to millions of enterprising people that work hard every day to make their boldest, most innovative and creative ideas to come to life.

Did he need the umbrella, tons of clothes and a good half of the medical supply of the local drugstore he carried all the way from Prague? Later on, he would find out the european umbrellas were too weak to survive (what Americans call) a typical rain, the pills were useless as there was no time to get ill during 730.484 consecutive hours of being inspired!

One thing was sure though - the new dark violet notebook with crispy pages he hesitantly took during the traditional last-minute packing was to be used to its fullest.








Welcome to the US, sir - said the customs officer, guiding to the exit with a hand. That was it. A new adventure was ahead of me - an exciting emotional rollercoaster named Global Leadership Program - ingeniously constructed by thoughtful course supervisors - comprising inspirational ideas, people and the lean startup method to design the ultimate social enterprise to solve the world's most complex problems. Talk about being busy.


First week was the toughest for my notebook - the blue tsunami out of ink left an impressive imprint out of key takeaways from assigned readings, classes, workshops, networking events, teambuildings in forest or elsewhere and even a scavenger hunt.





/A very bubbly 4th of July/


/Getting prepared for action!/

Leadership exCHANGE planned a retreat in the woods for us - 10 students between ages 18 and 25 from all over the world - namely Armenia, Australia, Czech Republic, India, Mexico and USA - 2 guys and 8 ladies (who runs the world?). While battling against the laws of physics good 10 meters above the ground  at the ropes, the first major takeaway came to me there. Even securely protected from gravity by a steel cable, I was afraid of jumping from one platform to another.

/GLPers against gravity/

After helpful staff members informed me that there was no way back and I had to cope with the situation and complete the path, I, sweaty and tired of hanging up in the air as living example of why it is a bad idea to skip physical education classes at school, jumped. I did not fall. With each jump, I started gaining confidence and, ultimately, returned to the ground safe and sound (thanks Preet for being the best climbing partner ever - we’ll do the Everest next time).

There were two lessons learnt back then:

1. Don't listen to fear. It lies every time.

2. You'll never know you are able to do something until you try.

Those two were by far not the only takeaways from the program. Here’s a small list of top takeaways from the program.

3. Learn the rules so that you can break them properly.

In the world of disruptive innovation, do not forget to stand on the shoulders of the giants before trying to challenge the status quo. Chances are high - there were a bunch of brainy people working on your problem before - use their knowledge before thinking of the next big thing.

4. An abyss of wasted time, energy and relationships lies between perfection and excellence.  Choose the right side.

5. Self-reflection. Self-reflection. Self-reflection.  

Treat your personal brand with the lean startup method. Collect feedback, take it into consideration, improve.

6. Entrepreneurship is not a hobby, it is not an occupation.  It is a lifestyle.

For real, entrepreneurial-minded people who are lucky enough to find their passion happen to find weekends boring and are looking forward to Mondays each and every week!

7. For some people, it's better to be the shark in a small pond, than a tiny fish in an enormous ocean.
Words of wisdom by an intrapreneur from Stealz (hi, Jody!) that made me think over my promising white-collar future in the corporate world, causing a 180 degrees change towards entrepreneurship!

8. Ask questions. Shadow people. They love to talk about themselves.
Also, do not underestimate the power of networking - one of my favourite experiences in Raleigh!

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9. Everything is an opportunity.

It is all about being resourceful - make use of the things and people around you!

10. Burritos aren't Mexican. Caesar salad is.

All those takeaways would not be possible without hard work of all the people involved in Leadership exCHANGE. 30 days of the program were positively stressful. For there are two kinds of stress. A toxic "i can't" and "i don't belong". Then there is "wow, i don't know how to handle this yet". Leadership exCHANGE makes use of the latter in a simple formula in bringing up the next generation of the world's leaders - 1. Handpick the brightest and most proactive minds from all over the Earth. 2. Gather them together in a totally different environment. 3. Put them to a stress and help them self-reflect, learn and grow. 4. Repeat.

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/Self-reflection night at the HQ/

I was lucky enough to be involved in this immersive, transformative experience.

There was so much in the world I did not know I did not know about before Leadership exCHANGE. Not anymore. All in all, life is a sequence of before and after moments. Being a part of Global Leadership Program was definitely a major checkpoint in it.

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LE: A Source of Great Ideas & Awesome Friends

My name is Magaly Perez and I am the girl in the picture. I arrived to Raleigh carrying lots of expectations, a little bit of nerves, and 25 pounds of clothing. I asked Ryan to take this photo the minute I went off her car, after she picked me up at the airport and took me to Think House. (My room was the one upstairs with the four windows.)

I had been abroad before, but believe me when I tell you that Think House felt completely different from any other dorms I have stayed in, from the very first minute. My first view of the place was a table full of people from all over the world eating home-made pasta and salad.

During the whole program, being surrounded by different cultures and habits really broad my vision about the whole world. From each one of my colleagues I learnt interesting facts about the way their cultures approach people, problems, and life in general.

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Just to mention some, I learnt that Indians are structured, disciplined, hard-working, and extremely smart. I learnt that people in Prague may seem cold, they do not like physical contact as much as we Mexicans do, but they are loyal and trustworthy. About Armenians, they feel super proud of their country and history.

Here is a picture of my LE friends. We were downtown celebrating Fourth of July among dressed up Americans, live music, free samples, and tons of fried food.  Later that day, we hurried up to make it on time for the fireworks. It was nice seeing a lot of families at the bridge, and -at that time we did not know- but we were just about to become a family, too.

Talking about the classes, do not expect the typical classroom, or the typical classmates. Every session at HQ Raleigh (the greatest co-working space ever, located at the heart of Raleigh) we learnt something different, met someone with an amazing story, and worked on our projects… because that was one of the coolest parts of LE: developing your own enterprise.

After a morning of learning, we would go and intern at a local startup. I do not want to brag, but mine was the best: Malartu Funds, the company with the smartest and best-looking bosses!  (PS: Miss you, Jon and Sean!).

 To be honest, we were always busy. I cannot remember a minute of boredom or laziness; and I loved that! However, we gave ourselves some time to go around Raleigh. My favorite spot: that little square on Fayeteville Street, in front of Happy+Hale, where you can sit and gossip with your friends while having a snack.        

Many things surprised me during LE; but mainly, the way I changed my perspective about myself. I have never considered myself as creative before. I was one of those people who studied numbers because they are always the same.

After being part of LE, I discovered a new side of me that I have not before. Plus, I became a lot better at teamwork and brainstorming, and I learnt that I love going out of my comfort zone; especially if that means meeting extraordinary people, with bright minds and creative ideas.

This is an amazing experience of networking, entrepreneurship, and personal development that you do not want to miss!





Something Different


Have you ever heard the phrase “Big expectations lead to disappointment”? Well with GLP this wasn’t true, from the very beginning I was extremely excited to be part of the leadership exchange program and I was expecting to have an amazing summer surrounded of incredible people. With that being said, this program ended up surpassing any expectation I could have possibly had.


Every day was a new adventure that was completely different from my life in Mexico or the experience I had when I lived in Spain. During this intensive program, we took a course in New Venture Planning where we developed our business ideas while hearing from experts and entrepreneurs. I was also given the opportunity to do an internship at Lawson Hammock in HQ: Raleigh, this is a coworking space full of entrepreneurs, change makers, visionaries and professionals, one of them was Wes Johnson, whom is a great person to know and i had the pleasure to work for.


One of the greatest benefits of GLP was the opportunity to make new friends from different countries. The diverse allowed everyone to bring something unique and special to the group. From being strangers with different personalities to getting incredibly close after living, studying, dancing, partying and sharing this entire experience together, I can gladly say I won a new family and I hope we stay in touch forever.

Another reason this program is amazing, is because Ryan (Program Coordinator) was always there for us, making sure everything was going great and helping us if we needed it. After all, Ryan es amiga!  

This program was a life changing experience, I can genuinely say it was one of the best experiences of my life and I’d do it again.

Sonia Leal, Universidad de Monterray

Raleigh Program July 2016



Thank you to  CHELSEA RICHARDSON of Signal Hill for writing this blog!

Following his final presentation with fellow Leadership exCHANGE students, Tomas Panek, center, says farewell to the Signal Hill team, from left: Brice Smith, Austin Pryfogle, Chelsea Richardson and Avery Williamson.

Following his final presentation with fellow Leadership exCHANGE students, Tomas Panek, center, says farewell to the Signal Hill team, from left: Brice Smith, Austin Pryfogle, Chelsea Richardson and Avery Williamson.

The brainstorming session had literally run into a brick wall.

While downcast eyes locked on computer screens and communication stalled in the brick-exposed conference room in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Tomas Panek, a marketing and public relations student from Prague, saw a light. He stood, put marker to whiteboard, and asked, “What if we try this?"

“Tomas revolutionized the way we’re thinking of our app,” says Austin Pryfogle, community developer for Senior Correspondent, an award-winning news venture that features stories from veteran journalists and commentators from around the globe. “He was able to help us see the big picture again instead of being bogged down by the small details.”

Such breakthroughs drive Leadership exCHANGE, the program that brought Panek to Raleigh last summer. Like study abroad with a kick, Leadership exCHANGE helps students experience other parts of the world while they find their path to transform the future.

“If you want to be a strong leader, you need to be able to look at the world in a culturally sensitive way and work with lenses that support other people’s value,” says Ryan Finch, Leadership exCHANGE Raleigh’s program director.

Panek earned college credit for his internship with Senior Correspondent, one of several companies that host students at HQ Raleigh, a co-working space and entrepreneurial hub in the city’s growing warehouse district. He and his fellow students also learned about the startup world, each focusing on a new venture of their own.

For Panek, the opportunity to practice the classroom-learned skills firsthand was invaluable.

And applying that knowledge didn’t stop once his month in the United States was up. After returning to the Czech Republic, Panek developed the new venture he explored during Leadership exCHANGE. His long-term goal is to create a community center for young people to delve into entrepreneurial endeavors, similar to HQ Raleigh.

But before the community has a brick-and-mortar presence, Panek is hosting “plus-one dinners” at his home. As his guests bring their own guests, the network of potential participants grows.

“I saw clearly that people are really supportive and they think the idea is really good. It was necessary to hear this,” Panek says of his Leadership exCHANGE experience. “The most important thing I learned from this exchange is to believe yourself and the opportunity to make me sure that I am able to be a valuable part of an international community.”

The experience was just as rewarding for the team behind Senior Correspondent. The startup is a venture of the communications firm Signal Hill, which has worked with three Leadership exCHANGE students in the last year.

“Because they bring fresh perspectives from their own settings and life experiences, the students challenge and enlarge our vision,” says Signal Hill’s public relations manager, Avery Williamson. “Plus, the students’ ideas for their own ventures inspire us to look at our company in new ways.”

Breaking down walls toward greater insight — that’s exactly what Leadership exCHANGE aims to do for students and companies alike, Finch says. It starts with the students seeing their own power to effect change.

“I like it when they recognize the leader inside themselves,” she says. “It really is stunning when you see that transformation.”


Chelsea is a writer who believes in the underestimated might of words.




Standout Moments

Leadership Exchange has been pretty cool. I think one of the most standout elements of the program is that it’s not just an exchange program where you go to class and write a couple of essays. It’s all about applied work and learning through experience. It pushes you out of you comfort zone by literally talking to people on the street and asking them what they think of your idea. It teaches you skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur and in my opinion you can only learn those skills by actually doing it. One of the standout moments for me was attending one of the speaker events sponsored by Google. The Speaker was the founder of a company that invented Biometric (fingerprint) recognition. His company was one of two companies Apple.inc has ever acquired and is now called Touch id… Sound familiar? 


Another really great part of the program was making heaps of friends. You get to hear the different perspectives people bring from their countries and the most exciting part is hearing their ideas. Some are YouTube stars, self-made entrepreneurs, have a few years of corporate experience or just a humble student wanting to learn more. The diversity in the program is great and it’s an experience that will stay with me for a lifetime!