Over 40 adults and teenagers recently graduated from U the Leader and U the Teen Leader, two of Scottsdale-based leadership development and training company U & Improved’s programs.
The interactive courses provide people between the ages of 14 and 94 tangible leadership tools that impact productivity, communication and confidence and inspire action.
TRICOR Program Manager Mary Sonderegger was among the 18 adults who attended and graduated from the U the Leader class.
During the class, attendees looked inward, supported their classmates, problem-solved and planned their futures in order to become a better leader.
“This class is an opportunity to honestly reflect on your actions, barriers, confidence and ability to lead yourself and your team in both your personal and professional life,” Sonderegger said.
The Scottsdale resident added: “Taking this journey with a group of individuals as a team further enhances the results as you receive feedback from each participant, as well as witness their transformations in tandem with your own.”
Sonderegger took the course at the direction of TRICOR, and while she graduated with several significant takeaways, the standout lesson for her was that she didn’t use her voice enough.
“While I am confident in most situations, I am a little too quiet. When I fail to speak up, I deprive those around me of my ideas, opinions, spirit and energy. We all need to learn from each other and work together to innovate and solve problems,” she said.
U the Leader also helped Sonderegger better align all of her goals and tasks.
“In this class, you are required to state your purpose. My attempt to define the reason I exist was extremely difficult,” she said “Now, I have a very clear picture of my ‘why’ and that brings new, positive energy and enthusiasm to all facets of my life.”
Chaparral High School freshman, Alexandra Nolan, 14, was one of 23 teens who graduated from the U the Teen Leader course.
The course is intended to help prepare teens for college, job interviews, career decisions and help them develop positive life-long habits.
“My mom told me the U the Teen Leader class would be really good for me and help me through high school and college, so I went,” Alexandra said.
Thirteen of the enrolled teens attended the course tuition-free thanks to the U & Improved Leadership Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides leadership development training scholarships to deserving teenagers.
Once a year, the nonprofit opens applications for anyone to nominate a teen between the ages of 14 and 18 to attend the class on a partial or full scholarship.
In 2020, Low, the founder of both U & Improved and the foundation, hopes to host not one but two U the Teen Leader classes and double the impact they made this year.
“It was the adults who have gone through our U the Leader program, many of which are CEOs, sales directors and entrepreneurs running Fortune 500 companies, who asked us to begin a program for teens — to provide individuals with these life and leadership skills at a much younger age in order to better envision their future and realize their full potential,” Low said.
Low added: “Even now, after five years of running the teen programming, the transformation you see them go through in these three days never ceases to amaze me; the new-found confidence, kindness, compassion and empowerment they have is incredible.”
For both programs, the tuition is $2,295 per person; the classes take place at U & Improved’s training home base at Courtyard by Marriott Scottsdale Salt River in southern Scottsdale over the course of two and a half days.
“The class was really hard, but it was totally worth it, and I am really happy I did it,” Alexandra said.
Much like Sonderegger, Alexandra said U the Teen Leader not only helped her gain confidence, but the course also encouraged her to speak up.
“The class taught me that it’s OK to have my own ideas and opinions, and that sharing my thoughts with my mom and my friends is good,” she said.
Alexandra hopes other teens take the course because “it gives every teen the power to see how awesome they are,” she said.
“It shows you it’s OK to be exactly who you are and that the world needs all of us,” she added.
U & Improved was founded in 2008 and includes three other personal and professional development programs, U the Communicator, U the Warrior and U the Samurai.
The next set of U the Leader and U the Teen Leader classes take place Oct. 4 to 6.