Wheelhouse Talk discusses developing purposeful leaders

GV alum Brian Flanagan focused on impacting students

By Meghan McBrady | 2/14/16 9:02pm


GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Brian Flanagan, managing director of the Sanger Leadership Center at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, speaks in Loosemore Auditorium on Grand Valley's Pew Campus Friday, Feb. 12, 2016.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

As part of the ongoing Wheelhouse Talks lecture series created through Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, Brian Flanagan spoke to members of the Cook Leadership Academy on Feb. 12.

A graduate of both Notre Dame and Grand Valley State University, Flanagan is the former associate director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and co-founder of the Cook Leadership Academy and the Wheelhouse Talks series. Currently, Flanagan is the managing director of the Sanger Leadership Center in the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Speaking at the Charles W. Loosemore Auditorium in the DeVos Center, Flanagan spoke about teaching and developing student leaders through high-impact experience-based learning initiatives so that they could make a positive difference in the world.

Scott St. Louis, a senior at GVSU who led the introductions on Friday, said that the importance of the Wheelhouse Talks is to feature recognized leaders from across disciplines who share their leadership philosophies and experiences.

“In this space, leaders of today and tomorrow come together to share their personal stories in learning and growth,” St. Louis said. “Throughout the series leadership values, perspectives and traits occupy center stage, the Wheelhouse Talks provide our very own Cook fellows and the public alike with an opportunity to engage with those making an impact.”

Emphasizing creating more connected and creative purposes through drive, integrity, empathy and courage, Flanagan spoke about developing a sound mindset when building one’s values and purpose in life.

He noted that growing through experience and learning to be confident will allow individuals to have a deeper sense of meaning for whatever they study, look at or fight for in their daily lives.

“Turning from trauma to growth, finding a spiritual awakening, entering into a moment of greatness (and) you peaking in your performance as a leader, is what we are really interested in,” he said. “It’s all about first deepening your own roots, right, deepening your rootedness in a sense of purpose – what is that you are here to do?”

Flanagan encourages his students at the Ross Center to take 30 seconds of their day and write out a statement of purpose. By rewriting out that statement, he said, the students will continue to think and learn through experience until they find a purpose that resonates true for themselves.

During the question and answer portion of the talk, Audrey Tappenden, a political science major at GVSU, asked Flanagan if he has a statement of purpose and what it said today.

“Right now it says to inspire and enable and live a good life,” he said. “I have a lot of transitions going from a liberal arts undergraduate experience like Grand Valley to a business school where priorities are different for students.

“For me, it is thinking bigger about family and friends and balance and creative opportunities to pushing people to think about other priorities in their lives essentially – so that’s my purpose, at least for right now.”

For more information about upcoming events and talks at the Hauenstein Center, visit www.hauensteincenter.org.

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