The Character Movement

Highlights From Our 10th-Annual Ethical Leadership Luncheon

For ten years, Youth Frontiers has hosted its Ethical Leadership Luncheon (ELL), an event that attracts more than 600 of Minnesota’s brightest leaders to discuss fostering character in our communities today and building the next generation of ethical leaders. Last Tuesday, Hubert Joly, Best Buy Chairman and CEO, shared his insights on leading with character. Here are three highlights from the event:

1. Joe Cavanaugh, Founder and CEO of Youth Frontiers, challenged the leaders in the room to be Chief Humanizing Officers:

“I believe that the number one role of a leader today — and I wouldn’t have said this 5 years ago — is to humanize our workplaces, whatever work environment you are in — business, corporate, non-profit, faith, school — to put people over production. Put people over tasks. Put people over technology. This is essential to repair our current breakdown of community. And that takes leadership. Character-driven leadership.”

2. We announced our 2018 Character Award Winner, Marissa Dessellier, and presented her with a $5,000 college scholarship funded by Luther Automotive Group.


Each year, Youth Frontiers presents the Character Award to a student who stands out as an exceptional leader living out the values of kindness, courage and respect. This student is nominated by one of their teachers and chosen by a panel of judges from a truly incredible pool of students. This year’s winner is Marissa Dessellier, a senior at Perpich Arts High School. Marissa has actively demonstrated her leadership abilities by seeking to understand other people’s perspectives. This understanding informs her art, her everyday interactions with others and the way she represents her fellow students in her various leadership roles. Congratulations, Marissa, on winning this year’s award. And thanks, Luther Automotive Group, for funding Marissa’s $5,000 scholarship!

3. Hubert Joly shared the tenets of his leadership philosophy and explained why human connection is key:

It starts with two simple ideas. The first idea is that a company, any organization at the end of the day, is a human organization, made of individuals working together in pursuit of a certain goal. The second idea is that the quest for meaning is essential to each and every one of us … Something magical happens if as an individual we can connect our individual purpose with the purpose of the company or the organization we work at … The purpose of Best Buy is to enrich lives through technology by addressing key human needs.

One of the guiding behaviors we’ve adopted as a company is ‘be human.’ Be human. At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about. The only thing that matters in life is relationship. Human connection. So whether it’s within the company, or with customers, this is really the focus of what we do.”

He left the audience with his Five Be’s:

1) Be a purposeful leader. Be clear about your purpose and how it connects to the purpose of the company.

2) Be clear about who you serve as a leader. If you believe you are serving yourself or the boss or the CEO — it’s okay — you don’t need to work here. On the other hand, if you believe you are serving the people on the frontline and that you’re there to allow them to be effective, it’s a better way.

3) Be clear about your role as a leader. If you believe your role is to be the smartest person in the room, then you’re wrong. If you believe it’s about creating an environment in which other people can be successful, that’s a better approach. It makes a huge difference.

4) Be a value-driven leader. Integrity is essential. It’s a cornerstone of pretty much everything else.

5) Be an authentic leader. Be yourself, the full version of yourself.

Thank you, Hubert, for sharing your leadership insights with us. And thanks to our Premier Sponsor, Luther Automotive Group, and to all the generous leaders and sponsors who made our 2018 Ethical Leadership Luncheon a reality. We are so grateful for the support of our community and your commitment to building the next generation of leaders.

*Photo credit: David Knapp, Best Buy

**Video credit: Braddon Olson, Youth Frontiers


This year, on The Character Movement, we are trying something new. We’ll be delving into one of our retreat values each month, examining it on our blog and in our Character Challenges. This month’s theme is leadership.

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