The message at the heart of Leadership Live 2017 was simple: Promises have power.
The event, which introduced Leadership Tyler’s Core Class 31, began with guest speaker Alex Sheen talking to local high school students.
Sheen is the founder of the “because I said I would” movement, a nonprofit that works to make the world a better place through promises made and kept.
Leadership Tyler is a nonprofit which seeks to identify, motivate and develop future leaders in Tyler. The annual event introduced its newest class, made up of 37 community leaders from area businesses and nonprofits.
Before the introduction luncheon, hundreds of students listened intently as Sheen described his journey from a software developer to accidental leader of a global nonprofit.
Sheen’s journey, he said, began when a social media post went viral. In 2012, when his father was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, Sheen began pondering what about his father had impacted him the most.
“My father was far from a perfect person but he kept his promises. It turns out there's not a lot of people who do that,” Sheen said. “Our promises might be the single most important measure of who we are.”
When his father passed away, Sheen was asked to give a eulogy. He honored his father by talking about the way he had always kept his word. The eulogy was titled “because I said I would,” a simple explanation of promises kept.
After the service, Sheen handed out what he called Promise Cards. He asked everyone to write a promise on the back and give it to the person they were making that commitment to. When the promise was fulfilled, they could have the card back.
That night Sheen got on social media and said he would mail 10 promise cards to anyone in the world.
He woke up to an overwhelming amount of requests and realized that although the response was far larger than anticipated, he had made a commitment.
Five years later, Because I Said I Would is now his full time job. He travels across the country speaking to students and groups such as leadership Tyler, donating all the proceeds to the mission.
Sheen said he has sent out more than 4 million promise cards to 153 countries. These promises don’t have to be large, he told both the students and adults, they just need to be kept in order to make a difference. The more promises kept, the better the world can be.
“When you want to quit, try to remember why you started and perhaps you will find strength there,” he said.
Sheen is looking to groups like Leadership Tyler for help. The nonprofit has moved off of social media and is beginning to set up physical chapters, including high school clubs beginning next year. At the end of his speech, volunteers handed everyone 10 Promise Cards.
“Social media can do a lot, but let us not pretend that it can ever do enough,” he said.
So now Sheen has a challenge for the students and the new class of Leadership Tyler - fill out the 10 promise cards and make the community a better place.
Leadership Tyler – Core Class 31
Allen Atkinson – Team Logic IT
Cindy Brady – The American Cancer Society
Mary Jo Burgess – CASA for Kids of East Texas
Bryan Campbell – Regions Private Wealth Management
Jackie Cannon – Champions for Children
Michael Cichowicz – The University of Texas at Tyler
Shane Cunningham – Texas Department of Transportation
Sandra Daniels – Youth In View
Reece DeWoody – The Office of Senator John Cornyn
Dalton Dickerson – Chick-fil-A at Broadway Crossing
Tom Dougherty – Citizens National Bank
Nathan Dunham – Barrett & Thomas, PC
Wendy Frizzell – The Hospice of East Texas
Michael Frost – The City of Tyler
Edgar Galdámez- Grace Community Church
Troy Henry – Sabine River Authority of Texas
Kristi Johnston – Southside Bank
Courtney Klepfer – The Hospice of East Texas
Kelly Leevey – UT Health Northeast
Samuel Marshall – Henry & Peters, PC
Shuna Mast – Bethesda Health Clinic
Robby Mayne – RealEdge Real Estate
Gregory Parker – Gollob Morgan Peddy PC
Tom Perkins – Edward Jones
Nicanor Pesina – Roberts & Roberts
Jimmy Reed – Creed Enterprises / Reed Property Management
Megan Riaz – East Texas Cornerstone Assistance Network
Samuel Scarborough – Scarborough Realty Partners
Sherry Skinner – Christian Women’s Job Corps of Tyler, Inc.
Rob Springer – Tyler Junior College
Jarod Stevens – New York Life
Jeff Stewart – Ingersoll Rand / Trane
Heather Stoner – Smith County Sheriff’s Office
Trish Terrell – HealthFirst
Megan Williams – Gollob Morgan Peddy PC
Kent Willis – UT Health Northeast
Dawn Yount – East Texas Food Bank