I was asked to be part of the inaugural [Trek Leadership Café](http://www.trekexecutivecoaching.com/page/leadership-cafe.aspx) in 2012. It was a new concept in executive coaching – small group executive coaching sessions held in coffee shops serving up small bits of knowledge that can be applied at work that same day.
Our coach assembled six women with different companies, functions, careers and ages. We were not a group who would have otherwise met or interacted which made for a really safe environment and actually helped us build trust more quickly. We brought our curiosity and our open minds, which leads me to the first lesson I learned: Be open to new methods for professional development. Look beyond the traditional options of Webinars, books and professional organizations.
Our meeting spot was the [Red Tree Gallery](http://redtreegallery.net/) in Oakley. It’s the perfect setting – comfortable, welcoming, with great coffee and great service, and features handcrafted wares from local artists.
We started by completing the [DiSC profile](https://www.discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/) and got to know each other – and ourselves a bit better. We talked through how to handle various scenarios and how our personalities and work styles play out with our team members.
Lesson Two: You can learn some of the biggest insights from people who are different from you.
We got so much out of the program that we decided to continue meeting after the formal program was completed. Even though it’s a more casual – and sometimes social – gathering, we made sure to give it some structure and created agendas to help guide our conversations…which leads me to the third lesson: have a plan. Professional development is a journey and you need a roadmap to effectively navigate it.
Over the years, our group has dwindled to three. We’ve gone through weddings, babies, graduations, new jobs and world travels, but we remain dedicated to our coffee klatches. We make time on the calendar.
We talk about our goals, our challenges. We seek counsel and advice – and I shop! But through it all, we’re still learning. Constantly learning.
What type of professional development experiences are you involved with? What is the best thing you get out of it?
*The [Intrinzic team](http://intrinzicbrands.com/team/) is dedicated to professional development and continuous learning. This summer, we’ve encouraged our team to seek out innovative educational opportunities and to share their experiences.*