Understanding the Active Citizen Framework – Part 1

networking tips

All around the world, Jaycees of different countries and culture are talking about the Active Citizen Framework. If you are not familiar with the concept, this series will walk you through the framework, step-by-step, and show you how to utilize it to make sustainable impacts in your local community. The JCI Mission Statement is “to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.” The Active Citizens Framework is the roadmap to help members change the world.

Step 1 – Needs Analysis

The Active Citizen Framework starts with a needs analysis.  The following excerpt from JCI helps explain this concept:

The first step in developing projects that create positive change involves analyzing the community and assessing its needs. To make a lasting impact we must critically examine and understand the most pressing problems around us. This means engaging members of the community to ask them what issues they face.

In many cases, this starts with community surveys. The Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas provides some detailed information, as well as a step-by-step approach to launching your own needs assessment. This can be found HERE.

Another approach to identifying needs is to hold public forums or listening sessions. Also known as town halls or community open houses, these opportunities can bring together multiple facets of a community including government, business, churches, citizens, and nonprofits. Resources for how to orchestrate a public forum can be found HERE.

Another winning strategy that can be undertaken is to sit with community leaders and influencers in a one-on-one setting to talk through and deliberate what potential issues are.  While in many cases we may believe that we understand the needs of a community, remember that there are always multiple perspectives and agendas to consider.  Listening and fact finding can help us get to the “what” question, but what do we do when we have the facts and data? We need to analyze.

The analysis portion of this process is to “dig deeper” to find the root cause of the issues that have been discovered. JCI says the following about this process:

Continue to ask “why” until you reach the root cause behind the problem. By formulating solutions that address the root causes of problems, you will be ensuring your project leads to sustainable impact and positive change for the community.

The root cause is often hidden from plain sight, but as young leaders and active citizens, it is our duty to identify these causes. You can find some resources on analyzing community problems HERE.

This is the first step in the JCI Active Citizen Framework. Stay tuned for next month’s installment which will discuss Step 2, Formulating Sustainable Solutions.

What Makes a Leader? Lessons from MLK

What makes an individual a leader? What are the skills, traits, education, and desires that make certain people more successful at encouraging others to respond to their words and actions? Books, courses, and trainings are all part of the winning recipe, but it’s also important to make the effort to improve these skills in real-world situation. Your local Jaycee chapter offers several opportunities to get involved and continue your evolution as a leader in the form of board positions, committee supervision, and project develoMLKpment.

This week, we celebrate the contributions and life achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, as an example of positive human spirit and dedication to improving the lives of all people.  In the truest sense of the word, Dr. King was a leader – creating social change and demanding human rights and equality in a difficult era in our nation’s history.

When Dr. King wrote, “A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus,” he was providing a lesson for all of us, and future generations. Leadership is the ability to know what’s right and ultimately use your skills to encourage others to work towards a similar outcome. By putting our efforts in directions that promote unity, as opposed to divisiveness among individuals, we can realize a greater good for all humankind and achieve results beyond our wildest expectations.

Now is your chance to develop your personal leadership. Get involved. Check out the JCI USA website (http://www.jci.cc/local/media/usa) or your local Jaycee chapter for information on projects that require your assistance and training opportunities that you can attend. Take the first…or second…or hundredth step in advancing your leadership experience and creating a better world.

It’s important that we study the exceptional leaders of the past to learn more about the talent and proficiency that made them worthy of our celebration. Dr. Martin Luther King is one of those individuals. Understanding more about why he, and others like him, were so successful at delivering their messages and convincing others to follow is a big part of improving your own abilities. We’re ready to help you learn.

Healthy ACTIVE Lifestyles


Healthy Lifestyle

Whether you’re crying over the loss or celebrating the fact that you have another eleven months to go – the holidays are officially over. Not only are they a few weeks past – to be occasionally relived in clandestine mobile phone pictures of you from New Years – so might be some of your resolutions. Especially the healthy ones. Together with JCI USA, we are committed to helping young professionals improve in all aspects of life. This week’s article examines the small changes you can make in the foods you eat, to create a healthier, more ACTIVE lifestyle that maximizes your energy to get involved and create a better you!

It’s no secret that a combination of diet and exercise is the key to developing healthy patterns that influence an individual’s overall fitness. But what should we focus on first, eating right or being active? Most experts agree that a proper diet is critical to providing our bodies with the right amount of energy needed to maintain a mentally alert and physically active way of life. You can’t fake it – as demonstrated by the numbers of co-workers, classmates, and friends that show common signs of improper diet including distraction, exhaustion, physical appearance, and even depression.

Let’s get you started with a simple change of five foods to avoid eating:

  • Soda – a pretty obvious one, but it never hurts to be reminded of the damage it does to your calorie intake…and your teeth…and your bones…and your pancreas…and…
  • Bagels – these mental justifications over the donut box are generally made from nutritionally void refined flour, and have a high caloric content
  • Hot dogs – a nice, quick food to make, but high in saturated fat; processed meats have also been linked to heart disease and other illnesses
  • Whole milk or yogurt – while full of some vitamins, also high in levels of saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Fried Anything – most often these dishes are prepared in trans fat, which is a big no-no for a healthier you; frying also results in the food absorbing more fat and calories than other methods of preparation

Now, to achieve some easy but sustained results, here are five foods to work into your recipes:

  • Apples – just like your doctor told you as a child, apples are really, really healthy; a great source of antioxidants, reducing cholesterol, and lowering the risk of strokes are all benefits of consuming apples and similar fruit
  • Nuts – a great quick and healthy snack; one excellent choice is almonds, which are high in nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, and fiber
  • Oily fish – types including trout, salmon, mackerel, and sardines contain elevated levels of moega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to benefit the heart; also helps with inflammatory conditions like arthritis
  • Leafy greens – again, this is probably one you’ve heard before, but it’s always good to remember the choices that are more readily accessible at your grocer than ever before; consider options such as kale, broccoli, spinach, bok choy, or mustard greens as an alternative to standard lettuce
  • Olive oil – a perfect substitute and all-purpose healthy choice; from eliminating the fat you would normally consume when frying with butter, to making the base of a low fat salad dressing, or as a dip for bread, olive oil is full of antioxidants that help prevent illnesses such as cancer

This list is just a start to making the small changes that are necessary to create big results in your overall health and lifestyle. Learn about more beneficial food options at Nutrition.gov, or even better – share your favorite healthy food or recipe on our Twitter and Facebook pages. We want to learn from you!

Careers in the New Year

CareerThe beginning of the year is always the best time to make your big life decisions, right? New year = fresh start. Last week’s blog discussed setting and reaching your goals for the year, this post will focus on arming you with the knowledge to wage a successful campaign for one of your most important decisions – an employment search. Whether you’re finishing school and ready to jump into an office environment, out of work and searching for a job, ready to climb the next rung of your organization’s ladder, wanting to check out of the daily corporate grind for a position with a non-profit, or simply looking to understand what your value is on the open market, now is a good time to understand the market for 2014.

According to a recent article from the Society for Human Resource Management, your chances of finding something new, different, and better are very good. Not only have the months leading up to 2014 shown growth in the total number of available jobs, this trend will continue well into 2014. Plus, recent studies have shown:

  • 27% of US organizations will add jobs within the next six months with the unemployment rate continuing to drop (National Association of Business Economics 2013 Survey)
  • Businesses will hire more recent college graduates than in previous years (National Association of Colleges and Employers 2013 Survey)
  • Software developers and technical staff will see significant job and salary growth in 2014 (Robert Half International salary guide)

And perhaps most interesting:

  • 83% of employees indicate they will be looking for a new job, with an additional 12% auditing the employment market to assess their worth as an employee

As an organization dedicated to promoting the leadership of young professionals, JCI USA and local Jaycee chapters around the country are ready to help you maximize your skills and increase your knowledge base through proven trainings, seminars, and materials. We encourage our members and interested visitors to check out JCI USA’s Twitter and Facebook page for numerous opportunities to help you achieve your next step in personal and professional growth. Feel free to share any tips or techniques you’ve learned over the years – we’d love to hear from you!

Happy New Year! Reflecting on Resolutions and Goals

Welcome to a New Year! After weeks of celebrating the successes of 2013 with family, friends, and co-workers, now is a great time to evaluate the progress you’ve made in the important areas of your life, and most importantly, set new goals to ensure an upcoming year that is both exciting and productive. One part of JCI USA’s plan is to help get started down that path early.

Take a look at your accomplishments from 2013 and compare them to the goal and resolutions you created a year ago. Did you meet your targets? Were you able to reach the objectives that you set in your personal and professional life? Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re like most people, you’re making significant advances if you can achieve even half of what you planned last January.

So what’s the secret to keeping your goals forefront in your mind and on an achievable track? Experts in fields such as psychology and organizational behavior have narrowed successful techniques to a few simple suggestions:

  • Avoid abstractness – be very clear about what exact steps you will take to achieve your specific result. Try not to set goals with undefined or vague outcomes.
  • Create measureable goals – part of completing any long-term work project is having an understanding how far you’ve come, and how much is left to be accomplished. The same is true for your personal objectives. Keeping track of your progress by developing milestones will help you stay both positive and organized.
  • Take advantage of help – whether it’s family members, co-workers, or your local Jaycee chapter, there are individuals and groups with virtually any expertise to assist you in reaching your goals. So don’t be afraid to learn a new professional skill, tackle the home improvement that you’ve never done before, or take the lead in organizing a socially-conscious project, help is available!
  • Replace bad habits with good ones – this can include anything from waking up late to not eating healthy to spending money unwisely, and a thousand other things we want to change about ourselves. The answer lies in conditioning our minds and bodies to create different rituals and patterns. If you wake up every morning and have a cigarette, change it to a power bar. If you start snacking after work and end up in an unproductive nap before dinner, think about investing in a gym membership. It’s the small changes in lifestyle that produce the most consistent results.
  • Be realistic about success – remember, things will happen that effect your goals, and they will change. You may find yourself adjusting your outcomes…sometimes positively, and other times negatively. Keep in mind that change is a part of life, and applying that philosophy to your goals will help you eliminate some frustration from your daily routine.

Congratulations on a great 2013! JCI USA President Fay Poissant and her team are ready to provide all of us and all chapters across the nation with the training and resources to DREAM BIG in 2014, making it an even better year for your personal and professional development. Let’s collaborate for an exciting and productive year!

(PS. Hey local Presidents, don’t forget to register your 2014 Board of Directors on the JCI website! This is important so that your members can sign up for trainings, earn credit hours, and have full access to all that JCI has to offer!  Here’s a link to how to register your team:  http://www.jci.cc/media/en/19672/Register+your+2014+Board+of+Directors+in+the+JCI+Online+Directory)