Steven G. Zylstra Summer 2016 Message

by Steven G. Zylstra

Steven G. Zylstra, President and CEO, Arizona Technology Council

Steven G. Zylstra, President and CEO, Arizona Technology Council

Who are the leaders to follow? As Arizona and the rest of the nation enter the home stretch leading to the November elections, this is a question that comes up again and again. When it arises in the state’s technology community, the answer is easier to reach: They walk among members of the Arizona Technology Council.

Several council initiatives are preparing rising stars for the corner office and helping keep the fire burning in their bellies once they’ve arrived. The Council does this through programs created as part of its mission to empower Arizona’s technology community. We work to identify and support those people who just need the right connections with the right coaching to continue their climb.

As happens many times in business, the best opportunities can occur over a game of golf. That was the case in 2008 when the first foursome teed off in Sedona at our first CEO Retreat, which brought together CEOs, presidents and business owners for workshops, keynote presentations and, most importantly, networking. We’ve demonstrated that sometimes you only can learn something new from someone who has been there, too. If that sounds like something for you, the annual event returns to Sedona Aug. 8–9, opening with golf at Seven Canyons – Sedona followed by the rest of the program at Enchantment Resort.

The success of the retreat also helped trigger the idea that C-level executives need support year-round. With that in mind, the Council launched the Executive Roundtable in Phoenix. With the assistance of professional facilitators, business leaders accepted into the group address in a peer-to-peer setting the issues they and their companies face. Each group provides a confidential, non-competitive environment for sharing experience-based knowledge. On the heels of the Roundtable’s success, the Council later launched the similar CEO Network in Tucson.

Most recently, we turned our attention to helping leaders reach that next level. The Council partnered with ImpaQ Solutions to create the Transformational Leadership Program. For the past six months, the first cohort has attended sessions where they received one-on-one executive coaching, and gained invaluable insight through assessments and feedback. These observations from Matthew Forkner, deputy general counsel at GoDaddy, might best capture what to expect: “Having participated in other programs that were light on substance and little more than organized pep rallies, I was extremely skeptical at the outset. But I’ve been blown away and very impressed with the program. It created a greater awareness in me of my strengths and weaknesses, and gave me very clear guidance on what I can do as a leader moving forward.”

Incidentally, applications are now being accepted for the second cohort. In fact, if you would like more details on any of the three programs, I encourage you to visit the Council’s website at

There is some level of leadership in all of us. Sometimes, all it takes is finding the right avenue to help it grow. And we at the Council are here to help leaders find their pathways to success.

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