Clearing Your Mind Through Meditation

By Gina Lopez, Leadership Gilroy Board of Directors
August 15, 2016

I was surprised to learn that Marc Benioff, the CEO of, Ariana Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, and Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn all have regular meditation practices and give credit to meditation as a key ingredient to the success of their businesses. Even large companies such as Google have incorporated meditation spaces within their campuses for their employees to meditate during the workday to help nurture creativity. All of these cutting-edge leaders seem to know this secret, so I say, "If meditation is good enough for these billionaires, I'm hopping on board!"

I began meditating several months ago and found that the benefits far surpassed my expectations. Today, I find myself more centered with an increased ability to focus, more creative in my problem solving skills, as well as better able to handle stressful situations in a calm and controlled fashion. All of these qualities were inside me all along, they were just buried under hectic schedules and mile-long to-do lists. There is a confident, grounded person with vision and clarity emerging from deep inside all of us and every day I become more excited to watch my true leader come shinning through.

My State Farm Insurance business, as well as my Travel business, are both flourishing as a result of this new practice I've put in place, and the greatest thing is that the expansion all seems to be happening so seamlessly. I've been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember, but now I'm an entrepreneur on fire - having more fun and finding more freedom than I imagined was possible. I used to think that clearing my schedule would bring me peace and abundance; now I know it's clearing my mind.

Finding Leadership in Everything – Including Fitness

By Kassi Swalboski, Leadership Gilroy Board of Directors
July 13, 2016

Kassi Swalboski is the owner of Crossfit Gilroy and currently serves on the board of directors for Leadership Gilroy. She shares some valuable lessons from the gym that have helped her become a better leader:

  • Be prepared for the unknown - Being a part of CrossFit you don't know what the workout is going to be until you get there that day. The anticipation often leads to feeling sick in the stomach or possibly wanting to not even go due to the "unknown". Leaders will quickly be able to adjust to the needs of those they are leading as well as keep calm under the pressures of a mishap because they are mentally prepared for the unknown.
  • Create a community - Every good leader has a following of people because they are clearly trusted and respected. To be respected you have to give respect and time to each individual on your team. The more time you spend one on one with people and making them feel connected to you, the more they will want to follow you.
  • Have guts - Sometimes in a workout you need to have the guts to "no rep" your friend after a faulty lift Telling people that their efforts, although great, aren't going to count is a VERY hard task. Also, telling people what you need from them and being direct is necessary for building the team you're looking for. They will know your expectations and the "no-repping" will in turn be less and less.
  • Kassi uses these tips to be a strong leader at the gym and in everyday life. We hope you are inspired to prepare for the unknown, create a strong community and have guts as you interact with friends, co-workers and in the organizations you’re involved with.

Leadership Gilroy Class of 2016 – Striving to Make Gilroy A City With A Beat

June 17, 2016

Each year the Leadership Gilroy class works together on a community service project. Projects are designed to make an impact on the community and provide a learning platform for the class to practice leadership skills they have been learning throughout the program.

This year the Class of 2016 has a mission to educate the community regarding the importance of learning hands-only CPR and the significance of early Automated External Defibrillator (AED) use. In collaboration with the City of Gilroy and the Fire Department, the class would like to help Gilroy become a “HEARTSafe City" – a movement to educate communities about recognition and assistance with sudden cardiac arrest, as well having one public access AED for every 1,000 residents.

They will be hosting a 5K HEARTSafe Run/Walk at the Gilroy Sports Complex on August 20th from 8-11am. Hands only CPR and AED instruction will be provided at the event. In addition to raising awareness on this important topic, the class is raising funds to purchase AEDs for several non-profits in an effort to increase the number of public access defibrillators located in the community.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is responsible for taking the lives of over 326,000 adults and children each year. The class hopes the community of Gilroy will join them in understanding the significant impact that can be made in a community when citizens learn CPR and AED use. According to The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, “When bystanders intervene by giving CPR and using AEDs before EMS arrives, four out of 10 victims survive.”

For more information or to make a donation, please visit or email

Reflections on Leadership

By Amparo Mendoza-Patino, Leadership Gilroy Board of Directors
May 13, 2016

Amparo Mendoza-Patino is a local Intero real estate agent and a current board member for Leadership Gilroy. She is a graduate of the LG Class of 2015 and believes everyone has the opportunity to be a leader. She shares some additional thoughts on leadership here:

  • We are all leaders - At some point in our lives whether we like it or not, we are placed in a position to lead. We will lead others in a variety of areas of life such as faith, family, friends, children, teams, organizations, companies and non-profits.
  • Know what leadership is - Being a leader is not a right, it is a privilege. It is not a title easily given, but one that is earned. Leadership is not boastful, but instead is vulnerable, loyal and full of integrity. It is not a job, but a purpose. It requires more listening than talking and lifting others up rather than putting them down. It is inspiring others as opposed to intimidating them.
  • Our titles don’t make us leaders - It is not our title or what we say that makes us a great leader. Who we are on a day-today basis and how we positively influence others is what defines true leadership.

We hope these thoughts spark your passion for leadership. In whatever aspect of your life it may apply, may you leave a positive impact on those around you and empower others to do the same!

A Personal Perspective on Crucial Conversations

By Randy Elder, Leadership Gilroy Board of Directors
April 14, 2016

Randy Elder is the owner of the full-service CPA firm Elder & Company and currently serves as Treasurer of Leadership Gilroy. As a member of the class of 2012 he was introduced to the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler) and states that it improved the way he relates to clients, employees, friends and family. Explaining that crucial conversations are centered around tough issues and when stakes are high, Randy shares his take away thoughts below:

  • Create Safety - When a safe space is created, those involved can freely share their opinions and feelings. They articulate their thoughts and theories, whether or not they are the popular sentiment. They contribute to a shared pool of meaning, which, in turn, allows all involved to make better choices.
  • Master Your Story - By nature crucial conversations are emotionally charged. Don’t sabotage an already stressful situation by telling yourself how the conversation will unfold and what the other person is thinking. You can only be responsible for your own story.
  • Move to Action - After crucial conversations, decide how to move forward. Clearly identify who will be involved in decision making and why. List some of the important decisions to be made and how decisions should be made in the future. This simple discussion will prevent future frustrations.

Having a crucial conversation provides participants the opportunity to share their truth and better their world. Perhaps David M. Kelley says it best: “I always found that if you handle a problem in a benevolent way and a transparent way and involve other people, so it's just not your personal opinion, that people get to the other side of these difficult conversations being more enthusiastic.”

Leadership Tips

By Joel Goldsmith, Leadership Gilroy Board of Directors
March 15, 2016

In my career running Goldsmith Seeds, being a part of industry organizations, and supporting non-profits, I have learned a lot about leadership, both the good and the bad. Here are three of the top leadership lessons I have learned:

  • Be Inclusive - Everyone involved wants to feel like their contributions are important. Dismissing someone’s thoughts can be very demoralizing. Conversely, changing your mind because you listened to them is one of the most powerful motivators that I have ever seen. When someone came to me looking for an answer, I always started with what they felt should be done. Doing so not only gave us better solutions, it gave them more confidence to speak up in the future.
  • Embrace Smarter People - Some “leaders” feel that they need to be the smartest person in the room. I learned that if I surrounded myself with really smart and knowledgeable people, we could all be more successful. My role then transitioned from giving instructions to setting a clear direction for the company or organization, so everyone understood their role in helping us be successful. One of the best decisions I made was to hire a new CFO, Director of Sales & Marketing, and Human Resource Manager, all at the same time. Getting them and our existing employees comfortable took a bit of work, but the company went on a very strong growth spurt.
  • Be Calm and Patient - This is maybe the hardest of all. When things are spiraling out of control, it can be hard to stay calm. But in the midst of chaos, seeing the boss freaking out makes everyone scared and fearful. Showing patience gives others hope that things will get better. And that is the most important thing that a leader can accomplish.

Leaders who Serve – Joys of Giving Back

By Andrea Gamble, Administrative Director
February 22, 2016

Konni Thomas is the owner of First Street Coffee House and serves as the current President of Leadership Gilroy. As a leader in our community, Konni knows the joys of giving back. She supports many of our local non-profit organizations and shares some reflections here:

  • It feels good to help those in need. Gilroy's non-profit agencies embody the spirit and values of our community by helping hundreds of individuals and families. Supporting organizations that provide services to those in need is very fulfilling.
  • Generosity is good for business. While this isn’t the motivation behind her involvement, Konni finds that generosity multiplies itself and the support she offers local organizations has been surprisingly beneficial to her own business as well.
  • Giving back is really quite fun. Attending events such as fundraisers, galas, luncheons and dinners is an enjoyable way to spend time with friends, a great way to meet new people and an opportunity to get connected in the community.

From Operation Freedom Paws and Community Solutions, to Rebekah Children’s Services and St. Joseph’s Family Center – there are so many different organizations making an impact on our community. They help us dream big, raise expectations and work toward common goals. They touch hundreds of lives each day and help foster a positive environment.

It is vital to support our non-profit agencies with our time, talent and treasure. If you already support a local non-profit, perhaps you’ll consider ways to expand your reach. If you are looking for ways to get plugged in, Gilroy has many opportunities. Konni reminds us that, in the words of Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.


Show your support of the Leadership Gilroy program by sponsoring an employee, funding a scholarship, participating in our fundraiser events, or donating to our endowment fund.