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It's 'game on' as Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance looks to the future

Side of Ranch: Jay Heater

Bradenton's Steve Shenbaum, shown teaching a seminar, is bringing his game on Nation to Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance members.
Bradenton's Steve Shenbaum, shown teaching a seminar, is bringing his game on Nation to Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance members.
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As I've moved around the country over the years, a number of the business alliance-type organizations I have covered dealt mostly with the here-and-now.

It's a vital service, leading to networking and connections. It's something the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance has mastered.

But Executive Director Heather Kasten and the LWRBA obviously want more. They want to assist their member businesses in looking forward.

Jay Heater
Jay Heater

Calling the idea "cutting edge," Kasten talked about a new program to be offered this fall called "The Executive Academy: Real Skill for Real Business."

"We want to identify people within a business who want to move up the corporate ladder," Kasten said. "It's a great leadership program in the area."

Kasten was talking about Steve Shenbaum's "game on Nation," an organization which develops future leaders and which will teach The Executive Academy. Bradenton's Shenbaum founded game on Nation in 1997, and focused on developing sports leaders. He was so impressive, IMG Academy hired him to inspire its athletes to become leaders from 2003 to 2012.

Any of you who have participated in sports always have heard those leadership skills carry over into the business world. Obviously, Shenbaum has proved that theory to be true. Beside working now with NASCAR, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the SEC, game on Nation has been employed by Hilton, Bealls and Honda, among others, to prepare the leaders of the future.

Normally working with large corporations or high-profile clients, Shenbaum always has wanted to make an impact on his hometown area businesses. He is excited to have that opportunity through the LWRBA. 

“Many of our clients are on the national scale, but we are equally driven to work with influencers who can impact our local community.” Shenbaum said. “This program gives us a chance to do just that.”

Building leaders is something all our businesses have said they want," Kasten said. "We're committed and we're moving forward. We're in the business of connecting and helping our businesses."

Kasten said the six-phase program, which begins in September, is geared more toward management level employees, but would be important for any employee, such as a waiter who might become a manager at the restaurant. See said some of her member businesses already have committed to sending two or three employees.

"Emotional intelligence might be more relevant than skill sets," Kasten said.

Shenbaum said any employee who "influences" a business would benefit from the leadership skills that eventually could lead to management. He said his program has been well-received because those who take the course enjoy it. They want to retain the information, according to Shenbaum. 

In partnership with LWRBA, game on Nation crafted the program's curriculum to include themes involving communication, branding, economic IQ, talent retention, workplace wellness and leadership.

LWRBA Chairman Darren Inverso called game on Nation the "premier firm in the industry."

The Executive Academy will meet Friday afternoons and the fall program dates are Sept. 9, Sept. 23, Oct. 7, Oct. 21, Nov. 4 and Nov. 18. The tuition for the academy is $1,200 per participant. Applications are due by Aug. 10.

"This is a new product we're offering," Kasten said. "It's a brand new, cutting edge idea."





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