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Are you in full back-to-school mode?

The beginning of a new school year is exciting for students and parents, but it can also be overwhelming to start something new and be in a new environment.

How can students thrive in this back-to-school environment? It’s all about their skills and mindsets.

In my book The Future Leader, I interviewed more than 140 top CEOs about the skills and mindsets that will be required for future leaders. From their insights and my own research, I developed the Notable Nine: four essential mindsets and five skills.

The Notable Nine was originally intended to be used in a business setting, but it can also work for students of all ages. These skills and mindsets are crucial for the next generation of leaders and can help students get a jump on preparing for success in all aspects of their lives.

Here’s how the Notable Nine can help students (and their parents) transition back to school for a positive year:


The Explorer

Explorers are curious and open to the ideas of others as they try new things and go to new places. The map and landscape are constantly changing, so explorers never stop learning, adapting, and adjusting.

Children are naturally curious, but that ability is slowly stamped out of them as they grow, go through school, and enter the workforce. Adopting the mindset of the explorer as a student means celebrating learning and growing, being excited to learn new things, and looking for ways to apply your learning to new challenges and opportunities. Explorers work well with others and are eager to hear what other people have to say.

The Chef

Great chefs combine numerous ingredients to make delicious meals. Similarly, leaders and students with the chef mindset combine numerous ingredients to create a great environment, team, and project. The two main ingredients for leader chefs are humanity and technology, which I combined to create HumanIT. The same is true for students of all ages. The human side of school and life is building relationships, getting to know people, and tapping into our uniquely human characteristics like creativity and empathy. The technology side is all about leveraging new technology, increasing efficiency, and streamlining operations.

In a school setting, HumanIT means learning from both people and technology. Kids can become addicted to technology, and parents and teachers should encourage technology usage and experimentation BUT in balance with human interaction, playtime, building relationships, and being a kid off-screen.

The Servant

In a leadership sense, having the mindset of the servant means getting out of your corner office to serve your team, your customers, your boss, and yourself. The goal is to lift the people around you and help everyone grow and thrive together.

Service is equally important in a school setting. Students can serve their teachers by paying attention and coming to them with solutions instead of complaints. Encourage students to work well with their classmates and listen to their ideas. Parents and teachers also need to put kids in a good mental and physical space to succeed. They aren’t just students, but also sons, daughters, friends, and community members. Encourage healthy habits and give kids good activities and time to just be a kid so they have the mental energy to learn and grow.

The Global Citizen

As technology improves, the world becomes smaller. We can now communicate and work with people from across the globe. And this will only continue in the future. To succeed, students have to understand different cultures and be open to new ideas. Global citizens think globally, realize the broader impact of their decisions, and can work with diverse teams.

Students don’t have to travel the world to be global citizens–they can develop this mindset right at home by being introduced to new cultures and ideas. Encourages kids to make friends with people who look or act differently than they do, ask kids their thoughts on the community and world events to broaden their scope beyond just their classroom, and teach them about holidays and history from different cultures. The goal is to get them to branch out beyond their comfort zone to celebrate new and diverse ideas.

There are 6 trends that are transforming leadership forever do you know what they are and are you ready for them? Download the PDF to learn what these 6 trends are and what you should be doing about each one of them. These are crucial for your leadership and career development in the future of work!


The Futurist

Futurists don’t predict the future, but they look at various possibilities that may occur in the future and think through the impact of each one. They help others prepare for what could happen in the future and always have an eye towards what’s coming next.

Futurist students need to be open-minded and aware of the many possibilities that could occur in the future. Teach them to think of different things that could happen and how they can prepare. That comes from encouraging them to ask questions, be curious, and play around with different ideas.


Yoda is more than just a lovable green creature from Star Wars, he’s one of the best examples of emotional intelligence. Leaders and students have to channel their inner Yoda and practice empathy and self-awareness. Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to see things from their perspective. Practicing empathy benefits every interpersonal situation—it helps students manage conflict, improve collaboration, and create a supportive team environment.

Self-awareness is the practice of being aware of your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and state of mind. There are two forms of self-awareness: internal, or how you view yourself, and external, or how other people view you. Teach kids about their emotions and encourage them to recognize what they are feeling so they can better regulate their mood and energy.

The Translator

Translators are great communicators who bridge the gap between people and ideas. One of the most overlooked aspects of communication is listening. Active listening is more than just hearing–it means being engaged in a conversation and paying attention to what’s being said. Students who are great listeners put away distractions to focus on the speaker, ask follow-up and clarifying questions, and seek to understand and not judge.

Translators know what channel to use to effectively share their message. They think about other people and are open, clear, and passionate in their communication. Not everything can be effectively shared via email or text, so students need to think about the best way to deliver their message clearly and concisely.

The Coach

One of the most important skills for leaders is to be coaches and mentors and to make people more successful than them. Students may think their teachers are the coaches, but they can also develop this skill. They don’t have to be older or in a leadership position to motivate and encourage their peers. Encourage them to work with people from other cultures and ages and not limit themselves to people who are only their age or grade.

Students can also step in as mentors. Students need to find a mentor they can trust to lead and guide them, but they can also act as a mentor for a less experienced student or practice reverse mentoring where they mentor older people on things like technology and new ideas.

The Technology Teenager

When adults have problems with technology, who do they ask? Teenagers. That’s because teenagers tend to be up to date on the latest technology. Even when they aren’t totally familiar with something, they know how to research, tinker, and find out how it works. The skill of the technology teenager may come naturally to many students, but it is still crucial for their future success. To develop this skill, encourage students to stay curious about technology. They need to continually experiment, explore, and find new ways to use technology to improve their lives and the lives of people around them.

No matter where your kids are in school, set them up for future success by adopting the Notable Nine. These skills and mindsets can help students of all ages have a great school year and prepare them to be fantastic future leaders.

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There are 6 trends that are transforming leadership forever do you know what they are and are you ready for them? Download the PDF to learn what these 6 trends are and what you should be doing about each one of them. These are crucial for your leadership and career development in the future of work!