World travels often come with a wealth of stories, knowledge and cultural enrichment.
For Baldwin Park resident Shannon Walsh, her life experiences, travels and education have led to her transformation into what she calls a multi-potentialite. Now, she’s using those experiences to share inspiration and tastes of different cultures with fellow residents of Baldwin Park.
From Syracuse, South Korea and Japan to Orlando, New York City and countless other places, Walsh has held a number of business-leadership and executive roles. She currently offers executive coaching and consulting to help people build their dreams within organizations.
It’s why she’s hosting the Central Florida Leadership Forum, which features many movers and shakers in the Central Florida community. As part of the CFLF, one of the highlights for leaders only is a “Dock-U-Mentory,” held on the covered dock on Lake Baldwin.
The goal of the CFLF is to get local business leaders out of their offices and into an environment where they can learn strategies for creating and leading healthier teams. To achieve organizational health and high-performing teams, leaders also need to focus on leading healthy teams — not just productive ones, Walsh says.
At the CFLF, leaders will be able to connect with other influential business leaders, as well as view a simulcast of world-renowned experts addressing leading healthy teams and developing leaders worth following.
But Walsh also wants to help mold leaders into the best and healthiest versions of themselves. That’s where her personal connection to the dock at Baldwin Park — and therefore the Dock-U-Mentory aspect of leadership training — comes in.
“Because I’m on the dock every day, I thought it’d be great, because my whole goal is to get leaders out of their offices and into nature,” she says. “I try to get people out in nature, and I firmly believe that instead of snapping on the news or turning to your phone first thing in the morning, if you go and watch the best show in the world (the sunrise), you’re going to have an amazing day. I firmly believe you can’t have a wonderful day unless you include some time for wonder.
“Sometimes, we get our schedules so booked that there is no time for wonder,” she says. “It creates a paradigm shift, and we need those all the time. The Dock-U-Mentory … it’s leaders from the Central Florida community talking about how they need healthy teams. It’s an opportunity to brag in a positive way and inspire people, and we can all learn from each other.”
Walsh often finds herself at Lake Baldwin when the sun rises — it’s her way of starting her day off on the right foot, getting some time in with nature and taking time to be present. She loves striking up conversations with other passersby.
“The dock … presents this opportunity to communicate with nature, be present, ground yourself and realize every day is a new start to a day,” she says. “If you see the incredible wonder of what happens first thing every single morning, you’re going to understand all the possibilities you’re going to have throughout the day. As I’m speaking so many languages and meeting so many people around the lake, we have to be open to … the way that we work with people in our offices, (our) customers, the way we interact with our community — people are from so many different cultures.”
Aside from organizing the CFLF and Dock-U-Mentory for local leaders, Walsh also is spearheading a new Ethnic Dining Group for Baldwin Park residents. The idea is to expand people’s minds and palates, as well as to teach them more about other cultures.
Once per month, Walsh plans to take group members to a new ethnic-food restaurant. For August’s meeting, the group ate at Cocina 214 and learned about Mexican culture there. September’s food and culture of choice was Vietnamese.
“I feel like there are so many wonderful ethnic-food restaurants in our area, and it’s getting better and better,” she says. “I wanted to get people out of the Baldwin Park area and just kind of roam around town. What I want to do is feature different individuals from different restaurants — Vietnamese, Ethiopian and more. I want people to feel comfortable. If you don’t know what Ethiopian food, is you don’t know that you have to eat it with your hands.
“My whole thing is getting people out of their comfort zone,” she says. “There’s an opportunity for us to come together as a community, meet each other and do something. We’re going to learn a bit of the language before going to the restaurants, meet with the owners and get a little bit of their philosophy about the food.
“Baldwin Park is a place of new beginnings, and it’s a very special, special place,” she says. “It’s very special that we have this type of community within our community. It’s really exciting just to see … people coming together to learn from each other and experts, and to get out. When you’re in a corporate bubble or working from home or anywhere else, you’re not engaging with people who can make you better, and I believe you are the sum total of your personal and professional orbit.”