September 3, 2019
Swami Mukundananda, Founder of JKYog, world-renowned yogi, spiritual teacher, and mind management authority, takes his teachings to the cutting edge of the future – the next generation. Among the many innovative youth initiatives garnering attention around the world, his Youth Leadership Conference in Dallas, TX, USA, highlights his innovative holistic and service-oriented approach to youth development.
Joining hands with leading business, technology, and community leaders, Swami Mukundananda opens a clear pathway to the personal growth and self-development necessary for leadership training. Youth receive close and personal access to a wide array of expertise in entrepreneurship, the field of technology, finance, and more in addition to Mukundananda himself.
“While youth today are born into a world overflowing with information and technology, they still need to have a navigational system and operating manual pointing them in the right direction. JKYog’s Youth Leadership Conference points each young person into a direction that teaches the skills to maximize their full potential,” explains Swami Mukundananda.
Swami Mukundananda works closely with all the youth throughout the program. He begins by explaining that “Leadership is an opportunity to serve the people. The primary task is to take people to the higher level.” Swamiji points to Jim Whittaker, one of the first people to climb Mount Everest. “When Whitaker describes his biggest achievement in life, Whittaker doesn’t mention his achievement of reaching the Everest’s peak, but instead describes his service in taking others to the top. The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others gave him the most satisfaction.”
The Youth Leadership Conference faculty brings a great diversity of experience, perspective, and expertise to the table. “Hearing the nuts and bolts of what it takes to stand out and be successful in their fields this program is a real eye opener for me. I realize now I have to work on myself a lot but I feel really inspired that this work remains within my reach,” shared Nisha, one of college students.
“We misleadingly believe developing leadership skills simply means good grades in school and extracurricular activities,” notes Prem Kishnani, a high school student. “Before JKYog’s Youth programs, I considered myself a good leader and had been accepted into multiple leadership positions in the extra-curricular activities I participated in. It is with great satisfaction I can say that I was wrong.”
Learning what makes a leader is the first step to that awakening. Swami Mukundananda highlights nine qualities that define true leaders. Among the nine is passion to help others, vision, desire to be a catalyst for change and courage. He warns that “The urge to conform is so strong in the youth, but it must be overcome,” for only then by standing up for one’s values, can anyone begin to take the steps to becoming a leader.
Swamiji particularly emphasizes the importance of courage. He cites, “Winston Churchill became leader when Germany was overrunning the allies and Churchill had the courage and stood like a rock and change the situation.”
JKYog provides youth with invaluable exposure to diverse expertise and real world leaders, from young entrepreneur startup founder, renowned motivational speaker, author and business coach, Payal Nanjiani, to institutional, financial, and tech trail blazers.
The diverse faculty shares their personal roadmap for success. JKYog organizers connect youth with a great variety of leaders from various backgrounds to holistically address all aspects of leadership based on Swami Mukundananda’s guidance and vision. “No doubt, the best way to learn the art of leading comes from an up close and personal look into the lives of great leaders. Connecting great leaders of this generation with youth fosters greatness in our future,” he explained.
One of the Leadership Conference faculty, Dr. Gopal Gupta, entrepreneur and HOD of Computer Science at UTD Dallas, inspires students through the review of the progress of technologies and electronic devices, “The biggest advances are made when someone is able to break new ground rather than follow the existing path.” Another faculty member, Ewa Musial, Ph.D., Director of Mentoring for Dallas Fort Worth Alliance of Technology and Women shared how critical networking is to effective leadership.
Venture capitalist, Dayakar Puskoor, Managing Director of Naya Ventures, and charter member of The Indus Entrepreneur, teaches youth about entrepreneurship. He walks the youth through the steps of how to take a concept and present it to venture capitalists. Puskoor also conducts a judged competition which requires students to analyze outstanding leaders and demonstrate how they contributed to society. He continually advises students to “Do something you know and have passion for rather than go for the easy stuff and just go for the money if you really want to be successful. Don’t just become a manager, become a leader. Becoming an entrepreneur and starting a company is a great way to come a leader.”
Puskoor shares glimpses into the ups and downs of the world of the venture capitalist. He shows, “It’s not easy and there’s a lot of hardship as a VC. Nine out of ten startups in technology fail. It takes 5 to 8 years for many startups to reach a stable and profitable stage.”
Youth have so much technology at their fingertips, yet the technology of understanding the self and achieving one’s full potential is something many youth may be missing. Mukundananda believes the arduous road to success requires more than just technical know-how. He points out that “The technology of character development and spirituality growth are key to optimum leadership development. Our communities thrive and flourish only when we invest in holistically preparing the future generation,” Puskoor adds, “Working with capital funds can grow the ego. Ego becomes an impediment to success. Also avoid being greedy, that’s where we can make huge mistakes.”
Besides leadership workshops, JKYog runs numerous ongoing youth programs in the USA and around the globe. Little Hands Big Hearts initiative, SPARK, and the JKYog Youth Club have gained recognition for implementing programs engaging youth in community service. These youth programs inspire youth to help others, whether it is collection drives for food banks or for agencies serving the homeless, or for distribution of laptops to underprivileged youth through the KAKE initiative (Kids Assisting Kids in Education). The Bal-Mukund character development program for ages 5 to 15 instills values, Vedic wisdom, an appreciation for spirituality and Hindu culture. JKYog has established youth public speaking programs in affiliation with Toastmasters International, an important stepping stone for leadership.
Swami Mukundananda indeed prioritizes youth in his growing organization. He keeps focus on his aspirations explaining “We must work together to provide youth with the most essential technology of character development to empower them to reach their full potential.”