FLDC 2019

Anaheim, California – From Friday, November 8th to Sunday, November 10th, 2019, over 50 students traveled to Anaheim for California DECA’s 1st Fall Leadership Development Conference (FLDC), which gave new members a closer look at three DECA industry clusters in a noncompetitive environment. As the students’ first official DECA conference, they learned about the basics of the various tracks offered: leadership, hospitality, and entrepreneurship, and had the opportunity to listen to leaders in the business world reflect on their entrepreneurial journeys.

“FLDC’s various tracks provided a pathway for students to become familiar with some of DECA’s clusters and demonstrate growth as leaders,” said Bryan Zhang (10), Director of Written Events. “With the conference being the students’ first experience pitching their ideas to fellow competitors, FLDC allowed them to master their presentation skills while networking with people across California. Furthermore, the variety of keynote speakers taught the attendees about resilience and personal development through engaging activities and meaningful anecdotes. Overall, I think FLDC was an enriching experience for both seasoned veterans and novices of DECA.”

Upon arriving at the Sheraton Park Hotel on Friday afternoon, the attendees practiced testing and role-plays with their mentors while enjoying pizza and bundt cakes for lunch. After checking into hotel rooms, students were given free time to eat dinner and relax.

In the evening, members attended the Opening Session, where they were introduced to the theme of the conference, Leadership wins Championships, and heard from keynote speaker Jake Kelfer, author of the best-seller “Elevated Beyond,” discuss his career journey and life lessons.

“FLDC was very well run and gave me many new opportunities to learn from mentors and speakers. During the conference, I also got to bond with my chapter and make new friends in my track group,” said Lexi Nishimura (9).

Following the Opening Session, students assembled with their respective tracks for a Testing Session and an introduction to the field. Through teamwork activities, members had the opportunity to meet other California DECA members and lay the groundwork for their final presentation with their groups. 

On Saturday morning, attendees gathered for the Morning Session, where speaker Scott Mathie, founder of NixYourLimits, talked about Walt Disney’s leadership and creative problem-solving skills. Then, the students transferred into their track groups to learn key concepts for their respective clusters and begin working on their final presentations. The Entrepreneurship track brainstormed ideas for a business proposal, while the Leadership and Hospitality tracks learned basic terminologies and leadership styles. Students then went out to get lunch in Anaheim before reconvening in the afternoon. After a quick break for lunch, students reconvened in the afternoon to continue polishing and practicing their presentations. 

“As the first conference of the year, FLDC was an incredible experience for kids to learn about DECA. The conference provided students a great introduction to the different clusters, especially as each track was based on a competitive event that DECA offers. Our members’ creative presentations impressed me and showed how many highly skilled future DECA competitors and emerging leaders are within our chapter,” said Mahi Kolla (12), Co-Chief Executive Officer of Harker DECA. “The keynote speakers were also some of the best I’ve seen so far and gave attendees invaluable advice on leadership and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the conference allowed our members to bond with each other, and I think the balance between fun and learning created an amazing first DECA experience for our chapter.”

Then, attendees listened to California DECA’s State Director Brycen Woodley’s roleplay tips and tricks. Afterwards, students were given free time to relax and prepare for Disneyland, where they spent the rest of the night. 

“This conference was a lot of fun and really showed me what future DECA conferences might be like,” said Smrithi Sambamurthy (9). “The activities were very engaging and at times, somewhat challenging. Overall, FLDC was an amazing experience and I made many new friends along the way.”

On Sunday morning, students refined their track presentations in preparation for the DECA Combine. They were given the opportunity to present their ideas as well as learn from other groups, including those in different tracks. Then, attendees convened for the Closing Ceremony, where winners were announced and the state officers delivered closing remarks.

“The work ethic of our new members was truly impressive; they took the initiative to use free time to practice their competitive events and work on their track presentations," said Mr. Glass, Harker DECA's Chapter Advisor. "I saw a multitude of amazing pitches and I’m very excited to see what the following conferences have in store for our chapter’s new competitors."

Overall, FLDC was an informative conference where students created lasting memories with their peers and developed skills crucial to becoming competitively successful. Harker DECA is looking forward to the first competitive conference of the 2019-2020 season, SVCDC. Go Eagles!