Raise your hand if you can remember a keynote speaker at a professional association convention who blew you away while still making you want to stay for more.
Keep your hand up if you stopped your plans for the rest of the day, just to connect with that speaker. Keep your hand up if you mustered the courage to think that awesome person would want to go for coffee—right now, and seize the moment to learn about you?
That’s how I met Shelly Alcorn. She says a lot of things you don’t want to hear, but your survival instincts are telling you she’s the one person holding a seat for you in the lifeboat. If you can get past the complexity and intensity of her personality, then you understand exactly why right now is the moment to jump into action, for your life.
Shelly sees the big picture of humanity, technology, the future, global issues, plus the data and science backing up everything she says. While most people might say they want to know the future, they may be thinking about themselves, such as, Will I be successful? Or will my children grow up with more than I ever had? When Shelly shows you the future, it’s about all of the inevitable horrors if you do nothing at all and it’s about the regeneration of people, communities, and the planet, if you take on more responsibility and act all the time for the good of others, instead of self-interests mostly
That first coffee with Shelly opened a Pandora’s box of possibilities, which turned into a long-running professional experience, marked by frequent communication by phone and text messaging.
Shelly is the Principal Futurist at Michelle Alcorn and Associates and the Founder of xPresso Ed, and scores on the high end of gifted adult traits, across more than 25 indicators. That may be why she tends to attract other geniuses, many with flaws, intensely human, and also struggling to find the line between a fulfilling evolutionary life or denying gifts, just to please others.
Reconciling dilemmas has taken Shelly a lifetime of growing up, college, fast-track success as the executive director of two associations, plus motherhood, business partnership as the association futurist in a multiple-association management firm, and has had the privilege of serving as co-creator and lead facilitator of the NextGen Summit for the American Society of Association Executives over the past decade.
What Shelly wants for all of us is what she wants for herself: To see our collective human species take action to create an end to physical and emotional violence, mitigate and solve the climate crisis, and to promote the values of diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility. A good start would be for others to understand her, “get” her, absorb enormous amounts of truth, and “keep up” with her in a life that is rationally passionate, serenely active, creatively mature, energetically patient, and a genuine gift to all.
There are more than 50 measurable traits of the gifted adult, also documented as Everyday Genius™ or Rainforest Mind, but to name a few, Shelly has these characteristics: Complex thinking and perception, such as learn-fast, think-fast, talk-fast, independent activator who is relentlessly curious. She sees all sides of an issue faster than others and has to force herself to slow down communication so that others stay engaged with her words and meanings. While handling the complexity of connecting thousands of dots to speak, teach and facilitate, she is a seeker of ultimate truths.
Another gifted trait is extraordinary drive which feels like an inner sense of urgency and then feels shattered if an important dream seems to fall apart. Shelly handles drive with the rigor of writing, rewriting, creating, and producing original courses and entire enterprises. She forms high-powered teams that magically make their collective talents beneficial instead of manipulative.
Shelly: In my professional life I push boundaries. I am relentless in my drive to understand complex topics that arise in the social zeitgeist. Once I begin researching a topic, I find myself repeatedly asking, “If this…then what?” and then attempting to imagine a multiplicity of scenarios in which the topic at hand could potentially impact us individually and collectively. Then I engage in an intuitive process where I try to see the larger systemic relationships between scenarios and how they may connect to, influence, counteract, or overlap other scenarios I may be aware of. My professional relationships tend to be episodic in nature simply based on the work that I do.
I am also autistic and have ADHD which has influenced my life in many ways that I am only just now beginning to understand. I find the people that vibe with me tend to be neurodivergent as well and I have been blessed with friends who recognize my eccentricities and choose to see past them.
I have been gifted (or cursed depending on your point of view) with the ability to think divergently and convergently. I am able to engage in deep listening while focusing on finding the “subtext” underneath the spoken or written word. This underpins my approach to gathering intelligence that can be used to conduct an authentic needs assessment. Once the “truth” of the matter is uncovered, then the processes of both analysis and synthesis can occur.
Shelly: I did not become a professional on purpose. I originally started out as a dental assistant after high school and after becoming desperately bored with dentistry, I started working as a temp. My second assignment was a three-month stint for the California Peace Officers/California Police Chiefs/California State Sheriffs Associations (all three groups were managed by one staff). I decided I liked working for an association, and after my experience working there as a temp, I managed to land a permanent position on their staff. I evolved and advanced from there.
Shelly: Writing. I am continually trying to improve my ability to communicate via the written word.
The power of quotes and rhetoric is part of the gifted person’s thinking. Here are the quotes Shelly often uses. Shelly says she is an introvert and that can make conversations with others an exhausting experience. Many bigger-than-life speakers have this dilemma. Shelly uses these sayings to make big visions real and open up even more creative possibilities and opportunities for others to engage with her and each other.
As often as proves practical, we feature professionals who are initiating meaningful conversations with other gifted minds and storytellers–and who they serve. They connect regularly through this blog, our newsletter, and their own emails to nurture and support the network which enriches them. See if their words and actions work for you or engage with them directly by sending a comment and sharing your insights.