Monday, June 26, 2023

What is Experiential Intelligence?

Soren Kaplan

By Sam Piha

Many people, young and old, ask themselves, “Am I smart?, Am I intelligent?” Traditionally this was measured by an IQ test or for many young people, their grades received in school. The notion of intelligence changed in the 80’s and 90’s, with the idea of “multiple intelligences.” In his new book, Soren Kaplan promotes the idea of “Experiential Intelligence,” or XQ.  

“Rather than book smarts or empathetic abilities, experiential intelligence is a measure of how your life experiences have shaped the way you think, what you know and how you use that knowledge.” - Natasha Piñon, A more useful way to measure intelligence, XQ is ‘the new EQ,’ says USC researcher

While Kaplan's idea of experiential intelligence has been adopted by leading business thinkers, we thought that the idea of experiential intelligence was important for youth workers to understand. This is because everyone, regardless of race, gender or social economic status has life experiences that can add to experiential intelligence. We interviewed Dr. Kaplan to learn more about this idea. Below are his responses.

“When you more fully understand the impact of your past on how you think, feel, and act, you increase self-awareness. And by exploring your most challenging experiences with greater intention, you can discover hidden strengths that you can use to empower your future.”- Soren Kaplan, Your Childhood Traumas Can Empower Your Future Success 

Q: People often say they are "smart." What is the difference between "smart" and "intelligence"? 

A: Sometimes we use the word smart to describe someone’s ability to function effectively in the world. Think about the term “street smarts” for example. This term suggests someone might not have a high score on an IQ test or have received the highest test scores in school, or even a degree, but rather the person is adept at navigating the world because of their experiences. Intelligence, on the other hand, is typically tied to more formal definitions related to the intellect and IQ tests.

Q: Can you define experiential intelligence?

A: Experiential Intelligence, or XQ for short, is "the combination of mindsets, abilities, and know-how gained from your experiences." Just as memorizing facts doesn't give you a high IQ, Experiential Intelligence isn't merely what you've learned over time. It's how you view opportunities, perceive challenges, and tackle goals.

Your XQ consists of:

  • Mindsets: attitudes and beliefs about yourself, other people, and the world
  • Abilities: competencies that help you integrate knowledge, skills and experiences to respond to situations in the most effective way possible
  • Know-how: your knowledge and skills

As a complement to IQ and EQ, Experiential Intelligence expands our understanding of what's needed for success in today's increasingly uncertain, ever-changing business environment. XQ is like the third leg of a stool that's been propping us up all along but that we haven't been able to see because it's been hidden beneath our seats.

Here are a couple of articles that were written about my book that define this a bit deeper:

Q: Can experiential intelligence come from negative experiences?

A: Research from Richard Tedeschi on Post-Traumatic Growth reveals how “negative experiences can spur positive change, including the recognition of personal strengths, the exploration of new possibilities, improved relationships, a greater appreciation for life, and spiritual growth.” People who have endured natural disasters, bereavement, job loss, economic stress, and serious illnesses often gain insight into themselves and the world in ways that transform their lives. The opportunity is to understand how your past led to tangible strengths, not despite your traumatic experiences, but because of them.

Q: It occurs to me that "experiential intelligence" is very democratic and can be possessed regardless of socio-economic status. Your thoughts? 

A: It absolutely is. Everyone has street smarts because we all have experiences. And our experiences give us strengths and assets. So, it’s as democratic as can be.

Q: How can someone discover his/her hidden strengths that have come from past experiences?

A: There are two strategies for viewing your past:

  • Gain insight into how the negative impacts of certain experiences may still linger with you today so you can overcome them
  • Uncover hidden strengths that certain experiences delivered to you that can be leveraged in new, creative ways.

Q: Similar to "growth mindset," it seems the notion of experiential intelligence is very useful in working with youth as it credits their experience regardless of socio-economic status. Your thoughts?

A: Again, I completely agree. When working with youth in schools, in the home as parents, as educators, etc., we have the opportunity to:

  1. Recognize the strengths that exist because of all experiences.
  2. Help youth see their experiences holistically, as things that might have been difficult that might need to be addressed due to certain struggles but at the same time instilling unique strengths. Allowing youth to understand themselves better and see their strengths not despite their experiences but because of them.
  3. Create experiences that build intelligence – dialoguing with others they might not normally experience (elderly, from other schools, ages, etc.), travel to unusual places in nature or cities, new types of games and experiential learning activities, etc.

There are several video interviews/ podcasts with Soren Kaplan that are available to watch online at no cost. Below is one video that is worthy of your attention: 

Inside Personal Growth, Podcast 993: Experiential Intelligence with Soren Kaplan


Soren Kaplan is the bestselling and award winning author of Leapfrogging, The Invisible Advantage and his newest release, Experiential Intelligence: Harness the Power of Experience for Personal and Business Breakthroughs. He is also an Affiliated Practitioner at the Center for Effective Organizations at USC’s Marshall School of Business, a writer for FastCompany and Inc. Magazine, a globally recognized keynote speaker, and the Founder of InnovationPoint and upBOARD. He has been recognized by the Thinkers50 as one of the world’s top thought leaders in business strategy and innovation.

He has been quoted, published, and interviewed by Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, CNBC, National Public Radio, the American Management Association, USA Today, Strategy & Leadership, and The International Handbook on Innovation, among many others.  

Monday, June 19, 2023

Political Attacks on LGBTQ+ Youth: The Role of the Afterschool Community and Funders

Source: Temescal Associates
By Sam Piha

As LGBTQ+ youth are being politically attacked across the country, many are asking how should the afterschool community and funders respond? Below we weigh in on this question.

The answer to the question of how the afterschool community should respond to the current anti-LGBTQ+ youth actions is complex. First and foremost, afterschool programs should focus on creating a safe and supportive environment for all youth, including LGBTQ+ youth and ensuring that all of their participants feel seen and supported. 

Afterschool programs can: 

Build Awareness
  • Stay informed by following news about LGBTQ issues in your state and around the country. Sign up for newsletters or alerts from organizations like The Trevor Project or the ACLU and follow their social media accounts to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
  • Educate others in their networks and community.

Improve Program Practice
  • Hire knowledgeable and diverse staff, especially from the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Ensure that staff are fully informed and know the risk factors for LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Really listen to young people.
  • Build positive relationships among adults and youth.
  • Provide opportunities for all youth to express themselves.
  • Promote positive peer interaction, respect and support.
  • Provide opportunities for youth to make their voices heard in policy discussions.
  • Provide opportunities for youth to form Genders & Sexualities Alliance  or Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs.
  • Know how and when to communicate and collaborate with the school and parents regarding the importance of supporting the safety and acceptance of all youth, including LGBTQ+ youth. 
  • Introduce efforts to prevent meanness and promote kindness.
  • Provide professional development opportunities to build knowledge and skills of afterschool staff. 

Source: Hart Van Denburg/ CPR News
Directly Oppose Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation and Attacks
Afterschool programs and leaders are not equipped to end the political attacks on LGBTQ+ youth alone. However, they and their allies can still act. If history is any teacher, systemic oppression begins with targeting the most vulnerable. 
“Whatever we do, we cannot choose to ignore this moment or shrink from scrutiny. That will not make these problems go away. It simply offloads them onto the shoulders of youth. And of any of the options before us right now, that is the least conscionable.” Katy Swalwell & Noreen Naseem Rodriguez, How to Thwart an Anti-Equity Agenda: Advice for Teachers, Administrators, and Families

The afterschool community can advocate in support of LGBTQ+ youth by:
  • Speaking out against anti-LGBTQ+ attacks.
  • Finding a state or local organization that’s working to fight back against anti-LGBTQ+ bills. 
  • Reaching out to their legislators and share your views.
  • Watching or following related hearings and legislative sessions.


“It’s clear that lawmakers should be taking an intersectional approach to public policy, not working overtime to target the most marginalized young people, particularly those who are transgender or nonbinary, for partisan political points. We all must play a role in promoting LGBTQ acceptance and creating a more supportive world for all young people.” – Josh Weaver, The Trevor Project 

A Caution for Afterschool Networks and Providers
It is important that each organization determine how best to respond to the anti-LGBTQ+ youth legislation and political rhetoric, in consideration of the local climate regarding LGBTQ+ issues.

A national afterschool leader we interviewed shared, “If leaders were to speak out in opposition to the legislators in power about actions, they may be adding fuel to the “culture wars”- whether it be at the local, state or national level. They may run the risk of losing funding for the children they serve and getting into a fight where we can’t win without hurting kids we care so much about. Instead, we can showcase by actions how to treat people and children with love- not hate - and not engaging on terms that will inflame tensions and hurt our ability to serve kids.”

“Educators committed to inclusive, equitable, information-rich schooling are asking: How can we avoid becoming targets for right-wing smear campaigns? What might get us in trouble with a zealous school board? What if we get fired—or even prosecuted? Should we quit rather than comply with a policy that hurts youth?”– Katy Swalwell & Noreen Naseem Rodriguez, How to Thwart an Anti-Equity Agenda: Advice for Teachers, Administrators, and Families

Many funders are not clear as to how they can get involved. A consultant and advisor to foundations we interviewed shared “After many foundations jumped to creating statements against the George Floyd murder and other atrocities, board of directors started requesting policies regarding when it is appropriate for an organization to take a stand and when it’s not (e.g., should we make a statement for EVERYTHING?).”

However, afterschool and youth development funders can respond to this wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation and attacks in several ways. In A New Wave of Anti-LGBTQ Bills – What Can Funders Do?, author Andrew Wallace offers suggestions on how funders can respond. Below we present excerpts from this article. 

Source: Temescal Associates
“Foundations and corporations can respond to this wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation in a number of ways – and many are already doing so. Here are a few of the ways that funders are standing up for LGBTQ rights in the face of a new wave of backlash:

1. Make a public statement. As anti-LGBTQ+ bills have surfaced around the country, so has rhetoric that scapegoats LGBTQ people, especially transgender people. It can be powerful for a respected foundation to simply make a public statement that your foundation believes in full dignity and equality for LGBTQ people…”

La June Montgomery
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) stands with businesses, organizations and individuals seeking to protect the human rights of the LGBT communities in North Carolina, as well as other states where similar laws are being considered. We are heartened by the broad coalition of public sector, non-profit, business and civic leaders who are speaking out against this injustice. WKKF is proud to join their ranks.”
- La June Montgomery, CEO of WKKF

2. Advocate for partners to take a stand too. Foundations can have influence even when based outside of states where anti-LGBTQ laws are being considered. For example, The California Endowment sent letters to Georgia-based corporations where the Endowment held investments, asking them to take a stand against the state’s anti-LGBTQ legislation. In addition to that kind of shareholder advocacy, foundations and funder networks also hold conferences and events around the country. Many funders and networks are considering moving meetings to states that have more LGBTQ-affirming laws. Even if moving your event doesn’t make sense, you can use it as an opportunity to foster dialogue and raise awareness of the real harm caused by anti-LGBTQ laws.”

In an effort to speak out against recent political attacks on LGBTQ+ youth, Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation have posted several LIAS blogs and authored a briefing paper entitled, Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth in Afterschool Programs and Opposing Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks. Feel free to share these resources with your network. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

In Case You Missed It

By Sam Piha
We’ve been very busy during the first half of 2023 addressing many of the cutting edge issues faced by the afterschool field. We have written many LIAS blogs (23), published several briefing papers (3), and sponsored several training webinars (7). Below we share several of our most popular resources and some of our favorites from 2023. 



For a comprehensive catalogue of our afterschool resources, click here

Temescal Associates and the How Kids Learn Foundation (a 501(c)3) are dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people. Our clients include leaders of youth serving institutions and organizations, school and youth program practitioners, public and private funders, intermediary organizations, and policy makers. Our work ranges from building large scale youth and community initiatives to providing services to young people on a day-to-day basis.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Make It A Summer of Service

By Sam Piha


Afterschool summer programs are a great time to engage young people in activities that serve others. These could be community service projects (which are often unpaid) or service within the afterschool program, such as tutoring, mentoring, yard supervision, leading games, etc. (These can be unpaid or volunteer). Summer schedules are more flexible, we have longer days and there is usually good weather. These opportunities can be one time or 1 or more times a week. 

Below we cite some benefits of community service and volunteering, additional resources on community service ideas and other information to help get started engaging youth through volunteering. (If it is too late to include in your summer program, consider it for the fall program.)

“Teenagers are not only a valuable source of energy, goodwill and creativity, but they’re also the key to our future. Volunteering allows them to tap into all those values while also learning about the world around them.” St. Louise Children’s Hospital, Teaching Teens the Importance of Community Service

There are many benefits that participants accrue when youth engage in community service and/or volunteering. Research has shown that teens who volunteer are:

  • more responsible
  • have higher self-esteem and greater self-confidence.
  • gain skills such as leadership, good communication, time management and decision making.  
  • more likely to build connections with others. 
  • more likely to do well in school, graduate, vote and build a stronger resume for college and scholarship applications.
  • 50% less likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes, become pregnant, or engage in other destructive behavior.
  • gain practical life skills while feeling valued and appreciated. 
  • less depressed, experience increased positive emotions, and experience reduced stress.

“The Dalai Lama said it best in a post that has been shared all over the world. ‘When you care for others, you manifest an inner strength despite any difficulties you face. Your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. Reaching beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.’”Kidz That Care, Volunteering and Teen Mental Health

Teens Have Their Own Reasons. 
According to the University of Nevada, Reno, the “major reasons cited by teens for volunteering:

  • Youth feel compassion for people in need
  • They can do something for a cause in which they believe
  • They believe that if they help others, others will help them.
  • Seventy-three percent of young people think their efforts can have a positive impact on their communities.
  • Teens rank volunteering, the environment and eating healthy, as top three activities they consider ‘cool’.
  • Youth who volunteer gain important job skills and experience, while exploring career options.
  • Young volunteers expand their social circle and enhance their social awareness.
  • Teens say the benefits received from volunteering are: Learning to respect others; learning to be helpful and kind; learning to understand people who are different; developing leadership skills, becoming more patient, and better understanding of citizenship.”

How to Choose
If your program is school-based, check if your school already has a community service partnership with a local non-profit. It is best when your young people select the cause and activity they are most interested in. They can do research and/or map the neighborhood for possible partner organizations. For instance, afterschool youth interviewed workers at a local homeless shelter and determined that collecting donations of warm gloves was what was needed. Another afterschool program in North Dakota decided after doing research, that they wanted to collect and distribute ice skates for kids in low-income families. 

Service activities can also focus on the needs of the other children in the afterschool program offering tutoring, mentoring, yard supervision, leading games, etc. 

It is important to consider the interests and abilities of your program participants, the time that is required, the attitude of the staff they may be working with, as well as how they will get to and from the location of the partner organization. 

Project Ideas
There are many possible service project ideas. Below are some links that can assist you and your program participants in considering ideas for service projects:

Service projects can also focus on educating the community on local issues like hunger, homelessness or environmental issues. 

Other Resources and Links

Source: Youth Service America

In addition to the links in the blog, additional information may be found using the links below: 

Reed Larson’s Research on Youth Development

Source: Reed Larson, The Youth Development Experience Kate Walker By Guest Blogger Kate Walker, Extension Specialist, Youth Development, Uni...