Helping the youth follow through on bold ambitions: Meet Art Saves Lives mentor Dale Allsopp

Helping the youth follow through on bold ambitions: Meet Art Saves Lives mentor Dale Allsopp

Art Saves Lives (ASL), the major youth development initiative by Nicole de Weever that will celebrate 10 years running in 2023, focuses on more than dance. Dale Allsopp, Director of Strategy and Operations at Google based in New York, is one of the ASL mentors teaching personal and professional development strategies to the young participants, equipping them with life skills that serve them regardless of what career they choose later in life. Central to his messaging is the importance of connecting personal values to professional endeavours and other long term goals. In his entrepreneurship class, students are led through a process of identifying what personal values are most important to them individually.

“If you’re going to be happy, you want to bring your personal self to the objective. If you can’t connect, you’re going to be doing it just to do it, and it may not be enduring,” he said in an interview with The Weekender. He says people have the tendency to want to categorise their lives too much between “work” and “personal”. Values then tend to be defined from a work perspective, while it is “tying in the personal aspect that actually makes it sustainable”.

Being able to articulate important personal goals doesn’t only help someone to attain their goals, but also to create a narrative and communicate what they’re trying to achieve, he explained.

The students were given five main questions – supported by prompts – that had them reflect on their personal values. The same questions are asked to professionals in workshops that Allsopp gives at Google: When have you felt most fulfilled in your life? What do other people say about you? What are your earliest memories? What kind of people do you create an instant connection with? What frustrates or annoys you?

With reflection, students started with a list of 50 values from which they picked 10, narrowed them down to five and then three. He asked them questions like: “What is your bold ambition? How can those ambitions be connected to your most important personal values? Where are you today?” Deeply personal, the process proved emotional at times, he recalls. “The earlier these kids can get to thinking bold, thinking beyond themselves, beyond their ceilings, the more meaningful life will be for them.”

Allsopp’s top personal values are faith, family, and service. “You can see why they’re connected,” he said. “The things I do, particularly from service standpoint, are the things that make me excited. I can see all the reasons that being of service to other folk brings me joy in my life…whether it’s from a religious standpoint, such as preaching for a little bit in the church, or helping students see that computer science is something for them. I can see the value of those things – and, service is tied to faith.”

It would seem that Allsopp’s core value of service is what drives him to coach, something he is getting more and more into, and sees as a long-term endeavour. As mentioned before, Allsopp coaches at Google, and created a sponsorship programme connecting mid-level managers to executives, driven by the idea that everyone’s voice is important and needed for the successful running of the company. Through coaching in this programme, he has been confronted with self-doubt of even the most accomplished and talented people, and recognises his own self-doubt. “We all have this,” he stressed. That’s what he is aiming to work through.

It’s important to him that he serves under-represented communities in an effort to address the wealth gap that he sees affecting black and brown people in particular. In coaching, he focuses on being able to build your own wealth, and encourages young people to venture into technology and entrepreneurship, to this end.

Whether he’s working with professionals at Google or the youth in New York or St. Maarten, Allsopp makes it a point to bring the right energy into the room, and to instil in others that they are important, and that their voices need to be heard. Reflecting on the ASL programme, he points out a strong connection between art and technology, when it comes to mental development. The strategies and concepts taught have worked magic for his own career, as well as for those who he’s coached, Allsopp says. “And once you start taking these concepts and building your long term goals around it, that’s when you’ve gotten the full effect of the course.”

Working with ASL over the past six years – which has also included two fieldtrips to the Google office in New York – Allsopp has been able to see first-hand the growth of some of the students. “They’re accomplished in dance, but the thing is, because of the arts that they are committing themselves to, they really expand their minds to do pretty much anything. Arts give confidence, and the kind of things the brain needs to process to be good in technical aspects is what you’re doing with arts as well. It’s really cultivating future leaders in a way that is quite unique. We’ve seen them thrive in different areas.”

The core value of service is also what connected him to Nicole de Weever, and his mentorship work with the Art Saves Lives foundation in St. Maarten.

“Nicole is a good friend, and what she’s doing is powerful. I knew her from being a world-class performer. Seeing all of the effort she’s put in, to take all of her experiences and all of her contacts and uplift so many students over the years – that kind of energy, that kind of service, that kind of selflessness… I wanted to be a part of it. So, anything she would ask, I would do.”

He continued: “A lot of preparation goes into setting up the programme, and when registration opens up, people come running. Nicole is in the background doing all of the fundraising, the promotion, and then the kids come and they get this for free – which is amazing. Nicole is a St. Maarten icon. What she’s doing in the country, and outside the country, to really help those students, that next generation… she really helps them to find their voice, find their passion, and then build upon those passions to create meaningful, long-term, sustainable careers, and create wealth for themselves and the island. I think it’s phenomenal.”

Dale Allsopp is Director of Strategy and Operations at Google, helping develop product strategies while delivering amazing experiences for Google’s users and customers. Prior to this role, Allsopp was Chief of Staff for Google Shopping and Travel after working for 10 years as a leader in Google Finance. He has also worked in a strategic/consultative capacity for United Airlines, Merrill Lynch, Mercer Management Consulting, and JP Morgan. Allsopp is a proud alumnus of “Prep for Prep” where he also serves on the Board of Trustees. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he graduated from the Calhoun School, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Wesleyan University and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania – with a semester at the IESE Business School in Barcelona. His core values are his faith, his family and service – in particular, promoting CS and Entrepreneurship within underserved communities.

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