Top 5 Takeaways From the Elevate Academy at #DECAICDC

DECA is a business organization that prepares emerging leaders for future careers in finance, marketing, hospitality, and tourism. There are special academies in DECA that also help to take young business men and women to transform them into magnificent leaders!

One of these academies is Elevate, which I had the opportunity to attend during the 2017 DECA International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Here are my top five takeaways from the Elevate Academy:

1. DECA Values

“It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.” – Roy E. Disney.

A great DECA chapter is only great because it has great values. As a matter of fact, VALUE is the most VALUEABLE thing someone can have! And on the side, values are the “default operating system” for organizations. When you don’t know what to do, when you have multiple priorities pressing in on you, when you planned for one thing and another opportunity or situation impacts your plans, it’s values that will be your guide and the guide for those you lead.

Four DECA values include: Competence, Integrity, Teamwork, and Innovation. Here is a breakdown of each:

  • Competence: Get’s the job.
  • Integrity: Get’s the point.
  • Innovation: Get’s the lead.
  • Teamwork: Get’s the advance.

See, average leaders lead through passion and position. Epic leaders advance through mission, motivation, guiding principles and programs of leadership. But, the key to unleashing true leadership is living in leading through strong personal and organizational values.

2. Leadership Styles

There are four leadership styles in DECA. Consider which one you view yourself as:

  1. Drivers: Executive type, responsible, goal oriented, effective.
  2. Energizers: Fun-loving, solution finder, action oriented, in the moment, fast paced.
  3. Caretakers: Caring, warm, people-oriented, encouraging, considerate.
  4. Analyzers: Knowledgeable, great planners, vision oriented, objective/calm, efficient.

An average leader often surrounds themselves with other leaders who have a similar style. While this is normal to do, easier to do, and more comfortable to do, this can cause major issues for you and those who follow you over the duration of service in your DECA chapter.

Some of these issues include butting heads, lacking perspective, lack of critical thinking, and lack of wise judgement. On the flip side, advantages for teams with diverse leadership styles include being inclusive, intentional, and INSANE success!

Remember: Your DECA leadership style does not define you. It is an indicator of the natural tendency you have as a leader. Your choices ultimately end up defining the results of your life and leadership. Epic leaders and teams understand that all of these styles need to be sitting at the table in order to achieve maximum success and best serve DECA members.

3. 10 Social Media Resources

Here are a couple apps to download to boosting your chapters level of efficiency:

  1. Hootsuite – Schedule content across Facebook, Twitter and more using one simple, free service. Use this to post up a week or month’s worth of updates on a schedule instead of having to post individual updates every day, as well as to manage multiple accounts.
  2. Twitter Counter – See the statistics of follower growth for Twitter accounts through this social media analytics tool.
  3. Studio (for simple layout/design) – What Instagram did for photography, Studio does for layout and design. Add layers to your photos to add a creative, design twist to your images.
  4. NET – Free and powerful program for editing photos for social media on your computer, o ering you many more options than a program like MS Paint, but easier to use than Photoshop.
  5. Gramblr – Want to post an Instagram photo to your account, but you don’t have the photo on your phone? Gramblr is a free service which allows you to post photos from your computer.
  6. Rollip – Before you post that photo on Gramblr, use this additional free service to add lters and e ects to photos before you post them.
  7. Bitly – Twitter will automatically shorten your links for you, but Bitly will let you customize the URL people click on as well as track how many people click on the link, all for free.
  8. Facebook Insights – Facebook continues to over all kinds of insights about your organization’s Facebook page, including number of likes, number of people reached, and number of people engaged. Use these numbers to gure out which content works best for interacting with your members!
  9. Google Analytics – Similar to Facebook Insights, use Google Analytics to track the number of people who are visiting your website or clicking on each pages to see which content gets people most excited.
  10. Google Alerts – Set up a free alert every time someone posts up an article containing a key word, including “DECA”, your organization’s name, or anything else, and this service will email you with a link to see what people are saying.


There are five steps to owning your chapter’s success in competitive events!

  1. SHARE

DECA’s competitive events and what qualities generate success in them. This can be done by showing them a little bit at a time, so it creates gradual excitement! You may even create a FAQ document to answer any questions about DECA prior to students asking them. Always be one step ahead!


Get members excited and help them understand why competition and winning is awesome! This can be done by displaying ICDC posters, trophies, medallions, promotional videos, and chants!


Give your members the tools and strategies they need to succeed, from study materials to personalized feedback. This can be done by developing definitions of performance indicators, going onto, creating lists/acronyms to memorize terminology, and maintaining competition meetings every two weeks to ensure students are practicing!


Recognize the successes in your chapter, from completing a practice exam to winning at ICDC! This can be done through making a bulletin board up of all the competitors and how many exams they’ve completed, giving out prizes such as raffle tickets for a big prize, or recognizing others work at meetings.


Evaluate your members and DECA executive Team to figure out what works and what can be improved. This can be done by asking members how you did, or even creating a suggestion box!

5. Diamond Fundraising Model

DECA events are THE BEST! But they’re also quite costly. A financial plan is crucial in elevating your DECA chapter- such as forecasting future expenses, identify possible revenue sources, and diversifying access to financial resources. The four components of the diamond include: Local Advocacy, Partnerships, Personal Selling, and Events & Activities.

Local Advocacy – This simply means representing your values, supporting a cause and speaking up for something greater.  You can get in touch with the community, nonprofit organizations, state representatives, your state officers, local businesses, etc. to start a project that will not only get your chapter a few extra dollars, but promotion as well!

Partnerships – Creating partnerships with local businesses such as Otis Spunk Meyer, Barnes & Nobles, Starbucks, AT&T, Subway, etc will keep your chapter in great hands to fundraise events! You may host Spirit Nights and work towards gaining a sponsor with different companies.

Personal Selling – This simply means hosting events at your school that will ELEVATE your organization. This can be done through clothing drives, bake sales, a school store, displays, lunch lines, Rip the Runway, SPC (Student Discounts), or even goodie bags!

Events + Activities – Hosting events is a fabulous way to gain recognition and fundraise your chapter. Try creating T-Shirts, host a breakfast, pep rally, sell poinsettias, yard sales, movie nights, fruit sales, donations, powder puff games, or even DECA for kids. These events will definitely have the students at your school wanting MORE.

The Elevate Academy overall was a fantastic experience, and if you follow these TOP FIVE TAKEAWAYS from the Elevate Academy, you and your chapter will be taking it to the top together!

This article was written by An@heimLive Social Media Team member, Rhea Athilat. You can follow Rhea on Twitter @BushDECA.