Alumni Spotlight: Rance Nix

21CL Alumnus Rance Nix is our spotlight for September 2021. A graduate of Henry W. Grady High School -now Midtown High School (2010) –  and of University of Georgia (2014), Rance is a stage actor from Atlanta who is currently preparing for the release of a new show titled The Kings of Napa, on The Oprah Winfrey Network; he also works as a real estate agent in New York City. Rance says that during his 21CL years, he learned how to pitch himself, how to be confident, how to stand out, and more… and that those foundational skills have made a profound impact on him at personal and at professional level. He believes that anyone can be a leader if they take time to develop their confidence, excellence in whatever they do and if they have a genuine heart for others!

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now.

I’m an actor from Atlanta, Georgia currently holding it down in New York City. Before acting full time, I worked a variety of jobs as an account management intern at the ad agency BBDO, a junior golf instructor, a cashier at a quick service biscuit shop, a sales advisor at Warby Parker, and most recently a real estate agent in New York City. I chose real estate because there’s unlimited upside if you put the work in, I could potentially have more flexibility financially to pursue acting, and it could be a career that I could have regardless of whether acting worked out or not. Gratefully, acting has worked out and I’m currently preparing for the release of a new show that I’m in, The Kings of Napa, on The Oprah Winfrey Network.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

Participating in 21st Century Leaders was the start of my leadership and business professional journey. Full transparency, in high school I remember at first I didn’t think dressing up to go to meetings and doing 21st Century Leaders was the coolest thing to do. That was totally silly! Through 21st Century leaders I learned how important it is to be able to handle myself as a young professional. The programs also prepared me early on with the skills and the confidence to navigate networking and also prepared me on how to look for opportunities as I started to think about life after high school and then later on after college. In fact, many years later, I still use many of the skills that I learned through 21st Century Leaders as I hustle in New York City. I’m not exactly doing anything in the traditional “business” field but while attending the events I learned how to pitch myself, how to be confident, how to stand out, and more. In a super crowded field of actors, having the skills and confidence to pitch myself and put myself out there has really helped me stick out above the rest.

How did the skills/tools/perspectives you acquired from 21CL prepare you for your next steps, going into college, taking on new leadership roles in your community, college and after?

21st Century Leaders was my first intro into the world of being a business professional. Through the programs and events I essentially learned, “This is how it’s done ‘in the real world’ and this is why it’s important.” I’m grateful for my experience with 21st Century Leaders and the lessons learned in high school. I was able to put those lessons and skills to use early on and refine them through college and in my 20’s. Now, my business acumen is second nature while a lot of peers of mine in their late 20’s and early 30’s still don’t like networking and/or have very little business professional skills.

Which programs did you participate in? What is your memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL? (meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

I participated in the Summer Leadership Institute and three Winter Leadership Conferences (GYLS) in addition to the smaller school club meetings (21CLub) throughout the year. My most memorable moment is: finally winning the Winter Leadership Conference business case competition in our third year. My sophomore year we placed 3rd, my junior year we placed 2nd, and my senior year we finally won! We won with the same group of classmates from the original group which was awesome too. The process of going through two years of losing then finally winning was a great lesson in resilience and how to keep learning, keep improving, and keep aiming for my goals until they become a reality! Another memorable moment is the Chick-fil-A lunches at the networking roundtables!

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? if so how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

Confidence, confidence, confidence. I’ve noticed that people who don’t consider themselves “leaders” or who say they “aren’t good at being a ‘business professional'” just don’t have the confidence. Through the networking roundtables, resume building workshops, practicing our 30 second elevator pitches and more, 21st Century Leaders gave me the tools and thus the confidence to be successful in my career. Moreover, I’ve discovered that anyone can be a leader if (in addition to having confidence) they are excellent in everything they do and genuinely have a heart for others. Those three qualities: confidence, excellence, and caring for others, not everyone has or takes the time to develop, but for those that do, they are often leaders in their professional and personal circles.