Aspen Executive Seminar FAQs
Are Aspen Executive Seminars personal or professional development?
The short answer is: both. In order to be a good leader, one must make decisions from a place of strength and surety. The best leaders are self-aware, they know their strength and their faults, they know what they value and what they are willing to sacrifice, they have developed the skills to listen to others, and they weigh competing points of view. Our seminars seek to bring personal and professional development into alignment to help participants develop surety in their own values-based leadership philosophy.
How is the Aspen Executive Seminar different from other executive development programs?
Rather than offering one-size-fits-all solutions to leadership, the Aspen Executive Seminar assists each participant in developing their own personalized tools for effective leadership. Our seminars are not lecture based. Instead, our process of moderated text-based dialogue allows each participant to zero in on the values that are important to them as leaders. In short, we do not promise to have all the answers; rather, we help participants develop the questions they must ask and continue to ask in order to continually evolve as a leader.
How long is the Executive Leadership Seminar?
Six days and six nights. The seminar begins on a Saturday night with an opening reception and concludes the following Friday after lunch.
Do I have to be present for the entire seminar, or can I attend on select days?
In order experience the full benefit of the seminar we ask that you be present for the entirety of the experience. What’s more, we ask that during the week you try your best to not check in with work or answer work emails. One of the benefits of the seminar is the gift of time to be away from the office and everyday concerns by immersing yourself in the beauty of the surroundings and the content of the week.
How many people are at each seminar?
In order for the seminar to remain personal, we cap enrollment at each seminar to 23 participants. An average seminar has 19 participants.
Who teaches the seminar?
Because the seminar experience is a collaborative investigation into the questions of what makes a good leader, the seminar does not have traditional instructors. Instead, participants are guided in discussion by two highly-trained moderators. Most of our moderators do not work full-time for the Aspen Institute. Instead, they have high-powered everyday jobs, choosing to take time away from their work to moderate our seminars because they believe in the experience. All of our moderators have been with us 10+ years and at one time were participant in the seminar themselves. To view our moderator bios, click here.
How long are the seminar readings? How much time will it take for me to read them all?
The individual seminar readings are short, digestible excerpts. Each excerpt can be read in a single sitting. There are approximately 25 excerpts in the overall seminar curriculum, along with two longer pieces. Each participant will tackle the readings in their own time frame. We mail the seminar readings out six weeks before the seminar to allow each participant an ample amount of reading time. If you would like to receive your seminar readings early, please reach out to us and let us know.
What if I don’t understand the readings?
We choose readings for our seminar that are difficult. Often, people have studied these works for decades, if not millennia. As such, all participants will struggle with some of the readings. Fortunately, struggle is part of the process. The point is not to attend the seminar with answers. Rather, the point is to use the readings as a base from which to ask questions.
In short, all we ask is that you complete the reading for the seminar with an open and attentive mind. The seminar moderators will lead you through the rest.
Will I have free time during the seminar?
Yes. We believe it is important to take time away from the seminar room to reflect. In addition to the discussion in the seminar room, there is time set aside for optional activities as well as free time to relax and explore. The types of activities you will do will vary based on location and time of year.
How will the Aspen Executive Seminar help me in my career?
Because of the highly individualized nature of our seminar, there is not one specific outcome from our seminars. Often, participants only recognize the true value of what they have learned months and even years after their seminar. Visit our testimonial page to read what others have said about their seminar experience.
Who participates in the Aspen Executive Seminars?
You can find a breakdown of our participant profile here.
What are the requirements one has to meet in order to be accepted to the Aspen Executive Seminar?
Because our seminars draw people from many different sectors who are at different points in their careers, we do not have a single set of requirements one must meet in order be accepted to the seminar. We do expect, however, that participants are either in a management or leadership position at their organization. People who have been in leadership roles in the past but who are now either at a transition point in their career will also be considered during the application process.
What is the application process?
All participants at the seminar must first be approved before they are admitted to the seminar. You can fill out an application to be a participant at the Aspen Executive Seminar here. On the application you will be asked to indicate your first and second choices for when you are available to attend the seminar. After your application is approved, we will do our best to slot you in one of your preferred choices. Curating the proper participant mosaic around the seminar table is necessary for a successful seminar. It is possible that your first seminar choice will not be the seminar you are assigned to. Once you have been accepted and assigned to a seminar, you will receive a welcome email with further instructions.
Can my partner or spouse participate in the seminar as well?
We have multiple options for partners to participate or attend the seminar. A significant other can take the seminar as a full participant, as an auditing participant in the seminar room, or can choose to join in only at the activities and meals. Couples who take the program together often remark that it has offered them a new window into understanding their partner.
Do you have scholarship options to attend the Aspen Executive Seminar?
We offer ½ scholarships in the amount of $6,175 to individuals on a limited basis; all those who apply for a scholarship will not be awarded a scholarship. To qualify for a scholarship, you must work for a nonprofit or government organization and you must provide evidence of an ability to pay the remaining ½ of the seminar registration fee. If you meet the above requirements, you can find a 2020 scholarship application here. You DO NOT need to fill out a regular Executive Seminar application if you are applying for a scholarship.
Am I responsible for travel and lodging?
Each participant is responsible for travel to and from the closest airport to their seminar (ASE for Aspen). Transportation to and from those airports, as well as all meals, lodging, and activities are covered in the seminar registration fee. Note, free parking is available at the seminar locations.
Can I see an alumni list of who has taken your seminar?
We do not publicize the names of our seminar participants either before or following the seminar. We have this policy for multiple reasons: 1) We value the privacy of those who take our seminar and will not use their names for recruiting purposes, and 2) in the 70+ years of our department we have engaged with over 14,000 leaders. However, if you would like to speak to someone in your sector who has taken the seminar, reach out to us and we would be happy to put you in touch with an alumnus.
I’ve already applied and been accepted to a seminar, can I see the names of the people who will be taking the seminar with me?
Even once you have been accepted to the seminar, you will not receive the bios of your fellow participants until you arrive at the seminar. We want our participants to meet their fellow seminarians person to person, not bio to bio. The authentic relationships you develop with the other participants in the seminar will form quickly and studying their bios before the seminar begins will only get in the way.
How can I learn more?