The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.

Today’s Q&A feature is Shir Keidan, Community Leader and Financial Advisor with Bienenfeld, Lasek, and Starr, LLC (BLS). Shir’s mission is to better the lives of everyone with whom she meets. She believes that a holistic approach to planning and looking at the big picture is crucial in helping clients achieve their goals for their families and businesses. Shir prides herself on great service and commitment to her clients, maintaining professionalism and compassion with each client interaction. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in both Entrepreneurship and Marketing. Immediately after graduation, she started her career in the financial services industry and was invited to join BLS. Having a strong commitment to the community, Shir is involved in numerous local organizations including but not limited to: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Jewish Federation, Women’s Breast & Heart Initiative, and the Salvation Army. Shir also serves on multiple charity committees, as well as the board of the Young Leadership Division of The Jewish Federation. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation awarded Shir as one of Fort Lauderdale’s Finest. She was also selected as a finalist for the Up & Comer Award by South Florida Business & Wealth Magazine. We caught up with Shir to find out what leadership means to her and what advice she would give to the next generation of leaders.

Why did you choose this career path?

I was in my senior year at Florida State University when a recruiter reached out to me and hesitantly, I went in for an interview. I was studying entrepreneurship and marketing and had planned to start my own business. However, the entrepreneurial aspects of a career in Financial Planning as well as the rewarding experience of helping others achieve their goals intrigued me. I would be able to run my own financial practice but have the resources, experience and support from a successful firm. After agreeing to take on this opportunity, I soon gained a significant passion for the industry as I am constantly engaging with new people and bringing value to their lives.

Who inspired you to get involved?

Erik Sussman, the President & CEO of MassMutual South Florida, inspired me to get involved. In my initial interview with him, he explained the entrepreneurial aspects of a career in Financial Planning and the benefits of having experienced and successful mentors to help along the way. I was also extremely impressed and drawn to the work environment, one that would typically seem “corporate” was exceptionally open to an entrepreneurial model. I was truly able to create my own practice in the ways that felt right to me, with guidance and support from countless specialists.

How do you define a leader?

A leader inspires other people to change for the better. Their effort is tangible, which helps others become inspired.

What projects are you currently involved with in the community that engages the next generation of leaders?

I am currently on the board of Broward County’s NAIFA, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. I am the Young Advisor Team Chairperson and my role is to engage young Financial Advisors and grow and retain our young membership. I am currently on the board of the Young Leadership Division of the Jewish Federation and I am chairing our biggest event of the year which will have 250+ young professionals in attendance. I am responsible for engaging up and coming young professionals with our Jewish community and getting them involved in our volunteering opportunities. I am currently chairing a Cystic Fibrosis gala for young professionals, “South Florida’s Finest.” In this event, we honor 30 young professionals who are not only exceptional in their field, but give back to the community. By honoring these young professionals, we engage them with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and create new volunteers for the cause.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?

Our global society is founded on the idea that we are all responsible for the well-being of our communities, country and the world. Becoming involved and giving back to your community is not only extremely rewarding, but you are also able to meet and connect with other like-minded individuals. I would recommend getting involved with causes and organizations that you are truly passionate about.