Christy Uffelman’s powerful talk, “MillennialMuscle@Work,” was among the highlights at a recent TEDx talk at Seton Hill University.

Uffelman is the founder of Align Leadership, an organization that assists companies in the development of their emerging talent pipeline. She has received numerous accolades and was the 2012 ATHENA Young Professional and YWCA Young Leader of the Year nominee.

Uffelman’s work is focused on guiding young professionals in leveraging their personal gifts through the development of  “cohorts,” a gathering of like-minded professionals who meet regularly and offer collective wisdom that can propel careers forward and build more successful businesses.

A native of Pittsburgh, she lives in Mt. Lebanon with her husband and her 11-year old daughter, Elaina, (a chip off the old block) and an empowered German Shepherd, Theo.

From her TEDx talk:  “We each have many moments in our careers when we can sense the shift from the concept of individual achievement to that of contribution.” It’s the difference between being in the spotlight to holding a candle. You need only one candle to light a thousand more, she notes. A spotlight doesn’t work that way.

Early in her career, she repeatedly found herself in the spotlight, making the mistake of thinking it was all about her.

Learning from her failures, she had a revelation. Tapping into a community of professionals provided inspiration and feedback for a millennial like herself who was accustomed to receiving instant acknowledgement from others through social media.

Her TEDx talk goes on to offer the following points:

Boomers (born before 1964) value the process, procedure and program, she says. Gen Xers (born between 1964-1977) focus on individuality in the workplace. Millennials (born after 1977) don’t live in either generation but work in companies run by both and need a broader base of support.

By 2020, 50% of the workforce in this country will be made up of Millennials. Uffelman extended an invitation to fellow millennials to begin building their own group of developmental cohorts who meet monthly.

These groups are far more empowering than traditional development models, she says, like death-by-PowerPoint training classes.

A cohort is a group of people in a similar development space who meet and share best practices. It’s not a group of friends; it’s more intentional. Cohorts answer questions and identify challenges and respond to a call in times of professional trouble.

This message is for everyone, she says, not just Millennials. Don’t wait for your organization to offer another a training class.

In conclusion, she says, “The candle allows me to see directly in front of me and, in a room full of light, you no longer feel alone.”

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.