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A couple of weeks ago, I was privileged enough to attend a leadership event that featured a collection of speakers from all over the world.  Since it was so personally inspiring, I wanted to share my experience with the team along with some of the main takeaways.  For those interested in seeing a recorded copy of the event, I’ll be glad to send them a link to review.

The event is called Leadercast and is an annual event that is hosted in Atlanta and broadcast to various hosting sites all over the world.  Some of the past speakers include Jim Collins renowned business consultant and author of Good to Great (among many other books), Angela Ahrendts the former CEO of Burberry turned Sr. VP at Apple, Tim Sanders a former executive at Yahoo, and many more.  The theme of the event was ‘The Brave Ones’ which centered on being brave and courageous in leading ourselves and others.  The leaders picked to speak at the event each took risks in their field to change their industries forever.

Below are a few highlights from some of the talks.

Andy Stanley – Communicator, author and pastor

  • Leaders exert clarity, focus, stubbornness and resourcefulness.
  • The definition of a good leader is the ability to bring clarity around an unreasonable commitment around what should be.
  • Bold leaders refuse to be ‘cowed’ by how.  Focus on the why, not the how.

o   Leaders react to ideas with ‘Wow!’, not ‘How?’

  • Questions to wrestle with every day to make real change:

o   (defi) What do I believe is impossible to do in my field, but if it could be done, it would fundamentally change my business/industry? – Joel Barker, Paradigms

o   What breaks your heart?

  • After telling the story of Nehemiah, he left us with the response that Nehemiah gave when he was approached by those trying to distract him from his mission to rebuild the city wall:

o   “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”

Bill McDermott – CEO of SAP

  • When leading, bring a point of view.
  • Work with a purpose.
  • Complexity and bureaucracy kills companies.
  • We no longer live in a B2C world, but a C2B world.  Make your decisions to reflect that.
  • Leaders are forgiven for mistakes, but not for going in without a strategy.
  • Ask yourself, ‘Why not us?’
  • Make business simple for your people and your customers and listen to both.
  • Frequently ask your people, ‘Why are we so messed up?’ and listen.
  • Trust is the ultimate human currency.

o   No trust, no progress.

  • (defi) Have empathy for your customer and do the things that your competition can’t or won’t do.
  • Be scared of those who can’t celebrate their victories.

Commander Rorke Denver – Navy Seal Commander & Author

  • Limit your field of view and you will see more.
  • Make bold corrections, get bold results.
  • Bravery can be a team sport.
  • Choose your ‘backpack’ (amount of work you take on) carefully.
  • Find your ‘Harmonic Gate’; When a person or animal achieves a rhythm that their creator intended them to do.

o   If you aren’t in your rhythm in life, go find it.  Life is too short.

  • Leaning into pain can sponsor change.
  • Leaning into fear will lead you to being one of the brave ones.

Malala Yousafzai – Nobel Laureate, Founder of the Malala Fund and outspoken Taliban critic.

  • It’s the people’s duty to stand up for what is right, not those in power.
  • Fear is ok, but don’t let it take over your courage.
  • Believe and drive toward the happy ending, not the circumstances you are currently in.
  • Brave are the people who fight for what is right or what is just.
  • Bravery is a human trait that needs to be encouraged and is limitless.
  • The world is our home and we are all brothers and sisters.  All problems and opportunities are for everyone, not just the ones directly involved.
  • Don’t wait for someone else; change waits for us.

Peyton Manning – Super Bowl winning quarterback and 5-time NFL MVP.

  • Anyone who waits for change, accepts becoming a follower.
  • Every leader needs to come to grips with facing challenges.
  • What you do with what you don’t know is the most important step.
  • Every leader needs to surround themselves with people who provide honest feedback and needs to welcome it generously.
  • Some people can see with their eyes, but have no vision. –Helen Keller
  • (defi) Strive to be a game changer.
  • Be the leader and take control of your ‘huddle’.
  • Learn to thrive in uncomfortable situations.
  • Teammates should be on a level playing ground.
  • Devote yourself to intense preparation.
  • Invest in a coach.
  • Never stop wanting to be taught, mentored and coached.
  • Delivering help trumps hope any day.
  • Install trust in others.
  • Set a new baseline for yourself.  Don’t always stick to the ‘playbook’ that you feel most comfortable with.
  • Get stimulated by change.
  • Bravely adjust to your abilities.
  • Set personal goals that rely on team efforts to foster leadership.
  • Understand the power of your relationships and your influence.
  • You either get better or get worse.  There is no staying the same.
  • Earn respect before becoming more vocal and trying to lead.

Seth Godin – Innovative thinker and best-selling author

  • Be an artist, not a painter.

o   Artists do things that might not work while painters try to copy artists.

  • It’s always too soon, but change doesn’t have a start date.
  • Define who/what you are trying to change
  • By brining tension to your situation, only then can you sponsor change.
  • It takes the bravery of being obsessed to become remarkable.
  • Each of us have the ability to be a bridge between those who need and those who can.
  • Leaders are compassionate.
  • Don’t just be remarkable, be unreasonable.
  • Do work that matters.

Ed Catmull – President of Pixar and Disney Animation Studio

  • Fail often and fail early. –Steve Jobs
  • What are the management and cultural issues that prevent creativity and change?
  • Leaders only do their job when they develop successful teams.
  • Share ownership in others’ successes.
  • Give and listen to honest results.
  • Professional failure learns from the mistake.
  • Second failures are used as a bludgeon against risk takers which we are all trained to do.
  • Create teams with a good mixture of experience and new people.  Teams too experienced remain inbred in their ways while teams too new won’t know what to look for and what to avoid.
  • It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.  Do the right thing.
  • It’s better to fix the errors than prevent them.
  • It’s easier to state our values than to ask why you don’t live up to them.
  • Remove the blocks to creativity to allow it to thrive and your people to be motivated.
  • Solving problems isn’t the impediment to the job, it IS the job.

Aja Brown – Mayor of Compton, CA

  • Leadership is taking on those things that no one else wants to do.
  • Be a catalyst of change.
  • All brave leaders diminish the fear of failure.
  • Exemplify the traits you want to see in your team.

Rudy Guliani – Former Mayor of New York City, NY

  • Leaders aren’t born, they are made.
  • Leaders go to the error and see for themselves.
  • Ideas to lead by:

o   You have to have strong beliefs and goals.

o   You have to be an optimist and problem solver.

o   You have to be brave and courageous.

o   You have to prepare to limit fear.

o   You have to embrace teamwork.

o   You have to be able to communicate to your people.

Obviously each of you can take as much or as little as you prefer from my notes.  Not all of these ideas are unique to each speaker and most of the ideas have been handed down from prior leaders of their time.  Hopefully however you’ll walk away as inspired as I am to become a leader of change to help defi answer the need that our competitors can’t/won’t address and continue to do what others say is impossible or unreasonable, but will continue to disrupt our industry!


Shaun Bailey
Product Manager at defi SOLUTIONS

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