Inspiring The Art of Leadership

I took 11 pages of notes, while also live tweeting from Networking in Van's Twitter account and my own personal account at The Art of Leadership on Tuesday. You'll have to forgive me for the lack of photos in this post as I was too busy scrambling to get notes down. This was the second The Art of conference that I've been to and I can honestly say this one really blew me away.

The Art of Leadership took place at the Centre on Homer Street. This is such a grand location and was perfectly suited for this conference. There's a lot of space in the lobbies to mingle and meet new people, and to check out some of the sponsor booths. I took advantage of the free headshots from Smart and Savvy this time and met quite a few very fascinating people.

There were five speakers that took the stage. I was particularly excited to hear from Hayley Wickenheiser and Rudy Giuliani.

Up first was Dan Roam, best selling author of The Back of a Napkin. Given the title of his book I shouldn't have been surprised as volunteers handed out 6 x 6 white napkins along each row. Dan had some great things to share about the power of pictures and the visual nature of how people learn and retain information. Pictures create a common language across countries and languages. He really illustrated this with examples from Boeing and the US Ford Administration.  He spoke about how his talk would be woven throughout the upcoming speakers really connecting all the different parts of leadership.

Next was Dr. Vince Molinaro, best selling author of The Leadership Contract. He gave several real life examples of leadership in his life. He shared four key points to leadership, that turned out to be one of the most popular tweets I sent out that day:

  1. Leadership is a decision. Make it.
  2. Leadership is an obligation. Step up.
  3. Leadership is hard work. Get tough.
  4. Leadership is community. Connect.

Those are a few very simple sentences but I really resonated with what they mean when striving for leadership. He actually brought up quite an interesting discussion around the different leadership styles of baby boomers and millennials. He inspired me to continue to search for a leader who's presence is pure and motivating.

Hayley Wickenheiser was the next speaker just before lunch. Full disclosure, I am an enormous Olympic fan. I have followed Hayley for the last 12 or so years and have been inspired by her leadership on the ice. Hayley is the perfect example of leadership by doing. Did you know she played in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics with a broken foot, and won gold? She shared her secrets of preparation for success that helped her and her teammates win gold in Russia. The biggest take away from Hayley's talk was to lead from the front and from behind. This concept of followership was something I was familiar with, but I don't think a lot of people in the crowd had heard of it before. Quite moving to hear this from such an amazing Canadian.

Following lunch, Charles Duhigg shared his perspective of leadership through creating habits. Leadership is helping people create good habits in their lives. He gave some very evident examples, and tied interestingly into a key example from the next speaker.

Rudy Giuliani. former Mayor of New York City (during 9/11), lawyer, businessman and mentor was the closing keynote. His charisma on stage was so engaging. He started off with a bang  using a stereotypical Italian mobster's voice, mimicking some of the most well known criminals he helped take off the streets of New York.  He shared 6 of the 20 leadership principles he wrote about in his book.

  1. Set of Beliefs-Every leader needs to know what their beliefs and goals are. Set goals from the start and check in on them weekly or monthly. Change them before it is too late.
  2. Optimist-People like to follow light. Accept problems and turn them into possible solutions. Know that you can't always solve a problem but you can have an impact on it.
  3. Courage-As a leader you must be able to overcome fear. Don't be afraid to fail if you want to succeed.
  4. Relentless Preparation-Something will always go wrong. He prepares four hours for every one hour he anticipates to spend in a courtroom. By preparing this indepthly, when met with unanticipated events or occurences, some variation of your prep will help you get through it.
  5. Team Work-No one achieves anything without other people. Build  your team based off of your weaknesses. Discover your own weaknesses and compliment them with your team to be a great leader.
  6. Communication-Feedback from your team is critical to your development as a leader. You need to be able to clearly communicate your goals, successes and failures with your team.

As a leader, if you convey to your team that you CARE about them be there when things go wrong. Mr. Giuliani offered clear insights from his experiences as the Mayor of one of the worst crime cities in the US to his experience as the Mayor of one of  the most drastically reduced crime cities. He was an absolutely amazing and engaging speaker. His leadership style seemed very no nonesense, get it done, while always progressing and growing.

His book Leadership is definitely next on my list to read.

It was an absolutely inspiring day full of insights into some of the most innovative leaders in Canada and the US. I left the conference feeling inspired to find a great leader in my life to follow and to also aspire to be a great leader.

Be sure to check out the next The Art of conferences. They've brought in amazing speakers both times I've attended and you will not be disappointed.


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