Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part IV: Leading with Passion

In the final installment of this series, I have the honor of covering our closing keynote speaker, Brian Biro, who delivered an interactive session on leading with passion. I might add that he spoke passionately about the subject too. I have to say, I was a twittering (tweeting?) fool when Brian spoke. He had so many little snippets of wisdom, it was hard to keep up. In our final lunch session, Brian had the entire crowd on our feet and gathered around the stage cheering together as two women in the audience (one, our very own tiny Mary Zampino) broke through a board with a single (well, in one case a double) punch. It was awe-inspiring to watch. In both this session as well as an invitation-only event with an intimate group of CPOs, I took away the following insightful anecdotes:

Breakthrough experiences are always a matter of choice. There's always a way to do something if you are committed to it...but you have to follow through. If you do not follow-through, you will not breakthrough.

If you want to change your life, change your energy. Be fully present in each moment. It is the secret to life balance, not to mention that it will make those around you a lot happier.

The most destructive word in people-building is "blame." Blame kills teams. It is always in the past, not in the present. You must be in the "NOW" not stuck on the road of "AS SOON AS."

The best time to build the best team is the time of greatest challenge. I can't help but reflect for a minute on my Father. He moved to Pakistan in 2002 (correct...it was not a good time to be there) to privatize and de-nationalize a college that was funded in large part by the Presbyterian churches of the U.S. Sounds a little risky, right? In 2012, ten full years later, I traveled to Lahore, Pakistan with my siblings for his retirement celebrations. Not only did we find there one of the most gracious and generous people on the planet, but very grateful people as well. To some extent,that is because my Dad followed through on his actions. On that note...

Intent is not enough, if it doesn't have action. When he arrived, my Dad had to make some unpopular decisions to get rid of certain staff, bring other people in and turn the college on its head in order to effect change. His actions weren't always popular (as witnessed in the early days by demonstrations outside his home, not to mention the armed guards that surrounded his every move), and they weren't easy, but in the end, they resulted in a safe learning environment where differences could be celebrated, not berated. We were told that in 2002, the school was dangerous and that many of the professors there at the time were corrupt. In 2012, we walked alone through the campus feeling as safe and secure as we would in any park in the U.S., and heard from speaker after speaker after speaker that the team my Dad put together had brought the college out of very dark days into a preeminent learning institution once again. Yes, I'm proud of him, but truly I can't think of a better example of taking action in building a great team during a time of unimaginable challenge. Quoting John Wooden, his mentor and role model, Brian shared, "It's what you learn after you know everything that makes the difference." How true that is. Most of the pearls of wisdom that Brian Biro imparted during his session weren't rocket science...and yet they were things that many of us fail to remember on a daily basis. One final anecdote that is perhaps one of the most insightful of all: Saying thank you is the best way to start each day. Brian gave this acronym on how to be a "world-class thanker" – ESPN:

  • E = thank people for their effort and energy
  • S = surprise is a great differentiator
  • P = be fully present every moment
  • N = live in the “now” not the past, where blame lives, nor in the “as soon as”
Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG