What defines a great leader?
A question that some, if not most of us, seek an answer to.
A question that more often than not will lead you on a life-long journey of trial and error in figuring out what makes you an effective leader.
For Jim Johnson, it was no different.
He said, “Leadership can be learned… Like anything in life you can become better at it by making it a study…”
A level of commitment to a process with no definite destination.
A level of commitment to becoming a student of life at all times.
A level of commitment that has led Jim to seek answers to the following questions in order to see the larger picture:
How do you influence people in leading them in a positive direction?
What are you all about as a person?
Are you going to lead by example?
Are you clear about your core values?
Are you going to find ways to add value to others?
“Start by trying to make a positive difference in one person”
On Relationships: Learn to build trust
On Trust: “Do what you say and say what you do”
On Leadership: “You can become better at leadership by making it a study”
On Influence: Find ways to add value and help others become better
An act he simply couldn’t escape during his early years.
He said, “I grew up in a fear-filled, violent background. My father was physically abusive to me, my mom was as well… I didn’t know what a loving family looked like, but I knew from a very early age that what I was experiencing was wrong.”
An environment that made him feel unsafe.
An environment that made him feel as if he was constantly walking on eggshells.
An environment that made him afraid to make mistakes.
A set of experiences that made him go from victim to survivor to advocate.
A set of experiences that led him to write his latest book, “Killing My Father Then Finding Him.”
A book that started a painful, but much-needed conversation.
A book that gave others a voice and helped them understand that they’re not alone.
He said, “I had so many people contact me… hundreds of people contact me… some I knew, some I didn’t know… emails… I got a phone call… I got contact from people saying, ‘I grew up the same way, but I always thought I was the only one.’”
Everyone has a story.
On Forgiveness: Learn to forgive because it’ll free you to tell the truth
On Judgment: Approach people wanting to know “who they are”
On Discipline & Punishment: “Discipline is rooted with love ... punishment is rooted with anger”
On Hardships: Don’t give up
Want to Connect with John?
She said, “I grew up in an environment where I wasn’t necessarily allowed to be myself or wasn’t able to grow into who I truly was.”
Many, if not most of us have times like these in our lives.
She said, “I finally found the courage to tell my story a few years ago. I was at a family funeral. My adopted dad came up to me and was trying to confront me why our relationship wasn’t great… It was just not an appropriate time. But, growing up I would have sat there, been silent and just kind of taken the words in… Don’t speak my mind… But, this time there was something different.”
This was a moment that made Brooke O’Neill take ownership of her story.
A moment that allowed her to go from victim to victor of her past.
A moment that helped shape her purpose, to Step Into Bravery, a process of acceptance, growth, and embracing bravery.
Step into your own bravery and take ownership of your story.
If you can stop comparing yourself to others and believe in who you are, and say “I am who I am. This is my name, this is who I am,” and you own that, then you can do amazing things.
On Identity: Embrace who you are
On Growth Mindset: Stay curious
On Courage: “Know that you’re not alone”
On Self-Narrative: Own your story
A term that became a part of her identity at the age of seven.
She said, “My mother asked her neighbor to babysit while she went shopping, but she did not go shopping. Her clothes were packed, her car was loaded and she moved out of state… She never came back.”
A situation that made Rhonda Sciortino understand early on the concepts of abandonment and rejection.
A situation that left her no other option, but to live her with maternal grandparents, a mentally ill grandfather, and an alcoholic grandmother.
She said, “We lived in a little shack, about the size of a two-car garage… It didn't have working plumbing… No heat or air conditioning… Lots of times we went without food… Lots of times we had no electricity… Pretty rough upbringing.”
She continued by saying, “I was abused… Physically… Emotionally…”
A type of upbringing that most, if not all of us, would want to forget as fast as possible.
But, Rhonda is different from most people, as she did not have the luxury of forgetting.
An upbringing that took her on a journey from being a victim to becoming a survivor, and ultimately turning into an advocate.
An advocate for those who’ve suffered abuse, abandonment, poverty, filth, and hunger.
“My success is helping other people get theirs.”
On Hardship: Identify the takeaway to prevent future hardships
On Avoiding Abuse: Learn to redirect the conversation
On Relationships: Form quality relationships with healthy people
On Communication: Give people the benefit of the doubt
What would you do if you became homeless today?
It’s a condition that is unimaginable to most, if not all of us.
A condition that made Tiffony become more resourceful, so she would never have to lay her head on the concrete ground again to sleep, or beg at a church or soup kitchen for a meal in order to survive.
She said, “I started to realize that at 36 years old if something really bad had happened… I didn’t have long-term care protection. I didn't have a saving vehicle that would allow me to take care of myself if I didn't have any income.”
This was a moment of truth that made her realize the importance of financial literacy.
A moment of truth that made her become accountable for her actions.
A moment of truth that made Tiffony Jacobs want to change the current cycle of living in generational poverty, to one of generational wealth.
“Don’t change your dream, change your plan.”
On Future: Plan to live beyond your retirement
On Thriving: Invest in yourself
On Resilience: Define your next steps
On Courage: Find a group that shares your values
Want to Connect with Tiffony?
It all suddenly made sense.
He said, “A moment that clearly defined what purpose meant to me was when I first started teaching… I don’t mean to teach people skills… but to get people to believe in themselves...”
Self-belief, a concept that gives you the confidence to overcome any obstacle that’s put in front of you.
Self-belief, a concept that develops from understanding your own abilities.
He continued by saying, “I had students who I worked my butt off to create these great lessons for, and I don’t think they always walked away understanding what I tried to get them to do. But, then I would get an email back from them, a year, two, three later or a Facebook message… and they’ll share these stories of where they’re struggling in their life… and they’ll say, ‘Mr. Guay, I just wanted to reach out to you… I’m realizing who are the people that helped me realize my greatness… the things that I could do… who pushed me to be a better version of myself… and I think of you”
As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
On Life: Live the story you want to tell
On Purpose: It’s defined by who you are, and creating something only you can create
On Adoption: “I think adoption is a superpower. I think the reason why it’s a superpower is because it puts you on a self-introspective journey”
On Teaching: Help people believe in themselves
On Relationships: They allow us to grow into the greatest versions of ourselves
He was in real, physical danger.
He said, “There was a time when I used to think that my father was going to kill me. So, I used to stay up late at night, tucked in the corner of the room.”
At school, people would ask Ron Bultongez about the bandages and bruises, but he was too afraid, to tell the truth.
So, he lied.
A set of experiences that would make most, if not all, of us, want to forget about our early days and move on.
But, Ron Bultongez was different.
He decided to use his story in order to show others the path, from being a victim, to becoming a survivor, and ultimately turning into an advocate.
An advocate for those who’ve experienced physical or mental abuse in the household.
An advocate for those whose voices are often not heard.
“The quickest way to lose hope is believing you’re alone.”
On Life: Understand that life is unfair and difficult
On Adversity: You don’t have to go through it alone
On Impact: Focus on changing one life, one day at a time
On Odds: Switch your mindset from “probability” to “possibility.”