So You Want to be a Leader…? Recap of Elton’s Leadership Talk.

Reposted from CoWorkJax.com Jacksonville, FL (October 22, 2013) by yours truly.

Recently I’ve been attending different conferences, and I would like to share my most recent experience with you all!

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the UNF Leadership Summit (SWOOP). I enjoyed listening to the panel of leaders that morning, winning tickets to the San Marco theater (when I say I enjoyed winning tickets, I mean I screamed and everyone else stared in silence), and even my breakout session focusing on outliers, but I took away the most from the last talk by keynote speaker, our co-founder, Elton Rivas. Here are the 9 main points I picked up about how to be a great leader. (Sorry it’s not a more catchy number like 5, or 10)

1. “The world needs more GREAT Leaders, not good leaders, GREAT leaders.” I make this point first because Elton opened up with it, but also because it’s very important to first realize the NEED for great leaders in our world.

2. Platforms are built for great leaders, not the other way around. Cities, industries, technology and academia today are platforms. These platforms are built so leaders can grab the opportunity, and do whatever the heck they want to do with them. Elton went on to describe how so many people get it backwards. The world, or at least the platform, is your oyster!

3. Follow your “gut.” Elton shared his stories about having a mango stand in Miami with a man named Manny (alliteration, anyone?), opening a cat bed and breakfast, following a girl to school, and working for “corporate.” After his corporate job stuck him in a back office facing a wall, he finally realized that corporate was not for him, so he got out of there! Later, a deal went bad and his ego plummeted, so he thought about jumping into the corporate world again- but he had a bad gut feeling about it. Luckily he didn’t take the job, because 6 months later the company went crashing!

3. Make time for yourself, and don’t apologize for it. As a leader,  you need time to be in your own head. Elton shared his love for triathlons, but your hobby can be anything. It can be anything that brings you to your “happy place,” a true time for you to be alone with your thoughts.

4. Jacksonville is the best city in the world! No, but seriously. Realize that where you are currently is the platform for you to be a leader; you don’t have to be halfway across the world to do something great. You can start right here in Jacksonville, the gateway to Florida! Hello: CoWork Jax, One Spark, etc… HOW WONDERFUL! Jacksonvillians are known to be open minded and brilliant – we are go-getters, changers for the good. As Jen Jones said at the #welovejax event: “The negative perception of Jacksonville is all smoke in mirrors. Be the change you wish to see in the community.” My love for Jacksonville is a post for another day! 🙂

5. Solve the Need. Elton, with a few other co-founders, opened CoWork Jax. There was a need for a safe spot for people to conspire and build. That was the first piece to the puzzle. Then he and a few other co-founders struck again with One Spark, and created the world’s first crowd funded festival. There was a need for a rallying crowd, a positive ego booster, a place to make people first.

6. Understand that there are 4 different types of leaders, and identify accordingly.

  • Chaos Charger: this person thrives in an open ended unstructured environment, creates their own mold, has the ability to get a group of people behind a cause.
  • Boundary Definer: this person needs some kind of parameter. Are they leading people to change Jacksonville or the entire world?
  • Directional Leader: after you tell this person what they need to be doing, they are going to create teams, delegate and organize a project. They have the ability to give direction.
  • Critique: this person can be positive or negative. One critique is mad that they were not asked to be a part of your project and will criticize from a distance, and the other critique, the loving type, will tell you how your project could go better in an objective way and why.

All 4 leaders are important to have, and they all work in entirely different ways.

7. A Leader must understand the following elements:

  • Every great leader runs into a wall of fear before making that first move. Instead of letting it cripple you and your dreams, turn fear into the flame under your behind and let it ignite you to take a step in the right direction.
  • Love is the most important thing there is. You must love what you lead. How else will you persuade others of its importance, or motivate others to rally behind you as you pursue your dream?
  • Know when to say stop. Say stop when your project is going the opposite direction of the greater goal; Say stop when you physically can’t add anything else to your to do list. (See #3)
  • Lastly, have a burning passion. Elton put it this way,”If you’re really passionate, eventually something good will come out of it.” And I can’t help but think of the quote from the Apple Commercial (cheesy, I know, but I LOVE it). Leaders are innately curious beings.

8. Know your personal definition of success. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is the purpose? What should the end result be? Then share your success with other people.

9. Stop talking about what you want to do, and DO IT. Elton mentioned that he got to meet one of his role models, Alan Webber of Fast Company Magazine. Webber told him about the first time he talked to Steve Jobs – Jobs said “Verbs beat Nouns”

“Leadership becomes the bi-product of action. Commit to something you’re really passionate about for a year, give it your all, and see what happens. Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, find that and then GO DO THAT, because what the world needs is for more people to come alive.”

STOP TALKING, and START DOING. Cheers to the crazy ones.

Thank you Elton for your talk, I truly enjoyed it. For everyone else, what are your thoughts on leadership? Any advice?

Until next time,

@mychaeltaylor

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