Wear striped socks… And other ways to follow Seth Godin’s example (Chick-fil-A Leadercast)

Credit: Seth Godin's blog

I had the privilege of attending the Chick-fil-A Leadercast last week thanks to two special parties: the Leonard Leadership Scholars Program and Engauge.  Seth Godin was my favorite speaker. 

My involvement in the Leonard Leadership Scholars Program  (a subset of the Institute of Leadership Advancement), a two-year business leadership program in the Terry College of Business at UGA, in college transformed the way I viewed leadership, success and motivation.  A few special students in our class of 30 and a few professors (especially dear Dr. Cornwell, Department Head of Economics) made a lasting impression on my life.  Because of their example, I felt empowered to take a significant risk and left my first job out of college in consulting at Capgemini to instead dedicate the first two and a half years of my professional life to the non-profit sector.  I also rededicated my life as a Christian as I admired the principles that my peers lived out on a daily basis, and their example convinced me that one did not have to be ignorant to follow Christ.

The Leonard Leadership Scholars Program continues to empower us as alumni to exemplify greatness and integrity as leaders in the business community.  They provided the opportunity for us to attend the Chick-fil-A Leadercast free of charge, and I am ever grateful to them and leaders of the program, including Dr. Dale Gauthreaux, Dr. Vicki Clawson, and Courtney Aldrich.

The company I joined just over two months ago, Engauge, allows (and supports us) to attend such leadership events such as Chick-fil-A Leadercast.  We are empowered as leaders within the Digital Innovation Group and within the larger company to find our niche, our voice and our presence in the social technology space.

Chick-fil-A Leadercast is an annual conference where some of the world’s greatest business minds gather to share business and leadership advice.  The principal distinction of the conference is that each and every message drills down to the central principle, ‘Leadership is driven and enabled by integrity in the day-to-day decisions we make…especially when it’s tough.’ Speakers at Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2011 included John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Erin Gruwell, Dave Ramsey, Dan Cathy, and Muhtar Kent.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin‘s quirkiness is one of his most distinct characteristics, but his authenticity, approachability, and transparency in his central belief are three of his most admirable qualities.  Seth Godin operates his life as a well-run business should; he has such an established knowledge of self and his life mission that he is easily able to sort of that value of what endeavors he pursues and what messages he teaches and what example he lives through this filter.  When asked what he is most passionate about in his life in the Q and A following the Leadercast, he articulates his life’s “mission statement:”

My life’s work is helping other people (that would be you) overcome the brainwashing, organizational regimentation and fear that is holding them back from doing great work, work that matters.

Remarkable components in this response:

  • He has made that which he is “most passionate about” to be his life’s work.  It is easy to care deeply for a cause (which could be anything from wanting to increase literacy in schools to being a specialist on all things DragonCon).  But, most often, we compartmentalize our pursuit of that which we have the most passion for as an endeavor saved for spare time.  Or, we postpone that pursuit for an undefined time in the future, saying things like “when I have saved enough” or (we girls say) “when I am married.”  Instead, Seth Godin doesn’t just evolve his work where possible to serve that which he is most passionate about; he has curated the work that he pursues based on his greatest passion.
  • His life’s work is other-focused.
  • His life’s work is viral. The task of his “life’s work” is not to do great things for himself.  It is not (limited to) doing great things for others.  It is empowering others to do great things.  And, he describes that doing great things is empowering others, so his life’s work is empowering others to do great things, who empower others to great things, and so forth.  That is, Seth Godin exponentially expounds his contribution to society around his vision, “Go Make Something Happen.”  In that way, his impact is infinite.

Leaders like Seth Godin, programs like the Leonard Leadership Scholars Program, and companies like Engauge impact others to then do great things that affect others.  Their model, then, has an infinite impact on their community and on the future.  I aspire to such greatness.

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