Last week, I attended a Chick-fil-A Leadercast host site at First Baptist Church Fort Lauderdale courtesy of a new friend, Norman Kravitz of Phoenix Package Logistics.  To start, I want to thank Norman.  I was planning to attend another satellite host site because the one I wanted to attend was sold out.  After speaking with Norman the day before the event, he revealed to me that his wife could no longer make it and that he had an extra ticket.  Of course, I could never replace Norman’s wife but I am glad he thought enough of me to offer the ticket.  That said, Norman, thanks so much.  It was a pleasure getting to know you and your team in that environment.

Now, on to my Chick-fil-A Leadercast takeaways.

First off, this was my first Chick-fil-A Leadercast.  I have always wanted to attend but have never been able to, for whatever reason.  Now, that I am moving into a new season in my life and the company is beginning to take off, it seemed appropriate that I make time and space to attend this year.  And, I can honestly say that I am glad I did.

The entire session/day was absolutely wonderful.  I met some great people.  Saw some old friends.  And, I got a great deal of good information from the speakers.  I share it here.  It’s not verbatim but I think you will get the gist of what was being said and hopefully you can apply to your own life and business.

This year’s topic was “Simply Lead.”

The Host and the Em-Cee

The event was hosted by Michael Hyatt, author, speaker and creator of Intentional Leadership.  Hyatt did a good job of presented three takeaways from each speaker.  It gave me comfort to hear that he was listening for some of the same things that my young ears were listening for.  The em-cee/co-host was someone I had not known before the Leadercast but I intend to follow from here on out, Tripp Crosby.  Tripp was extremely funny and added a lot of humor to the day.  He and his team did an excellent job of parodying some of the content.  You can see some of it on his Youtube page.

The Speakers

There were six speakers and three interviews, starting with:

Andy Stanley (best-selling leadership author, communicator and Senior Pastor of NorthPoint Church in Atlanta, GA)

Andy is an excellent speaker and I have a fond appreciation of the way he presents his lessons.

Andy challenged us to seek clarity by asking the questions: “What are we doing? Why are we doing it? And, where do I fit in?”  He says without knowing the answers to these questions our “mist” or lack of clarity will eventually become “fog” to everyone else.  He also invited us to make a one-sentence job description for ourselves and the people who work with or for us.  A one-sentence job description, though it does not minimize anyone’s responsibilities, it will help us to keep the proper perspective on what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and where we fit in.

David Allen (best-selling author of Getting Things Done and productivity expert)

David presented us with the master key to simply leading as being appropriate engagement and called on us to not just make to do lists but to be intentional about making make outcome/action decisions – decisions that prompt us to do something.

Sanya Richards-Ross (2012 London Olympic gold medalist, track & field)

Sanya’s live interview was a testimony of her trials and triumphs.  She detailed how she overcame sickness and injury and pressed her way through to winning Olympic Gold. Sanya said “There’s always going to be noise in the market. Center yourself.”  And, that to be the best you have to be focused on one thing.  She talked about how she centers her focus on running one race at a time and being completely present in that one race.

Dr. Henry Cloud (Best-selling author and leadership consultant)

Dr. Cloud, in a lot of ways, provided comedic relief.  He was funny and his message was very connectable.  He talked about simplicity from a neuroscience perspective.  I know, that doesn’t sound funny, but he made it so.

I gleaned a lot from Dr. Cloud but, some of the key points were:

  1. Create necessary endings. (Define what needs to end and when you will stop doing something).
  2. Have focused attention by
    1. attending to what is relevant so you know what to do,
    2. inhibiting everything else (shutting everything else out) and
    3. creating a working memory.
  3. Honor the simplicity of relationship.
    1. We need relationship with each other and feedback helps the relationship.
    2. “Who’s your monkey?”  Who is your buddy?  Who is the one person you can get to do stuff for you and with you.

John C. Maxwell (Best-selling author and probably everyone’s favorite leadership expert)

John quoted Warren Buffet in saying: “It’s the simple behavior that makes you effective in life.”  He went on to say communicators take something complicated and make it simple.  And, connectors keep it simple.  John also reminded us to not confuse simple with simplistic.   He stated:

  1. Simplistic is shallow and fast.
  2. Complexity is deep and slow.
  3. Simple is deep and fast.

We should strive for deep and fast.

Additionally, John shared these points.

  1. Add value to people everyday.  Don’t try to make everybody happy.  What’s one leadership land mine?
  2. Subtract your leadership land mines.  Those things that can destroy you.
  3. Multiply your strengths by developing them.  The things you do we’ll give you high return.  Confidence does not replace skill.
  4. Divide your weaknesses by delegating them.  Look at the things you don’t do we’ll and say I shouldn’t be doing them.  Know your weaknesses. Everybody else does.
  5. Simply Lead.  Our problem is trying to find a leader to solve our problems. Be the leader.  Be the leader that solves a problem.  Raise your hand.  Step up.  Do it.

Mike Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) (Head men’s basketball coach, Duke University and Team USA)

I think everybody was waiting to hear from Coach K, including me.  His message was simple.  He said “A leader creates an environment conducive to success.”  A leader creates a culture of success where everybody is important.  It involves

  1. making communication an imperative,
  2. always telling the truth, and
  3. developing trust.

Coach K urged us to allow our team members to participate in the establishment of standards and reminded us that “people own standards not rules.”  Rules do not lead, standards do.

Condoleezza Rice (Former Secretary of State (2005-2009))

Former Secretary Rice, interviewed by John C. Maxwell, offered “the key to complexity is simplicity.”  She says we should “look for enabling conditions” that will allow us to clear the road and forge ahead.  We should motivate people toward a common goal and find a way to communicate with people so that they can see the logic in how you got where you are or how you are going to get where you are going.

Jack Welch (Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric)

Jack has a wealth of knowledge and you could glean something from just about everything he said in his interview with Dr. Henry Cloud.  Some of the key points were:

  1. It’s important to know where you stand.
  2. It’s important to let people know where they stand.
  3. Be transparent.  Be candid.
  4. Great teams know where they are going, why they’re going there and how to get there because great leaders provide clarity and make it simple.
  5. When something is important back it up with your best.
  6. Love what you are doing. Over deliver.

LCDR Rork Denver (Navy SEAL and star of the 2012 movie Act of Valor)

Admittedly, I was on the fence about what Lieutenant Commander Denver could possibly share amidst this very fine cast of business and leadership visionaries.  Yet, he held his own and was a successful “anchor.” (inside joke, you had to be there)  Two points that stuck with me from LCDR Denver are:

  1. Rork made us understand that we always have a tactical reserve within us that we almost always hold back in giving and that this gives us room to improve everything we do. And,
  2. Calm is contagious!  If leaders are calm so too will be their followers.  For that matter, anything a leader does is contagious and the people you leader will take on that contagious spirit.

So, that is it.  Yes, there is more but for the sake of brevity, these are some of my most important takeaways from the Chick-fil-A Leadercast.  I had a great time.  It was definitely one of the best full-day leadership events I have attended.  I would encourage you to go next year.  Sign up yourself or take your team of leaders.  Attend the host site or one of the many satellite sites hosted across the nation, across the world.  It is an inspirational, learning and networking environment that would have been worth every penny had Norman Kravitz not offered me one of his tickets.  Thanks again Norman.