A tale of two leaders

As a motivational speaker, I am usually asked to open or close a conference with an inspiring message of hope. Or, I educate with a breakout session. Recently, though, I was asked to faciliate a panel of industry leaders and that role is completely different. My job will be to bring out the best of the panelists while adding value to the attendees.  In order to set us all up for success, I reached out to the leaders who I will be interviewing to set up a call to get to know them. One leader, who is the CEO of a successful business e-mailed me an okay for us to chat the next day. The second leader, had her assistant give me the next available time slot – in two weeks. This reminds me of the time when I was really young and I got to know my great Uncle John.  He came to my dad's surprise birthday party and I sat next to him at the formal dinner. I remember I was a bit nervous with him because he was the CEO and President of Airborne Freight Corporation, remember Airborne Express? Even though he was a very busy business executive, he was completely present; having fun at this party. He was so gracious, even when I accidently spilled the clams with white wine sauce right in his lap!

Why does this event remind me of these two leaders I'm about to join on stage? Well, at my dad's party, I took lots of pictures and sent them to the people who came to the party. I took particular attention to write letters with these pictures to my uncle and to another family member.  Within a week, I got a great letter from Uncle John with a promise to write again if I kept in touch.  I still have his letters that he continued to write me while I was at college.  The other family member? His wife sent me a card thanking me for the pictures on behalf of her husband. Uncle John and I became very close and remained close until his death. The other family member? I don't remember the last time I saw him. 

I'm sure these leaders are busy, just like my great Uncle John was.  But, the way the first leader got back to me right away made me feel instantly connected to her and excited about interviewing her.  In fact, we had our call the next day as promised and we spoke for an hour and 20 minutes!  I know when the day comes to interview all the panelists at this convention, I will be professional and objective.  But, in my heart I will have a little more appreciation for the leader who took the time to get back to me right away and carved out some time to tell me her most inspiring story.  It's no wonder she is successful running a $200 million company.  I'm sure the other leader is just as inspiring and captivating, I hope so.  But, I won't know until we actually connect – the end of next week!

From your always appreciative to connect motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman


Marilyn Sherman, CSP is a Front-Row Leadership Expert helping people get out of the balcony and get a front-row seat in life. For over 20 years she has inspired audiences with topics on Visioning, Goal Achievement and having a No More Excuses attitude! Check out her fun, dynamic style at http://www.MarilynSherman.com

Marilyn Sherman, Owner UpFront Presentations - Helping people get a Front-Row seat in their life!
9030 W. Sahara Ave #444
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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  1. A GREAT reminder, Marilyn, about the importance of connecting with people in a timely, meaningful way. We do business with people we like and it's hard to like them if we don't have a relationship with them.  AND – it's hard to have a relationship if they won't give us a little face-time. Makes me start thinking right now of some people I may need to get back to! Thanks! 

  2. The message behind this post is powerful and true. Thank you for reminding me now matter how busy I get, to stop and connect.

  3. It always feels good to be respected and I think when anyone, CEO or Aunt Millie, gets quickly back in touch it shows that they respect you and your time and the purpose of your call.  Great message, Marilyn!

  4. I love this story, Marilyn. I love successful people who don't get above their raising. And it's not really about who is busier. I am sure that working as a motivational speaker, I am just as busy as the lady down the street who stays at home with her kids. We all have the same hours in the day – and most of us have them filled. So while I'm sure one of those CEOs would say, "I don't have the time to respond" or "My time is better spent letting my assistant handle those duties so that I can handle other ones" – the truth of the matter is that they chose NOT to make the time, and they did not make connecting to someone else their priority.   

    But to play the devil's advocate, I must give the other perspective.  Being a motivational speaker, I get a LOT of people coming to me wanting me to help them be a speaker.  In their mind, they are just one person contacting me for help. On my end, they are the fifteenth person that week.  And there is no way, no matter what kind of leader I want to be, that I can respond to all of them in a timely manner, or even in the way they want me to respond.  So I am sure there are some of them out there writing this same kind of post that you wrote – about me – and perhaps thinking that I'm "too good" for them now. And that is simply not true. 

    Just showing it from another side.

    Great post! Great discussion!

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