One of my fraternity brothers at Rutgers reached out to me about an assignment in Leadership. It was to interview someone who stood out to you to be a leader and I was humbled, and this was the conversation.
I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many leaders, and I felt like I could speak intelligently about it.
Here was the transcript:
Jeremy: What have I been most proud of?
Helping at least 100+ people with career-related decisions, whether it was introducing people to my network to help them, helping people get jobs, coaching/mentoring students/ professionals being a life and relationship coach.
Are you a life or business coach?
It’s the same thing, people often have the same challenges and obstacles in their personal lives, and it carries to their business as well.
How would you define Leadership?
It’s being of service and putting others first, whether it’s your employees or the people around you. Leadership is helping people reach their goals, whatever that is, and it might be different than yours. A leader takes initiative, is vulnerable, and is willing to challenge the status quo.
Jeremy: My Professor talked about similar characteristics such as vulnerability and showing up.
Brene Brown is a well-known author who speaks adamantly about being vulnerable as a leader and speaking your truth.
Jeremy: How important are soft skills in leadership, and how does it show up in your workplace?
Soft skills such as influence, persuasive/enrollment, getting people to buy into your vision is huge. I’m fortunate to work at Linkedin where soft skills are a must-have to get hired here. I am also in sales, so it’s a requirement to be successful as well.
Jeremy: I am currently an Accounting major, and my professional thinks that more accounting curriculums should include soft skills as a requirement. What are your thoughts on that?
I think a balance of 50/50 would be ideal. I was fortunate enough to partner with many partners at large accounting firms, and they all start by using their hard skills, but as they move up. The soft skills are what helps them win contracts, which is how you move up.
Jeremy: Talk to me about empathy vs. sympathy
Sympathy is when someone in your org has someone who passed away, and you said: “Oh man, that sucks.”
Empathy is that you are crying with them, and it hurts a bit inside like you have lost someone yourself.
Jeremy: Any recommended books?
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi is one of my favorites and embodies everything that I am about.
Jeremy: What do you expect from those you lead?
Something I learned and I am practicing getting better at is being my word, so if I say I am going to do something just do it, do not make excuses. That is how you build trust. Simply honoring my word.
Jeremy: What are your thoughts on managers treating their subordinates as peers or beneath them? Some cultures have more a hierarchical culture.
It depends on the manager and what’s comfortable to him or her. Some managers are great at humility and being humble, which builds confidence around others like my Manager’s manager Kyle Poll and some managers own their confidence, and they know they are brilliant and that works because it’s inspiring to live up to like my previous manager Mike Ragone. There isn’t a right or wrong way as long as it’s authentic.
Jeremy: I’d heard stories about Japanese companies where your manager clearly is higher than you.
We are living in a different time now, and your typical Middle Age White male leader isn’t necessarily the stereotype of a leader. Leading companies such as Google, Facebook, and Linkedin are dispelling these stereotypes and are actively seeking diversity in leadership, and that is leading to a diversity of ideas, opinions, which lead to success.
Jeremy: Who do you admire as a leader, and why?
Benjamin Franklin- He is always of service to the community. He is a diplomat, scientist- I respect his curiosity. He communicates well, writes well, and embodies everything that I look up to in a leader.
Jeremy: What keeps you or many leaders up at night?
That’s the thing, when you are a leader, you feel responsible for everything, so you don’t sleep as much. I barely sleep, and it’s perfectly fine because I’m making a difference every day, so it’s also what drives me.
Jeremy: What would advice would you give to an aspiring leader?
1.Being of service
2.Own your truth and being vulnerable in your mistakes
3. Taking chances(Not being afraid of change)
Jeremy: I see that you are always sharing on social media. What is the purpose of your communication?
It’s important to acknowledge people and build a community. Many of my postings are to lift others or be able to inspire others not to be afraid to share themselves.
We discussed being present and turning off our phones every once in a while.
Jeremy: My professor regularly talks about how he became a director of a Hospital and Virginia all because of his soft skills.
My career success was not because of my grades but because of the ability to build relationships and connect with many different kinds of personalities.
Jeremy: Would you recommend your life where you don’t sleep much?
Depends on what your goals are, for some people being the best father or mother is the ultimate goal. For me, I love making a difference for so many people, so I don’t sleep as much because I am driven by different things. It’s good to understand what your ultimate goal is.
Jeremy: I feel like I am pretty laid back and live in the moment, but I feel like its a double edge sword like I should be doing more.
That’s awesome! Most successful people look back and say they wish they were kinder to themselves. Not to worry so much about the future.
Jeremy: When you see an opportunity, do you jump on it?
That’s what separates the most successful people from others; they trust their instincts and go for it. They do not hesitate or delay decision making.
Jeremy: As opposed to Followers asking for permission?
Exactly! It took me a long time to figure out that one, but I finally get it.
Jeremy: What are some of the things you had to overcome to get to your leadership position right now?
Getting laid off in the past messed up my confidence, I had to reach out to previous managers to make amends and own up. After doing all of that, it gave me the power and confidence to be myself again.
Jeremy: Would you say you take the initiative, or would you say you got lucky to get to where you are right now?
I think I am pretty lucky, but I go out of my way most of the time, and I do many things that would make most people uncomfortable.
Jeremy: Would you say being a leader is like being a cheerleader?
Yeah, in a way that you are supporting everyone else around you to be successful, and as a result, when everyone around you gets promoted, you will as well. The giving always comes back to you, I believe in Karma.
Jeremy: Would you say most people, for example, if a boss leaves the office, that’s when everyone else leaves as well?
That used to be me, but somewhere I realize its what I am doing when people aren’t looking and that all of my hard work will pay off who cares about the optics are and what others think.
I hope you all enjoyed this conversation. It feels weird to be looked up to as a leader but it’s also nice to own it because who are all leaders in own our right.