Don Hutson is a world class public speaker and past President of the National Speakers Association. His decades of experience made him the perfect person to sit down and discuss the art of public speaking.
What do most leaders get wrong when they’re thinking about legacy?
We’ve learned a lot about how leaders build and maintain brand legacies since Mark founded The Legacy Lab in 2012. Over the years, we’ve identified five things traditional business leaders tend to do wrong today:
1) Think institutionally: Traditional brand leaders buy in to management systems and institutional processes with the goal of keeping up with market trends.
2) Lean into attitude over action: Traditional brand leaders imagine their brands first from the outside in, believing that what they say and how they posture matters more than what they do.
3) Practice command and control: Traditional brand leaders hoard information and tell customers what to do, striving for category dominance and sales superiority.
4) Follow category orthodoxy: Traditional brand leaders focus on mastering rules (e.g., “business is about making profits”) and take conventional wisdom for granted (e.g., “there are no profits in altruism”), all in the interest of maintaining the status quo.
5) Evolve episodically: Traditional brand leaders tend to grow stale by repeating the past (rarely innovating) or lose their identity by renouncing it (innovating everything at once). Both are examples of episodic evolution.
Once these were the accepted rules of brand-building. In the modern era these methods now amount to short-term thinking. And while short-term thinking may sound appropriate for our short-term world, we learned that it’s actually the long-term thinkers who make faster, sharper decisions. This is because, no matter the market trends, long-term thinkers know where they’re going. This counterintuitive insight—that the best short-term strategy is a long-term one—is at the heart of our book.
“Modern legacy brands are not museums.” -Miller and Conley
Why is it that so many people fail to recognize themselves as leaders?
We’re educated out of our leadership at an early age. The examples you’re given to illustrate a concept shape how you come to perceive it for the rest of your life, and the leadership examples we’re given as kids are usually giants: presidents, scientific groundbreakers, people who conquered empires. As those archetypes are reinforced through media and cultural institutions, we come to see leaders as looking a certain way, sounding a certain way, and having a certain level of profile and influence, and we don’t look for leadership from anyone who doesn’t fit that profile. Most people don’t see themselves as fitting that mold and regularly dismiss moments of impact, generosity, empowerment, courage, growth, etc. as “little things” rather than moments of leadership. How is a moment that causes someone to walk away from you feeling empowered not a moment of leadership? Someone is better off because of you and is likely to pass that along to others. Let’s face it however, because it impacts one person and not hundreds or more, those moments are rarely celebrated as leadership. That type of behavior isn’t how we’re introduced to leadership – it is presented after the giants, and as such is perceived as a somehow “lesser” form.
“You can’t add value to the lives of anyone else until you’ve added enough value to your own.” -Drew Dudley
You make it clear that it’s a daily behavior, a daily practice. Why and how did this become a focal point for your leadership teaching?
Presenting leadership as a daily choice makes it far more accessible. I started working with university students—passionate, driven young people who fought for social justice, organized to provide support to their fellow students, volunteered hundreds of hours within their communities, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities. However, the vast majority of them didn’t see themselves as leaders. In fact, their perception of themselves was best encapsulated by one student who responded to the question “Why do you matter?” with “Well…I don’t yet. That’s why I’m working so hard.”
As I continued with my work, I found that people of all ages had subconsciously adopted the perspective, “I don’t matter yet, that’s why I’m working so hard.” When leadership is determined by titles and what you have done rather than about behaviors and what you are doing each day, people look at what they haven’t accomplished as evidence they don’t deserve to call themselves leaders.
However, perceiving leadership as a daily choice rather than accolades and influence gained over time reminds us that each and every one of us awakes every morning having done nothing that day to earn the title of leader, and we have the opportunity and obligation to act in ways that impact people and organizations positively. You may have spent 10 years acting in ways that made you the CEO, but on any given day the individual who sweeps the floors in your building could actually engage in more impactful behaviors than you do. On that day, they were a bigger leader than you were. It’s a perspective that keeps you from getting complacent because of what you have done.
“Leadership recognized is leadership created.” -Drew Dudley
We’ve all been there. Just at the worst time, when you have no margin for error, something happens that throws off your schedule or pushes you over the emotional edge. Renowned neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin shares strategies for how to plan for the stressful events in advance and stay calm under pressure.
Ever lose your keys? Can’t find your wallet? (Yes, I am speaking from experience!) The gradual process of an organized home and mind begins by thinking ahead and putting in to practice certain behaviors that eventually turn to habits. Losing keys or reading glasses can be prevented by continuously forming the habit of designating a special spot for each of these items. Having a hook by the door for the keys or a basket on a side table for the glasses will prevent future frustration. Otherwise, under stress, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol, clouding your thinking.
“Are there things that I can put in place that will prevent bad things from happening?”
Under stress our brains do not think rationally. By training yourself to think ahead, systems can be put in to place to altogether prevent or at least limit damage. Big decisions, like end of life wishes, can be made years in advance so to avoid decisions made in the heat of the moment. Questions like, do you wish to have a long life and live in pain or a shorter life with better quality, can be planned out with loved ones long before an illness is imminent.
“Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol.” –Daniel Levitin