Lead to Leave A Mark

Welcome to How Leaders Lead Insiders, a newsletter where I share stories and explore styles of some of the most accomplished leaders of our time. People like Tom Brady, Indra Nooyi, Kendra Scott and Jamie Dimon who are truly making big things happen in their respective fields. 

My mission in life is to make the world a better place by developing better leaders. One of those can be you. When you subscribe to this newsletter, I’ll send you tips, stories and advice on how to become the best leader you can be so that you can accomplish your goals and really make things happen. The world needs you now more than ever, so don’t wait!

One of the reasons why I love doing my podcast How Leaders Lead with David Novak is I get to talk to great leaders like Jamie Dimon of JP Chase Morgan, Tom Brady, Indra Nooyi of Pepsico, Marvin Ellison, the CEO of Lowe’s and so many others.

When I was CEO of Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), I was fortunate enough to be in a position to go on “best practice visits” to pick the brains of people like Jack Welch to ask about how he ran a company the size of GE, and John Wooden about how he motivated his UCLA basketball team to win 10 national championships! And on and on and on. Those visits taught me so much in such a short period of time, it was almost like a short-cut to success!

My podcast is my way of making “best practice visits” available to you, so be sure to listen in each week and subscribe.

One leadership attribute that stands out to me among all the leaders I talk to is that they all demonstrate a real commitment to continuous learning. They all learn by doing. They all ask a lot of questions, and then they listen closely for real insights. And they even learn by failing!

They’re what I call “Avid Learners.”

For example:

When Tom Brady first went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you’d think that he’d just walk into the locker room and tell his new teammates exactly the way it was going to be. Instead, do you know what he did? He listened. He introduced himself (as if he needed to), asked questions about the guy he was talking to, asked about the team...then listened to what the guys had to say. Really listened. Not only did he learn something about his new team and teammates, but they felt respected and appreciated to the point where they’d run through a wall for the guy. That’s how asking questions and listening to the answers makes for a great leader.

Jessica Kim, the Co-Founder & CEO of the caregiving network platform, Ianacare, started her entrepreneurial journey in college. To earn some extra money, she started making baked goods for a local coffee shop when she saw an opportunity to improve upon what was being sold. The only catch was, she really didn’t know that much about baking, let alone baking at scale. So Jessica sought out a local baker and met with him at 4am on weekday mornings to learn how to bake like a pro. She learned by asking, and by doing. While that approach to learning cost her some sleep in the short run, it gave her a huge advantage in the long-run, making $4 million on baked goods in just 2 years! (If you want to learn more about Jessica and her leadership stories, check out the How Leaders Lead episode launching this Thursday.)

To me, being an Avid Learner is a big part of what it takes to be a great leader. It shows that you have the humility to realize that you don’t know everything, and the determination and sense of urgency to find the answers.

Take a second and ask yourself, are you leading like an Avid Learner? Are you asking questions of others? Can you admit you don’t know everything? Are you learning from your failures, as so many great leaders do (Google Crystal Pepsi if you want to know one of mine!)? Are you asking others for feedback even when you may not want to hear their answer?

If so, that’s awesome! If not, why not start today? When you become an Avid Learner you are well on your way to becoming the type of leader that leads to leave a  mark on this world. Thanks for reading! I hope you come back for more.

My first newsletter comes out tomorrow about a new concept in leadership development. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it! 


October 19, 2021