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Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.

Learn from a Leader: Collecting Talent vs. Building a Team

The NFL Draft isn't just about building a football team. It's talent evaluation being covered and talked about as a sports event. 

Every leader and business owner makes the same types of decisions as NFL general managers. They can also make the same types of mistakes. Here's the biggest one: acquiring talent vs. building a team.

There's  one thing that determines whether you are building a team or just acquiring talent: the job description itself. 

Former NFL GM Randy Mueller explains why that's key when evaluating talent and identifying the best fit for your team. 

Learn from a Leader is a monthly series hosted by Jen Mueller and features CEO's, visionaries, thought leaders and action takers. Join the conversation and the next Learn from a Leader session for free. 

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Learn from a Leader: Negotiating and Communicating

This is the time of year NFL free-agent deals make headlines. It's easy to look at those dollar amounts and think you'll never been in those kinds of conversations - except negotiating is a skill leaders use every day.

Creating buy-in is a form of persuasion and negotiation. Without it you won't foster the type of teamwork needed to be successful. Being a successful negotiator comes down to a few basic communication skills.

Sports agent Kelli Masters joined Learn from a Leader and shared her overall strategy for negotiating NFL contracts and it isn't about the numbers - it starts with knowing your stuff and being able to see different points of view. 

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner negotiating his own contract in 2019. Most players prefer to let their agent handle the details and have the tough conversations. Those conversations could include the employer (the team) telling an an employee (the player) he isn't as valuable or important as he thinks he is. Who wants to hear...

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Learn from a Leader: Believe in Yourself

The statement is simple, but it can be the hardest to grasp.

It can be equally difficult to differentiate between feedback and validation. Having a sounding board and getting feedback on your ideas, execution and concepts is important, but if you’re initiating those conversations to get validation you’re undermining your impact, expertise and capabilities. It’s part of the conversation I had with Elaina Herber, President and CEO of the Ascend Hospitality Group, during her Learn from a Leader session in February 2021.

That attitude of knowing what you’re capable of was on full display during the two weeks I spent at Mariners Spring Training. Not a single athlete I talked to or interviewed will entertain a conversation about their shortcomings getting in their way of their success. Every single one of them knows what they’re capable of and that’s their focus.

It doesn’t mean they’re not coachable. It doesn’t mean they’re not...

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Learn from a Leader: Building Confidence

I never thought of confidence as a skill. I assumed it was something you acquired with age, wisdom and experience. I believed that confidence was something you needed to earn either by virtue of personal accomplishments or because of a status you obtained.

I didn't know how wrong I was about all of those ideas until talking with high-performance psychologist Michael Gervais during a Learn from a Leader interview.  

"Confidence comes from one place and one place only. It's what you say to yourself." 

Mind blown. 

Confidence isn't something that just happens. It's cultivated. It's also a skill leaders need to develop. The confidence you have in yourself directly impacts how you lead others. 

Take a look at the short clip from Michael's interview for more perspective. Register for the next Learn from a Leader session to get access to the entire library of interviews. 

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Learn from a Leader Bonus Interview + Giveaway

It doesn’t matter who I talk to these days NFL athletes, venture capitalists, C-suite executives, my grandma or my best friend, the topic of mental health frequently comes up in conversations. It sounds different for everyone but most often it’s a question like “How are you handling things?”

It highlights the fact that all of us are dealing with feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, insecurity and fear. We’re all human.

Years ago I wrote a letter to Lisa Malosky, a sports broadcaster in Houston, professing my admiration for her work and my desire to become a sports broadcaster. I told her that I loved sports and I thought it would be so cool to talk to the athletes themselves. Her hand-written response included these words, “Athletes are people too.”

Twenty years into my sports broadcasting career I know exactly what she meant. I understand the role of empathy in seeing the human side of all people, whether I’m talking to athletes,...

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Learn from a Leader: Communication and Negotiation

Effective communicators and negotiators know their point of view isn't the only one to consider in a conversation.

It's important to communicate your value, message, solution, strategy, etc... but if you haven't considered how that fits with the objective and point of view of the other person(s) in the conversation you're talking, not communicating. 

Sports agent Kelli Masters explained how this factors into negotiating contracts for the athletes she represents. You don't need to work in sports for this message to resonate. 

If you don't consider or recognize other points of view during a conversation you're less likely to be effective in your communication tactics, as Kelli explains in the video. 

Kelli is a trailblazer in sports and she is now an author. Her first book is available for pre-order High-Impact Life: A Sports Agent's Secrets to Finding and Fulfilling a Purpose You Can't Lose. I've already ordered mine!

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Learn from a Leader: Sacred Selfishness

Self care is a popular term, but what if you take it a step further and practice "sacred selfishness?" Leaders need to place high value on taking care of themselves so they can lead others. 

And according to Jonni Ressler, CEO of Eleven 11 Solutions, it's one of the best habits you can develop as a leader.

For me, I’m selfish with the first 60-90 minutes of my day. I use that time to workout, journal, read have a cup of coffee and review my to-do list for the day. It’s the only quiet time I’m guaranteed to get every day so I make the most of it. 
 
What does sacred selfishness mean for you? 
 
Jonni joined the Learn from a Leader series earlier this year. Get access to the full interview and entire library of interviews by joining the series
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Learn from a Leader: Self-Awareness as a Leader with Bobby Wagner

As a keynote speaker my favorite part of any presentation is seeing the "ah-ha" moment. Recognizing when the audience has heard the message in a new or different way. It's exciting and it's gratifying to watch a message land. 

As a leader you want to see those moments happen with your team. There's just one thing you should remember, each member of your team is at a different point in their journey. Just because you've had a light bulb moment doesn't mean you can trigger that for someone else if they're not ready. 

According to Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wager, it's part of the self-awareness needed to be an effective leader. The short video explains more. 

Commit to listening to the people around you, identify where they're at in their journey and then see where you can help and what you can learn. 

 

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Learn from a Leader: Leading Interns

Amid the chaos of 2020 it’s time for wine.(And I’m not just talking about the glass I pour for myself at the end of most days.) It’s harvest season.

It will be a long time before the grapes being harvested now are in my glass. It takes time for grapes to become great wine. There’s a process. 

Great always takes time. It’s true in wine and it’s true with people. Great success, great understanding, great talent all come after repeated attempts and experiences.

At this point you’re either nodding your head or rolling your eyes, because it’s obvious to you based on where you are in your career.

But what about your interns, or the younger people on your team, the newcomers to the organization or the industry? When talking to those people do you remember the time it takes to be great and the time it took for you to get to where you are in your career?

Leaders help people work through the process of becoming great.

One of the ways to do...

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Learn from a Leader: Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is more than being seen as an expert. It's a way to drive business. An ongoing study by Edelman and LinkedIn found:

"Companies with the best ability to produce timely, thought-provoking thought leadership content are much more adept than their competitors at capturing their customers’ attention and turning that attention into positive results."

Positive results for a company = sales.

Positive results for you as a leader = influence and power to persuade. 

Thought leadership isn't reserved for a select few at the top of a company. Anyone can contribute by being thoughtful, timely and persuasive in their messaging. 

It's a lot like being a newspaper columnist. Well written columns are designed to get you to think and persuade you to see a different point of view. Jerry Brewer, sports columnist for The Washington Post does this on a weekly basis. He joined the Learn from a Leader series in July to describe how he approaches thought leadership and...

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