A Financial Education Event

LEAD is Not A Four Letter Word – part 2



Last week we talked about how every motivated person can become an effective leader by learning the steps involved in how to L-E-A-D and we covered the fact that “L” is for loyalty and “E” is for enthusiasm. Today we’re going to pick up with the letter “A.”

A is for Adversity

Truly effective leaders accept adversity as a condition of getting the mission done. I have never met a successful person who hasn’t had a lot to overcome a great measure of adversity. Don’t be afraid of adversity—handled properly, it makes you stronger. It helps you grow. Problems and people can’t stop you. The only thing that can stop you is you.

I remember a particularly difficult event when I had to substitute for a former First Lady of the United States at a large speaking event. The event was held in San Antonio Sea World Shamu-atorium. The Secret Service could not guarantee the former First Lady’s safety so they would not let her present at this military audience “Spouse of the Year” award.

The audience was tired and cranky after a long day at Sea World. They had kids that were eager to see Shamu and they had to hear me give a 25 minute “Heroes at Home” speech first. Plus, they were expecting the First Lady and they got me! It was a set up for failure.

I began the speech and the acoustics were horrible, with a huge echo designed to announce, “And here’s SHAMU!” Those microphones were not designed to hear a speech, no matter how compelling. My enthusiasm remained high, but the audience was not warming up. All of the sudden the crowd yelled, “WOW” and “AHHH.”

I thought, “Maybe the audience is turning around and getting on my team.”

The audience soon reverted back to hostile looks and crankypants kids. Suddenly, the previous reaction was repeated when the crowd shouted “WOW” and “COOL!” It was then I turned around to the large tank of water behind me and saw Shamu go back in the water. Apparently, he was swimming the full length of the tank and would break up out of the water at just the right moment!

Adversity means that we begin to view Murphy’s Law (what can go wrong, will go wrong) as a good thing—it can grow us. Adversity means we need to have wisdom in leadership positions to know when to fall on our swords and when to take a more subtle (but effective) approach.

For example, on one of my teams I had 70 year old woman, who was scared spitless to speak in public. As a leader and with the help of the informal leaders on the team, we not only helped her overcome this near phobia to become a speech contest winner.



D is for Determination

Determined people, particularly determined leaders posses the stamina and courage to pursue their ambitions despite criticism, ridicule or unfavorable circumstances. In fact, discouragement usually spurs them on to greater things. When they get discouraged, they recognize that in order to get different results, some change is required. Determined people also display another “D” trait and that is discipline.

In the process of earning my Accredited Speaker designation, I had to present to an audience of 3000 speaking peers at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. There were three jumbo-trons behind a 150 long platform and it was streamed worldwide thousands more people. The night before, I realized that I had to change the first two minutes and I practiced those two minutes 60 times the night before the International Event. Yes, I practiced for two hours in the middle of the night! But the hard work paid off as I was the only finalist to pass the final level the next day, out of 400,000 speakers worldwide in various clubs.

Determination means that just because we can’t do everything we set our mind to, doesn’t mean we can’t do something.

Where do you need to be even more determined?

I believe that every motivated person can become an effective leader by learning the steps involved in how to L-E-A-D:

Loyalty – the ability to both give and inspire loyalty

Enthusiasm – following your passions so that it is contagious

Adversity – helping others to overcome obstacles as you lead by example

Determination – realizing that just because you can’t do everything, doesn’t mean you can’t do something.

What kind of leader are you and what kind of leader are you going to become this next year? I’d love to hear from you!


LEAD is Not A Four Letter Word! (part 1 of 2)


One of my passions is leading teams—our Heroes at Home financial event team, our Shop Talk Toastmasters club, and a number of teams that help future leaders attend one of our service academies. Developing leaders, both young and old, is a skill set that you are never too young to learn or too old to implement.  

I believe that every motivated person can become an effective leader by learning the steps involved in how to L-E-A-D!

As fellow leaders, we sometimes have to face the brutal truth about the state of our team and make modifications whether we are leading in our military units, at work, in our volunteer work, or in our homes. Even if you are in the role of a follower, you can still lead informally.

Formal leaders may have the title, the paycheck, the status or the responsibility. But informal leaders can have a position of influence and that can make a huge difference as well. Can you imagine how much your team could accomplish if both the formal and informal leaders did their part for the betterment of the organization?

Everyone one is a leader, whether formally or informally and the difference lies in how we choose to incorporate four key steps to effectively LEAD for the sake of our teams.


L is for Loyalty

A leader must be loyal to the organization and leave no question that he or she is committed to its success. Loyalty is the distinguishing quality of winners. That goes for everyone on the team. A leader models loyalty so that it works top down, bottom up and side to side at all times.

In our organizations, it means we care about the success of the group more than we care about taking the “safe” path. When we take the responsibility of leadership in Toastmasters, for example, we take a membership oath where we commit to the club and they commit to the new member, this oath expresses our mutual loyalty.

We build loyalty by being part of the solution rather than the problem. In our social media world, it’s easy to become a troll and pile on the complaints, but loyalty means we look for better solutions. We build loyalty in leading by example, and building street cred. In my speaking profession, I continue to grow and work hard to achieve the highest Accreditation offered—the Accredited Speaker, which is awarded to less than 1% of all speakers, worldwide. This kind of hard work builds that credibility. You can’t encourage people to continue to work toward a goal if you’ve stopped.

We build loyalty by realizing our positions of leadership are a sacred trust – as an Accredited Speaker or a team lead, I have to really watch what I say and how I say it when I’m interacting with my team. I use praise freely and reproof sparingly.

What are ways YOU build loyalty?

E is for Enthusiasm

Leaders know that enthusiasm is contagious and they help spread it around. If you are excited about hitting the pavement every day it will show. And that generates enthusiasm among your team. There is only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm and that is the lack of enthusiasm.

We are passionate about who we lead and what we can accomplish and it’s hard to hide that enthusiasm. I remember when I was speaking at a dinner to honor all the students in the Antelope Valley who were graduating with a 4.0. There were about 1000 people there and I decided to tailor a speech toward financial literacy for young adults. I got so excited and passionate about ways they could graduate from college with minimal debt, get more bang for their buck and manage whatever budgets they had at their disposal.

The principal of one of the schools who had students there was so impacted by my passion, that he quit his job at the end of the year, and pursued his passion for a non-profit organization that would help troubled youth learn to live their dreams. He said that attending that banquet changed his life as he realized he didn’t want to live without passion in his work.

As a support system I think it’s important to retain our enthusiasm even when things get tough. I believe that 10% of life is our circumstances and 90% of life is our attitude toward our circumstances.

What are YOU Enthusiastic about?

Join us next week for the second part of this blog for the “A” and “D” of LEAD so that

You can become the leader your team needs you to be in order to change the world in a positive way.

Ellie Kay