Keynote speaker Ryan Avery addressed attendees across all three days of STN EXPO Virtual, on ways to transition from a leader to the leader.
He commenced his first 15-minute presentation on Monday with three comparisons, definitions and his own 3-by-3 rule.
A Leader is Jealous, The Leader is Inspired
Avery noted that COVID-19 has been a crazy experience for everyone, but he doesn’t want the pandemic to devolve him. Instead, he said he has sought ways to evolve, which is why he migrated his business model to a virtual environment.
Taking a post-COVID-19 outlook, Avery said that attendees must first rid their vocabulary of the word passion. He said passion means a strong and barely controllable emotion. He doesn’t want to be passionate, he said, rather he wants to be purpose-driven.
He said having a purpose will make people more fulfilled as leaders. “Maybe your purpose is finding out what your purpose is,” he said, which is completely OK.
Avery added that especially amid COVID-19 many people have caught themselves comparing accomplishments to others. He advised attendees to instead look at others and observe that they are able to accomplish the same feat. He said jealousy is a very fatigued feeling.
The last comparison he provided was the difference between a disappointing perspective and a grateful perspective. He explained that perspective means mental view, and it can easily be changed by changing one’s energy. He challenged attendees to reflect on 2020 and identify 20 things that happened to them that they are grateful for.
When faced with a problem, he advised attendees to utilize his 3-by-3 rule. He said whether the problem is with yourself or someone else, offer to provide three solutions to fix the problem. Out of those three solutions, pick one and offer three reasons why you think it is the best option.
Lorriann Brady, transportation and facilities coordinator at Regional Consolidated Services Head Start in North Carolina, said in the session chat that she loves the 3-by-3 rule so much that she will be sharing it with her team via Zoom.
A Leader Manages People, The Leader Motivates People
On Tuesday, Avery walked attendees through words that should be deleted from their vocabulary as well as three questions they should ask their team. He started the presentation with a quick story of when he visited a prison to speak with inmates.
He said one inmate befriended Avery prior to his presentation and said, “I know what you were thinking when I sat down next to you: What did I do to get in here?”
The man continued, “Who I was is not who I am.” Avery said that quote has stuck with him all these years but finally came to fruition during the pandemic. Who leaders were before COVID-19, is not necessarily the leaders they are now. He said leaders need to come up with new strategies and ways of communicating.
Avery said the new generation entering the workforce no longer wants to be managed. Instead, he advised attendees to switch from managing to motivating by simply deleting three words from their vocabulary.
“Need,” “soon” and “sure” are fatigued words, he explained. Instead of needing to hire a new team member, he said leaders should want to hire them, adding that wanting is an open invitation to think creatively.
Instead of responding to an assignment by saying you will accomplish the task soon, he advised setting a specific time frame to complete the work, as focusing on a time is fulfilling. Instead of saying sure, he said attendees should express their true emotions with words like “no,” “yes” and “absolutely.”
“Words are free, but they cost us a lot,” Avery shared, noting that using “settle” words fatigue us.
Kimberly DeHaven, director of transportation at Englewood Schools in the greater Denver area, said in the session chat she also hates the word “maybe.”
Avery also recommended attendees ask these three questions when working with their teams.
- What should we do more of, less of, or the same?
- What is one thing I can do that would help you right now?
- What do you see in me, that I should be doing more of or less of?
Following his keynote that day, Avery spoke in “Let’s Talk: Becoming THE Leader,” during which he shared strategies for both personal and private life. Since he said society has transitioned to a virtual platform, leaders should teach and lead how they would want to be taught and led.
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This includes presenting oneself in literally the best light during online meetings and conferences. He shared the acronym C.L.A.P. for attendees to consider when planning on how they interact with virtual events.
- Content – Make sure to have the content in front of You
- Lighting – Make sure you look good and able to be seen
- Audio – Not just what you sound like but what can you do to minimize background noise
- Presentation – How you present yourself
He explained that how we are perceived is what is received and if we have a messy background then we will be perceived as messy people. He also advised to not only dress to impress but also to relate to the audience.
During the discussion, he shared additional thought-provoking sayings, such as “Because you haven’t, doesn’t mean you can’t” and “Do not wait for things to happen … Make things happen.”
He advised attendees to stop listening to what other people tell you is acceptable or not. He said, for example, that you are not too young, you are younger. “It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you can’t do something. It matters how many people you believe,” he advised.
He concluded the second day by challenging the audience to find three people they need to stop listening to and three people they need to start listening to.
A Leader Stays Positive, THE Leader Stays Creative
On his final day of keynoting, he discussed the importance of being a creative leader and the difference between limitation and innovation. He described the four “T’s” that can be incorporated into the workplace to bring about more creativity.
- Terrain. He said employees need to determine what their creative environment looks like. Is it a traditional office or home environment? Do they prefer it to be noisy or quiet?
- Team. Avery said everyone’s job on the team is to be creative, adding that creativity can also mean being effective and efficient. He said it’s the leader’s job to communicate to the team that ideas are always welcome.
- Time. He advised leaders to establish creativity time, it doesn’t have to be daily or even monthly, but to focus on to fostering creativity. He said employees could also be creative at different times of the day, and they should know the times in which their most creative. “You are the one who will innovate in our industry,” he said.
- Tools. The final “T” is having the tools that help employees be more creative and innovative. He said there is an important difference between feedback and opinion that everyone should know. Opinions are observations without a how or a why attached, while feedback has the how and why.
He asked attendees if they were giving out opinions or feedback, recommending that they do the latter. He concluded the three days with one final sentiment for attendees to think about.
“Be the at what you do,” he said.