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STN EXPO Reno Speaker Reiterates the Power of a Promise

RENO, Nev. — As a commitment to his neighbor, hero, mentor and more importantly friend, leadership entertainer Jason Hewlett took the STN EXPO stage in honor of Mark Eaton, the NBA’s all-time, single-season leader in blocked shots.

Eaton was a scheduled keynote for Day 5 of the STN EXPO Reno. He died in an apparent bicycling crash over Memorial Day weekend, but Hewlett kept his memory alive by discussing his countless memories of Eaton. He added that School Transportation News, too, kept its commitment to Eaton by not asking for the deposit back, but instead allowing another speaker to come in his place. STN kept its promise.

What is your promise in everything that you do? Hewlett asked the audience. While he noted it’s a simple message, it’s profound. He explained that unlike goals, you can’t re-set a promise. Instead, when a promise isn’t fulfilled, it’s broken and trust is lost.

He broke down promise into one’s signature moves, or what is expected of them when they show up each day ready to perform. To discover one’s leadership signature moves, he said leaders need to identify, clarify, and magnify, also known as ICM.


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As the audience quickly discovered, Hewlett’s signature moves involved impersonating singers and using comedic facial gestures while on stage to deliver his message. He said his promise to the audience is to always deliver an engaging presentation.

He noted that the other two keynote speakers at this conference, author Azim Khamisa and business strategist Meredith Elliott Powell, each offer unique signature moves. One’s brand promise, Hewlett said, is the signature moves delivered to a given audience.

For the leaders in attendance, their audience consists of the students, employees, parents and the community they serve. In student transportation, leaders are sometimes forced to deliver upon a promise they never made, but it’s what is expected of them, Hewlett noted.

For those who might not yet know their signature moves, he said to think about all the gifts they have. Maybe it’s always showing up on time or the dedication to work out every day.

“Goals are particulars, promises are proclamations,” he explained.

(Photo courtesy of Vincent Rios Creative.)

The second promise one should make is to family, not only one’s personal family but their work family as well. He said leaders need to think about who is in their crew or their team. He said that the promise should be to identify those at work that are different from you, and as a leader help them discover their signature moves.

“When the leader helps us to discover our ICM signature moves, that encourages us to show up every day,” Hewlett said, adding that leaders must really look at what their work family is known for and each member’s strengths.

Your work family, he said, can help you to do your job well. He added that if there isn’t anyone who inspired them, or saw something in them, they can still be that person for someone else.

“Make a promise today to ICM the people that you serve,” he said.

In terms of his personal family, he made a promise to be present 100 percent, after realizing that he was distracted by his cellphone and in particular Facebook. He noted that the ICM process works for his personal family too because he can identify, clarify and magnify what a member of his family is good at. “Actions speak louder than words,” he noted, adding that those around us will always be watching.

“So, what is your promise to the people you love the most?” He asked.


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The final promise is to one’s self, he said. Hewlett explained that people often honor promises to others but not to themselves.

He said that even if other people don’t like it or don’t understand it, embrace yourself and the gift you were chosen to share.

“When our values don’t align with the opportunities, are we willing to walk away from something that can change our lives forever?” he asked, concluding that it is your signature move, and you are the only one to have it.

Following the keynote, Anna Conrad, transportation director at GCSD, said Hewlett was amazing. She noted that she wants to implement all his discussion points, including finding everyone’s strengths on the team.

EXPO–first-timer Renae Marrett, a Head Start transportation specialist in Kent County, Michigan, said that having an engaging keynote is key for a group like this. She said he made the message relevant to the work they do and empowered the crowd to listen to see how his words can be brought back to their families and staff.

As a leader, she said she enjoyed his ICM process. Marrett added that she’s going to identify the unique qualities of her staff and use that to maximize their strengths as a team.

(Photo courtesy of Vincent Rios Creative.)

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