There’s just something about John C. Maxwell that when he enters a room, you naturally lean forward to listen to his every word. Maybe it’s because you know he is recognized as one of the top leadership experts in the world. Maybe it’s one of his many books you read and highlighted throughout. Or maybe you’ve been in the audience during one of his speeches on how to become a better leader, and you crave more.
Then again, it might just be the mere fact that Maxwell–what he knows and how he communicates it—inspires you.
For me, Vi’s Content Marketing Manager, it was all those things. And at the Vitality event in Houston, in a small room backstage, minutes before Maxwell was scheduled to deliver his keynote address, I had the honor of sitting down with him and asking him his thoughts on vision, leadership, values… and how all that relates to ViSalus.
“When I think of vision, I get excited when I see good leadership,” he told me, “and Ryan [Blair], Blake [Mallen] and Nick [Sarnicola] are great leaders; they’re going to take ViSalus to a whole new level. People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
Collaborating with the Vi Founders as part of our Leadership & Influence Development (LID) program, Maxwell is teaching our top leaders the importance of core values as guiding principles behind behaviors and actions. In fact, his keynote speech would include the importance of our Vi-6 values, which provide the foundation for inspiring, teaching, learning, challenging and celebrating as a Community.
I asked him to choose a core value he felt every person in the Vi Community should focus on in growing as leaders.
“Add value to more people… and do so intentionally,” he answered. “You are living to add to people’s lives – a skill, a thought, an idea – every day. When you help people get what they want, they will want to help you.”
As a best-selling author and renowned international speaker to Fortune 500 companies, Maxwell has to be very discerning about where and with whom he spends his time. And so, it’s quite telling that he has personally mentored Ryan, Blake and Nick for a long while.
I asked, “What’s been most inspirational to you in terms of watching them grow as leaders?”
It’s then when Maxwell beamed proudly. “Before I choose to mentor people, I always assess their leadership capacity and their potential. And all three of the Founders have great capacity—their potential is at a high level. And then I look at how passionate they are, what their purpose is, and what they’re doing to make a difference. I mentor very few people, but with them, I saw all the possibilities, and it’s been exciting developing them.”
When I asked Maxwell who his mentors are, he immediately responded. “My father, who is 92 and who still works every day. In my early years, it was Lon Woodrum and Elbert Towns. In the last several years, it was John Wooden.”
At that precise moment, Maxwell did not know that in the next hour, after concluding his speech, the Vi Founders would be surprising him with our 2014 Global Leadership Award, of which John Wooden was the inaugural recipient.
I was curious. “You’ve written many books on the topic of leadership development. What book/s should every Vi Promoter have in their home library?”
From the list of more than 70 books Maxwell has published, he suggested the following five:
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
- The Five Levels of Leadership
- Today Matters
- How Successful People Think
- The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth
But, Maxwell’s favorite book is the one he just published:
Maxwell explained that the key to unlocking the door to success is asking good questions. “Think of a key ring – the more good questions you have on that ring, the more success doors you can unlock.”
And, I can’t help but smile at the thought I literally just asked him a bunch of questions.
Finally, I asked the one thing he wanted people to know about becoming leaders, either in their personal or professional life.
“I tell them that I value them and that they have the potential to grow as a leader,” he said. “The only thing to keep them from reaching their potential…is them. Their own self-limitations.”
The Influence of a True Leader
Soon after, as I watched Maxwell walk on stage and deliver a memorable speech to an audience of thousands, I realized that those few minutes with him had given me a profound personal experience I will value for a lifetime.
It just shows the transformational influence that true leaders can have on somebody’s life…even with just one conversation.
Watch Maxwell’s speech at Vitality!
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