Earlier this year the executive leadership team decided we would host an in person National Sales meeting for the first time in nearly 3 years. So much had happened in the world since we last met, COVID and the ripple effect on our supply chain. We determined we wanted this event to be different, that it was not about “us” or our goals, it was about uniting our team and bringing value to them through this event. One way to do that was to bring in a keynote speaker so we began the search, there were some prominent names in our short list for consideration including JC’s who I had become familiar with through a mutual friend and had caught my eye for his willingness to speak candidly and opposite to popular thought leadership trends if he felt convicted.
When we narrowed our search down to 3, we asked if we could meet with each speaker individually to get a feel for who they are, and they us, which looking back is probably a lot to ask nationally recognized authors/speakers, most work through agents and you would never get a chance to interview them prior to hiring them. I suppose it was a little naïve, but we were determined to have our keynote speaker be more than just a canned speech, but a meaningful connection. There were two reasons we decided to work with JC, one being he agreed to our request of meeting with the executive leadership team ahead of signing a contract, and two when we met him you immediately knew he cared, about us as leaders and with genuine curiosity he asked us questions to begin to truly understand our business.
It was about 45 days prior to our event that we determined JC would deliver our keynote speech, and what would have been great would be to meet once or twice prior to and connect on key points to make sure we are aligned, but JC went far beyond that. He spent the next 30 days meeting with people across our organization, to learn from them. He met with us executives nearly weekly leading up to the event. For me personally the most unexpected and impactful thing that JC did for me was to give me things to think about as I developed my own presentation, I have a deep fear of public speaking, he challenged my thinking, helped me to refine that, which ultimately gave me the confidence to get up and speak in front of 130 people, but I digress.
While we wanted to deliver value to our attendees, JC was clearly doing the same for us. He stayed with us through our whole event, talked with our people, the personal connection was unbelievable, something we would have never been able to experience with the other speakers we had considered, and it was meaningful, we are 90 days post event and “JC said” is still referenced in conversation. JC has a humble but very big presence, clearly with his background he can command a room in a dominant way, but he doesn’t, instead he exudes a quieter strength that captivates his audience and makes you listen.
In reflecting on our experience with JC, we received more than a keynote speaker, that is clear. He coached us as executives, in a time where we felt exhausted, and gave us ideas to consider and think about in our leadership. He dug in to understand our business so that when he spoke it did not feel like a cookie-cutter speech that didn’t apply to the people in the room. At the end of our engagement, he gave us some themes he discovered in his conversations with our people and some things we may want to consider working on. However, probably the most important thing that came out of our engagement was that after hearing JC’s speech, one of our team members vocalized a need, an area of opportunity for us to be better leaders and all the added value aside if we only had the speech and this one person have the courage to speak up afterwards that would have been all the value we needed, because it has allowed us to have conversations and make adjustments and think about how we get better as leaders and how we can improve communication.
Thank you, JC, for a great experience. We are very grateful for our time with you and hope to work with you again in the future. We would encourage any organization to bring you into the fold, it will make them better, you did us.