This is the second of a three-part series this month that focuses on leadership in persuasive communication through one-on-one interactions. The first article is here.

We talk about “building relationships” so often that it has become trite. It’s a catchy phrase that’s overused and misunderstood. Having said that, it’s still extremely valuable as you lead through persuasive communication in 1:1 interactions.

Consider President Johnson, once again. In shepherding landmark legislation through the Congress, he relied on his personal relationships with members of both the House and Senate. He knew their wives, and their kids, and what was important to them in their respective districts. By knowing the people he needed to work with intimately, Johnson leveraged these relationships to achieve his goals with remarkable speed.

We often think of relationships as a means to an end. It is not the goal. Here’s a hard question for you to ponder: Do you really value those you lead? This question requires a bit of soul searching. So often, we are focused on our goal and the things we need to accomplish, that people around us are seen as a means to an end. But here’s the thing: If that’s your thinking, those around you know it. They will feel expendable, and it won’t work.

How do you view the people around you? Do you acknowledge they are a person, not just a position? Do you seek their success and value it?

This is probably a good place to confess that I have viewed people around me as tools to my goals. It has taken time and failure for me to adjust what I value. It takes a brave leader to pause while reading this and take an honest, hard look inwards. Yet, I know you can and will. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t aspire to be the best leader you can be.

You likely need to have successful people around you for you to succeed. I’m willing to be that they are cheering for you and want to be part of your success. So how do you get there? Here are three ways:

1: Understand Your Audience

Anyone who has read my work or listened to me on stage knows that I believe everything is about your audience. Always. This is not about you — it’s about them. This same principle applies as you lead through communication and specifically persuade in 1:1 meetings. The sooner you shift that mindset, the sooner you will find success.

Try this exercise. Think of one person critical in your orbit. Say his or her name out loud. Recall memories. Now, answer these questions:

  • What’s the biggest struggle in this person’s life right now? What is keeping them awake at night?
  • What do they value in life above everything else?
  • What is their love language?
  • What’s this person’s greatest dream for his or her professional career?

2: Give Them Your Most Valuable Asset: Your Time

We are all busy. I get it. And I’m starting to believe that it’s more of an excuse than a reason. I’m also starting to wonder “why” we’re so busy. Perhaps it makes us feel important? How often have you asked someone how they’re doing to hear them reply: “Busy!”?

Wouldn’t it be nice to jump off the hamster wheel of busyness and instead lead a meaningful and mindful life?

Giving these key people in your life time will change everything in your relationship with them and their willingness to be a part of your vision and dreams.

Again, let’s reflect on that same person that you brought to mind in question number one. With that specific person in mind, ask the following:

  • Do you have a regular, established time to meet 1:1?
  • When was the last time you had a spontaneous time together just to catch up with what’s happening in his or her life? Or just to offer praise and appreciation with no other agenda?
  • When was the last time you planned a special time away with just this person? Perhaps that looks like leaving the office early one afternoon and hitting a craft brewery with no objective other than to be together.
  • When was the last time you made a positive response to something they posted online?

3: Open Communication That’s Easy, Comfortable, Free Flowing

Can you recall a time that you met with someone with high hopes of a productive conversation only to find that the encounter was stiff and lacked a meaningful connection?

As the person leading the organization, it’s your responsibility to create the atmosphere and conditions for conversations that bring value.

Again, let’s recall the person you named in question number one. Perhaps say his or her name again just to make this person fresh in your thoughts. And then ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time you asked for feedback AND then implemented the ideas you feel fit well into your organization? And did you give this person the credit?
  • When was the last time that you talked and demonstrated that you were listening by taking notes?
  • Have you ever become defensive in talking with this person?
  • When addressing a situation that didn’t go well, did you blame this person or accept responsibility yourself?

As you work to accomplish your goals and dreams, I hope you realize those close you are one of your strongest assets. They are not a tool for your success. They are a treasure. And if you concretely believe that and your actions demonstrate it, they will believe you. That makes accomplishing your dreams just got that much easier.


This is the first of a three-part series this month that focuses on leadership in persuasive communication through one-on-one relationships.

Often, we mistakenly think that 1:1 persuasion is all about sharing our vision and taking whatever steps are necessary to get people on board, and moving along with us.

The foundation for leading through 1:1 persuasive communication isn’t all about where you’re trying to take people. Instead, it’s about trust.

Trusting you is my decision. Proving me right is your choice.


As a leader, you can have the most exciting vision and profound insights to get you there. On the surface these may appear to inspire anyone to action. You may be thinking: Anyone should be able to buy into this great vision that I have for our organization or business. But if your audience doesn’t trust you, you won’t lead.

President Johnson, for example, had to rally the nation after the death of JFK. As Johnson ascended to the presidency, he was filling a void left by the man voters had duly elected to the role. With the nation in mourning for its young, aspirational president’s death, LBJ had to bring the country together. How does a president do this? Trust.

LBJ had to win over the trust of the nation to advance his agenda. In the wake of Kennedy’s death, Johnson leveraged the vision that won Kennedy the presidency to corral a coalition of support. He then relied on personal relationships with key members of Congress to usher through legislation that defined the era. Without person-to-person conversations, Johnson would have found it nearly impossible to forever alter the course of American society.

Perhaps this is a good place to pause and take a self-inventory. Ask yourself: Do people around you trust you? Moreover, ask someone close to you that you personally trust the same question.

In this self-evaluation below, I have taken 11 aspects of trust for you to consider. These are from my previous book, Unleashing Your Superpower: Why Persuasive Communication Is The Only Force You Will Ever Need.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I consistent with everyone around me?
  • Do I deliver as promised?
  • Am I open and authentic?
  • Do I show confidence?
  • Am I truthful?
  • Do I make people feel safe?
  • Am I willing to say “no” sometimes?
  • Am I open to feedback?
  • Do I make time for those around me?
  • Am I reliable?

If any aspect of this list is missing in your leadership, people around you are less likely to trust you. You see, when people begin to wonder whether or not they trust you, they already do not. And if they don’t trust you, you cannot lead. At least, you won’t without brute force or manipulation.

Early in my career, I worked with a CEO that had amazing vision. He had boundless energy, grit, charisma, determination and drive.

And for a while, that worked. The organization grew. Actually, the organization exploded with growth. I had never seen organizational growth like what I experienced during this phase of my career.

I remember thinking that the vision was unstoppable. And while I was already part of the largest teams of my career, while surpassing all professional dreams, I believed we were on the early side of the trajectory with no end in sight.

I was captivated. Personally performing at optimal levels, I could not even comprehend where we were heading; it was the ride of my life.

Everything seemed perfect. Until it wasn’t.

Cracks in trust within the ranks of the organization began to appear. The leader had, slowly and over time, lost trust with team members. In fact, looking back, I think the leader broke every one of the reflection questions I posed earlier.

And once it began to crumble, it collapsed at record speed. Within twelve months, it was over. The leader was removed from the organization.

I was devastated, and so was everyone around me.

If you want to lead by persuading those around you with 1:1 conversations, and I believe that you do, it must begin with a foundation of trust. Otherwise, you’re building a house of cards. And it will always crumble in time.


This is the first in a series of posts that will outline the persuasive tactics of ten presidents, focusing on a specific trait for each respective leader.

Perhaps no former president exemplifies the power of one-on-one conversations than Lyndon Baines Johnson. Born in Stonewall, Texas in 1908, LBJ went from an impoverished and troubled childhood to the highest office in the land. Often, he did so through sheer force of will.

“If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson

Upon his entry into politics, Johnson was not an immediate powerbroker. He first served as a congressman for a Texas district, finding it difficult to pay his bills and live in DC. In no small part, his lack of financial security informed the way he interacted with others to accomplish his goals. Without the means to persuade through wealth or power – yet – it was his personality filling the void. In no small part, his lack of education and feelings of inferiority when surrounded by Ivy Leaguers in Washington led to his strategy of leveraging his physical size and temper to effect the change he thought necessary.

His internal drive also pushed him to accomplish aspirational goals. Without a plan, one has no reason to persuade. There is no common goal toward which to lead others. But Johnson developed his vision and went about cajoling and corralling others to play their role in it.

“What convinces is conviction. Believe in the argument you’re advancing. If you don’t you’re as good as dead. The other person will sense that something isn’t there, and no chain of reasoning, no matter how logical or elegant or brilliant, will win your case for you.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson

Vision alone cannot convince, and Johnson was keenly aware of this. The landmark projects LBJ set into motion were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and more broadly, the Great Society. Neither of these goals were simply accomplished, and it took the entirety of Johnson’s power and persuasive prowess to bring them to completion.

The 36th president’s persuasive tactic was so well-known that it earned a name of its own, The Johnson Treatment, pictured below in action.

President Johnson cajoling Senator Theodore Green of Rhode Island
(Photo from George Tames, New York Times 1957)

Context is everything: Johnson ascended to his most powerful prior to the presidency near the end of the 1950’s. He is remembered as perhaps the most powerful Senate Majority Leader, whipping his caucus together to pass legislation that would not otherwise succeed absent a strong-willed leader.

When a significant portion of your caucus is made up of Southern Democrats averse and downright hostile to Civil Rights, it takes a big personality to bring together the votes needed.

“Dick, I love you and I owe you. But…I’m going to run over you if you challenge me on this civil-rights bill.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson

The Johnson Treatment was key to LBJ’s success. At 6’4”, he towered over many of his peers, jamming his finger in their direction and sticking his face right into theirs. His ability to persuade others by occupying their personal space and forcing their hand went unmatched.

Keep It Simple

This article is the third in a series to help empower you to find success in online marketing. You can read the first article here. You can read the second article here.

Last week’s column unpacked the idea that your customers, or your target audience, whoever they might be, don’t really care about you.

It might be tough to hear, but it isn’t a criticism against you; it’s an observation that can empower you to become a master marketer, correcting for mistakes that are far too common in this field. When marketing, especially with your email campaigns, make sure that your focus is on the consumer.

You want to avoid using the email platform to brag about yourself and your accomplishments, however successful you may be; instead, use it to hold a mirror up to the audience, letting them see their own success through the use of your product or service. If you put the focus back onto the consumer, I guarantee it will make you a more successful marketer. 

Also, recall from the first column that the first step is writing directly to the audience. Don’t treat them as a mass of people, but rather hone in as if each email was a personal note from you to them. With those previous skills developed, you’re ready to advance to the third in this series: Simplify everything.

What do I mean by simplifying everything? It’s simple, really. Don’t make it complicated. Again, remember that you are writing both to and for your audience; it’s all about them. 

Think about how newspapers write. Your hometown paper probably writes at about a middle-school reading level. Does that mean it’s written by middle-schoolers? Probably not, but the general populace is not going to be as well-educated as those who produce the content for mass audiences. Newspapers keep that in mind, of course, so their word choices need to reflect those who will read it. 

Write to the audience, and cut through the noise.

If a reader cannot understand what he or she is reading, the stories have no value for the consumer. In the same vein, The Wall Street Journal knows its audience tends to be at or above an undergraduate degree in terms of education, and probably relies on the news to make informed decisions in their occupation, as opposed to someone in a small town interested in local events. Write to the audience, and cut through the noise.

It beneath you to make something simple; in fact, a sure sign of intelligence is the ability to explain something in plain terms. If you can’t break it down for someone else, you likely don’t know enough about the subject yourself. Complicating things for your consumer will do nothing to improve your bottom line. If they can’t understand you, they’re not going to buy from you.

Every email should request an action.

With that in mind, you also need to include a call to action, or a CTA. It’s great that you’ve put together an email, but without some direction included, it’s going into the trash can and nothing will happen. 

Figure out what exactly it is you want from your audience. Every email should request an action. Click this, buy these, sign that – they need direction. They also need to know why. What problem will it solve? Remember: It’s about them. 

With the tools in this series, you’re ready to take your email marketing to the next level. In sum: personalize your emails, focus on your audience’s needs, and make it simple. It’s a recipe for success. 


They Don’t Care About You

This article is the second in a series to help empower you to find success in online marketing. You can read the first article here.

In the last post, we walked through one of the first tips that you need to keep in mind while mass-marketing online: Write to the individual.

There has to be a sense of individual attention in your emails. When you receive an email from a corporation, for example, even if it has your first name and clearly knows who you are, you understand that a person did not sit down and write a personal email to you. But as an individual that is writing marketing campaigns yourself, you can correct for that. Write your email as if it were from you to one person, even though you know it’s going to hundreds or thousands. That personal touch can make all the difference on the margins when you’re sending bulk campaigns out weekly.

But adding a bit of a personal touch to the email doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be raking in clients immediately. It’s one step in a process that can help improve your results.

Another step you can take is to understand the psychology behind marketing in general. You are approaching a stranger to offer them a service or product you provide. It’s up to them whether or not they purchase it.

You are approaching a stranger to offer them a service or product you provide. It’s up to them whether or not they purchase it.

The upshot of this is that, unless the good you’re trying to provide aligns perfectly with their needs, it’s going to take some persuasion to close the deal. Here’s the thing: The people you’re targeting don’t care about you. For them it’s transactional.

What does that mean for you? It may sound like bad news at first, but in fact you now have a leg up on your competitors. While they focus on talking up themselves or their products, you can utilize some of these tips to stand out from the crowd.

Remember, you’re marketing to other humans, not just text in a spreadsheet. The consumer cares about their own needs, just as anyone else would. The big three buckets these needs fall into are health, wealth and relationships.

The consumer cares about their own needs, just as anyone else would. The big three buckets these needs fall into are health, wealth and relationships.

Keep those three in mind when you’re crafting your message, and ask yourself these questions when you proof an email prior to sending it:

Does this content speak to their needs? What are they concerned about, and how does this address that concern?

What goals do they have? What desires? How does my email address those aspirations and offer a way to achieve them?

Frame your message around the wants and needs of your audience. Now, you’re combining the lessons in the first article with these new skills, and you’re that much closer to more deals and more money in your pocket.

To recap so far: Write your emails directly to the individual, as if you were sending a personal note to one person, not a mass email to thousands. And once you’ve individualized the email, review it to ensure it speaks to what that person wants. It’s easy to fall into the trap of talking up yourself or your product, but identifying what makes it essential to your target audience will yield far better results than bragging about your own success.

“Help Others Find Their Win (So You Win)” — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

“You will get everything in life that you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

– Zig Ziglar

I recently received an email that reminded me of this quote from Ziglar. It also prompted me to think about how we are more likely to win or persuade when our focus is on helping others. Check out the email below. I think this email a good example of why it’s important to put your focus on others—not yourself.


We’re really trying to fill the room on this one. We’ve got some congressional staff that will be in attendance and some higher-ups from DC in town.

Do you think you can help us get some attendees?



Although I like the sender as a person, I had no motivation to jump in. I was swamped with my own to-do list, emails to return, writing, etc. Like always, I faced a day with lots of problems to solve. Could I have helped? Did I know people that I could have urged to attend this event? Did I have the ability to reach out to them? Yes. But I didn’t. The sender didn’t persuade me. The request was about him, what he needed, with no attempt to convince me that attending would be good for me as well.

But with a few, quick tweaks to the ask, I might have responded differently. Take a look at this revision to the ask:


We’ve got some congressional staff that will be in attendance and some higher-ups from DC in town, and I know you are building your network of DC power players. The room is full, but I could add you and a couple friends if you want to bring someone.



Do you see the difference? I can tell you that I likely would have responded to the revised version. That version is written in a way that shows me how the request meets my needs. And the sender would have won too.

We often think of persuasion as a way to get what we want. But it’s all about your audience. Always. They care about themselves, their health, finances and families and friends. Your challenge is to remove yourself, to begin to see things through your audience’s perspective and to find a way to message from their needs, wants and desires. Step into their shoes. What matters to them? Determine what that is, and adjust your messaging accordingly. Speak to their needs. Address those needs, and you’ll win as well.

So how do you help others find their win? I think it can be broken down into three easy steps: listening to where your audience is, asking questions and then seeking alignment. Let’s walk through three effective tools to make your audience your primary focus.

  1. Listen

You have a lot to say. I get that. We all do. And I’m willing to bet you’re passionate about the issue at hand. That’s fantastic. But are you willing to put that on the back burner – just for the moment – to listen? There’s information that you need, and you’ll only get it by listening.

I’m talking here about three types of listening: (1) informational listening (to learn); (2) critical listening (to evaluate); and (3) therapeutic or empathetic listening (to understand feelings).

Here’s what I can promise you: If you’ll commit to active listening, people will likely tell you everything you need to know.

  1. Ask questions

One of the best ways to show you’re listening while also showing that you value what your audience is saying is to ask questions. As discussed earlier, allow your audience to communicate without being judged.

I would encourage you to refrain from leading questions. At this stage, it isn’t about taking your audience somewhere. It’s really about understanding them.

Ask open-ended questions, clarifying questions, and questions that might uncover emotions.

  1. Seek alignment

Here’s where your magic begins to happen. This is the phase where your skills really come into play.

You understand exactly where you want your audience to be. You understand where they are. You understand why they are where they are. You understand your message and reason for persuasion. You understand where the person is. Now the question is, “Where is the alignment?”

Now, can you move your audience? Can you solve their problem, and demonstrate the value? Can you understand them and guide them to a new place? Frame your conversation by speaking to the values of the people you wish to persuade.

Again, winning is ultimately about your audience. Help them find success, and you’ll find success. You can persuade them. You can get what you want. Just start with them. Help them win, and you’ll win too.

“Make It Sticky” — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

“If they can’t repeat it, they didn’t get it.”

— Sam Horn

When I say to make sure your message is sticky, you’re probably scratching your head. How can messaging be sticky?

Have you ever stepped in gum? We’ve all been there. You’re walking and all of a sudden there’s a slight drag on your shoe. Not enough to stop you in your tracks but definitely enough to notice. And if you continue walking you’ll sense the traction of this gum sticking on your shoe. This example is exactly what I mean when I say that you need to craft a sticky message.

Why does stickiness matter? Two reasons:

  • You want your message to remain top of mind. Something needs to trigger in the brain to keep your information front and center.
  • Since it will take multiple times of seeing your messaging for people to take action, you want people to remember this initial messaging so making the connection with future messaging will likely be quicker.

Most times, people will need exposure to your content 6-7 times for them to move from awareness to take action. And you’ll want to make sure they can see the connection with each new view.

Brands understand the importance of saying the same thing over and over. You may feel like it’s redundant and boring. But your audience doesn’t. They need the repetition. Check out this list of repeated phrases that Jeffry Pilcher pulled together. I’m willing to bet you’ll agree that well over half of these are ‘sticky.’

Got milk? (used for 21 years, starting in 1993)

Just do it. (used for over 26 years, starting in 1988)

What happens here, stays here. (used for 10 over years, starting in 2004)

Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

Tastes great, less filling. (used since the 1970s)

Where’s the beef?

Good to the last drop. (used for over 97 years, starting in 1917)

Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. (used for over 60 years, since 1954)

Breakfast of Champions. (used for over 87 years, starting in 1927)

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is. (used for over 43 years, starting in 1971)

The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching head, fever so you can get rest medicine.

Head On. Apply directly to the forehead.

Don’t Leave Home Without It.

15 minutes could save 15% or more on car insurance.

Creating sticky messaging isn’t an elusive task. There are concrete devices that you can use to make sure your messaging remains with your users. Here are three techniques you can use to get started:

  • Repetition
  • Alliteration
  • Rhyming

Often there’s a bonus to rhyming: cadence. Cadence is derived from a Latin word “cadentia” that means “a falling.” Linguists refer to this as the prosodic pattern. Check out this example from a recent political activist’s sign:

Can’t build a wall. Hands too small.

Know what this sign is referencing? Know who it is referencing. I bet so. And what a catchy phrase that is the epitome of a sticky message.

Again, your goal is to make sure your messaging sticks to your reader as part of the process of moving them to responding to your call to action. I encourage you to try several of these techniques. Find what works for you and your message. Get out of your comfort zone a bit, have some fun, and craft a message that will last.

You now have plenty of creative ways to make your messaging sticky. Which leads us to one final question: How do you determine which words to select? Which words should you repeat? Or use some form of rhyming?

Although there are numerous ways to approach this question, perhaps the simplest way is to ask yourself

  • Which words are most important?
  • Which words help to emphasize your main point?
  • Which words help to make an emotional connection?
  • Which words connect with an already known/experienced fact?

Make sure you share with me your tips and successes on making your messaging sticky!

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 4, 2017) – Jeff Tippett has been named to the Board of Directors at the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse. Jeff is founder and partner of Raleigh-based public affairs firm, Targeted Persuasion. In addition, Jeff recently acquired Total Management, a curated speaker management firm for an elite group of the world’s most exciting speakers.

Using his background in entrepreneurship, communication and marketing, Tippett is excited to have the honor to contribute to the Governor’s Institute’s mission of improving the health care industry’s approach in treating, identifying and preventing substance abuse. And he is personally connected to this issue having lost a close family member dealing with substance use disorder.

“It’s an incredible honor to be a leading member of the Governor’s Institute,” says Tippett. “There are so many ways which they contribute to our state: Improving medical school curricula, addressing issues in the veteran’s health system, or spreading knowledge about substance abuse recovery – to be a part of that mission is so important.”

Jeff is not the only one excited about the chance to further the organization’s mission. The Governor’s Institute Executive Director, Sara McEwen, M.D., MPH, is fully aware of what Tippett can bring to the table. “The Governor’s Institute is pleased to announce that Jeff Tippett has joined the Board of Directors,” stated McEwen. “Jeff is deeply embedded in the community and his wide range of contacts and skill working with diverse stakeholders will be a great asset to the Institute.”

About the Governor’s Institute

The Governor’s Institute was founded in 1990 to collaborate with the four major NC medical schools to change how healthcare professionals and providers address substance abuse. Today, the Governor’s Institute is involved in the healthcare community on multiple levels – providing assistance to healthcare education systems, workforce development and collaborating with schools, clinics, and hospitals to address multiple healthcare issues.

Learn more at

Mindsets on Steroids: A Conversation with Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy

In my Mindsets on Steroids blog series, influential leaders share their secrets to help you win by finding your inner desire to change, ignite your passion, and instill life patterns. If what you were doing right now would get you there, you would already be there.

Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy was named the 17th president of Shaw University in August of 2015. She then led an incredible turnaround to improve the university’s culture and sustain it financially. Before entering academia, she left a successful corporate career at BASF to follow her passion and start her own hair care business, Tea and Honey Blends, which is still operating today. Dr. Dubroy holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from North Carolina State University and an MBA from Rutgers University.

After a career in corporate America and running your own company, how did you get on the path to becoming president at Shaw?

“They had a chemistry position opened, and so I applied for the job and nailed it. I started at Shaw as a chemistry professor and very quickly got promoted to department chair, then to special assistant to the president for process optimization, and lastly to the position of president.

“I gained the presidency at Shaw within five years of being at the university, and I also am the second youngest president at the institution. I was 34 when I started and came into a turnaround situation. I inherited a six-year decrease in student enrollment. I also inherited a $4 million budget gap and two years of net losses on the balance sheet, so very quickly I had to lead teams to turn around the institution. So far Shaw has been extremely responsive in terms of their ability to do the work and get the job done.”

Lasting change starts with inner desire. What internal triggers have set change in motion in your life?

“I am intrinsically motivated. My mother always said that when I was a young child she never had to tell me to study… at the end of the day, I know from within what I want to do. When I have my eyes set clearly on a goal, I work to achieve it.

“I would like to tell you that I am only passionate about one thing and that that one thing is education. I would like to say that, but if I’m being true to myself, there’s a passion that I have from within with anything that I choose to do, whether it’s entrepreneurship, whether it’s education, young people, or giving back. Everything that I take on I ensure that I commit myself to it.

“That type of internal motivation really helps me to be successful in all realms of my career and personal life. I think the evidence for that is my history of being quickly promoted in every setting I’ve been in. I always say I can’t hold on to a job because I keep getting promoted.

“If I look at the variety of positions I’ve been able to master in my career, I think there are some common skills that are shared across all of these positions, and it’s interesting for me to see the challenges that I’m facing in the college presidency setting I’ve been able to solve because of the analytical skills, organizational skills, and people skills that I’ve developed over the years in each of these roles.”

Passion fuels explosive growth. What ignites your passion?

“I do get a lot of energy from being around people. I’m a people person and I enjoy giving back. If there is something that entails educating young people – especially young girls – and helping them to be confident, to be successful, get rid of perceived barriers to success that they may have, or eliminate real barriers to success, those are the types of things that I’m passionate about. That’s what keeps me going.

Where does that passion come from?

“My mother is my most early influencer. I have a very strong mom. I saw her working very hard to help our family. I saw her make sacrifices even up to having to migrate out of the country while her kids were back in Jamaica. She migrated to the United States while we were in Jamaica. I think those types of things certainly resonate with me today. I have a young daughter – she’s seven years old – and the things that my mother instilled in me are the things I’m cultivating in her as well.”

Consistent life patterns are often the missing component to greatness. How do you find discipline in your life?

“I have been waking up early from a very young age. My mom used to wake us up at six o’clock in the morning for no reason at all. So we were up very early in the morning and just up to be up. She created a bunch of early risers in the family and soon it became a habit for me.

“I wake up at 4:30 every morning and that’s just part of my morning routine. I wake up ahead of the family. I’m able to do so much work and by the time they’re up I can focus on them. That type of disciple I now realize is not common. Every time I speak about it, people are shocked,” she says with a laugh. “It’s not that I don’t get sleep – I do – it’s just that to have this type of schedule I have to wake up early.”

What is one result of change, passion, and discipline in your life?

“While I was working in corporate (at BASF), I was making a very good salary, and my husband and I were very well compensated in the jobs that we had. I remember when I started Tea and Honey Blends, I learned from one of the VPs at BASF that it was a potential conflict of interest with our customers, so I was either going to have to quit my company or have to quit corporate.

“I remember going home and speaking to my husband about the impact that me leaving would have on the family, and he said he would support me in whatever decision I made. I remember thinking about him in terms of how much more of a burden he would have to take in order to help the family’s finances, and so I told my VP in corporate that I would stay. But that night when I went home I was literally sick to my stomach. I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t sleep. I knew that I had made the wrong decision.

“Usually I don’t like to renege on decisions, but I had to go back in and I had to tell her that I wanted to take the risk to leave corporate while I was young and explore entrepreneurship. It was one of the best decisions that I have made in my entire life. I got an understanding of what it was like to own my own company and be responsible for ensuring people can meet the needs of their families, as well as just understanding taking a company from an idea and then executing. I think that’s an example of how passion and making a bold decision are how I approach everything in life. I make bold decisions and I don’t make any small plans.”

You can follow Tashni-Ann Dubroy on Twitter at @PhDTash.

In my Mindsets on Steroids blog series, influential leaders share their secrets to help you win by finding your inner desire to change, ignite your passion, and instill life patterns. If what you were doing right now would get you there, you would already be there.

Paul Meshanko is the founder and CEO of Legacy Business Cultures, a leadership training and organizational development firm that has served fortune 500 companies and medium sized business alike for 20 years. He is also the author of The Respect Effect. In the interview below, Paul tells us about his passions, what motivates him in his business, and shares secrets for being successful in business and life.

Lasting change starts with inner desire. What internal triggers have set change in motion in your life?

“What put me on my current trajectory probably started 22 or 23 years ago when I was still in my first job. I went through a training program when I was with Allied Signal (Paul’s first employer) called ‘Increasing Human Effectiveness.’ When you’re in corporate America you go through tons of training all the time, but this one really stuck out in my mind, because it was the first training I’d ever been through that actually focused on me as an individual, and what those personal competencies were that enabled me to be effective as a part of a larger group.

“I was so infatuated with that that I actually volunteered to become a facilitator internally for that program, and it became literally almost intoxicating. That whole role of being a catalyst for helping other people learn and grow and develop their own potential was addictive. About two or three years after I went through the program and became an internal facilitator, I decided to make a vocational change and left the safety of corporate America and said ‘I’m going to do this for a living now,’ and so it was really that passion for helping others uncover their own potential.”

Why did you feel the need to leave your job to pursue this passion?

“I had so much doggone fun doing it! The day that I turned in my resignation, my boss at the time just kind of smiled and said, ‘we were wondering how long it was going to take for this to happen,’ because that was not my job. I was actually a new product development manager. He said ‘I’ve never seen somebody take such an incredible interest and really have an ability to excel in a discipline that really wasn’t related to their job.’”

Were you worried about taking a chance and leaving a secure job for an unproven venture?

“It was just me and I figured if it didn’t work out, I could always go back to a real job,” he says with a laugh. “Fortunately for me, 20 years later I’m still doing it.”

Passion fuels explosive growth. What ignites your passion?

“For me, I think one of my core personal attributes is that I am intensely curious about what makes people tick – at the individual level and the organizational level. Why do we do the things that we do, and when we’re doing things well, can we learn from it and do more of it? When we’re doing things poorly, what kind of interventions can we put in place to address it and fix it?

“I also have a technical background – I was a sales engineer when I first started with Allied Signal – so I’ve always had a technical orientation. So looking at that whole human equation through multiple lenses -psychology, anthropology, history, and most recently neuroscience – was always second nature to me. What I like to do is find a pattern and see if that pattern can be explained through multiple lenses and disciplines. For me, that’s the essence of my passion for what we do organizationally.

“The second part of that is distilling it into actionable training and consulting for our clients. It’s one thing to see a pattern, it’s another thing to be able to translate that into workshop content, or a speaking topic, or consulting or coaching that actually helps another person or organization improve their situation.”

Consistent life patterns are often the missing component to greatness. How do you find discipline in your life?

“My first thought is to laugh out loud because that’s probably the single reason I’m not a multi-millionaire already. Because I’m intensely curious, I also suffer from the ‘shiny object syndrome.’ If something catches my attention, even if it’s not 100 percent relevant to what I’m working on, I may go explore it a bit. What I have found is that my discipline comes in spurts, and it usually is around something that is new, fun, and educational for me.”

A good example of this is when Legacy won a contract from the Department of Justice to create a curriculum around unconscious bias training.

“My discipline went into high gear because I was just so absolutely fascinated by the subject myself. I was talking to researchers from Harvard, the University of Wisconsin, UNC-Chapel Hill, and really some of the foremost researchers on the subject. That kind of environment puts me in the zone where I can be focused and disciplined.”

Are there things you do every day to maintain that zone?

“One of the things I do every day is I go through the headlines and try to look at the events going on around the world through those same lenses – history, neuroscience, phycology – and try to spot patterns, and it’s that curiosity that allows me to keep our content relevant.”

Over the past 3 1/2 years, Paul has been through a lot of change and challenges in his life. His father died, he’s moved three times, divorced, and relocated business.

How do you deal with these challenges?

“I was talking with a friend and they said, ‘how in the heck are you still standing?’ and I said ‘ because I’ve got really good friends to talk to.’

“I don’t care how well-balanced you are as an individual, how resilient you are, how adaptable you are; at the end of the day human beings are social creatures. Neurologically we’re the most socially wired animal on the planet. We did not evolve to be lone rangers, and so I am as passionate as anybody about this notion that we are here to take care of each other. So when we’re going through tough times, if we don’t have a network of friends and family to fall back on, we’re in trouble, because we’re really not designed to go through hard times alone.”

What is one result of change, passion, and discipline in your life?

“There are two. I’ve been successfully running my own business for twenty years, and the number of people who start a business and are in business twenty years later as a percentage of those who try is very, very small; so I take some degree of pride in that.

“And the other thing I think is being a published author. I think having the discipline to take a concept and research that concept and then get it published through a major publishing house – that takes a little bit of all three of those also.”

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @PaulMeshanko.