If we want to be transformational, we have to be ready to transform ourselves

by Shannon Houde

A week before our tumultuous Presidential election, I sat down for breakfast in a packed ballroom at the BSR 2016 BE BOLD conference in New York City. And though I don’t normally eat my breakfast surrounded by hundreds of other people, it was clear that I was surrounded by like-minded souls. Addressing a room filled by individuals focused on transformation and exploring new ways to use business and leadership to create a more sustainable world.  Lindsay Levin, founder of Leaders Quest, left the audience with a piece of advice that clearly resonated with everyone the room, “If we want to be transformational,” she said, “we have to ready to transform ourselves.  This is something that is at the core of the important work I do with change leaders, and influenced much of our thinking throughout the rest of the conference.

Immediately following Lindsay’s morning address, Mina Guli, founder of Thirst, took the stage to tell her story.  She shocked us with the prediction that by 2030 the demand for clean, drinkable water will be 40% greater than the supply. Earlier this year, Mina became the first person to run 40 marathons in just seven weeks across seven continents and seven deserts to raise awareness about that global water crisis. She left the BSR audience with three lessons:

  1. You don’t have to be anyone to be someone
  2. If fear defines your future, it defines your dream
  3. Find your passion to find your power to change the world

The rest of the conference was filled with highlights – I enjoyed Lord John Brown’s (previous CEO of BP) message about authenticity and his “coming out of the closet” late in his career.  “It’s essential to be yourself and to be authentic in everything that you do,” he said. You can now watch his full speech at on the BSR website here.


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I also enjoyed the inspiring panel discussions on bold leadership, income inequality and empowering women in the work place, and even tasting (real!) crickets at a session on sustainable eating.  So much of what was discussed at BSR was about the importance of identifying an authentic version of yourself and about using that authenticity to take more necessary risks as a change maker.

Just one week later ½ of America voted in Donald Trump as President and much of what we, “the converted”, were championing at this amazing conference seemed all the more important to advocate – diversity and inclusion, climate change, resource depletion, and leading from the top.

These themes provided a natural transition into my own BSR session on the importance of personal branding and communicating our personal mission, vision and values out to a wider audience.  My workshop saw 60+ attendees from a variety of different backgrounds, ethnicities and countries. We discussed the challenges of networking, the value of understanding your audience, and the importance of sculpting a clear and clean message when it comes to your 30-second elevator pitch and personal brand. These themes were also carried into my 15 One2One executive coaching sessions throughout the conference that week.

To those who were not able to make the conference, I’d encourage you to check out BSR’s blog on the event – Four Ways to Review Highlights of the BSR Conference.

Thanks to everyone who attended my BSR session and One2One sessions! I hope you will stay in touch, and look forward to seeing you next October in Southern California for #BSR17.

Do you want to develop your influence and impact as a leader? To learn more about how I can help and to register for One2One coaching sessions, get in touch with Walk of Life Leaders today.


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