An Encounter With America’s Top Leaders

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About The Author

Brian Santhumayor of Nanthoor, Mangalore, has a Bachelors Degree in Engineering and MBA in Marketing and works as an Account Manager for an enterprise software company in Manhattan.  He volunteers by fundraising for numerous non-profit associations in the US and has won numerous awards and commendation for his charitable efforts.

What do all these great personalities have in common -General Colin Powell, Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Zig Ziglar, Suze Orman, Tom Hopkins? Well they are all famous people and super achievers who are now icons in their respective fields.

As an MBA student in Chicago in 1994, I was trying to figure out what area should I specialize in after my graduation? I had to choose from Finance, Accounting, Marketing or MIS? One day, as I was taking a stroll down the busy shopping district in downtown Chicago, I passed by a Borders bookstore. I was transfixed by this book that stared right back at me through the window. It was written by Tom Hopkins and was called " How to Master the Art of Selling." I walked in and purchased the book and a few days later after reading the book, I made that important decision – a career in sales management! Tom Hopkins became a millionaire at age 27 and today is the Numero Uno Sales Trainer in America! His book has sold over 1.6 million copies and been translated into ten languages!

It was a pleasant surprise that 12 years later, I got the opportunity to meet and listen to Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar and several great leaders including General Colin Powell, America’s Mayor Rudi Giulliani and others who were presenting to a gung ho audience at a recent seminar on Leadership and Motivation in New Jersey. The atmosphere was electrifying and I could feel my adrenalin pumping as I met and heard these commanding leaders share traits that we all can use to win the respect of our team and peers.

General Colin Powell after years of distinguished military service, served as both the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff under President Clinton and Secretary of State for President George Bush.

General Colin Powell

He talked about the ripple effect that you can see from an enthusiastic and optimistic leader. He said that as a leader you set the tone for your entire team. He talked about his leadership as a commander on the battlefield and then as Secretary of State. He also emphasized that effective leaders inspire and encourage their team members to learn new skills and grab new responsibilities. He said, "It is more important to be respected than liked. Sometimes you’ll have to make tough decisions that not everyone will like. You have to realize that part of your job is to "sell" your decision. That’s part of diplomacy." He talked about the tough choices he had to make as a Secretary of Sate especially since the September 11th tragedy. He took credit for revamping the whole technology infrastructure after he took charge at the State Department. He joked about using google to find some information on a UN resolution when he was on the phone with the Russian Foreign Minister.

Thomas Friedman wrote in his brilliant new bestseller book The World is Flat – A kid coming out of America has got to compete with a kid from India, man-to-man, woman-to-woman. Colin Powell in response to that said, "You’d better believe it.  Our youngsters are now in competition not just with other youngsters in America, but in this "Flat World" that our friend Tom Friedman talks about, we’re competing with Indian engineers, and Pakistani engineers, and Chinese youngsters who are going to science fairs, high-school science fairs, and you can get five million Chinese students in such a science fair, but only about 65,000 Americans. So we have to put our youngsters on a better track to success in schools. We need more of our youngsters going into math and science and technical fields."

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani, as former Mayor of New York City, was responsible for one of the most remarkable urban renewal projects in US history. During the aftermath of September 11, his legendary leadership and courage earned him the moniker "America’s Mayor." Amid chants of "Rudy for President in 2008", Rudy talked about how he found courage during America’s darkest hour. He said, "On that day, we had to confront reality. For me, standing below the north tower and looking up and seeing the flames of hell and then realizing that I was actually seeing a man– a human being– jumping from the 101st or 102nd floor drove home to me that we were facing something beyond anything we had ever faced before." Giuliani’s eloquence under fire has made him a global symbol of healing and defiance. He talked about how it is ultimately our character that forms the unshakeable, breakable foundation for courage. Can character be defined, Rudy Giuliani says " To a degree, yes. After observing bravery in action day after day at Ground Zero, I’ve witnessed seven character traits that courageous people share – Integrity, Determination, Compassion and Love, Wisdom, Hope, Composure and Faith".

Zig Ziglar is an impressive person to meet. He is an all-American success story. Mr. Ziglar has shared the platform with such distinguished Americans as Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush, Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell, as well as numerous U.S. congressmen and governors. Zig Ziglar challenged the most common myths about getting and staying motivated. He said, "We should knock those myths right out of the way so that you and your co-workers can start tackling your toughest goals." He also encouraged people to make a list of their top motivators and keep them in your purse or wallet. When you feel discouraged, pull out your list and remind yourself what you do or what you do."

Brian With Tom Hopkins

As I chatted with Tom Hopkins, it was evident that he was a man with an energetic personality and on-stage charisma. I thanked him for his book that inspired me to be successful in a sales management career and he gave me a thumbs-up sign and told me to keep reading and stay motivated all the time!

If life throws us a curve ball or we are de-motivated for any reason, we should take a page out of the book of these great leaders who triumphed in the face of adversity and achieved the American Dream!

Author: Brian Santhumayor- USA

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