As I learned from a quick round of 20-second “structured networking” introductions, there were a wide-range of business leaders—including consultants, strategists, coaches and project managers-- among attendees at the recent May Breakfast Meeting of the Tri-Valley Consultants Forum. Lead by Forum board member Jeff Hunt, “structured networking” is like Speed Dating, but for professional people seeking business partners or peers to network with. In addition to the networking opportunity, the 40-odd business men and women at the 7 AM breakfast meeting were able to burnish their leadership skills by listening to a presentation called “Navigating Leadership for Entrepreneurs” by author and business coach Larry Jacobson.
After a 20-year business career as a VP of Sales and Marketing, Jacobson left his corporate life to spend six years circumnavigating the globe in a 50-ft sloop with his life partner Ken Smith. Jacobson’s journey, which covered 40,000 miles, 40 countries and ended in 2007, is detailed in his 2011 book "The Boy Behind the Gate."
Jocobson’s presentation focused on four key things he says he learned from sailing around the world that can be applied to leading a company:
• how to recognize fear and use it to your advantage while in a leadership role;• the importance of risk-taking as part of being a leader;• how to make decisions more promptly and effectively;• the value of making passion a priority.
According to Jacobson, these same traits, skills, and characteristics of leadership are equally useful whether you’re facing 30-foot walls of water slamming into your boat in a Red Sea storm (as he and his 2-man crew did) or trying to close millions of dollars in business.
Jacobson’s presentation was the highlight of the breakfast meeting and many of the business leaders in the roundtable discussion afterwards talked about being either motivated or energized by his tale of nautical adventure--although few, if any, said they were similarly inspired to sail around the world.
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