5 Things I Learned From My First Leadership Lab


Personal development is no easy undertaking. It takes true investment in the form of both time and money, and for the longest time I underestimated just how crucial these resources were to success in this arena. All too often, you read blogs and hear the “feel good” stories of how personal development changed people overnight and rocketed them into success. This isn’t one of those stories.

Over the next few minutes, I’d like to offer you some key lessons I learned from my first leadership workshop. The advice was was humbling and honest, and the whole experience left me with many actionable tools that I’ve already started implementing in my day-to-day life. My goal here is to give you an honest rundown of what I learned in the hopes that you can gain a thing or two from my experience.


Some Context About The Leadership Lab

I was lucky enough to be given the exciting opportunity to attend my first leadership lab. This was a two-day workshop led by a good friend and colleague of mine, Jeni Rulon. Over the past few years, Jeni has become a trusted entrepreneurial colleague and mentor and I respect her immensely.

Jeni is a certified professional coach who has a real passion for high-performing, growth-minded people — like many of you who read this blog. She’s the founder of InTheZing.com and is notorious for her high energy and leadership-focused workshops.

This workshop was designed to inspire attendees to grow their leadership savvy and infuse energy into everyday life. The setting involved a very intimate group — seven of us in total — and I was the only male. What I liked about this workshop was the fact I sincerely got to know the other people sitting next to me, a special experience that many leadership trainings don’t offer.

I’d like to bullet some key points that I took away from this leadership lab, nuggets of wisdom that could directly impact how you conduct your daily business as well as your day-to-day life.


What Are Your Core Values?

You hear the term “core values” a lot. If you would have asked me before this workshop what my core values were, I’d probably have given you some cardboard box answer like “respect, honesty and integrity.” What bullshit! Everyone aspires to possess these qualities, and seeks them out in others.

I learned how impactful having three main core values truly is. Not only does defining your core values give you key principles to live by, but they also serve as ultra-important resources when it comes to making decisions in your life and business.

In previous posts, I’ve talked a lot in about the importance of being a great decision maker, but not once did I consider core values as a tool that could help you make big-time decisions.

After multiple exercises during the session, I uncovered my ACTUAL core values: freedom, family and legacy. If I had the opportunity to buy a business today, I would first run down a logical pro/con list. If the decision was still appealing after that, I would then ask myself “does this opportunity match up with everyone of my core values?” Our instructor presented this exact scenario, which really hit home since it gave me a clear and practical application for my new core values.

The bottom line of this is rather simple: Don’t make big changes if they are not in line with ALL of your core values. Don’t waiver from who you are and what you want. These values will help guide you through so many tough decisions and obstacles.


Create More Win/Win Situations

One of the biggest takeaways I got from the leadership lab was that I possess the power to create win/win situations for everyone I deal with. Again, this doesn’t apply to just business, but works for life in general. This was a powerful realization for me, as I’ve generally lived by the theory that there are winners and there are losers in life. Although I still firmly believe this, it doesn’t mean one person always has to win, while the other gets stuck with a loss. There can be win/wins for both sides.

One of my favorite entrepreneurs, James Altucher, talks about the power of being a great negotiator. He says that you must approach negotiations willing to create a winning scenario for both parties involved. When I first read this idea, I couldn’t have disagreed more. It made zero sense to me. Negotiation is about power, winning and being right… isn’t it?

My mentality was wrong. Win/win scenarios are essentially the optimal solution for all parties. Today every great partnership I have in place reflects the win/win end. If I begin a deal with an “I win, you lose” mentality, I’m doing a disservice to the talents and contributions of those on the other side of the table.  

When your goal is to create winning scenarios, it allows you to see things with a different filter, and, consequently, create better opportunities. And we all know that creating opportunity is a MAJOR KEY to success. If shifting your strategy to brainstorm up win/win scenarios allows you to see and leverage more opportunity, then it’s a no-brainer why you need to shift your approach.

The best leaders in the world are excellent at creating win/win situations. From here on out, it’s my goal to create win/wins for myself and others around me.


What’s Your Mission?

I’ve always been a firm believer that businesses without a defined mission would always keep success just out of reach. Up until this leadership lab, I never considered how having a personal mission statement might enhance my own shots of success, too.  

Along with finding my core values, it became critical for me to determine my own mission statement. As you might expect, my personal mission perfectly aligns with my three core values.

The work that I do is fueled by a greater purpose. When I’m going through my everyday grind, there’s a natural tendency to lose sight of that purpose if I’m not careful. And if I lose sight of my purpose, I lose my fuel.

It’s a must for all top performers and entrepreneurs to stay engaged with narrow focus since this is what drives quality work and impact. Without a mission, whether a business or an individual, you’re dead in the water. So here it is, my mission statement: 

"My awareness allows me to see and create opportunity for myself and those around me, which in return creates freedom, legacy and love."


Seeing Energy & Leadership as One in the Same

Have you ever been around someone who has that “It Factor?” They’re like a magnet for positivity, success and overall good vibes. It’s like they attract attention in any room they walk into.

I’ve seen this time and time again, where you’re engaged with someone just because of the energy they give off. I’ve even been this person at times. We’re attracted to people with good energy, it’s that simple.

This leadership lab really taught me how energy and leadership run hand-in-hand. All great leaders have great energy. And great leaders inspire people to be impactful. You can’t possibly do this with poor energy.

I’ve failed my GoEdison team many times with poor energy. I don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. After this workshop, I was riding an “energy high,” and the next day my GoEdison team noticed. I could tell that my positivity was contagious, spilling over to boost their energy and workflow, too. Likewise, when you have bad energy, it can bring everyone around you down.

For leaders, it is crucial to constantly be in touch with your energy levels, the cause of good or bad energy and the impact it has on those in your circle.


All This Means Nothing Without Consistency and Action

Feeling inspired, hopeful and ambitious is a powerful thing. But this means absolutely zilch if you don’t act on those feelings. As I like to say, “Don’t talk about it, be about it!”

The best part about this leadership workshop? It gave us actionable tools we could test out right away. Not only did I leave feeling inspired, hopeful and ready to take on the world, but I had tangible resources I could apply to improve my time management, communication and confrontation skills.

It’s been almost a month since the leadership lab, and I still review what I learned in this training session on a regular basis. Although I fail at times, I’m more aware of my shortcomings and strive to be better with each day that passes.

Here are few nuggets I’ve implemented into my daily life:

  • I’ve stopped viewing time as my enemy. I work with time, not against it — a very hard concept to practice!

  • When in a heated or stressful situation that needs communication, this is the first thing you should do: Repeat verbatim the persons vent, complaint or statement back to them. They won’t notice that you repeated exactly what they said and it will instantly make them feel comfortable and assure them that you’re hearing their concerns.

  • My new daily motto is “James can only win.” I fully believe this and I know it’s true.

  • I understand my energy is contagious, for both good and bad. I try harder to keep my energy in the positive. This is healthy on so many different levels.


Thanks to My Colleagues

My beard sucks - But this picture is awesome. And these ladies kick ass. 

My beard sucks - But this picture is awesome. And these ladies kick ass. 

I’m not going to give you a strong call to action at the end of this post asking you to join my 100% Earned community and sign up for my newsletter. Instead I want to use this section to send love to all my colleagues who sat through this leadership lab with me. They are WONDERFUL people and you would be privileged to work with them, just like I was.

Special thanks to Jeni, Amy, Andrea, Kelly, Chelsea and Robyn. Thank you ALL for being vulnerable alongside me and helping me grow. (We were all complete strangers before this workshop!)

Below are a few businesses run by the women in this group. I strongly encourage ALL MY READERS to consider working them, they’re the real deal.

Jeni Rulon: Founder and CEO of intheZING

Jeni was the one who spent the time to get to know us, coach our crew and give us these skills. She’s GREAT. Any top performer, business owner or entrepreneur needs to hire Jeni. She will give you the leadership skills, tools and confidence you need to take your business to the next level.

Kelly Parker: High Performing Virtual Assistant

Kelly is a new business owner who runs an elite virtual assistant for top performers, executives and other entrepreneurs. I’ve often pondered getting a VA, and when I finally make the leap, I’ll be calling Kelly. She sets the standard.  If you’re in need of extra help to make your business run more effectively (aren’t we ALL?!), then you need Kelly in your life. It’s that simple.

Hire Kelly by contacting here below: 

E: bakabykellyann@gmail.com
P: (772) 444-2252