I wasn’t sure if crickets lived in the deserts of the Middle East, but I fully expected to hear them if they did. This probably won’t come as a surprise, but that’s seldom the goal for a keynote speaker, and it wasn’t my goal at the Leaders in Dubai Conference in the United Arab Emirates.
This was one of those big-time conferences that every keynote speaker wants to work. The other presenters included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Benjamin Zander, Gary Hamel, Chester Elton, Jack Perkowski, David Plouffe, and Al Gore. Like them, I knew I had a valuable message to share. That’s why I’m in this business. But I wasn’t sure how well this particular audience would receive my ideas.
So it was time to practice what I preach when it comes to Extreme Leadership. My LEAP model is all about Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof, and it felt a bit audacious to speak to these hard-core business leaders about why Love should be a core component of their leadership. Given their cultural business norms, would they buy what I’m passionate about selling?
As it turns out, there are crickets in Dubai … but I didn’t hear them.
During a three-hour MasterClass on Extreme Leadership, I opened the idea up for discussion and we had a lively debate about the role of Love in the workplace. While there was one point where I felt sure I had lost them, that never really was the case. The response was respectful and engaged, the discussion was stimulating, and the people were warm, friendly and gracious.
As a keynote speaker, you never want the audience to pre-judge you or your message. You want them to come in with open minds and open hearts – and that’s the way you have to view them, as well.