Learning to Lead in Los Angeles


There’s nothing quite like a trip away to help you understand and appreciate everything at home so much more clearly. I met some truly amazing business people on my recent trip to LA, and learnt so much from what was shared.

The purpose was to attend the Global Leadership Summit for the Young Presidents Organisation (YPO).The Summit is a meeting of like-minded executive leaders sharing international business knowledge and experience. It was a chance to literally ‘hang out’ with thousands of inspiring CEOs from right across the globe and focus on learning lifelong leadership skills.

We met and spoke to plenty of extraordinary people, including Bill Clinton, Robert Redford and my wife Rebecca got to meet and listen to Cindy Crawford’s story. The celebrity names offered valuable insights of course, but typically for me, it was three of the lesser-known speakers who really stood out. The impact of their ideas has stayed with me – so I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Jim Collins is a brilliant business guru. I’ve been a fan of his for years, and the opportunity to talk about business strategy with him for an hour was honestly the highlight of my trip. He’s the author of Good to Great, and I’m thrilled to say he even shared some private business advice that’s now like gold to me! Jim and I have the same passion for business, and we really overlapped on that need to understand why certain things work in business when you’re trying to manage people and grow. He’s also done some interesting research into company luck; he says all companies experience a similar amount of luck, but the difference between companies is defined by which ones take advantage of luck when it happens. I like to think Wiley has an awesome team that always takes advantage of our luck and our opportunities – but it’s interesting to realise that not all companies react the same way. Do you take advantage of business luck when you see it?
  2. Dave Logan is the author of Tribal Leadership, he had an interesting take on key leadership teams of three. I’m personally very interested in studying different leadership models. Dave advises to delegate a challenge to two people rather than one, and you as the leader make up the third. I’ve always believed the more brainpower you’re using, the better! So that really resonated with me. It’s a valuable idea, although to be fair most of our projects at Wiley require more than three leaders to be involved. Have you or others in your business had good results with teams of three?
  3. Mark Crowley wroteLead from the Heart, which I’m proud to say is a leadership style I favour. Mark talked about his own emotional journey which led him to write his book. He believes in leadership through being supportive, driven, inclusive, nurturing and connecting – all underpinned with a caring approach. I admired his views and his honesty. Mark really effectively summed up how leaders of today should, well – lead from their hearts – as opposed to leadership styles of the past. I believe ‘leading from the heart’ at least partly explains why Wiley has such long staff tenure. How do you measure up on these key aspects of leadership?

There are many ways to lead a company, but the most important aspects of successful leadership appear to have little or nothing to do with what you create or sell. Instead, it’s about keeping an eye on your own strategic objectives, having a deep understanding of human behaviour and then implementing your personal leadership style with passion.

I really enjoyed meeting these three extraordinary people and needless to say they have further inspired and encouraged me to have confidence in my own leadership style. I gained some amazing and valuable perspective, I hope you find something in my blog to inspire you to seek out one of their books.

Ask yourself: What could you improve today to become a better leader?