We get started with a quote from Sheryl Sandberg:
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
Dr. Minette Riordan: So as we get into our conversation I want to hear a little bit about what are you working on now what you are really excited about in your business right now, and for 2017, Axel?
Axel: Well one thing about the quote that you mentioned earlier what immediately came to mind and I used this in some of the speeches and presentations that I’ve done, is the best slogan that says “Diamonds are forever.”
So that, and the combination of you want to have as lasting impact even if you are not there, that’s somewhat what I’m also striving for and that’s also why I’m getting more and more into keynote speaking, breakout sessions, bigger events and conferences — it’s just to reach more people and have more impact and hopefully lasting impact. So that’s definitely some of what I’m working on in 2017.
And in that context, the challenge to some extent is this: I have my model about Diamond Formation Leadership, but I also want to be of service to the audience or thru the event venue or through the organization that is asking me to help them or speak to them or present something to their people. So in that context I’m always working on “How can I provide a certain component and balance between customizing what they need so it really resonates with their employees or audience and still give them a good indication and a good understanding of what the model is about and how it can benefit them. So that’s what I’m constantly working on and even beyond the end of the year, that’s probably going to be a process for the long run to do.
Minette: So I love that sense because I would imagine that a lot of people who are reading the show notes also want to be doing more speaking in 2017 and if they don’t they should be because it’s one of the fastest ways to grow your business. And whether you’re doing a workshop or a breakout, the number one questions you have to ask is: Who’s going to be in the audience and what do they need from you?
That being said, I love Axel and maybe you could talk a little bit about just what you said before we started the recording which is about creating this core content that’s uniquely yours and that is really about sharing your story as well as the skills and talents that you bring and just reminding people that what they’re sharing on stage isn’t just business tactics or strategy but it’s also that personal element as well.
Axel: Right, absolutely. What happened for me basically like you mentioned in your introduction, I retired from the Air Force – after a pretty long , fascinating, interesting, and challenging career. I really loved to be there. But when my body kind of didn’t allow me to fly anymore, it became a logical choice to see if I really wanted to be there and – in the Air Force we say – “fly a desk” or get out.
But that was basically the reason to get out and since then I had always included the Air Force materials and learning in my work. Sometimes I had developed it or sometimes it was developed by people in the Air Force and then we used it to teach and instruct. When I got out and got recruited into your area in the Santa Barbara area I worked for a software company to develop their Training and Customer Service Department. And again it was basically their software, their training program, and I developed the trainers and all the other stuff that came with it.
And over the years more and more I realized that when you look a little bit at how do you actually brand yourself because try to see how to generate profits, how do we make our business successful?
Yes, there is the corporate world that I am serving when I do workshops or develop something around the learning models. But the other aspect is how do potential customers and event planners know about me, how do they know that I have to provide something different if I basically use other people’s material?
And that is where this evolution has come to the Diamond Formation Leadership program. As you find out, at least for me it was the case, and I’m sure a lot of your guests have similar experiences that there are certain things that you are passionate about and that other people had other perspectives about than you do. And so for me that basically triggered to start tapping into my network. I began asking already successful speakers, trainers, and coaches.
How did you get to where you are now and develop your success?
I heard recurring stories about the status of an expert:
I consider myself an expert like I am saying and I believe very strongly that I can prove that I’m a leadership expert and a thought leader in my area of essential skills for leaders.
At the same time, when somebody said, “So what’s your special thing?” or some people say, “What’s your USP?” or “What’s your unique selling proposition?” I, for a long time thought: Well, the fact that I know how leadership works and how it impacts people and how you can create a vision and a mission statement, how you can better communicate – all those things – what does that really mean for my journey forward?
And that became this kind of rambling of a description until I realized:
You know there are really four things that I’m really passionate about and those four things fit into this Diamond Formation Leadership model. Then, when I connect it to my time in the military I came to this realization that flying in diamond formation had been four corners of four planes that represent the four most important aspects of leadership based on my experience. And at some point I said to myself, “Okay, now there are four corners, aspects, facets, core components. Those are the four parts that make my unique model relevant. I realized those four relevant things are how the model emerged.
If I bring that back to what you asked about the audience and making programs, it’s really pretty interesting. I started to put a name to it and a title to it and so forth about a year ago. It happened to me and really demanded of me to make a commitment before January 1st because it just had evolved that way.
And since I put a name on it, people say, “Oh, you’re so passionate about it,” and they totally get it. And then it has these four corners and I can show impact and details. I have the images of the planes in my one pager on my webpage. ….so forth and so forth and you can put the energy behind it too.
As soon as you start getting me into a Diamond Formation Leadership topic, you have to stop me because I’m on fire. I mean I can go on and on with all energy about it and how I asked people and it’s my model, my passion, my deep dive.
And it is not that I’m saying other people’s stuff is not there, it’s just when it becomes yours some people use this term, “It’s your baby” or it’s something that you nurture and cherish and want to develop and so forth — and to some extent that’s how I came out with it.
I am working on the book with the same title. I have the webpage, http://www.DiamondFormationLeadership.com I have the keynotes speech, I have shorter versions, I have blowup shots, and not all of it is done a hundred percent yet.
Now, on the other hand there is also the motivation where you work on it whether the year comes to an end or it’s just starting or it’s in the middle of the summer. That passion is really like fuel. It keeps me going.
I can only encourage anybody reading these notes or hear a recording, to discover what your model, your passion, your imagery really is, and then keep working on getting it out into the world, stand behind it and let your audiences and the people you engage know how much you want to serve them by providing what you discovered.
Dr. Axel Meierhoefer