Growing up, my family sat down to eat dinner together 7 days a week. So it’s no surprise that connecting with people over food is one of my favourite ways to spend my free time. It’s not just because I love food – I also love the questions, laughs, and stories that can be shared when people sit down to connect with one another.
Can you imagine the transformative conversations that would happen if the 75,000-strong LeaderShape community attended one large dinner party?
That got me thinking – if I could invite 5 leaders to a dinner party, who would I invite and why? The 5 leaders I chose demonstrate building community, resilience, vulnerability, vision, and empowerment.
Chance the Rapper: Building Community
Chance the Rapper is an active leader in his local Chicago community. After hosting a concert in Chicago’s Grant Park the day before the 2016 US presidential elections, Chance the Rapper led a parade of thousands of voters through the streets of Chicago, IL to an early voting site. Why? Because according to Chance, “The fact that you’re an artist that has millions of ears that potentially can reach hundreds of millions of ears and spirits and hearts…why not use that gift to uplift others and to speak up for others who don’t get to speak up?”
This isn’t the first time Chance the Rapper has given back to Chicago. In 2015, he partnered with The Empowerment Plan for The Warmest Winter. This project created over 1000 self-heating, water-resistant jackets that doubled as sleeping bags for the homeless in Chicago! Chance has also raised more than $100,000 for new technology equipment to help six Chicago elementary schools as part of the Get Schooled program.
I would invite Chance to my dinner party because to me, he reminds me that I don’t need to be a rapper in order to build community. Leadership is about uplifting others and I can start where I am with what I have.
Malala Yousafzai: Resilience
The youngest guest at my dinner party would be an 18 year old Pakistani girl who also happens to be the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize! She is Malala Yousafzai. Among the many inspirational words that she has shared, she once said, “If we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” After surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, Malala forgave her attacker and she even left Jon Stewart so speechless he jokingly asked about adopting her!
Her bravery, kindness and humility inspires my leadership and I would be in tears to have a resilient leader like her as a dinner guest! Despite setbacks, threats and barriers, Malala is an example of staying true to your core values and staying committed to your vision of making the world a better place.
Brené Brown: Vulnerability
Vulnerability is a continuous work in progress for me. Yet something tells me if Brené Brown accepted an invitation to my dinner party, I would have no problem being completely vulnerable with her. And that is probably due to how authentic, transparent and approachable she is. For me, Brené Brown embodies “to lead, live,” because she inspires me to be the type of leader who can quiet my inner voice when it nags me with fear and doubt. She inspires me to be the type of leader that isn’t afraid to be seen, in all my imperfections. And she inspires me to be the type of leader that has clarity of values. As a vulnerability researcher and storyteller, Brené probably has a plethora of leadership lessons to share – and you can hear some of those lessons in my favourite talk by her: “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count.”
Steve Jobs: Vision
Visionary. Master Storyteller. Inventor. If dinner parties had a keynote speaker, mine would be Steve Jobs. His legacy may be obvious, but I think that we will be studying the leadership lessons he taught us for a long time. As a leader, storytelling is a powerful way to connect with others and articulate our vision. Steve Jobs did this every time he took the stage at an Apple Event. We can even look at each of his 458 invention and design patents as stretch and manageable goals that contribute to his overarching vision for Apple. Steve Jobs is a leader whose passion, focus and determination transformed not only Apple as a company, but transformed the world. This article “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” has some interesting anecdotes about Steve Jobs as a leader that I would definitely want to ask him about during a dinner party.
Alexis Jones: Empowerment
About 2 years ago, I bought a book titled, “I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl,” by Alexis Jones. I can be very picky about self-help books, but I found this book to be incredibly empowering and highly recommend it. Outside of writing a book, Alexis Jones has co-founded I Am That Girl, a non-profit organization that values community, emotional, physical and mental well-being, leadership, diversity and meaningful conversations. All topics that I want my leadership to address and impact. Alexis also founded the ProtectHer Program, an initiative aimed at addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault on campuses. And if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll see that Alexis is incredibly down-to-earth and open about who she is and what she is all about. Plus she was a contestant on Survivor, so that would make great dinner conversation as well.
Brené Brown, Malala, Chance the Rapper, Steve Jobs, and Alexis Jones are all leaders I look up to and can learn a lot from. If you had to invite 5 leaders to a dinner party, who would you choose? And what leadership lessons can you learn from them?
Clivane Previlon plans to host a “girls’ night in” dinner party for her closest friends in the near future. Until then, she looks forward to receiving her undergrad degree in June 2017 and pursuing a career as a communications professional. When she’s not on Twitter (@clivaneprevilon), Clivane loves kickboxing, reading, and blogging. Connect with her at: www.clivane.com.