legendary leaders social good

Let’s Be Legendary

Recently I spoke at JoomlaDay Chicago and delivered the closing keynote with the topic ‘Let’s Be Legendary’. I was hoping to inspire, motivate, and challenge first myself and also everyone else who had attended. I’ve embedded the slides below in case there are others interested. Obviously something is missing when it’s not heard but hopefully the concepts will still carry through.

Let’s Be Legendary


We looked at 5 individuals who we would all agree are legendary figures. Each displayed a particular trait which we then focused on and discussed.

Mother Theresa: Be Caring

Our first case study was Mother Theresa. One of her defining character qualities was the way in which she cared for others. The characteristic to be caring was clearly evident throughout her life. We also noticed she focused on a humanitarian approach to improving society.

Steve Jobs: Be Passionate

Our second case study was Steve Jobs. Of course this talk was given at a tech event so most everyone in the room would agree he is indeed a legendary figure. One of Steve’s most recognized character qualities was his passion. It’s quite easy to watch his talks and recognize the importance of being passionate. Steve Jobs was focused on using technology to improve society, or as he put it, “make a dent in the universe.”

Helen Keller: Be Consistent

This third case study was a bit trickier to recognize from the photograph instantly however the individual is immediately recognized by name. Helen Keller demonstrated an incredible level of consistency in her advocacy for disabled people.  Helen spent her entire life devoted to this cause and consistently focused on helping the disabled and improving society.

Bill Gates: Be Generous

Our fourth case study returned to a familiar face with Bill Gates. One of Bill’s most well-known character qualities and the focus of our fourth legendary trait is his generosity. Bill has begun a foundation (The Gates Foundation) dedicated to serving and assisting the underprivileged in society. He’s shown incredibly generosity in the amount of wealth he has freely donated and generously given to others. He has focused on improving society by generously helping the underprivileged.

Jackie Robinson: Be Courageous

The last of our case studies which we focused on looked at the life and legendary qualities of Jackie Robinson. Jackie demonstrated incredible courage in the face of extreme conflict as he fought for equality in the world of baseball. He is well-known for breaking the color barrier on the baseball field. Jackie’s strong advocacy for minorities greatly helped improve society.

There’s More

Of course there are other legendary figures and role models and certainly other aspects of these 5 individuals which served to make them legendary. We’re merely focusing on 5 aspects. The next thing we discussed was how we could apply these legendary qualities to ourselves. This is a bit more difficult because we feel quite small and helpless as a single individual sometimes and question whether we can truly do any good as one person.

“A life is not important except for the impact it has on other’s lives.”
– Jackie Robinson

Start Small

But we determined there is value in starting small. We must (as they say) grow where we’re planted to a degree and use our small, local sphere of influence to do our part in our quest to be legendary.

Stay Strong

As we saw demonstrated by several of the individuals above the idea of staying strong, being consistent, being courageous all speak to the importance of staying strong. If we stay strong we will continue to grow towards our goal of being legendary.

Savor Success

One thing we see along the way is that if we are starting small and attempting to stay strong there will of course be trials and obstacles and difficulties we will face. Each of the 5 individuals we studied faced hardships. The key is to savor the successes. The small victories along the way. Then we are able to stay encouraged, stay positive and stay motivated.

Serve Society

The last step in our path to being legendary is to serve society. Find a way in which we can benefit others. As we progress in our talk this becomes something of an interesting point. We should stop and revisit the 5 legendary individuals we looked at in-depth. All of them focused on this aspect. Every single one was in some way focused on improving society. Changing the world.

This led to a revelation….

Their goal was never to be legendary. Their goal was to change the world. To focus on a particular area where they could impact people which ultimately impacted the world. Suddenly it becomes clear that perhaps the focus of our talk should be different. Rather than the goal to “be legendary” perhaps something else is more important. Perhaps our focus should be shifted slightly.

Let’s be something else. Let’s be leaders. But not just any leaders, leadership can take a variety of forms. The type of leader that we looked at in our case study focused on a particular goal. Perhaps a better title for our talk today would be the following:

Let’s Be Leaders for Social Good.