423 | The First Step in Powerful Leadership is Identity with Stedman Graham

Powerful leadership starts with a keen understanding of who you are at a personal level. If you don’t know who you are, it is much harder to lead others. I remember having a team of 15 people reporting to me. It was a blessing to have a team and a struggle to lead in a way that developed people that can think for themselves. I really didn’t understand myself as a leader. What I am talking about is your identity. If you want to a powerful leader, you must be able to tune in to your identity. Today’s exceptional guest is Stedman Graham. Stedman has been writing books and helping people for years understand themselves. Stedman’s newest book is about Identity Leadership. For decades now, Stedman is also the significant other of Oprah. We talk about the power of identity in your journey of leadership. Discover insights from Stedman on how to engage in powerful leadership in everything you do.

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Target Audience: Stedman Graham is an American educator, author, businessman, speaker, and podcaster primarily known as the longtime partner of media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

Stedman Graham: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett: Hi, this is Gene Hammett. I’m the host of leaders in the trenches. My question for you today is who are you? It was a big question and this is not meant to be, you know, talk about what your favorite colors are or what you like to drive or you know, are you a father or a mother? But you know really at the core essence, who are you? What do you believe? What do you want to do with your life? What is the purpose of you being here? How will you make that happen and what do you believe was necessary for you to be the person that you want to be? Those are a lot of questions, but this whole concept wraps up into identity. I talk about it from stages about learning to lead is a lot like learning to dance.

Gene Hammett: But as a leader, you want to understand your identity. You want to have self-awareness around that. So I’ve got together with Stedman Graham. Steadman is an author. He is a business person. He’s helped a lot of children understand who they are, but also working with leaders to understand their identity as leaders. And he’s written a book about this and we’ll come out, we’ll talk about that in the interview today. You made him know the name before, but Steadman is maybe best known because he’s the significant other to know other than Oprah Winfrey. And you know, he got up on stage, you tell them, you know, opened up, he started talking about the message, but he kind of jokingly said, I know you’re in the audience, has to have told others that you’re meeting with Oprah’s. Man, we talked about a little bit of that today. But Steadman has a message to stand on his own about identity leadership and tune in today to figure out exactly how to do that as a leader and why it’s so important. So here’s the interview with Stedman Graham.

Gene Hammett: Hello.

Stedman Graham: Hello.

Gene Hammett: How are you, Stedman?

Stedman Graham: Oh good.

Gene Hammett: I’ll give you some context here, but I was at the BMW I three weeks ago.

Stedman Graham: Yeah. I remember you. Thanks for the opportunity. So tell me your background.

Gene Hammett: So I used to run a fast-growth business. I ended up losing everything about nine years ago. My best friend took me for $3 million and I had to restart my life. And now I’m a keynote speaker. I advise companies and I work with ink and I have a podcast on leadership that gives you the short version. I was excited to talk to you today. I was looking at this, I mean I’ve got the book here. It’s an older book that you have is who are you, but you’ve got a new book coming out. Right.

Stedman Graham: It’s called Identity Leadership.

Gene Hammett: Okay. So we’re going to talk about that today when it will be coming out?

Stedman Graham: It’s coming out on May 6.

Gene Hammett: Okay, perfect. Well, I’ll tell you, it’s about 20 minutes on this interview if that’s okay with you and I will take care of the times. They don’t worry about that. I’ll guide us and move us through this process pretty easily. I’ve been, I’ve done about three or 400 of these, so I usually take this information that’s recorded for the podcast, but then I turned it into an Inc article so I can go back and get the exact quotes, all that stuff. It makes sense. Sounds good. Perfect. When I say goodbye don’t hang up cause that’ll be where I cut off the recording, but we’ll wrap up offline just to make sure that we’re on things. I’ll answer any questions you have and I looked at how you, that’s what different about my podcast and leadership is. This is not people who want to be in business. These are founders and CEOs of fast-growing companies. Most of them probably below 10 million, but they’re growing pretty fast. Most of my clients are all fast-growing companies, so they tune in as well.

Stedman Graham: Okay, sounds good.

Gene Hammett: All right, so excited to talk to you about identity leadership. We’ll jump right into it. I’m going to get the time here. I’m already recording, but I’ll end up cutting this off. I’m going to clap three times. It’ll tell me where to cut this. All right.

Stedman Graham: Okay, sounds good.

Gene Hammett: Hi, Stedman. How are you?

Stedman Graham: Oh fine Gene and how much this though?

Gene Hammett: I’m fantastic. I thought you speak a few weeks ago in a BMW. Then you captivated the audience and I do want to admit that you really, you did something up there that’s pretty surprising. You own the fact that people probably recognize you more for being Oprah’s man than from the hard work you have in the world. But that’s just where we are. Right?

Stedman Graham: Well that’s okay. You know, because they’re comfortable with who I am as a person. I’m very happy for who she is, what she’s done. She’s an unbelievable icon in the industry. You know, all the accolades that she could possibly get based on the work that she’s done throughout her years. So I don’t have to be out there, you know, and I’m doing the best I can base on what I do. When I’m comfortable with that as part of the message or I talk about it, you know, I’m able to find myself and be very comfortable with myself in my own skin, which allows me to be able to sell flash my own potential and you know, and then I’m very satisfied with that.

Gene Hammett: There’s a lot of crossover between our messages admin. I’m going to go into what you call identity leadership and just a minute, but do you ever audience a chance to get to know you? So tell us who you are and who you serve right now.

Stedman Graham: Well see my name is Stedman Graham and uh, my father is, that’d be Graham senior. So I’m a junior and a, I grew up on a little small town called White Rail, New Jersey near Cape May. And while we’re there and southern part of Jersey and grew up a town of about 1800 which was founded by me, you know, relative George H. White who was a former US congressman who created a Whitesboro because he wanted, you know, black citizens now African Americans to be empowered, you know, with our own land own businesses. I own social opportunities so he created Whitesboro and we’re very proud of that.

Stedman Graham: I go back, I’ve been for 30 years I’ve been working on developing the concerned citizens and going back to raise money and create opportunities and empower our young people based on the program that we’ve created over the 30 years as a way to get to tell me his legacy. I a home, a basketball player playing in Europe, European pro league and that’ll be years played a hunch emission diversity. I got a masters at ball state university, again serving the US army and started writing books. Worked for a guy named Bob Brown, traveling around the world with him. He took me everywhere. He’s a great role model for me and bio father figure for me. Guy Named Steve led, Nick, brought me in the business in Chicago, you know, I can, I don’t want to, I can’t tell you exactly how this is all in order, but you kind of get the gist of it.

Stedman Graham: So he started writing books, started realizing there was a missing piece and the missing piece was people didn’t know who they were. You know, you don’t know who you are and most people don’t know who you are. So to be able to teach them who they are and how the building an identity for themselves and again, becoming the identity leader based on the philosophy that you cannot lead anybody else until you firstly. Just so it’s Kinda how I got here. And, uh, I’m so excited about the new book coming out which will be out in May 6 and its ability to create a clear message around a nine-step success process, which really to me is a self actualization process of getting you the focus on your talent, your skills, your passions, abilities and it changes the learning system around where you’re understanding how to take education and information and make it relevant to your passion, to your talents, to your abilities, to your purpose in life, to who you are and then transfer that to your mind so you become a thinking in that vein and then transfer that to the American free enterprise system of the global marketplace to actually can take charge and create your own life based on designing a customized system, which I show you how to do through the nine steps access process, which will help you kinda cocreate with the systems that are in place.

Stedman Graham: That basically right now average that’s a school system that kind of teach each other memorized and take tests in Pete’s information back and label with great. Two weeks later you can get the information and you know, the work system where we get up, do the same thing over and over every single day. And so we’re trying to step out of the eliminate the labels and the labels that you might have, racial labels, genuine labels, class labels, family labels, all these labels. That program you believed that’s who you are as a person and we get you to take charge of your own development. So that’s kind of the short of it.

Gene Hammett: Well, I want to dive into this whole concept of identity leadership and at people. Let’s just start right there. Like I think a lot of people struggle with knowing and having a clear understanding of their own identity. Why is that a problem?

Stedman Graham: Well, it’s a problem because most of us are not taught how to build our own life or take charge of our own identity. Nobody teaches really that, you know, and traditionally the institutions are designed to basically take care of us, you know, and you know, we basically work every day. We live in the community churches and we have schools and we have four one k’s and retirement and pitches that basically took care of us. So we didn’t really have to worry too much about becoming an independent thinker or working a little shelf and all 21st century now is you know what, you have to be a self-directed learner. This is kind of your economy. You have to focus on you. You got to take charge of your own, you know, social security and that social security, but take charge of your own economic status.

Stedman Graham: Now you know, you can’t rely on the traditional systems that they used to be in a place that will take care of us. Now you have to build things, create, you have to become a self-directed learner, a lifelong learner. And so you have to really work on yourself. The standout and we were moving to a skill-based economy where we’re asking people what are your skills? Can’t just graduate from college and come out with a degree and just take a job. You know, those jobs are being automated and being replaced by, you know, artificial intelligence. And so you need a, a process for standing out. You’ve got to disrupt basically the traditional way of living, disrupt yourself and create a learning process that’s going to help you become better at what you do and be able to make that distinction by communicating to the people who you are. Where are you going? How are you going to get there?

Gene Hammett: I want to ask you a personal question around that because you have been impacted by your mother, Mary greatly. How did Mary help you understand your own identity in this world?

Stedman Graham: Well, she was an independent thinker. My mom was I mean, this is what she had was determination. She has a great positive outlook on life. There was nothing she that she, you know, she didn’t think she could actually do. She’s a hard worker. You know, she took care of my family and my family. I had to a disabled brother, special need brothers. And so she dealt with that. She dealt with us. She worked 11 to seven at night and she’d get up and she’d spin most of the day awake. You know, she makes sure we got off to school, she made sure we had breakfast, she made sure we had dinner.

Stedman Graham: You know, she did that every time, you know, she worked side jobs, she did everything she possibly could. My father, of course, was there and he was a strong role model for me. So man, if you can get the energy from all of that and you can get the drive from all of that and you can get the understanding of how to focus on the kind of be the best that you can, that’s a pretty good base. That’s a pretty good foundational piece to start with.

Gene Hammett: Well, I know having a strong woman like that in your life probably has many effects. When it came down to leadership, how does that, how did that shift the way you were able to engage others to believe more than themselves?

Stedman Graham: Well, leadership is number one. I’m going to, Deloitte talks about leadership in terms of is the most important thing that we can study now and we can become now and it’s not taught like it used to be taught because basically, the community talks you leadership and which meant that you had to think on your own.

Stedman Graham: You didn’t follow, everybody wanted a follower vidman a copy. You didn’t do copycat stuff. You know, leadership was based on basic principles that you know, we’re taught in the community and the church and in organizations, we have forced by neighbors. Leadership was just something you expected to be, you know, you had boy scouts and we’re strong in my community. You have four h have a strong, you had a lot of different programs and all they focus on with leadership. So leadership was taught at an early age and it didn’t give the power over to young people to decide what they were going to do with their time. That time was structured and the time was built around how do I create a better person? But we knew the kids that weren’t going to graduate, which was maybe in my class in high school, that might’ve been one or two people that didn’t graduate.

Stedman Graham: But now you know you’ve got 50% of those kids dropping out of school. And so that was kind of unheard of back then. So the ability to be able to again, teach leadership skills and then have that as a community based leadership culture, we’re slowly losing that through technology and people going into their own independent ways and you know, not following the culture that’s been created and we’re losing the culture and we don’t have the institutions that supported use development at an early age. Not a lot of sports programs in a more, not a lot of church programs anymore. Not a lot of outreach programs anymore. So we’re missing, you know what I again, what, what makes America really, really special, you know, cause we have, we’re in a free country and we had the opportunity to figure out how this works.

Gene Hammett: Stedman, one of the things I share about on stage when it comes to leadership, it’s about learning to lead is a lot like learning to dance. And the reason I tell this story is that it’s about a shift. That identity, I used to avoid dancing. I hated it. I was not a dancer. I finally had the courage to do it. I tell this story and what came on the outer end of that as I, I now identify myself as a dancer. You couldn’t take that away from me. Does that relate to some of the work that you’ve, you include in this identity leadership?

Stedman Graham: Well I included them on nonstop success process, which is a framework and they step by step approach to Oh started from a to z to create self-actualization in your own life. To be able to, you know, self empowers. So to create self-efficacy, to create self-discipline, to be clear on the direction that you’re going to be able to teach people how to visualize what they should be doing.

Stedman Graham: So it’s called, can you practice one that every day it can create different habits. Can you develop a process of continuous improvement? Are you motivated and can you build your capacity based on your potential as a human being? Can you become a learner? Can you become a reader? Can you become a developer of your own life? Can you become a servant leader based on you know, what’s possible for you to be able to give back based on what you’ve built for yourself? And do you have a mindset that allows you to think that you can actually do it? Do you actually believe that you can do it? And do you have a process for improving the release system? So all the things you just talked about, terms of becoming a great dancer is what this process is all about and what you have to go through in order to become that.

Stedman Graham: There is a process for that. There’s a process from greatness, there’s a process for average and there’s a process for failure. And if you discover the process for excellence and performance at the highest level and you develop a process for success and becoming great the man you could take that same process and apply it to almost anything else that you do and you become successful. That’s the thing that I missed oil and that’s what I was looking for.

Gene Hammett: Is there anything you do from a day to day standpoint that you could share with us that helps you tune in to the identity that empowers you forward to make the impact you make in this world?

Stedman Graham: Yeah. Well, number one is you have to become self-aware. You know, you’d have to focus on the consciousness. You know, you’ve got to focus on being conscious of what’s around you, being conscious of what’s possible for you. And then you got to have a vision of what you, who you wanted to become and then you got to lay out a process for us. You know, self-empowering that vision. How do you now set goals? What are you going to, what happens? Do you have to change? Or what habits are you creating noise to be able to move forward based on who you want to become based on what you see? So it’s not a stance bill situation. And Dr. King said, if you want to if you can’t fly, run, if you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk, crawl, for goodness sakes, keep moving. So the…

Gene Hammett: I love that.

Stedman Graham: moving of moving someplace somehow keep going. Don’t quit. If you fall down 15 times, get back up 15 more. Don’t quit, keep going. And a lot of times you’ll succeed. You don’t always have to be the smaller, so the strongest, but the answers will come to you because you’re not clear, once you quit, you’re out the game.

Stedman Graham: You can’t play a basketball game as a form of ball player. You can’t score 20 points if you’re not in the game. So you gotta be in the game. And then what will happen to a learning process? You will learn how to do it and the answers will come as long as you’re focused on, again, your purpose and your passion. Where if you get that right, I mean you can create a vision around that and develop a plan around that and then organize principles around that and then build relationships around that, organize information around that. And we work on that every single day. Something’s going to happen. You have to keep moving.

Gene Hammett: When you think about today’s leaders, you know, they’re, they’re pulling the main direction, there’s a lot of things going on. What do you think that they need to let go of to really become great leaders?

Stedman Graham: Well, they think they need to really, I think they need to stop focusing on the outside world as a way to define their existence. And I think they need this about focusing on, again, building your own brand and how do I build value just because I’m in the media and I think they need to focus on what they’re really, what purpose they have a life, what is their purpose, and how to be authentic in that purpose so they can build a strong foundation for growth and development. So for me, what’s missing is the internalization of a way to enhance the value of your core base of really who you really are. You know, when you made up, when you thinking about what do you feel like, so you put all that together, at least you can give it right from the beginning and then build from there.

Gene Hammett: Sounds like that pretty good staff and to actually getting others within the organization to being leaders as well.

Stedman Graham: You can’t leave anybody else from your first lead yourself.

Gene Hammett: And I just got off the interview with Ron. You Know Ron, the former CEO of Aetna.

Stedman Graham: Got It.

Gene Hammett: He’s written a book recently called learning to lean and a big part of that is learning leading yourself first. So you guys work are very closely related as well.

Stedman Graham: Well it’s true and you know, if he can do it at his level working with Ed and then which is a major company and take the lessons he’s learned to our life, you know, and then I’m going to share that with other people. And that’s really what it’s all about is being able to, leadership is being able to share information. You’ve leadership has been able to be a role model for other people based on what you know is right. Leadership is being able to set up structured, you know, guidelines and programs and opportunities to be able to help people, you know, you know, races, social, economic development based on having the right content.

Stedman Graham: And then being able to understand that this is true. I mean this is, so I do the work that I do because I know this works in my own life. This is, you know, and this is no joke, this is not something that I created just because it was fun to me. Years and years and years of pain and use of suffering or years of focus on this to be able to share this with somebody else, you know, which is what I’m trying to do all over the world. So this is not playtime. This is your life and there is no practice life. This is just, and this is your life. Once it’s over, it’s over. Try to get it right from the very beginning, as early as possible, which is why I work with young people because I want you to get it at 10 I want you to self actualize your potential at eight.

Stedman Graham: I want you to understand the principles of how to do that. I want you to understand the value of information and knowledge and education. I want you to understand the value of who you are as a person and the readership bill abilities that you have and the capabilities that you have and the strength that you have. And we realize that only the strong survive and they kill off the week. And so every day you’ve got to work on yourself becoming a strong as you possibly can and there is a process for them and often times the external world will define you and put you in a box so they begin to modularize your existence. So you can be strong, but you can overcome that if you create your own system for you know, self-actualization and self-development and self-efficacy and self in the column, well it’s dad midnight.

Gene Hammett: I want to mention the audience. We’re giving some insight behind your new book coming out, Identity Leadership, which will be out in the stores May of 2019 is there anything else I’ve left out of this whole concept of identity leadership that you wanted to just drive home right now so that our audience knows the importance of this message?

Stedman Graham: I think the thing that I would leave you with this, that should be self-aware. You have to have some self-awareness about who you are, where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. And you’ve got to write it down, you know, and you got to focus on organizing a process for that’s relevant to you know, your development and that you can relate that to the outside world. You can connect that to the outside world. But this is an inside job right now and being able to organize yourself, develop yourself, goes yourself, be clear on your passions, your talents, your abilities, what you love, what you care about, and what you’re going to focus on whenever you focus on expands.

Stedman Graham: So if you can put that into a framework, until I habit every single day of doing the same thing over and opened and improving upon that process and getting better at it, you build value and the value that you give yourself, there’s a value the world gives you, the world sees you as you see yourself, so it’s like Einstein said, you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that caused it, so you’ve got to become a reader and a learner or a developer of your own essence. Otherwise, you’re pretty much going to be average.

Gene Hammett: Love it that I’d been. Thank you so much for being here at meters in the trenches. I really appreciate it. Again, that book is identity leadership coming out May 2019 and I appreciate you sharing your insights here at leaders in the trenches.

Stedman Graham: Gene, appreciate you and what you do. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Gene Hammett: All right. I love this interview because there are so many things around it that are very aligned with my work. You’ve got to understand who you are in order to make a change in this world. If you want to grow your company fast, which I work with fast-growing companies, then you want to make sure that you understand who you are. It’s grounded deep inside you. If you have any questions about that, I love to and engage with you in that conversation. So just reach out to me, [email protected] as always, lead with courage and I’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Clear Understanding of Identity Leadership
  • Take Charge of Your Own Development
  • How to be Independent Thinker
  • Create a Learning Process
  • Leadership in Basic Principles
  • Create Self-actualization in your Life
  • Process from Greatness
  • Internalization of a way to enhance the value of your Core Base



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If you want more from us check out more interviews:

Transformational Leadership
Productivity Tips
Best Selling Author Interviews

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