Why Leaders Should Live The Life They Imagined To Transform Their Teams

This story about living the life you imagined, professionally and personally, starts where most stories do — at a bar.

In this article I’m going to share with you:

  • The formula for living the life you imagined as told by Carla Moore, Vice President, Strategy and Education, HBO.
  • Why it’s important for leaders to live the life they imagine to transform their team.
  • The future of work and how companies like Hallmark are responding.
  • Action steps for personal and career success.

I met HBO executive and author, Carla Moore, at a hotel lobby in Kansas City, Missouri. She was speaking at a talent leadership summit hosted by TeamKC, an initiative of the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC), in partnership with 250 employers in the KC region.

The summit, also dubbed the first annual TeamKC Training Camp, brought together 350 of the region’s top human resource professionals to discuss the future of work and how companies can attract talent.


Getting to Know a Leader on a Personal Level:

“Let’s grab a drink,” Moore said.

We had just come in from a tapas dinner, and I was ready to do some cardio before bed. But the night was still young in the middle of America.

I feel like so often we have business hours and short blurbs of time for people. I’ve found that letting a connection marinate and taking it to places that some would call your cut off — is actually where you connect.

It was during our second martini – which we took to go – that I began to know Moore on a personal level. We cut through the formalities and she was introducing me as an important blogger to people in the elevator.

We both have lived in Chicago (for me, currently and for her, formerly). Both are still single. And both have big dreams that we didn’t think we could achieve.

I was talking to her about “the life I imagine.”

When I met Moore, I didn’t realize that she had reached over 10,000 people through her public speaking and life coaching. And that more importantly, her mission is to inspire others to live the life they’ve imagined. She is doing that through her book, Crash! Leading Through the Wreckage, where she talks about using personal power to transform your leadership.

She was getting through to me – right there at a hotel bar and the next day, she was going to do the same thing to leaders and tech recruiters in Kansas City.



 350 top recruiters and human resources professionals from companies including Hallmark, Garmin, Bank of America, Sprint, H&R Block, Dairy Farmers of America and Virgin Mobile USA learned about team leadership.

Moore’s passion is talking to people. Her purpose is helping people live the life they imagined. And, her power is in her speeches, her work, and this book. Let’s look at this a little bit closer.

The Life You Imagined vs. The Life You Have:

In front of more than 350 top recruiters and human resources professionals from companies including Hallmark, Garmin, Bank of America, Sprint, H&R Block, Dairy Farmers of America, Virgin Mobile USA, State Street, and Cerner Corporation on February 2, 2018, Moore gave a familiar empowering message — live the life you’ve imagined.

You can hear the same message thousands of times and still not listen to it. Often, we don’t believe the message. We think that’s a nice thought. We feel good after hearing it.

But we don’t know what to do with it.

We don’t know how to have our own personal transformations. We don’t know how to have our big breaks at the office. We keep waiting for big opportunities or to feel something — happy — I guess, about waking up in the morning and doing what we’re doing.

Moore had a run in with death – a convertible hitting a median at 55 mph. It’s not that she wasn’t living a great life or didn’t have great achievements before this near-fatal crash. I mean, Moore was everyone I wanted to be and more. She had a place in Chicago. She has an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. She had a good job that she is accelerating in. But she wasn’t living the life she imagined until she had that car crash.


Carla Moore from HBO spoke about living the life you imagined at the KC Leadership Summit.

The Formula to Live The Life You Imagined:

Fast forward 10 years, and Moore’s living the life she imagined. Authoring an amazing book, spearheading transformative initiatives for her company and living each moment like it could be her last.

So what’s the formula for this life we’ve imagined?

Passion + Purpose = Power.


Experts advise going into a field that you’re passionate about — something you like doing. For many of us, we think that’s it’s impractical or not lucrative. And for others, we don’t even know what we like.

Moore shared that a person’s passion changes the game. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, —start figuring it out by compiling a passion list. Write down everything you like. Take note of what you’re doing when time flies. It may take time for you to discover what you’re passionate about, but the reward is worth it.

Moore encouraged the audience to “Keep writing — there is some connective tissue.”


The next part of the formula is purpose.

Moore shares in her book that 70 percent of millennials want to own their own company but in the interim they are choosing to work for smaller businesses with a sense of purpose. Larger corporations are falling by the wayside with the millennial workforce.
The keynote speaker, Cheryl Cran, Future of Work expert, shared that by 2025, the workforce will be mostly contracted and entrepreneurial workers.



Cheryl Cran, Future of Work Expert at the KC Leadership Summit February 2018.


Companies like Hallmark, one of the largest creative companies in the world, took notice a few years ago and rewrote their mission to begin developing a cultural committee and projects. One example is something called #my5days, where Hallmark employees have five days to step outside their normal work and exploring their craft or something entirely new.



Amanda Elliott from Windy City Cosmo, Carla Moore from HBO, and Kristi Heeney-Janiak from Hallmark at the KC Leadership Dinner. 


“Passion is your compelling emotion. Purpose sustains passion. Passion can be wild and unbridled. Purpose is singular and focused,” Moore explains. “Purpose is how will you serve the world?”

So, if you’re great at writing and passionate – what is it that you do with it that serves others?

Ask yourself. Write it down.

What are you doing with your talents that is serving others? And if you aren’t doing anything with your talents, what could you do? What would it look like? How would it help others?

Moore made the point that we benefit when we use our talents and do work that we’re passionate about. In her book, she shares, “When you release the need to prove how good you are and instead help others see how good THEY are, it’s called enlightened leadership.”

How can leaders do this?

“It’s by being transformed themselves and then helping to transform others into enlightened leaders.”


The last part of Moore’s formula for leadership is power. We all want power. Money gives us power. Titles give us power. But what really gives us power is when we’re doing what we love to do with a clear purpose. And when we develop our passions into talent and use that to better the world, that is true power.

This made sense. This gave me a new drive and sense of belonging and mission. So often we look at the end goal — power and success — and we miss the ingredients that make those things meaningful and most of all – worth it.

First Think, Then Do:

I got on the plane after the KC Talent Leadership Summit and started writing my passion list — the things I like. I must have written down hundreds of items.

A few days later, I started reading You Are a Badass, by author Jen Sincero. In this book, she shares that it’s through doing, not thinking, that we discover what we like. You can’t be afraid to do things and be bad at them.

First, you have to develop your passion and then build the skills to sustain it. Create the purpose for your life, and then find the power that motivates others to do their best work and fulfill their dreams and goals.



Recruiters and Fortune 500 companies gathered at the KC Leadership Summit. 


Leaders Need to Be Inspired and Inspire Others:

I took a moment to reflect. When I stated Windy City Cosmo — I didn’t know it would lead me to this hotel bar sipping martinis with a powerful woman — telling me to live the life I imagined.

Leaders need to be inspired. Leaders also need mentors and direction. And that’s what this community in Kansas City has — it has great resources for leaders and developing talent to think differently, work on their passion projects, and live the life they imagined. In turn, it helps others live their best life as well.

I felt power and leadership in the room that day — in the Kansas City community, a unique business community where companies work together to attract the top talent. Which is probably why, as Cran pointed out, that Kansas City is the third best city for jobs in America in 2017. (Chicago is number 23).

In the words of Carla Moore I leave you with, “Go be great and love the life you imagined.”

Leadership Action Plan:

1. Write a passion list. Keep writing until you see a trend. For example, working with your hands.
2. Think about how you can use your passion to help others.
3. Think about how you can use your power to inspire others and mentor them.



Carla Moore with her sisters before the KC Leadership Summit, February 2, 2018.


Books to add to your reading this:

You Are A Badass By: Jen Sincero
Crash! Leading Through The Wreckage By: Carla Moore

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


How to Recognize Talent

By Soulaima Gourani

Every year millions of U.S dollars are wasted on “talent spotting”.  Large companies are spending energy, time and money on “talents” who are not talents at all, and overlook those who truly have a talent, merely because they do not know how to spot talent.


What Is Talent, And How Do You Spot a Talented Person?

You can spot a talent in less than 10 seconds, but only if you know what to look for. If you don’t know what to look for, you can end up spending an incredible amount of time and resources on searching, finding and finally acquiring a person who does not fit your needs.

In the world of sports, showbiz and naturally, business, the concept of talent spotting is used quite often and has become one of the most talked-about concepts in recruiting. Talent comes in many forms, but the question is whether you can immediately spot it in others when you encounter it. When we look for talent, many of us look for something recognizable, and that is where we go wrong because not all talent is recognizable, many times talent is hidden dying to be unleashed. The challenge that most people face when looking for talent is, you like what you can recognize, and you can only recognize something you’ve seen before.

Below are a few tips to help you see whether you’ve found yourself a ‘winner’ (within the first 10 minutes)


  • First, be open to nontraditional types! Please be aware that the ‘talent’ you are looking for many not always be what you expect. For example, it is easy to think that those who come from the best universities and have the best grades are your answer. But often, that is far from the truth. Sometimes it’s the ones who have seemingly failed, or dropped out or changed their careers a few times that are the real change-makers. Real talent, are often “out-of-the-box” thinkers, and not the typical “do as I’m told” types. They are creative, non-traditional or non-linear-thinkers that hate to be restricted or confined. So, if you see that they’ve changed their careers/jobs a few times, it can simply be that they are looking for a place where there are smart people who are unafraid of new ideas.


  • Does the person “light up the room” when they walk in? Do they convey an aura of personality that draws you in and captures your attention? I like to point this out because charisma & confidence is indeed a talent. It implies that they have a healthy self-esteem and tend to approach things with a “can do” attitude.  Although, mostly a talent needed in business/sales. If a person can light up a room the instant they enter it, just imagine how easy it is for them to communicate with others and close a business deal?


  • Look for the “shiny eyes effect.” Eyes will tell you about that person’s energy, drive, health, strength, passion, and personality. Passion and energy produce what has been called the “shining eyes” effect, which just means that one has a radiant sparkle in their eyes. Which can indicate that they have a passion, drive, and determination.


  • Look for the fearless leader! Do they agree with everything you say? Or do they challenge your thoughts (in a respectable way)? Someone who is ‘fearless’ is never afraid to fail and explore new avenues in order reach a little higher; this is where innovation comes from.


However to find the real talent within a person you need more than 10 seconds; to find exceptional demands unique methods and not the same old HR methods, but if you can spot them quickly you can the ability to cut through the clutter of less than dynamic prospects. 


About the author – Soulaima Gourani: Soulaima Gourani is a lecturer, corporate advisor, and author. She is the author of three books; “Ignite your career,” “Take control of your career,” and “Courage to success.” She was elected as a TED mentor in 2016 and was later that same year announced as one of the “Inspiring 50 Nordics” women in the tech sector.


How to Transform Leaders: Insight From a Former Southwest Airlines Executive

Businesses have invested in Leadership “training” for many years. According to Forbes, US companies spent $70 billion on corporate training in 2014 alone. Of this amount, 35% was allocated to leadership training. Sadly, companies are not developing effective leaders.

The ultimate objective in any leadership training is to transform leaders’ thinking and behavior on a long-term basis. Smart companies, therefore, have turned to “Leadership Transformational Training” versus “Leadership Training”.

Companies like Southwest Airlines, renowned for the quality of their training, have known this for years. As the manager for the University for People at Southwest Airlines, I was tasked with creating transformational development, not just provide a one-time educational session. How did we do this? Here are some tips:

When in a classroom, make training “fun”. Adults learn better when they are having fun.

Try this: Create trivia teams at the beginning of the class and have them compete throughout the day for “fabulous” prizes. Make the trivia relevant to the topics you are covering. We did this routinely and found that people stayed more engaged and remembered the information they learned while having fun.

Curiosity Helps Stay Ahead of Competition:

Make the experience “real”. One of the leadership competencies in today’s fast-changing environment is the value of curiosity. Curious leaders are always looking for new ideas in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Try this: Introduce your leaders to that concept in your session by having them break for lunch and, in teams, go to different restaurants. Before they return to the classroom, have them find someone to have a “curiosity conversation” with, then have them share their conversation with the rest of the class. We’ve had teams watch police chases, talk to homeless vets, and chat with bartenders who gave them the behind-the-scenes details of working at Disney. They then took the concept back to their teams.

Comfort Zones:

Take them out of their comfort zones. Create opportunities for the participants to get uncomfortable…very uncomfortable. We remember and learn from our “uncomfortable” moments because we don’t want to repeat them. Leaders should possess the ability to speak credibly in any given situation. Jerry Seinfeld said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking… if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Try this: Prior to class, give leadership participants a book to read and tell them they will have to give a report to the class about the book. Then assemble an audience and when the participant comes into the room, have them present this report in front of a group of strangers. Add a twist by telling them it is a contest and the audience will be voting on who delivers their report the most effectively. When we did it, this exercise resulted in leaders realizing they needed to improve their presentation skills. Many left the session and signed up for Toastmasters.

Key Leadership Trait: Adaptability

Push Their Limits. Adaptability is another critical element in leaders today. Immerse them in an outdoor environment. Nature is unforgiving. Mountains don’t move. The individual has to adapt.

Try this: Take your group on an outdoor hike up a mountain. Equip them with everything they need (including a professional guide) and have them work, as a team, to physically push themselves to reach the summit. When we did this, the teamwork and individual lessons were rich.

Senior Leaders:

Involve senior leaders in the training. When participants see senior leaders participating and contributing to their learning, it helps in two ways. First, it shows that the senior leaders are open to learning and helping, and secondly, it allows the senior leaders to interact with and get to know the participants on a more personal level.

Try this: As a senior executive, volunteer to attend a series of classes with a group of high potential leaders. The CEO of one particular company I worked with was so committed to the learning journey of his senior executives that he attended every single session for a year. As a result, once the learning journey was completed, he was able to reassign some leaders to roles that better fit their strengths.

Leadership Training ROI:

Are you ready to take your training dollars and get a better return on your investment? Try these techniques and, like Southwest Airlines and many other smart companies, you will see your leaders’ thinking transformed. Stop investing in “training” and start “transforming” your leaders.

This article was written by: Lorraine Grubbs

Lorraine Grubbs recently co-authored “Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone: Outrageous Tactics to Ignite Individual Performance.” Grubbs is president of the consulting firm Lessons in Loyalty. As a former 15-year executive with Southwest Airlines, she takes principles and practices she helped develop to companies that strive for better employee engagement and loyalty.



Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.