This week, I once again was “wowed” by another The Art of Leadership event.

Speakers included Linda HillRobert SuttonArianna HuffingtonDaniel Goleman, and Rudy Giuliani

The room was very large, and not very intimate, yet Arianna Huffington was warm, personable, humorous and she immediately had us all enamoured and riveted.

She shared how much her life changed after she had a serious accident due to over exhaustion.

“I suddenly found myself lying on the floor, surrounded by a pool of blood – my own, as it turned out. I had passed out from exhaustion and banged my head on the way down. The result was a broken cheekbone and five stitches under my eyebrow.” (Source) 

She realized that many of us are pushing ourselves to exhaustion and found many studies that link over exerting ourselves to bad decisions and poor health.

At night, when I go to sleep, I don’t have my smartphones charging anywhere near my bedroom. Because if you wake up at night, you’re going to be tempted to look at your data and then you’re sleep isn’t going to be as recharging.(Source)

She said “We are designed to have ‘down time’. If God can take a day off, so can you”.

I loved hearing that the Huffington Post and one of the event sponsors, Tangerine Bank both have nap rooms, yoga and meditation classes.

Not only did Arianna Huffington share how important it is as a leader to nurture yourself, but the CEO of Tangerine Bank, Peter Aceto also explained that ensuring the health of their employees is an investment back into the company: “Being good to your own people is just good business” he said.

And one key hiring policy Arianna Huffington said was essential at the Huffington Post: “No brilliant jerks allowed“.

She said toxicity is counterproductive and very tough to deal with.

I was honoured to have been invited to attend the private luncheon where the lovely and gracious Arianna Huffington was interviewed by the CEO of Tangerine Bank, Peter Aceto. I sat with some of the Tangerine team and the employees gushed how much they enjoyed working at this company and specifically about how approachable their CEO is.

It was delightful to see how Arianna Huffington had thoroughly done her due diligence before this event. When Peter Aceto asked her a question about how he could properly empower his daughter as a leader as well as women within his organization, Arianna replied by quoting key messages Peter had shared in a blog with respect to some insights and wisdom Peter’s mom had passed along to him.

She followed up by saying “Listen to your mom, your wife and your daughter“.

(Side note: Peter’s mother beamed as she was acknowledged by Arianna Huffington)

Leslie Hughes & Arianna Huffington

Leslie Hughes & Arianna Huffington at The Art of Leadership

I could gush on and on about how engaging, sincere and lovely Arianna Huffington was, but I also want to capture some insights from the other amazing speakers.

Dr. Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships explained that IQ predicts success only 4% to 10%. Other factors that predict success are luck & hard work.  He said that employee performance goes up when leaders are happy and have great rapport with their team.

He spoke about the Marshmallow Test and delayed gratification and the predictability of future success based on self-restraint.

As a former psychology major, It was really amazing to hear from the man who developed the argument that emotional intelligence just is as important (or even more important) than I.Q. for workplace success.

The final keynote speaker was the former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 12.02.14 PM

New York City is one of my favourite places in the world. I happened to leave New York on September 9th, 2001 and was enjoying a cup of coffee at the base of the Twin Towers only a week prior to the tragedy.

Most of us have our own stories and perspective about that horrific day, but to hear the perspective on what happened to the person who was responsible for the city was absolutely riveting.

He shared about how he had to stay calm and provide leadership during one of the most difficult times in history.

His 6 lessons in leadership include:

  1. You must have strong beliefs
  2. You must be an optimist
  3. You must have courage
  4. You have to have the ability to do hard work
  5. You must be able to do teamwork
  6. You have to be able to communicate.

Under his leadership, then followed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani said they reduced crime by 87% and transformed what was essentially a bankrupt city into the thriving metropolis it is today.

He shared that strong leaders must have a strong vision and set positive goals as to where they want things to go. They said leaders must remain steadfast in their beliefs regardless of the “naysayers”.

He said leaders must work hard and be prepared. He explained how firefighters, soldiers & police all relentlessly prepare for dangers that are obvious so if there are unexpected circumstances, they can remain calm and readily find solutions.

He said “Relentless preparation is the antidote to failure“.


While no one truly expected what happened to the World Trade Centre on September 11, the City of New York had several emergency plans for other disasters, which is why they were able to effectively manage and communicate with various departments throughout the city.

He says leaders have to be aware of their weaknesses and bring people on board who can bring strengths to compensate. A strong leader understands what he/she can or cannot do and is transparent about it.

He said to be a great leader, you have to love people. You can’t have a great organization unless people care & love each other. You also have to be there when things go wrong because “People need you more at a funeral than at a wedding“.

What I learned from these speakers is that leadership is so much more than just being well educated, it’s about being a good person, with strong moral values and genuinely caring about the people you work with.

As Gary Vaynerchuk said at the last Art of Marketing,

My number one principle is Human Resources. EVERYTHING falls from HR. I work to avoid the turnover and create an environment where the culture breeds happiness. I need operators that are assassins, but are also motherly and caring. And the only way I can figure that out is by being as involved as possible in HR.” (Source)

Leslie Hughes, Gary Vaynerchuk and Andrea Kennedy

Leslie Hughes, Gary Vaynerchuk and Andrea Kennedy

And just like the saying goes “If mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.

The saying seems to apply to leadership too: “If the CEO ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Now it’s your turn: What qualities do YOU think makes for a good leader? Answer in the field below.



LeslieHughes_PUNCH!mediaLeslie Hughes is a LinkedIn Optimization Specialist, Professor of Social Media, Corporate Social Media Trainer and Principal of PUNCH!media

Founded in 2009, with clients such as The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, and as a corporate instructor for the “Social Media Marketing Certificate” at The University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s (UOIT) Management Development Centre, Leslie works with organizations to help them gain confidence and develop a strong presence on LinkedIn and other Social Media sites.

From defining clear strategies, to content development and deployment, PUNCH!media’s goal is to help you save time and build business. Whether you’re using LinkedIn to connect with business associates or Facebook to connect with consumers, we connect you with the right audience at the right time using the right channels.