20 Leadership Lessons for 2020

20 Leadership Lessons for 2020

20 Leadership Lessons for 2020
 20 Leadership Lessons for 2020



Throughout 2019, in Campus Consultancy workshops, I had the honor and privilege of working with more than 4000 young leaders from across Australia at over 125 separate events. Here are the top 20 leadership lessons I learned and will strive to live out in 2020, and beyond!
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1. Add Value First

In 2019, I created more than 600 LinkedIn posts that made more than 1.2-million impressions. When I started creating guides with, ‘X Tips to Y,’ they reached thousands of people & helped others share value with their network. When on the Campus Consultancy page I made week-long campaigns ‘5 Tips in 5 Days’ our posts reached more people than ever before. It taught me the value of two simple marketing frameworks.  
One is, stage-focused, where you ask, “What stage of interacting with my offering is someone at?” The three stages are awareness, consideration, and decision. The second is, outcome-focused, where you ask, “What do I want the person consuming this post to think-feel-do?” By building campaigns around ensuring we deliver value and being even more user-centric, our reach has increased dramatically! 
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2. Give More Than You Take  

Every workshop I run, I give the slides to attendees. No watermark. No logo on every page. All frameworks are hyperlinked to the source. I am not the well of wisdom, I am the cup that brings (hopefully) valuable content to eager young leaders. Even that adage is originally attributed to 20th-century psychoanalyst, Carl Jung.  I heard an amazing quote at the Tony Robbins Global Youth Leadership Summit – where I volunteered for 1-week – which was, “Whatever you give, will come back, so never hesitate.” So I carried that, and things have only improved. Give, give, give. Give more than you ever have. You’ll be amazed by the return. 
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3. Subtract Rather Than Add To Solve Problems  

Over an 11-week period, I had 5-days off. To thrive and not just survive, I was brutal about prioritization. I only, as my college roommate says, “Do things that give you energy.” This included removing Instagram & Facebook from my iPhone, cutting my average social media time to almost zero & focusing on the activities, people and events that truly made me feel happy & as if I was growing. Next time you have a challenge, try cutting something out, rather than adding (or buying) something new in.  This idea is originally from stoic philosophy and was popularized between 2010 and 2019 by Tim Ferriss.
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4. Emotion & Motivation Come From The Same Latin Word – movere - Meaning, ‘To Move’   

Lots of students and staff ask how I stay motivated; how I catch so many flights, give so many talks, post so many times on LinkedIn. For me, when students send success stories of getting an internship, their first job, running a major event, securing a sponsor & more, there is an emotional reaction in me. If you want to be motivated, you need to care about what you’re doing. 
"Emotion drives motion. Motivation comes from motion." You need to feel the pain of not doing it be enough to move you to start and restart every day. You need to feel the pleasure of the life of yourself & others being better if you do it.  Between the pain of not, and the pleasure of, is the motivation to do.  

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5. Do The Opposite  

We have a strange aversion to the conversation around hard-work. We know that there are thousands of people, equally qualified, of high intellect, who want the roles available as much as we do, so where do we go?  "If you want what other people don't have, you have to do what other people won't do."
One of the most powerful learnings in 2019 was to move even further away from social norms, such as consuming news, having a TV in the house, using social-media & abiding by a standard Monday-Friday week. I want to change the way we approach leadership development for young people and to do that, it's going to take work. Lots of it. I need to find the time, I need to say no to many things. When I feel like I'm being just a bit weird, I know I'm onto something.  So, as Mark Twain says, "When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." In 2019, I did plenty of that!
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6. Careful Who You Take Advice From  

After sitting in on enough networking events, panels and keynotes of speakers and ’entrepreneurs’ I started to wonder about the quality of the advice. I gave a TEDx talk in 2019, and I having studied hundreds of speakers and read about their journeys since speaking, it was astounding how often their advice was either directly detrimental to their well-being and/or how quickly they veered away from it in their own lives.  Now, I constantly fall short of my ideals & values, that’s why they’re aspirational, but seeing this in others is often easier than looking inwards, so I hope that in the future I can ensure what I believe, say & do are all in alignment.  

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7. Being Punctual Matters  

For two university groups, I taught my 9-stage consulting framework. When they were preparing to meet with their own clients, they asked for some advice. My top advice, “Early is on-time. On-time is late.” I have missed a meeting once or twice, but I pride myself on following through.  For students, few skills are more important than managing their time, acknowledging that there are just 168 per week for every human – you, me, The Rock, Oprah, Elon, everyone. One student messaged me in November to say that simply managing his time based off my Google calendar helped him achieve multiple High-Distinctions in his final semester. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” as Peter Drucker would say, so time-measurement is key! No alt text provided for this image

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8. Patience  

Play the long-game. We’re going to work for a long time. There is no rush to figure it all out. Having friends turn 30, thousands of my students graduate university and many friends start businesses, I see the fear of not understanding how important the patient game is. This includes self-care, knowing you can’t pour from an empty cup. This includes replying to every comment and message possible. This includes experimenting even if others don’t see the value in your work.  Like the tip of the iceberg, people will never see all the work that goes in. It doesn’t matter. As Gary Vaynerchuck says, “Love the process. Document your journey,” for others to see.

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9. Be Humble  

When I started Campus Consultancy, I wasn’t sure – like all entrepreneurs – that it would ‘work.’ I wasn’t sure if people would understand my perspective, or if staff would take a chance on me. Now that we’ve had more than 5000 students through our workshops, my perspective has changed from proving myself, to stepping back & trying to help the staff (and students) who took a chance on me, reap the rewards.  How can I help them prove to their departments, directors & donors, that our work is important and disproportionally returns on their investment? How can I help them with other parts of their role that have stagnated? How can they be the rockstar and I step out of the light? If it wasn’t for their trust, I would never have been under the spotlight to being with!
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10. Not Everyone Will Love You   

As the crowds of students got bigger, I had to accept that even with our overwhelmingly positive feedback, that not every student would love the message. Sometimes, it’s quite confronting. “If you want the world to change, you need to change {your actions/perspective},” is a pretty in-you-face message to get from a former-engineer in sneakers & a t-shirt! I get it.  The thing is, it’s true. Really true. So true I wish someone had rattled me around enough to make me listen. It wasn’t anyone’s responsibility to do that, but I needed that message. So accepting that in order to get the message through I might ruffle a few feathers, respectfully, has been an enormous learning.

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11. Sleep + Nutrition + Exercise + Hydration  

Being intentional about physical health included enlisting the support of my brother as a personal trainer, helping me reach the strongest I’ve ever been in my life; becoming stricter (and less strict at times) on diet/nutrition; understanding that sleep is king (moving to 8-9-10 hours per night) and not straying from multiple water bottles every day. To have someone keep me inspired helps tremendously, so I owe a lot of these empowering habits to my partner, Steph.  If I have a cake during a workshop break at the morning tea table, I am in pain 2-hours later. If I don’t stay hydrated, the last hour hurts. If I don’t exercise, the energy in my step and voice fades. Everything is about becoming someone who can do this, all-day, every-day.  

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12. Goals = Glory  

Having run goal-setting workshops for more than 500-students at RMIT University alone in 2019, I became obsessed with the power of goals. At the beginning of the year, I set impact and financial goals, exceeding both by June and the passing the stretch goals in November. Seeing students set goals, narrow their focus, commit to being their best self and achieve them, again and again, has been a highlight for the year. We have the method solidified and in 2020, I can see this becoming a major part of the Campus Consultancy offering!
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13. Vulnerability is Strength  

I share the ups and downs. I want to take my community on LinkedIn along for the ride of building a business based on something as seemingly crazy as enjoying helping university student club leaders grow personally and professionally. As Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability comes before trust,” so if I want to build trust, admitting my faults and struggles – for me – is a requirement.  In doing so, when I have the harder moments, sharing them has not only been great for relationship building, but also great for the bottom line! A single post about a mental health struggle helped strike up a conversation that lead to a substantial 4-figure contract, and every bit counts when you are starting off. 

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14. If You Don’t Ask The Answer Is Always No   

This quote has often come back in feedback forms as one of the main take-aways students get from our partnerships workshop. Like goals, students often assume they can’t ask the Vice-Chancellor for help, they can’t approach a politician, they can’t email a CEO. But they can, and when they do, they stand out.  It would be my dream that every CEO (or senior leader) in the country gets a handful of thoughtful emails every week from passionate students wanting to learn about leadership. Once you know what you want, ask. No one will ask for you.

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15. Amplify Greatness  

We often talk about identifying talent and developing leaders. Empowering greatness. But a word I fell in love with in 2019 was ‘amplify.’ How do we amplify the work student leaders are doing on campus? We started with three eBooks before we had a single client. We started a podcast to interview them. We shared their insights. We ran personal branding sessions to help them grow their reputation and tell their stories and in 2020 this will be a major focus.  The ripple effect of positivity on their communities, their workplaces, their personal happiness is immense. How could we all amplify someone we know who is under-recognized?

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16. Only Work With People Who Want The Best For You   

I have been the ‘manager’ in the past who has not thought about my staff as individuals, with goals, dreams, ambitions, desires and fears. I was not empathetic to many of the teams I formerly had. One of the biggest learnings in 2019 has been to recognise that ‘managers’ blame their teams, and teams blame their managers. It goes around and around in a circle. Getting nowhere. 
"A real leader serves." A leader says, “I am responsible for the wellbeing of my team.” This includes challenging them to grow, setting boundaries and expectations. But it never means blaming them. You cannot blame anyone but yourself and claim to be a leader. You might be powerful, you might be tasked with leading, but you’re not acting like a leader.

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17. Walk  

Clearing my head, getting in nature, and taking time to breathe and think has got me through some scary moments in 2019. The funny thing is, I barely remember now why I was so scared at the time. Embracing nature through walks along the beach, down streets I’ve walked past so many times but never down, even walking in laps around a local park have helped countless times to refocus and reframe the severity of fear, grounding my thoughts and my actions. 
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18. Clean A Fish, Don’t Drop Him Back In   

A friend said to me this year, “You can pick up a fish out of dirty water, clean him up, but if you drop him back in…” When a young man I had met took his life in mid-2019, I wondered about the power of circumstance, and what it must be like to be in a situation so painful that ending your life appears to be the only way out. When I met this young man, he was energetic and full of life. Passionate and funny. It reinforced in me my passion for framing leadership as service, and first, we must serve ourselves, we must take care of ourselves.  When R U OK? Day and others roll around, the collective empathy sky-rockets. What would 2020 look like if we acted like that monthly, weekly or daily?

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19. Failure is Subject, Results are Real  

There is a lot of talk about failure in entrepreneurship, and in the education system. Giving out 9th place trophies has shown to be disastrous, but holding achievement paramount is equally destructive, so what are we to do? This year I acknowledged that failure is entirely subjective, based on your world-view, your expectations and the stories you tell yourself. Results, however, are tangible, objective and real. 
To reframe ‘failure/success’ as results against the desired metric takes the emotion out of it. I no longer say the word failure, simply above or below the desired outcome metric. But isn’t that just a linguistic trick; the same thing? No. It removes the sting. As Ray Dalio famously says, “Pain + Reflection = Progress,” so with every moment of pain, as long as I reflect, I can grow. The door does not close. The game is not over, yet!

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20. You Can Forgive, Or You Can Judge  

You can forgive or you can judge. Judgment is like slowly sipping on poison and expecting the other person to perish. The fastest way to freedom is forgiveness and the first person you need to forgive is yourself.  "Hurt people, hurt people."  Isn’t it time we all forgave ourselves, made amends, and decided that today we are going to be better versions of ourselves than we were yesterday?

What lessons will you carry into 2020?  

For more information about how I and Campus Consultancy can help you, please send me a message, leave a comment or reach out via [email protected] or www.campusconsultancy.org
The Author: Josh Farr
                                Josh Farr
I help 33 Universities and 96 student-unions, guilds, clubs, faculties, colleges/halls and leadership/mentoring/career programs increase student engagement, satisfaction and employability by running in-person and online student upskilling workshops. It's been an honor to work with 18,101 student leaders, totaling 41,400+ hours of professional development since August 2017. Formerly an engineer, and with experience in Graduate Recruitment, I founded Campus Consultancy to empower young leaders with leadership, emotional intelligence and entrepreneurial skills/mindsets. 
With 1.3m+ University students in Australia, the students in our workshops are the leaders of tomorrow.   In a workforce where just 14% of Australian's are passionate about what they do (Gallup, 2017), we need to change our approach to leadership development, and it starts with students in their very first positions of leadership.  The programs have a +77 Net-Promotor-Score from participants & help:  (i) Universities staff/departments hit their key metrics on engagement/satisfaction/employability (ii) Student leaders feel prepared, confident & creative about their role as leaders,  (iii) All students benefit from emotionally intelligent, purpose-driven leadership into their careers.
2018 Training Dates: ✔35 events completed  / 2019 Training Dates: ✔135 events completed  2020 Training Dates: ✔230+ events (in-person and online) pre-booked, please visit our website for details

Speaking Appearances:
✔ TEDxUniMelb Education Salon (2017) 
✔ Networking With Leaders, Melbourne Polytechnic (June 2018) 
✔ MacPherson Smith Rural Young Leaders Program (July 2018) 
✔ RMIT Student-Staff Consultative Committee (August 2018) ✔ Victorian International Student Conference (August 2018) 
✔ AIESEC UN-SDGs Event (September 2018) 
✔ School Captains Council (Frankston, VIC) (September 2018) 
✔ Robogals APAC Conference (September 2018) 
✔ StartCon (October 2018) 
✔ TAG CampusLink Conference (May 2019) 
✔ Melbourne International Student Conference (May 2019) 
✔ TEDxMonashUniversity (September 2019) 
✔ Beta Alpha Psi Graduating Address (November 2019) 
✔ Council of Australian Postgraduate Students Associations (November 2019) 
✔ RMIT/University of Adelaide Commencement Addresses (April 2020) 
✔ Australian Virtual Young Entrepeneurs Summit (May 2020) 
✔Australasian Talent Conference 2020 (June 2020)

If you want to develop your student leaders or your team, please be in touch via: 🌐 www.campusconsultancy.org ✉ [email protected] PODCAST: 🎧The Campus Experience🎧 LINKEDIN LIVE: Monday-Friday, 8am (AEST)

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