In this episode, John Laurito chats with Susanne Conrad, the Founder of Lightyear Leadership and the author of GET THERE NOW. She shares with us what leadership is to her and the importance of letting your team understand what it feels like to achieve the goal. She also talks about the importance of intentionally creating a community that will lift you and are also on the same trajectory as you in terms of generating positivity. There’s just so much golden nugget of wisdom in today’s episode, so make sure you tune in.
Susanne Conrad is one of the few global women leaders and entrepreneurs in the personal development and leadership space. She was the co-developer of lululemon’s renowned leadership culture and served as Director of Possibility at lululemon from 2007-2017. Susanne has over 30 years of experience transforming tens of thousands of lives across the globe and revolutionizing culture at hundreds of organizations, including Toms, Kit and Ace, Earls Kitchen + Bar, and imagine1day.
Susanne trains, develops, and certifies leaders around the world. The Lightyear Leadership programs she leads alongside educational leadership programs in Mozambique and Ethiopia create a unified force for positive transformation among students, teachers, government ministers, and community leaders.
Susanne is a storyteller who will restore your peculiarity and empower you to be who you came to be. She demonstrates powerful inner listening and has a deep connection to a higher power. Susanne sees the best in all people and their full potential, no matter their background or walk of life. She can challenge and gently coach people through hard things and is an agenda-free champion for people’s goals, vision, and success.
Susanne hails from Vashon island in the Pacific Northwest. When not leading progressive programs at Lightyear, she is leading dance and movement, adventuring in her Sprinter Van named Gloria, and laughing with her friends and family.
Where to find Susanne Conrad:
[1:41] What is great leadership for Susanne
[2:45] The key ingredients to get people behind you
[5:04] Be in choice
[7:55] Stepping outside of your comfort zone
[10:50] The importance of choosing your circle
[12:04] What is Lightyear Leadership, and what does that community look like?
[14:25] On developing leaders as a leaders
[17:17] GET THERE NOW
John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good after running companies small and large for the last 20 years. Today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leaders so good?
John Welcome to tomorrow’s leader! Hey, there tomorrow’s leaders, so I got a great guest on today, Susanne Conrad out of Utah, and she is the recent the author of the recently released book Get There. Now available in bookstores, she is the founder of Light Year Leadership and the past director of Possibility for Lululemon. I don’t know how to say that, is that Lululemon? It’s Lululemon, it’s not a Lululemon. The heck, anyways, great guest offered lots of great insight on leadership, everything from how to develop other leaders, how to take that step yourself out of your comfort zone and how to surround yourself with people that are going to help you do both. And all things leadership. So I think you’re going to get a lot out of this. And here she is, here’s Susanne.
John All right. Welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader related, related to leaving yourself and leading others. I’m John Le, your host with a great guest today. I’m very excited to have Susanne Conrad, who is the founder of Light Year Leadership, the author of the just released book Get There Now and a past director of Possibility of Lululemon. So great to have you, Susanne. Welcome to show!
Susanne Oh, thanks, John. It’s great to be here.
John Yeah, my pleasure. I there’s a lot I want to talk to you about because I know you have so much a wealth of wisdom around leadership. My favorite topic, of course, we get a great audience of people that love to learn about leadership and your perspective. Let me just start off with the question what? What does a in your mind? What is great leadership or what is that unique, you know, top type of leader possess what are maybe the one or two traits that you look at the most or see the most?
Susanne Well one of the things that stands out for me and what had me be attracted to the title of your podcast is, to me, a leader. You know, whether it’s a mom and a family or a CEO in a company or somebody leading a country is the person that causes a future to happen that wasn’t going to happen otherwise. So everybody can keep steering the boat, the direction it’s going. And I would call that like the default future or default leadership. But an actual leader says, Hey, there’s a whole nother path we can take, and they create the experience and the vision that allow other people to step into that with them. That’s that’s what I look at.
John I like that. What does that look like? Because I know that, you know, there’s a lot of leaders that struggle with with casting that vision that’s motivating and pulls people into it and gets people to follow behind that vision. I mean, what? What are the key ingredients of that for those leaders that are at that point of trying to get people behind them?
Susanne Well, one of the things that I’ve learned through my own life, being the mother of four kids and running my own company for 30 years and then the time that I got to serve at Lululemon is that a vision isn’t only visual. A visual is also kinesthetic. It’s like, how do you want to feel ten years from now? What is your body like? What’s your strength? What’s the whole realm and range of possibility, not only of your joints, but of your the agility of your brain and the expansion of your spirit? And so I find that if we make this more multidimensional vision, it helps people engage. That might not necessarily think of it as like a vision just from the eyes.
John Yeah, I like that. Yeah. So really helping them understand what it feels like, not just you know what the picture looks like, but really what it feels like to get to that point in time. I think a lot of leaders miss that. You know, they they kind of write out what a vision statement is. And if you feel like if they repeat it over and over again, that’s going to get people behind it. But you’ve got to get people really understanding what it means to them when you get to that vision.
Susanne Yeah, what it means to them. And like in the body of work that we call right here, which is a coaching and leadership program that gets implemented into companies and in some countries even, it’s about how we feel emotionally, but also our sensation in our body. And one of the things that’s super fun. Speaking of tomorrow’s leaders is at some point soon I’m going to get to be talking with Peter Diamandis, the the founder of the X Prize and all that really cool work that he’s done about abundance and his book Bold. But one of the things Peter’s helping people with is longevity. And so if people want to live a long time like both you and I shared that our parents are in their 80s and they’re vital in their great. The more we can have this picture of being a vital leader our whole life and having our longevity and life force, I feel like that also engages people in vision because they see, Oh, I can live like that, you know?
John Yeah, I like that. You talk in your book, you mention being in choice. What does that mean to be in choice?
Susanne Well, so I had the privilege of having an incredible woman as my teacher, Dorothy Wood SBO, so she was not a lot about her on the internet, so you’re not going to find a lot there. But anyway, Dorothy was the person who really taught me because before I met Dorothy, I thought, well, choices between yellow flowers or red flowers or orange flowers versus. Seeing that when a person is born, they have this infinite array of possibility and choice, and as we go through experiences where we maybe have a wound or a trauma or difficulty, we say, Well, I’m not good at baseball, I’m going to play baseball, OK, I’m not good at math, so I’m not going to do math.
Susanne So then the person ends up with the choices that are left from the things that they’ve said no to. So in, get there now. I believe that being in choice is having that full range back. Mm hmm. OK. Instead of the life that we get left, when we cut off certain things and say, Well, I’m not that, I’m not that, I’m not that I see that. I see that with leaders that I coach John. I see, you know, grown ups, 50 year old men who are great at this one area that is what’s left of them versus recognizing that they could be in choice and have this whole universe restored to them.
John Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, I makes a lot of sense. So when I’m understanding and taken from that as your there’s a lot of people that may be either passionate about something or great or have a unique ability was something that they may never discover if they don’t give themselves the option to look outside of what they’re just been used to doing. If I’m understanding what you’re saying?
Susanne Yes, you’ve got it exactly right. And what a loss would that be? Because, you know, you know, you’ve gotten to live this great life. We statistically will have, I don’t know, six to 10 distinct careers in our lifetime. And as we live longer, we’ll keep reinventing ourselves and building new skills. Yet if a person starts to over identify with I am a this because somebody told me in second grade or I scored this test in college, they’re not continuing to have that lifelong learning aspect that a really vital leader has.
John So let’s ask you a tough question, because I think a lot of people, that’s a great point. A lot of people get stuck and you’ve seen it. I’ve seen it where they’re doing the same thing for 30, 40 years, their whole career. And they look back and they say, Wow, there should have been there could have been so many other things that I, I did. If you’re taught, if the if someone’s listening to you, that’s in that situation. What’s that first step? I mean, how do they kind of push themselves out of their comfort zone and stray away from some of the things they’ve just gotten so used to doing to be able to experience some of the other things that they have?
Susanne OK, let me go. Let me go. See an actual client and tell you that story. So I worked with this gentleman that was nearing retirement, but he wanted to reinvent himself, and he was coming off of a very successful career as a legacy wealth advisor. And he wanted to monetize art. So his first step, his first step was to give himself the permission and space to actually have a new identity. So he had had so much success economically and also socially. Oh, you’re such a good guy. You’ve done so much that stepping out of that felt like a risk to him. So he first I he first used a light. Your principle that I learned from Dorothy called I am and you are. It’s to give space between anything.
Susanne I am Susanne and you are John. It could even be. I am Susanne, and you are Susanne’s results, right? Because if I want to look at my results, I need some space, right instead of like this. You know, that’s not going to get over. So this gentleman’s first step was to be able to give himself some space so that a new sense of who he could be was possible because his other colleagues were just ready to retire and not really create anything or make new choices, they add. And I’ll tell you what, in this individual’s situation, he went on to create a new art, build a studio. He went on to. Then it is so this is the second step. He then was able to reach back into his past. And use it in his future, yet in a new way. So there, the author, Jean Houston, talks about how you can take like if you’re really good at making pasta, you can take that and then transfer it to another arena where you don’t feel as strong. So he began to take that background and bring it to his art career in a new way. So it isn’t as if we have to cut off our past to restore choice. We do need space, though, from it. So that’s the first step.
John I love that. I love it. A lot of a lot of I know what you talk about and what I talk about as being intentional in your life with a lot of different aspects of it. One of which which I know people also struggle with sometimes is their circle of influence or their community, the people they surround ourselves and choose to surround themselves with. What is your perspective on that and what’s important when somebody thinking about trying to become as happy as possible or fulfilled or advance their business or career? What’s important for them to think about about that circle?
Susanne Hmm. That’s a great question. It’s going to be a little bit different for each person. And my more generalized experience is that the people we surround ourselves with generate a conversation. And what we talk about begins to create our future. So I found it to be very important to intentionally create a culture and community of people that are uplifting and that are there to generate a positive future for themselves and their children and their world. It sometimes means you have to fire your grumpy friends. But I actually I actually created light year at first for my friends. Because I just I said, look, if you keep griping about that, I’m not going to be able to hang out with you.
John Wow. So tell us more about light year. What? What is it? What’s the mission and what do you do?
Susanne OK? So are you familiar with LinkedIn? Yeah. OK, so LinkedIn is a learning connecting platform that describes who you’ve been so that you can meet other people based on interests that you have currently. And also based on your past life. Lightyear.co is a platform that we’ve created our team has created. That’s like LinkedIn, except it’s for who you’re becoming. So you create a future vision and a set of goals just the way that I taught and worked all through Lululemon all that decade so that if you were on Leitner, you could see what my goals are. I could see what yours are, where you want to be heading. I could support you in it. So it’s specifically designed to do exactly what you asked, which is to create a community where people can support each other in their becoming instead of who they’ve been.
John That’s a great concept. I love that and is there. So what is that community to look like if I’m part of last year, my interacting with as many people as I one is at a small group type of setting.
Susanne You can choose so people, when you go to lightyear.co, you’ll see that we offer a number of different courses. And of course, there’s always the thing that you can do as an introduction that’s for free and where you can experience membership. Although you do enter your credit card because we want a certain we want people to be at stake like this. It’s not really a looky loo place, so they start with, of course, called Power My Future, where it’s self led and then I offer something called light hours. So every week I’m live with a large group of people on Zoom that come in and we record that hour session and we deal with a topic each week. And then that gets sent out. And then you can search for people in your area with other goals. You can reach out to our champions. We have volunteers that help connect people that might have similar interests. So that’s what it looks like. And we’ve been doing it now since October of 2018, and we are the world’s first and best social learning, future facing platform.
John Excellent. So I know a lot of leaders are looking. They’ve they’ve maybe gotten to a point in their career where they have done well. They’ve started to build a business or they’re in a leadership position, and they’re now faced with the challenge of leading other leaders and developing other people, which sometimes is a real big challenge for people. What advice would you give to somebody who’s trying to learn how to develop those skills in particular?
Susanne OK, so the development of other people? To me is a fundamental right of being an employee. So every place that I consult and of course, Lululemon, the margin of the product we built in the cost of developing people, so light year work was all was provided to all of those thousands of people as part of. Them being there, so the advice I would give. To someone beginning that path is to do some reflection similar to maybe even what I did on my in my own book, I look to see like, who did I learn from? Who do I need to forgive? What is the basis of my own developmental path? And then recognize just what Suzanne went through is completely different from what you went through, John. So what are you going to be? Some of the fundamental streams that you?
Susanne Oh gosh, there’s an eagle just flying over the cliff out my window. That is so cool. What are some of the fundamental streams you want to have be there? So one of them might be integrity. So if you want to develop people in integrity, then it’s about really teaching about wholeness and letting people know the cost of when they’re late or when they don’t tell the truth or when they hide things from themselves or pretend versus punishing them. So to develop people. Here’s the bad news of the good news you got to love them, and I call that swallowing somebody’s whole like their faults, their problems, because if they’re going to develop, they need to know that you’ve got them. And that can mean firing people. Hmm. Absolutely. You can love people and fire them at the same time. So, so the biggest pitfall once a person early in their development journey will be like, Oh God, I’ve developed them and they’re still it’s still not working out. Like, I must be a bad developer of people. Maybe I need to keep trying. And then it stays in this relationship for too long, and they just needed to fire the person.
John Yeah, that makes sense. And that’s ultimately sometimes sending somebody on the right path by letting them know they’re on the wrong path. So that makes sense. So your book “Get There Now,” just Came out, it hits shelves on September 7th, a couple of weeks ago. Congratulations. It’s a big accomplishment. What are readers going to get from reading your book?
Susanne I think readers are going to laugh a little bit. They’re going to cry. What they’re going to get is the get there now process. So that is a distillation where you can ask yourself a series of questions. The first one is, what do you want to change? What do you want to be different? And then once that is changed and is different, so you leap to that future. What are you doing then that you’re not doing now? And once you’re doing that and once that is changed and is different, what door are you closing then that you’re not able to close now? So for some people, that’s fear or doubt or concern about failure or proving it to their aunt Susie or whatever. And then once you’re closing that door, what are you accomplishing and what are the new decisions and choices that it’s time for you to make?
Susanne And so what it does is it excels at what people will get is a way to accelerate their own authentic choices and decisions. Being a woman business leader. So I don’t want to make it about gender, but I am a woman. One of the things women get dinged for sometimes is not making decisions quickly enough. And if they make them too fast know people say, Well, you’re too aggressive or bitchy. I’d say most people leaders, they don’t regret the decisions they made. They regret the decisions they didn’t make. So get there now helps you get there now.
John Yeah, that’s great. I love that. And that’s in reality. Everybody, I think has been plagued with that. At some point you get a little paralysis, sometimes when you overanalyze or you overthink or you’re thinking about the worst case scenario in reality. It sounds like your book helps people take that step and do something, try something, get out of their comfort zone. Yeah, yeah, yeah, terrific. Well, we will put in the show notes, I know some information, but where can people get a hold of you for those who might be listening and not looking at the show notes, whether it’s learn about you, learn more about late, your leadership or your book, where can they go?
Susanne Yeah. So all of our courses and programs and our coach training programs are on Lightyear.co. Lightyear, you’re just like Buzz Lightyear. And then there’s some stuff about me on Susanneconrad.com. You can buy the book at your local bookstore. It’s available in all of the Hudson bookstores, this the rest of 2021 and all of the airports, and I would love to have anyone from John’s show just direct message me on light year when you join and let me know that you found us and I’d be happy to talk with you. So. Thanks so much, John.
John Well, I will be in an airport tomorrow and I will check it out. I will. It’ll be my flight reading, inflight reading.
Susanne We’ll take a picture. Send it to me!
John I will, absolutely, yeah. Hopefully the Raleigh Airport Bookstore has it. So excellent, it’s been great to have you, Susanne. I appreciate you joining the show and sharing some of your wisdom. And hopefully we’ll have you back another time, too.
Susanne OK, well, thank you for being for tomorrow’s leaders. I love them all. I’ve got four kids and that’s who they are.
John Absolutely. That’s our future is based all around our future, tomorrow’s leaders, so excellent. Well, thanks again and thank you all for joining today on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, as always. Like Subscribe Share, go down below. Give a five star review. Let us know what you thought, and I’m always interested in your future ideas, ideas for future topics, gas and whatnot to help you become a better leader. Thanks for joining everybody. Take care!
John Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader for suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching. Reach me at John at John@johnlaurito.com. Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on!