Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts on leadership. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Brandon: Keeping a sense of humor and fun in life is important to me. For example, I was accepted into the business school at MIT Sloan during the interview because I shared a levitation party trick.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Brandon: Across all aspects of my life, I have failed many more times than I have succeeded. In retrospect, I have learned more and progressed further due to those failures than I have from the successes. The important takeaway for me was to understand why something didn’t work out as I thought or hoped, learn from that experience, and apply that learning moving forward. I have also found it to be vitally important in life to surround yourself with people that believe in you unconditionally. This support structure can provide you with honest feedback, it can serve to lift you during life’s challenges, and it makes celebrating life’s important moments even more special.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader?
Brandon: The most important quality of an effective leader is inspiration. The true power of an organization comes from harnessing the energy of its team members and motivating and aligning them towards a vision. An effective leader can be the catalyst to make that happen. There is an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.”
Adam: Who are the greatest leaders you have been around and what did you learn from them?
Brandon: A great leader can be measured by the impact they have on others. It is said that good leaders create followers and great leaders create more leaders. There are so many talented individuals I have had the opportunity to work around that helped me craft my leadership style. They all had specific skills I admired and that have benefited me personally and the organizations I have been a part of. These individuals exhibited traits such as confidence, calmness, adaptability, focus, and curiosity – in my development I have sought to emulate these qualities.
Adam: How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Brandon: Learning from others is the best way to grow. Whether it is from observing, education, reading, or mentorship, take value from the advice, experience, and wisdom of others. Through these experiences it is important to realize that you can learn what not to do as much as what to do, so always be on the lookout for both.
Adam: What is the best advice you have on building, managing and leading teams?
Brandon: There is nothing more important to the success of an organization than culture. Culture is formed and maintained by the leadership within an organization, and it needs to be shared and owned by everyone on the team. At Gold’s Gym one important aspect of our culture is the core competencies we value in our Team Members – Judgement, Attitude, Results, and Teamwork. Team Members are hired, reviewed, promoted, and terminated based on these demonstrated abilities. Decide as a leader what cultural norms are important and authentic to your organization and stay true to those without exception.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they impacted your development as a leader?
Brandon: I never grew up playing music but have always had a passion for it. As an adult, I learned to play the guitar with my wife. We have also encouraged our children to learn an instrument and now all three of our boys play the piano beautifully. Even though I am very amateur at the guitar, I find that music provides me an outlet to re-focus and re-energize my mind and body in ways that I don’t tap into during my regular daytime routine.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Brandon: It has been instrumental for me to understand that success is not a destination. Success is a journey comprised of progress. Too often we focus on how far we are from where we want to be and not enough on how far we have come. Focus on progress, and that in and of itself is success.