Evaluate weakness: You must be honest with where you are, where you have come from and the battles you must overcome. Weakness is only an opportunity to grow.
Inthis interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases, it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Billy Boughey author of Culture Reconstructed and founder and president of Elevate Experiences.
Billy Boughey is a nationally recognized keynote speaker, author and host who has led events for Delta, Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, FIFA, Disney, and many other notable organizations. He is the Founder and President of the Atlanta-based company Elevate Experiences that helps brands tell their story through remarkable events. Billy has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, Inc, Bold TV, and has a TEDx talk titled: How to lead like a freestyle rapper. As a former pro athlete with the Philadelphia Phillies, Billy brings a fresh perspective to leadership and culture. Pick up the January 2020 book released titled: Culture Reconstructed on Amazon and learn more about Billy at billybspeaks.com.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Every life has a story and I am grateful for mine. I was born in Atlanta and love to support all the teams in my great city. My parents divorced at a young age, mom worked three jobs to get by, and I was a turn-key kid that was marked by my fear, hustle, and a speech impediment. Growing up, sports and music were my identities and that carried through my high school, college, and professional experience. I played baseball all the way to the professional level and learned to freestyle rap, DJ events, play the guitar, and sing. I started a business in 2012 called Elevate Experiences — we help brands tell their story by creating remarkable experiences. Eight years into my Elevate journey, I wrote a book about culture to serve our clients better and have travelled the world speaking, entertaining, and inspiring others to live out the best story they can.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I got to rap on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and it led to six figures worth of business because of the bravery I exhibited. Jimmy was generous to let me rap on the spot and the producer of the show introduced me to the idea that not everything needs to be planned out in advance in order to be successful. There are many stories in my career of taking risk, but this is the biggest one that paid off the most.
What do you think makes your company/brand stand out? Can you share a story?
We listen first…
Our process at Elevate is to listen, design, and then produce. I believe that beginning with your ears leads to better solutions for your clients. The event creation industry is ever changing and the people that lean in and listen first will win in the long term. We had a client that wanted to leverage hot air balloons into the lessons we were teaching about world-view and it was a challenge to pull off. Listening to the client’s goal allowed us to safely and successfully pull off this activation and it taught me to press the limits on experiential learning.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are so many people I am grateful for as the belief in others is what has pushed me to be the leader I am today. One in particular is David Hoyt and he gave me multiple chances on various stages and in front of leaders that I wasn’t “qualified” to be in front of, but he saw something great in me. Because of his belief, it has grown my career and set me on a trajectory of passion and impact.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
You can’t lose, you can only learn. Approaching life with a “fourth-quarter mentality” is how I roll, and I believe your approach will breed resilience only if you begin with this mindset. Resilience is the ability to see the glass half full at all times through rose colored glasses while reality and failure (although known) are not accepted as the final answer. Some characteristics of resilience are the ability to be punched in the mouth, spit out the blood, then turn back and smile. Being positive in pain and speaking a preferred future when it isn’t easily seen is important as well.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
The X games champion Shawn White is the first person I think of. He has transcended the sport and stood the test of time through countless injuries. Tiger Woods is another one that came back from personal and professional challenges to win another PGA tour championship. Talent carries both of these athletes but having a resilient mindset in the midst of failure, pain, and bad choices have carried them through.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I was told by my stepdad that I would never play professional baseball and that became my fuel for 2 decades. It all culminated as I teared up and I signed my professional contract with the Phillies. Not every chip on the shoulder is bad and honestly not all anger is bad either. Denying our feelings is not what winners do, winners take the impossible and turn it into the quite possible challenge in front of them if they believe and take action.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I hurt my elbow my Junior year of college and was told I would never throw a pitch again from a mound. From that point, I exercised, focused on healing and came back a much more focused and grateful pitcher which moved me to be captain of my team and signing a professional contract.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Evaluate weakness: You must be honest with where you are, where you have come from and the battles you must overcome. Weakness is only an opportunity to grow.
- Find an advocate: Hold your friends close but hold “freedom speakers” even closer. A freedom speaker is someone who will tell you who you can become and remind you of the vision you have for yourself.
- Pick one plan: Don’t scatter and try a bunch of things, pick one plan or one system for your resilient path.
- Kick ass: Take consistent action, move, grow, achieve, stop waiting, be more, and having obedience in the same direction is the mark of a winner.
- Celebrate, rinse, & repeat: Make sure you celebrate your milestones, rightfully process your accomplishments, and then get back to work. Consistent work, celebration, and recommitment back to that same work will show fruit over time.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would challenge people to chase that dream they think about. I would spend my days igniting ideas and fueling people to achieve the success they see out in front of them. Regret is the worst thing ever, and I would start a movement to chase dreams and give back to those around them that are stuck in their complacency.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I want a breakfast/lunch with Justin Timberlake to talk about music, creativity, collaboration, fatherhood, and legacy.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @billyboughey, or on Facebook @iambillyboughey. Readers can also sign up for my newsletter at keepitfresh.vip.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!