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Interview with Bill Benjamin

Bill Benjamin is an expert on transformation, leadership and how to overcome challenges. His engaging speaking style and authentic approach catches the audience in a way that few speakers are able to do. As a natural storyteller, he uses funny anecdotes combined with science and research, that makes everyone understand and learn from his keynotes. Read his interview and learn more about him and his speaking career.

How did you begin your speaking career? 

I started out as a client of IHHP. I was working in the computer software industry (I have degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science) and quite frankly, I was struggling as a leader. I had the good fortune to attend one of IHHP’s Science of Emotional Intelligence training programs and I loved the brain-science aspects and the practical strategies. I spent the next 6 years applying the learning and it helped me immensely – both professionally and personally. I knew the founder of IHHP – Dr. J.P. Pawliw-Fry – and told him I wanted to do this work for a living. I joined (and invested in) IHHP as a partner in 2002. I’d had some experience presenting, and I got a lot of great mentoring from JP, who is a phenomenal speaker. I also got a speaker coach who helped me learn how to leverage my strengths on stage.


What is the most unique experience you have had as a result of your job?

I’ve had the honor to deliver our Science of Emotional Intelligence and Performing Under Pressure training to some really amazing groups: the U.S. Marines, Surgeons, Intel engineers in Russia, rockets scientists at NASA, student athletes,  U.S. Army commanders, a charitable foundation that works with oppressed and trafficked people, nurses, teachers  – and many more amazing people across all industries and all walks of life.


Why do clients typically hire you to speak?

With my degrees in Math and Computer Science, I am often asked to speak to highly analytical audiences – engineers, auditors, physicians, lawyers, plant managers, etc. – who struggle with leadership and how they impact people. Taking a scientific approach to topics like Emotional Intelligence and being honest about my struggles with leadership, opens the analytical groups up to recognizing some of their own less than skillful behaviors and inspires them to want to improve. Clients also like the fact that the programs I deliver are highly interactive and people leave with strategies they can apply to be better leaders – at work and at home!


What are 3 habits for success?       

1. Always be an aggressive learner. I got to present with Ronnie Lott of the San Francisco 49ers who told me that Joe Montana told him to “always act like a rookie” when it comes to learning. I love that advice.

2. Balance Heart and Edge. Learn the skills of compassion, empathy and servant leadership – what we’d call “heart”. Then combine that with “Edge” – the ability to step into high pressure situations – having difficult conversations, taking meaningful risks, standing up for an idea and doing the tough things you know you need to do. A quote I like is “nobody is admired for doing the easy things”.

3. Take care of yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You are no good to anyone else if you are burned out, unhealthy and anxious.


What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

The first thing is that I can’t stand up in front of a group of people and talk about how to be a great leader without evaluating myself and wanting to hold myself accountable to the same standard. I can’t be perfect, but I always want to try to get better and speaking helps me do that. Second, I love making a difference for people who struggle with the things I used to (and still do!).  Life is hard, Leadership is hard and I know that the insights and strategies that I share can help people have a greater impact and live with more ease.


Who or what inspires you most?

My girls. They are 14 and 11 and test my Emotional Intelligence every day! I know that if I can be model for them, they will grow up with the skills to lead a life of passion, kindness and strength. They let me know when I am not behaving skillfully and hold me accountable to being my best. There is no greater motivation than that of being a great Dad.


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