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Full show notes at www.LearningLeader.com

Twitter/IG: @RyanHawk12    https://twitter.com/RyanHawk12

Jeff Shesol is a multi-hyphenate leader. He’s a Rhodes Scholar, a historian, a presidential speech writer, and a 3-time best-selling author. He also had a comic strip called thatch that was nationally syndicated from 1994–1998 when it appeared daily in more than 150 newspapers.


  • If you’re going to set moonshot goals for your team, you must relentlessly communicate them to all involved. The what, why, how, and when… Relentlessly communicate with vivid clarity.
  • Focus, Purpose, Urgency… This was what was lacking before President Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson helped take fragmented groups and bring them all together. Focus, Purpose, and Urgency. How can you do this for your organization?
  • John Glenn – A leader of action. He didn’t let fate determine the outcome of his life. He went after what he wanted. He had a bias for action. In a world of drivers and passengers, John Glenn was a driver and that’s what led to him leaving his mark in the world.
    • John Glenn – “Friendship 7—designed to fly itself—had begun drifting to the right, like a car with its front wheels out of alignment. Glenn took the control stick—not without satisfaction. He was a pilot, by training and temperament, and pilots take control.”
  • Press conference to introduce astronauts… John Glenn said, “I was brought up believing that you are placed on earth… with sort of a fifty-fifty proposition. We are placed here with certain talents and capabilities. It is up to each one of us to use those talents and capabilities as best as we can. A higher power will certainly see that I am taken care of if I do my part of the bargain.”
  • The space program may be the profession that requires the highest risk tolerance aside from the military. It is no surprise the original 7 astronauts were all test pilots. The Flight Director of the Apollo missions, Chris Kraft, is quoted as saying: “if we thought about odds, we wouldn’t do it (launch man into space).”
    • Bob Gilruth, head of NASA, also said: “we don’t have enough chimpanzees” responding to criticism that not enough test launches were done.
  • JFK, despite his outward speeches, was initially reluctant to go to the moon and was skeptical if it was a waste of time and money.
  • Publishing your work can change your life… In 1997, President Bill Clinton read Mutual Contempt and invited Shesol to become one of his speechwriters. During his three years at the White House, Shesol became the deputy chief speechwriter and a member of the senior staff.
  • Sustaining Excellence:
    • Need to evolve, and be open to change.
    • Musicians take risks with new albums. Be willing to take those risks as a leader.
    • Continue to challenge yourself.
  • Keynote speeches:
    • Do not ever let them get stale… But have one fundamental core message. Dr. Martin Luther King had a core theme of every speech.
  • Life and Career advice:
    • “In your 20’s, figure out where you can make your great contribution.”
    • Trial and error is good.
    • What energizes you the most?

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