The Making of Leaders

 marin teen girl conferenceHow Failure Teaches Leaders What Can’t Be Taught.

On Saturday, I had the honor of speaking at the Marin Teen Girl Conference. Presented by the Marin Women’s Commission, it’s a conference for teens designed by teens to “a safe forum for Marin’s teenage girls to explore their place in the world, gain skills to create positive relationships [and] learn confidence to make good choices…”  It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend.

Drawing on the lessons I learned from facing cancer as a teen, I spoke on how life’s obstacles can translate into leadership ability. While I went there to ‘teach’ these young ladies, I learned so much more than I taught.  As I left the conference, I thought – what really makes a leader?

What Makes a Leader?

All too often, leaders are seen as people who have had great successes. While success is a wonderful thing, failure tends to be one of life’s greatest teachers.

The best leaders I’ve encountered have been formed by fire. I believe failure teaches us to dig deeper, pick ourselves up and push through obstacles – no matter the odds. That experience creates an authenticity, humanity and magnetism in leaders that simply can’t be taught.

These are the leaders, to whom people flock and follow. They are able to guide others through trials, because they know how bad it hurts to fail and the courage it takes to get back up again. After all, they’ve been there themselves.

Three remarkable young women I met on Saturday are these leaders.  Ana, Annette and Krystalyana have faced incredible obstacles and are already guiding their peers through challenges. They inspired me by their courage, drive and passion. I was humbled to share the stage with them and can’t wait to see where they take their lives next.


What has failure taught you as a leader?

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