Shannon Oleen: No difference between you and Harrison Ford

“There is nothing different between you and Harrison Ford,” said Shannon Oleen, inspirational life coach and former NFL cheerleader, “ He is also from a small town and we all can be the best of ourselves.”

Oleen was giving a speech in the CUB Ballroom, November 4, titled “Building Your Leadership Brand”.

In the speech, she talked about the success story of Harrison Ford.

Ford, born in a small town in Illinois, is one of Hollywood's leading men with an acting career that has spanned nearly 40 years and included iconic roles.

Ford has acted in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series. However, before his huge success, he spent many years struggling with life. At first he applied for jobs all over the country and later attempted a career in acting and going to Hollywood.

Oleen said she was from Kansas City in Missouri and that her parents were from a small town as well. Her father worked two jobs to feed the family, but this didn’t mean she didn’t deserve success.

“There are four leaderships,” Oleen said. “There [is] self-leadership, shared leadership, servant leadership and situational leadership.”

For self-leadership, she said it needs to be established to get ourselves intrinsically motived. People need to put aside their cellphones and think about where they want to go and how they want to be successful. Shared leadership means people need to share with people around them, rather than being selfish.

Oleen said servant leadership is also necessary. As a leader, you should take the backseat sometimes to encourage others to find themselves and empower them to do their best work. Last, she said we needed to put situational leadership in mind.

Oleen used her experience in Florida Everglades as an example. “In two months, I lived on a canoe for two weeks with alligators at my fingertips,” she said.

“I got to know 9 incredible women who paddled over 100 nautical miles in 11 days ( 118 normal driving miles), sought to understand personality differences, carried multiple 40lb water jugs, slept on wooden boards, fought through tides, demonstrated outstanding Situational Leadership and pushed harder than they thought their limits would allow,” she writes in her blog.

Oleen said she packed a variety of things for her trip but later she found some of them became a burden. She was forced to throw them away.

This is extremely similar with what we are doing every day. Therefore, we need to question ourselves frequently, are we truly knowing the core of leadership? Just as what she asked at the beginning of the speech, do you want to be successful after graduation, do you want to make money, do you want to be on the top of your career? The audience in the ballroom responded affirmatively.

Oleen argued it was not easy to find the best self if we want to do everything to make our resume splendid. Learning how to choose is very essential and she said people need to learn how to build a personal brand.

“The overall goal is to differentiate yourself [from] other people,” she said, “especially today our personal life are connected closely with our professional life.”

Oleen used Starbucks and Apple as examples to illustrate that every brand has its own name, distinguishing features and identities. So it was also important for everyone to build their unique personal brands. Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian are the examples Oleen used to show they branded themselves out of all other people.

She also showed her interview video clip with Liz Murray, a woman who overcame tremendous odds to go from "homeless to Harvard”. Falling in love with all the possibilities helped transform her life.

“No matter where you are from [or] what is in your pocket, you can be the CEO of your brand,” Oleen said.

She summarized three steps to building brands: dream it, map it and reach it.

“You need to set up a short-term goal and long-term goal for your dream,” Oleen said, “if you want to do something in ten years, you need to think about and write down what you need to do to achieve this goal.”

Also, finding a mentor and doing a SWOT analysis can help mapping your dream.

“SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, ” said Oleen, “I started to think why not use it to analyze myself when I start thinking what’s my dream and what I want to do.”

“You should ask yourself what’s the legacy you want to [leave] behind you,” Oleen said.

During the speech, she asked five volunteers to be on stage and practice cheerleader poses with them. In the end, she performed the song “Can't Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

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