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No One Brags About Things That Are Easy: Lewis MacKenzie
Live At Lavin | January 09, 2013

No One Brags About Things That Are Easy: Lewis MacKenzie

Major-General (ret'd) Lewis MacKenzie, a highly sought-after leadership speaker, recently stopped by our Toronto office to catch us up on current events, his theories on leadership, and his unique presentation style. Joined by several of us here at the agency (including Mackenzie Gruer, pictured above!) Lewis MacKenzie shared a snippet of his whirlwind schedule; providing insight on the current conflict in Mali, sharing his recent auto racing results,  and giving first hand account of his recent visit to Ethiopia. Though he is most often called upon to speak about effective leadership practices, his vast personal experience and firm grasp of foreign and domestic affairs makes him a frequent guest on major media. He has done several appearances in the past few days alone. As he told us during his visit, he often has about 5 minutes to prepare before dishing out an informed opinion on the issue-of-the-moment.

Whether it's in the media or on the stage, MacKenzie commands attention. Pointing out that he is not a typical leadership speaker, nor an average "military speaker", he uses humor and human interest to relate to his audiences. Never using notes, MacKenzie bases his speeches on his core material and tweaks them slightly for each specific crowd. He says that "leadership is timeless," but adds that it is important to keep the content current and applicable to the diverse groups he speaks to. It is this style of speaking that keeps his talks from being stiff or contrived and makes his presentations natural and engaging.

Before he left, he shared one particular lesson about the importance of patience and overcoming personal challenges. "No one ever bragged about doing something that was easy," he told us, and then shared a story of perseverance and grit that he taught some of his troops during the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and Russia. The troops were told that they must remain in a tethered line for over a day and were not allowed to make a sound during a training operation on covert tactics.Even when a truck wheeled in a television to broadcast one of the final games in the hockey series, the troops were to remain silent—and they all succeeded in completing the task (MacKenzie joked, "we were probably the only ones in Canada who didn't cheer"). Talk about a great lesson in self-control! It's stories like this that bring his speeches to life and have earned him standing ovations and rave reviews from many of his audiences. As humble as he is knowledgeable, Lewis MacKenzie captivates a crowd like few others can.


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