No matter how inspired, motivated or energised leaders might be, it’s vital they can sustain their enthusiasm, or they risk burning out.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing The Brand Navigator, Lauren Clemett.

Told as a child that she had wordblindness and would never be able to read or write properly, Lauren went on to become a 5 time best-selling and award-winning author. She now uses her dyslexia as her greatest asset — helping leaders understand how the brain sees brands.

She loved drawing and painting as a child and studied graphic design before working in leading advertising agencies and in brand management, helping launch hundreds of global and boutique brands. She now the sought after personal branding specialist, appearing in worldwide media and as a keynote speaker, helping leaders to overcome overwhelm and get a clear direction to stand out from the crowd as magnetic leaders.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

I am writing another leadership book entitled “Magnetic Leadership” which outlines why some people reach #1 status and become global personal brands, and what they did to stand out and create such powerful influence. It will help todays leaders learn what it takes to create more impact as a leader in their own world. I’m also booked to speak at a range of conferences for franchises, direct selling companies and associations and that really excites me because I get to positively influence so many amazing leaders in business.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

My favourite famous leader is Richard Branson. Like me he struggled at school with dyslexia, and started his own business ventures while learning and failing along the way to success. His personal brand flows over into the Virgin brand, which stands for his core values of value for money, innovation and fun.
I’m also inspired by his amazing adventures and zest for life.

Other influential leaders who I also call friends include my amazing partners and business besties who face challenges everyday yet still manage to have time, generosity and compassion for others.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

Oh so many mistakes! It’s funny how leaders are afraid of failure, yet those are the times we really learn and grow.

One mistake that stands out most is when I was in the early stages of developing my own personal brand (it’s always harder to work on yourself and a breeze to do it for others). I had a ‘brain-fart’ to call my brand an ‘academy’ and it had all the trappings of a flight-school, even the font was called ‘top gun’… but as was quickly pointed out to me, I had zero experience in flying, let alone anything to do with the airforce! It was totally disingenuous even though it looked and sounded cool, I had to stop everything and started again from scratch. I’ve redesigned my own personal brand identity twice before I got it right.

The discovery from this mistake is that building a brand a a leader takes time but it’s worth it. If your personal brand feels off, or you can’t feel total empathy with it, keep going until you have something that absolutely fits. You’ll know when it’s right, because suddenly everything flows, like it’s meant to be!

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

I grew up living at a YMCA camp in the bush in Hunua, New Zealand, so from a very young age I was surrounded by leaders who had a mentality of support and teamwork. My Dad was the camp director and helped develop a leadership training program that encouraged kids who showed promise to go through a supportive process of self development until they, as young adults, were leading others.

I recently got to spend time with my Dad, who now has dementia and his memory of the past is clearer than what happens daily. We talked in-depth about leadership and what it meant to him. It clarified that what I grew up with was incredibly empowering and showed me that leadership is all about self awareness, responsibility, a core desire to lead others with a generosity of spirit.

Today’s leaders are expected to do so much, be so much and be mindful of things we had never even heard of in the 70’s and 80’s, such as neurodiversity, inclusion, equality etc. There is so much more todays leaders to learn in terms of communication skills, however, I think the basics are still there — be a good human, be kind to others, and lead so that others want to follow you.

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

Anything that requires a leader to hover over people or micro-manage them in my opinion has never worked and been irrelevant for ever, but certainly is something I stopped doing. Self-leadership is such a powerful tool that all leaders should not only be using, they should be teaching and encouraging others to do the same. If you are a leader and you still get involved in how people do their jobs, you need to step back and decide if you actually want to be a leader or a manager. You can’t be both.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

It’s funny, I always said I was a bad listener, but then I discovered that I’m actually a great listener, I just have to manage my ADHD so that I don’t interrupt people too much! I tend to get really excited about the potential of people and opportunities, and forget not everyones brain works as fast as mine does.

Listening as a leader has got to be the #1 skill to have in order to really create amazing impact. Not just hearing people out but actively encouraging them to share, allowing them to open up and then taking everything they have to say onboard before even considering if you need to offer any advice. In a noisy, overwhelming world, leaders are often just a sounding board, and as long as you are there to listen, you may not even be required to help, guide or mentor.

This is especially viral for leaders who offer a professional service, run a franchise or have a direct selling business where you often feel you are trying to convince others to buy from you. Becoming a great listener is a superpower that can not only help you create more engaging social media content and attract the right prospects, it also improves conversion because you are proactively breaking down barriers and asking you way to a “yes please” response.

Leaders are also in such a trusted positions that often our teams share their innermost secrets with us. They deserve our patience and respect for being so vulnerable. If you want to really win peoples respect and create long-lasting, positive impact for those you lead, improving your listening skills is a major focus area.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

Self development is always the go-to when evolving as a leader. The minute you think you know everything is the moment you lose your right to lead. Leaders who struggle to move from dictating action and being the “only one who’s right in the room” probably need to take some time to consider what they really want from life in order to be fulfilled and happy.

It’s funny that happiness, purpose and a sense of direction isn’t often something leaders focus on, yet they are the foundation of great leadership. Knowing the steps needed to move out of past patterns makes it easier and starting by having a process to follow helps. My suggestion is to begin by identifying natural talents, the things you do with ease and your core skills, then look at the impact you want to have and the legacy you want to leave.

I call this ‘finding your brand true north’ and it follows the points of the compass, because your brand is like a compass, it keeps you pointed in the right direction:

West — what the problem is you want to solve and who you want to help
East — your expertise, experience and area of excellence that makes you different
South — the $$$ value you provide and outcomes you deliver so well
North — your purpose, passion and reason why you do what you do

Work through all of these factors and you’re on track to be a stand-out, magnetic leader.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

Oh, that scary place of self-doubt, imposter syndrome and comparison-itis! Many new leaders get totally overwhelmed with the evolution of leading. This is especially the case with those in their own business.

There’s an expectation that entrepreneurs and business leaders should know what to do when it comes to self-promotion and leading others, but the opposite its true. Most SME business leaders do not have any qualifications in marketing, branding or communications. Yet these are the core skills required for leaders to actually have the confidence to step up and lead.

The first step for emerging leaders is to realise that becoming a leader takes time. In fact I suggest it takes 3 years to build a personal brand that stands out as a leader in any industry. You just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there. Consistency is key.

Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes, make sure you are surrounded by positive people, have great mentors and most importantly, have a clear picture in your mind of your goals, so you master the fear centre inside your brain.

Our brains don’t work in words, they work in pictures. The more specific and emotionally attached you can be to the vision you have of your leadership, the more resilient you become. This helps your self-belief and courage to overcome challenges and set-backs.

Ignore the progress of others, they are on their own journey, and as Winston Churchill said “you’ll never get where you are going if you stop to throw stones at every dog that barks at you.” Ignore the nay-sayers and haters. Paint a picture of the outcome then, keep your eyes on the prize and you’ll get there.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Purpose And Direction.
    Most leaders we follow didn’t know how they were going to achieve their goals, they just had BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that they believed were possible.

Richard Branson knew he wanted to challenge conventional thinking when he dropped out of school at 16 to start a student newspaper. He knew students were fed up with the conventional fodder they were getting from the school system and that new, exciting opinions, music and culture was emerging that they wanted to know about. The drop-in centre he created for teenagers to gather led him to start a record label, then onwards to take on the big-brands in air travel. The Virgin brand now umbrellas a range of services with the same purpose and direction — good value for money, innovative and fun — no matter which service you are using. His ‘how’ is now well known — look after your staff, so they look after your customers.

Knowing your purpose as a leader and having a clear direction helps you create a brand strategy that attracts the right people and ensures everyone is on track to achieve together. It also helps you say no to the distractions, just like having a compass pointing on north. It becomes easier to make decisions because you know you are on the right track.

Leaders don’t make people follow them, they step out and create something others want to be part of. If you are chasing people all over the countryside, dragging them up your mountain even if they don’t want to be there, you’re not leading, you’re desperate and dictating.

A leader with a clear sense of purpose doesn’t abruptly change direction every few minutes. Sure you need to be adaptable, but your core values and motives should remain the same regardless of what you are doing. Having a clear sense of direction and a brand that operates on purpose, makes it easy to be recognised as the go-to leader everyone wants to know.

2) A Meaningful Brand Story
People want to understand who’s behind the business. They need to know you before they will trust you. Nothing quite convinces someone to buy into what you are selling than a compelling and engaging brand story. It also helps you be remembered and is vital if you want to stand out from your competition.

Phil stands in the temple of Athena in Athens, a place he has learned about from childhood stories his parents read to him. He always wanted to see ancient Greece and now, here he is. As he turns to leave, a carving in the stone catches his eye. It’s Athena, the winged goddess of victory, also known as Nike, and she’s bending down to adjust her sandals.

Phil Knight built a brand on the promise of victory and everything he stands for about being as competitive as possible. Nike is exemplified by the way the brand conducts itself and he created a brand value and culture based on his own story.

Leaders who have a compelling reason why they do what they do tend to be trusted and believed more than those who either have no meaningful story or who are driven by their own success or the pursuit of money. A great brand story stems from something you stand for and believe in. Leading is not about being the most liked or the highest paid. Your personal brand story makes you stand out as unique in an overcrowded and “me-too” world.

3) Unfailing self-belief
Being a leader isn’t a popularity contest and many iconic leaders over the years were not well liked, but they were admired. An effective leader doesn’t act because they want to win people over, they set a standard and they expect others to follow.

Steve Jobs was well known to drive his team nuts, but he had an incredible belief in what they were doing at Apple. Even to the point that he got sacked from his own company, then re-hired when they realised his iconic innovative thinking was integral to the brand.

There is a story about a time his team told him that they needed to make the iPad they were developing bigger if they were to include all the features he had asked for. He took the news badly, snatching up the prototype and dropping it into a fish-tank to prove that, as air bubbles escaped, there was indeed room in there! The team were horrified, but they achieved what he believed was possible and the device became a massive seller and a stand out product for the brand.

No matter how mad others think you might be, as a leader you need to have total and unmitigated faith in your abilities, dreams and motivators. Not just what you have now, but also in your ability to grow adapt and innovate as you lead. In order for others to buy-into your ideas and follow your lead, they have to see you believing in it first.

4) Courage & Conviction
Leading is not for the faint-hearted, it’s for the full-hearted. When you know you have to lead because your very reason for being depends upon it, you will take steps even if they scare you. When you have a cause, a dream or simply a desire to leave a legacy, you will stand up and do things most others wouldn’t. That takes courage and conviction which, in many instances might simply be survival mode.

The worlds biggest pizza brand was named by the pizza delivery boy, who drew on every ounce of courage to speak up and suggest the name when two brothers were buying the brand from the original owner, Dom Nick, who wouldn’t budge on selling his name along with the three restaurants. Young Jim overheard the arguments and, worried that if they purchase didn’t go through the restaurants might close and he’d lose his job, gathered all his courage to pipe up and suggest the now iconic name of Dominoes.

It takes guts to stand up to others, or to have a voice, especially when you are starting out as a leader or have competition all around you. Leaders who are compelled to speak up even if their voice shakes, are those who create the biggest impression. Because when you sacrifice safety in order to stand up and be seen, heard and noticed, you get seen, heard and noticed!

5) Patience & Work
No matter how inspired, motivated or energised leaders might be, it’s vital they can sustain their enthusiasm, or they risk burning out.

Creating a stand out personal brand and becoming the wanted, well paid and well known leader will take about 3 years. That sounds like a long time when you are starting out, but in the big scheme of things, it’s only a small % of your life to work hard and be patient. If you want to really create something, the wait is worth it.

When engineer Sven Wingquist finally got his invention of a double-walled ballbearing to work in 1907, he was excited about the opportunity to break into the lucrative American car manufacturing market but before he can get started, war breaks out and his invention is put away in a draw where it sits for years. His invention isn’t picked up again until 1911 when the company develops a name for the series of bearings Sven created, using the latin word for “i-roll”…Volvo.

It isn’t until 1924 when sales manager Assar and engineer, Gustav create ideas for a prototype vehicle that Svens original idea goes on to carry the brand name, along with the iconic symbol for iron, reflecting the strength of the Swedish steel industry and communicating properties of quality, and durability. It didn’t happen overnight, but now Volvo a global brand known for safety.

Great brands, ideas, innovations, causes, organisations and leaders all take their time to keep building, adapting and modifying in order to reach the point of massive impact. Everything worth doing, takes time and when leaders today expecting immediate results, they end up disappointed and frustrated. Every great leader will tell you, the harder they worked, the luckier they got.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

I wake every morning with 10 things I am grateful for. This sets up my entire day, no matter what challenges I face, I realise that I am here for a reason and that each day I get to live that purpose. Then at night I recall the day, remembering what I’ve achieved and deciding which part was my favourite thing.

So often leaders are hell-bent on achieving short-term and getting onto the next issue, problem or opportunity. They don’t stop to notice the masterpiece they are creating daily.

Entrepreneurs brains love that dopamine hit of excitement and anticipation when we come up with new ideas, and they buzz when we reach the summit and get that opiate hit of success…but that wears off fast and before we really take on board what we are doing, our brains are driving us towards the next goal.

By taking the time each day to be grateful for what we have and where we are, then reflecting in the evening on the best part of our day, we can train our brains to see the big picture.

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

Business leaders burnout so quickly because they are expected to know how to lead, promote and market themselves, but most often these are not natural traits or skills leaders have.

I’d like to leave a legacy of magnetic leadership so that more entrepreneurs and business owners find purpose and direction to naturally attract everything they need into their lives, utilising all of their natural skills and talents.

When leaders are clearly on the right track, they sustain themselves, their business and their teams to achieve anything. Changing the way we educate, empower and enrich our leaders is my legacy.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

You can check Laurens available to speak at your next conference or event at

You will also find links to purchase a copy of her best-selling, Literary Titan and Book Excellence awarded leadership book “Finding Your Brand True North on this page or on Amazon, Dymocks and Barnes & Nobel.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!