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7 Questions on Leadership with Barbara H. Smith

Name: Barbara H. Smith

Title: CEO/Founder

Organisation: BHS & Associates

Barbara H. Smith, known as the "Celebrity Speaker Trainer," is a dynamic leader with a diverse background. With over 20 years of experience as a network engineer and project manager, she brings a wealth of technology expertise to her roles as an Amazon bestselling author, award-winning international speaker, executive coach, and actor.

Barbara holds associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in information technology, showcasing her commitment to the field. Her passion for AI is set to drive BHS & Associates to new heights, making her a pioneer in the industry.

In 2016, Barbara founded BHS & Associates, LLC, where she crafts customized corporate training programs and provides personal executive coaching. Her leadership skills have earned her accolades, including the Astell Collins Global Inspiration Award and the prestigious title of World Civility Ambassador.

A sought-after media personality, Barbara makes appearances on television and radio shows worldwide and hosts "The Empowering You Show" on Amazon Fire and Roku. She empowers individuals to communicate effectively with her straightforward techniques, benefiting clients such as CapitalOne, Canon, ALCOA, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Beyond her professional achievements, Barbara is known for her generous spirit and commitment to serving homeless women and children at Natasha House. She is a devoted mother of three sons, a loving grandmother of nine, and currently resides in Hampton Roads, Virginia, with her cherished husband, Robert, and her invaluable mom-manager, Queen Agnes.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Barbara's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

I've found that effective communication is most challenging. Imagine communication as an elegant dance, much like a graceful waltz. I've discovered that mastering effective communication is much like learning the steps of this dance. It's akin to a leader initially having two left feet, tripping over words and causing confusion on the dance floor.

But here's where it gets enchanting: many of my clients have happily and successfully experienced the rhythm of the waltz. Their words flow smoothly, like a well-choreographed performance, and they lead with confidence. It's not just about talking; it's a captivating dance where they also become expert listeners, attuned to every step of the rhythm.

This magical combination minimizes those awkward missteps and keeps potential troubles from crashing the party.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I assumed a leadership role at the tender age of 8, becoming the eldest sibling among five. From that point forward, I was not just a sibling but also an example-setter, responsible for leading by my actions. It's my belief that many leaders, myself included, don't necessarily set out to become leaders; instead, they recognize something that needs attention and take the initiative to address it.

In my experience, most leaders, much like myself, continually strengthen their leadership abilities by engaging in classes, workshops, and mentorship sessions. I firmly believe that to be an exceptional leader, you must also excel as a dedicated follower of those who are already on the path you aspire to tread.

I've earned the moniker "a leader among leaders" because I consciously surround myself with individuals who possess greater expertise than I do. I'm a firm believer in never being the most knowledgeable person in the room. Acknowledging that I don't have all the answers, I rely on other leaders to help me sharpen my skills, like honing a sword, to continually improve and evolve.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My mornings kick off early, typically between 4:00 to 6:00 am. The first order of business is a refreshing 8-10 oz of water to kickstart the day. Then, I devote the initial hour to a ritual of gratitude, prayer, meditation, and sending heartfelt good morning messages to my cherished top 20 individuals, which include my siblings, children, and grandchildren, wishing them a fantastic day ahead.

The following hour is a whirlwind of activity. I prepare my morning coffee, bid my husband farewell as he heads out, and engage in an invigorating exercise routine to get the blood flowing. By around 7:30 am to 8:00, I'm fully immersed in a daily devotional call, which sets a positive tone for the day. A quick shower and getting dressed follow suit, preparing me to dive into my work by 9 am.

Mondays are dedicated to team collaboration and setting the tone for the week ahead. Tuesdays, on the other hand, are my self-development days. In the morning, I delve into reading and writing, and I also participate in a women entrepreneurs' coaching call. The afternoons are when I'm available for coaching calls.

Wednesdays are all about coaching and training others, sharing my expertise and helping others grow. Thursdays take on a different flavor as it's my show day when I host "The Empowering You Show." The afternoons are reserved for client appointments, ensuring I'm always attentive to their needs.

As the week progresses, Friday becomes my time to tie up any loose ends from the previous week and address any impromptu meetings or matters that arise. While each day brings its own unique schedule, I generally wrap up my workday around 6:00 pm to spend cherished time with my family.

My evenings are just as crucial as my mornings. By 10 pm, I'm tucked into bed, but not before indulging in a calming nighttime ritual. It involves unwinding, taking a soothing shower, reciting my affirmations, and engaging in visualization exercises, all to ensure a peaceful and restful night's sleep.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Allow me to share a recent leadership epiphany, one that I rediscovered like a cherished old book, dusted off and brought back to life. It's a lesson that revolves around giving myself the gift of grace when confronted with an ever-expanding to-do list and the art of celebrating the small victories along the winding path of progress.

Picture me at a bustling self-development conference, an event I make sure to attend regularly, and it's an honor to host my own from time to time. Amidst the sea of eager faces and the buzz of inspirational talks, I found myself immersed in a session that felt like a gentle nudge from the universe.

As the speaker took the stage, their words flowed like a soothing river, reminding me of a fundamental truth that I occasionally overlooked in my quest for greater heights. It was the notion that the unchecked boxes on my to-do list shouldn't be a source of self-critique, but rather an opportunity to extend myself some much-needed grace.

The speaker's words resonated deeply. They shared tales of their own journey, the challenges they'd overcome, and the many times they'd confronted incomplete tasks and unmet goals. Yet, what struck me most were their stories of the small victories they'd celebrated along the way.

In that moment, it was as if a light had been switched on in a dark room. I realized that the small, seemingly trivial wins were not insignificant at all. They were like the stepping stones that form a sturdy path through a dense forest. Each step might appear modest on its own, but collectively, they lead to grand destinations.

These revelations underscored the value of perseverance, consistency, and tenacity. It became clear that these qualities were the keys to progress. Like chapters in a captivating novel, they are what propel the story forward and make the grand finale possible.

And so, I left that conference with renewed vigor and a deeper understanding. I learned to give myself the gift of grace, recognizing that an unchecked box doesn't define my journey's worth. Instead, I choose to revel in the small wins, for they are the building blocks of monumental victories, and in the end, they are what make the story truly remarkable.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Imagine me, a leader relentlessly chasing after those elusive big wins, with consistency feeling like an alien concept, almost counterintuitive. Then, one day, 'The Compound Effect' by Darren Hardy came into my life, and the stage was set for a profound transformation.

As I cracked open the book, it was as though I'd stumbled upon a hidden treasure chest of leadership insights. The pages revealed the secret sauce to success—consistency. It was the steady rhythm, the small, consistent actions that could turn ordinary leaders into extraordinary ones.

Now, armed with this newfound wisdom, I didn't just incorporate 'The Compound Effect' into my coaching sessions; I took my clients on an exhilarating journey, a thrilling ride inspired by the book's teachings.

Together, we ventured into the lush forest of consistency, where every step held the promise of greatness. Along the way, we paused to marvel at seemingly insignificant milestones, knowing that these were the stepping stones to something extraordinary.

Over time, a remarkable transformation unfolded before our eyes. My clients shed the shackles of imposter syndrome and let go of the fixation on colossal triumphs. Instead, they embraced the power of small, consistent actions. It was like watching characters in an epic adventure, each choice they made adding depth to their story.

As they put these lessons into practice, their leadership journeys became riveting narratives of triumph. The stage was set for their own stories of success, where daily choices and the steady rhythm of consistency played the starring roles.

In the end, 'The Compound Effect' isn't just a book; it's the key to setting the stage for a thrilling transformation, taking my clients on an exhilarating journey through the world of leadership, and empowering them to script their own narratives of epic success.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

If I were asked to distill my wisdom into a single piece of advice for a young leader, it would be this: Seek out a mentor or coach who has already achieved what you aspire to accomplish, and do so as early as possible in your career. I look back and realize that had I followed this counsel from the outset, I would have saved myself years of trial and error, countless missteps, and both time and money needlessly squandered.

Even now, after all these years of experience, I continue to arm myself with the guidance of experts. There's an old African proverb that goes, "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with someone." This adage not only holds true but also encapsulates how I intend to navigate the remainder of my journey. It's a commitment to seeking the wisdom of those who have walked the path before me, recognizing that the road to success is often paved with the footsteps of mentors and coaches who have gone the distance.

You see, success leaves clues, and the best lessons in success are success itself. Those who have achieved what you aspire to achieve are living, breathing blueprints of possibility. They offer invaluable insights, shortcuts through the maze, and a wealth of knowledge that cannot be gleaned from textbooks alone. By aligning yourself with mentors and coaches, you tap into a reservoir of wisdom that can illuminate your path and propel you towards your goals with greater clarity and purpose.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Allow me to tell you about leadership—a winding path that can, at times, be as lonesome and treacherous as the untamed wilderness. Once upon a time, I found myself navigating just such a road, I was a weary traveler yearning to throw in the towel. The journey had become an unending grind, and success, seemed to be a dream, tantalizingly out of reach.

In moments of despair, I turned to prayer, seeking solace and divine guidance. And there, by the comforting warmth of familiar counsel, I sought the wisdom of two dear souls who occupy special places in my heart: my beloved mother and a cherished confidant. Their words, like radiant stars in a moonless night, lit the path ahead.

Picture my mother, a wellspring of fortitude and grace, as she conjured memories of my father—now in a tranquil presence residing in a realm beyond our reach. My mother explained that for over three decades, he had been an unrelenting entrepreneur, a valiant conqueror in pursuit of his dreams. Through the vivid tapestry of her storytelling, she portrayed his relenting spirit and unwavering resolve. Never, even in the face of trials, had he relinquished his aspirations. My mother tenderly reminded me that his perseverance stood as a testament to the enduring flame of determination, and he was now watching.

My dear friend, too, contributed her wisdom, a voice resounding with unwavering certainty. With absolute conviction, she posed a question that pierced the veil of my doubts: "What about those who hunger for your wisdom and experience, those souls who await your guidance with expectation?" Their words were a cautionary breeze that stirred the fire in my soul. Should I choose to lower my standard, to lay down my arms, those individuals might remain forever adrift, never embarking on their own transformative journeys.

The gravity of their words settled upon my heart like a cherished family quilt, both weighty and warm. They illuminated a profound truth—the lives touched, molded, and uplifted by my steadfast dedication and unwavering mentorship were themselves a measure of success. In the scheme of things, the knowledge shared and passion that was ignited, was what I had already achieved. The success I longed for was already realized and it has had a profound and lasting footprint.

And so, I pressed on, my resolve renewed. I carried the torch of leadership with a deeper understanding—that success isn't always measured in grand victories, but in the lives touched and transformed along the way. My journey continued, knowing that each step forward was a testament to my father's legacy and a promise fulfilled to those who relied on my guidance.

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