Meeting Leadership Podcast Guest Justin Yaassoub

Leadership is a choice.

And if you want to shift your mindset about this important idea, then listen to episode #134 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

In this episode we interview Justin Yaassoub, an expert leadership coach who has also won the Bravery Medal for his military service. Not only does Justin share his personal experience, but he also conveys the importance of why leaders need empathy, courage and self-sacrifice.

It is a must-listen episode that will immediately help you to grow your leadership skills.

Justin Yaassoub

Justin Yaassoub - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Justin is a lifelong student of leadership who is fascinated with the notion of what makes people respond and react to other human ideas, suggestions, and commands. He is the director of All Around Consulting – providing leadership and team development guidance to small businesses and emerging leaders. 

After graduating from MacEwan University with a B.A in Political Science, Justin worked as a Public Affairs Officer writing communication strategies and speeches for the Government of Alberta. He always had the urge to serve abroad as a Canadian Forces Operator.  In 2012, after a grueling ten-month course, Justin joined the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) as a Special Forces Operator. He deployed to multiple regions including North Africa, the Middle East and Caribbean. 

Justin was awarded the Bravery Medal by the Governor General for his actions during an international operation. He was also awarded a Commanders and two Task Force Commanders Citations for his team work and leadership during his operations. 

In October of 2018 Justin was recognized by MacEwan University as a Distinguished Alumni and is currently working with the University on their Leadership Certificate. 

Justin believes that through hardship the strongest of bonds are realized and the greatest of leaders shine.

You can get in touch with Justin at

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Gordon Sheppard: As a leader, think about these quotes. “Leadership is a choice. Leaders don’t lead. They lead epic people. Leaders speak last.” And that is just a small sample of the wisdom that you’re going to pick up today on The Meeting Leadership Podcast, because today, we’ve got expert Justin Yaassoub.

Now, he is a Special Forces veteran. He’s also a leadership coach, and he’s got the energy, the enthusiasm, and as you can hear, the insights to help everybody along their leadership journey. It’s actually led to the title of today’s episode, which is going to be, “Why Leaders Need Empathy, Courage, and Self-Sacrifice.” So, stick around. It is a great show.

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for practical tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to The Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

Gordon Sheppard: Welcome to another episode of The Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I want to say thank you for being here. Thank you for being the type of professional who’s going the extra distance, who wants to really get into picking up another tip, picking up another skill, another strategy, something that you can do to build your leadership skills, and also learn how to run highly productive meetings. I really, really appreciate that you’re here today.

And today on the show, well, from a leadership perspective, this is a blockbuster. Check out the title, it’s called, “Why Leaders Need Empathy, Courage, and Self-Sacrifice.” And you know where I got that phrase? It’s from our guest expert on the show today. His name is Justin Yaassoub. And let me take a moment to share some of the key points from Justin’s bio to describe maybe what contributes to making this interview so fantastic that’s coming up.

Now, he’s a university graduate. He’s worked for the government of Alberta. He’s also worked in the military as a Special Forces Operator, and during that time, Justin was awarded the bravery medal by the governor general for his actions during an international operation. And get this. He was also awarded a commander’s and two task force commander’s citations for his teamwork and leadership during his operations.

And now, in the next phase of his career, Justin is dedicated to working on leadership development, both at the university level, and he does this for organizations. He’s able to bring in all of his great talents for leaders in many different situations to help them really up their game and help the entire place get better.

And with that in mind, I’m not going to hold you back any longer. Here’s the wonderful interview with Justin. Justin, welcome to the show.

Justin Yaassoub: Thank you for having me.

Gordon Sheppard: It’s really a great pleasure to have you here with all of your combined experience, and I know that so many people are going to want to know even more about you. So, if I was at a party and I met you, what would you say about yourself?

Justin Yaassoub: I would start by saying I am a devoted Canadian that truly understands who we are as a society, and I’m passionate about creating better citizens and sharing my path with others that placed me where I am today.

Gordon Sheppard: We have to take a second here to put this in context, because I know that talking to you before the interview, you’ve got a really interesting kind of career path here. Take me through just some of the highlights there, so that we can get a good feel for the context and the belief that you bring to what you just said.

Justin Yaassoub: I guess it starts before me even having a career, which is joining cadets at an early age. I was 12 years old. I joined the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, and based off my interests I should say, to be a soldier. And then, from there, I went to the reserves and the Royal Regiment, but I was going to university as well and I studied political science, and through my philosophy and through that study, I got a little bit more involved philosophically with Western civilization and who we are as a society.

And after university, I got a job as a writer, communication strategist for the province of Alberta, but I quickly realized that’s not where I want to be and kicked it into full gear and tried out for the Canadian Special Operations Regimen, which is a Special Forces unit here outside of Ottawa. And yeah, so that’s pretty much where it led me.

But through that discovery and journey of serving Canada, I got great lessons in leadership. And that’s pretty much where I am today, is having that discussion of grounded leadership really.

Gordon Sheppard: You’ve had experience in leadership in maybe optimal situations, and I’m going to say un-optimal situations. If you’ve been a government employee, you kind of know what leadership is like in there, and I’m going to just suggest that there are some great pockets, but maybe not as consistent as it could be. If you’ve been in these elite force scenario, you can only have good leadership, I think, in those situations generally, is what my guess would be. And from there, this has formed a passion for you, where now you’re actually, and part of what you do is help other leaders to grow. Is that correct?

Justin Yaassoub: Yes, exactly. And the underlying piece about leadership is that it’s a discipline and you need to practice it every single day, regardless of where you are and how elite you get. You get to the Special Forces because of an elite level of leadership, because you are a strong leader, but if you decide to plateau, then you’re not supporting the organization or the people that are in it.

That’s a big piece. So I’ll have to agree with you that, yes, the people that do go to organizations like the Special Forces, they are elite, but however, if they so choose to stop working on their leadership and treating it like a discipline and wanting to improve every single day, they will also fail as a leader, and those are the leaders that tend to be phased out of the Special Forces.

Gordon Sheppard: And they would take action to make sure that that type of leadership is not there. I’m pretty sure not a lot of tolerance levels, certainly in any significant operations aspects. So like any organization, what you’re saying is, this is a muscle and you’ve got to get it going.

Justin Yaassoub: Exactly. And the culture is strong enough that it drives them out. You, as an individual, if you decide to plateau, hopefully you’re in an organization where the organization itself, the culture identifies that, and you start feeling like you’re a misfit. I mean, that’s the best part about being in Special Forces is that aspect of it, where if you are incompetent, or if you are deciding not to be the best you can be every day, you are looked at differently by your teammates and everyone else, and you’ll start realizing that you’re not fitting in, unless you kick it into high gear again.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and I know that when we spoke before the interview, you don’t have a sense of being special, having been in the Special Forces, and I know that you bring that humility to the work that you do now. What’s a typical leadership engagement like for you these days? And what are the techniques and sort of the perspective that you’re bringing to help leaders in a typical situation that you’re in now?

Justin Yaassoub: It’s all about the human factor. Even though I believe in the science, and sometimes the color coding of individuals and whatnot, categorizing them to build high performance teams, for me personally, it’s all about the human factor. That’s what is common from organization, to organization, to organization, is that every single one of them has people in it.

And what I want to focus on is bringing out those human characteristics that get people to move, drive people to act, and really through empathy, courage, and self-sacrifice, that’s my philosophy. I believe we can get the most out of the people that we lead.

Gordon Sheppard: Empathy alone, if you’re able to get it, and I’m really excited now to actually go through, when you say empathy, courage, and self-sacrifice. When you’re working with a leader to help them grow, and you start talking about empathy, how do you help them to learn in this area?

Justin Yaassoub: Having a better understanding of your emotions and what drives you, but there’s also a logical piece to the emotions that we feel. Right? So for the biggest success that I like to share is that, for me, I went into the Canadian Forces as a non-commissioned member, because I had this whole idea I learned from cadets that you need to go through the rank structure to understand the people that you’re leading. I chose, even though I had a degree, I chose not to be a commissioned member, because I wanted to know what it felt like at the lowest level and make my way up and come to realize and lead the people that I’m leading properly, because I’ve been in their shoes. Right?

Empathy, however, isn’t that. I thought empathy was like going through an experience and remembering it. Too often, when we were, say for example, we’re going up on a hike, right, and I’ve done the hike a week ago, so I come up to you and I’m like, “Okay, yeah, it’s easy. I did it last week and you’re just going to go up these paths. There’s this little hard area here or there. You can do it.” And you struggle half way. The way I come to motivate you is, “Hey, I did this last week in like two hours. You can do it too. It’s not an issue.” That’s the type of leader I was. I wanted to do something or gain the information to be able to relate to other people.

Wrong. Empathy is not that. I came to realize that empathy is actually putting yourself in that individual’s shoes, which means that I need to understand what you did last night before you came to that hike. I need to understand whether you were involved in a car accident on the way there, and mentally, you were no longer prepared to do it. Physically, you were, but you were no longer prepared to do that hike. That’s where empathy comes into play. Empathy comes into play where you don’t come to understand from the path alone, but how that specific individual is about to achievement that or complete that task or path or journey.

Gordon Sheppard: What a powerful lesson, and to have lived it, to say, “I led this one way,” and then to have learned and gone to that other side. It reminds me of hearing stories about mountain climbing teams, and you have an overzealous leader who wants to take off from the group, who then has to learn that the group is going to be as fast as the slowest person in the group, and when you then enable everybody to help everybody go forward, that’s how you succeed, because if you separate on the mountain, you can get into big, big trouble.

Justin Yaassoub: Yes.

Gordon Sheppard: So I’m glad to hear that you had this personal moment, where you had that before and after. And I could talk to you for hours and hours, just as a dad alone, about the before and afters that I’ve earned with my 16 year old and 18 year old over these years, and I wish I could go back, and again, as eloquently say it as you just did.

The second piece you said is courage. So we go from empathy, and I’m not sure if there’s a linear thing here, but help me then. You said empathy. Courage was next. What do you mean when you say courage?

Justin Yaassoub: There is a linear thing. I think the empathy part is what grounds you. It’s what drives your action, so your ability to feel how other people are feeling is the empathy part, but to do something about it is the courage. Because, to me, I realized that any action is courageous, especially in today’s world. I want to speak about that, because I was rewarded for my courage, and what I realized is that, what I did was simply act, and there’s people that act every single day and they don’t get rewarded for it.

Gordon Sheppard: You say you were rewarded for your courage. Describe what happened and what the reward was, briefly, if you don’t want to spend a lot of time, but describe that, and then we can continue the conversation from there. What happened?

Justin Yaassoub: So I was involved in an incident, and through my actions, I received a bravery medal from the governor general.

Gordon Sheppard: But you were in a combat situation?

Justin Yaassoub: Correct.

Gordon Sheppard: And then something happened where you did something brave, and then you were recognized for that?

Justin Yaassoub: Correct.

Gordon Sheppard: In so many other areas of society, we don’t have a bravery medal. Right?

Justin Yaassoub: Yes.

Gordon Sheppard: And I know we talked eloquently about this again as well, which was, a single mom raising her kid, or whatever, and pull all that together for me. You said you got this metal, you had this moment, you had a big ceremony. You get your picture in the paper, and we celebrate you as Canadians honoring our soldiers, but you had an extension on that. Go ahead.

Justin Yaassoub: When that happened, every person reflects back on their journey and what took place and all that. So I’m reflecting back on this day and this night, and I kind of had a better understanding of what it all is, and I’m happy that I went through it, because now I could speak about it. I could tell you that courage is also a discipline. Action is also a discipline. That means you have to practice it every single day. Of course, it’s a leadership piece.

So where the action comes in is what we were talking about. So somebody walks into your office and they’re super exhausted and they’re a coworker. You look up and you’re like, “Oh man, I feel bad for them. They’re so tired there.” So, that’s empathy kicking in, right? You go up there and you comfort them a little bit, “Oh, I know what you’re going through. Hope you go through the day.” That’s all empathy.

Action is where you do something about that. You go downstairs and you get them a cup of coffee, or you take half their workload. Right? That’s action. That’s courage to me. Why is it courage? Because you’re sacrificing your time to help somebody else out, and leadership is all about that. Leadership is about action. Every single day you need to act as a leader. You need to show empathy to the people you lead, and then go out of your way to make sure they’re able to achieve the tasks that you’ve given them, or the vision statement that you’ve drafted, or the mission that you want to finish.

So that’s what my goal is, is to remind people to recognize courage, and by recognizing it, and we reward it, we could repeat it. So if your workers or your team is actually acting on things that support the team, we need to reward that. We need to highlight it, be like, “Okay, that was good. Let’s repeat that.” And by doing that, we’ll be able to get to where we want as a high performing team.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, this makes total sense in terms of your experience, and it’s funny, because having learned this from you, so you were in an organization that had sort of a very visible recognition system. So when a soldier gets a medal, and yet, when I hear you say, “I took an action,” but again, like the single mom or the person at work or whatever, they’re also taking an action, but we don’t have a medal of bravery ceremony for them.

Justin Yaassoub: Exactly.

Gordon Sheppard: And there are degrees of bravery. We can argue that in terms of bravest, braver, but it’s almost more demanding for someone to put their 30 years in and raise kids in a sense, than an act of heroism, and this is tough, because I don’t mean to get into dicey waters there, but that’s where we’re headed here to say, “How do we get that recognition?” And the other piece I liked that you were saying in there was, once we get recognition in, then we can repeat in organizations and actually get those things to take hold. Does that make sense?

Justin Yaassoub: Yes, that’s exactly what it is. If you recognize, because now you’re able to identify what a positive action was, you recognize that, you reward it, and you repeat it. That’s how you start building that culture.

Gordon Sheppard: And the third thing that you added in was self-sacrifice.

Justin Yaassoub: Yes.

Gordon Sheppard: So I’ve got my empathy, I’ve got my courage explained from your point of view. When you say self-sacrifice, what are you saying?

Justin Yaassoub: Self-sacrifice in a form of reward, I truly believe that. Sacrificing part of yourself is the way we come to identify sacrifice right now. It’s selfless, right? It’s something that we did for somebody else, but I want to say that I did that for me too. It’s a reward for me as well. I sacrificed my time to develop one of my guys, because I truly believe in development of others. That’s my philosophy. But above that, I also feel good about helping other people, so that’s a good thing. Self-sacrifice is a good thing, and you need to also repeat that and do it.

I look at it as the reward. It is okay to be selfish sometimes, and in this regard, I want to tell people, “Yeah. You want to help somebody out, it makes you feel good. That’s a good thing. That’s not being selfish.” That’s a good thing. That’s driving you to help others, and overall, that drive is actually creating better teams, stronger communities, better citizens, a better country. We need to do that.

So this discussion, I’ll have to credit to one of my teammates, where we were having a discussion and he was saying that everything that humans do is selfish, and it’s true, but at first, I didn’t agree with it, but now I do, and I’m like, “That’s perfect.” That’s actually very powerful and we need to use that and remind people that it’s okay to selfish. It’s okay to want to treat people good and feel good about it. There’s nothing wrong with that. This is a-

Gordon Sheppard: This is a really important message for folks that are Canadian oriented. Right?

Justin Yaassoub: Yeah.

Gordon Sheppard: Say to a Canadian, “Be selfish.” It’s a tough one to pull together.

Justin Yaassoub: Yes, exactly. Basic Canadian things is like opening a door for somebody. Right? We always hold the door for seniors or going into a mall or whatever it is. Right? You’re sacrificing some of your time to open a door for somebody. You have to admit, you feel good when somebody walks by and says, “Thank you.” Right?

Gordon Sheppard: My phrasing on that is always that altruism is ultimately selfish, and you don’t need to be on your high horse and say that it’s not. But if it’s selfish, like you’re saying, I love the flavor that you’re putting on it, which is, if it’s selfish in the right way, then everybody’s winning.

Justin Yaassoub: Yeah, exactly. And then we bring it back. You’re a parent. Right?

Gordon Sheppard: Yeah.

Justin Yaassoub: The sacrifice is the time you have to take, to take your kids to sports, and the money you’ve put into your kids, like the sacrifice of investments to get them, it’s all selfish in one way or another. You’re giving part of yourself to somebody else, but you know that you’re actually creating a better, smarter, stronger human. Right? So I want to say thank you for sacrificing a big part of who you are, or your time and your energy to raise a good citizen, to raise a good human being.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and graciously, I would say you’re welcome. And it’s funny, because I actually have a moment now, where if I actually honestly stepped back and don’t be demur for a second and see what it takes, when people meet my kids and they’re like, “Oh, they’re so polite,” and I’m like, “Yeah, that only took 12 years,” or whatever to put in place in terms of that consistent daily activity. And here I am speaking to someone whose been in elite training situation, so you know what it’s like to push yourself on a daily basis, say physically and mentally and do those things.

Do you have kind of a first name or an organization that you’ve helped? You don’t need to name the name of them, but can you take me to a moment when you’ve been able to apply these concepts and a leader has grown and benefited from the work that you’ve done with them directly?

Justin Yaassoub: Yes. I always like to focus on the basics. Our whole discussion right now is in your house. It’s in the household. Right? Leadership starts in your household, but we kind of forget it, because we only learn about it in our work environment. But the hardest practice of leadership is actually in the house, because there’s so much emotion involved. Right? And you still have to be a strong leader, as in a father or a husband.

So I always like to bring it back to the basics, and I work with a lot of frontline leaders, and that’s the level that I really, really enjoy working with, the frontline and the middle level, because there’s so much that you have to balance and there’s so much stress from the institution and higher leaders. It makes it very difficult to be a frontline leader, a middle level leader, because you’ve got to balance everything else.

So I bring a different light to that organization, where I talk to leaders and tell them that there’s actually no privilege in leadership. The only privilege that you get as a leader is leading epic people, and there is no privilege in leadership, as in when I take on a leadership position, I get a comfy desk, or when I take on a leadership position, I get paid more. That is not the privilege. That’s not what you need to look for.

Leadership is a choice, and you choose to move up from the frontline into a middle level position, but when you make that choice, you need to come to understand the pressure that’s coming from the institution and higher leaders, and how you’re going to be able to communicate that down to the frontline to maintain the mission and heading in the right direction. I was there. I’d been in that position many times.

So that’s, I think, the most value I bring to a company and to my clients, is the ability to come to understand leadership, and its hardships, because the burden of leadership, like we call it in military, and that it’s okay. You chose that, so it’s okay to self-sacrifice. It’s okay to sacrifice so much of your time to develop others or get division of the company or the mission of the company via success.

Gordon Sheppard: I really appreciate your phrasing. You just said about three posters that I could put up and just paste them everywhere. But leadership is a choice plays into a thing for me. A lot of my work actually focuses on meetings as a core element, and then I really feel that so much of what happens in an organization, happens in a meeting. It’s the nature to me of leadership. You can’t be a leader without having a meeting with somebody, and so I really focus in that area.

And I say, my phrasing will be, it doesn’t matter whether you are the leader or the follower in a meeting. You can make it a good meeting or not. It really is up to you in terms of how you’re going to pull that forward. So I love the phrasing of where you’re going.

And we’ve heard sort of your three overarching things, and I can hear the intensity and the passion that you bring to your work, and any organization would benefit enormously from obviously having you in the room. The one piece I was curious about, and I like to ask the guests that come on the show, do you have any sort of quick tip or two about how to conduct a better meeting from your perspective?

Justin Yaassoub: My perspective? I would say an agenda, of course, is the first thing that you need. Never go into a meeting without an agenda. It all depends on what the meeting’s about, but I am a strong believer in often being the last person to speak.

Gordon Sheppard: When you say speak last in a meeting, from your perspective, is that a leadership tool?

Justin Yaassoub: Yes, because it truly shows your culture and the kind of teams that you’re leading, and if you really want the input of the individuals that are around that table. If I put 12 people around the table and I’m the first to talk and I have a leadership position, and I hold an authoritative position, of course, I’m going to influence my guys’ thought process. Right?

The way I like to do it is a blank slate every time. If we’re going to be discussing something about the company, or whatever it may be, we send out that agenda and we get people to do their own thinking and their own research before they come in, and they get to speak first, and then the leader speaks last, because if the leader does come to speak first, they’re going to influence everybody else’s mind, because it’s in us to try to align ourselves with our leader, try to align ourselves with the company or division. So I wouldn’t be getting as much as I want from my team if I actually was to speak first before hearing their opinions.

Gordon Sheppard: That is super, super powerful, and again, you’ve got a great turn of phrase in terms of being able to put things down, to be succinct, and I’m just going to leave it with leaders speak last, and folks can rewind that 50 times, what you just said, and I think get a lot out of it, because if they just simply practice that thing of be prepared, don’t influence, know that when you say things as a leader, you’re going to influence, and don’t speak first. You allow people the free range and thinking to optimize the situation. I mean, this lead epic people, this is going back to some of the those. I hope you write books and I hope you’re all over, I don’t know, like movie screens or whatever, because these things are like pound for pound. It’s like value bomb, value bomb, value bomb. It’s really, really good.

Justin Yaassoub: Yeah. I need to do better here. I want to just say the other aspect of it there, just to caution them. The human part of us sometimes stops us from allowing others to speak because of the traditional understanding of leadership, where we think that leaders have all the authority, all the information, leaders come up with the best ideas. The reason why they were recruited or promoted is because they know how to run the machine the best, and they know everything about the machine. Right?

Gordon Sheppard: Yeah.

Justin Yaassoub: Of course, there’s many different fields of work that are out there, or they come up with the best plans and ideas, and that’s why they’re in the leadership position. So if you’ve been hired based off that, or if you’ve been promoted based off that, and you go to a meeting, you’ll never allow somebody else to speak, because you feel like you’re in that position only for that reason. Right?

So I want to tell the leaders that are running meetings to take a breath. People aren’t looking at you that way. If you’re the last to speak, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t have an idea. If you allowed everyone else to speak and you took all their ideas and made it into one, it’s not stuff. It’s actually an all encompassing team idea, and if you build a culture where anyone’s idea is a team idea, and it moves forward that way, and you, as a leader, take it and you credit that individual and you give them and the team and you reward them for being innovative and creative and coming up with an epic idea, it doesn’t degrade your authority as a leader. Right?

Because leadership, we need to evaluate and measure on the ability to build teams that are innovative and creative, develop them, and create more leaders, not on just being able to come up with great ideas. If we change the idea of what a leadership position truly is, it makes it a lot easier to run meetings where people are able to bring in input and all that.

Gordon Sheppard: I know for the listeners that are taking this in, again, just that last minute alone, if that was all they heard, that idea that a leader can give themselves a break and not feel that they need to be the one in the room that knows everything. One of the phrases I know that I have when I give talks on this issue is that having a title doesn’t mean you know how to run a meeting, to try and give some relief, and people laugh initially, but then when we start to break that down, it’s don’t get trapped in a title, is what I hope for people.

Justin Yaassoub: Yes. That’s beautiful. Exactly.

Gordon Sheppard: And I wish we could talk for three, four hours. People listening to the show here, I mean, this is just all super good stuff all the way along. We always like to round out these interviews and learn a little bit more about a different side of you, and it starts with a very simple question, and here it is. What inspires you?

Justin Yaassoub: I’m just so moved by what makes people do something. What’s currently inspiring me to just keep doing what I’m doing is just to understand what wakes people up. What gets your eyelids to open up in the morning? And if you go back to like waking up, what’s the first thing that comes out of your mind? Everything around you is telling you to stay sleeping. Everything is being like, “Oh, get more rest. Oh, your body needs more sleep. Oh, it’s still dark out,” and moving the clock back. It’s okay. You get another hour sleep in or whatever it is. There’s so many different factors that do that, but then there’s one thing that you’re like, “Oh no, I got to go get up and do that.”

So, for right now, what’s inspiring me is to come to understand what is that trigger that gets people out of bed? What is that trigger that gets me out of bed? Because I go through that whole concept as well when I opened my eyes. There’s so many things telling me just stay in bed and not get up and go do better in the world. Right?

So right now, I’m kind of inspired by just getting to understand what gets people to move early on in the day, because that initial aspect will suggest their performance throughout the day, I think, by coming to work and how much effort they’re going to put in and all that kind of stuff. And how can I influence that? Is it by getting people to write something before they go to bed, or write exactly what they want to do on a sticky note, so the first thing they see is that thing when they wake up? I’m not sure, but that’s kind of what’s inspiring me right now to do more.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and I’ve got you there on the analytical side. So your eyelids were closed this morning. Something popped them open. What popped them open for you today?

Justin Yaassoub: I like to wake up at 6:00 in the morning just to be a better person. That’s my drive lately, is just, I’m inspired to wake up. Obviously, this morning, I woke up. First thing, I knew I had to do this interview with you. Right? My plan was oriented around this specific hour, 10:00, waking up at 6:00, doing my workout and preparing myself to be able to communicate effectively to you, because communication is also hard. I believe you have to prep for everything you do. As basic as it is, you have to rehearse, prep, and visualize. So today, my motivation was the conversation with you to get out of bed.

Gordon Sheppard: And that got your eyelids open. That is a great gift that anybody would put in that level of effort. But you know what’s funny? I can clearly hear there would probably be a hundred of these if we went on, from your perspective, about what gets your eyelids open. How lucky, again, that you’re out doing the work that you’re doing, building leadership in organizations, bringing this sort of very thorough and dedicated perspective to every situation that you’re in. What a great thing. If people need to get in touch with you, what’s the best way they can do that?

Justin Yaassoub: Email is the best through my website, or on LinkedIn. The website is

Gordon Sheppard: I’ll make sure that goes into the show notes. Justin, I know we could talk for longer, but thank you so much for being on the show.

Justin Yaassoub: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.

Gordon Sheppard: I think that you’re going to have to agree this is one of those interviews that you’re going to want to download the transcript for, and really go back and find those insightful phrases. Justin has such a unique perspective on leadership, and I think there are things in there that you can take out, put them on a sticky, get them up on your desk, and be reminded why we put so much effort into our leadership abilities.

And I have to say that the transformational phrase is going to stick with me from this interview for a long time, is that leadership is a choice, and for those of us who make the choice in the right way and get in and dig in, there’s a lot of benefit to yourself, a lot of benefit to the world, and the people that are going to be going along with you as you go forward. I just think that is so, so valuable.

And if you’ve enjoyed listening to this episode, I’ve got a few episode recommendations that you might want to take in as well. In episode 18 on The Meeting Leadership Podcast, it’s called, “You Can Choose How to Conduct Yourself in a Meeting,” and again, that’s all about being self aware and what you can do when you’re in an actual meeting itself, and you can get that episode by going to

And if you’d like to listen to another guest expert with great conviction, then check out episode 17 on The Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called, “Why Leaders Need Managerial courage,” and that is with Kevin Whalen. It was a great interview. You’ll get a lot from Kevin as well, and again, it gets us up into that zone where the phrasings, and again, the attitude that’s coming from Kevin are something that you can really absorb to really take your leadership skills up a notch. And you can get that episode by going to a

And I also want to let you know that this episode of The Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought you by The Meeting Leadership Academy. Now there, you’re going to find some terrific online options and live training options for you and your team to, again, build your leadership skills, really find rapid ways to get things that you can take action on, because that’s what I’m all about, making sure that you take action, make your next meeting better, grow your leadership skills at the same time, and you can get all of that type of information and inspiration by going to

And I just want to give you a little teaser for the next episode on The Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called, “10 Reasons Why Effective Meetings Will Grow Your Business.” And I know that so many people are going to benefit from this short, practical episode. It’s episode 135 on the show.

And as always, thank you so much for listening. And we’ll see you next time on The Meeting Leadership Podcast.

Thanks for listening to The Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies that help you become an outstanding leader, and don’t forget to rate and review, so we can bring you even more great content. We’ll see you next time, right here, on The Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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