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Lasting Leadership Lessons From A Year That Changed Everything

Leave it to leadership and communications expert, David Grossman, to decide to write a book called, Heart First, Lasting Leadership Lessons From A Year That Changed Everything. David is so in tune with providing timely, critical, actionable advice, how-to’s and tips for leaders. 

Heart First is engaging, inspirational and packed with powerful stories of lessons learned by a wealth of leaders with diverse backgrounds. It’s a book you’ll want to read and then refer to time after time. And, if you read only one leadership book this year, make it this one. 

Reflecting on the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, David says, “I saw many leaders using this challenging time as an opportunity to stand up and lead in moving ways. I was continually inspired by the concrete action leaders took to lead and communicate with heart – and guts. That is what this book is all about – applying those lessons learned to provide clear direction on how to be the very best leader and communicator you can possibly be.” 

He adds, “During the pandemic, many leaders rose to the occasion, often by drawing not just from experience and wise counsel, but from being human as they led – what David calls Heart First leadership.” 

Ten book chapters cover:

  1. Q&A from the front lines
  2. Lead yourself first
  3. Know your audience and their needs
  4. Show your human side
  5. Communicate the right messages at the right times
  6. Frame the context and make it relevant
  7. Talk openly about what’s happening
  8. Use the right channels to communicate with impact
  9. Be ready to answer questions
  10. Be respectfully authentic

Plus, you’ll read Q&As with fascinating insights and practical advice from many business leaders, presented in a style as if you were sitting with your favored mentor over a cup of coffee. 

Leaders and Change Makers featured in the book include:

  • Tamer Abuaita, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain, SC Johnson
  • Paula Angelo, Vice President, Internal and CEO Communications, The Hartford
  • Nadeen Ayala, Chief Communications Office, ABM Industries
  • Liru Chan, Head of Marketing, Visa Singapore
  • Adam Collins, Chief Communications & Corporate Affairs Office, Molson Coors
  • Sherri Dublin, Vice President DE&I, Culture, Engagement and Communications, Ingredion
  • Lisa Keltner, Senior Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Baxter
  • Erin Loverher, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Walgreens
  • Ken Meyers, Former CHRO, Hillrom
  • Triona Schmelter, Chief Transformation Officer, TreeHouse Foods
  • Stephen Smith, Chairmen, President and CEO of Amsted Industries
  • Matt Snow, CEO, DHG
  • Victor Swint, CEO, Tecomet
  • And many others 


David Grossman 

Today, David shares these additional insights with us: 

Question: What is your biggest takeaway from all the Q&A's and Change Maker insights featured in the book? 

David: What stands out for me is the new level of empathy and humanity I see leaders looking to fold into their leadership. The pandemic and racial unrest of the past year forced a reckoning of sorts, and many leaders expressed the need to look inside themselves and reflect on how they might better connect with their employees in a personal and authentic way. Whereas before leaders were concerned about showing their personal side out of fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable, they are now seeing that kind of authenticity as a strength.

I was continually inspired by the concrete actions that leaders took to lead and communicate with heart, helping carry forward their teams in tough times as well as the calmer ones. Sometimes the simple act of acknowledging how challenging a moment is – and then finding ways to better support employees during a chaotic time – goes a long way toward building a connection and a shared sense of purpose for a team. 

Question: What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself and your work during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

David: Don’t underestimate the importance of small moments of real connection. As the quarantine and work-from-home experience extended far beyond what I expected, I found myself missing those special moments, such as running into colleagues in the office hallway or kitchen or catching up on the weekend while waiting for calls to start in the conference room. I realized I needed to recreate those moments as best I could for the virtual format. I started planning more time for informal catch ups and saw how much they re-energized me and the team. We had a couple virtual happy hours, but I was also diligent about setting up time just to catch up with teammates – with no real business agenda involved. 

As I worked on the book, I heard many other leaders say they were doing the same thing – just taking more time to ask colleagues how they were doing personally, how they felt about balancing working from home with kids or loved ones. In some cases, I learned about anxieties, stresses or new responsibilities that colleagues faced. That helped me know how to support them and how to build an even stronger sense of teamwork for the agency. In the end, I think that made us stronger and better overall. 

Prepare to spend a lot of time with this informative and wonderfully designed and visually appealing book. It’s worth it! 

Thank you to The Grossman Group for sending me an advance copy of the book.














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