Thrive Global: One On One With Three-Time Olympic Gold
I spoke to volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings about her best advice
Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Kerri: My husband, Casey Jennings, and I have added the entrepreneur title to our resumes this year! For years Casey and I always talked about having a volleyball academy that wouldn’t just focus on the sport we both love so much, but would also focus on the mind, body and spirit, in addition to nutrition and every aspect of your well-being. It’s when you focus on all these components of wellness that the magic starts to happen and athletes reach their full potential. Well, we ended up going a few steps further and launched a whole event series and digital community, known as p1440. Our goal is to be the reminder for everyone to live every minute of the day—all 1,440 of them with intention and purpose. We dreamed up this concept and are making it a reality by creating a lifestyle through activating our four pillars—competition, development, health & wellness and entertainment in our event series as well as online. Through p1440, individuals will find the best resources and tools to live optimally.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Kerri: I got to where I am today with a lot of love, support, resiliency and blessings from above. I have lost and failed a lot in my life. I have lost loved ones, I have lost huge matches, I have failed on the world’s biggest stages and yet, I have grown through all of it. I have become more and better as a result of the challenges in life. I have gained perspective, compassion and fuel for my fire through every single loss in my life.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader?
Kerri: Authenticity, confidence, humility, kindness and enthusiasm are my favorite qualities in great leaders. Those leaders who “lead themselves first” are those who, most often, walk their talk and who hold themselves accountable. If a leader claims accountability, then they can demand it from others. If a leader shows they care, their team will care in return. If a leader engages with enthusiasm, the inherent waves that come with whatever territory they are maneuvering will be better ridden.
Adam: How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Kerri: They can engage with their people and get involved or, “get dirty,” so to speak, and lead from a place of knowing rather than assuming.
They can read, listen and learn from some of the “masters” in the leadership world like Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington, Jon Gordon, The Finding Mastery Podcast, The Tim Ferris Show and Julie Foudy. These are a few of my favorite people to tap in to. “Lead Yourself First” by Mike Erwin is also an incredible book to read if you’re looking to take your leadership skills to the next level.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives, civic leaders?
1. Know the WHY behind your movement. Once you establish your “WHY” you can carry on to the next steps.
2. Clearly define your goals so your team can work in alignment toward a common purpose.
3. Create a team diverse in skill sets and perspectives so all bases can be covered and so people can play to their strengths and become more well-rounded due to the exposure to the capabilities/perspectives of their teammates.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Kerri: My dad often reminded me that no one likes excuses and I tend to agree. He also said that if I am to do something, I might as well do it right. My mom has told me to play to win, with all my heart and to do everything with a smile.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Kerri: I think living life as a kind person is a solid place to start. When you have kindness in your heart, your energy is a contagious force.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Kerri: Exercise and movement have clearly shaped me in so many ways. Also, my love of reading and learning have shaped me in the less obvious ways to be more mindful and conscious to live with intention and take in all the lessons of life.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Kerri: I listen to “Abraham Hicks” a lot and one of my favorite things she says to people when they give reasons why they do, say and feel such and such is that “you shouldn’t ever argue for your own limitations.” I absolutely love and adore this thought! It applies to every single human on the planet and I pray that we all stop arguing for our own limitations and starting living in the possibilities—it’s a much better place to reside.