With 18 years as a trial attorney and 9 years as the CEO of a large personal development and business training company, Adam Markel has much to share with audiences about leadership and resilience. However, his greatest and most enduring lessons came from the years he spent as a lifeguard on the beach in Long Island, New York.
In his super-charged keynote speech, Adam Markel begins his talk by blowing his lifeguard whistle three times and taking his audience back to his old lifeguard stand – staring out at the crowded water and making careful visual notes about the location of each and every swimmer. He explains the worst day his team ever had – the day they lost someone and missed the chance to save their life. The crew chief looked each of the them in the eye and said “Never again. No one goes down in our water ever again”.
Adam learned then, and never forgot, that you don’t leave people behind, but most importantly, he learned that he couldn’t do it alone. It requires both individual and team accountability and leadership.
Most of what I learned about leadership I learned as a lifeguard.
Imagine a Summer day with 100,000 people at a beach – a day with huge waves, rip currents and heavy surf. A lifeguard who is trying to do it alone would absolutely die trying to save those struggling in the water. Luckily, their team leader practiced a holistic leadership system incorporating trust and resilience that Adam shares today in his riveting keynote speech, now many years since his last water rescue. Adam got to experience firsthand the kind of leadership and resilience required to fully embrace the mission that “No one goes down in my water”.
That same group of lifeguards never lost another person again during the 7 years Adam worked at the beach.
Here’s how they did it:
Most of us think of resilience as being able to endure, but these lifeguards embraced an idea of resilience based on 3 key skills including taking care of themselves. Two guys would be on the stand for an hour and then come down and relax for an hour. Coming down was their time to recover – they’d eat, exercise, close their eyes, and basically recharge.
Only when the surf was firing and they were running rescues all day long did all twenty lifeguards share the stand at the same time (5 stands to west, and 5 stands to the east) and when one went out for a rescue, another watched that rescue carefully because he knew that it might just take two (or more) to bring in that drowning and/or belligerent swimmer. They prepared for these kinds of days by knowing how to take care of themselves and each other.
Adam’s high energy keynote is interactive and audience involving. He takes stories straight out today’s headlines explaining why Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson chose to close 8,000 stores for unconscious bias training and how he took ownership of the problem himself. Or, how the Coach of the Junior soccer team trapped in the Thai Caves taught the boys’ meditation techniques to help keep them calm and to reduce the amount of oxygen they were using up.
Or, what Adam likes to call how to PLAN FOR A MIRACLE. He asks audiences to think about why the last ten seconds of a football or basketball game can take as long as 30 minutes. Even when the score isn’t even close, the coach who has the respect of his team always believes in a miracle by taking numerous time outs and doing everything he can to change the outcome. And, how often in sports, just like in life, do we actually see those Planned For Miracles actually take place!
Adam shares heart-centered leadership techniques to help audiences understand how to nurture their organization and each other so they can outlast the competition and go the distance. He helps us understand that resilience is a lot more than endurance and that leadership means more than simply being in charge. Adam Markel’s unforgettable message leaves your audience with a deep appreciation for their teams, their leaders, and each other.