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3 Important Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned From the Best Motivational Speaker I Know

Use these three keys to take ownership of your life and business, and you will see rapid transformation.

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BY Gerard Adams - 01 Dec 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Many entrepreneurs know Dr. Eric Thomas (a.k.a. ET the Hip Hop Preacher) from his famous quote "When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful."

What many of you may not know is how Eric is making incredible impact in our generation, as an entrepreneur and as a leader.

I've seen Eric motivate thousands, from giant ballrooms to intimate workspaces, each time bringing people to tears and breakthroughs about their businesses and their lives. He's the most powerful motivational speaker I've encountered over my past 15 years as an entrepreneur, and I learn something new from him every time we talk.

Eric and I are working on a mastermind event called Take Ownership happening next month. In the process of working with him, three important lessons stood out to me. Here's how you can apply them to your own business:

1. Always go the extra mile. 100 percent isn't enough--give your work 120 percent.

There's a mistake that Thomas and I often see with young entrepreneurs: They figure out their strength and put everything in to developing that. They don't go the extra mile and build a team around their weaknesses.

For Eric, he found out early on that his strength was motivational speaking. Some times your words can make huge impact, but that doesn't mean you make profit. I know a lot of inspiring people that are broke.

Until Eric met his business partners Josh Hatch and C.J. Quinney, he was struggling to make money. Once he dug deep to understood his weaknesses--and made the decision to align with a team--the profits came in. This allowed him to build a scalable business.

Even if you're for-purpose social entrepreneur, or a role model or speaker, you need to understand the financials and the money. Reinvest effectively. If your mission is to get to the masses, you need to scale up. Go the extra mile, build your team and you will see the rewards.

2. You can overcome any obstacle.

In business and in life you will encounter obstacles, it is inevitable. When times are tough, I look to leaders around me for inspiration, and when it comes to Thomas, I have to look no further.

Eric grew up in Detroit, MI with no strong role models. He was homeless and in poverty to the point he needed to eat out of trash cans. When he discovered his purpose -- to motivate others to change their lives for the better -- his life dramatically changed. Now, he's focused on empowering individuals and communities that find themselves in difficult places.

Entrepreneurship is a long ride and it can get tough. Every day look to leaders around you to stay inspired. Find what motivates you and use it to break through any obstacles that get in your way.

3. Practice servant leadership.

Wherever Eric goes from homeless shelters to prisons or schools, he brings his message of motivation and giving it 120 percent. Eric will speak to corporations for $100,000, yet he's also willing to serve by speaking to the youth for free. He visited us at Fownders, for example, for free--just so he could inspire the next generation of kids in our community.

For me, servant leadership is one of the most important values I've worked to develop as a founder and leader. I didn't take a salary for four years when I was building Elite Daily. It allowed my team to prosper, which was invaluable. I'm doing it again now with Fownders.

For both Eric and myself, practicing servant leadership and giving 120% has helped us build a powerful culture of leaders on our teams and in our communities. I encourage you to dig deep and ask yourself, "What does 120 percent look like?" and "What can I do to be a servant leader today?"