40 Leadership Lessons from the Freedom Trail – #15

On the 31st August 2013, Lesley, my wife, and soul-mate retired after 35 years teaching in secondary schools. Two days later, as planned, we set off for a magical celebratory holiday, taking in New York, California and Oregon. Our trip became known as the ‘Freedom Trail’.

While on the Freedom Trail, I journaled every day and ended each entry with a leadership moment/lesson. Here’s another – with an apology for the pause in blogging regularity due to a web hosting change!

John-LaRae-GusLeaders come in all shapes and sizes!

For the first time, I crossed the Bay of San Francisco, taking the ferry to Sausalito. I was excited and eagerly anticipating my meeting later that morning.


I was going to meet face-to-face with LaRae Quy, a co-author and my section leader for a book, written entirely virtually, with fifteen other authors from around the globe. The book entitled Energize Your Leadership: Discover. Ignite. Break Through was a significant collaboration between us and I’d yet to see anyone face-to-face.


What was even more exciting was LaRae’s background. Can you imagine the conversation? An ex-FBI Special Agent turned consultant meets an ex-accountant, ex-youth worker, turned consultant. One American and one Brit! Both united by a common purpose and goals. Both heavily involved in bringing a virtual product to market. Both sharing a common passion for developing excellent leadership, while also sharing common interests, values and beliefs. Arriving a little earlier than anticipated, I waited on the pier at Sausalito expectantly.

“What does she look like?”, said my wife. “She’s blonde, very attractive and usually wears dark clothes”, I replied. “She’ll spot us when she arrives, I am sure!”, I continued.

Sure enough, seconds later, I heard my name shouted from across the adjacent car park. There was LaRae, striding purposefully toward us, her Labradoodle Gus at her side, smiling broadly. We hugged, and I introduced my wife. We decided to go for lunch and off we

We decided to go for lunch and off we set. The walk along the waterfront and through the shopping streets was wonderful. Finding a restaurant by the bay shore, we launched into fixing the world to rights, discussing everything and anything. What a conversation ensued! It was as we’d only met the day before, let alone never before met face-to-face other than across a computer screen. We shared views not only on our mutual love of matters of leadership but also on travel, which we all enjoyed greatly.

Sausalito waterfrontTime flew by and soon it was time to return to the city. LaRae gave us a quick drive to an excellent vantage point of the bridge. Her car was a Jaguar, which made me smile. The vantage point as can be seen from the photo above was brilliant. We’d been to San Francisco once before and had never seen the bridge in all its glory, as it had been covered in clouds or mist each day we were last there. Then, with a final hug, we were returned to the pier and LaRae waved us goodbye.

It had been an unforgettable day and a fantastic opportunity shared. I reflected on our journey on the ferry that leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. What unites them is a passion for growth and development, of themselves and others. What drives them is making a difference, a real change in the lives of people.

My time with my wife and LaRae will remain firmly etched in my memory forever. Different people, different cultures, yet bound by a shared bond – growing and developing great leaders!

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