Dr. Donna Thomas-Rodgers is a walking billboard for everyday leadership success. Using 15 years of wit, sass, hard work, determination, sweat, finesse and class, she applies simple leadership principles to accomplish the impossible. Her book, “R.E.A.L. Leaders Wear P.I.N.K.,” is a life-changing account of failure, falling and excelling. If you want to learn how to take lemons, make lemonade and then sell it for a profit, you need to ask her, because she has the answer! From the hood to the suburbs, Donna broke free, and you can, too! She is an author, speaker and leadership coach. No fluff and no frills, Donna just keeps it real and leads with style.
Her vision is: From the PTA to the boardroom, anyone can lead — because leaders are made, not born!
What are you working on right now?
I am working on two new books, “Real Leaders Wear Green” and “Real Leaders Wear Red.” I also am working on guest appearances on radio as well as speaking events. Additionally, I am developing CDs and continue to broadcast my radio show, “Ask Dr. Donna” online. Finally, I am completing the final touches on “The Colorful Leadership Training.”
3 Trends that excite you?
1. Social Media — It allows you to connect with the world.
2. Self-Promotion — You can now promote your ideas, your business and your talents without all of the red tape that used to exist 15 years ago.
3. Breaking All Rules and Stereotypes When it Comes to Leadership — I threw the old leadership rules away the minute after I read them. It’s time to put a new face on leadership.
How do you bring ideas to life?
1. Brainstorming — I write all of my ideas down and select the few that are really good. Then I make plans to execute them.
2. Collaborate — I work with my booking agent and my business partner to share ideas and information.
3. Execute — I do what I planned and make course corrections when needed.
4. Accountability — I have to hold myself accountable for doing the work. No matter what the job is, it has to be completed.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
Selling myself short. For years I downplayed who I was to fit in. I acted dumb, silly, helpless or needy. I wanted and needed the approval of everyone to feel appreciated. Today I know that I am more than enough, and if someone does not like it or approve of it, then they can kick rocks. I will no longer play small so that someone else can feel big. Besides, wearing shoes that are too small hurts, and so does hanging around people who are too small.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
1. Flip Video — I use it to record myself speaking, and then I watch the video to review my performance.
2. My Book, “R.E.A.L. Leaders Wear P.I.N.K.” — It’s filled with ideas and concepts to get my creative juices flowing. It also motivates me to excel as I review times in my life when I wanted to quit or give up. It forces me to press on.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” talks about how every person that is great in their field has completed 10,000 hours of work to hone their craft. In order to be successful, you will need to do the work. There are no shortcuts in achieving excellence. You have to stay committed and be relentless to be a star.
What is the one tool that you recommend to stay focused on achieving your goals?
You must establish daily accountability in obtaining your goals. I have a client that has to write 2,500 words every day. It is their first task each morning. They must turn in the document by a certain time each day. When they miss the deadline, the first hour is a $50 fine, and then there is a $25 fine for every hour after that until the document is turned in. The point is that the fine is so swift that they will complete the assignment to avoid the fine. The end result is a completed project by their goal deadline. One of my favorite quotes that I developed is: “Accountability – without it we reckless.”
How do you overcome all of the obstacles that were present in your life starting out as a child in the hood and being raised by a single parent?
There was one belief that resonated in my mind daily, and it started at 13 years old. “Failure is not an option.” I made the decision that no matter what obstacles I faced, I would go over, around or remove them to pursue my goals. I have come to realize that the only person that can hinder my success is me. When people make excuses about why they cannot change their circumstances, I have no tolerance for it. When you want to be successful, nothing can stop you. My life is a living example of it.