Kevin Sweeney can remember the moment his life changed. “I knew instinctively that we were going down, we were crashing, we were completely out of control,” he recalls. Nearly 25 years ago while fighting in Desert Storm, Sweeney still looks back on that terror he felt commanding a KC-135 military airplane headed for imminent disaster.
Fortunately, the former lieutenant colonel was able to regain control of the doomed plane and land safely. “I was totally focused on the task at hand—regaining control of the 300,000-pound airplane,” he said.
From harrowing experiences as a pilot to leading Fortune 50 companies, Sweeney’s career has been defined by a strong, yet humble leadership ethic. In his workshops and speeches, Sweeney passes on expertise from his U.S. Air Force trainings, which he notes are incredibly similar to the skills necessary to excel in the corporate world.
“One trait [military officers and business executives] share is that it is never about them; it is always about their mission, the family or their people,” he stresses. “They take care of everybody on the team. They prepare the lowest- ranking member to become the most important member of the team.” And that’s exactly what Sweeney did with his own flight crew to prevent the poorly equipped aircraft from crashing.
Sweeney is author of Pressure Cooker Confidence: How to Lead When the Heat is On and Conversations with the Colonel: Lessons in Life, Leadership, and Wisdom.
When associations face obstacles recruiting volunteers, they turn to Holly Duckworth, a certified association executive, certified meeting professional and CEO of Leadership Solutions International. Duckworth is known in the meetings industry for her ability to zero in on an organization’s needs and challenge them to rethink their vision and mission.
During keynote sessions, Duckworth addresses questions from business leaders about the performance of their organizations. Questions such as, “Why are my employees disengaged?” “Why is revenue dropping?” and “Why is the competition beating us at our own game?” are commonly asked, she notes.
Duckworth encourages businesses to tap into an intuitive approach to leadership and embrace a sense of clarity that she promises will transform the workplace. Duckworth is also the author of an award-winning book, Ctrl+Alt+Believe: Reboot Your Association for Success, in which she offers innovative solutions on implementing association initiatives, influencing leaders, problem-solving strategies and building a reliable volunteer base.
From engaging clients with click-worthy content to boosting referrals with social media marketing, Meredith Oliver has made a name for herself as the “Digital Diva” of sales and marketing. Meeting planners who attend one of Oliver’s power-packed presentations learn about hot topics, such as paid search marketing, social media tactics and creative online content.
What might be one of her most engaging qualities as a speaker is her ability to connect with the audience in a real and personal way. Oliver combines tried and tested strategies with real-world examples, such as getting rid of marketing-speak and using humor in client interactions.
Oliver has more than 15 years of experience delivering digital marketing campaigns, and she is the founder and president of digital marketing agency Meredith Communications. She has also written two acclaimed books: Click Power: Drive More Traffic, Leads and Sales and The Fan Factor: 25 Slam Dunk Secrets to Engage Customers, Increase Referrals and Boost Sales.