General Colin Powell was just the right speaker to close out the 7th Annual Conference for African American Financial Professionals. He was very humorous while sharing certain of his life and professional experiences that painted a clear picture of how he has lived and those in attendance should have gleaned some clear insights into what made this man a great statesman and leader.

He used real-life examples to show that simple things like how giving each person you meet the same respect that you would want for yourself can actually bring you much greater benefit than you might imagine. “The essence of great leadership;  to get people to do anything you want them to do is to trust them and demonstrate that trust.”

After sharing another anecdotal story, he told of calling a meeting with the 40 or so senior people who worked for him at the State Department. What he shared with them was  “The lesson is that every human being in this organization has value, every person in this organization has dreams, ambitions, fears, anxieties. They’re just like you. So respect them and show that respect  through kindness and courtesy because you ain’t no better than them, you’re just higher than them in the organization, but don’t ever think that there’s anybody in this organization without value and treat them as valuable human beings and valuable employees.”

The audience of financial professionals from around the country each took away something from his speech either new or revisited from a new perspective that they will carry back to apply in their lives.