Linal Harris is a Fortune 500 business leader, media personality, life coach, and sought after public speaker.
The Chicago area native is renowned for engaging audiences with his personal story of triumph and sharing his incredible personal testimony of strategically networking his way to the top of the corporate ladder. Described as a thought-provoking leader of the 21st century, Harris, who travels around the world inspiring others to “murder mediocrity,” specializes in shifting mindsets to think outside the box and creating a world we can all be proud to live in.
We recently sat down with Harris to discuss inspiration, what it means to “live the best life possible,” and how to “murder mediocrity,”
Tell us about the conversation with your mom that changed your career’s trajectory?
My mom always taught me that the early bird catches the worm and that the late riser misses the worm. This has stayed with me throughout my life. My first professional job was working in printing at Kinko’s. While I was at this job my mom asked me, “Do you plan to be at this job your whole life?” I was happy with the job at the time and wasn’t looking for more. Nonetheless, our conversation prompted me to begin to look for another job. I soon secured an interview at Allstate Insurance, but I didn’t want to get out of bed that morning. I couldn’t understand why I should look for a new job. I didn’t sleep in that day like I wanted to; instead, I went to the interview and they offered me the job. I turned it down because it was a lateral move. However, a month later they called me back and offered me a higher position. My time at Allstate launched my career in domestic and international call center operations. I often think about how I would have never been on this path if I slept in that morning. I wouldn’t have known that worm was out there. I wouldn’t have gotten to learn and experience all the things that my time at Allstate provided.
What does it mean to “murder mediocrity”?
When I think of mediocrity, I first think of the word mediocre. Mediocre means average, barely adequate. I often use the phrase “murder mediocrity” to remind others and myself that in order to live the best life possible, we must be so dissatisfied with being average that we strive to completely eliminate all evidence of averageness from our lives. For example, if there is a dirty pond of water, you can’t add fresh water and expect the pond to suddenly be clean. The dirty water contaminates the fresh water. You would have to drain all the bad water out first and then add the good water in to clean up that pond. Our lives are no different. We must be willing to eliminate all the things that don’t make us better, if we want to live the best life possible. That’s how you “murder mediocrity”.
Tell us about the Inspirational Perspective blog and radio show?
In 2010, every Monday I would share a special motivational thought with my team for our work week. After one of these meetings, a team member stopped me and told me I should share these motivations with other people. Over time, more team members echoed his statements and I started to think about it. That summer an annual conference, the Global Leadership Summit, was coming up. My team and I had been attending for several years, as it is a conference with a diverse group of speakers from around the world, who speak on the topics of leadership. However, this particular year I didn’t want to go. I was feeling uninspired. I was traveling internationally and domestically each week for work. I felt like I was on empty; so I really wanted to rest. Nevertheless, I went. Bishop T. D. Jakes closed the conference that year and I will never forget what he said. He told the audience that it’s not the responsibility of other people to inspire us, but rather our own responsibility. He shared that we must look inward for the inspiration that lies inside of you. His words stuck with me and I will never forget that.
On July 4, 2011, I woke up with the title Inspirational Perspective etched in my mind, as clear as day. That morning, I purchased the domain and wrote my first blog post, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I was terrified, but I hit publish. From that day forward, I made a personal commitment to blog every week. The blog led to the radio show. In 2012, one of my blog readers contacted me and asked me to do a radio interview on her WVON 1690 AM radio program. After the interview, the president of WVON Radio, Melody Spann-Cooper, contacted me and told me she enjoyed the interview and that I really should be on the radio. I later presented her with a proposal for my show idea and she accepted. In February 2013, I launched my Saturday night radio program, Inspirational Perspective.
As a life coach, what’s one key point that you always try to deliver to your audience?
One key point that I always try to deliver is awareness. You can’t change anything if you are not aware it needs to be changed. Awareness is the impetus of change.
How do you use social media to your advantage?
This question brings me back to awareness. I use social media as a channel for awareness. My hope is that with each new connection, they will read my blog, listen to the radio show, and/or see a positive message on one of the platforms and it will make them stop and think. As humans, we have no clue of our own capabilities. I want my audience to stay inspired because I really do believe it is a lifestyle choice! I’m constantly learning something new about social media as it is constantly evolving. My brand strategist, Rebecca Dailey-Wooley, of Be Strategic PR has been helpful in pushing me to think of it as a genuine opportunity to build community with people all over the world.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
This is a difficult question because I honestly have so much to be proud of. I am blessed with a loving family, wonderful fiancée and a job that I love. However, one of my most rewarding accomplishments has been becoming a certified ontological coach. This opportunity has allowed me to be a better leader; to make a positive impact in all of my relationships; and to touch and inspire others I may never know, to live the best life possible.
Who inspires you?
This is a tough question too, but I will narrow the list down to two. The first one is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I admire Dr. King’s commitment to his dream. A commitment that he made in the face of fear compounded by what seemed to be impossible. Dr. King is often the virtual mentor who reminds me that my dreams are possible, fear can be overcome, and my success is hinged solely on my commitment to that dream. The second one is Seth Godin. Mr. Godin is an author of 17 books, a blogger, and thought leader on the post-industrial revolution. His virtual mentorship is what provided me the inspiration to make my very first blog post. Mr. Godin provides practical messaging to leaders and entrepreneurs that challenges the status quo we all typically get stuck in from time to time.
Any favorite affirmations?
I have many favorite affirmations. I appreciate any that reminds me of who I am. I currently have three affirmations on my fridge right now. One my friend and I developed, “The secret to success is hidden in your daily routine!” My life coach provided the second one, “I will create everything this year from JOY! If it doesn’t bring me JOY it’s not worth my time!” The last affirmation is my favorite, “I possess insurmountable power, ultimate capability and endless capacity to achieve tremendous results.” Feel free to steal all three!
What do you do to unwind?
Every day when I get home, I put on my wireless studio headphones and I do some yoga stretching to my favorite music. I try to do this before eating dinner, before doing anything. It allows me to relax, reflect on my day, and tune into my mind and body for those moments.
Name a book that you recommend young professionals to read?
I would recommend Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This book changed my life and has been a great influence.
Do you have a golden rule you rely on in your business dealings?
Loyalty and honesty; enough said.
Any advice or words of wisdom for young business professionals?
Know your purpose in life. It will provide you with personal guidelines as you make decisions on your journey. Many of us wake up every morning to live out an agenda we barely own. Some of us are painfully aware of this unfortunate truth; others of us, have yet to realize that our lives and efforts have had no definitive purpose. Take time to truly distinguish what continues to separate you from the life of your dreams. The quicker you identify who’s running your show, the sooner you can accept their resignation and place yourself, along with your dreams, ideas, goals and desires into the center stage of your own life. Getting that resignation isn’t always easy. There will be a lifetime of habits that you will need to quit. Just remember, nothing worth having is typically easy.
What’s next for Linal Harris?
I will be launching a new website this month, LinalHarris.com, which will allow me to connect with my audience in new and fresh ways. I also will be releasing my first book this winter. It is a compilation of blog posts with my personal thoughts and lessons threaded through my previous writings. I am also a professional speaker so my plans are to continue to inspire audiences around the world with my story, as well as share lessons I’ve learned as I pursue a life of excellence.
Any final thoughts?
I would just like to share my personal purpose as inspiration to those who are searching for their own. “My purpose on the planet is to learn with fervor, speak to and teach others all over the world with passion. To be an authentic leader and speaker, who leads and speaks with the intent to help myself and others live the best life possible. By doing this, I will leave a legacy for my family and a positive mark on this world.” Understanding my purpose has allowed me to have an awareness that drives the choices I make in my life; choices that leave no regret. My wish for anyone who has read this interview is that they are blessed with the clarity of their purpose on this planet. It’s one of the best gifts we get in this life.
Check out Linal’s Inspirational Perspective radio show on WVON 1690 AM every Saturday at 10 p.m. cst.
Feel free to connect with him via twitter: @linalharris or his websites www.linalharris.com and www.inspirationalperspective.com.