Reality show star sparks leadership

Dan Gheesling, winner of Big Brother, spoke to students on Sept. 19 about the duties of epic leaders.
Dan Gheesling, winner of Big Brother, spoke to students on Sept. 19 about the duties of epic leaders.

By Julia Corrigan

Being like a “drive-thru” and “cleaning your own mirror” are two of the “six necessary duties of an epic leader,” according to the entrepreneur, coach, author and reality TV show star who spoke at Rider on Sept. 19.

Dan Gheesling, winner on the reality show Big Brother and four-time author, promised the group of students in the audience that by the time they left the presentation, they would all be better leaders.

He explained that an epic leader is a person who is a good listener, who cares about others and who makes time to be available to those in need. This type of person is open to criticism, purposely avoids gossip and puts others first. Students who follow these steps to become a notable leader, he feels, can make the campus a more welcoming place.

“Duty number one [of being an epic leader] is listening like you’re on your first date,” said Gheesling. “You go to a date, sit down, have dinner and by the time the dinner is over, you can tell me everything about that person. Why? Because you want a second date. So why don’t we listen like that in our everyday life?”

Gheesling said that asking 10 consecutive open-ended questions to another person without any thought about oneself is a great way to make a connection. By putting this into action, two people who normally do not talk can create a bond and become skilled leaders.

The second duty for students to follow is to “actually give a crap,” according to Gheesling.

“We have all been in a situation before where we could tell our leader didn’t really care about us,” he said. “If you’re working extra for someone and all of the sudden they leave, that automatically should tell you something about how they feel about you. They really don’t give a crap about you.”

He suggested that getting to know someone and following up with that person is a great way for people to show they care. If students take notes on new people they meet on campus, it will help them remember little details and separate the average leaders from great leaders, he said.

Gheesling compared being a leader to Taco Bell by suggesting that everyone should be like a drive-thru.

“Being like a drive-thru means two things: Always be available 24 hours a day and always be open to criticism,” he explained. “As a leader, you don’t really have the luxury to say when you want to be a leader. You have to be available all the time.”

Freshman finance major Paul Schappell found Gheesling’s presentation to be “down-to-earth” and “honest.”

“He didn’t fluff up his speech,” Schappell said. “He said things he actually believed in.”

Gheesling told the audience that they should literally “always be last.” He explained that, in class, there is typically one person who sits alone in the back. Whether such students are new, shy or lacking friends on campus, they are by themselves.

“What if one day, you get outside your comfort zone and introduce yourself to them,” he said.  “It may change the course of their collegiate career.”

This portion of the presentation stood out to freshman undecided major Kristin Urena.

“There have been times where I was that person,” she said. “Now, I just want to be that friend to someone else.”

The last task Gheesling suggested students accomplish was to “clean their own mirror.”

“Cleaning your own mirror means not being above menial tasks,” he said. “When there’s something to do, even though it’s not your job, just do it. People will work harder for you in the long run.”

Gheesling concluded his speech by encouraging students to write down a goal and put the note in a location they will see every day. Ultimately, seeing the goal will inspire students to take action on that dream.

“Whatever that one goal is, that is what is going to push you through those tough days,” he said. “I wanted to go on this crazy reality TV Show called Big Brother. My friends told me no, my family told me I was crazy and there was no support, but I looked at [the goal] every single day. A notecard [with the goal] was right in front of my alarm clock with a couple other things, and they are done now.”

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