Recently I had an interview with Cynthia Blandford, who is an Honorary Consul General for the Republic of Liberia in Georgia, US. This was truly an incredible and quite personal conversation, with many useful tips about how to stay motivated and keep going. We talked about what leadership is, the legacy of Cynthia’s mother compared to her own, and finding one’s own way to create impact and one’s legacy. We discussed how Cynthia’s way of achieving goals was influenced by her mom and where her engagement with Liberia comes from, where she finds her power to act. She was the first African-American to be invited to the youth ambassadorship program, and that led to a number of following inspirations.
When I asked Cynthia what is leadership for her, she said that although leadership can be defined in many ways, it’s never about her. Leadership is about other people. “Leadership is about how do you engage people to follow your dream, vision, and how do you get people that you don’t know well to get on board, how to help them grow?” Cynthia says.
When asked where she finds the power to achieve her dreams, Cynthia answered: “I’m often asked by my colleagues the same question. I’m driven because it’s a God-given mission. I’ve been commissioned to do this work, and God gives me the strength to do it every day. It’s not always about money, it’s about how to do service and help out. I wake up every morning and I’m on the go. I think about how to connect people of color and people of the continent. We have so much to learn. I want people of color to know that there is a home where they came from.”
However, even though we have a lot of passion, plans, and goals, they don’t always work out the way we want them to. So I asked Cynthia how do things not work out sometimes for her and what such situations bring to her?
She said: “My business is international, and it’s about the movement of people and goods, traveling and trading. The Ebola crisis was the biggest unplanned impact on Africa. And now we have Coronavirus. So how do you manage the dip in the revenues? You have to almost re-engineer yourself, and that happens through relationships. Conversations with governments, partners, etc., to understand that it’s a temporary situation, and we will be out of it. You have to adjust your mission to how to achieve solutions.”
In this interview, Cynthia reveals how important it is to take care of oneself and she gives some examples of what self-care is. We also talked about how essential relationships are for the business, and how to manage them especially when it comes to the time of crisis. How can you use the crisis to make an impact that will last even after the crisis? Cynthia also shared that she runs towards challenges knowing that it’s not about if, but about when they happen. Why is it important to create a list of closed doors and keep revisiting them? To find the inspirational answers to these and many other questions, tune in for the whole interview on our Genius Leadership: Overcoming Everything podcast.