Whether he’s speaking to college students or corporate executives, Kevin Snyder engages and entertains audiences by sharing powerful lessons of leadership inspiring them to think bigger, overcome adversity and work together to achieve common goals. Kevin has presented over 1,150 programs in all 50 states and has been with CAMPUSPEAK for nearly a decade. He’s also a former Dean of Students, author and professional speaker with a wealth of unique expertise both in Student Affairs and in corporate America. We sat down with him to ask a few questions about leadership, motivation, his TEDx talk and what he’s learned from speaking to so many different campuses and organizations over the years. His nuggets of wisdom below are ideal to share with your student peers and organizational leaders.
Question: Reading your bio, you have an interesting background. How did you get started in Student Affairs?
Kevin: As a new student in college, I struggled pretty bad at first socially. I made a 4.0 my first year, but was miserable. I tried dropping out on numerous occasions but someone always stepped in to convince me to not to. During my second year I decided to give it one final shot and get more involved on campus by joining a few student organizations including my fraternity. Getting more engaged changed everything. I went from near drop out to Homecoming King and Greek Man of the Year. Although I was studying Marine Biology, I knew when I graduated that I wanted to work at a college campus so I could help and support other students like people did for me.
Question: So how did you become a speaker?
Kevin: By accident! While I was working in different roles at colleges and universities, I would host leadership workshops for students. Not only was it fun for me to facilitate these events, I also learned a lot about students, myself and about leadership and teamwork in general. I didn’t connect the dots then, but I was building my speaking platform and expertise. During that same time, I also brought speakers to campus, usually from CAMPUSPEAK. I remember watching one particular awesome keynote presentation by Judge Mitch Crane where I said to myself, “I want to what that guy does! I want to speak!” That was back in 2005 so the seed for my speaking was planted way back then. Little did I know that I would write a best-selling book about leadership, earn a doctorate degree and actually resign from higher education to go full-time into motivational speaking! There’s a lot more to the story than what I’ve shared, but that’s the long-story-short. I’ve never worked harder in my speaking career, but it’s not work. Speaking is my purpose and passion. When you have passion, you’ll find a way.
Question: You have spoken to well over 1,000 audiences in all 50 states and numerous countries. What is this experience like and what have you learned about leadership from your travels and talking with so many groups both in college and beyond?
Kevin: I have so many experiences through speaking that would drop your jaw both in laughter and in surprise. From ‘streakers’ running across stage to people waiting in line to talk with me afterwards in tears, every presentation is unique, each audience is new and every organization has its own challenges. I’ve learned through my travels, and what I share in my motivational presentations, is that leadership is tough. It’s not easy. For some reason, we’re conditioned to think that leaders don’t make mistakes or that they know something others don’t. The fact is that extraordinary leaders are normal people with a commitment to their vision, an uncommon level of persistence, and an unbelievable amount of resilience. I’m living proof that you can change your circumstances if you change your mindset and behavior. I’m also living proof that you can live a dream. My goal in each presentations is to empower audiences by sharing specific ways they can do the same. It doesn’t matter who my audience is. Leadership characteristics are universal.
Question: You presented a TEDx talk titled, “The Ripple Effect: What Extraordinary Leaders Have in Common.” What was your talk about?
Kevin: Presenting at a TEDx conference was one of the most thrilling, yet also intimidating, speaking platforms I’ve ever been privileged to have. My “idea worth spreading” focused on the discovery I had when writing my first book and also working on my doctoral degree. I had become infatuated with wanting to better understand the genesis of leadership and what, if anything, extraordinary leaders had in common. What was most fascinating to me, and as I share in my TEDx talk, the most influential leaders in our human history were surprisingly not successful when they first started working toward their goal. Rather, what was most important for them was having a clear vision for what their goal looked like and expecting it to manifest whether in their lifetime or the next. They became extraordinary because they thought differently.
(Btw, you can watch Kevin’s TEDx talk on his website here: http://kevincsnyder.com/demo-videos )
Question: Do you have a favorite audience?
Kevin: Oh gosh. Well, like I said before, each audience is unique, but my speaking roots are with college students. So if you twisted my arm for an answer, it’s definitely college student audiences. I love speaking for fraternity and sorority events like Greek Weeks and fraternal leadership and New Member events. I also love speaking with new students during orientation or at campus-based student leadership events. I designed three different keynotes in order to have a powerful program for each unique collegiate audience: (1) Leadership DNA, (2) Proud and Purposeful: The Fraternal Experience and (3) UNSTOPPABLE.
Question: Lastly, if there’s one thing you’d want someone reading this to know about how to achieve their goals and becoming the most influential leader possible, what would that be?
Kevin: Just one thing? Well, leadership isn’t doing just one thing so that’s difficult to answer. It’s about doing many things over and over and doing them well. However, I have found two patterns with people who seem to struggle with achieving goals. Number 1, they either aren’t as clear as they think in regards to what that goal actually is; or number 2, they don’t take consistent action to develop a strategy and work towards that goal. I know that’s more than one thing, but clarity and strategy are crucial to becoming an effective leader. No one wants to follow someone else who doesn’t know where they are going or how they’re going to get there.
Question: Thanks so much for talking with us.
Kevin: Honored. Thank you!
To watch Kevin’s NEW DEMO VIDEO and learn about his CAMPUSPEAK programs for your students, view his website at http://campuspeak.com/speaker/snyder. Connect with him on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter @KevinCSnyder and receive daily motivational quotes and resources.