Focus: A Timeless Secret of Influential Leaders

By Corey Poirier

As a keynote speaker, I spend the majority of my time these days speaking to, and working with, high achieving professionals and individuals.

I spend the rest of my time interviewing and researching the common traits of influential leaders from across North America—including Grammy winners, television personalities, award-winning comedians, award-winning business leaders, elite athletes, olympic gold medalists, and more—so that I have more exclusive insight to share with my corporate clients, and at conferences across North America.

To perform at the highest level, I believe it helps if you can learn what the majority of the influential leaders do, and do likewise.

Yes, it’s true that some have achieved success by doing the opposite of what other leaders do. Steve Jobs comes to mind. But there is only one Steve Jobs, and until one gets to that level, why ignore the fact that, in the words of the late great Jim Rohns, “success leaves clues.”

An obvious question at this point becomes, what common traits do the 4000 influential leaders I have studied share? I get that question more often than you can perhaps imagine.

I have determined the top 10 traits that these leaders share and what struck me the most is the fact that the top three weren’t what most would expect.

Believe it or not, hard work, find a good mentor, enter the industry at the right time, have a solid cash flow, and so on, albeit important, and helpful, were not the most common traits, or actions.

One of the top three traits, or actions, in particular really stood out, and it is in such direct contrast to what the average person does, that I felt it imperative to focus on that one trait, above all else in this very column.

That trait, or action, is tied directly to focus, but bigger than that, it is the action of removing all distractions from each interaction throughout one’s day.

At a time when the average person can barely take their eyes away from their iphone, android, or maybe even blackberry, it really struck me that some of the busiest leaders in the world found a way, at least during my time with them, to silence their phones, and dedicate their full time and attention to the moment at hand.

Whether it was Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul, former World Champion Trish Stratus, olympic gold medalist Heather Moyse, apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, The Food Network’s chef Michael Smith, leadership guru Robin Sharma or thousands more, almost every single one found a way to make me feel like I was the only person in their world during our time together.

Again, this is so much in contrast to the actions of the average person today, I felt compelled to share this finding, in hopes that it will help others rethink the focus they place on the person in front of them despite the many distractions battling for their time.

As a wise attendee at a talk I gave at a University in Alberta recently said, “When you wash the rice, wash the rice.”

It may be an old proverb, but it’s still as wise today – in essence, it means, when you are focused on one task, focus completely on that one task, and that task alone.

After all, if that’s what the top influential leaders are doing, isn’t it worth giving it a try?

Corey Poirier is speaking at the HR Conference + Tradeshow 2018. His session, The Timeless Secrets of Influential Leaders, is on Wednesday, May 2. For more information on this and other sessions, please visit

Corey Poirier is a multiple-time TEDx Speaker. He is also the host of the top rated ‘Conversations with PASSION’ Radio Show, founder of The Speaking Program, and he has been featured in multiple television specials. A columnist with Entrepreneur and Forbes, he has featured in/on CBS, CTV, NBC, ABC, and is one of the few leaders featured twice on the popular Entrepreneur on Fire show.

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