It was his smile that grabbed me. You know what I mean. There are some people in this world, when you meet them all you see is their smile. That’s how I felt when I met Greg Cunningham. He and I had already spoken over the telephone, but we didn’t share a handshake until the photo shoot for the 2018 Power 50 awards, sponsored by a business magazine. We instantly bonded over our bright blue business clothes. But his radiant energy – including that smile – is what elevated the goodness for everyone in the room.
Greg is the Speaker, November 16, 2019
If you attend the last Good Leadership Breakfast of the Fall 2019 season, I’ll introduce you to an amazing leader whose work is about leading global inclusion and diversity at U.S. Bank. Greg is a special person, speaking on a special day at the Breakfast – because it’s also the day when we reveal the How Goodness Pays book to the world.
What’s special about Greg, is how he presents his core purpose in everything he does: “There’s no daylight between who I am as a person, and what I do professionally. Because I need to bring my own personal values to everything I do.” It’s a perspective shaped by a series of memorable pivot points on his leadership journey. He calls it his Super Power.
Embracing Hardships for Good
At the impressionable young age of 5, he tragically watched his father be wheeled away on a gurney after suffering a seizure. Greg never saw his father alive again. From that day forward he was raised by a single mom, in the inner city of Pittsburgh, in one of the first black families in a Catholic school. “I grew up always feeling less than other people,” he explains. That’s why his success as a leader, and his message of hope and unity, is so powerful.
Speaking Our Authentic Self at Work
“The things I used to think were deficits, became the things that differentiated me and opened doors for me,” he shared with intention. Oddly enough, it was the movie “Akeelah and the Bee” that pivoted his professional career to where he is today. “I mustered up the courage to talk openly in a staff meeting about how much that movie impacted my life. In sharing my experience, for the first time in my professional career I was speaking my authentic self at work,” he revealed. From that moment of truth, his employer embraced the idea of a multicultural marketing group that tailored messaging, positioning, and merchandising to a broader spectrum of consumers. And it catapulted his career.
Today, he’s an empty-nesting husband and father, and the leader of the Global Inclusion and Diversity function at one of the nation’s largest banks – with no prior experience. “I didn’t choose this job, it chose me!” he laughed. “It’s good that I realized at an important time in my life: my broad life perspective is my ‘super power!’ Today, I leverage that in service to others. I inspire the purpose and potential of other people. I love my life,” he smiled again.
Good leaders find the goodness in all of life’s events. And they spread their radiant energy – their Super Power – in ways that help all people thrive.
Good Leaders: Please share with me – what is your Super Power?