leadership | March 13, 2013

Leadership Speaker Bill Strickland: "Don't Give Up On The Poor Kids"

"People are a function of the environment where you teach them," says leadership speaker Bill Strickland. In a new interview, the president and CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation explains that it's easy for people to fall through the cracks if no one recognizes their potential. However, taking a chance on someone and providing them with the opportunities they need to succeed can be all it takes to help them overcome their environmental obstacles. "Don't give up on the poor kids," he advises, "they might end up being the commencement speaker." Strickland is living proof of this advice. Growing up extremely poor, he was mentored by someone in his high school days who helped him to get into college. Someone took a chance on Strickland when he was a teenager—and then he went on to give a commencement speech about success at that very school years later.

Had that teacher in his Strickland's high school art class never believed in him, he might have become another one of those kids who "just gets lost" in the shuffle. Instead, he has become a highly successful business and community leader. In addition to his role at Bidwell, he sits on the White House Council for Community Solutions by President Obama, is a MacArthur Genius, and is the author of Make the Impossible Possible. His contributions both to the business sector and to his community also earned him special recognition from U.S. Senator Bob Casey. Drawing from his own experiences, Strickland gives uplifting talks about the importance of seeing the inherent potential that exists in all of us. He says that everyone has the potential to do well in life—sometimes it just takes someone believing in them to unlock it.