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Shelley Simpson’s
Advice for My Students

Shelley SimpsonShelley Simpson, President of J. B. Hunt Transport Services, is cited often and quoted frequently in Why It Matters: Reflections on Practical Leadership. Shelley met frequently with my leadership class and provided frank, honest, and thoughtful responses to a wide range of questions from students. Page limits for the book resulted in the following advice being excluded. I found her wisdom to be valuable, regardless of whether you find yourself in a leadership position or in a follower position.

  • “In your absence, will anyone speak for you?”
  • “Although there are many things in life you don’t control, there’s one thing you control completely, the effort you put into being successful in whatever you choose to pursue.”
  • “If you are going to do something, do it with one hundred percent effort.”
  • “Take advice from everyone.”
  • “Treat every job like it is your last job.”
  • “If your intention is pure and good, people will listen.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to conquer your fears.”
  • “Don’t talk about people behind their backs.”
  • “I didn’t have to be the best athlete on the team. I just had to be the most coachable.”
  • “Be on time. Don’t be late.”
  • “Work hard and play hard.”
  • “It’s not about what you can do for me. It’s about what I can do for you to succeed.”
  • “If I say I’ll do it, I do it.”
  • “Do what you say.”
  • “The best kept secret of leadership is walking the talk and being real with people.”
  • “It’s easy to be a leader when things are great, but we find out who can lead when times are tough.”
  • “Sometimes people don’t realize how great they can be. A leader’s responsibility is to help them realize their potential.”
  • “Be like a dog with a bone. Keep chewing.”
  • “Problems with diversity stem from a lack of knowledge and education.”
  • “We don’t want diversity in integrity.”
  • “Being a change agent and being adaptable are essential attributes for leaders.”
  • “What makes leadership worthwhile? The people!”
  • “Adapt and embrace our changing world.”
  • “Be honest with your team. Share the good and the bad. Then, communicate the path forward.”
  • “Ask each team member, ‘What do you need from me?’”
  • “Your number one opportunity is influence.”
  • “Leaders sometimes make decisions they can’t share with everyone. I hope someday you understand.”
  • “Be the bridge between an employee’s current and potential performance levels.”
  • “People want to know what is expected of them. Most people want to exceed those expectations.”
  • “Build your foundation. Don’t jump from job to job purely for financial reasons.”
  • “If you are unhappy at work, ask yourself four questions: Is it the company or organization? Is it the boss or supervisor? Is it me? Or, am I having a moment?”

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