“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell
It takes one to know one. That’s the bedrock upon which Gerard Adams, a serial entrepreneur and a noted leader of his generation, built his latest venture. With speaking coach and co-founder Yahya Bakkar, Gerard formed World-Class Leader (WCL), a personal brand accelerator for successful entrepreneurs who want to become the go-to leader in their niche while impacting millions of lives with their message.
I’ve known Gerard for a couple years now and have been blessed to work with him during an event in Dubai. When we caught up recently, I had the opportunity to really dig deeper into his story and entrepreneurial journey. But mostly, we discussed how Gerard and Yahya are cultivating world-class leaders through WCL and why their coaching framework called MAP (an acronym for Monetize, Amplify, and Promote) actually matters. The limited-seat program aims to hone participants into world-class speakers with powerful personal brands that not only reel in hefty profits but also drive meaningful and positive impact in people’s lives.
After breaking free of his dubious path as a teen, forming multi-million dollar companies, and traveling the world, he felt it was his duty to return full circle to Jersey’s urban corners – not as a juvenile delinquent like he once was but as an acclaimed philanthropist. So, in his 30s, Gerard Adams set up shop in the heart of Newark, NJ’s broken neighborhood, where a culture of drugs, gangs, and crime makes it virtually impossible for young people to roam the streets and still get out unscathed, with one mission: show Newark’s youth a different path and support future young startup founders in the area.
Gerard, best known as the “Millennial Mentor”, serves young and struggling dreamers, but his relentless energy compels him to also look at the other end of the spectrum: successful individuals wanting to take their game to an even higher level.
The Roadmap to a Game–Changing Personal Brand
In hindsight, the founding of WCL seems inevitable. Having already started a string of successful businesses (including EliteDaily.com, a news site targeted towards millennials, which sold to the Daily Mail in 2015 for $50 million), earned industry accolades, and shared back to the community, Gerard was doing what he loved but something was still missing – he wasn’t exactly at the heart of his core purpose.
The eureka moment came when he realized what he needed to do: he knew the future of the world is heavily influenced by the next generation of leaders, but those struggling to build a profitable personal brand might be doing everything right but in the WRONG order. Having learned valuable lessons from years of mistakes during his entrepreneurial journey, he realized it’s absolutely imperative for leaders to focus, plan, and build their personal brands in strategic phases. How exactly can good leaders tell their story, build their brands, and make a positive impact in the world? How can they pursue their passion in a way that is sustainable?
These questions led Gerard to partner with his speaking coach and another millennial firebrand, Yahya Bakkar, who’s the secret weapon behind many successful entrepreneurs and influencers when it comes to taking their business and message to the next level. The two, who’ve invested over half a million dollars in their personal and professional development combined over the last decade, created World-Class Leader.
Gerard defines a ‘world-class leader’ as “living with such integrity, high value, high standards that in everything that you do, touch, it’s innate within you. It’s in your DNA that you live world-class.”
Gerard’s ultimate goal in supporting experienced leaders is to form a vibrant collective of global leaders with the opportunity to collaborate, ideate, and actualize together. Perhaps they can introduce groundbreaking innovation in education, environmental protection, healthcare, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and even human consciousness.
If you want to become a world-class leader in your respective field and you’re ready for the next milestone, learn from successful achievers with proven results. Here are six tactical insights based on Gerard’s experience that can help you advance to the next level:
1. Let Your Purpose and Passion Evolve
Entrepreneurs, like the rest of humanity, also undergo a process of maturity. As situations in life and business develop over time, so do our purpose and passion. For example, young entrepreneurs may be pursuing monetary goals but the moment it’s achieved, they often seek nobler goals to make a positive impact in the world. “Life is like a book. There are different points in your life like different chapters to your book. The experiences that you have throughout those chapters will shape your purpose.”
2. Don’t Expect Glory, but Always Give It Your All
Excellence takes hard work and it doesn’t always attract the recognition or reward you expect within your expected time frame. Go for excellence nonetheless. “When an artist creates a masterpiece, they’re not creating that masterpiece because they’re like ‘oh, one day I hope that it gets passed on and it’s worth a hundred million dollars.’”
3. Embrace Vulnerability
Being a real human being means being vulnerable and more relatable to your audience. “Vulnerability is the golden key that unlocks the heart because we can all relate to stories of obstacles and struggles — we all understand struggle.” When you become vulnerable, you become someone of real influence, and it’s a key to being a world-class leader.
4. Experience Something Before Selling It
Authenticity is everything. You cannot truly succeed in selling an idea that you barely understand yourself. “You have to go through failing. You have to go through doing it for yourself, for your own business … I can’t sell people on how to travel the entire world on a budget if I haven’t traveled the entire world on a budget.”
5. Be Your Own Story
Gerard says, “the art of storytelling is what will pierce the hearts and souls of the audience.” The trouble is, aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs want to replicate the stories of people they admire, a phenomenon Gerard describes as the “Gary V Syndrome”. Not everyone can be, or should even try to be, Gary Vaynerchuk. He is unique. But so are you. At the end of the day, when the same message is just being told by different messengers, your uniqueness will be your ultimate strength.
6. Map Your Journey and Take Care of Those Around You
Many thought leaders get caught up ‘in’ business creating content for YouTube, podcasts, and speaking all over the world but forget what fulfills them spiritually. “You can get sucked in taking all this time and energy away from your family and aren’t able to take care of the people that you love. This is exactly the reason why we created M.A.P.” Gerard credits the success of his show, ‘Leaders Create Leaders’, to his good friend and content creator, Digital Jeff. “If it wasn’t for the sacrifice that Digital Jeff has made with himself and his entire family, we wouldn’t be where we are today with that show”.
Are you ready to live out your story, go to the next chapter, and achieve your next level of goals? Let Gerard and Yahya show you how to turn successful entrepreneurs into highly paid, fulfilled, and recognized influencers.
You can learn more about their World Class Leader program at www.worldclassleader.comOpinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.
Quit 6-figure 9-5 job at age 24 and founded a creative content productions agency through partnerships with some of the world’s most influential brands & thought leaders that impacts millions of millennials worldwide. Work featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine and Fox News US.