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Dr. Brian Bennett, Pastor Joe Pellegrino, John C. Maxwell, Dr. Dean Radtke, and Pastor Kurt Owen.

An assemblage of thinkers gathered at the Pathway Church in Vero Beach on February 25 for the Not Just an Average Leader Conference founded by Joe Pellegrino – author, pastor, speaker, consultant, entrepreneur, and founder of Legacy Minded Men.

When Pellegrino moved to Vero Beach in 2017, news of the annual Prayer Breakfast piqued his interest and set him on the path that led to the organization of the leadership conference, which came to fruition five years later.

“I learned there was really a significant vacuum in the area of leadership. I wanted to do something about it. So, I met with some leaders, and we talked about it, and I decided that I wanted to do a conference for men, women, and adolescents,” recalls Pellegrino.

“I thought, at least that we can sow into that some great leadership principles, primarily so that people would recognize that the most important individual, you can ever lead is yourself,” he continues. The leadership professionals Pellegrino gathered to the sold-out crowd came to the table from different walks of life, bringing a broad perspective of life experiences and thoughts on what leadership is and how one achieves the pinnacle in this arena – a 360 view into leadership.

His goal? “I want them to leave with one nugget. I can’t tell you what that is. It’s going to be different for every single person. The goal is that everybody walked out of there saying, ‘I have just been fed.’”

Pellegrino kicked the morning off by asking attendees to reach high and grab at the gold above them. He noted that about 80 percent of people don’t reach as high as they can the first time. “Why didn’t you go high the first time? That leaves this little gap – the difference between good and great.”

He believes strongly that you don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room. “A great leader needs to surround himself with people who are smarter or wiser.” And he did just that with the four dynamic speakers: John C. Maxwell, Dr. Dean Radtke, Pastor Kurt Owen, and Dr. Brian Bennett.

Pellegrino prompted the speakers with questions in a casual conversation to share insights and experiences gained throughout their careers as leaders.

First up was John C. Maxwell, “the greatest leadership teacher in the world today,” according to Pellegrino. A number 1 “New York Times” bestselling author, speaker, coach, and leader, Maxwell says that asking questions is key to leadership, something he learned early in his ministry.

Maxwell cautioned that it is essential to keep failure close when succeeding because “it keeps me humble. Humility is the most important quality of a leader’s life.”

In his book, “The Five Levels of Leadership,” Maxwell says, “Leadership is about growth – for yourself, your relationships, your productivity, and your people.”

Another dynamic speaker in the leadership arena, Dr. Dean Radtke, founder, and CEO of the Ministry Institute and the Institute of Leadership joined the pair and shared his perspective on leadership gleaned over a lifetime.

Radtke says that leadership is all about building relationships. “Your awareness is huge because you’re modeling for future generations the right thing to do. You’re planting seeds for what you’re going to reap.”

Citing words credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Radtke said, “Your actions shout so loudly into my ears that I can’t hear what you’re saying,” a quotation, which, when put into practice, means, “It’s your awareness of how you’re treating people, how you’re listening to people.”

After each speaker, attendees participated in breakout sessions to discuss the earlier teachings and ask pointed questions of one another.

Afternoon speakers included former executive protection and investigator Kurt Owen and Pathway Church’s Senior Pastor Dr. Brian Bennett.

Looking to the future, Pellegrino hopes to build a leadership center in Vero Beach. “I want to make it available to everybody so that they can grow.” He hopes to help others understand who they are, why they are and how to lead others.

“Jesus is the greatest leader that we’ve ever seen,” says Pellegrino. “The Bible is the definitive leadership manual. If we simply looked to the Bible for leadership principles, we could not fail. We could not fall.”

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