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Updated 24 Sep 2020

This is why you need to have more lollipop moments

If you’re looking to develop your leadership characteristics, why not consider the wise words from motivational speaker and leadership coach, Drew Dudley. 

Pritesh Ruthun, 09 September 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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“We have all changed someone's life – usually without even realising it,” says Drew Dudley. In his light-hearted Ted talk, the leadership educator calls on business leaders to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each other's lives.


Drew Dudley says we've made leadership about changing the world; there is no world, there are only six billion understandings of it: “If you change one person's understanding of it, one person's understanding of what they're capable of, one person's understanding of how much people care about them, one person's understanding of how powerful an agent of change they can be in this world, you've changed the whole thing.”

Related: 6 Leadership styles you need to be the ultimate leader

We each influence each other

Each of us influences or leads people in particular directions every day. “Our actions impact (lead) people whether we are conscious of it or not,” Dudley says. Even subconsciously, your actions affect the people around you. “Who can deny this? Leaders are not just the people who run countries or companies – they are everyday people,” Dudley adds.

He prompts business leaders to seriously think about what they do at work, at home and in their communities to inspire others (both consciously and subconsciously).

Have more ‘Lollipop moments’

Dudley attended Mount Allison University in Sackville (USA) and on his last day there after four years of schooling, a girl came up to him and said: "I remember the first time that I met you. It was the day before we started university and I was talking to my mom and my dad. I was so scared and so convinced that I couldn't do this; that I wasn't ready for university that I just burst into tears.”

She said she was standing in line, getting ready for registration, and looked around and knew she couldn't do it. “I knew I wasn't ready, I knew I had to quit,” she said.

The girl said she turned to her parents to tell them that they needed to go home, and just at that moment Dudley came out of the student union building wearing the stupidest hat she had ever seen in her life.

Life was about to change forever

Many -lollipops

“It was awesome. You had a bucket full of lollipops. You were walking along and you were handing the lollipops out to people in line and talking about a charity. When you got to me, you just stopped. And you stared. It was creepy. And then you looked at the guy next to me, and you smiled, and you reached into your bucket and you pulled out a lollipop and you held it out to him. You said to him: 'You need to give a lollipop to the beautiful woman standing next to you,’” the girl told Dudley.

The girl said she had never seen anyone get embarrassed that fast in her life. “The guy turned beetroot-red and wouldn't even look at me and just held the lollipop out shyly. I felt so bad for him that I took the lollipop and as soon as I did you got this incredibly severe look on your face and you looked at my mom and my dad and you said, 'Look at that. Look at that. First day away from home and already she's taking candy from a stranger!’”

Related: What leadership style are you and will it get results?

As it was registration day, everybody saw what was happening and they started to howl with laughter. “I know this is cheesy, and I don't know why I'm telling you this, but in that moment when everyone was laughing, I knew that I shouldn't quit university. And I haven't spoken to you once in the four years since that day, but I heard that you were leaving, and I had to come up and tell you that you've been an incredibly important person in my life, and I'm going to miss you."

Dudley said that as the girl walked away she said, “You should probably know this too. I'm still dating that guy you gave the lollipop to four years later."

Avoid the toxicity

Dudley’s story is an apt one for leaders to take in, as it’s a clear indication of how even the smallest of interactions with a person can have a profound effect on the trajectory of that person’s life. How you interact with staff, how you coach them, how you respond in crunch situations and your level-headedness is key to influencing people the right way for business growth. If you’d like to ensure that you are leading with lollipops, instead of venom, watch this quick TedEd video.


  • We influence each other in many ways each day. Leaders subconsciously influence the path their employees take.
  • If you are cognisant of your actions, you will realise that every time you in interact with an employee is an opportunity to improve their performance.
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Pritesh Ruthun

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