One day prior to a school event, author, former Kentucky official, and speaker Laura Emberton Owens discovered her son was missing one of his tennis shoes.
As concerned as she was, she said her son couldn’t have been more unconcerned. Later during dinner, Owens said she couldn’t let the matter drop, sternly reminding her son that he should not be careless with his personal possessions.
The next morning, her attitude took a dramatic turn.
Owens said she opened the newspaper to find a photo of a woman standing in the rubble of her tornado-destroyed home. Amidst the ruin, the woman was holding her only salvageable possession—a tennis shoe.
“That was a life-defining moment,” Owens told approximately 160 participants at a free leadership seminar hosted by The Center for Rural Development. “That woman had lost everything. I had only lost a shoe.”
Owens said she often recalls that experience to remind herself—and others—that we all must establish the correct priorities in our lives.
“Life is full of inconveniences,” she said. “You have to put things in perspective.”
“Leadership is all about making choices,” she writes in her book, “Becoming the Red Sock in the Laundry Basket—Simple Strategies to Everyday Leadership.”
Owens’ own leadership skills were honed during 30 years of involvement in workforce training, education, and government. Before forming her own company, Advancement Strategies LLC, she served as Kentucky’s secretary of education and was former state commissioner for Kentucky Department for Workforce Investment. In her role as commissioner, she was responsible for a department of 2,300 employees and a budget of nearly $1 billion dollars.
She also received appointments from former Governors Paul Patton and Ernie Fletcher and served on a White House commission at the invitations of former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
Prior to her work in Frankfort, Owens also served as a teacher, published writer, TV host, and elected city official.
Owens shared personal stories from her past and presented four critical elements she considers to be the product of perfecting leadership credibility—image, attitude, teamwork, and communication.
Participant Bruce Gover, dean of the Learning Support Services at Somerset Community College, said the information he received at the seminar made him more aware and attuned to different lead
“It’s not just for managers in leadership positions,” he said of Owens’ presentation. “People in all professions in the workplace could benefit from attending this seminar.”
Edith Lovett, another participant and family consumer science agent for Pulaski County Extension Office, said she will take away from the seminar “a more positive feeling about myself” and an increased desire to have a more positive outlook on life.
Owens asked each participant to do a self-evaluation study and make a list of positive attributes about his or her life.
The seminar was presented by The Center and funded through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
Because of the large turnout at the event, a second leadership seminar is planned for Tuesday, July 19, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Regional Center (SRTB-RC) beside The Forum at the Hal Rogers Center in Hazard. Like the Somerset event, this is also a free seminar, and a free lunch will be provided to all participants.
To register for the leadership seminar in Hazard, contact Patti Simpson at The Center at 606-677-6110 or via email. Pre-registration is required, and registrations must be received by July 5.