My friend from yore Robin Dyke, poet and professor from Victoria in British Columbia, came with me to a college talk in a beautiful part of Canada. Here is a guest KRConnect post from Robin. 

Picture this – a school devoted to developing future leaders spread over 300 acres, enclosed by pacific west coast rainforest and edged beside a lake sharing its name and rivaling the beauty of England’s Lake District – here you have Shawnigan Lake School. A school not unfamiliar to being on the edge of its island and continent location and the values driven educational vision successfully pursued for over 100 years.

Enter KR, resplendent in British Lions Scarf sacrament – one intimately familiar with private school life and its challenges to ego and independence, now equipped with a notable internationally spanned career of business leadership (not without controversy) and an openly edged perspective punctuated with disruptive and irresistible ideas – to speak to Shawnigan’s full student body of 500 along with staff. In the school’s Chapel no less. Potentially all the edgy ingredients for a perfect PC storm!

Throughout the forty minutes waves of rapt attention, gasps, wows, laughs and applause. KR at his spiritual and inspirational best. The thank you noting “especially for doing it with heart and humor”. And “we hope you come back soon!” Teenagers in full animation early Monday morning. Unbelievable!

How could this be? By relating his story that he too was in their shoes as a teenager. And more dramatically, the good humored reverence by which he roasted their Headmaster at the outset of his talk instantly signaled he was one of them. The gasps of delight at how connection can be made out of circumstance were made evident. Their attention from this point was bonded. This guy is crazy but I want to be daring like him!

What would I at seventeen want to hear to make me better at being my best – this was at the content center of Kevin’s talk – ten formative messages, well familiar to KR Connect readers:

1. It’s a VUCA world

2. Make it Super VUCA!

3. Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements

4. Have a Personal Purpose

5. Ambition – Belief – Courage


7. Develop Leadership Skills

8. Find a Job that = Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, Joy

9. Fail Fast – Learn Fast – Fix Fast

10. Make Happy Choices

The students ate up the message, stories and examples as Kevin worked through each in order. Of the ten, the simplicity and vitality of number 4 particularly resonated with revelation; one students response: I realized my lack of clarity of my personal purpose was missing in my career and life planning. At this age it doesn’t get more impactful than having an inspirational dream. Apply these! Apply these! a student leader shouted out to the audience in thanking Kevin.

And so as well a lesson for the teacher – in the after talk with individual students there was a double encounter with one. The student had earlier asked Kevin about the boredom of studying economics in preparation for a career in business and what might be of more value. What about gaining work experience as a helpful start Kevin mentored. Later as Kevin was departing the student approached again; Mr. Roberts, do you remember my name? Kevin; I’m sorry I don’t, what is it? Student; Leo, Leo Lee. Next visit or otherwise, Kevin will remember you Leo!

Character and Courage, two of the marker values of Shawnigan Kevin brought to life in Leo along with the many more stories from the Chapel that are now being sung.

Link to view the full presentation on YouTube.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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