Interview with Simon T Bailey: On Inspiring Leaders to Find their Own Brilliance

simon0800Vera: Congratulations on your latest book ‘’Shift Your Brilliance’’ (SYB); your earlier book before this was ‘’Release Your Brilliance’’ (RYB); how do you define brilliance and how does SYB build on RYB?

Simon: Simply put, Brilliance is the genius within each of us. “Releasing Your Brilliance” (RYB) focuses on enabling you to identify and leverage your unique gifts and talents so you can breath live into everything and everyone around you.  RYB’s four-step process is step 1: Seek profound insight (Clarity), Step 2: Discover pure, unwavering belief (Color), Step 3: Take bold action (Cut) and Step 4: Decide how big you want to Be (Carat)

Although, “Shift Your Brilliance” (SYB) was written so it could “stand on its own,” it nicely builds on RYB. SYB focuses on equipping you with the mindset to operate in your brilliance in your personal and professional life. It facilitates this by providing strategies for sharpening your focus, steps for clarifying your vision, actions to harness individual and organizational potential, tools to unearth what really sets you on fire; and tips on how you can become a Chief Breakthrough Officer. Using a practical handbook and exercise, SYB helps you implement the information and insight discovered with the SYB roadmap, which facilitates transformation – the real objective.

Vera: Unfortunately, the world is tolerating a lot of mediocrity. In your work what are some of the entry points that you help people explore for creating brilliance?

Simon: Whether I’m giving a keynote or working with a leadership team for Fortune 500 company, releasing and shifting brilliance usually starts with you assessing your current situation (i.e., What are my gifts, talents, etc.?, Am I leveraging them?, What does possibility thinking look like for me?) The other entry point is for business owners/entrepreneurs to ask themselves; is there a better way? Why us?  why now? In other words, why do customers choose us? What can we do to go the extra mile?

Vera: Brilliance is a long-term proposition/process; how do you propagate it in a world that functions with a somewhat microwave mindset?

Simon: Helping individuals connect to the “pain” associated with their status quo is key to inspiring them to do the long-term work required to create a new reality in their personal and/or professional lives.  Meaningful change is challenging and is an ongoing process. To achieve sustainable change, an intrinsic reason for change should be evident. SYB does a great job of helping individuals assess their current personal and/or professional life.  Most individuals, after assessing their current situations, realize they are paying a big price by operating outside of their brilliance – by remaining in the status quo. As a result, after seeing differently, they are inspired to do something different.  Once inspired, they need to understand how to practically shift their brilliance.  SYB equips them with strategies, tools and tips so they can successfully shift.

Vera: I’ve heard you describe your epiphany of how you reframed your thinking regarding one of your earlier roles in Disney from feeling like you were ‘’just doing a job’’ to crystallizing the value/purpose in that job. For the many people who are in jobs they have checked out mentally from, what’s the way back in?

Simon: I would you say propose a 3 step approach. First is to understand the power of perspective.  The way we look at something affects how we behave and how we feel.  What we look for, we find.  Look for what’s working in your role.  Challenge yourself to see possibilities instead of problems. Next is to using the power of perspective, re-frame your contribution to the company. Understand the value you bring to your company.  What’s possible because of the contribution you make?  What would happen if you were not in your role?  What would happen if your role did not exist? Finally, recommit.  If you are in your role and consistently not doing your best work, you are cheating your company and yourself.  You both deserve better.  So, recommit and do a better job going forward.  If it helps, write your commitment down. Recommitting and making the best out of the situation will help you “bloom where you stand.”

Vera: Many organizations are not that good at stirring up and releasing the full potential of their staff. How does an organization reset itself to become a more empowering and productive environment for its workforce to thrive?

Simon: An organization must make the decision that releasing the potential of their staff is something that it really wants to do because doing so is not for the faint of heart.  Achieving this requires a tremendous amount of commitment and work.  Some of the work involved includes:

  • Creating leader profile and leadership competency models outlining that leaders are expected to stir up and release the potential of their staff
  • Recruiting and selecting the right leaders who clearly understand that their role is to tap into the potential of all staff members and cultivate a work environment where people do their best work and want to do this work
  • Developing and equipping leaders to succeed – this includes that management routines don’t get in the way of good people leadership duties
  • Aligning staff members’ work to their gifts, talents and passions
  • Aligning rewards and recognition systems to drive desired behaviors and organization results

Vera: You advocate that people own their careers. What are some of the things people are still doing to manage their careers that you believe are obsolete that they need to let go of and what should they be doing instead?

Simon: Some of the obsolete Career development endeavors are allowing your career to “just happen” – just taking whatever jobs are available or offered, relying on seniority-based systems and leaving the responsibility of career development to your manager/company. Instead the approach should be to have a specific career goal in mind and be intentional about weaving together the right roles and experiences to realize it and leverage social media platforms to enhance your sphere of influence, even when you are not actively looking for other employment. It’s also useful to develop a life-long learning mindset and appreciate that the growth and development process is continuous and ongoing and be open to 2nd and 3rd careers.

Vera: In your work clients what is the most game-changing value you bring to enabling them let go of what’s convenient and lead well in challenging conditions?

Simon: Letting go of what’s convenient and leading well in challenging conditions is not something that most organizations do well.  Fortunately, The Brilliance Institute has had a lot of success with helping organizations appreciate that a fast and ever-changing world is the new norm. One of the ways we do this is by helping our clients become more uncomfortable with being comfortable and helping them understand the benefits of operating in their individual and collective brilliance versus the costs of being mediocre or utilizing approaches, systems, etc. that no longer serve their organization well.  Once we have helped them shape their mindset, we then help them create roadmaps to shift their brilliance and drive desired business outcomes.

Vera: You yourself of course switched from wanting to be CEO of the Disney Company where you were once Sales director to going out on your own. What flipped things for you?

Simon: One day, I had an AHA moment and realized that becoming CEO of Disney did not align with my life’s purpose.  As a part of a soul-searching course of action, I was forced to facilitate a process for myself that inspired the Brilliance work I do today.  The process included me obtaining clarity around my gifts, talents, intrinsic motivators and extrinsic motivators. I came to terms with what I really wanted and needed to live an authentic life. I also had to face my fears and learn to engage in possibility thinking regularly, which resulted in me understanding what I needed to start, stop and continue doing to realize this authentic life. One of the things I realized when going through my own version of RYB is that the risks associated with status quo were far greater than being uncomfortable, short-term, and going out on my own.  So, I took a leap of faith and I’m so glad I did. Interesting enough, most of my clients come to the same conclusion.

Vera: How are you continually creating magical moments for yourself and what’s the next stage in your own strategic life plan?

Simon: I define magical moments as encounters, opportunities and/or experiences that inspire me to believe anything is possible. A few of the ways that I create magical moments for myself are believing in my own personal brilliance, surrounding myself with the right people and continuing to cultivate my own personal brilliance (i.e., micro-learning, creating new experiences, positioning myself as a thought leader)

Regarding the next stage of my strategic life plan, I would like to continue to do the work that I have been blessed to do so that I can reach my goal of touching 10% of the world’s population.  I also envision, at some point, creating a foundation that exposes The Brilliance Institute’s work to under-resourced individuals, communities and countries.

Simon’s profile

Simon T Bailey is author of seven books, a keynote speaker, founder of the Brilliance Institute and a regular columnist for America City Business Journal read by 11 million unique readers. Simon teaches influencers and leaders how to improve themselves and change their world. He has 28 years of business experience and has spoken to more than 1000 organizations on six continents. His book ‘’Release your brilliance’’ is ranked number 17 of the top 100 books being read by Corporate America. More on Simon’s work from and

For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.