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Individual Advantages: Be the "I" in Team

Individual Advantages: Be the "I" in Team

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Individual Advantages: Be the "I" in Team

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Lançado em:
Mar 2, 2021


After helping over 18,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers, and employees worldwide, Dr. Brian Smith and his daughter, Mary Smith, share their knowledge of being a great leader in their second book of The I in Team Series.

Individual Advantages: Be the "I" in Team emphasizes that one's greatest responsibility is their influence. Building on the lessons taught in the first book, Be the "I" in Team aims to guide current and aspiring leaders towards being a positive influence on their teams.

The authors use real-life experiences working with and leading teams to discuss:
• Being your best self so you can contribute your unique influence
• How to delegate, hold accountable, define values, and find balance
• The benefits of slowing down and staying in the moment
• Remaining humble, mindful, honest, and consistent
• Paying attention to details and investing in self-education

Designed to engage, empower, and challenge current and aspiring leaders with the information needed to be a positive influence and grow unique strengths, this book does not adopt a "one size fits all" methodology.
Lançado em:
Mar 2, 2021

Sobre o autor

Professor Brian D Smith has worked in the life sciences sector for 40 years as research chemist, marketing leader, research academic and advisor to many leading pharma and medtech companies. He uniquely combines first-hand understanding of the industry with rigorous, world leading research. He is the author of over 300 publications, including 'The Future of Pharma' and 'Darwin’s Medicine'.

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Individual Advantages - Brian Smith


© Individual Advantages, LLC 2021

ISBN: 978-1-09834-630-0

eBook ISBN: 978-1-09834-631-7

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Table of Contents

0.0 Acknowledgements

0.0 Foreword by René Smith

0.0 Introduction

1.0 Influence

2.0 Understand the Responsibility

3.0 Pitfalls

4.0 Change

5.0 Self-Education

6.0 Culture

A Final Note on 2020 and COVID-19

Join Our Team



It would be nearly impossible to thank all of those who have had an influence on me. There are people I have never even met, and never will get the chance to meet, who have influenced my life. I believe our influence lives on in the people we influence. Their memory of us, the influence we had on them, remains until they pass from this life. This is one reason I believe our influence is the single greatest responsibility we have as human beings.

That said, we all have a number of individuals who impact us in such a way that they leave lasting influences and lifelong memories, and I have many. First, there are my parents, all of them. My biological mother and father created a foundation for me that, to this day, influences who I am. My stepparents, Bill, Michele, and Jeff, have all brought me lessons and joy that continue to influence me on a daily basis.

Leonard Rice and Kevin Chwala are nearly lifelong friends. Leonard has been a true friend to me since the early 1990s, and his friendship has been nothing but a ray of sunshine in my memories. Kevin and I have known each other since third grade. He’s like a brother to me. Another friend and trusted member of my team, Braden Zoet, has been pivotal in bringing the ideas in The I in Team Series to life. His thorough approach, to all of life, is an inspiration to me.

My family—René, Kristin, Mary, and Henry—have all positively influenced my life. Henry, my son, brings me so much joy and pride and he continues to amaze me with the person he has become. Kristin, my daughter, is a great source of pride for me, as are her daughter (my granddaughter) Kenzi and her husband, Isaiah. I look forward to watching them grow as individuals and as a family. Mary, my other daughter and co-author, is one of the most amazing humans on the planet. She and her future husband, Spencer, bring me so much joy whenever we are together. With Mary, I learn, teach, and share life in a way where there is never a moment when I question what we do or why we do it.

Finally, my beautiful wife, René, has been my life partner since 1990 and she is quite literally the rock of our entire family and the catalyst for us all to be amazing in our influence. René’s energy and approach to life has influenced not only us but the people she interacts with to be better and spread positivity. René’s energy is infectious.

I want to thank and acknowledge all the people who have made me who I am today and who made this series possible. Your influence has positively affected me for the remainder of my days.


Foreword by René Smith

I met Brian thirty years ago when I was working at an auto body shop. He was my boss, and eventually, he fired me! In all honesty, it was justified as I was a flaky twenty-year-old kid who would rather goof off than go to work. What makes the story even better is that after he fired me, he asked me out on a date—and the rest, as they say, is history!

When Brian told me he and our daughter, Mary, were writing a second book, I was honored that he asked me if I would write the foreword. So, here I am, hoping to impart a bit of wisdom on what influence means to me. And here you are, hoping to glean a bit of knowledge of how your individual influence can benefit yourself and those around you. The advice I have for you to begin this journey takes us back to when I was first pregnant and when our children were young.

I wanted to tackle parenting with a different philosophy than the one my parents had. Therefore, I spent both of my pregnancies reading several parenting and self-help books. I stored in my memory what I felt was important, what spoke to me, and left the rest. One lesson that stood out—that some of you may already know—is to count to ten when you are feeling emotional. Of course, this advice is great, in theory, but can be a tough thing to do in the heat of the moment. Additionally, another lesson that stuck with me was to imagine that, in the heat of the moment, there is a camera recording my actions for a pretend audience. The advice was, Would you, then, be proud of your actions in front of your audience?

For me, pretending I had a fake audience worked better than counting to ten. As a parent, it wasn’t always a fake audience. My children were always with and watching me, learning from me, as all children do. However, this trick helped me so much that I began to use it in my everyday activities. I would ask myself, Would my pretend audience like that I let the person at the grocery store—with only four items in their cart—go ahead of me when I had a full cart? Would my pretend audience like to hear me keep my cool while dealing with a difficult phone call? This trick helped me slow down and think, Am I proud of how I am using my influence right now?

If I felt good about the film I was producing, then I felt like I was on the right track. There was also an added benefit to my filmmaking: I felt really good about myself! I realized I was becoming a better parent and a better person. Ultimately, I felt like I was becoming a better influence on those around me. Then, on the other hand, if upon reviewing my film I saw that there was room for improvement, I tried to learn from it and pushed myself to be better next time. While I knew that my audience was pretend most of the time, I also had my children to think about. Then, I started considering, Is my audience really ‘pretend?’

It may look like people are in their own bubble—head down stuck in their phone—but I also think that people keep their eyes and ears open. Perhaps not all people all of the time, but I am certain that I am not alone when I say that witnessing a disagreement play out in front of me takes precedence over my social media app and what my friend is eating for dinner. This is where the influence we have on strangers comes into play. I think people do pay attention more than we realize. Therefore, why aren’t we all continually asking ourselves, Am I the best version of myself right now?

Now, you might be thinking, René, I don’t care about what other people think of me. I don’t need to please anyone other than myself. While I do agree that we shouldn’t be overly concerned with what others think of us, that is not the point of being filmed. The idea that we are being filmed for a pretend audience is a great tool because I believe that there are people in each of our lives who we want to make proud. YOU get to choose who your pretend audience is! It could be your spouse, children, parents, God, favorite sports team, or even a room full of people like you. Your audience should be anyone who helps you be the best version of yourself. Ultimately, it is you who you are making the film for, and you who needs to be pleased with your actions. At the end of the day, you have to go to sleep at night and be able to live with yourself.

I don’t think many of us realize the degree to which we influence others; or for that matter, how long our influence may stick with others. One of my first babysitting jobs was when I was in junior high. Lisa, a mother of three-year-old twins, was hoping to have two hours for herself in the afternoons, so I helped after school. From her, I learned about time-outs. Should one of the twins need a time-out, they had to sit on the stairs for three minutes (one minute for every year). This was my first experience with time-outs, and I loved that discipline could be done calmly and without anger. Almost forty years later and I still remember her and the influence she had on me and my parenting.

The influence each of us portrays can be just as powerful. We may not realize who is paying attention at any given moment. We may not even realize that our influence could impact someone for their entire lifetime. Here I am, writing about Lisa, my neighbor who I babysat for nearly forty years ago. I am positive that there are people in your life, too, who you can look back on as being a powerful influence in your life, whether that be positive or negative. That is why, for me, having my pretend audience watch my life film plays such an important role in being the best person I can be.

Alas, no one is perfect. You may feel that there are times when your film needs to go on the cutting room floor, but that’s part of life! We can learn from our mistakes and failures and move on to be a better influence. Only when we strive to learn and grow are we at our best. And only then can we be a positive influence on ourselves and others. It’s exciting, right? Knowing how important you and your influence really are? At least, I hope by now you can appreciate how your influence is the most important thing you have.

Now, it’s your time to shine! Show the world your powerful and positive influence. Get out there and start making a great film, one that you can be proud of and feel good about. Not only will you feel good on the inside, but you will most likely show someone else what being cognizant of their actions and influence can do. It’s really a win-win scenario.

I hope you enjoy learning how to be a positive influence for your teams! I may be biased, but Brian is my favorite author of all time.

Even if he did fire me. *wink*



This book is a continuation of your journey to learn more about how to be a positive influence for yourself and your teams. We say teams because we believe you belong to several teams. One being your family, another being your coworkers, and perhaps you are on a sports team or in a club. Anytime you join one or several other individuals in pursuit of a common goal, you become a team. In our first book, we take you on an internal journey to discover your foundation, who you are, and how you are perceived. In our second book (this book), we want to help you understand how to apply the knowledge learned in the first book while striving to be a positive influence.

In fact, one of the questions born from writing our first book, Individual Advantages: Find the I in Team, was What do I do with the influence I have? How can I ‘be’ the ‘I’ in team? Our words, actions, decisions, thoughts, and reactions, or lack thereof, do have an influence. They influence us and those around us, rippling away like the rings around a rock freshly thrown into the water. That influence can impact various singular individuals, but they can also impact teams/groups or what we like to call Individuals (which we characterize with a capitalized I).

Another way we can look at the power of influence is through the lens of the butterfly effect. Boiled down, the butterfly effect essentially explains that even one small action can cause a ripple effect into a much larger, greater action. With the butterfly effect, one generally does not know if their actions, words, or reactions cause an influence-ripple, nor do they usually know who they may affect. By understanding that each of us matters, as does the influence we create, we can begin to live our lives more consciously aware of the effect we have on others, even if we can’t see them.

Additionally, we have our own perceptions of the world around us. Our perceptions are based upon a multitude of variables, from how we grew up to where we are now. Our cumulative life experience and how we choose to view our life’s progression create our perception. To better understand our words, actions, thoughts, perception, and influence, we must first slow down. Slowing down allows us to examine our past from our earliest memories to our more recent ones in a comprehensive way. The process of self-reflection is different for everyone, which is why the first book focuses on a multi-method approach to self-reflection that is inclusive. Understanding yourself, what influences you, and what you influence allows you to be your best self.

As I pointed out in my first book, there is a word that I am notorious for using, even when it seems I am clearly speaking about myself: We. I have been known for using the word we when speaking about my own work. This is because there haven’t been many things in my professional career that I alone have provided; I have always had a team supporting me. In this book, you will see the use of we when it may seem that I am only talking about myself. Additionally, I can often confuse people with my interchangeable use of I and We, but I am unsure of the exact moment I made this shift. It was around the time one of my partnerships was terminated and I had an overwhelming epiphany about how my actions contributed to that termination.

You may be asking yourself how you can take control of the influence you have. I have personally recognized that my thoughts and actions influence what happens in my life and those around me. From the moment I wake up to when I come home for dinner, every interaction and thought influenced other individuals and myself. The conscious shift for me from I to We improved my relationships across all aspects of my life, and now I find myself specifically pausing at the use of the word I, wondering if it’s possible that there is a better way to make individual statements without clouding context or the details. My goal for this book, and this series, is to convey my belief that our individual influence is something we must be mindful of, because influence is our single greatest responsibility in life. Our individual influence begins before we are born, when our parents discover our existence; despite knowing nothing about us, they know we will be an individual they are responsible for.

Influence goes both ways; just as we influence our mothers and fathers when we are discovered (that is, when we are still growing in our mother’s womb and they first discover our existence), our mothers and fathers influence us. In Find the I in Team, I discuss the influence of being born to a young mother and father who, while loving me, were still unaware of who or what they really wanted to be or do with their lives. Their ability to live in a reactive environment established much of who I am today. In this book, I will continue teaching lessons on how to be a positive influence through the lens of personal storytelling. I believe storytelling and learning from others’ mistakes is one of the most effective ways we learn.

Be the I in Team was written to help you use your foundation and build on it so that you can be the best leader for yourself and others. You may even notice that we revisit some topics discussed in the first book. We do this because there are some topics and lessons that are so large that they require further explanation depending on which perspective you take. With our first book, we were looking from the perspective of finding your foundation; in this book, we are looking from the perspective of being a positive influence. Each topic discussed here is designed to help you accentuate your strengths and overcome challenges that may be holding you back from being a positive, influential leader. We also want to help you learn and explore new ideas that we did not cover in Find the I in Team, topics that are directly attributed towards leadership that can be applied to any type of environment.

The adage is that there is no I in team; however, our entire series is centered around the concept that there is an I in team. The main definition of I, in terms of our philosophy, is influence; however, another smaller, still important, definition of I is individual/Individual. We defined these terms in the first book as Individual, characterized with a capitalized I, meaning more than one person or a group. Subsequently, an uncapitalized i, individual, refers to a single person. When you work alone, you are an individual.

When you work on a team towards a goal, together you become an Individual. Therefore, all teams are considered Individuals. We define Individuals as companies, communities, families, friend groups, sports teams, countries, and more. When we work, no matter the field, our work represents more than just ourselves. By working, we represent who we are and exude our influence. Our influence demonstrates that which currently influences us and that which has influenced us.

In Find the I in Team, it was my goal to provide a foundation of understanding that would help individuals be their best self and define their individual influence. Life is not about who has the most. Very few people will remember you for what you tangibly possessed; most will remember the influence you had on them and others. That is why you remember how people made you feel or what they said, as opposed to remembering what they wore. This stems from who you are and who you decide to be as a human being.

Now is the time to determine if you want to have a positive or negative influence. Individual Advantages: Be the I in Team will attempt to lead you towards being a positive influence on your teams. If you wish to be a positive influence for yourself and your teams, you must take the foundational understanding of yourself—which you learned in the first book—and begin to apply that understanding to the lessons taught in the pages that follow. Some lessons we will tackle are keeping composure, taking the high road, finding balance, being fair and objective, taking things for granted, and more. The lessons contained herein are meant to guide you on a path towards a better and more sustainable life. It’s time to be a positive influence for yourself and your teams.



You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.

– Scott Adams

We risk diminishing the value of our influence when we ignore the influence we have over others and focus solely on the influence we have on ourselves. This is something that can happen to anyone, and probably will happen to you from time to time. This tendency can be recognized in those who are consistently selfish or think the world revolves around them. Those who purposely ignore their influence can create chaos and destruction in their lives and the lives of others. By understanding our influence and using it properly, we must understand that we are a product of all that influences us.

We have one request to ask of you as you prepare for this reading journey: be honest with yourself. We aren’t going to ask you to change anything about yourself (unless you want to), we just ask that if there are some negative or not-so-positive traits about yourself (as defined by you) that you be honest about them. In order to learn from our writings and beliefs, and to be the best influence you can be, you must be honest. As with our first book, we will share stories and experiences that have happened throughout the course of our lives.

These stories resonate with our belief that individual and influence are synonymous and hold the keys to being a positive leader for yourself and your teams. This stems from our belief that you cannot have influence without the individual and vice versa; they are so closely associated that their mere mention brings the other to mind. We believe it would be impossible to be an individual and not have influence. Being alive means being influential. As previously noted, our influence begins at conception. When we are born, we create a larger Individual, our family, and together we begin to influence the lives of those around us.

As we age, we begin to join other Individuals–work, sports teams, community service, friend groups, and any other team-like environment where we have an opportunity to work with other individuals. For my team, my Individual Advantages (DBA IA Business Advisors) team,

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