Steve Bollar, a.k.a. Stand Tall Steve, is an educational thought leader, former Superintendent of Schools, principal, author and a culture and motivation expert. At 6’7, everyone assumed he would become a basketball player, but instead he pursued a career as an art teacher and eventually as a motivational speaker.
In this episode of the She Finds Joy podcast, Steve and Kim discuss how we are told that in order to be a leader, you need to have certain attributes. Leaders are often expected to show little emotion, always be serious, not to have fun, and definitely never reveal their vulnerabilities. But, in reality, when you take the magic of who you are and integrate that with real leadership skills, you are able to maximize results and become a leader who is truly connected to your people.
“I’ve always done things differently and I say ‘Why not me?’” – Steve Bollar
Tune in to learn about:
- Steve’s journey from art teacher to motivational speaker.
- The importance of understanding what you respect and value, and how that leads to your decisions.
- How to do things differently than what others expect from you.
- Ways you can find the courage to show up as your most authentic self.
- Why you aren’t supposed to blend in with the crowd.
- How to stand tall in your life and have confidence in everything you do.
- How to have a vision instead of blindly stumbling through life.
Check out the episode on Youtube as well.
About Steve Bollar
Steve Bollar is an educational thought leader, former Superintendent of Schools, principal, author and a school culture and motivation expert. He is known for his quick wit, creative thought, and humorous personality.
Steve is the author of the leadership book Stand Tall Leadership, school culture book Ideas, Ideas, Ideas!, and is a contributing author in the book School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying One Classroom at a Time.
Steve openly shares his knowledge, experiences and creativity with others. He currently speaks to students, staff and communities throughout the country about how to think differently about schools, education, and life.
Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and a mission-minded person whose passion helps others overcome their fears and discover their joy!
Kim Strobel 00:09
Okay, I have a surprise for all of you on the she finds joy podcast today. It's kind of a monumental day. I have for the first time on the she finds joy podcast, I am interviewing a man. Yes, his name is Steve bowler, aka stand tall Steve. And he is an educational thought leader, former superintendent of schools principal author, and a school culture and motivation expert. He is known for his quick wit, creative thought and humorous personality. Now, I just have to tell all of you who are listening, you're like, But wait, I'm not a teacher. I'm not an educator, is this episode going to be for me? Well, I'm going to tell you, it absolutely is for you. Because Steve is all about motivation, leadership, and really how we can use our attributes and our values to live a life that feels really good to who we are on the inside out. And so he's also the author of a leadership book called stand tall leadership. And I love that he openly shares his knowledge, his experiences and his creativity with others. So Steve, welcome to the show. You are the first ever man to join us.
Steve Bollar 01:28
Hey, this is exciting. Thank you so much. Here I am. I'm glad to be here. I am so happy to be here. This is exciting for me.
Kim Strobel 01:38
A lot about you see, because what happened was you reached out to me to interview me for Was it a virtual summit you were doing or was it your podcast? Your podcasts? Yeah.
Steve Bollar 01:50
Stand tall leadership show?
Kim Strobel 01:51
Yeah, the stand tall leadership podcast. And then we had just this natural flow. And we both know that while we're very passionate about education and students and impacting and influencing culture within schools, there was like, way more to us than even that in that report, right? Yeah.
Steve Bollar 02:10
It was crazy. Yes. It's like certain people that you just come in contact with, and the flow just happens and that's exactly what it was when you and I were connecting. The flow just happened.
Kim Strobel 02:23
So how do you go from being a school teacher to being a superintendent to running the stand tall Leadership Academy basically, or right, you know, tell me where this comes from. Give us the backstory to you.
Steve Bollar 02:36
Sure. Sure. Yeah. So um, I my career, so to speak, started in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. I started off as an art teacher. I went to Kutztown University for art education. I actually knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an art teacher. So I got I was very fortunate that I got a job right out of school at Lawrenceville elementary school. So I got a job there. Now, for those who don't know what I look like, I am a six foot seven. Bald black guy. I'm a tall guy. I look like a basketball player. I just do I look like a walk right off of the court. Six, Seven black. I both had that sort of. So being that I was in this Elementary School in Lawrenceville. I love what I did. Nobody looked like me where I was. And it was perfectly okay. I embraced it. And I just loved it. So as an elementary art teacher, I thought that was the end all job. I had an evaluation one day for my principal and he said to me, he says make sure you go back to school, you know, get your master's in something and I had no
idea I was you know, 2425 I was like, Okay, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. He says you could be a principal you could. I said Really? I could be a principal. He says Yeah, why not? Because you know, I never heard of an art teacher becoming a principal or, you know, saying it's like it's a dream job. You throw a party every 40 minutes, you know. So I went back to school, I started looking at administrators, I started studying them. And I realized, I don't like administrators. I found them. They many of them were unimaginative. They didn't take risks. They weren't fun. They It was very formal. And I didn't like that. So I said, You know what, I'm going to be the administrator who does it differently. And so that's the reason why I got into administration that that was my road into it. I went back out my master's got became an assistant principal at a middle school. Then I got my first principalship at a pre K to five building. And then I moved on to an upper elementary building, where I was a district where I was there for eight years, eventually assistant superintendent and superintendent and I just and I did things differently. Um, you know, I did things completely differently. That's how I roll
Kim Strobel 04:45
now. Okay, so I want to know, because I talk a lot about how we have, we all have these paths that we're supposed to follow in life. You know, we go this is how you get from A to Z you go from A to B b2c and b2b and you follow this path and you do all the things, right? And then that that is what leads you to success. And so what I hear you saying is like you have more of a zigzaggy personality, you have more of a, like, I'm actually going to do everything different than what I've been told to do. Is that right? Kind
Steve Bollar 05:19
of Yeah, I mean, you're right, it's very zigzaggy. But my thing is this, and I just the way I look at a lot of things in life and, and such, I look at different experiences that are there, I try to get a good understanding of what the history of whatever that experience might be, or what it's really like. And then I determine what parts of it I think are good, what parts of it I don't like, Well, you know what, I'm going to do two things that I think it's right that I like, even in that that situation, my first assistant principal position first, this is I was a vice principal at a middle school, the principal, she was a very she was a younger principal, but she was very old school in the way that she led the building.
Yes, I'm gonna yell. Like, well,
Steve Bollar 06:08
it, you know, I'm gonna deal with this, I'm gonna get on, it's good. Everybody get in line, everybody do things, right. I'm in charge, that kind of attitude. And I was just looking at it, like, you know what, and somebody, I don't like that. I'm going to be a different kind of administrator. So I looked at even though she was a good mentor, you mentored me and things don't want to do. And therefore I kind of go in a different direction with that. And that's how I, I see a lot of things in life.
Kim Strobel 06:35
So will tell us how you lead differently. what that looks like. I want you to explain that first. And then I'm going to have some back end questions for you. So like, Okay, what does that look like to lead differently?
Steve Bollar 06:51
Well, in leading differently, what what what I, one of the things that's most important to me is my level of integrity. And what it is I respect and value, integrity and respect and value is a cornerstones of absolutely everything that I do. Once you've identified what it is that you respect and value you can in what your integrity level is, and what that level is. I go through making my decisions based off of that one of the quotes that I heard from, I think it was Roy Disney, they came up with it. When your vision is clear, decisions are easy. When your vision is clear, decisions are easy. So once you have your vision, once you have what you respect and value once you have what it is that you think is a core important to you. The decisions that you make are easy. Does it fit within your vision and what you respect and value or doesn't it? If it doesn't, then I'm not going to do it? Or I'm going to find another way to make that happen? How can I make certain decisions that are not only strategical good decisions, but Connect me to people? And that's another thing. I love people, how do I connect to people? How do I make it better that we have a quality relationship from it? Sometimes what it is that I do might not be exactly what you want and what you think is might be best, but I don't want to ruin our relationship. You know, you don't have to ruin a relationship over it, we can make these positive things happen.
Kim Strobel 08:12
Okay, so let's, let's break that down a little bit further. So give me some give me an idea of something that you respect and value and how that plays out in your everyday decision making.
Steve Bollar 08:23
All right, one of the things I respect and value wholeheartedly is I respect and value humor. This is something that's important in my life. I mean, I know a lot of times when you think of leadership, you think I respect, you know, strategy, I respect growth, I respect and value humor. I love to laugh. I've tried all the emotions, humor is one that I like, you know, so when I'm making decisions, and I'm making certain things happen, I'm going to find a way to see if I can make someone smile with him that I'm going to say find a way to see if someone can be if I can find humor in it appropriate humor appropriate. And I that's, that's very important to me. So it manifests itself in my decisions in my actions.
Kim Strobel 09:09
So I love that rather than try. Okay, so let's back up when I was getting my administrator. I was getting my administrative degree because I had leadership skills like I knew I loved leadership, like as a classroom teacher. I was always studying progressive topics and then a lot of times my principal was like, hey, cam, will you present on this? Will you present on that and like I love sharing my whatever newfound knowledge and I did so I'm like, Okay, well I'm gonna go become a principal but or get my administrators license but then I was like, Oh my gosh, like I don't want like I don't I would never want to be a principal because like I have it in my mind. Like you have to be super straight laced. Um, you have to like, in my mind There's this idea of the personality that you have to have in order to be a principal. And I was never even like, I was always that teacher who was pushing the limits. I was always that teacher who, like you said, I was giggling and laughing and doing wild, outlandish things in the classroom. And so I kind of had this idea like, Oh, I could never be a principal because I would have to change who I am. And so what you're saying is, you saw that, but then you decided to just take on that leadership, but also make sure that it aligns to who you are, rather than trying to fit yourself in this box of how you're supposed to behave. Act. You know, yes.
Steve Bollar 10:43
You're spot on. That's exactly what I did. Because I was where you were. When I was a teacher. I looked at administered before I decided to go into it. I was like, all right, hey, let me check these administrators out. Oh, yeah. Oh,
Kim Strobel 10:59
yeah. Like you. You have to be like a serious person. To be very grounded, you have to be totally emotional, actually almost emotionless. Right. And I'm like, I am not any of them.
Steve Bollar 11:15
and I think what made me want to do it, and that's what made me want to do it. 1002. I was like,
Steve Bollar 11:22
If I can get into that position. And I can be Steve, in that position. Holy crap, what I could do. That's my thought. I was just like, no, mind you, please don't get it wrong. When I got in that position. I hit a brick wall. It was, you know,
Kim Strobel 11:39
yeah, I wouldn't know about that. Like, did you get pushback? Did people were people upset with you?
Steve Bollar 11:46
It who you telling Yes. If people were like this, you know, you're not being very principal. Like, you know, I got that you're not being very principal? Like, I'm not No. And I said, Well, good thing. I'm not a principal yet. Because I wasn't I somebody said I was the vice principal. That's a good thing. I'm not a principal yet. And I'm like, well, you'll never get there. I said, Okay, thanks for letting me know that. I'm just I always it's Yeah, I've gotten pushback. I've had a diminished. I had my Superintendent one time come and say to me, it just like, I don't think that you know, your staff is going to respect you, with you continue to behave this way. I said, behave what way? She says you're walking around the school wearing superhero costume.
She says, she says
Steve Bollar 12:34
you're you're dancing all the time. She says there's a moment that you need to be serious, that says, I'm serious when I have to be. I can. You know, it says but I said, Look, I'm the friendliest. And the meanest person in this building is completely up to you which one you get? it, you know, and it's nothing wrong with switching it up. There's nothing wrong with that. And there's times when I would talk to my staff and my one school I was there for eight years at the building principal. I came up with two different personas with my staff. I said there's Mr. bowler. And then there, Steve. And they got it. Mr. bowler says, get this done. It needs to be done. Now, here's your timelines. Here's our outcomes, make it happen. Steve says, I hope y'all get together afterwards and go for a drink cuz I'm coming with y'all, you know, so. And they understood what that meant. And it's like, why not frame your leadership around what it is. Don't forget what the framework of leadership is, yes, I got that. But you can be you in that.
Kim Strobel 13:41
Everyone loved that. See that? I took a totally different road. So. So I, I was a teacher then I was a literacy coordinator. And all I wanted to do was become a curriculum director, I wanted to bypass the whole principal assistant principal, because one I knew I wasn't like a serious type. And I would display emotion. And I felt like I didn't have any of the attributes that I needed to actually be that particular principal. You know, I kept telling myself, like my friend, Laura, who's the principal, who I really adore, but like her skill set is, you know, she's very serious. And she's not very emotional. And she's very grounded. And she really thinks through things before she acts on them. And I just kept telling myself like, Why can I just be like Laura noble, like, why can't I just be her and then I could have that kind of job, but I just couldn't do it, Steve. And so then on top of it, I had two white men who were at the central office and let me just tell you, if anybody triggered them it was Kim Strobel. Hmm. You know, like, well, she can never be a principal. We saw her on the golf course and she was wearing some short shorts.
Steve Bollar 14:51
hired you Oh, my God. exactly what I need. Yeah. Yes.
Kim Strobel 14:58
It's so like, I am I actually had to go outside of my hometown, and I landed a curriculum job, because I let two people to, for lack of a better word, good old white boys determine that I wasn't the good fit. And that if I ever wanted a job like that I needed to completely
change my personality and never share anything about my personal life. Like I'm overshare. You know, Kim, you can't do any of that stuff. And so, unlike you, I first tried to make myself fit the system. Yeah. And then when I couldn't make myself fit the system, I went somewhere else where they I was hired by a female who wasn't so triggered by me. But even then, like, I still wasn't able to bring my whole flair to what I do. And I never felt the freedom to do that until I launched my own business. So I want to know how what is it in you? That had the courage to just be who you were out of the gate? Like, that's crazy to me, like, I feel nervous for you just thinking about it. Well, you know,
Steve Bollar 16:02
one of the things throughout my life, I've always been very creative. I'm a creative person. I have a degree in art and people don't realize I'm a I'm a I'm a classically trained artist. I can paint or draw absolutely anything. I'm also a musician. I played trumpet for many years.
Kim Strobel 16:16
So I'm in the arts. Do I for sure. Not admin material.
Steve Bollar 16:20
Exactly. No, I don't fit it anyway. Give me a trio hug it you know what I'm saying? Yeah. But that's it. That's my brother. He's more of that. I'm a little different in that anyway. Because he has a degree in theater. He's the you know, that's
even worse. I know. And
Steve Bollar 16:35
here's the here's the kicker. My dad has a degree in mathematics and physics, and my mother was a registered nurse, completely opposite.
Kim Strobel 16:42
And she you got they created these two kind of right brained kids.
Steve Bollar 16:46
Oh, we were out there. Yeah. Oh, totally. 100%. So anyway, so as far as my entire life has always revolved around creativity. I I love being creative. I love seeing things differently. But yet, I think from my father's perspective, specifically my father, my father was also in the military. Alright. So as far as having values, straitlaced, make sure things are done. Get your job, you know, those kinds of things. I think between those two things, it allowed me to have a certain level of confidence because I knew how to operate within the straightlaced get things done, don't move. I was even in the sea cadets for a while where my dad enrolled us into secret. My brother and I and sea cadets. My brother didn't do
Kim Strobel 17:30
that. What our sea cadets,
Steve Bollar 17:32
so you could ask it's version of the Navy, but for younger kids. Really, it is. There's a sea cadets, there's a Civil Air Patrol, there's different ones that are out there. I was in the sea cadets. And I even my couple of my summers, I went to the Coast Guard camp and I was out on on boats and shotguns. I mean, I was military. Right. So I think those two balances allowed me to, you know, understand the two different worlds now. Your question, what gave me the courage to go and do that I've always been in leadership positions. I was in Student Council my entire career, I was a class president, you know, in my college, you know, and I felt like, you know, I want to do some leadership things I've chosen education is my wheelhouse. I found it. You know, I got to give it a go. You know, I've always I got to give it a go. And I've always thought in my head, throughout my life, why not me? Why not? And then on top of all this, here's another little piece with me that nobody knows. I'm dyslexic. I have dyslexia. Right. I did not find out I had dyslexia until I was in college.
Kim Strobel 18:41
Oh my gosh, so you weren't like a straight A student? Oh, gosh, no, I
Steve Bollar 18:45
rocked the solid DC, C, D, I wasn't an F. But you know, every now and then I rocked out some B's. But no, no, like, here's my brother and sister. their grades were horrible on our own. So I look like a saint my house. So that's why, you know me. So. But growing up, I never understood why I couldn't academically do the things everyone else. But I'm like, I
used to say to myself, why not me? Why not me? And I was just like, No, I wouldn't get down on myself. Like, I can do this. And I would push myself. So therefore, when I got to school, and I got a job and I started looking at leadership. I went right back to what I know, why not me? Why not? Why not? And so that's, that's, that's that. Yeah,
Kim Strobel 19:31
that's the pivotal thing that you said back to yourself. And so okay, there's a couple of things that I want to break down here because I love this topic. And first of all, I want to really make a clear message to anybody listening to this because what we do is we underestimate our potential all of the time because we base it on the so called academic intelligence and the grades that we had in school and then we let that determine how far we can go in life. And so one of the things that I'm really passionate about is Understanding that in school in school, they measure one or two types of intelligence, right. And so, you know, you have the left brain intelligence. So for those of you who don't know, your brain has two hemispheres and the left hemisphere is, is the part that's like mathematical, it's logical, it understands computation and algorithms. It can read right, comprehend and understand information. Like it's very black and white. And then the right side of the brain is like creativity, innovation, intuitiveness, empathy, compassion, big picture, thinking, the arts, music, that's all the right brain stuff. And so, you know, in, in K through 12, school, when I asked educators, what percentage of the day do kids get exposed to left brain versus right brain? It's like 9010, right? Like, Hey, I get my 5% and Mr. bowlers art class. And other than that, it's all left brain stuff. And so what happens is, if you're a right brain, or like you are Steve, or like my husband is he's like an 80%. right brain or 20%. Left, is most of the time those kids go through school. And they feel like they don't measure up to other students, because they're not smart, according to what school deems as smart, which is like IQ and logical reasoning and intelligence. And what I believe is that we have to start understanding for the people that are listening to that, first of all, what we know is IQ is responsible for about four to 10% of a person's career success. Did you know that Steve
Steve Bollar 21:32
knew that I did not know No,
Kim Strobel 21:34
four to 10%. But yeah, all we do is focus on making sure that kids can read, write and do science and Lord knows we don't have time for the arts or creativity or, you know, shoot I
remember a few years ago when we said we don't even have money for real art teacher, so we're going to put the program assistant in there and she's gonna yard all day. Yeah, yep. Crazy. So what happens is, we don't understand that there's so many different ways to be smart. So what I love about this story is you're like a CD student who goes on to freakin become a superintendent. Okay, who goes on to start your own business, because you have this inner belief that I will tell you, most people, I feel like would not have had that confidence. But somehow you were either taught that or that was ingrained in you or you just had it to know like, why not me? Why couldn't I do this? The other thing I want to tell you is Dan pink has this amazing book called a whole new mind and the subtitle, Steve, is why right brainers will rule the future.
Did you know? Not that? I
Steve Bollar 22:36
didn't know I'm getting that one. Well, this
Kim Strobel 22:37
is this is why you're so good at what you do. Because actually your creativity and your relationship skills, your empathy skills, your compassion skills, all of those are right brain things and you bring that to leadership, which does make you an anomaly.
Steve Bollar 22:53
You know, and I appreciate that. And I, you know, part of this is, you know, you were saying, you know, I had to wear with all that the why not me before. When I found out that I was dyslexic, I found out my freshman year, second semester, freshman year, I had a professor and we had to do it was an art theories class of some sort. No, so my sophomore year, my sophomore year, we had to do an impromptu writing. So I did this impromptu writing writing class. The next class, she pulls me in Dr. Berkut. She's like, Steve, are you dyslexic? And I was like, What do you say about my mama, you know, because I didn't know what she was talking about what? And she explained what it was, I was like I might be she says, Well, you need to go to the student center, you know, on campus, get evaluated, so we can help you. And I'm like, Alright, I didn't go. I wasn't going. And so she got you know, next couple classes did you go now? Next class? Yeah, I went, she looked at me. No, you didn't. Then after like the fourth or fifth class, she's after class. She said, Steve,
I need you to come with me. I said, Okay. She walked me to the center. She took me there to get evaluated, and that's when we found out I had dyslexia. And most of the things that they taught me to help me with dyslexia, I was already doing here
Kim Strobel 24:08
saying that you didn't even want to know the results because you didn't even care about the results. I could care less what she was talking about. I
Steve Bollar 24:15
just knew I couldn't spell. I guess what I did. You know? I mean, truthfully, me think college guy you know what you want to go where do what now? What nine doing that? So all I cared about was I need to pass the class. I love the class. Art theory. Are you kidding me? That's right in my wheelhouse. I just knew I couldn't spell that. Well. I was a horrible speller. But anyway, here's the thing. After I went through all this, and I learned all this, I started to think back to my life. I'm so glad I didn't know I was dyslexic. If I knew I was dyslexic, I would have used that as a crutch. I would have said, Well, I'm dyslexic. Well, I didn't know I was dyslexic. I couldn't have done that I was dyslexic, I would have gotten an IEP or five or four or accommodations. Right? Yeah. But since and nobody figured it out through school, and thank god they didn't.
Kim Strobel 25:16
Like when you were getting those grades, did you feel like you weren't smart?
Steve Bollar 25:22
In some cases, yes. I mean, I remember the emotions of not feeling smart. But then I would look at the people who were getting the good grades. And I'm like, they don't understand anything. I think just like, yeah, they're getting the grades. But, you know, we have a conversation. And, you know, we talk about, you know, we're playing kickball or in the backfield or whatever like that. And I totally, you know, hey, here's a strategy we can use. And they're looking at me like, What were you talking about? These people are not that smart. And I couldn't put it all together. I you know, you're a kid. You know, you're growing up. But I knew there was something different about me. I knew that there's like, I can't be. I can't be that dumb. I just know that I'm not. I think it also helped them. My brother and sister were bringing in bcnf. Yeah, yeah.
Kim Strobel 26:11
So you felt kind of Yeah. Yeah. You don't? So yeah. When you say that? Okay, so here's a couple of
Steve Bollar 26:18
storms. One of the thing.
Kim Strobel 26:19
Yeah, there's a couple of things I'm thinking because when you're talking about. So when we were go, I just got to go back. I don't know if this is relating or not, I'm just going to tell you where my brain goes. It kind of jumps all over the place, kind of like some strange
Steve Bollar 26:33
reason I can follow you.
Kim Strobel 26:34
Yes, you can. So whenever you were talking about how you kind of just decided to bring your own flavor to leadership. And then I said, Oh, not me. I tried to conform. And then when I couldn't, I kind of tried to take this other route. And you know, get over here. And so you know how sometimes like, you're right, we kind of look for reasons why we are the way we are because it's sometimes kind of hard to like I'm sitting there going, Well, why didn't I have the courage to do what Steve did? And then you want to know what my next thought was? Because I just call an ace and a Steve. I was like, Oh, well, that's because I'm a woman, because it's way harder for women than it is for men. And then I'm looking here on my screen at Steve, who is a black man. And I'm like, oh, wait a minute. Steve's a man, but he's a black man.
Steve Bollar 27:23
Kim Strobel 27:24
Right. So you had so you had a way harder than a white woman would have it. So I can't
use that as an excuse, you know, but I'm sitting there kind of like thinking, How did he? Man this is like something in you. That is remarkable. But you also knew that you're What made you different? is also your special secret sauce. Because
Steve Bollar 27:49
Yeah, I would agree. My I knew, I knew that I was different. And here's the thing. Okay, let's let's go with the black man piece of this. Okay. Where I grew up was a mostly black town. Okay, okay. Um, it was a small town and set lower South Jersey. And there was a large number of African Americans living in this small town. So being a six foot seven black guy, what is your job to do?
Kim Strobel 28:16
Oh, yeah, I mean, I can't wait for people to see the picture of you. Because 100% You look like a basketball player.
Steve Bollar 28:23
I do. I look like so when you're when you were a tall kid. Growing up your job. play basketball. That's it. Now you want to talk about conforming? I did. I conformed like a champ. I went, yes. I got to play basketball. I got to get better at it. I played basketball. I was all in it was you know, so as far as you know, conforming to what other people believe and whatever people think I did that I got quite good. And I think if I'm not naturally talented in basketball, I'm not. But I worked hard at it ran you know, I made you know, I'll you know Allstate second team, you know, stuff like that, whatever. Like that. I was probably the only person on a second team. We didn't get a scholarship. I did not get a scholarship to school for basketball. And to be honest with you. I never loved basketball. I did it because that's what people said I should do. Right? Yes. Yeah. And so therefore, moving on. When I got to college, I didn't play. I'm like, I'm done. I'm not doing this anymore. This isn't who I am. This is what I want. And you know, and then moving on I that's where I think in college when I decided not to play basketball, and I decided I'm not going to do what everybody else thinks I should do. That's when that strength I feel so to speak really came about as to going forward no matter what. My first school that I spent I got a job at right out of college. very fortunate. Very happy to do it was in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Anybody knows anything about Lawrenceville. Lawrenceville is right next to Princeton University. City. Oh, it's the town of Princeton. Nobody in that town look like me. All right, nobody, nobody. So, on top of that, here I am, I'm in his elementary school. The school itself is across the street from Lawrenceville prep, which is one of the most
prestigious private schools in the country. This is where I'm working. And so that mindset of You know what, I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway. And there were people I very clearly straight up racism took place, you know, where I was working and the things that I did?
Kim Strobel 30:31
Absolutely, I bet it.
Steve Bollar 30:33
Yeah, like, like, like a beast it did. But you know, this is what I'm doing. And I you know, I just maneuvered I do what I could. And I kept telling myself, why not me? Why not? Me? Not me.
Kim Strobel 30:45
That, so? So what is it that you so this stand tall philosophy? Tell us a little bit more about that? How do you help others create that confidence in themselves and not have to adhere to like these old labels that we've carried around with us for years, or how we're supposed to act? Think talk, you know, walk, dress, all of that, like, what is the standard t sandhoff? philosophy?
Steve Bollar 31:14
Yeah, so the stand tall philosophy it you know, obviously, if you see me, I'm a tall guy, you can't miss it. So I started to think about what it was necessary. What things that connect with the world of tall people connect to leadership into your life. When I was in eighth grade, eighth grade was the year that everything went nuts for me. Beginning of eighth grade, I was five foot eight. At the end of eighth grade, I was six foot three. I know five, just imagine this. And this is not one school year this I mean, not one calendar year, one school year for like school started in September. I was five eight by June. By the end of school. I was six foot three. It was a brutal, it was brutal. brutal. So one of the things that happened during this year is I started to slouch. I did not stand up straight. I slouched over a lot, because I was standing out from everybody else around me. And if anybody ever dealt with a middle school, middle schooler conformities everything be like everyone else. And here I am. I'm growing super fast. My clothes were getting super small and tight. I mean, it was and then on top of my voice was jacked up, you know, the whole night. So one day when I was walking home from school, I had a friend of mine, her name was
Danielle, we're walking home from school. We turned on to her. I lived on Ninth Street. She lived on Seventh Street. So we were on Seventh Street where she was. She said, Steve, stay where you are. I said, Okay. She walked around behind me. I'm like, What are you doing? So just stay there. So okay. She took one hand, she put it on my shoulder. She took her other hand, balled it up into a fist and punch me in the middle of my back. And I was like, Girl, what is wrong with you? What are you doing? But of course, when she punched in the middle, my back? What did I do? I arch my back, and I stood up straight. She said to me, Steve, you're a tall guy, stop trying stop slouching down and stand tall. When she said that, to me. Everything switched. Everything switched in my head. Everything. I started at that moment, I was just like, oh my goodness, I get it. Now. This is who I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to be a tall guy. Now I started when I was a kid in school, I love school. I love school. Everything about it. I was in the I was in the band I was in the art club was in the chess club. I was in the debate club. And I wasn't just in it. I was a student council. I was like the president or vice president in it. I love that. And I realized when I was walking home from seventh or Seventh Street, the Ninth Street. I was like, I'm a leader. I don't blend in. Leaders are not supposed to blend in.
Kim Strobel 33:54
Oh, I love that leaders are not supposed to blend
Steve Bollar 33:58
- They're not. Leaders are supposed to stand out. Leaders are supposed to stand tall. And that's what that's the beginnings of the standard philosophy. It doesn't matter if you're four foot two or seven foot eight. You can stand tall and your leadership.
Kim Strobel 34:14
So give me some other examples unrelated to height where you think you ask people to embrace that uniqueness that is them. And by the way, thanks for keep keeping on talking because I had to mute myself. You heard my dogs go crazy in the background. So I was glad you kept rolling with it, you know, but yeah, it's like give us other examples of what you teach people to do. Because you know, I'm not tall but like, you know, how do you relate that to other pieces of life? Alright, so
Steve Bollar 34:43
within the stand tall philosophy and everything like that, I do connect it to tallness
sometimes because people can connect that kind of piece to it. And I say you know when you're first of all tall person, we don't blend in. We don't you pick us out right away, right. So I thought When I do trainings with them, it's not your job to blend in with everyone else. That's that courage I give them your job is to stand out. How do you stand out? Do you stand up doing conformity to everybody else?
Steve Bollar 35:12
you stand out? How do you make yourself more than ever than everyone else? That's that confidence. That piece, you got to develop that confidence. And we do strategies and things to develop your confidence so that you can stand out, you got to be a little vulnerable to people everywhere, we're vulnerable. No matter we can't we so much as you try to blend and you can. The other piece is this tall people, we see the world at a different level, we have a vision. If you ever been in a car, have you ever been in a crowd with a tall friend? What do you do you tell your tall friend to get in the front, you grab their hand and say go because you can see where to go? Yeah, therefore I teach people, you have to have a vision. You can't just go through life just blindly just hoping things work out, you got to have a vision. As I said earlier, in the beginning of this, when the vision is clear, decisions are easy, right? People we have a vision we can see over the clock, the crowd, we made a good decision because we know where it is that we're going to go. That's what I tried to tell people to do. And then the last piece of it is is tall people we don't we don't fit. We don't fit and call I don't fit in cars, I don't fit. Don't get me started on on airplanes, doorways, ceiling fans, these are all major issues in the world. So we always have to adjust have to change. So what I do is I tell people, you always got to adjust, you have to change things don't go your way things are not designed for you, this world is not designed for me. It isn't. I'm too tall, I'm live in a world too small for me. But you make adjustments you have to change. So that's a lot of what it is that I teach to people. And I use those references to start with. But basically it comes down to those basic things don't don't don't think you have to blend in, don't think you have to have a vision for your direction of where you're going. And you have to adjust.
Kim Strobel 36:54
You have to have a vision for a direction that you're going for the direction you are going. I love that. So I have a question. As we are nearing the end of this, what is what is one
piece of advice you have for our listeners? I mean, you've given several but just to kind of summarize this what what do you think that would help all of us with all of these different little philosophies that you've been talking about?
Steve Bollar 37:28
Well, I think the one thing is, is reflection. Um, if you notice, the running theme to a lot of this that I've talked about is I did a lot of reflecting on me. And, and mind you some people get into reflective play spot and a spiral. You know, don't spiral get to, you know, reflect on what it is that you really want. what works best for who you are, um, what things do you do, you know that, that that work, and what things that don't work, and you fix it. The one thing that I love to do is I look at things that I don't like, and I don't do it. I you know, and it's it's like when I go and I do professional development, I do training for people, you've been in trainings and things and you know, where they they're just horrible. Yes, oh my gosh, this training, I don't do them. Plain and simple. All this stuff I don't like I don't do and because I reflect on it, reflect on the experiences you've had in life, reflect on everything and say, Okay, this is what I value. This is why I respect and value in my life. This is how I reflect on reflecting on some things. All right now, move forward and go.
Kim Strobel 38:42
I love that. So how do I so it's basically how do we honor our strengths and the things that we value and create a vision for our life that matches those but also know that we always have to remain growth oriented, always
Steve Bollar 38:56
reflected piece always have to be growth oriented that reflect the pieces everything. You know, one of the things that I do I journal, you know, you know, check that out a guy who's just like, No, I
Kim Strobel 39:08
think that's why I fell in love with you on our interview. I was like, Oh my goodness, a guy who journals for basketball players. So I just tell him it's been I have to I have to tell you, Steve, I was like, Oh, so I just, I have an interview today. You know, with Steve, remember
the six foot seven guy that looks like a basketball player? Do you have a thing for people who look like athletes? I'm just going to tell you Okay,
Steve Bollar 39:29
there you go. I get it. I totally get it. I get it. Yeah, I mean, I mean, part of the purpose of me journaling, you know, and again, I care less if I spell it right or not. Yeah. Yeah. But it's that reflective piece. It's that piece of just reflecting on what's happening with me and where I'm going. I mean, you know, depression is all about what happened in the past anxieties about what's happening in the future. I want to stay in the middle of that and just reflect on where I'm going so that the future is good. And yeah,
Kim Strobel 40:01
that's one of the top happiness habits too. Did you know that journaling? Oh, really? Okay. Yeah, it's like one of the top five or six happiness habits that they talked about.
Steve Bollar 40:10
Well, there you go. Well, I'm on it.
Kim Strobel 40:12
You are on it. Okay. I have a question for you. Where can people like what do you work just with education or you work with other groups to write
Steve Bollar 40:21
I work with all groups? I really do. I mean, my wheelhouse has been education, but leadership is leadership periods. Climate cultures, climate and culture, period. So yeah, I work in all different groups.
Kim Strobel 40:32
Yeah, that's kind of like I'm like, Hey, I'm not just a happiness coach in education. Like, I don't care what business you're in. You need a happiness coach, or you need a leadership coach. Right. So where can people find you?
Steve Bollar 40:42
Well, if you look up stand tall, Steve, just about anywhere. You'll see me stand tall Steve calm. If you're looking at my mainly my leadership stuff. It's stand tall dash
leadership.com. So, Twitter, stand tall, Steve, Facebook, stand tall, Steve. LinkedIn, Steve bolt, what Steven bowler for the for LinkedIn, and
Kim Strobel 41:08
I'll drop all of those social links. I think you've sent them to me, I'll make sure and put them in the show notes for anybody who's looking. Okay. So I end a lot of my interviews by asking this one question. Are you ready? Oh, okay, let's go. Are
Kim Strobel 41:22
you stand tall Steve reaching for more joy in your life right now?
Steve Bollar 41:28
How am I reaching for more joy in my life right now? Well, one of the things I've done just recently, um, I got a new journal, I'm really excited about this thing. It says Oh, organizer, or
like a planner.
Steve Bollar 41:44
It's like, it's like a planner journal kind of a thing. It's a new one. So this is a self. It's called self journal, the self journal anyway, in there, what you do is you make these goals for every 13 weeks, it's a 13 week plan. So I have these new goals that I have created. And I didn't just make these goals to be focused around better job and outcomes for my money. You know, one of the things that I value greatly is humor. And I grant you family. So one of the things that I'm reaching to give me joy is I put in here is one of my goals to connect with family every day. And, and when I mean, connect with family, it's not like, Hey, what's going on? Like, I want to have a half decent, if not completely decent conversation with someone in my family every day, because I found that, that makes me smile. It makes me
happy. And like I said, I've tried all the motions. I like happy. So that's what I'm gonna do.
Kim Strobel 42:46
I love that. You know, I just had that thought recently because my husband and I have been vegging out in the evenings watching shits Creek, and I just got onto that show. We did, too. We just got onto ice. Because the dad was an American Pie. And I just loved that crazy movie. And I loved how he acted in there. And he acts the same way in this series.
Steve Bollar 43:06
Yes. And then his son David, oh my gosh, this is so funny. But anyway, guys, you know
Kim Strobel 43:12
that that the Father Son actors in that movie are real father and son and they're the producer of that show?
Steve Bollar 43:18
Yes. And and and try Allah. I think it's tyla. Sister. She's a sister. Yeah, she's the sister. Yes. Isn't that crazy?
Kim Strobel 43:29
Yeah. Crazy. Well, I'm loving. My hurt.
Steve Bollar 43:32
Kim Strobel 43:33
okay. Well, I decided today when I was like, sitting down with my gratitude journal, and I was kind of going over my intentions for the week that my husband and I because you know, we're empty nesters that we need to get back to having our nightly tea time where we connect with each other. And we actually have conversation rather than just laughing through our netflix like so I think that your that's a great way to find more joy and
meaning in your life. And it's funny because I'm kind of on the same wavelength. Now, I will tell you that Scott Strobel he's going to kind of roll his eyes when I bring this back up because he's a little bit more of the introvert like, avoider. Like let's not talk about anything too deep. And then his wife's always wanting to talk about deep things. Hey, when he gets home, and I'm like, Hey, we're gonna have our nightly tea time again and have conversation.
Steve Bollar 44:21
Oh, great. That's deep god.
Kim Strobel 44:25
Oh my gosh, it's been such an honor. I so appreciate your vulnerability, you sharing your stories, your confidence. It just oozes from you, but I love that you just want people to honor what makes them unique.
Steve Bollar 44:38
Yeah, that's what it is. Is something everybody has is things that are about you. Embrace that, and why not you? Why not? You are not you. That's it.
Kim Strobel 44:49
For those of you who are listening, trot maybe you need to make a little sticky note, put it on your computer, put it on your bathroom mirror, right? Why not me. I love that Steve. Thank you.
Steve Bollar 45:00
Yeah, you're welcome so much I love this. We I have a new friend said before when you're on my podcast, I have a new friend. We're friends. We're in it to wait now. There you go. Awesome.