I’m extremely fortunate to be a part of this grand gala event, and I’m especially thrilled to be able to express some of my thoughts and observations about tonight’s honoree, Cliff Kendall, and my fantastic buddy. Leader of the year definitely fits Cliff well. But look around the room; it’s packed with leaders. This is a “power lunch” that has been rescheduled for the evening, now dressed up in black tuxedos and cocktail dresses.
But what kind of leaders are we talking about? And what do we mean when we say “leader?”
First, let’s dispel some myths about leadership. A leader is not necessarily someone with a title or position. A leader is not necessarily someone who is popular or well-liked. And a leader is not necessarily someone who is always right.
So, if a leader is not someone with a title or position, what is he or she? A leader, simply put, is someone who has the ability to influence others. That’s it. No more, no less.
And Cliff Kendall is most certainly someone who has the ability to influence others. I have seen him in action many times, both in business and in his personal life. He has a way of getting people to see things his way, of convincing them to do things they may not have thought possible.
So, what makes Cliff such a successful leader? I believe there are three things: first, he is very clear about what he wants and where he is going; second, he is not afraid to take risks; and third, he has the ability to build strong relationships.
Let me elaborate on each of these points.
Cliff is very clear about what he wants and where he is going. He has a vision for himself and for his company, and he knows how to communicate that vision to others. He is able to paint a picture of the future that is so compelling that people can’t help but be drawn to it.
Cliff is not afraid to take risks. He is always looking for new opportunities and new ways to grow his business. And he is not afraid to take calculated risks. He knows that sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and he is willing to do that.
Finally, Cliff has the ability to build strong relationships. He is a master at networking and he knows how to build relationships that last. He is the kind of person who remembers your name and what you do, and he makes an effort to keep in touch.
All of these qualities make Cliff Kendall an outstanding leader, and I am proud to call him my friend. Congratulations, Cliff. You deserve this award, and I know that you will continue to be a great leader in the years to come.
How did the Board of Trade arrive at one out of so many deserving individuals for this singular recognition? Why Cliff above all others? I’d like to think that I can shed some light on that choice. There are aspects to Cliff that set him clearly apart from most people; facets that, like those of a diamond, aren’t particularly apparent until they’re exposed to light. So let me shed some light on the numerous facets of Cliff Kendall. Growing up not far from here in northeast Washington, but the distance between that area and the Capital Hilton must be measured in miles more than just miles away
Cliff’s father, who was a truck driver, died when Cliff was just a boy. His mother took in laundry to make ends meet. Cliff had to drop out of high school to help support the family. Yet somehow he found time to learn – to educate himself, as they say. And that education has never stopped. Cliff Kendall is one of the smartest people I know – not only book smart, but street smart; not only knowledgeable, but wise.
Cliff knows more than just about anyone about the inner workings of this city – how things really get done around here. That knowledge didn’t come from any books; it comes from years of experience working on the front lines of some of the toughest issues facing our city. And it’s that knowledge and experience that has made him such an effective leader in the business community.
But Cliff Kendall is more than just a smart and experienced business leader. He’s a man of deep faith. And that faith informs everything he does – from the way he runs his business, to the way he treats his employees, to the way he gives back to the community. Cliff is a man of integrity; a man of principle; a man of character.
And it is because of all these things – his intelligence, his experience, his faith, his integrity – that I believe Cliff Kendall is so deserving of this honor. Congratulations, Cliff. We are all very proud of you.
Cliff spent his youth in a very different world, far from fine and elegant dining. Cliff was raised in a rented duplex with his parents and sister — a family striving to make the most of what little they had. His father departed the family when Cliff was just 16 years old.Cliff’s closeness to his mother had always been great, but he had suddenly discovered how much more he needed to be than simply the older brother and devoted son.
Cliff became the man of the house. Cliff’s mother worked long hours at a local grocery store to support her family, and Cliff often had to care for his sister while she was away. Even with these responsibilities, Cliff made time to play football and run track in high school. He excelled in both sports, but he knew that he would have to put his dreams of playing college football on hold because he could not afford the tuition.
So Cliff took a job at the local auto parts store and began attending community college classes at night. It was during this time that Cliff met his wife, Shannon. Shannon was also working her way through community college, and the two quickly fell in love. They married after only dating for six months, and Cliff knew that he wanted to provide a better life for his new family.
He worked hard to put himself through school, and he eventually earned his degree in business administration. With this degree, Cliff was able to get a good job and provide a comfortable life for Shannon and their two children.
Cliff’s story is one of determination and hard work. He overcame many obstacles in his life, but he never gave up on his dreams. I am proud to call Cliff my friend, and I know that he will continue to be successful in everything he does.