Best-selling author, comedian and motivational speaker Steve Gilliland got audience members laughing while sharing lessons on leadership, urging them to focus on the joy in life’s journey during his keynote presentation on Sunday at the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit.

Gilliland shared humorous anecdotes from his time as a sports announcer on national television, his work at a greeting card company, and his career in corporate America as an executive, where he met the woman who, he said, taught him the most about leadership and inspired him to write three books about the topic.

When Gilliland started working with his executive secretary, Margaret, she told him she had been at the company for 37 years, and had “worked for two directors and one executive vice president, but never had the chance to work for a leader,” he recalled.

He added that Margaret taught him that leadership is based on the ability to motivate people when things are tough, but most importantly, to be driven by purpose and not processes and procedures.

“Margaret said, ‘It’s not where you start or finish in life, it’s the trip,’ and, ‘Cure your destination disease,’” Gilliland told the audience. “That’s why it’s important to check your passion for what you do every day.”

Gilliland pointed out how many people are just focusing on what comes next, telling themselves they’ll do what makes them happy “when we get our kids through high school,” “when we finally get this paid for,” etc. His advice? “Slow down. Enjoy the ride.”

Gilliland’s book “Making a Difference” focuses on how to positively influence people every day, regardless of your position. Margaret made a difference to many people, he said, even if she never ran a company.

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