RANCHO SANTA FE — Businessman, educator and speaker Stedman Graham hosted a Nine-Step Success Program for Executives at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe on Oct. 23. Program partners included Wells Fargo the Private Bank and the San Diego Urban League. The all-day seminar was based on two of Graham’s New York Times Bestselling books, “You Can Make it Happen: a Nine Step Plan for Success” and “Build Your Own Life Brand.”
The Azelea Room at the Inn was filled with San Diego area executives and even a few who flew in from nearby states, eager to benefit from Graham’s expertise. “The problem with too many executives is that they don’t have an identity,” Graham said during an interview prior to the seminar. “Most people are stuck in a box and they are defined by the world, rather than in a position to define themselves. That’s what this program is about. I teach them the nine-step process to brand their own identity.”
Graham’s Executive Leadership Program addresses the relationship and alignment necessary among personal leadership and brand, management, community marketing, sales and business success. “I try to teach them (executives) how to take the next 24 hours and become a ‘producer’. How to make good choices — be it in school, government or business. I teach them how to create the future by defining themselves. Making their lives more relevant.”
Graham has a management and consulting firm based in Chicago, but staff members in satellite offices across the country help coordinate these seminars. “Last night I was in Phoenix and spoke to a group of 2,000,” Graham said. “It was quite an event.” Graham not only offers these seminars in the U.S., but abroad, as well. “I just returned from the Netherlands, where I had six engagements. Over there, with so many immigrants from the Eastern Bloc coming into play, it became a human rights campaign. I tried to teach them it’s not about race or background or family. It’s how do they define themselves.”
Although Graham helps executives build their own brand and develop their own identity, his identity is strongly linked to TV icon Oprah Winfrey, with whom he has had a steady relationship with for more than two decades. Although the couple has never married, they have been in the public eye for many years. On the negative side, they are frequently the subject of tabloid headlines and gossip. On the positive side, they are active in philanthropy and community work. Graham is on the international board of Junior Achievement and is founder of Athletes Against Drugs. A former adjunct professor at Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, Graham is currently a distinguished visiting professor at Coker College, where he was given an honorary doctorate in humanities.