This is how to become a great pencil – or sales leader

by | Feb 9, 2021 | Leadership, Managing Teams, Professional Development

This is how to become a great pencil – or sales leader

by | Feb 9, 2021 | Leadership, Managing Teams, Professional Development

I recently heard an inspired talk by a wonderful the leader Robin Mednick. Robin founded the not for profit organization called Pencils for Kids. Her organization is dedicated to “Making a difference in the world by providing every child the opportunity for an education.”

Her inspiration came when she heard about a school in Niger where 30 kids shared one pencil.

She shared a story of the pencil with me. The message can help all of us can remember what it is to be human, how to be a leader, and that our presence in the world makes a difference.


The pencil maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box.

“There are five things you need to know before I send you out into the world,” he said. “Always remember these five things, and you’ll be a great pencil.

ONE: You are capable of many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.

TWO: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.

THREE: You have the ability to correct the mistakes you make.

FOUR: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.

FIVE: On every surface where you are used, regardless of its condition, you must leave your mark.

The pencil understood and promised to remember.

I love this pencil story. I keep a sharpened pencil on my desk to remind me of its message about leadership responsibility.

Here are a few of my takeaways:

The pencil reminds me to allow myself to be held in someone’s hand rather than being a lone ranger. I find collaboration often results in a better experience, but sometimes I’m too impatient and need to remember.

I look to the pencil when I’ve experienced a painful sharpening. My sharpened pencil reminds me to stop feeling like a victim, learn and come to terms with my mistake, and proactively make a correction.

Humbling and human.

And I find the message of leaving a mark on every surface I’m used quite edgy and daring. Really? Make a mark on every surface?

When I take this leadership message to heart, I find the courage to speak up rather than feeling like an imposter whose perspective offers no value.

It’s helped!

I invite you to consider what personal leadership messages the pencil metaphor offers you. You may be surprised and grateful.

And visit Robin’s website at

Thanks for watching. Bye for now.