News at Smith

Leadership Takeaways from BB&T CEO Kelly King

Sep 28, 2017
Experiential / Reality-based Learning


Aspiring leaders will maximize their potential for success and happiness when they develop five distinct characteristics, BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly S. King said Sept. 26, 2017, at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

“If you want to be an outstanding achiever, whatever you choose to do in life, write these down and think about them,” King told faculty, staff and students at the Smith School’s BB&T Colloquium on Capitalism, Ethics and Leadership. “You don’t have to accept them all. Just think about them.”

The first characteristic is belief in your mission and purpose. “Outstanding achievers believe absolutely to their toes in what it is they are trying to accomplish,” King said.

Second, outstanding achievers must commit the necessary time, energy and resources to make their beliefs become reality. “If you believe deeply in something, you will commit resources to it,” he said.

Third, outstanding achievers must train themselves and develop skills. “Michael Jordan would never have been the greatest basketball player of all time had he not gotten out there and practices free throws two hours a day,” King said.

Fourth, outstanding achievers must enjoy the journey as it happens. “I’m talking about a deep sense of self-esteem,” he said. “A sense of pride, a sense of joy that you feel for what you are doing in this life. It’s a sense of happiness that allows you to get up early and work late, go home dead tired, fall in bed and say, ‘I can’t wait to get back tomorrow morning.’”

Finally, outstanding achievers must have a positive attitude about life. “The optimistic view keeps you focused on moving forward and overcoming the obstacles,” King said.

He said the positive outlook should extend to the United States. “We still should be extremely enthusiastic and positive about the United States of America,” he said. “I sometimes criticize what’s going on in our country, and I suspect you all do to. But we still live in the greatest land in the world.”

King also told students to be mindful and grateful for the opportunities they have at the University of Maryland. “You’re students at one of the best universities in the world,” he said. “You are standing on the platform, the foundation, to be able to go out and change the world and accomplish everything you want to. Where else in the world can you go find that?”

Smith School professor Rajshree Agarwal, director of the school’s Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets, moderated the discussion. The annual colloquium is supported by a $1.5 million gift from BB&T in 2010.

Other topics covered by King:

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.