Robert LeBlanc

Robert LeBlanc

Founder and Creative Director of LeBLANC+SMITH

People and culture are everything. If you have the right people and culture in an organization, everything else tends to take care of itself.

I think the most important lesson that I have learned in my career is that a leader must believe in themselves and then express their belief in others so that they may, too, believe in themselves. If you believe in yourself, you will have the necessary trust that you can and will figure things out. This is crucial in navigating difficult times and to progress.
I bartended while I was in college and was fascinated by how much you could learn about people in general and also how you could positively impact people on a personal level simply by listening. I continue to use that lesson to this day.
Everything in life comes down to attitude, willingness, and ability. We hire people based on attitude and willingness. We can always teach ability, but it is nearly impossible to change someone’s attitude or willingness, no matter how capable they may be.
Empathy is the most important skill to possess. We must be able to understand from where someone might be coming before we can fully care for them.
We lead each and every meeting by sharing the Vision of our company: “Create excellent 21st century Southern hospitality experiences to bring communities together that enable all people to live joyful, balanced, and fulfilling lives” – and our Core Values: I See You, I Love You; Be Inspiring; Do Cool Shit and Stay Humble; Teach Why; Create Joy. Every other thing we do in our professional careers ties back to those two things.
I could not do my job without my team.
I take hour-long walks through my neighborhood and a park within it listening to music with absolutely no agenda. It is from these that I gain tremendous inspiration, great ideas, and solve difficult problems.
I try to find books or podcasts that are relevant to whatever challenges I may be facing in life -- parental challenges, health and fitness, business or leadership challenges, etc. There is a wealth of resources available to help with any and all of them for free at the local library or via podcasts.
I think my morning routine and my commitment to always being present are the two biggest keys to my healthy work/life balance. The first thing I do is keep a very strict morning routine every single day. Immediately upon waking, I drink 64 ounces of iced water, meditate for 10 mins, practice 5 minutes of gratitude, write down my objectives and tasks for the day, and then leave for one hour of exercise daily. I do that seven days per week. In terms of my relationships, both personal and professional, I make certain that I am 100% present for whomever I happen to be with. If I am with my wife or kids, I am engaged with them fully as opposed to being with them while also checking my emails or looking over their shoulders at the news on television. If I am with friends or even colleagues, I never take phone calls and rarely return texts while we are together.
I highly recommend “Good to Great” by Jim Collins as an essential book for our profession.
I want to create change in the hospitality business models – show that people can succeed in hospitality to the tremendous benefit of their personal health, happiness, and relationships. For far too long, people have succeeded in hospitality at an unbearable cost to their personal health, happiness, and relationships.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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