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Make the most of your 29,200 days

18:83 Speaker Series: Time is money, says Rob Brooks, director of UND’s Pride of the North marching band

Rob Brooks, director of UND’s Pride of the North marching band, lectures as part of the 18:83 Speaker Series. Joe Banish/UND Today.

Rob Brooks, director and founder of UND’s Pride of the North marching band, addressed the campus community on Wednesday, stressing the importance to leadership of time management.

Brooks was the latest speaker in UND’s 18:83 Speaker Series, which calls on leaders from across campus and the community to talk at the Memorial Union’s Social Stairs about their approach to leadership.

A native of Oklahoma, Brooks directed bands at the high school and collegiate levels before arriving at UND in 1998 and founding the Pride of the North. He is also director of the university’s One O’clock Jazz Band, an instructor of graduate and undergraduate level music courses and guest conductor and arranger for bands throughout the upper Midwest.

There are only two styles of leadership, Brooks maintains. They are leading by example and leading by dictate, and Brooks employs both in his role as director of UND’s marching band.

“A lot of times in marching band, I lead by example,” he said. “I’m not going to ask them to do anything that I’m not willing to do myself. Leading by dictate means that you can’t show everybody what to do. You just have a vision you lay out before them and try to get them to that path.”

No matter their individual style, leaders must be influential – that is, able to command their subordinates’ attention and gain their trust, Brooks said.

“Whenever you’re presenting, you have different types of influence you can use,” he said. “There are hundreds of types of influences.”

Among Brooks’ favorite tactics for influencing audiences:

  • The wave starter
  • The reaction reader: the act of subconsciously mirroring a leader’s actions.
  • The plain talker
  • The coach
  • The hard sell (a combination of all the above tactics, according to Brooks)

Brooks also argued that there is a clear distinction between managers and leaders.

“Once you decide you want to be a leader, you have to understand who you are,” he said. “Know that all leaders are managers, but not all managers are leaders. Managers administer – they make sure you fill the quotas. They have very short-term goals. They look at things in days, weeks and months instead of what leaders do – look long-term in years.”

Brooks also opined that grit sets leaders apart from others, citing the resolve of his father as an influence.

“I never heard him say, ‘I can’t do it, I don’t have it in me,’” Brooks said. “That’s the voice I hear in my head when I don’t want to do something. Leaders are going to get the job done. They’re going to push forward and bring you along with them.”

Brooks lives by the aphorism “time is money,” and urged attendees to make good use of their “29,200 days,” the number in an average U.S. lifespan of around 80 years.

“Think of each one of those days as a dollar,” he said. “If you have three stacks of dollars, by the time you’re 25, one of those stacks is gone. Some people are asked to turn in their dollars way early, but you hope that you get to take each one of those dollars.”

Brooks said this philosophy keeps him cognizant of his students’ time, and the sacrifices they make for the betterment of the marching band. This, to Brooks, is the weight of leadership.

“Say it’s a rehearsal day – I have 10 cents of that day,” he said. “What do they get out of that day? I’m not paying them to be there. Extrinsic value is not anything they can keep or put in that final glass. It’s only what they can take from the rehearsal – the things they experience, the people that they influence, the people they can move.”

Brooks concluded his address by imparting upon the audience his guiding leadership philosophy.

“The secret of leadership is understanding that it’s not about you,” he said. “It’s not about any title, or how much money you have. It’s about the people you are fortunate enough to lead, and how much you can build their lives.”

Audience members gather at the Memorial Union’s Social Stairs to listen to Rob Brooks’ 18:83 Speaker Series address. Joe Banish/UND Today.