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The 7 Requirements of All Leaders

In her thick Russian voice, Dr. Zina would tell me in marketing class, "Daniel, you need to put hairs on your chest!"

I didn't know what she meant until I had to walk 42 blocks in Manhattan to give a free speech. I had no money for a taxi and the wind was blowing fiercely in my direction at 20 miles per hour. I was severely hungry and it was freezing. Even though I was bundled up, I carried my ten books without gloves, five in each hand, down the blistering and blustering streets of Manhattan.

My favorite part about it was that I knew exactly where I was going.

I knew who I wanted to be. I kept saying to myself, "If this is what I need to pay the price, I'll do whatever it takes." It was hard, but I knew that one day it would pay off enormously.

The payoff has been great! Because of the resolve that I built in those early years, I’ve been invited to share my message to millions of people in books, articles, magazines, & speeches. In fact, my TED talk recently surpassed one million views.

Yes, I put ‘some hairs on my chest’ that wintry day in Manhattan!

Being 22 at the time, I realized that reaching my highest goals would take years of painstaking work. No doubt, I've faced tribulations unimaginable to the typical human being. The blood, sweat, and tears; none of it can stop a promising person of persistence.

Despite all the adversities, the path to success was paved with gold. If you really committo being a leader, you will inevitably find everything you could ever possibly want in life. The wealth, the fame, the recognition, or anything else your heart can ever desire will automatically be attracted to you.

I've learned over time that there are 7 Requirements of All Leaders. If you can stay on top of these seven requirements, you'll be able to taxi through the avenues of success. You won't even need to pay the fare. Here they are:

1. Strong Health: No matter what others say, you can always control your health. In most cases, a reliable leader must be able to lift a box, touch their toes, and walk a mile. No one can really count on a leader without the proven stamina to get the job done.

Keep in mind that you don't need to be an Olympian. However, you do need to be able to catch your breath after walking up a flight of stairs. If your stomach is hanging below your waistline, you need to get in shape. Eating healthy and frequent physical fitness are requirements of a real leader.

2. Dealing with Criticism: When you act differently than your counterparts, you will face criticism. They will question you and pass judgment on you. Sometimes, their antics will be uncalled for and even cause unnecessary drama. Either way, you must be able to hear their voices, but never let them sway you from your path.

Your critics want you to be better. They want you to succeed--that's why they criticize you. Even though it might feel like someone twisting a dagger in your back, you must be able to respond in an unprecedented way. When you shut the critics up, be humble. It will get you ready for your next batch of critics.

Critics make you do it better, haters make you do it faster.

-Daniel Ally

3. No Guilt: There are many times where people will sing a sad song. Your family. Your friends, Your co-worker. Your neighbors. They will ask you to feel sorry for them. Don't do it. Some people will even try to manipulate you, make threats, or abuse certain privileges. Never succumb to their games.

In order to combat this, you need to be direct. People won't stop attacking until you confront them. Never show that their behavior is bothering you. Instead, tactfully give them what they need. Most of the time, it's just a quick moment of attention or a word of advice. Don't feel guilty for people.

4. Living with Integrity: What you do in secret means more than what you do in public. In many situations, you will be tempted to act different than your higher self. Do not yield to this force. Instead, think about who you would like to be in the next five years and kill the immaturity of the present moment.

By living with integrity, you will prove to the world that you are trustworthy. You'd be surprised how many people will come to you for help. They'll ask you for leadership. They will give you anything you want because they believe in you. When you live with integrity, many people will admire you, even secretly.

5. Going the Extra Mile: Most people do minimum work and expect maximum pay. Have you ever seen a corporate parking lot? If so, you'll see the vast majority of people sprinting to their cars at 5 pm. Some will trickle out at 6-7 pm. It is only the few cars, the leaders, who finally head to their cars at 9 pm, when it's already dark.

The world is demanding leaders. It is looking for people to take initiative. It wants you to pick up the phone, write the letter, buy the roses for your loved ones. If you do this, you will bless the people you interact with. People will be magnetized to you and provide similar services. When they do, thank God!

When you do more than you're paid to do, you'll get paid more than you do. -Daniel Ally

6. Losing Sleep: Millions of people are so concerned about their sleep that they never risk losing any of it, even to reach their highest goals. No doubt, you do need to preserve yourself, but there are times where you must stay up late and wake up early. Two, three, four hour sleep nights; that is what may be required of you.

Those who stay up will always be able to catch up. One week, I remember getting an average of three hours of sleep each day. It was brutal. However, on a Sunday, I slept 12 hours and woke up like a king. I felt rejuvenated and was in pristine condition. Don't lose sleep over losing sleep.

7. Vision: Without a vision, people actually perish. Have you ever seen a dilapidated restaurant, real estate, or retail environment? Those leaders totally neglected the opportunity to take charge of the situation. Without a vision, no one knows where they are going. They are like sheep without a shepherd.

If you can communicate your message to others, you will be successful. It doesn't matter where you are or where you've been. It doesn't even matter what industry you're in. When most people are running into the trees, you need to retreat to the mountaintop and see the entire forest. When you do, you'll be able to lead people to the major goal and they will trust you for your vision.


The call to leadership may not always be apparent. However, if you feel like you could be in a better situation than you are currently in, it's time to act. Think about ways in which you can first improve personally, then look professionally. Once you realize the many changes that must be made, take responsibility of your dreams and 'put some hairs on your chest!'

Daniel Ally

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