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Why Benioff’s #DF19 keynote will be remembered long after we’ve gone

November 20, 2019

No current leaders will excel without being articulate, focused and persuasive. The key, however, to brilliant leadership, in my opinion, is ‘authenticity’.

Effective audience engagement is just as vital in the 21st century business forum as it was for Caesar leading his troops to domination. If you can grab the attention, hold it long enough to deliver the core message, supported where possible with palpable illustrations, then the rest is easy.

Not, however, if you are sabotaged by mischievous individuals who’s sole purpose is to divert attention to their cause, whatever that may be and however laudable they are.

As a visitor to #DF19 I was fortunate to be hosted by Vonage in the pleasant surroundings of the downtown Virgin Hotel. To be able to watch the Salesforce keynote being presented live, streamed to a venue packed with anticipation and heightened interest, in itself, is a pleasure to experience.

So why will Benioff’s keynote live on in the memory long after the streets of San Francisco are returned to normal?

Answer: because of the way in which this leader, this Colossus of a man, allowed the protagonist to have his say without hesitation or attitude.

To step aside and permit the heckler, supported by a small team holding up a banner, the wrong way around, (how they must be kicking themselves!) … was the ultimate in leadership.

This was Benioff’s party and he has the right to say who attends but, when challenged, he was gracious if not firm “….you have 28 seconds left” … was long enough for him to make the biggest point of the day.

Free speech is a beautiful thing. Few in the Moscone will have heard their message, we certainly did not. But we did hear Benioff loud and clear.

I hope they do get their audience and when they do, I hope they present their case, whatever it may be, appropriately and the response is equally appropriate. In the meantime, I, like so many I spoke with afterwards, will remember #df19 for the way in which Benioff managed through what, for most of us, would amount to a crisis.

Hail Benioff … now let’s get back to the business of doing great business.

Nadio Granata

Editor in Chief

SF Society Magazine

(image courtesy of Salesforce Press Room)

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