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How Adversity Helped This Executive Move Forward

Be what you have a passion to be

Ed Brenegar is a keynote speaker and leadership consultant focused on teaching people to become people of leadership within their workplace and social circles.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. My childhood was a happy one. I had a lot of freedom to go and explore the world of my neighborhood. I was fond of climbing trees, crawling through storm drains, making toy models, and reading history and sports books. My extended family grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were close and we remain so. As a child, we talked a lot about past generations. My father would always kid us that as a family, we practiced “ancestry worship.” However, having a knowledge of the past, and a family connection to it dating back to the early 1700s meant that there was a bond within our family that gave us a sense of continuity as individuals.

I was born in the South in the early 1950s and went through my entire scholastic school experience in segregated all-white schools. I played on the football team. In my senior year, a new head coach came. His name was Baxter Holman. He was an African-American, former professional player in the Canadian Football League, who had been an assistant coach at a local college. Through Coach Holman’s experience of a Black man coaching at an all-white school, we, the players on the team, witnessed racism as it affected someone we knew and cared about. Coach Holman was the first truly great man that I knew. His character of dignity and integrity in the face of people who sought to undermine his position had an indelible influence on me. In many respects, my work in the world of leadership is a way to honor his impact upon my life.

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