I Am A Leader: Johnny Vargas’s Thoughts on Leadership

Johnny Vargas

Welcome to the I Am A Leader blog series, featuring leaders who make a difference. Today’s guest blogger is Johnny Vargas. Johnny is the President of AppFX Inc, a local startup with a primary focus on mobile apps for small businesses and non-profit organizations. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and holds a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from The George Washington University School of Business. Mr. Vargas had his leadership epiphany as he completed IBM’s Leadership Development Program at the beginning of his career in technology and strives to lead through inspiring others to individual greatness.  Johnny is a single father of two young children and organizes drum-circle sessions as a volunteer at assisted living centers and public libraries.  In 2009 Johnny completed a tour of 5 western U.S. states promoting Alzheimer’s awareness through public hand drum demonstrations.


As a father of two young children, my view on the world around me is through the lens of my children’s future.  I believe strongly that true leadership is about setting a positive example, inspiring others, celebrating victories, and identifying opportunities for personal growth.  The most important leadership role in my life is that of a father and I recognize that the qualities of a good parent are the qualities of a good leader in general.

I’ve held leadership roles from a very young age. I was considered a “leader” under the traditional view that a leader is the best at a particular endeavor.  However, the distinction of what it means to be a true leader was not clear to me until I entered my professional career.  I began my career at IBM in Austin, TX and was part of the coveted IBM Leadership Development Program. Quite frankly, it was then that I faced the reality that being a good leader is not about showing others how great YOU are, but rather about helping others to be the best THEY can be. This was a wake-up call to me because I had previously associated being a leader with being my individual best and demanding that others be just as good.  I recognize now that I was completely wrong in holding that belief.

When I think of what it means to be a leader, I believe it is a conscious decision that must compassionatelydrive our individual thoughts, actions, and words.  I believe that a true leader inspires rather than dictates.  I believe a true leader is not always a person assigned to a position of power and it saddens me to see so many adults in leadership “roles” that have yet to learn this lesson.  Leadership is not about holding a position; it is about the manner in which others are inspired to be their best.

Your life’s journey will be governed by your mindset.  Fortunately, a positive leadership mindset can become force of habit; unfortunately, the same is true of a negative mindset.  The question is, which path will you choose?  I will be the first to admit that I am not always right and I make many mistakes. The difference is that I have learned to recognize the areas in which I can make improvements in my personal and professional life and I have the determination to do so with a positive attitude.  I have been through many struggles in life and I believe that it is critical to surround yourself with others that share that same vision and proper mindset for continuous improvement and lifelong learning.

As my children continue to grow and continue to observe the world around them, the legacy that I hope to leave for them is an example that life is not so much about being right or wrong as it is about doing the right thing.  With perseverance comes wisdom and a leader accepts that sometimes positive progress comes with short-term deficit.  We all have the potential to be great leaders and as leaders we must recognize that is okay to be wrong and we must accept the reality that we will sometimes fall short of our goals. But we must maintain the belief that it is absolutely never okay to give up and that doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.
Dare to dream. Dare to be great. And perhaps most important… Dare to Inspire.


A special thank you to Johnny Vargas for sharing his insights about leadership with us today! Stay tuned every Friday as the I Am A Leader blog series continues. Please share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter using the #iamaLEADER hash tag! You can connect with SOS Leadership on Twitter here and Johnny Vargas here.


Check out all of the I Am A Leader blogs here!

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