Dusty Staub brings his mission, ‘Leading from the heart,’ to Reno for 2018 Book of Lists Gala | nnbusinessview.com

Dusty Staub brings his mission, ‘Leading from the heart,’ to Reno for 2018 Book of Lists Gala

Bill O’Driscoll | wodriscoll@nnbw.biz

Dusty Staub's defining life moment came in the fifth grade when he was confronted by the school bully.

He could have cowered in fear or fought back, but young Dusty chose to diffuse the moment by taking a higher road, using words instead of aggression.

It worked. And the experience led him to go on in college to study and then pursue a career in helping people with his psychology and social work expertise.

For the past 27 years, Staub has served as CEO/Lead Consultant for Oak Ridge, N.C.-based Staub Leadership International. In that role, the noted author and public speaker's message to business audiences, families and others is "Leading from the heart" — not just from an inspirational level, he says, but a transformative one.

And that will be his theme on Jan. 17 when Staub delivers the keynote address to the Northern Nevada Business Weekly's 2018 Book of Lists Launch & Awards Gala in Reno celebrating the region's business community through the 10th annual have-and-hold listing resource.

"Turning a problem into opportunity, not conflict. It's in my DNA," Staub said in a recent telephone interview with the NNBW from his North Carolina home.

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That's not exactly what his father had in mind for his eldest son, Staub recalled. As one of six children of Robert Earl Staub I, life was always on the move as an "Army brat" where home to the Staub family stretched from England to Germany to three Army bases from coast to coast in America.

At one point, Dusty attended 10 schools over a 10-year stretch.

But it provided him a social learning experience that he used to develop his mindset for the future.

"I knew all about bullying, being the new kid and having to deal with it," he said. "I became a practicing psychologist in the fifth grade diffusing fights."

His was a life of challenges on the home front, too.

"My father had high expectations," Staub said. "His father, my grandfather, and his eight brothers all played football for Pop Warner. And my father had a full scholarship to Notre Dame."

Staub's father grew up in a tough neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa.

"He was in a lot of fights in school. They called him 'Blood and Guts Staub,' " he said. "He expected me to be a warrior, too."

But that wasn't Dusty's nature.

"I have two brothers and three sisters. As the oldest, I was the one held accountable. I was the peacemaker," he said, adding of his conflicts with his father, "I was a poet and a lover. If I got beaten up and went home, he'd whip me and say, 'Go back out there.' "

He said he realized early on there is a better way than fighting.

"Figure out how to resolve it," he said of life's challenges. "Everything goes back to the fifth grade for me, that moment when I realized I had the power to diffuse bullying.

"That has shaped my whole life," he said, adding with reference to a popular phrase, "I see it as going from 's**t happens' to 'shift happens.' That's leadership. Leaders are able to make the move to shift into transformative space."

But that's easier said than done, and that is key to why it's become his life mission as head of Staub Leadership International.

The route there has been circuitous.

As the top science student of his senior class in high school in Fayetteville, N.C., Staub had high hopes of being a biochemist, focusing on growing nerve tissue, when he began studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

It was soon apparent that would not be easy.

"Instead of being the No. 1 student at UNC, I was in the bottom 50th percentile," he said. "There were really smart kids in my class, from New York, California. There were 300 of us, and I was in the bottom 150.

"I just didn't have the chops to be a really good science student, so I went into English literature," he said.

As he immersed himself into literature, he became interested in psychology, how people think, and he pursued it with a vengeance.

In his senior year, he was one of 12 out of 100 applicants selected to work with a peer sexual counseling service.

After six weeks of intensive training, Staub went on to be outreach coordinator, working with sororities and fraternities and dormitories and designing a program for an estimated 1,400 students and others.

He graduated in 1974 with a double major in English literature and psychology, and while so many other graduates went on to work in restaurants, Staub landed a job as executive director of a crisis call center, coordinating 120 volunteers.

From there, he became an alcohol and drug counselor and then entered graduate school in 1977 at UNC, carrying 18 credits per semester and working two part-time jobs.

"I didn't sleep very much," Staub recalled of those two years that culminated with a master's degree in clinical social work with an emphasis in marital and family therapy.

After graduating in 1979, he used his training in behavioral-based psychology to become clinical director of a crisis call center in Durham, N.C., training volunteers and then starting a private practice as a licensed marital and family therapist.

That lasted five years before he joined a behavioral sciences consultants firm as a partner.

Several years later, in 1990, he left to launch what is now Staub Leadership International.

Since then, he's added another title — engineering fellow at Virginia Tech where he was brought in, he said, "to teach engineers to play nice with other people using their emotional intelligence."

"For that, they made me a fellow," Staub said with a chuckle. "But I'm not an engineer, and I consider that a badge of honor. I'm the complete opposite of an engineer."

He's also become a certified forum facilitator for the Young Presidents Organization and World Presidents Organization, spearheading those elite groups of the business world's presidents and CEOs.

Now, at age 67, Staub said he has no intentions of retiring – maybe slowing down from his pace of traveling two weeks a month, but not retiring.

"I love what I do. I don't see myself ever retiring," he said. "For me, I get to do my heart's desire."

2018 Northern Nevada Business Weekly Book of Lists Launch & Awards Gala

WhAT: Celebration of industries represented in region’s premier have-and-hold listing service for Northern Nevada business.

When: 5:30-8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 17

Where: Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

Cost: NNBW subscribers, $35; non-subscribers, $55; table of eight, $375.

Registration: http://www.nnbw.com/events

Contact: Kimberly Thomas kthomas@nnbw.biz 775-770-1173

Robert “Dusty” Staub

Title: CEO/Lead Consultant, Staub Leadership International, Oak Ridge, N.C.

Age: 67

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Master’s degree in clinical social work with an emphasis in marital and family therapy; fellow, School of Engineering, Virginia Tech.

Family: wife, Christine E. Staub, M.D., consultant, Staub Leadership International; three children ages 28, 25, and 22.

Books: “The Heart of Leadership: Twelve Practices of Courageous Leaders,” “The 7 Acts of Courage: Bold Leadership for a Wholehearted Life,” “Courage in the Valley of Death: Daily Practices for Whole-Hearted Living,” co-author, “Dynamic Focus: Creating Significance and Breaking the Spells of Limitation,” with Wayne Gerber.

Online: http://staubleadership.com