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Lynbrook High School alumnus Jeff Sklar talks power of positive leadership

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Since his time at Lynbrook High School, alumnus Jeff Sklar has gone on to blaze a successful career in the world of business and, to this day, continues to make the Lynbrook community proud with his inspiring mantra of leadership. He is a proud graduate of Waverly Park Elementary, South Middle, and Lynbrook High School, which he attended alongside the future principal, Joseph Rainis. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree (BA) in History from Brown University, where he graduated magna cum laude, and a master of business administration degree (MBA) from Harvard Business School.

Between college and graduate school, Sklar became a warehouse manager and then a project manager on marketing and sales information systems for PepsiCo, and later, a senior medical sales representative and district sales trainer for Bristol-Myers pharmaceutical group. After Harvard, he ventured into the realm of finance, where he has held various senior executive positions running U.S. and Global Institutional Equities businesses for several Wall Street firms, including Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Gruntal, Oppenheimer, Maxim Group and Chardan. He is currently the managing director and head of institutional sales at ROE Equity Research, a technology/media/telecom investment boutique. He resides in Manhattan with his wife Sherri, a classmate at Harvard Business School who advises technology companies on their growth strategy, and his daughter Alexa, who is a junior at Skidmore College studying premed.

Sklar joined more than 50 members of the Student Government Association (SGA), as well as guests Principal Joseph Rainis and Vice Principals Salvatore Brescia and Matthew Sarosy, on Dec. 17 in a lively discussion about the importance of being a positive leader. Additionally, he aided them with one of their up-and-coming projects: designing presentations for elementary school students.

SGA Advisor Mary Kirby shared that the idea was inspired by the students’ wish to give back to the elementary schools and their hope to become positive role models in the lives of young students, a relationship which they felt held a strong, positive influence on them as children. “Earlier this year, the members of SGA recalled how impactful it was when high school students came to the elementary schools to speak about the importance of making good decisions,” Kirby said. “So, we thought ‘why not create a virtual experience for them with the six pillars of leadership?’” These pillars include self-awareness, civility, humility, positivity, meaning/purpose, and empathy.

One by one, students from each pillar group presented their questions to Sklar, which he responded to with his own interpretation of the word’s meaning; he then shared stories from his personal life experiences, as well as quotations from those he is inspired by, to supplement his viewpoint.

“Self-awareness” group member Junior Sophie Ward inquired of Sklar, “How do you become more self-aware to become a better communicator?” He explained that “every conversation you have is about the other person, not you.” He emphasized the importance of acknowledging one’s peers, in order to foster positive communication and understanding. ART is the acronym which he employs to improve his self- awareness and self-management in order to maximize his personal relationships; it stands for acknowledge, reframe, and take action. “One of my favorite quotations is from Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, author, and speaker: ‘Connect first, then convince,’” recalled Sklar, this being just one of the many bits of wisdom he shared with the students.

“It was incredibly inspiring to see that someone who gained so much success sat in the same seat that I am sitting in right now,” said Senior Carly Tucker. “It shows that the sky really is the limit.”

Sklar has been profiled and acknowledged in a number of books and articles on leadership: Leading with Character: 10 Minutes A Day To A Brilliant Legacy by Jim Loehr, the nation’s leading sports psychologist and peak performance coach; a Harvard Business Review cover story, “The Corporate Athlete”; The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz (who also co-authored The Art of the Deal with President Donald Trump); Who Will Do What By When by Tom Hanson, renowned sports psychologist and former “head” (mental and peak performance) coach of the New York Yankees; and Fast Company Magazine.

After answering students’ questions on each of the six pillars, Sklar shared two more topics which he felt would be beneficial to present to elementary students: managing one’s emotions and relationships. He additionally explained the importance of a morning routine in his life, which he feels holds a significant power to determine the productivity of his day. Micro-resolutions, which he defines as “a small, limited, measurable, impactful action taken in an area of your life that you want to improve upon” was another topic of discussion.

Many of Sklar’s pieces of advice shared a similar theme, one of understanding your own feelings in order to positively understand and interact with others. “I'm a big believer in the power of emotional- intelligence,” he said. “We must acknowledge our feelings in order to channel them into something productive.” He joked that watching The Bachelor, a televised dating show, with his daughter has become “an emotional-intelligence laboratory,” where they have both observed and learned from others’ behaviors in relationships.

Sklar brought his presentation to a close with a sentiment of great appreciation for the Lynbrook schools. “I am grateful, humbled, and honored to join the SGA tonight,” he said. “I am the biggest fan of this school, and I am so grateful for the wonderful support I have received from LHS, where I had so many amazing teachers, coaches, and friends who have been anchors throughout my life.”

Senior Joe Giovinco, the student body president, shared that having Sklar as a guest speaker was an amazing opportunity because as an alumnus and former classmate of Rainis, he was “relatable” and able to connect with the students. The two old friends even reminisced about their high school principal, Pete Leiden, whom Sklar compared to Rainis, complimenting him as “as great a guy as it gets.”

Giovinco said, “I’m so grateful that we were able to have Mr. Sklar come to our meeting. “He taught the SGA so much about leadership, and he is definitely a great role model for all of us.”