Growing up in Red River Parish, Brian Sanders dreamed mostly of being a lot like his dad and grandpa, both named Jack.
“They were solid, hard-working men who taught me everything I know about people and about life,” Brian said.
He never really thought much about writing books or running a group of radio stations. But that’s exactly where he has ended up as Executive Vice President of Positive Alternative Radio (PAR) and the author of a new book, Leadership Endurance, which hit #1 on Amazon’s best seller list for Christian Leadership earlier this year.
“If you’ve ever felt like quitting anything, this book is for you,” Sanders said. The book examines the lives of four men – Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant – deeply flawed individuals that are remembered in history as great leaders. “Flawed people have the capacity to impact the world.”
“My goal in writing the book is to help anyone who is a leader or aspires to leadership to not just make it, but to thrive and last a long time once they are in that chair,” Sanders said. “It’s one thing to be asked to lead, it’s another to be able to do it for the long haul.”
“I pastored churches and ran radio stations and did other things as a leader. Sometimes I failed miserably. God used those circumstances to humble and teach me. That’s when I decided to start studying leadership and it has become the goal of my life to better understand the influence leaders have on others.”
His pursuit of leadership and his love of history naturally led him to Lincoln and other historical figures.
“I wanted to find out how Lincoln made it. He is no doubt our greatest president, a man who came through great professional and personal tragedy and adversity to accomplish what no one thought possible. He literally brought this country back from the brink of disaster.”
Sanders grew up in Coushatta, the son of Jack and Ruth Sanders and graduated in 1986 from Coushatta High School. While in high school, he worked at Coushatta’s local station KRRP radio in the afternoons. He then attended Northwestern State University and graduated in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in history and English. After graduation, he went to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he garnered 59 hours toward a Masters of Divinity degree. While there, he met his wife, Kayla, and began his career in Christian Radio.
“My roots in Red River Parish run deep,” Sanders said. “The area shaped me by giving me my values and outlook on life and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about all the people here who have influenced me and sparked an interest in leadership in me even when I was a small boy.”
Sanders’ mother, Ruth, still lives in Coushatta as do their best friends, Troy and Rhonda Murray.
Sanders took about a year to write Leadership Endurance. It became a part of his daily routine after a conversation with a friend who told him, “if you want to write a book, just commit to writing two or three chapters a day and in a year, you’ll reach your goal.”
“Writing turned out to be the easy part,” Sanders said. “The editing process was brutal. And getting out there and telling my story has been no real picnic for me. I am just not used to the limelight.”
In pursuing the book project, Sanders has found himself doing video, posing for pictures, submitting to interviews and more. Response has been extremely positive, he said.
“Video has been the biggest hurdle for me. I am used to sitting behind the microphone and talking and not having a camera in my face. It’s been an adjustment, for sure.”
These days, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are good ways to reach a book’s potential audience, he explained. Which is why Sanders’ advisors suggested that he start doing “vlogs” or video blogs, as well as writing articles and posts about leadership and the new book. He has been featured in speaking engagements across the southeast and is hoping to visit Louisiana with a stop at Northwestern State. The focus of his talks is encouraging people.
Today, Sanders and his wife, Kayla, live in the New River Valley of Virginia with one very spoiled pup named Sprocket. He is working on two more books, one about his father Jack, who passed away last year and the leadership lessons Sanders learned from him. The second is called “Leadership Encouragement” with lessons on leadership and endurance.
Sanders’ work responsibilities for PAR present leadership challenges and real-life lessons every day for his readers, Sanders said. Created in 1985 by the late Dr. Vernon H. Baker and his wife Virginia, PAR is overseen by Sanders as EVP and its President, Eddie Baker, son of the founders. PAR owns and operates stations and networks in key markets in Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina. The stations provide adult contemporary Christian and gospel music, as well as Christian content available across a variety of digital platforms, including the Encouraging Radio app, available for free download for smart phones and tablets.
The underlying characteristic among people who are models of leadership and endurance? “They are all flawed,” Sanders said.
“All of us miss shots, but everybody has the potential to impact this world.”
Sanders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.