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Learn to Lead

Learn to Lead

By Abilitie
Leadership is a process, and these are the stories about the journey we all take learning to lead. On our show we talk about how people can lead teams more effectively, how organizations can enhance their approaches to developing the leaders of tomorrow, and we talk to our guests about their own journey of professional and personal development.
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The Power of Your Network

Learn to Lead

How to Be an Inclusive Leader
Jennifer Brown is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, diversity and inclusion consultant, and author. As the founder and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting, Jennifer designs workplace strategies for Fortune 500s and leading nonprofits globally. She joins us on this episode to discuss the courage it takes to be an inclusive leader as well as the benefits that come with it. Jennifer tells us a little bit about her journey from the opera theatre to the corporate world and we also discuss what everyone can learn from those who have been historically left out by the mainstream culture.
January 20, 2021
PhD to Marine – How a Cool Head Helps Leaders
Wesley Gray is the CEO and Founder of Alpha Architects. He joins us on this episode to discuss his journey from Ph.D. student in Finance to the Marine Corps and Iraq and onward to the founder and CEO of an investment management firm. We also discuss how empathy played into his time as a Marine, why he likes to recruit people who handle high-pressure situations well, and the benefits of being a leader who eats last.
January 13, 2021
A Story About A Rematch
2020 was, by all accounts, rough. Our world has faced unconscionable loss and, at points, making it to 2021 seemed like a long shot. Being able to bring this podcast, Learn to Lead, to our listeners has been a bright spot in an otherwise challenging year. This community grew and along the way gave us much needed hope.  In 2021, we are excited to bring you conversations with leaders of major corporations, a world-class memory champion, a well-known sports agent, and so many more. However, to kick off the new year, we aren't bringing on a guest. Host Matt Confer speaks directly to you and shares a story about hope, about resilience, about what can happen when you get back up and keep on leading. Enjoy.
January 6, 2021
Become Exponentially More Interesting
Alisa Cohn was named the #1 Startup Coach in the world at the Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Leading Coaches Awards and is the CEO/Founder of Alisa Cohn & Associates. Based in NYC, Alisa coaches startup CEOs, co-founders, other startup executives, and board members all over the world. Alisa's clients include Venmo, Foursquare, InVision, Etsy, Pfizer, Dell, The New York Times, and many others. She joins us on this episode to discuss why it behooves leaders to become more interesting, how to keep a startup mindset even as a company scales, and why she keeps coming back to work with leaders at high-growth companies. We also discuss how a one-time wish to catch the flu changed the course of her professional life, leading Alisa to leave her position at a top-tier corporate firm and go solo as a coach.
December 16, 2020
Connecting — It's More Than Networking
Michelle Tillis Lederman is the CEO and Founder of Executive Essentials and is one of Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches. She is also the author of four books, including The 11 Laws Of Likability and The Connector’s Advantage. She joins us on this episode to discuss the greatest assets in the Network Age (hint: it's not data processors) and the three major shifts required for Relationship Networking. We also discuss the seven mindsets of a connector and Michelle identifies which one is the most important for maintaining connection in the era of COVID-19.
December 9, 2020
Trust Yourself
Daniel Nicholson is the CEO of NadaMoo, a dairy-free ice cream brand based in Austin. He joins us on this episode to discuss his lessons as the CEO of a fast-growing consumer brand. We also discuss how NadaMoo is making a positive impact on the environment with their focus on sustainability, how NadaMoo differentiates themselves in a highly competitive market, and what he sees as key characteristics of successful leaders.
December 2, 2020
Holistic Human Resources
Tara Furiani is the CEO of Not the HR Lady and former Chief People Officer of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. She joins us on this episode to discuss how the world of HR is changing and how HR leaders can command respect in the workplace. She also shares what she believes are the key responsibilities of Chief People Officers, how a diverse network can help leaders excel even further, and why she’s “cautiously optimistic” about DNI roles becoming more common in the modern workplace.
November 18, 2020
Perfection is a Fairytale
Brian Fanzo is a digital futurist and the founder of iSocialFanz. He joins us on this episode to discuss his journey to success and why perfection should never be the goal for any content creator. Throughout our conversation, we cover Brian's "Think Like a Fan" philosophy and the role of empathy, accessibility, and authentic content in a marketer’s toolbox. He also breaks down some how-to's: How to get comfortable using a variety of marketing mediums, how to create a work environment that facilitates your success, and how we can re-invent experiential marketing in the virtual space.
November 11, 2020
The "Unsexy" Side of Entrepreneurship
Aaron Lyons is the founder and CEO of Dish Society, a farm-to-table restaurant in Houston, Texas. Aaron joins us on this episode to share his entrepreneurial journey and the “unsexy” side of it. We get into the specifics of how he approached opening his restaurant from a business perspective and the role self-discovery played in his success. We also discuss how he adapted his business during COVID-19 and the struggles the restaurant industry is currently facing.
November 4, 2020
The Power of Your Network
Cara North is an award-winning Learning Experience Designer and is currently the Training Operations Manager at Silfex. She joins us on this episode to discuss ways to utilize social media to benefit your professional development. We also take a deep dive into the key considerations when designing an effective learning experience and the role technology plays in modern day training.
October 28, 2020
The Science of Meetings
Steven Rogelberg is a Professor at UNC Charlotte with over 100 publications addressing issues such as team effectiveness, employee well-being, and leadership. He joins us on this episode to discuss his findings from more than 20 years of research on meetings. Throughout our conversation, Stephen shares the common problems with meetings and how to address them. He also discusses ways to construct a meeting agenda and what to do after a meeting is over to ensure it has a lasting impact.
October 21, 2020
A Sweet Career Change
Tim Krauss is the co-founder of Mammoth Creameries. He joins us on this episode to share his story about why he went from a successful software career to founding a frozen custard company. We discuss how he helped fill a gap in the dessert market by creating a “clean” Keto ice cream brand, what it’s like to work with your spouse, and how he finds balance in his personal and professional life.
October 14, 2020
Tech as a Force For Good
Dr. Sally Eaves is a leading thinker and writer regarding the future of technology and is a member of the Forbes Technology Council. Dr. Eaves joins us on this episode to explain STEAM vs STEM research, how education and technology go hand in hand, and what emerging technology she is most excited about being integrated into the modern workplace in the coming years.
October 7, 2020
Keep it Focused on the Business
Ashley Wainscott is the CEO and Founder of Simply Sold, an award winning renovation firm that has built a simpler and more effective construction process. Ashley joins us on this episode to discuss strategies to push through difficult times, the "trickling down" effect, and her tips for building a company from the ground up.
September 30, 2020
The Magic of Making Customers Happy
Shep Hyken is the author of seven books, a frequent keynote speaker, and the Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations. He joins us on this episode to discuss his tenants of a great customer experience, how he approaches hiring top talent, and the importance of not overlooking the small details.
September 23, 2020
Cleaning Up Your Business
Mike Michalowicz is the author of Fix This Next, a former columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and a Business Makeover Specialist with MSNBC. He joins us on this episode to share his insights into how a “lack of things” can become our greatest asset, how to identify your biggest problem as an entrepreneur, and how leaders can leverage humor.
September 17, 2020
Leading Leaders
Karin Hurt is the CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and an Inc. Magazine Top 100 Leadership Speaker. She joins us on this episode to share what initially drew her into the field of leadership development and how she ended up focusing on the importance of “leading leaders.” We discuss how to get results in the workplace that last, how to prioritize your time using the "MIT" concept, and ways to create psychological safety in the workplace.
September 14, 2020
Embracing a Growth Mindset
Scott Dust is the Chief Research Officer at Cloverleaf and a Professor of Management at Miami University. He joins us on this episode to discuss how the ongoing pandemic has created the opportunity for us to adopt and embrace a growth mindset. Additionally, we discuss how to practice self-leadership, considerations to take when creating your approach to leadership, and how our cognitive biases can skew our opinions of "good leaders." 
September 9, 2020
Keep Training Weird
Kelly McCutcheon is the VP of Training at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. She joins us on this episode to discuss Hopdoddy's approach to talent development in the hospitality industry. We also discuss how COVID-19 impacted their business and how their leadership team coordinated their response across multiple states and more than 30 restaurant locations.
September 3, 2020
How to Revitalize Your Hiring Process
Jay Rosenzweig is the founding partner & CEO of Rosenzweig and Company. He joins us on this episode to take a deep dive into his four most important hiring criteria and shares his take on the future of social equality in the workplace.
August 31, 2020
Creating the Career You Deserve
Liz Ryan is the CEO and Founder of Human Workplace. She joins us on this episode to discuss the importance of shifting your perspective regarding what a standard career path looks like. She also covers the biggest mistakes people managers commonly make, how to break the traditional rules of resumes, and the importance of risk-taking in your career.
August 26, 2020
The Practicality of Entrepreneurship
Abraham Kamarck is the founder and CEO of True Made Food. He joins us on this episode to discuss how his hatred of ketchup led him to starting his own business. Abraham shares with us how eight years as a Navy helicopter pilot shaped his leadership skills, his experience with Impact Entrepreneurship, and the importance of practicality.
August 20, 2020
Prioritizing People and Profits
Jason Lauritson is the author of two books and an Employee Engagement and Workplace Culture Expert. He joins us on this episode to discuss how the relationship between people and their jobs is evolving. He also gives us his advice on creating relationships within the workplace, how he resets his energy throughout the day, and how to reshape your perspective on performance management.
August 13, 2020
Why Health Is Essential To Leadership Success
Claire Siegel is the Founder of Nutritional Freedom and the former Senior Product Manager at Snap Kitchen. She joins us to discuss her journey from senior leader of a fast growing organization to an entrepreneurial business owner. Claire speaks to us about the importance of building trust with your audience before you launch a product and how she personally did it. She also shares her perspective on why health and nutrition are such important components of effective leadership and how goal setting and creating internal structure is vital for success.
August 11, 2020
Ditch Your Ego and Ask For Help
Mike McKim is the founder and CEO of Austin-based coffeehouse and roastery, Cuvee Coffee. He joins us on this episode to talk about how his side hustle became his career. In our discussion, we cover how he balances priorities as a business owner, what it’s like to be a pioneer in an industry, and how his ego was humbled early on in his career.
July 30, 2020
Defining Your Audience
Pamela Slim is an author and Co-Founder of Main Street Learning Lab. She joins us on this episode to discuss why defining your audience is essential to building products or marketing to people. In our discussion she covers her untraditional approach to creating a target market and gives us her top tips for talking about ourselves professionally and staying continually employable.
July 28, 2020
How Social Connectivity, Professional Development, and Community Service Form an Ecosystem for Growth
Glenn Banton is the CEO of OSD, a Veteran support organization that has helped over 1.5M Veterans over the past 10 years. On this episode, he shares how OSD helps Veterans find generational connection, why listening to feedback is the greatest factor in making meaningful organizational change, and his most important indicators of promising leadership talent.
July 23, 2020
Finding Talent and Making Work Better
Sally Thornton is the founder and CEO of Forshay, a firm that focuses on how people can do their best work through executive recruiting and improving the system of work. Sally joins us on this episode to discuss what kind of "criteria" you should actually be looking for when hiring, cognitive bias, the "Ideal Worker" norm, and the importance of "being basic."
July 21, 2020
The Language of Leaders
Bart Egnal is the President and CEO of The Humphrey Group and author of the book Lead Through Language. Bart joins us on this episode to discuss how leaders can be intentional and conscious with their language for more clear, effective communication. He guides us through the difference between transferring information and transforming people, the importance of getting clear on your own beliefs as a leader, the problem with using jargon, and how to choose words that convey your beliefs and ideas.
July 17, 2020
How Visual Communication Creates Connection
Lisa Rothstein is a cartoonist for the New Yorker Magazine and the Chief Creative Officer for Drawing Out Your Genius. She joins us on this episode to discuss the power of drawings and visualization in communicating ideas. We take a deep dive into how the human brain is wired to process visual information, her top tips for leaders communicating an organizational vision, and how to keep listeners engaged when communicating in the virtual space.
July 14, 2020
Managing the Employee Engagement Crisis
Brennan McEachran is the CEO of co-founder of Soapbox, a suite of tools to help managers lead their teams. He joins us on this episode to discuss the role of managers in the ongoing employee engagement crisis, his one-of-a-kind management software, and how to make meetings an effective medium for communication and innovation.
July 9, 2020
The Power of Influence as a Coach
Mario Price, Director of Coaching Education at the American Football Coaches Association, joins us on this episode to discuss his leadership journey. He reflects on what it takes to be an effective coach, how he continues to learn and innovate within his industry, and the importance of cultivating meaningful relationships on and off the football field.
June 30, 2020
Training Adults Like Kindergartners
Emily Ely is the Director of Special Interest Groups at ATD Austin and a coach for Noodle Partners. As a former kindergarten teacher, who now holds a PhD in Education, she joins us to discuss the similarities between teaching kindergartners and adults, micro-learning, learner engagement, and human-centered design principles. She also talks us through how she prepares for a training or presentation, and her top tool for productivity: a whiteboard.
June 23, 2020
You Can't Train By Osmosis
Randy Clark, the author of two books on Management and Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, joins us on this episode to discuss some common mistakes people managers make. He also highlights the importance of understanding employee motivators as a leader, and what to look for in an employee when you're considering promoting them to a managerial role.
June 16, 2020
Investing in Leadership
Paul O’Brien, the founder and CEO of MediaTech Ventures, joins us to discuss the non-negotiable leadership qualities he looks for when investing in leaders, different ways to be an accessible leader, how the media industry has shaped business, and how he defines the role of a CEO and an entrepreneur.
June 9, 2020
How to Excel in Work and Life at the Same Time
Matt Plummer, Founder and CEO of Zarvana, a company that helps people excel in work and life by making holistic professional development easy, joins us on this episode to talk all things productivity and work-life balance. Matt coaches us through how to get more done in less time, where to start when creating daily habits to improve your productivity, and how to approach productivity and work-life balance from a remote work perspective. 
June 2, 2020
The Complexities of Global Work
Michael Landers is the founder of Culture Crossing, LLC, a global consulting organization dedicated to finding innovative solutions for groups and individuals working in challenging global conditions. He joins us on this episode to discuss what the concept of "culture" means to him and how we can all challenge our personal cultural norms to adapt in new settings and thrive in global work. Michael walks us through Mental Models, the "7 Second Rule," and where the crossover is between culture skills and core soft leadership skills that paves the way for effective global leadership.
May 26, 2020
The Intersection of Data and People
Dani Johnson, Co-founder and Principal Analyst at RedThread Research joins the show and takes a deep dive into the intersection of data and people. The conversation focuses on how we can leverage data to make the workplace and workspaces more human. She walks us through the importance and implications of risk-taking, tactical and strategic productivity hacks, where she sees the future of work headed with data in the driver’s seat, and how effective communication and data go hand-in-hand.
May 18, 2020
Leading and Managing Through a Crisis
Eric McNulty, the Associate Director of The National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard, talks us through the difference between “Leadership” and “Management,” specifically in the context of dealing with a crisis. He also discusses the importance of Meta-Leadership, relationship negotiation, and how leaders can become a bottleneck in a crisis (and how to avoid this). McNulty spent over a decade traveling the U.S. towards the center of crises (Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hurricane Sandy, Boston Marathon bombings, COVID-19). He explains the evolution of leadership from the days of hunting and gathering, to farming, to the present day, and he shares with us where he believes leadership is headed.
May 11, 2020
The Conscience of an Organization
Amrita Subramanian, an Exec-Ed lecturer of Organizational Dynamics at Wharton School of Business who has lived in 17 different countries and boasts 25 years of robust experience in multiple industries. In this episode, Amrita shares her philosophy on what the "Conscience" of an organization is and why it matters. We also explore profound ideas such as the paradox of corporate corruption and morality, the importance of leaders who regulate emotion, and, "Why do we exist?".
May 10, 2020
How Harley Davidson Made Leadership Development “Cool”
Daniel Menden managed Leadership Development and Training Operations at over 1400 Harley Davidson dealerships for over a decade. In this episode, Menden shares with us how he achieved buy-in from each independently owned dealership for training programs, how HarleyU adapted its curriculum for the global needs of its dealerships and new product training, and how he made the shift from a steady career to founding his own business, Mensch Performance. 
May 4, 2020
Tuning Leadership Skills from the Stage
Singer-songwriter Stephen Kellogg joins us on this episode to talk about leadership from a different perspective: from the stage.  Stephen does a deep dive into the parallels between leadership in business and being the leader of a band. During the show he discusses job satisfaction, how to receive negative feedback, his TEDx Talk, and his book. He ends by leaving us with lots of great nuggets for leaders, regardless of your industry or craft.
April 24, 2020
Thriving in Remote Work
Allison St. John and Christina Rowe saw a need in the world to master remote leadership and leading teams from a distance, and teamed up in 2018 to found The Remote Leader Project. In this episode, Allison and Christina join us to talk about what it means to really thrive in remote work. Remote work is on the forefront of everyone’s mind, and has moved from being considered a job perk, to something of peak economic importance. Allison and Christina give us tips for successful remote work and remote leadership, how we can shift our mindsets to see the real benefits of remote work, the importance of "Macro-thinking mindsets" for remote leaders, and how remote work can actually make us all more connected than ever before.
April 16, 2020
Learning As A Strategic Imperative
Sean Stowers, Learning Business Partner at Pearson Learning, joins us to talk about how Pearson utilizes learning as a strategic imperative, the importance of training front-line employees, risk mitigation in developing training programs (and is it really necessary?), and his own personal learning philosophy.
April 1, 2020