The CEO Sessions

Ben Fanning

Revealing interviews with CEOs and other C-Suite leaders sharing their hard-earned and costly lessons.

Tune in to discover the tools, routines, and strategies that can help you "get to" or "stay in" the C-suite.

How this Show Helps You Get To or Stay In the C-Suite
Trailer 10 min 16 sec

All Episodes

How often are you using your stories to help lead your team? A great leadership story narrative can inspire others to follow and commit. Rodney Williams, President and CEO of Belvedere Vodka, knows what it takes to tell a great leadership story, and he shares them in his interview on The CEO Sessions. You don't need fancy words -- all you need is a good understanding of the core concepts of storytelling theory and some practical tips on how to develop your own stories. And, with those two things in place, anyone can be an effective leader who inspires people around them. Rodney was named global head of the world’s first super-premium vodka in 2017. He encourages consumers to understand Belvedere's origins, ingredients and craft in order to understand the unique taste and character of Belvedere Vodka. This is the story of Polish rye and purified water, distilled by fire. He was most recently the CMO for Moet Hennessy USA's storied portfolio of iconic luxury champagne, wines and spirits brands. Rodney's tenure at Moet Hennessy began as Senior Vice President for Hennessy, where he led the brand out of decline and into record growth with a groundbreaking new strategic campaign.  Prior to that he was in the wine business where, as SVP of Classics Brands, Jackson Family Wines, he launched the most successful new product in the company’s history; and as SVP of Robert Mondavi, Constellation Brands, oversaw the turnaround of Woodbridge. Rodney's LinkedIn profile: ( (Belvedere Vodka)  WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: Going to Dot Com to Dot Bomb to Robert Mondavi. His surprising story of mistaken identity with Robert Mondavi. The cocktail you can make to impress any business guest. How you can describe vodka like a fine wine. How the spirits industry was challenged most during the pandemic. The BIG pandemic pivot he led Belvedere through, that boosted sales. Increasing cocktails with no bartender? How to use storytelling as a leader. Advice for storytellers who want amp up their game. Belvedere Vodka's Amazing Story. Starting your story with humor. The pros and cons of being a Determined Optimist! Where optimism comes from. Discovering an empathetic perspective. Staying connected as a remote team. Belvedere’s innovative approach to clean energy! The true passion that drives his career... problem-solving. How he led the charge on Batman and OnStar! How they are approaching the cost of employee turnover. How they leverage executive coaching to reduce turnover. A humorous story of his first week at Moet-Hennessy! QUOTES: “The fodder for great stories is already there.” “Storytelling is less about invention and more about excavation.” “The best story telling is authentic and real.” “If you are really passion-led, you will find a path.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Nov 30

54 min 15 sec

Ever wondered how to stand out while working remotely? Working remotely can be a frustrating experience because you’re not getting “face time” with the leaders in your company. This can stunt your promotion potential. Enter Christina Lock, Founder and CEO of Catch Talent, a recruiting and staffing company. Christina Lock has a unique perspective on approaching this problem in a positive way. She’s seen hiring and firing in the remote world from every angle, and she has a terrific strategy for you.    Christina is an entrepreneur and human resources executive with a proven track record of building companies and talent attraction expertise.  As CEO of Catch Talent, Christina leads the delivery of technical recruiting services to growing technology, creative, and government contracting companies. Prior to launching Catch Talent, she was a founding member and Vice President of HR and Recruiting at SPARC, where her team hired over 300 team members in less than five years.  Christina has also held senior leadership positions at ARAMARK and Aerotek.  Christina serves on the boards of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Women in Tech, Charleston Southern University JRS Coding School, and has spoken at SHRM, DIG South, Pecha Kucha, and the College of Charleston. She mentors fellow entrepreneurs, Mompreneurs and professionals through the Harbor Entrepreneur Center, Women in Tech, and Women’s Entrepreneur Group of Charleston.    Christina’s LinkedIn Profile: ( Catch Talent: (   WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: What, recruiting is a “life skill”? Recruitment as a “higher calling". Employee engagement with Chuck Norris and bacon. How COVID has changed the recruiting landscape. The real cost of working remotely. How company and employee loyalty changed during the Pandemic. How to stand out while working remotely. The one trait she’d instill in every employee… ”Ownership”. Three success traits for every employee. Work-life balance strategies. A recruiter’s take on the cost of employee turnover. Insights for Mompreneurs and women in the workforce.  HIGHLIGHTS: What being a recruiter teaches you: How to be instinctual. Picking up cues. Relating to other people. Being an active listener. QUOTES: “We think about recruitment as quality over quantity.” “Be a student of your profession.” “Think outside your job description.” When making a change as a leader “Put the person first.” “Turnover can be healthy for teams.” RESOURCES: (Never Eat Alone )by Keith Ferrazzi (Blinkist) ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Nov 22

40 min 24 sec

Are you tired of being the person who always needs direction, or are you exhausted from giving your team direction? In this episode with Melanie Huet, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer at Serta Simmons Bedding (SSB), you’ll discover how to become a self-starter at work. Self-starters take action in their work day and their career to improve and grow. Most people are used to getting told what they need to do but that's not the way it has to be. You can learn how to take charge of your own career. Serta Simmons Bedding is the largest manufacturer and distributor of mattresses in North America, and Melanie Huet directs several functions including Sales, Marketing, Innovation, Insights and Trade Marketing. She is leading a full business transformation at SSB catapulting a 150 year old industry leader into a digital powerhouse that continues to lead the market in delivering breakthrough innovation. Prior to joining SSB, Melanie spent over 15 years in consumer-packaged goods leading global businesses like Huggies, Pull-Ups, Capri Sun, Kool-Aid, Hellmann’s, and Lipton Tea at blue chip companies such as Unilever, Kraft Heinz and Kimberly-Clark. Melanie's LinkedIn: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: Melanie’s experience having an executive coach and why she makes that investment in herself. Her first job working in a video rental…. taking take of the small things. How to become the your boss’ favorite employee…. listening. Advice for leaders who feel they aren’t getting promoted quickly enough. Why to get promoted you must “know the game you’re playing”. The key leadership lesson Melanie learned managing Kool Aid at Kraft Heinz. The big thing that makes Serta Simmons so special. The one trait you wish you could instill in every employee... self-starter! Why you can have new ideas even if you’re of the “old school”. Sleep strategies from a sleep company. The unexpected twist that led to her growth. Work-life balance tips. Why Melanie is a believer in self reflection, and how you can do it. Two big strategies for getting promoted. HIGHLIGHTS: Things that might help you when working with difficult bosses: Listening. Trying to understand what they want. Going an extra mile. QUOTES: On having an executive coach “It’s humbling.” “Take pride in your work no matter how small the job is.” “Do work you love and work with people you like.” “Be open to feedback.” “Know the game that you’re playing.” RESOURCES: The Pyramid Principle Say it with Charts Toastmasters Business Wars ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Nov 16

36 min 27 sec

Ever struggle to delegate? If you're in the corporate world then you probably know that delegation is key. It often seems much easier to do it yourself in the moment, but that’s the path to burnout and not developing your employees. When you execute delegate well, it can save your time and let you begin to spend your effort and focus on higher value tasks. Enter Willis Cantey the CEO of (Cantey Tech Consulting), a regional IT solutions and consulting firm located in Charleston, South Carolina, nine-time winner of INC Magazine's 5000 America's Fastest Growing Companies Award, and named as the 2019 5th fastest growing small company in South Carolina by SC Biz News. His company also been recognized as Best Places To Work in SC. He is also the founder of Cantey EDU, a student assessment technology company supporting school districts in 17 states.  A graduate of the University of the South at Sewanee and the Masters of International Business Program at USC, Wills has worked in technology for more than 20 years and founded Cantey Tech Consulting in 2007.  He recently partnered with LNC Partners, a private equity growth team in Virginia. Additionally, Willis is former Chairman of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Historic Charleston Foundation Board of Trustees, and Chair-Elect of SC Independent Colleges and Universities. (Willis' LinkedIn profile) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: The greatest life hack of all time. Why “Tech” is actually a people first industry. Canty Tech’s approach to serving their clients. What Willis learned serving as President of the Chamber of Commerce during the Pandemic. How to delegate to elevate. Why you must start with questions, NOT PowerPoint. How to handle CEO stress. How you build personal connections with a remote workforce. The one trait he’d like to instill in every employee…. focus and organization. Wild tales from offshore banking in the 90’s! Three success strategies for every employee. Koozie - best business tool. HIGHLIGHTS: Advice Willis would give to his younger self: Be patient. Go outside of your comfort zone. QUOTES: “It’s not about our customers understanding us; it’s about us better understanding them.” “Everybody’s busy, but everybody needs to give back.” On building connection with a remote workforce “If you want to talk to one of your teammates, it needs to be on video.” “More horse power doesn’t solve all problems.” “Be patient and get out of your comfort zone.” “Great ideas and good intentions are easy. Execution is hard.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Nov 9

42 min

What’s the first step to make your team more diverse, and why is diversity so important to business in the first place? When you prioritize diversity, research shows that it generates better business results, including increasing employee retention! The best thing about diversity in the workplace? You have more perspectives, which means better ideas and more creativity. In this interview with Pamela Slim, author of (The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You), co-founder of a small business learning lab, and small business expert. you’ll discover what diversity means to the business world and how it can impact your profits. She founded her company in 1996 and focused her first decade in business on creating and delivering training programs for large companies such as HP, Charles Schwab, 3Com, Chevron and Cisco Systems. Since 2005, Pam has advised thousands of entrepreneurs as well as companies serving the small business market such as Infusionsoft, Progressive Insurance, Constant Contact and Prezi. Pam partnered with author, Susan Cain to build and launch the Quiet Revolution and the Quiet Leadership Institute. In 2016 Pam co-founded, with her husband Darryl, the (K'é Main Street Learning Lab) in Mesa, Arizona, a grassroots, community-based think tank for small business economic acceleration. She is frequently quoted as a business expert in press such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Information Week, Money Magazine and Psychology Today. ------------------ The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You on Amazon (Pam's LinkedIn profile) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: The crazy story behind how I met Pam at the World Domination Summit. Pam’s knack for creating environments where people get along. How Pam created The “Pamily”. Why having a diverse group of friends in your life is a gift. Why you should consider bringing your family on business trips. Advice for those in cross culture or cross racial relationships. How Pam is raising her children to be comfortable presenting on stage. Pam’s “Unbook” Tour that led to her book. The moment when Pam decided to open a learning lab on Main Street in Mesa, AZ. Pam’s insightful perspective on in-person versus remote work. The BIG IDEA behind The Widest Net. How to reach your customers.  What really retains your employees. How to build a diverse community. Attracting and retaining diverse team members. The first step to increasing diversity. HIGHLIGHTS: What reflective questions should employers ask and have conversations with their employees about during the pandemic: What is really the mission behind what you’re doing as a company? Why are you doing the work? What’s important to you? QUOTES: “There’s a human need for people to be together.” “Having spaces with multiple uses is a very powerful way to create community.” “If every Main Street had a place where people can wander in... it’d be amazing what communities could do.” “Having a business coach right in the middle of Main Street is an amazing way to enable a community.” “The problem is not that leaders in diverse communities don’t exist; it’s that they’re not visible.” “Any company that has a really solid set of products or service offerings knows that they alone can never serve all of the needs that their enterprise customers have.” “If you’re recruiting and you’re wanting to build connections with folks, you need the trust, and that trust is built by you spending time in communities.” RESOURCES: K'é World Domination Summit Pam’s Fargo TedX Talk The Widest Net Resonate, Nancy Duarte Quiet Revolution, Susan Caine Todd Cooper CEO Session ------------------- (Apply to be on the

Nov 3

46 min 25 sec

Is your office safe? Have you ever had or witnessed an incident at work where safety was compromised? How would this situation have been different if it were safer? I’m not just talking about tripping over a cord or having something thrown at you from someone’s office window. What about getting dysentery while traveling or being caught up in a criminal ambush? There are all things that leaders can prepare themselves. In this episode, you’ll learn how to make your office safer without spending a fortune. Robert Dodge is the CEO of Global Risk Services at Prosegur, one of the top security companies in the world. He’s giving you some of the best tips to keep your workplace safer while still looking professional. He’s served as a senior executive at the world’s largest 3 security firms with tenure at G4S, Pinkerton and oversees the physical and digital security for organizations in 90+ countries. He also served honorably in the U.S. Navy and is a graduate of Northeastern University. (Robert's LinkedIn profile) (Prosegur ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: What Robert learned from the “School of Hard Knocks”. Navy work hours on 4 hours of sleep per night. Advice for his younger self. A colorful story from working for the 3 top security companies in the world. The moment you need to take your security to the next level. Where the bad guys are. Common security mistakes. Get an ROI on your security investment. The one trait he’d instill in every employee... passion and energy. His take on how employee turnover impacts security. It’s BIG! Stress management in a stressful business. A twist in Robert’s career that led to his growth and opportunity. Three success strategies for every employee. Business insights from the tennis court. HIGHLIGHTS: Traits Robert would instill into every employee: Passion for what they do Energy Positive Attitude QUOTES: “Grow yourself and embrace technology.” “Business is about the people more than the brand or logo.” “The network came to my rescue.” RESOURCES: (The Art of War) - Sun Tzu (Good to Great) - Jim Collins ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Oct 26

40 min 22 sec

How can you get your employees to take ownership of their work and do more? It’s a question that consistently frustrates leaders. When employees don’t take ownership, leaders spend their time following up and even cleaning up after their team's mistakes. This wastes time and money. However, when employees are truly “bought in”, their productivity and engagement increases. Leaders can then invest their time in higher value, strategic opportunities. With this at stake, employee ownership should really be a priority of every leader. Enter Inna Kuznetsova as CEO of 1010data. In her interview on The CEO Sessions she explains three simple strategies to get your employees to take more ownership and boost their productivity. 1010data is a leading provider of cross-enterprise data analytics tools for retail, CPG and financial markets. 1010data helps customers rapidly transform data into knowledge and adjust their businesses to the fast changes in the market.   She also serves on the board of Global Ports Investments Plc (LSE: GLPR). Her previous roles include senior leadership positions at IINTTRA, the largest digital network and analytics provider the ocean shipping industry, CEVA Logistics, and IBM where she spent 19 years in a variety of global roles with a primary focus on technology-driven innovation, fast sale-up and returning business back to growth.  Inna completed her MS and Ph.D. study in mathematics at the Moscow State University and MBA in Columbia Business School. She is a frequent speaker on technology-driven innovation and an author of two best-selling career books in Russia.  Inna's (LinkedIn profile) (1010data) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: How Inna overcame a big challenge growing up in Russia during Perestroika. What it was like growing up in Russia and how it influenced her leadership. How she became the first Russian born Global Vice President of IBM. How she became a turnaround and scale-up specialist. Persistence and toughness has helped her to persevere. Why every CEO should be a thought leader. Why people need to hear your voice. Advice for those who’d like to get to the C-Suite. What is special about working with 1010data. Why you must own your results and health. The “good” turnover. The “wrong kind” of turnover. HIGHLIGHTS: How things will change if we would start taking ownership: We would have things run and executed better.  There would be less delays in completing projects. QUOTES: “Academia shapes your thinking.” When it comes to having a setback... “You must learn to shake it off, move on, and learn something from it.” “People leaving an organization is not a tragedy if they leave for the right reasons.” “Our lives are longer than a single job.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Oct 19

53 min 48 sec

How do you get your employees to buy in? For most leaders it’s a mystery, but it’s an important question to consider. In fact, employees who buy into the company culture and important changes are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and productive. Enter CEO of the Americas Region for DB Schenker - Hessel Verhage, who seems to have cracked the code on building trust and loyalty along with getting big results. He rose from forklift driver to senior executive and established his reputation as a leader who drives positive change. He also served as CEO of STG Holdings, Global Co-President of UTi, and CEO of Global Link Logistics. (Hessel's LinkedIn Profile ) (DB Schenker) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: How a life-long stutter became a powerful way to connect with customers and employees. The important role that mentorship has played in his career. The funny moment he learned that “life is sales”. How he addresses stuttering from the stage... that always engages the audience. How Hessel got to the C-Suite without the "normal CEO pedigree". The dose of tough love his mother delivered when he left college. How his starting out as a forklift operator influences his leadership today. The importance of taking risks early in your career. The “NBA Coach Theory” on getting promoted. Have the guts. How to turnaround a company that’s in deep trouble. Mentors! The most powerful words in the English Language... "I need your help". How to get your frontline workers to buy in. A family of 12,000 working together. The one trait he’s like to instill in every employee... Straight talk and transparency both ways. How to instill empowerment and accountability. The true cost of employee turnover. HIGHLIGHTS: How companies should treat their front line workers: Treat them with respect. They should buy into the vision of where the company is going. They should feel that they have a career path. QUOTES: When it comes to public speaking and having a stutter, “Own it upfront.” When it comes to taking on a difficult position, “Have the guts to take the job.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Oct 12

57 min 20 sec

Mark Whitten is the President & CEO of Spartanburg Steel Products (SSP) in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  They are a Tier 1 and 2 supplier to companies including BMW, Honda, Volvo, John Deere and Kubota.  Mark is a results-driven senior business leader with more than 25 years of manufacturing experience, including international assignments in Canada, Mexico and the United States.     Mark's LinkedIn Profile: ( )   WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: What gives Mark his leadership edge. Why working your way up from the bottom prepares you for future leadership. The surprising moment when Mark felt challenged to grow. What you can learn from watching poor leaders. How to earn the respect of every employee. The secret sauce for employee engagement. Spartanburg Steep 2.0. The twist in Mark’s career that led to his professional growth. The traits Mark would instill in every employee...ownership and ambition! HIGHLIGHTS: Traits Mark would instill in every employee: Ambition Loyalty Integrity Kindness QUOTES: “Great leaders are influential, poor leaders use the power button.“ “Attitude is a HUGE differentiator.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Sep 21

39 min 12 sec

Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in the collection and repurposing of complex waste streams. Tom started the company when he was 19 years old and has grown it to a $6M company today. TerraCycle operates in 21 countries, working with some of the world’s largest brands, retailers and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging that currently go to landfill or incineration. In May 2019, TerraCycle launched Loop, a circular reuse platform that enables consumers to purchase products in durable, reusable packaging. Loop is available in Paris, France, the UK, Canada, Japan and the 48 contiguous U.S. states, and is a key step in helping to end the epidemic of waste that is caused by 'single-use' consumption. In 2022, Loop will become available in Australia. Tom and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental and business awards and recognition from a range of organizations including the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Schwab Foundation, Fortune Magazine, Time Magazine and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Tom is the author of four books, “ (Revolution in a Bottle)” (2009), “ (Outsmart Waste)” (2014), “ (Make Garbage Great)” (2015) and “ (The Future of Packaging)” (2019). Tom created, produced and starred in TerraCycle’s reality show, “ (Human Resources)” which aired on Pivot from 2014-2016 and is syndicated in more than 20 foreign markets on Amazon and iTunes.   Tom’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) TerraCycle Website: WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: Why Waste Management is such a huge opportunity. Tom’s business plan that changed it all. Tom’s inspiring definition. Why Waste is Tom’s entrepreneurial playground. How to build a great team. What’s it like to present to the World Economic Forum (3 times!). The real power of purpose at TerraCycle. What to do if You Know Your Own Purpose. Leading through the angst of the Pandemic. 3 success strategies for every employee. Negative cost marketing (Don’t miss this!). HIGHLIGHTS: Three phases of building a team: Phase 1 concentrates on an individual and how hard they work. Phase 2 is for delegating and letting go. Phase 3 is for setting up the right systems to let everyone flourish. QUOTES: “Profit is an indication of business health, but not the reason to be in business.  There needs to be a more inspiring purpose.” “Waste is the only commodity people are willing to get rid of but has a negative raw material cost... It’s also void of innovation.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Sep 14

38 min 53 sec

Making great decisions at work is an essential leadership skill.  Yet, most leaders just "wing it" when it comes to decision making.  It doesn't have to be this way.  There are proven strategies to help improve your decision making which have positive downstream effects like improving your efficiency, increasing revenue, and reducing costs.  Enter Jennifer Davis, Chief Marketing Officer at Learfield, and former senior executive at Amazon Web Services, Honeywell, Leyard International and Planar Systems. She’s authored the new book, (Well Made Decisions,) which is being published this month by New Degree Press Jennifer's LinkedIn profile: ( WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: Jennifer’s first job and what she took away from those days. What makes working at Learfield so special. Amazon’s most effective training strategy. How to become a thought leader. The real benefit of sharing the spotlight. What you must do in order to get promoted. How employee turnover can be a measure of success. How to get the CEO to back your idea (Amazon). Well made decisions. How to beat decision fatigue. HIGHLIGHTS: Tips on how to present big ideas: Write it down as a fake press release. Use the fake PR to communicate with people who could help to build your idea. QUOTES: “I’ve always admired those leaders who are willing to do the full range of work.” When training others “Make the first step easy!” “If you’re a thought leader, you should act like one.” “You build your credibility through helping others.” “There’s a difference between role clarity/ownership.” “If you do a good job of solving the problem, you’ll naturally get more resources.” “Decisions are not right or wrong; they are made right by what comes afterwards.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Aug 31

44 min 11 sec

It can be tough to balance getting bottom-line results and taking care of your people. Sometimes it can feel like it's an either/or choice. If you've ever faced this delimma, you're going to love what my guest today shares. Todd Cooper is Chief Operations Officer at Celestica with responsibility for global operations spanning 30 manufacturing locations across 14 countries.  Todd has over 25 years of experience including senior leadership positions at KKR, Honeywell Aerospace, Storage Technology Corporations, McKinsey & Company. He also served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from West Point, a Master of Science from MIT, and a MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Todd is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School. Todd Cooper’s LinkedIn Profile: (  WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: What Todd learned when helping to produce the (EMANUEL )- a documentary about the Charleston Church Shooting that killed nine Emanuel AME church members in an act of terror. How his involvement in the film led to a powerful moment of discussion on diversity and inclusion in his company.  What makes his company, Celestica, so special. How to be successful working for a “scrappy” company. The leadership seed that was planted growing up on an Indian Reservation. How to get results and take care of your people. A dose of motivation from “TopGun” . The surprising reason he chose to go to West Point. Why sometimes it’s best to make your career decision based on where you can make the biggest impact. The advice he’d give his younger self… get broad experience! Why a linear career path may not always be the best choice. How to use Sunday night to prioritize the most chaotic work week. Finding the personal work-life balance that works for you. Why life is bigger than just the P&L. How to present your big idea to the C-Suite. A twist that led to his success down the road. Why all leaders should be tracking turnover, and the reason you need to know your top performers. HIGHLIGHTS: What makes working at Celestica special: Challenging situations. A compelling strategy in terms of growing engineering capabilities. Really good people. An open culture. QUOTES:  “I enjoy the challenge of ‘How do we win in complex and challenging situations?’.” “I figured if I could survive four years at West Point, I could do anything.” “Part of what motivates me is having a big challenge.” “Sanity check your priorities to make sure they tie to the bigger picture.” “Life is bigger than just the P&L.” “Figure how to present your idea in 3-5 ideas.” “Increasing your bench strength is critical.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Aug 24

57 min 4 sec

Joey Habert is the president of High Point Design, a division of The Moret Group in New York. High Point Design manufactures accessories, and hosiery, under many brands along with their world renowned Fuzzy Babbas!  Joey has more than three decades of experience in the fashion and accessories retail/wholesale industry. Under Joey’s leadership, the company enjoyed great success and growth for 14 years.  A strong believer in community and charity, Joey always gives back by spearheading various projects every year that help others – both locally in his community, as well as abroad. Joey is a graduate of NYU Stern School of Business. Though Joey prefers to fly under the radar, he graciously agreed to this interview in the spirit of sharing some of the small lessons learned along the way; and because he simply couldn't say no to Ben, who over the years has become a good friend.  WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: The reliable way to move up in your career. Why “old school” may be the best way to move up in your company. What you need to know about Moret and High Point Design. An honest perspective on going through the patent process. How faith influences how he leads and conducts business. The “Look Back” Theory… everything is for your good. The one trait he’d instill in every employee… the ability to earn trust! An email success strategy EVERYONE needs to use while they’re on vacation. The easy way to transition an employee. “The Roach Motel” strategy for reducing turnover. The best decisions he’s ever made and how to make them yourself. Why second place can give you a big advantage. HIGHLIGHTS: Advice for someone starting out in their career: There are no shortcuts. Work hard. Learn. QUOTES: “Sometimes it’s best to start at the bottom and work your way up.” “I’m old school. There are no shortcuts.” “Stay consistent and keep building upon the foundation you’ve laid.” “In your 20’s, work where there’s a mentor who you can learn from.” “Your work experiences, early on, compound the value over time.” RESOURCES: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey ( How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive ( Good Notes App ( ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Aug 3

58 min 6 sec

Maggie Driscoll is Chief People and Culture Officer at Blackbaud. She leverages her extensive experience in human resources to foster a culture that enables Blackbaud to deliver on a vision of powering an Ecosystem of Good® that builds a better world. Prior to joining Blackbaud, she held senior leadership positions at the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) and CCBN, and C‑bridge/eXcelon, a technology and business consultant company.  She’s a passionate supporter of cancer research and has been extensively involved with fundraising events for Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.   Maggie’s LinkedIn: (   WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: Why Maggie came back for a take two on the show. How growing up in an Irish household, the oldest of six children, was a sign she’d end up in the C-Suite. Her first job delivering newspapers and how it influences her leadership today. The success playbook Maggie uses to stay connected with her network. The importance of building your network outside the company as well as inside. How Maggie’s experience with cancer transformed her career and influenced her leadership approach. The inspired moment when Maggie was going through cancer treatment that she removed her wig during an executive meeting. How much should a leader talk during a meeting. Why Maggie leads like time is a gift. The important advice she’d give her younger self. The one trait she’d instill in every employee… authenticity! What a workplace and the bottom-line would look like if everyone showed up authentically. How Maggie’s company, Blackbaud, made a positive impact during COVID-19. How a twist in Maggie’s career led to her success down the road. The catastrophic cost of turnover. How to maintain a strong company culture while working remotely. HIGHLIGHTS: How to keep up with your expansive network: Follow post updates of people from your network. Reach out to them via email. Acknowledge their achievements and congratulate them. Maggie’s advice for her younger self: You don’t always have to worry about the next step. Really be present. QUOTES: “You can learn from everyone.” Ask, "What can we do together to make it the best?” “It’s okay not to be okay.” “When you ask someone how they’re doing; stop and listen to their response.” On the impact of being a cancer survivor… “Time has become a new lens that I look at things through.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Jul 20

53 min 32 sec

Mahesh M. Thakur is Vice President of Product at GoDaddy.  He is also co-founder and former CEO of PhotoWeaver with over 20 years of experience working at Microsoft, Amazon, and Intuit. He is a member of the MG 100 coaches family and has hired, coached, and transformed product and engineering leaders at some of the world’s fastest-growing companies. He is a visionary leader who loves building products and companies that are mission driven and take a customer-first approach Mahesh’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) Mahesh’s Website: Visit ( to learn more about Mahesh and how he can help you accelerate your career as a leader in technology.   Download his 6-step approach to achieving growth and success here: (   WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: What Mahesh learned from becoming an entrepreneur at the age of 11. The inspiring and harrowing story of his grandparents' experience as a refugees in 1947.   The three guiding life principles his grandparents passed down and still influence his leadership today. The impact of the India Partition.  How your career decisions today can impact future generations. Mahesh’s passion for working with small businesses even though he’s worked for several large companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Intuit, and GoDaddy.   A powerful yet simple strategy to teach your employees customer empathy. An empathy connection to former CEO Sessions guest, Pammay Bassey, who is an author and Chief Learning and Diversity Officer at Kraft Heinz. Why he encourages all employees at GoDaddy to use their products. Advice for employees who are from underrepresented groups in the C-Suite and are a mission to get there.   How GoDaddy supports diversity, and how it contributes to their success. The one trait he wishes he could instill in every employee… “Customer Obsession”. What is it about Intuit CEO, Brad Smith, that's his biggest inspiration? The unexpected twist in his career during the Tech Meltdown in the 90’s, and how it led to his success down the road. How CEO’s can maximize their impact. What Mahesh learned on Bill Gates’ last day at Microsoft. HIGHLIGHTS: How can CEOs maximize their impact: Do an excellent job putting your message together. Inspire and impact people with that message. QUOTES: “When you're a small business owner… “I don’t have the time to say 'I don’t know?', I just have the time to say 'how much does it cost to go from A to B?'.” “There’s no correlation between busyness and success.  The only correlation is with learning.” “Believe in continuous learning.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Jul 6

40 min 4 sec

Tom Troy is President and CEO of CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer. He is a 30-year veteran of the insurance industry and served as an executive with Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and Safeco. With more than 100 years of experience serving AAA members, CSAA Insurance Group offers automobile, homeowners and other personal lines of insurance to AAA members through AAA clubs. Tom Troy is a board member of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association and the Bay Area Council. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and his MBA from Seattle University. Tom’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) CSAA Website: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: What Tom learned picking cherries as a kid. What others need to know about the CSAA Insurance Group. Why it’s so important for leaders to share the positive story of the Insurance industry. The career opportunities in the insurance industry go far beyond just sales and claims. The “tower” vs “pyramid” philosophy on building career success. Strategies for work-life balance. The advice he’d give his younger self. The one trait he’d like to instill in every employee… thinking big and moving fast. How to avoid becoming a victim of your own success. Why you must consider exporting talent instead of coveting talent. How a twist in his career led to his personal growth. Three success strategies for every employee. HIGHLIGHTS: Advice Tom would give to his younger self: Be less hard on yourself. Balance things differently. Traits Tom would instill in his employees: Thinking big. Moving fast. QUOTES: “The Insurance Story doesn’t get told very well.” “I embraced the opportunity to do more as long as it helped me grow.” “If you do good work, you’re going to have more opportunities.” “Building a strong and broad base of skills is important to your longevity in any career.” “Don’t covet talent; be prepared to export it.” “Think big, move fast.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Jun 22

44 min 57 sec

Carin-Isabel Knoop is the Executive Director of the Harvard Business School Case Research & Writing Group. She’s written cases on managers and leaders all over the world across functions and industries for decades.  Carin co-authored the book on Compassionate Management of Mental Health in the Modern Workplace​ (with Dean John Quelch, Herbert Business School, University of Miami), and her articles have been published in Africa, Europe, the U.S., and Latin America.  She champions diversity of thought, adaptability, and human sustainability at work, working closely with public and private organizations, student groups, and employee benefits organizations to promote Mental Health by All and For All. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Carin's Linkedin Profile: ( ) Carin’s list of Harvard Business School Case Studies (  Carin’s book, Compassionate Management of Mental Health in the Modern Workplace​ (  WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: How Carin created her role inside Harvard Business School. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first case study used at HBS. TRIVIA: The first case study used at HBS was… General Shoe Company. Why case studies are such a POWERFUL tool to teaching leaders. Why learning to disagree is essential for all leaders. Why a case study is such an effective training tool. The step-by-step process of how Harvard Business School students approach a case study. The one case study Carin would recommend if you could only read one. The business case that made her cry. How a singing Walmart greeter led to an amazing interaction with Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon. Strategies to infuse the case study mindset when developing your own team. What former CEO of Honeywell, David Cote, said about different points of view in a meeting (around the 31-minute mark).  What former CEO Nigel Travis said about “Challenge Culture” and getting direct feedback (around the 34-minute mark).  The Kim Scott perspective on bias in her book, Just Work.  Three success strategies for every employee. HIGHLIGHTS: The process Harvard students follow for case studies: Receive the case ahead of time. Prepare individually. Discuss in a in a study group. Present in class. Evaluate the case study and get feedback from others. QUOTES: “There is something beautiful in the method of discovery in a case study.” “A good case occurs when people disagree.” “Some people think that Inclusion is expensive, but exclusion is even more expensive.” “To support diversity, we need the tools and courage to learn to disagree.” (from her Medium post) “With disagreement comes innovation.” RESOURCES: Lincoln -Douglas Debate Format Carin’s Medium Post: Build Mental Health Back Better, Mr. Biden. No vaccine is coming for the COVID depression. ( ) Carin’s Medium Post: So you want to improve mental health at work? Focus on the work part. There is no app for antiquated management.

Jun 8

51 min 59 sec

Phil Kalin is President and CEO Pinnacol Assurance in Denver, CO where they protect nearly a million workers and 60,000 businesses. Phil has also served as a senior executive at Mt Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland, Rose Medical Center in Denver, Custom Med Solutions, and Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Phil Kalin has a bachelor’s degree from University of Iowa and his master's degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan.   Phil’s LinkedIn Profile: ( Pinnacol Assurance: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: Phil’s first job in his family’s “Five and Dime”, and how it influenced his career. The moment he hiked in the snow to his customer’s house to take care of them. A powerful lesson he learned, at 17 years old, when he needed to run the family business. Why it’s important that you stay on the “steep side of the learning curve”. Advice to leaders who want to grow in their career. Pinnacol’s success strategies from facing the Pandemic. Why Pinnacol celebrated the one year "shutdown anniversary". Why their NPS score increased during the Pandemic. The pros and cons of having your team working remotely. Thoughts on the long-term impact of remote working on corporate culture. The two ways that leaders should be creating content on social media. The two traits he'd instill in every employee… curiosity and constant learning. The big questions he asks his employees. When Phil had an unexpected twist in his career, and how it led to his success.   3 success strategies that all employees need to understand. HIGHLIGHTS: Traits Phil would instil into each employee: Curiosity Being a constant learner QUOTES: Advice from his father, “The customer is always right”.   “I love change. I love being on the steep side of the learning curve.” “‘Are you all in?’ ‘cause if you’re not, then this is probably not the place for you because we are now going forward and as fast and hard as we can.” RESOURCES: Pandemic Lessons for the Workplace, Phil Kalin ( ) Atul Gawande ( ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Jun 1

49 min

Jennifer McCollum is the CEO at Linkage, which is a Boston based leadership development firm that focuses on improving leadership effectiveness and gender equity in organizations globally. Jennifer's relentless commitment to changing the face of leadership has led to a complete revolution of how this 30+ year old firm is serving leaders. Most recently she co-created an innovative approach to developing inclusive leaders in organizations that is sure to revolutionize the conversation we’re having around this important topic today. She’s also served in senior executive roles at Korn Ferry Hay and CEB, which is now part of Gartner. Jennifer’s Linkedin: ( WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: Growing up in Europe and where Jennifer developed her scrappiness for business. The amazing story of her first job at Coca-Cola during the 1996 Olympics in Barcelona that positively impacted the next 20 years of her career.   How to turn a big opportunity into an even BIGGER one. Career advice for those in their 20’s.    Why just working hard doesn’t mean people will notice. The productivity hack that Jennifer uses to cultivate her network. What you need to understand about Linkage, and it's inspired mission. Career advice for those from underrepresented groups in the C-Suite. The importance of modeling the behavior you want to see in others. How Alan Mulally (former CEO, Boeing Commercial Aircraft and Ford) impacted her CEO career during the global Pandemic.  Why, as the leader, you must talk the least. The one trait she wishes she could instill in every employee… self-awareness. The importance of getting honest feedback and how it helps you grow as a leader. Interesting findings from Linkage’s recent research.  Jennifer’s personal story of how bias and engagement impact all levels of the organization. A time when a career twist led to her growth down the road. HIGHLIGHTS: Advice for a young aspiring leader: Experience everything you can. Try a lot of things. Figure out what you like and what your passion is. Start to formulate your purpose. Cultivate a network. In the Purposeful Leadership model, Leaders need to: Inspire Engage Innovate Achieve Become QUOTES: “It’s not enough to work hard; others must notice.”  “Instead of focusing on creating a network; focus on cultivating it.” “Serve first.” “We want leaders who are modeling inclusion, creating an inclusive culture. and are investing in their people.” “As a leader, you must talk the least.” “Self-awareness leads to self-discovery which leads to impact.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

May 18

48 min 40 sec

Bill Keith is CEO and Co-Founder of Perfect Snacks.   You can say Bill Keith was a “born leader” as he is the eldest of 13 children, and they became known as the family that founded Perfect Bar.  Perfect Bar is the #1-Selling Refrigerated Protein Bar in the U.S. and is available in 27,000 retailers nationwide. Bill's quest to create Perfect Bar began in college, when he submitted a business plan for a class project, outlining his concept for a first-of-its-kind refrigerated protein bar made with whole food ingredients — a concept hatched from a childhood recipe, created by his father.  Over the next 13 years, Bill and his younger siblings worked tirelessly to turn the crowded, $6-billion protein bar industry upside down, leading consumers away from the highly-processed, non-perishable snack aisles, to the fresh and functional snack and beverage coolers where Perfect Snacks products continue to carve out desirable, high-velocity fridge real estate. Named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Ernst & Young (San Diego Region), ‘Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in the U.S.”, “Most-Admired CEO” by San Diego Business Journal,  “Best Workplaces 2019” from Inc. Magazine   Bill’s LinkedIn Profile: (  Bill’s Company Perfect Snacks: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: What it was like being the eldest child of such a large family, being home schooled, and growing up in national parks across the country. The “perfect” origin of the Perfect Bar, and how it saved his family. How growing up in a big family impacted his leadership. Bill’s top 3 national parks. The advice that Bill gives to his mentees who are starting a business. A strategy to keep going despite the ‘No’. How to work through a “No” with a customer. Why you must listen and react in real time. Why they’ve gone the extra mile to hand roll the bar. The key inflection points of start-up to boot strapping to working with investors. How to deal with stress when “daring greatly”.   How a $100,000 investment led to $20MM per year. The trait he’d like to instill in every employee…vulnerability. Three success strategies for every employee. QUOTES: “Make sure you long from the sign post along the way that tells you that you’re on the right path.” “If you have a product you’d like to test, go to your local farmer’s market." “When I was starting out, Google was my ‘cheat sheet’.” “I want on my tombstone ‘He was a good listener’.” “Constantly perfect your own brand and craft.” “I would rather be a person who says what they know and don’t know. Then share what you’re doing to learn what you need to.” “Look at your actions and determine where you need to do better.” RESOURCES: The Acadia Coop in Northern California Brene Brown – Daring Greatly College of Redwoods Yosemite, Niagara, Lake Chelan  Jordan Rubin, Ancient Nutrition Peter Burns, One Bar and Justin’s Nut Butter Wayne Woo ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

May 11

43 min 23 sec

Jason Schulweis is Head of Partnerships at Morning Brew where he oversees Sales, Account Management, and the Creative Studio (Integrated Marketing, Branded Content and Creative). Morning Brew is a Media Company based in New York City with an audience of 3.5 Million Subscribers. Their mission is to empower the Modern Business Professional with engaging and accessible content.  His team drives company revenue through native content campaigns from Morning Brew's network of media properties and platforms. Prior to Morning Brew, Jason held leadership roles at MediaLink, Live Nation, Thrillist and Yahoo! Jason’s LinkedIn Profile: ( WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: The inspiring mission of Morning Brew. Defining the “Modern Business Leader”. The secret to engaging people with our content. Why every employee can and should be a content creator. The best way for leaders to get their employees to positively represent their organization on social media. Addressing the risk of “bad things” appearing in social media. How employee generated social media content can drive higher sales. How to use social media to attract great talent to your team. The first step leaders should take to get their employees to become positive advocates on social media. The benefit of becoming a thought leader and how to do it. The “Crawl-Walk-Run” method to becoming a thought leader. How Jason has leveraged social media to help others be better prepared to interview with him. The wake-up call to leaders around creating content. Why empathy is the single trait Jason would like to instill in every employee. A twist in Jason's career that led to his success. Two tools that Jason recommends for every leader. HIGHLIGHTS: Benefits of being a thought leader: You become an active participant in your company’s culture. You become a better communicator. You help others. QUOTES: "When it comes to encouraging social media within your team, “lead by example.” "The company should create their “point of view” with the employees in mind."  “If your leaders aren’t participating in social media, there is no example for other employees to follow.” “The newsletter world is poised for growth.” RESOURCES: Morning Brew Collecting Dots (Jason’s Introduction to his career advice) ( ) Interview Intel (if you’re going to interview with Jason make sure you read this!) ( ) The Importance of Responding (vs Reacting) ( ) ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

May 4

49 min 19 sec

Kim Scott is the New York Times Bestselling Author of Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. and author of the Just Work, Get *t Done Fast and Fair. Kim was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies. She was a member of the faculty at Apple University and before that led AdSense, YouTube, and DoubleClick teams at Google. Earlier in her career Kim managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond-cutting factory in Moscow.  Kim’s LinkedIn Profile: (  WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: What it’s like being a CEO for Dropbox and Twitter. Advice for those who are coaching top tech executives. What Jeff Bezos is rumored to have had on the top of his white board. Kim’s first experience with “Unjust Work” in her first job and why it took for her to tell her story. The moment that broke through three levels of denial. Why it’s essential to distinguish bias, prejudice, and bullying…and what to do when you experience it.   A practical playbook for facing bias and prejudice on a team. Advice for leaders who believe employees are being just “too sensitive”. What to do about bullying if you’re the leader or the person being bullied. A trick to make your quarterly numbers while reducing bias on the team. Why bias can often lead to bad decisions. How leaders can positively respond when a bias is called out. The BIG problems that power creates. Moneyball, Billy Bean, and measuring bias. The first step you should take if you suspect you’re being underpaid or not promoted because of bias or prejudice. "Brutal ineffectiveness", and how to address it. HIGHLIGHTS: Actions that are destructive in collaboration: Bias Prejudice Bullying Consequences of layering power on top of bias, prejudice and bullying: Discrimination Harassment Physical violation QUOTES: “Remember that when you’re winning you’re never good as they say you are, and when you’re losing you’re never as bad as they say you are.” “You are not your stock price.”  Unverified quote from the top of Jeff Bezo’s white board. “I got a lot of advice on how to navigate around nonsense, but I didn’t get a lot of advice on how to change the nonsense.” “You must distinguish bias, prejudice, and bullying so you can respond in an effective way.” “Privilege compounds over time.” RESOURCES: Just Work: Get *t Done Fast and Fair, Kim Scott ( ) Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, Kim Scott ( ) Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman ( ) The Stanford Prison Experiment ( ) Money Ball. Billy Bean ( ) Francoise Brougher, The Pinterest Paradox (  ) ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Apr 27

55 min 1 sec

Josh Ensign is currently Chief Operating Officer at Proterra, a company that designs and builds 100% battery electric buses, chargers, and powertrains for the heavy duty market.   He’s also held senior leadership positions at Tesla, Honeywell, and the US Army. Throughout his years, Josh has managed 42 different factories across 16 countries.   Josh’s career path has included multiple international assignments in Germany, Mexico, China, and Switzerland.  He holds an MBA from the University of Southern California and an engineering degree from Gonzaga. Josh’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: The challenge Josh faced on his first day as COO of Proterra, involving 160,000 square feet of Ugg Boots. Why Proterra is described as the "Tesla of the Bus World".  What Elon Musk taught Josh about thinking big and goal setting. A powerful strategy that gets every employee to “buy in”. The most exciting thing going on at Proterra today. Josh’s big career accelerating moment. How to create your own path to the C-Suite. The seed Josh planted that culminated in a big opportunity four years down the road. The power of being a leader worth following and bringing your team with you. How to run your business with a single sheet of paper. 3 success routines that increase performance. The two big components of leaving a leadership legacy. How to use meditation to boost focus and decrease stress. The one trait that he’d instill in every employee… positive energy! A simple strategy to present your idea of the C-Suite. The true catastrophic impact of turnover. The book Josh hands out to his team and takes on his flights. Three keys to professional and personal success. HIGHLIGHTS: Things Josh learnt from Elon Musk: Think big. Set ambitious goals. Develop your capacity for speed in getting things done Josh's legacy: Getting results. Being the kind of leader people want to follow. QUOTES: “The most important asset in a company is the employees.” “Losing employees is expensive and losing top talent can break a company.” “Focusing on your employee turnover and A players can make the difference between being a good company versus a GREAT company.” “Life is short. Make sure when you wake up you’re doing something you enjoy with people you enjoy doing it with.” “Find a way to give back.” About influencing opportunities: “Part of it is luck, but the other part is being prepared when you get lucky.” “It’s the leaders who can get results. And then when they leave the company or they leave their jobs, or they change jobs, everyone wants to follow them. That to me is the definition of a career success.” RESOURCES: Defy Ventures ( ) Tools of the Titan by Tim Ferris (  Honeywell Tri-Fold

Apr 14

49 min 4 sec

Michelle Thompson is CEO and Managing Partner of Cherry Bekaert, one of the top 25 US largest accounting firms. Michelle’s responsible for oversight of the firm’s Executive Team, executing and promoting the overall strategic plan and driving firm growth. Her leadership role includes chairing Cherry Bekaert’s Executive Board and overseeing the day-to-day administration and financial management of the firm.  She also held a senior leadership role at Deloitte. Michelle has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Accountancy, University of South Carolina with additional studies at the Harvard Business School. Michelle’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: Leadership lessons from working the “drive through”. Why Cherry Bekaert is a small accounting firm with big capabilities. Why Michelle thinks it’s so important to get different perspectives. When a leader should “pull rank”.   Advice for employees who are from underrepresented groups in the C-Suite and are a mission to get there. The three-part framework to pitch your idea to the C-Suite.  How big does your idea need to be before you present it? The one trait she’d like to instill in every employee… ”Managing Yourself”.   Productivity strategies from the C-Suite. How being unorganized in your personal life shows up in your professional life. The importance of understanding how and when you and your team work best. A simple hack to bring your best self to every moment. The surprising tool that she recommends for every leader. What General Robert Caslin (now President of USC and former CEO Sessions guest) and Michelle believe about building trust. The moment that accelerated her career. HIGHLIGHTS: Tips on presenting your idea to C-Suite: Be able to pitch it. Your pitch needs to answer what problem you are solving, how you will solve it and who will benefit after solving the problem. 3 success strategies all employees need to understand: Be organized. Be a good communicator. Think about your work style. QUOTES: On the first step for developing your personal network: “Focus on building relationships and establishing trust.” “You need to volunteer for things and put yourself out there, be willing to fail, and don’t hide.” “Ideas don’t have to be earth shattering. They can be things that you can change within your own world of influence.” “Depending on the thing I’m going to do, I’m always considering how to bring my best self to that moment.” RESOURCES: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Apr 13

44 min 8 sec

Matt Carter, CEO of Aryaka, is a cloud and technology industry veteran, leading Aryaka's long-term market strategy and day-to-day operations, while guiding the company's vision for an increasingly connected world.  Matt has also served in senior leadership roles at Inteliquent, Sprint Corporation, Sprint Enterprise Solutions, Boost Mobile, Coca-Cola, BellSouth, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.   Matt earned his master's degree in general management from the Harvard Business School and his bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. Matt’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: How Matt’s first job as a grocery bagger informs his leadership style today. How transitioning industries several times throughout Matt's career helped accelerate his growth. The key to becoming more resilient in your career. How Aryaka is supporting leaders who are going through a big digital transformation. How to go from being the “best kept secret” to becoming well-known in your industry. Looking to history to motivate your team - David and Goliath and Japanese Samurai. Why creative thinking is the one trait that Matt would instill in every employee. A sure-fire strategy to get your team thinking creatively. An unexpected twist or failure in your career? How did it lead to growth or success down the road? What Red Auerbach, renowned NBA coach of the Boston Celtics, told him about leadership. The real job of a leader. HIGHLIGHTS: Pros and cons of working for different organizations and not sticking with one for a long period of time: Different companies offer different pieces of leadership experience. You must constantly rebuild your reputation and your credibility. What Matt does to foster creative and disruptive thinking in his employees: Has a lot of small meetings with people. Encourages them by saying how valuable they are to the team. Tries not to be the guy that has all the answers. Encourages people to be their best selves. QUOTES: “Be bold.  The time here is short, so be bold and get the most out of it.” “Don’t be so hard on yourself.  You’re going to be okay.  Have the resiliency to keep moving on." “Believe in yourself and develop the fortitude to keep moving.” “We’re paid for what we know, but it’s what you don’t know and how you pursue it that makes the difference.” “Failing is part of growing.” RESOURCES: David and Goliath ( ) Age of the Samurai – Battle for Japan ( 

Apr 6

47 min 20 sec

Dean Acosta is the Lockheed Martin Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice President. Lockheed Martin is a $65B global security and aerospace company with 114,000 employees worldwide.  Dean Acosta leads a team of 500, oversees global communications strategies and activities, and provides strategic communications counsel to the corporation’s senior executives.  He’s held senior leadership positions at NASA, Boeing, Honeywell, Phillips 66, and Resideo.  While at NASA he was press secretary in the aftermath of the space shuttle Columbia tragedy and returned to flight.  Dean has received an Emmy Award for investigative reporting and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a master’s degree from Seton Hall University. Dean’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: The big life lesson Dean learned as a sportscaster. The advice Dean would give his younger self.   How you strike the balance of “tooting your own horn” and being humble. How his mettle was tested during the Columbia Space Shuttle crisis and the Pandemic. Key strategies every leader can use to respond to a crisis. How to have a “steady hand” in a crisis. The single trait Dean would instill in every employee. Success strategies every employee should keep in mind. A twist in Dean’s career that led to his success down the road. The three board games that Dean likes to play with his family. HIGHLIGHTS: Advice for someone facing a crisis in their career or business: Involve more people into a conversation, not less. Transparency and authenticity need to be key principles in how you approach your communications. Tips on avoiding burnout: Make sure you have work/life balance. Family first, then the mission. Stay focused. Be okay with asking for help or asking for a break. Be able to reflect on what’s working for you and what’s not. QUOTES: “Advocate for yourself and your team.” “There’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence.” “Understand your audience.” “Think about the things that advance the mission of the company.” “Involve more people in the conversation.” “When you’re thinking over communicating, you’re usually not.” “Pause and reflect upon what you’ve learned during the past year". RESOURCES: Good to Great, Jim Collins (  The Right Stuff (  Ghost Fleet ( 

Mar 30

40 min 24 sec

Barbara Melvin is Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the South Carolina Ports Authority.   She leads a team of over 650 employees including those in terminal operations, carrier sales, information technology and support services, crane and equipment maintenance, engineering, environmental, Port Police, procurement, the logistics solution center, and cruise operations.  She is leading the most transformative port project on the Southeast Coast in the last 100 years with the opening of the Leatherman Terminal that’s been 20 years in the making.  It opens in Spring 2021. Ms. Melvin also serves as the SCPA’s lead staff person on the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Project. She sits on numerous Boards and has been recognized with many awards. She is a highly influential leader in Charleston, South Carolina and across the Southeast.  She holds a degree in political science from Georgia Southern University and an MBA in Global Supply Chain from the University of Tennessee. Barbara’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE: How her background in politics has helped her the C-Suite. The importance of knowing your talking points What you can learn about someone from their Twitter Profile. How to successfully lead a 20-year project.   Her interesting path to COO over a 22-year span. Work-life balance strategies.  How the word “discipline” emerged as a defining word throughout her career. Her perspective on gender and the C-Suite. Why she’d like to instill the trait of decisiveness in all employees. A failure in her career that led to her success down the road. How to present your idea to the C-Suite. Insights on the catastrophic cost of turnover. On approaching an employee who is burned out and might quit. A moment of inspiration from her father. Helpful advice on what to read for those on a mission to get to the C-Suite. Barbara’s interesting twist on Parkinson’s Law. HIGHLIGHTS: How Barbara's political background relates to business: Know your issues Be straightforward Know how to compromise Know your audience Increase your emotional intelligence How would Barbara approach someone who's burned out and might quit: Try to notice any changes before it becomes an issue. Have an honest conversation as you notice some signs that a person is unhappy. QUOTES: On managing a long-term project “You need to have staying power” and “Talk to your customers”. You must be able to formulate a story, believe it and sell it. “Keep your eyes on the end of the race know matter how many ‘cramps’ you may get along the way. “Make your teammates define victory for themselves, rather than defining it for them.”  Ask your team, “What victory looks like?” “Just when you think failure might define you, you realize it actually just makes you tougher.” “You learn as much, if not more, from your failures.” “People are our investments.” “There is no doubt organizations should track the cost of turnover.” “It’s a devastating impact when an employee leaves after you’ve invested in them.” “We invest in our leadership so they understand the #1 reason employees leave a company is because of their boss.” “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good.” RESOURCES: The Economist ( ) ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Mar 23

44 min 51 sec

Dave Lapp is Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer for PepsiCo Beverages North America.  PepsiCo’s beverage business of iconic brands includes Pepsi, Gatorade, Tropicana, Mountain Dew, LIFEWTR, Starbucks ready-to-drink coffee, and Pure Leaf.  Dave is a 33-year veteran of PepsiCo. In his current role, Dave is accountable for leading the end-to-end supply chain operations and strategy for PBNA across the U.S. and Canada.  Dave earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of California at Davis. . David on LinkedIn: ( WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: David’s path to the C-Suite. Advice David would give his younger self. The pro’s and con’s of staying with one company for 33 years “Bleeding Blue”. Why tracking the cost of turnover is one of the most important things you can do. David’s legacy at PepsiCo and how he thinks of measuring it. How to build your team. How to conduct a job interview to assess if they’re the right fit. 3 keys for getting to the C-Suite The career risk that David took led to his growth and success. His secret to managing a global team. The one trait he wishes you could instill in every employee. How employees can more effectively communicate their idea to the C-suite. How to help your teammates who face burnout…especially during the Pandemic. His leadership strategies to connect your team while they are remote.   What fuels David’s motivation. How he took the team from last to first. How creating a friendly competition within a team creates focus and motivation. David’s time as a collegiate athlete, and how it informed his leadership. Book recommendations for someone in the C-Suite or who is on a mission to get there. The simple tool that’s helped Dave achieve success. HIGHLIGHTS: Questions Dave asks when hiring new people: What challenges will the company be facing in the future? What unique skills and capabilities are you going to need? How best can we attract those talents to our company? QUOTES: “Tap into what your employees are dealing with every day and eliminate the articles.” “We give our leaders both tremendous autonomy and big responsibility.” “We spend so much time attracting the best talent; when we lose them we take it as a personal setback.” “You lose high performance when you have high turnover.” “The biggest focus is to prevent turnover in the first place.” “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to have all the answers. It’s powerful to ask others ‘how would you approach this.” “When you hire, start by thinking of the future.” “To be really productive, you must teach people to reflectively listen.” When it comes to helping with burnout…”It’s our job as leaders to stay connected and address it early.” “We all (as leaders), have a role to coach, teach, and motivate our teams to help them reach their potential.” RESOURCES: The Game of Work, Charles Coonradt ( ) The Wealthy Barber, David Chilton ( )

Mar 16

53 min 34 sec

Elena Kvochko is cybersecurity and technology executive having built her career in protecting the nation's critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks and building innovative technology and digital solutions.  She’s held senior leadership positions at Bank of America, Barclays, and S&P Global. She is a member of the Wall Street Journal CIO Council and served as an affiliate fellow at Harvard Law School. Her published work appeared in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, the White House cybersecurity report, and The New York Times.  She has invented patent-pending technologies in cybersecurity, privacy, and secure financial technologies. Elena was named among the Top 100 CIOs by CIO Magazine, Business Role Model of the Year by Women in IT Awards, Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women - International, and was honored as part of the 40 under 40 list by Crain’s New York.  Throughout her career, she has been a strong advocate in national cybersecurity and technology diversity programs. Elena is a member of the Board of Directors of Refugees International and a Patron of Carnegie Hall in New York.  Elena on LinkedIn: (  WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: What is a Chief Trust Officer and why your company needs one. Why security and growth are important for every leader to balance. What trust is based on in the C-Suite. The two big reasons why Elena got involved in Security. How mountaineering and aviation inform her leadership experience. The greatest lesson she learned summiting Aconcagua at 23,000 feet (the only person in her party to make it to the top). What advice Elena would give her younger self. How to take the pressure off when making a big career decision. Advice for women who'd like to advance in their careers. The challenge every leader faces when your team shows up with a new idea.  Two things you must consider BEFORE presenting your idea to the C-Suite. What Elena is reading for inspiration now. A helpful way to deal with the stress of the C-Suite and the Pandemic. The best place to go for a run in New York City. HIGHLIGHTS: What is Trust: A value. A way of doing business. The confidence you give to your customers and employees. Advice Elena would give to her younger self: Work hard. Appreciate the people around you. Find ways to contribute and be helpful. Work in the field that inspires you to grow and give back. Remember that whatever you do, you bring your own perspective onto your work or your life. QUOTES: “When you don’t risk, you don’t summit.” “Appreciate the people around you.” “Find ways to contribute and be valuable.” RESOURCES: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (  A Promised Land, Barack Obama’s Autobiography (  ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Mar 9

46 min 13 sec

Stephanie Stuckey is CEO of Stuckey’s, the roadside oasis famous for its pecan log rolls.  After five years of losses she was able to make business profitable. The Company was founded by Stephanie’s grandfather, W.S. Stuckey, Sr. as a pecan stand in Eastman, Georgia in 1937 and grew into over 350 stores by the 1970’s. The company was sold in 1964 but is now back in family hands and poised for a comeback. Billy Stuckey, son of the founder and former U.S. Congressman, reacquired Stuckey’s in 1985.  Stephanie took over in November of 2019 and, under her leadership, Stuckey’s has purchased a healthy pecan snack company, undergone a rebranding, added three new franchised stores, expanded its B2B retail customer base, increased online sales 550% with a new website and will soon acquire a pecan processing and candy manufacturing plant. Stephanie worked as a trial lawyer, was elected to seven terms as a state representative, ran an environmental nonprofit law firm that settled the largest Clean Water Act case in Georgia history, served as Director of Sustainability and Resilience for the City of Atlanta, and taught as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law.   Stephanie’s achievements include being named one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine and a graduate of Leadership Atlanta. She is active in her community, a longstanding member of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, and serves on many nonprofit boards, including the National Sierra Club Foundation, EarthShare of Georgia, and her local zoning review board Stephanie received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia. . Stephanie's LinkedIn Profile: ( Stuckey's Website: WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: Why Stephanie used her personal savings to take back over the family business. The change she made so Stuckey’s became profitable after 5 years of losses. What Stephanie learned after her first year as CEO. The surprising story of how W.S. Stuckey determined where to establish Stuckey’s. The critical role that Ethel Stuckey (her grandmother) and the African American community played in the success of Stuckey’s Advice she would give her younger self. How to take a smart risk. The one trait she wishes she could instill in every employee. How the catastrophic cost of turnover adds up. The single routine that helps Stephanie handle the stress of being CEO. The treasure Stephanie discovered in six boxes of her grandfather’s old files. How Stephanie has reinvigorated the Stuckey’s brand and their profitability. The economic hard times are when you double down on marketing. HIGHLIGHTS: What Stephanie made the business profitable after 5 years of no profit: Doubled, tripled down on marketing the brand. Made a tough analysis of the company finances to identify where are they making profits. Invested more into branded merchandise. They did a rebranding. QUOTES: “Economic hard times are when you double and triple down on marketing.” “People are hungry for nostalgia and comfort.” RESOURCES: Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell (  The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, James Rootes (  Good to Great, Jim Collins (  MUSIC: Road Trip Music! Allman Brothers – Ramblin’ Man REM  Johnny Cash Hank Williams, Sr

Mar 2

1 hr 6 min

Pamay Bassey is Chief Learning and Diversity Officer for the Kraft Heinz Company. Prior to Kraft Heinz, Pamay served as the Global Head of Learning Platform and Professional Development for BlackRock. Before that, she was president of The Pamay Group, an e-learning design and strategy company. Her career began in Accenture's Media Technologies Group. Pamay is also Chief Experience Officer of the My 52 Weeks of Worship Project, through which she facilitates courageous conversations about cultural and interfaith diversity, inclusion, and understanding. Her 2018 TEDx talk, Navigating Sacred Spaces, is based on her project work and her book: My 52 Weeks of Worship: Lessons from a Global, Spiritual, Interfaith Journey. Pamay is Chair of the National Advisory Board of The Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the board of Houlihan Lokey and of the M&G Etomi Foundation, serving the people of the Niger Delta region in Southern Nigeria. Pamay earned a B.S. in Symbolic Systems from Stanford, with an Artificial Intelligence concentration, and a M.S. in Computer Science from Northwestern. She is also a graduate of the Second City Conservatory program in Chicago, an advanced study of improvisational comedy and theater. (Pamay’s LinkedIn Profile): ( ) Pamay’s TEDx talk: ( ) Pamay’s Book: My 52 Weeks of Worship: Lessons from a Global, Spiritual, Interfaith Journey ( WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: How stand-up comedy and improv inform Pamay’s leadership style and why "laughter is a superpower".   Why Pamay pursued a major in Symbolic Systems with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence at Stanford, and how not majoring in business impacted her career path. The future of artificial intelligence at work. How delivering a TEDx talk has become the "gift that keeps on giving”. Situations where it’s important to rely on emotional intelligence. Where Pamay grew up and her interesting path to the C-Suite. Advice for business owners considering going back into corporate and for corporate leaders starting their own company. Insights for leaders considering whether they should join an external board. Why Kraft Heinz merged the Chief Learning Officer and a Chief Diversity Officer into one executive position. The challenge of measuring bottom-line impact for learning, development, and diversity programs. The key attributes of the most effective presentations. The common pitfalls of bad presentations. The advice she would give her younger self. Why it matters if you use your first or last name when you talk to yourself.  The one trait she’d like to instill in every employee. How to present your idea to the C-Suite. How an unexpected career twist led to her success down the road. HIGHLIGHTS: Advice for business owners who are thinking of going to back into corporate and corporate leaders who are thinking of starting their own business: Examine your self-perception. Deal with other people’s perception. Find a way to share your creative narrative in a way everyone would understand. Advice on how to communicate big ideas: Simplicity is the key. Be able to ask questions. Be patient. QUOTES: “Everything is better with laughter.” “As an executive having a sense of humor always comes in handy.” “When things are hard I look for the laughter within it.” “When you’re talking about something at work that people have strong feelings about, it requires emotional intelligence.” RESOURCES: Second City Conservatory...

Feb 22

56 min 10 sec

Alan Magee is Vice President of Digital Marketing & Technology for Church’s Chicken, which has over 1,500 restaurants. He is responsible for digital transformation and their customer engagement strategy. He also oversees marketing activation, public relations, and e-commerce. He has 17 years of experience in both traditional brand marketing and digital innovation.  He’s held senior leadership positions at InterContinental Hotels Group, Arby’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and AT&T.  Alan Magee has been recognized as a Brand Innovators 40 under 40 honoree, a distinction that highlights the next generation of marketing leaders.  Additionally, Alan is a member of the University of Georgia – School of Digital Marketing: Board of Directors and is a guest lecturer for marketing and advertising departments at universities across the Southeast. Alan on LinkedIn: ( WHAT YOU WILL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:     An important life-lesson from working as a line cook at McDonald’s.     What is Digital Transformation and why every company can benefit.     The science behind designing a great kid’s meal toy.     Alan’s story of leading Toastmasters in a retirement community, and how it’s fueled his career advancement.     A daily checklist you can follow to increase your success.     The defining moment in Alan’s career when he had to step up.     Three traits to instill in every employee.     The hidden employee turnover cost that most leaders miss.     A surprising Post-It Note strategy that helps Alan retain his top talent. HIGHLIGHTS: Traits Alan would instill in every employee: Curiosity. Proactive positive attitude. Being ready. QUOTES: "You can work hard and have fun." "Digital Transformation is making a brand and experience relevant to the consumer's needs." "Routines help you focus." "Focus on growth early on in your career." “Cause when you start to ask the question ‘why?’ you start to put the context around it.” "Too often great talent leaves for reasons that are manageable. You must understand 'Why'." "When high performing talent leaves it can set your brand back. It can set your team back by months." "If your not investing your time in developing your team, then expect them to leave." “Presentation skills are one of those soft skills that you need to focus on if you want to move up into a leadership role. RESOURCES: (The Playbook) by Netflix (The Science Behind Using Yellow Post-It Notes), Harvard Business Review (Business Casual Podcast) by Morning Brew (Restaurant Reinvented Podcast) (Music Exists Podcast) Music: OAR Bon Jovi Strange Hotels ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Feb 17

58 min 32 sec

Jay Karen is the CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, where he leads the golf industry’s trade association and initiatives to support the success of the golf course business.  He's chaired the board of the industry-wide advocacy coalition, We Are Golf, and served on the Golf USA Tee Time Coalition board, a joint initiative with the PGA of America, and the advisory board of the World Golf Hall of Fame.   The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CBS Radio, New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, the Golf Channel, Golf Digest and many others call upon Jay for his insights on the golf industry. Jay has also served as CEO of two associations in the lodging and hospitality industry, and he is a certified association executive by the American Society of Association Executives.   Jay also served on the board of directors of the US Travel Association. Jay’s LinkedIn: ( The National Golf Course Owners Association WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: How Jay's hometown impacted his career. The important advice his Mom gave him that often comes in handy. Do you need to leave your organization in order to become CEO?  What you need to know to become CEO. Insights for preparing and interviewing for the CEO position. What’s unique about working in associations, and what’s the key to success. How to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit. How Jay is going about addressing diversity and inclusion in golf.  Why difficulties are the best places to grow. Why front-line worker turnover is about more than money. What Don Draper in Mad Men said about gratitude. The missed opportunity from paying employees electronically. A time when a failure led to growth down the road. The one thing most people miss when they are making a decision. How to efficiently read the Wall Street Journal. How leaders can curate content and provide value. HIGHLIGHTS: The "Holy Grail" of reducing turnover: Create a place for people to have a security in their lives Be reliable. Show gratitude. The steps the NGCOA is taking to make the golf course more welcoming: Prioritize starting the conversation. Focus on creating diversity at the Board level. Create a collective consciousness around diversity across the industry. QUOTES: “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.” “You have to show that you've done the job. People don’t want to take a big risk when hiring a CEO." "Moderate doses of fear can be motivating. Too much of it can be overwhelming." "In an association you get to be mission driven and entrepreneurial." “When you begin to invest in what your younger customers want often the older generation will follow soon." Advice for you early on in your career..."embrace the difficulties". The sign in Jay's office..."A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor." "The best employees take ownership." The Holy Grail of turnover reduction..."Create a place where people can have security and reliability in their lives." "Showing gratitude and appreciation to your employees makes a bigger difference than you realize." "I try to stay one step ahead of members when offering them something of value in my newsletter. Two steps ahead is too far." When it comes to relationship building..."Golf levels the playing field for four hours." "The relationship is richer after fours hours of golf." "I'm a better CEO because I seek to achieve balance in life." RESOURCES: Wall Street Journal: ( ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- Connect with Ben: ( (

Feb 10

59 min 58 sec

E30: Rob King is ESPN’s Senior Vice President and Editor-At-Large. His role is to help define ESPN’s journalistic direction. He oversaw ESPN’s original content portfolio including: ESPN Films, 30 for 30 and ESPN+ original series, ESPN the Magazine, The Undefeated, and Outside the Lines. Previously Rob served as Senior Vice President, Original Content and Senior Vice President, SportsCenter, and Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of He received an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and a graduate degree from Penn State.  He’s also served as a Pulitzer Prize judge and is a member of the Associated Press board of directors. He chairs the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board and was named by Fast Company among its “Most Creative People.” Rob’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER: What’s it like having one of the most important jobs in sports. Why he often gets called upon to be “wise in real time”. How to help your team think bigger. How Rob prepares his team to surprise and delight in every story. Where the idea came from for pivoting ESPN’s College GameDay to the Masters. How to leverage utility and wonder to communicate your messages. The key to ESPN’s successful navigation of the Pandemic. The moment they knew “The Last Dance” was going to be big. How to recognize and tell a great story. The key components of a great story. The greatest gift leaders can give their team. The phrase that inspires creativity at ESPN. How to generate creativity in yourself and others. The question Rob uses to open his meetings to inspire creativity. A classic Improv activity to generate creativity. Rob’s advice for those from under-represented groups who’d like to advance in their career. How former ESPN President, George Bodenheimer, turned a perceived failure into one of their greatest opportunities.   Rob’s most colorful story from doing a live event. Rob’s book and music recommendations for leaders. The daily 15-minute activity that Rob uses to get his day started, and what he does when he needs to take a break.  The career decision Rob made that led cartoonist to the executive ranks. HIGHLIGHTS: The Questions that Rob uses to identify a great story: Will it drive empathy? Will it take you places you didn’t think you’d go? Will it make you share that story with someone else? What success routines Rob picked along the way: Being present for the family. Doing the New York Times Cross Word Puzzle. QUOTES: “Great storytelling allows you to see the world through the ideas of others.” “The story has to make you feel something.” “A good story makes you want to share it.” “The greatest thing a leader can give their team is hope and optimism.” “Hope and optimism inspire creativity.” On identifying a great story…”Listen for something in someone’s journey that others will immediately identify as the same as theirs.” “On what it’s like working at ESPN…“Most days it feels like family.” RESOURCES: New York Times Cross Word Puzzle ( The Last Dance Trailer ( National Association of Black Journalists ( National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communication ( An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green ( Utopia Avenue, David Mitchell ( Children of Time, Adrian...

Feb 1

51 min 28 sec

E29: Natalie Putnam is Chief Executive Officer at DeliveryCircle  DeliveryCircle is a proprietary technology-based same-day delivery solution provider providing a technology platform for final mile fleets.     Natalie has more than 30 years in the logistics industry and has served as the Chief Commercial Officer at Verst Logistics and other senior leadership positions at YRC Worldwide, Ryder Systems, Kansas City Railroad. Her leadership was put to the test at YRC Worldwide when the troubled trucking company sought her leadership to reduce turnover of their 600+ sales force during an economic downturn that threatened the company with bankruptcy.   Natalie is a member of the advisory boards of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, AWESOME Leaders, and the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN). She earned her undergraduate degree from Central Michigan University. Natalie’s LinkedIn: ( DeliveryCircle: ( WHAT YOU DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: The question Natalie asked led to her choosing a business career. How to communicate directly and respectfully. How to increase communication effectiveness. The question that helps you set your sights higher and accelerate your career. What it was like working in Jimmy Hoffa’s “local” for her first big job. What it was like being one the first women in management at her company. Sales stories from 8 Mile in Detroit (yes, the same place as Eminem hails from) The single strategy that boosts your team’s productivity. A personal example of the shadow-side of stress. The hardest layoff Natalie ever had to make. How to summon your courage. The “finger print” strategy to get your big idea accepted by the C-Suite. Strategies to conquer impost syndrome. Why you should add music to your meeting. HIGHLIGHTS: Advice for underrepresented groups in C-Suite: Discard the fear. If you want to lead, then lead. Be female but compete on competence. Show up with gravitas. Lower voice has more command. What traits Natalie is looking for when hiring new people: They need to be ambitious, eager and passionate. Be humble. Be smart emotionally and intelligently. How employees should communicate their big ideas: You should socialize it with someone else before bringing it to the meeting. Your big idea is not about making a name for yourself but making the company better. Tweak your ideas and let other people put their fingerprints on it. QUOTES: “Ask “What else can I do?”.  Ask “What can I do to develop myself?” “Compete on competence.” “Show up with gravitas.” “It’s critical to make your ‘work’, work for you.” RESOURCES: Crucial Conversations ( ) Books by Patrick Lencioni ( ) The Rock Legends Cruise Zero to One, Peter Theil ( ) Trillion Dollar Coach, Bill Campbell ( ) MUSIC MENTIONED: Pete Townsend Rolling Stones ACDC Jet ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( (

Jan 28

1 hr 3 min

E28: Jerry Gamez is former Global CEO and Board Director at Le Pain Quotidien Group.  The group consisted of the restaurant brand operating in 21 countries with over 7,000 team members with 5 offices (United States, Belgium, United Kingdom, France, and Spain) and a manufacturing company with six facilities in Europe and across the US.    He’s also served in senior leadership roles at publicly-traded companies like Burger King, Walmart, and UPS. He’s also had leadership roles in private equity-backed companies.  His passion and extensive food experience have placed him in a unique position to aggregate growth channels.  With the implications of the new normal and the rapidly evolving eating habits, he is at the center of the global acceleration away from animal protein to more plant-based food. Jerry is currently a Non-Executive Board Director of a European restaurant group and Board Advisor of a prominent North American workforce management SAAS company.   Jerry’s LinkedIn Profile: ( ) WHAT YOU WILL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE: Jerry’s interesting path from Southern California to Switzerland. Two ways to go about identifying and contacting potential mentors. Why you’re never too high in your career to find new mentors. The simple way to frame your meeting with a mentor. Why being in the inaugural Walmart Executive Leadership Academy (only 15 selected) was like an” MBA on Steroids”.  The intense strategies Walmart uses to accelerate the growth of their high-potential leaders. What Jerry learned as an expat that he applied to make his expat experience even more successful.   What it was like leading the growth of Burger King across EMEA. The biggest lesson from being Global CEO of Le Pain Quotidien. Jerry’s go-to strategy for handling the stress of the CEO role. The advice that Jerry wishes he’d received early on in his career. The one trait he’d instill in every employee. The part of employee turnover “value-chain” that often gets missed. Books, Association, and TEDx recommendations for every leader. HIGHLIGHTS: How Walmart Executive Leadership Academy teaches to accelerate student’s growth: They have an interactive, hands-on program. They assign senior executive mentors. Studies are heavily based on business case studies. Students solve business problems in small groups. Things Jerry would have added earlier in his career: Learn more languages. Live outside your home country. Proactively ask for mentorship. QUOTES: “There are two things you should be able to deliver: hard work and integrity.” “The good mentors are always busy, so you must seek them out.” “The skills you’ve acquired are never as relevant as the skills you can develop today and tomorrow.” RESOURCES: TED Videos on Sustainability ( ) Seba Castiglioni – Sustainability leader in the plant-based space. (  YPO Europe ( ) Quiet Strength, Tony Dungy ( ) ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Jan 26

53 min 40 sec

E27: Dan Newby is Founder of the School of Emotions. He is a champion for Emotional Literacy, and Emotions-Centered Coaching, a methodology he developed. His passion is helping emotional literacy become common sense and making emotions a tool for daily use. He previously served as CEO of Newfield Network Coach Training School in Boulder, Colorado. He has authored four books on emotional literacy and its application to coaching. Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Drury University in the U.S. His coach training was with Newfield Network where he also studied Integral and Somatic Coaching. He is trained as a Clifton StrengthsFinder Coach through the Gallup Organization in London and holds a PCC Certification from ICF backed by more than 7000 hours of coaching. Dan’s LinkedIn Profile LinkedIn profile at ( School of Emotions ( Material Resources The Unopened Gift: A Primer in Emotional Literacy, Co-authored with Lucy Núñez. ( The Field Guide to Emotions: A Practical Orientation to 150 Essential Emotions Co-authored with Curtis Watkins. ( 21 Days to Emotional Literacy: A Personal Journey Co-authored with Lucy Núñez. ( Courses Emotions and Coaching - a six-module online training course to build emotional literacy in coaches, available at ( Pilots’ Emotional Fitness and Aviation Safety Leadership – an online training course for airline pilots and crews to help build their emotional competence, available at ( WHAT YOU WILL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE: The funny experience of how Dan and I originally met. How Dan’s upbringing across three continents informed his experience as a leader and coach. The moment of desperation that led to Dan deepening his learning around emotions. A helpful way to define "emotions" that delivers tangible results Why emotional literacy is so important and the terrible cost of emotional ignorance. The two big misunderstandings about emotions. Advice for leaders who think their employees are “too emotional”. How leaders can generate helpful emotions in their team. Using the power of emotions to tackle COVID19 and tricky situations at the office. The most common emotions in the workplace and what to do with them. An exercise to harness the power of your own emotions. The best way to kick start a conversation around emotional literacy at the office. What happened when we put Dan on the Emotions “Hot Seat”. The ultimate emotional distinction that helps you prioritize. Music and exercise recommendations to shift your emotional state. HIGHLIGHTS: How does the world change once people become emotionally literate: Other people start to make much more sense. Enriches the world. QUOTES: “Every emotion, I would claim, has a purpose.” “Dignity is about me, how I take care of me.” “You can only care for a certain number of things.” ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( (

Jan 11

1 hr 14 min

Steve Schloss is Chief People Officer at the United States Golf Association (USGA). He is an accomplished business leader, coach, advisor, and trusted partner with the board and CEO. Steve is also a strategic advisor and leadership and team consultant. For over three decades he has built, scaled, and transformed global organizations including LivePerson, Time Inc, and Citigroup. He’s also served as an adjunct faculty member at the New School in New York City. Steve’s LinkedIn Profile ( ) United States Golf Association ( ) WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: The biggest surprise Steve had when he became CHRO of the USGA. Why Steve describes the USGA as a "125-year old start up". The single skill that’s helped Steve accelerate his career to the C-Suite. The benefit of a growth mindset and how to instill it in your team. How to use your golf game for developing a growth mindset. The transformation that happened when Steve decided to take “ownership” of his career. How Steve knew he was burned out and what he did to conquer it. How you can burnout and still like your job. A counter-intuitive idea: Working on some projects outside your organization makes you a better employee inside your organization. How employee turnover can be good…even great. How to use music to fuel your work day. Steve’s favorite podcasts and where and how he listens to them. Steve’s passion for music and the bands he’s listening to most today. HIGHLIGHTS: Signs that you are burned out: Your physical body declines and gains weight. Bad attitude. Decline in emotional health. Recommendations for an underrepresented group in C-Suite: Identify and develop a personal board of directors You need to prioritize your personal learning QUOTES: “Coaching as a skill set inside an organisation or as being a professional coach, is not a soft skill - it’s a skill that’s necessary for today’s business world.” “What’s really important in a sense of being a coach or consultant is being current in thinking and being able to look into the future.” RESOURCES: Monocle ( ) Flipboard ( ) Pivot Podcast ( ) Digital HR Leader Podcast ( ) MUSIC DISCUSSED: Van Halen Miles Davis Chick Corea ECM Jazz Dessa Michael Kiwanuka Wilco Billy Eilish Black Keys Elbow ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Jan 4

1 hr 3 min

E25: Woody Bradford is Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board at Conning, a global investment firm founded in 1912 with a long history of serving the insurance industry. Prior to joining Conning, Woody was an Operating Partner with Advent International, a global private equity firm. Previously, he spent 12 years at Putnam Investments where he held multiple roles, including Head of Corporate Development and Chief Operating Officer of Global Distribution. He is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and of the Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar. He is a member of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (“WPI”) Board of Trustees and participates on The Greater Boston Food Bank Emeriti Board, where he has served as Chair of the Board. Woody Bradford’s LinkedIn Profile ( ) Conning ( WHAT YOU'LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE: Woody’s personal story of helping establish the first food bank in Maine when he was a teenager. The bet he took that ended up with him getting into Harvard Business School. The unique distinction of graduating as a Harvard Baker Scholar (top 5%) and the study skills he used to achieve it. The skill Woody developed to create his own luck. The surprising career strategy that helped him find his way to the Financial Services industry. Why humility is the one trait he’d like to instill in every employee. What important things Conning is doing to prepare for the workforce of the future. How individuals from under-represented groups have distinguished themselves as potential future leaders, including C-suite positions, and the encouragement they offer to others with similar aspirations. A helpful resource for having uncomfortable conversations. The one word you should keep in mind when presenting your idea to the C-Suite. A positive strategy to use with an employee who is feeling burned out. Books for inspiration. How to improve your mental and physical health. Woody’s favorite Metallica album. HIGHLIGHTS: What characteristics should you look for in a mentor: Someone who can give you honest feedback. Someone who can point you in a direction that helps you think through your strengths and weaknesses and find opportunities in an organization. Advice for people in under-represented groups in the C-Suite: Do your job well. Try to be in an organization that understands and practices diversity and inclusion. Find a manager or a mentor who values you and who will give you opportunities. QUOTES: "Allow people to bring their whole selves to work." "I learned to be ruthless about time management. There's no way you can do everything. You must be able to decide what's important and what's not. RESOURCES: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, Emmanuel Acho, ( Peloton ( Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker ( How Not to Die, Michael Greger ( Indianapolis, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic ( Jaws: The U.S.S. Indianapolis Speech ( Robert Ludlum books ( Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, Alfred...

Dec 2020

1 hr

E24: Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, Jr. is the 29th president of the University of South Carolina and former superintendent of West Point. He is a highly decorated military leader who served in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf War. Under his direction as Superintendent, West Point was recognized as the number one public college in the Nation by Forbes and the number one public college by U.S. News and World Report. He led a sweeping reversal of Army’s football program and developed a culture of excellence through winning with character, culminating in Army defeating Navy in 2016 for the first time in 14 years, and beating both Air Force and Navy in 2017 to win the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy for the first time in 21 years. He was recognized with a Life Time of Service Award from the American Red Cross, the Honorary Rock of the Year Award for his efforts in diversity as the Superintendent of West Point, the 2018 Gerald R. Ford Legends Award for lifetime service, and the NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award. He has a bachelor’s degree from West Point and a MBA from Long Island University. He co-authored the book, The Character Edge – Leading and Winning with Integrity, with Dr Michael D Matthews who is also included in the interview. Dr. Michael D. Matthews is Professor of Engineering Psychology at West Point. He has served as President of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Military Psychology and authored more that 250 scientific papers, including a book called, Head Strong: How Psychology is Revolutionizing War. The Character Edge: Leading and Winning with Integrity: ( ) Lieutenant General Robert Caslen’s LinkedIn Profile ( ) Lieutenant General Robert Caslen’s website ( ) Dr. Michael D. Matthews’ website ( ) Dr. Michael D. Matthews book: Head Strong: How Psychology is Revolutionizing War. ( ) WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER: Why Bob still leads PT (Physical Training) for college students, the routine he follows, and what it says on the coin he gives to those who complete ten workouts. What’s been the biggest lesson from Bob’s distinguished military career. "The straw that stirs the drink" in all human interactions. The 3 C's of trust and using them to improve trust in your team. The “Mouse Trap” exercise to test communication skills…using REAL mouse traps. The "Bank of Public Trust" and why every leader must understand it. What it's like leading a large University through the COVID-19 Pandemic. The message Bob delivered when he took out a full-page ad in the paper. The unlikely story of how the book, The Character Edge, came together. How to define character. How the Godfather of Positive Psychology (Martin Seligman) and the top expert on Grit (Angela Duckworth) informed The Character Edge. The strategy West Point uses to develop character, and how to use it with your team. Three steps for addressing a character flaw. How Bob’s transformation of the Army football program and character came into play. How a high-character military leader and an Iraqi tomato paste factory transformed a dangerous war zone. Why did legendary Duke basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, bring the entire USA basketball team to the West Point Cemetery? The character crisis, and what we can do about it. HIGHLIGHTS: 3 Cs of trust on leadership: Competence Character

Dec 2020

1 hr 15 min

E23: Chair of Dunkin Brands Inc, Nigel Travis, who previously served as Chief Executive Officer from January 2009 through July 2019.  He also serves as Chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club and in June 2017 led a business consortium to take on ownership of the storied English football club of which he has been a lifelong fan. Previous experience includes from 2005 through 2008, Travis served as President & CEO of Papa John’s, the pizza chain. Prior to Papa John’s, Travis was with Blockbuster, Inc. from 1994 to 2004, where he served as President & Chief Operating Officer. Before that, he was with Burger King, first as Senior Vice President of Human Resources and later as Managing Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2018, Nigel published his first book, “The Challenge Culture: Why the Most Successful Organizations Run on Pushback” where he shares his management philosophy in business and describes his unique experience starting his career in HR and transitioning to operations and executive level positions. Travis received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Middlesex University in England. He previously served as Lead Director on the Board of Directors for Office Depot. Additionally, he is on the board of Abercrombie & Fitch and Advance Auto Parts. He is also Chairman of Sevpro and Fooda, both privately held companies.  Nigel’s LinkedIn Profile: ( Leyton Orient Soccer Club: ( ) Nigel's Book, The Challenge Culture: Why the Most Successful Organizations Run on Pushback ( ) WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER FROM THIS EPISODE: What career lesson Nigel learned as a popular DJ in college. What is "The Challenge Culture", and how he coined the phrase.  The surprising story behind Donald Trump’s appearance in his book. How an early experience with this Dad planted the seed for the Challenge Culture and became a cornerstone of his leadership philosophy. Nigel’s favorite challenge question. How to challenge a leader without being irritating. Using silence to get the answers. Nigel’s workout regimen and how he uses that time to reflect. What he says to leaders who believe the Challenge is like "opening Pandora's Box?" 3 big lessons he learned from leading Blockbuster and Papa Johns. How to use challenge culture when coaching kids' soccer. He’s been coaching soccer for 51 seasons! Why he has his players call him “Nigel”, not “Coach Nigel”. The one trait he would instill in every employee. How 20 years of human resource experience uniquely prepared him for the C-Suite. The REAL impact of employee turnover that too many leaders miss.  The story of him quantifying the cost of employee turnover for Burger King of $42M..and that was in 1989…imagine how costly that would be today! How has the Dunkin Challenge Culture been helpful during the Pandemic, especially when considering store closures? A failure Nigel had at Blockbuster that led to success down the road…it’s not what you think. HIGHLIGHTS: Steps to take when implementing a Challenge Culture: Think about what’s going on before implement Challenge Culture. Start small. Start asking questions and build a dialogue. Build your credibility. QUOTES: “Today is the slowest day we’ll see.” "Once you've put a title in front of something, you've put up a barrier." “Horses for courses.” “At the end of the day a business is there to make money, to become more profitable for shareholders.” “People should value silence.” ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: No Rules Rules, Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

Dec 2020

56 min 6 sec

E22: Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Transatlantic law firm, Womble Bond Dickinson, Betty Temple. Her 25+ years of experience in advising public company boards on their highest strategic priorities gives her perspective on how to meet the needs of clients in a fast-changing world. Clients describe Betty as a champion for their interests — a leader, an innovator, and a trusted strategic counselor. Betty’s highest leadership priority is to ensure that the firm’s clients receive extraordinary service and legal work from dedicated lawyers. She also serves as Co-Chair of the Transatlantic Board. She has expanded the firm’s ability to reach further in serving clients through the additional mind power, bench strength, industry insight, practice areas and geographic coverage that the combined firms can bring to bear. She has an undergraduate degree and law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Betty’s LinkedIn Profile: ( Womble Bond Dickinson: ( )   WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: Where Betty’s childhood reputation came from as the “two-gun sheriff”. What leadership lessons she learned working as a ranch hand in Wyoming. Why she believes in the power of storytelling, and how she uses it as a leader. Why she’s held onto her Southern accent.  The big Pandemic challenges, and how she’s navigated them. The pros and cons of staying with one organization your entire career. One thing Betty wished she would have tried earlier in her career. The origin of her deep interest in business.  What makes working at Womble Bond Dickinson so special. Finding the balance of being a mother and CEO. The powerful lesson she learned from her daughter when she was in Girl Scouts. The big three priorities she sets for her team. What she’d like her legacy to be at Womble Bond Dickinson. How to instill curiosity in your employees, and why it’s so important. Advice for moving on from a mistake or failure. The go-to resource that Betty reads every day. What she reads before bed to relax. The one tool that’s helped Betty the most during the Pandemic. HIGHLIGHTS: Benefits of staying in one company for a long time: Gives the firm a sense of security when the leader has been there for their whole career You get to understand the culture Builds security with the clients The sense of stability at work Advice for women wanting to get to C-Suite: Aspire to be a leader. Learn from your mistakes. Keep moving forward and look for new opportunities. Be passionate and don’t be afraid to show it. Make sure you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t neglect working on your strengths and weaknesses.   QUOTES: “If you don’t do your job, things don’t go well.” “If you’re having a hard time finding a great place to build your career and continuing to develop, you should stick with it.” “Self-awareness is critical to success as a leader.” RESOURCES:  Wall Street Journal ( ) ( Cisco IP Video Phone ( ) ( ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Dec 2020

59 min 10 sec

E21: Tom Crane is China Construction America’s Head of Shared Services and Vice President of Human Resources & Communications. The parent company is the largest construction company in the world. He forms and provides operational management of the organization’s Shared Services Center functions, while increasing their long-term strategic and operational effectiveness, efficiency and speed of delivery. Tom is also a member of the board of directors of Plaza Group Holdings, LLC. He previously served as Chief Human Resources Officer at Skanska USA, where he led a 70-person team and $19 million budget and played a key role in Skanska USA achieving an 85%+ employee engagement level and limiting voluntary salaried employee turnover to 12% per year. He served as Director of Media Relations for Honeywell. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Temple University. Tom’s LinkedIn Profile: ( WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER: ●     Why a background in journalism and communications can provide a strategic advantage in the C-Suite. ●     How to influence others through your writing. ●     What Tom learned working as executive leader for three companies on three continents. ●     The moment Tom learned to write under pressure when the stock price was at stake. ●     The mental shift you must make to become an effective communicator. ●     How to improve your communication by identifying patterns in others. ●     What Tom learned from former Honeywell CEO, Larry Bossidy, about leadership. ●     The “grassroots” approach to selling your idea to the C-Suite. ●     The key for having tough conversations at work. ●     When employee turnover is okay and when it’s not. ●     The most important data points you should track when it comes to employee turnover. ●     How a single relationship Tom built early in his career transformed into a big opportunity.  ●     How employees from under-represented groups can rise to the C-Suite. HIGHLIGHTS: Things to know when writing an email: ●     Your mission. ●     Your strategy. ●     Your intent. ●     Your audience. Then bring all those things together. Traits Tom would instill in every employee: ●     Self-awareness. ●     Spending more time thinking about the bigger picture ●     Accountability and responsibility for the whole process even though you only have a part of it. Tom’s advice for employees from the underrepresented groups in C-Suite: ●     Establish a mentor relationship, both inside and outside of the company. ●     Stay focused of what you can produce the best. ●     Socialize your ideas. ●     Don’t be afraid to be visible. ●     Let people know that you have an opinion. QUOTES: “Make it better than you found it.” “We are only the caretakers for the roles we have. That’s our legacy.” RESOURCES:  On Writing Well, William K. Zinsser ( Crossing the Unknown Sea, David Whyte, ( Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Larry...

Nov 2020

54 min 29 sec

E20: T.K. Pillan is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Veggie Grill, which is the leading 100% plant-based restaurant company in the U.S. Since founding Veggie Grill in 2006, T.K. has been on a mission to help people advance their conscious food journey in an approachable and attainable manner. T.K. concluded that one of the most impactful ways to create a better future was to change consumer habits around food. Today, under T.K.’s leadership, Veggie Grill has grown to 39 locations across California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington. Veggie Grill has been credited with creating some of the most iconic plant-based dishes such as the Rueben on Rye and the Santa Fe Chickn’ sandwiches. T.K. is also the Co-Founder and Partner at Powerplant Ventures (PPV), a venture capital fund that supports visionary entrepreneurs with world-changing, plant-centric companies delivering better nutrition in more sustainable and ethical ways. PPV investments include Beyond Meat, Thrive Market, Ripple Foods, REBBL, Beanfields and Vive Organics. Prior to T.K.’s work as a food entrepreneur, he Co-Founded Guidance Solutions, one of L.A.’s first e-commerce development firms that was consistently named one of the fastest growing technology companies between 1999 and 2001. He earned an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from UCLA. TK’s LinkedIn Profile: ( Veggie Grill: ( Power Plant: ( 80/20 Plants: ( WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: ●     The single consistent action that helped T.K. go from someone with no food and beverage business or being a vegan, to founding the largest vegan restaurant chain in the country. (39 restaurants and counting!) ●     Why it’s paramount to get control of your employee turnover. ●     The key leadership lesson he learned from surviving the 90’s dot com bubble. ●     The insecurity he experienced as a child that ended up fueling his success. ●     How a few awkward visits to an Ashram as a kid helped shape his career. ●     How to use meditation as a success strategy in athletics and business. ●     The hard lesson he learned as a fraternity president and multi-sport athlete at MIT. ●     Advice for people who realize they may have taken a wrong turn in their career. ●     The single mental exercise T.K. does when contemplating if he should take a risk. ●     The big health benefits T.K. experienced 30 days after becoming a vegetarian… ABS, lower cholesterol, and improved athletic performance. ●     What T.K. sees as his legacy. ●     Why self-awareness is the one trait he’d instill in every employee, and what the impact would look like if everyone had it. ●     Why he’s shifted back to reading physical books instead of the e-reader. ●     T.K.’s handy workout tool that helps him stay in shape at home, office, and the road.   HIGHLIGHTS: Two reasons for firing people quickly: 1.    Sometimes the business landscape has changed where you just need to cut your costs. 2.    When you determine someone is not a fit, you have to move on. What benefits TK noticed when he switched to plant-based diet: ●     Lost 5-10 pounds within 2 weeks. ●     Cholesterol levels down from over 200 to under 140 after 3 months. QUOTES: “ Hire slowly, fire quickly.” “As you get older,...

Nov 2020

57 min 9 sec

E19: As Chief Executive Officer of Flat World Global Solutions, Brian Wenck, has led the organization’s rapid growth from $12M to $100M in revenue.  Flat World streamlines supply chains across the globe using technology and excellence to integrate and organize shipping logistics, saving time, energy and money. They provide Domestic and International Shipping, Customs Brokerage, Warehousing, Distribution, Crating, Packaging, and Project Management.  As a 30+ year veteran of the logistics industry, Brian had a long tenure at YRC (formerly Yellow Freight), where he worked his way up from midnight shift as a dock supervisor to a senior leader role. He is a graduate of Iowa State University.  Brian’s LinkedIn Profile ( WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE What growing up as an “expat” in Singapore taught him about leadership. Why traveling behind the “Iron Curtain” during the Cold War in the 1980’s… transformed his perspective on the world. What to do if you get fired, and who you can turn to for support. Why getting laid off was the best thing that happened to his career…although he didn’t realize it at the time. The 3-part balance that sustains him as a leader. How to take a calculated risk. The surprising story of how he first met the CEO when he was a brand new sales person. How Brian’s “long-winded” emails keep his company connected. The best way to know if you’re hiring an employee who cares. Why it doesn’t have to be lonely at the top. The toughest part of being CEO that Brian never delegates. Brian’s advice for his younger self: Don’t wait, just do it. Take the risk. Have faith in your gut and your logic. QUOTES: "Any employee turnover is a ROI miss." "You must be intentional about retaining your employees." "You invest in your leadership team, and they in turn invest in their teams."  "We invest in employees to produce the ROI we want to get 3 to 5 years out." RESOURCES: Wall Street Journal ( TED Talks ( ------------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Nov 2020

1 hr 2 min

E18: Jerry Davis is the former NASA Global Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. He has also served as the Chief Information Security Officer for the US Department of Education and as the Deputy Assistant for Cybersecurity (CISO) and Privacy for the US Department of Veterans Affairs.  Jerry is a decorated combat Marine and served worldwide as a counterintelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where he worked on counterespionage activities. Now, Jerry is the Founder of Gryphon X, a Technology Risk and Advisory firm and a passionate public speaker. (Jerry’s LinkedIn Profile) WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: ●   The key leadership lessons that Jerry learned while he was in the Marines. ●   Two leadership strategies he discovered in combat. ●    What it was like being 22 years old and in charge of other people’s lives. ●   Combat leadership lessons you can apply to your own life. ●    The big career risk Jerry took when he blew the whistle on the shortcoming at the VA. ●   What it’s like going through Congressional hearings while preserving your integrity. ●   Where Jerry’s sense of integrity came from and how to trust your True North. ●   What makes being a leader at NASA so cool. ●   Jerry’s W.A.R.M strategy for knowing when it’s time to leave a job. ●   What you should do if you’re being told to do something that violates your personal integrity. ●    Surprising career lessons from Body Building. ●   The distinction between developing your network versus your inner circle. ●    The secret Jerry learned to sell his idea at NASA…after failing for 12 months. ●   Advice for those from under-represented groups who want to rise to the C-Suite ●   A lesson from the CIA on why you should do everything possible to retain your highest performers. ●   The massive turnover cost related to a single CIA operative. ●    Jerry’s hilarious story of getting “welcomed” on his first day at the CIA. HIGHLIGHTS: Jerry’s advice for someone who is told to do something that they know is not the right thing to do: ●   Look at the situation and put it in the right context ●   Trust your integrity and never question it Jerry’s advice for someone wanting to rise to the C-Suite: ●   Find mentors ●   Read as much as you can ●   Always have a plan ●   Execute that plan QUOTES: “Unlike Wine and Cheese, bad news does not get better with age.” “You have to let your integrity be your true North.” “You have to have a plan and you have to execute it. If you have a plan and no execution - it’s just a dream. RESOURCES: (Mission-Driven Leadership: My Journey as a Radical Capitalist) by Mark Bertolini (The Hard Think about Hard Things), Ben Horowitz ---------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:)

Nov 2020

1 hr 7 min

E17: CSX Corporation former Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Lisa Mancini. CSX is a Fortune 500 freight railroad that operates in the eastern United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. They operate approximately 21,000 route miles of track. Nearly two-thirds of Americans live within CSX’s service territory. Throughout her career at CSX Corporation, Lisa has been a member of the chairman’s executive team guiding CSX business strategy.  She negotiated public-private partnerships to develop, fund, and implement $600 million in freight rail network improvements, and she directed all aspects of labor relations and negotiations with 13 unions representing 30,000 employees. Lisa also served in a senior leadership role at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). She has a master’s degree from Harvard University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. (Lisa’s LinkedIn Profile: ) WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: ●   How to make the transition from managing a 10-person team to a 500-person team overnight. ●   What Lisa learned about leadership the day she climbed to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. ●   The Harvard negotiation strategy she used to win a negotiation versus Former Democratic Presidential Candidate, Secretary of State, and Senator John Kerry. ●    How she rose to the C-Suite in an industry that was 95% male. ●   How to balance work and family without burning out. ●   Which moments are the ones where a plan might NOT be the right thing. ●   How to take care of yourself when you have a demanding executive schedule. ●   How going on vacation and disconnecting benefits you and ESPECIALLY your team. ●   What the impact of COVID-19 would have been like if it happened in the 1980’s. HIGHLIGHT: Lisa’s advice for women wanting to work in a C-Suite: ●   Expect to work harder. ●   You’ll likely need to sacrifice some parts of your personal life. ●   Remain flexible. QUOTES: “You don’t want to be missed. You want someone to carry on and make things even better." RESOURCES: Personal History by Catherine Graham: The Yankee Years by Joe Torre: ---------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Nov 2020

52 min 32 sec

E16: Kathy Kranz is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Pinnacol Assurance, which is the largest workers’ compensation company in Colorado. They have 100 years of experience and back 57,000 Colorado companies. She oversees all the financial reporting, business planning, enterprise risks, audits, and actuarial functions. Her accomplishments include developing a four-year plan to ensure Pinnacol’s profitability and working with Standard & Poor’s to secure a strong financial rating for Pinnacol. The Denver Business Journal named her as one of the Top Financial Executives. She’s also worked in senior leadership at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and M.D.C Holdings, and RiskCap (now a part of Beecher Carlson) She holds a degree in Business Administration from University of Michigan and an MBA from Regis University. She’s also a graduate of the Denver Metro Chamber’s Leadership Program. Kathy’s LinkedIn: ( Pinnacol website: ( ) WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: Kathy's story of getting a standing ovation at work. Kathy’s story of going from analysts to CFO in just a 10-year span. How to know when you’re ready for the next level. Advice for women who want to rise to the C-Suite.  How to foster a positive reputation. The keys to establishing work-life balance. Three ESSENTIAL strategies to communicate your idea to the C-Suite. Why the cost of employee turnover can be catastrophic. The one thing you must do when you have a big set back. The daily practice (and resource) that Kathy uses to fuel her professional development. HIGHLIGHTS: What were Kathy’s keys to success to rise to C-Suite: Not being afraid to do new and challenging things. Always learning new things. Having fun. Kathy’s advice for women rising to C-Suite: Be authentic. Your CEO needs to be someone who wants to hear your opinion. You have to be willing to share your opinions. Expect that people won’t always agree with you. What would make it easier for Kathy to say ‘yes’ to employee’s idea: Distill 3-5 most compelling reasons why your idea is good. Schedule a shorter, 15 minute meeting. QUOTES: “Now how you process ideas and information. I process by debating. I want to talk it through, I want to have a good, solid discussion about it.” “It's important to remember, not everybody thinks exactly the same way you do.” RESOURCES: Harvard Business Review: ( McKinsey Newsletter: ( ---------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Nov 2020

38 min 35 sec

E14: As President of Parkland USA, Doug Haugh, leads the financial, operations, and sales activities of Parkland’s business units in the United States. In addition to leading the existing business activities, he also leads mergers and acquisitions in the country as Parkland executes its strategy to expand its U.S. business. Parkland is Canada's and the Caribbean’s largest, and one of America’s fastest growing, independent suppliers and marketers of fuel and petroleum products and a leading convenience store operator. Previously, Doug was President and Chief Strategy Officer for Mansfield Energy Corp. and President of Mansfield Oil Company. He began his career at Exxon, and has also held senior management positions at H&W Petroleum and FuelQuest Inc. He sits on the Board of Directors of BioBlend Renewable Resources, The Fuels Institute, Filld and the Job Creators Network. Doug was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and was named a Clemson Alumni Entrepreneur by the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Clemson University. He was also named to the CIO 100 by CIO Magazine. He has an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Science, Chemical Engineering, from Clemson University. Doug on Linkedin: Doug on Twitter: WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: How moving around and traveling has informed Doug’s leadership style. What Doug did to go from fearing public speaking to thriving on the stage. How to combine big company experience with the entrepreneurial mindset. Key advice for leaders who work in a controversial industry. How Doug talks to his kids about their concerns about his industry. The most dangerous statement a leader can make. Why curiosity is the most important trait he’d instill in every employee. Employee interview questions to test a candidate’s curiosity. How leaders can foster the curiosity of others. How the catastrophic cost of turnover adds up for his organization. The first person Doug had to fire and why it was so memorable. Doug’s big leadership aha moment. The tool he uses to organize his professional and personal life. THE BIG HIGHLIGHT: Doug’s advice for anyone in a politically charged industry: Focus on the customer. Challenge yourself if you’re doing the right thing to improve. You’re always subject to criticism no matter what you do. Take that criticism head on. QUOTES: “Leaders aren’t born; they’re built.” “The most dangerous statement is…“We’ve always done it this way.” ” “Dealing with change is a muscle you must exercise.” “Your job as a leader is not your to-do list; it’s your team’s to-do list.” RESOURCES: Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek Mindset, Carol Dweck Trello  ---------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Oct 2020

1 hr 3 min

E15: Chief Financial Officer at The Mental Health Center of Denver, Angela Oakley, oversees the organization’s accounting, finance, contracting/payer strategies and accounts receivable functions. The Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) stands out as the leader in offering innovative, holistic programs for mental health and overall well-being in Colorado. Since coming to the MHCD in 2016, Angela created systems that enable the organization to spot financial issues and respond to them quickly and effectively. She takes a simplified approach to making complex financial information meaningful and actionable to all leaders within the organization as well as to the community. Her efforts at basic financial education have made financial discussions more interactive and productive within the staff. Angela has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare finance. She has worked in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations including hospitals, insurance entities and other healthcare establishments. Angela is passionate about leadership and mission-oriented work, which inspires her to enhance well-being throughout the community. Angela on LinkedIn: ( MHCD website: (  WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE: Angela's unpredictable journey to C-Suite. How self-awareness fuels Angela's career. Key advice for Introverts in the C-Suite. What happened when Angela bravely shared her idea at a meeting. Angela's success routine for starting the day on the right foot The benefits of self-reflection training. The mission of The Mental Health Center of Denver. The importance of every employee understanding the financials. Angela's advice to women wanting to be CFOs or in a head financial position. How Angela conquers her fears and reduces uncertainty before making new decisions. What trait Angela would instill in every employee. What processes Angela has in place for firing. How does Angela approach and help a burned out employee.   QUOTES: “I figured out, early on, how important it is to understand myself first, then use that in how I relate to others.” “Listen to understand before being trying to be understood.” RESOURCES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: (  ---------------- (Apply to be on the show) ------------------- (Connect with Ben:) ( ( (

Oct 2020

52 min 31 sec