Choosing Leadership

with Sumit Gupta

A podcast for people who know deep inside that there is more.

Subscribe below
on Spotifyon Apple

Why Choosing Leadership?

This podcast is called “choosing leadership” – because that is what leadership is – a choice.

The choice to step into the unknown. The choice to see fear as a friend. The choice to take courageous action rather than waiting for readiness. The choice to see how powerful you are.

I choose leadership every time I record this podcast, as I have procrastinated on it for more than a year.

My invitation to you is the same – to “choose” leadership and to step up a leader in an area of life that matters to you – be it work, passion, health, impact in society, or something else.

I will be starting (and stopping) multiple series from time to time. All of them will focus on leadership – but they will look at it from multiple angles and perspectives.

This is what I do most naturally – to lovingly and gently provoke you to help you see your own light – to help you see what you are already capable of.

Show Format – Multiple Series

Leadership Journeys

In this series, I am interviewing leaders with an interesting story to learn how they got where they are today. We all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. 

Simple Not Easy

I spend time daily reflecting and simplifying complex leadership challenges. These reflections are sparked by own life experiences, and also from the various stories I hear from leaders and change-makers all day.

Humble Inquiries

More details coming soon

Recent Episodes

Humble Inquiries [03] – Mental Health and Burnout

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into Mental Health and Burnout – a huge challenge for leaders and everyone else in the era of Covid-19, hybrid work, sudden changes, and all the uncertainty.

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Leslie – “The key theme is taking that moment to pause, whatever that may be, pause to find out what your emotion or your reaction is positive for you. Pause before you react.”
  • Sumit – “Everybody is different. Every family is different. Every society and every group is different. So there is also that something very localized, very personal. , To this challenge, we cannot really predict. We cannot really guess what is happening to somebody. ” 
  • Sumit – “what makes it, I think even worse or what compounds the problem is, we don’t talk about all of this stuff. This is very human stuff. This is not alien stuff, This is very human stuff. And yet we don’t talk about it.”
  • Leslie – “And because we don’t talk about it. We don’t even know how to talk about it. And the sensitivity around that creates even more hesitation.”
  • Sumit – ” It takes a moment to shift ourselves to do, to bring up a smile on our faces.”
  • Leslie – “just as we learn and grow all throughout our lives and career, this is another step in the journey and another opportunity to change how we work moving forward, how our world is moving forward.”
  • Sumit – “there are a lot of things which we are on top of it, but at the same time to make it an assumption that I can be on top of everything can become a very heavy place to operate from. It can almost become self-defeating.”
  • Sumit – “letting go of control is actually not anxiety is actually curiosity.”
  • Leslie – “The individual may have depression or anxiety, but that doesn’t shape everything. That’s not who they are. They are not a depressed and anxious person. They are someone who has depression and anxiety.”
  • Sumit – ” The external does not control the internal in a deterministic way. So we still do have a choice, to choose how to react to situations. And our well-being is not a function of what is happening outside. Nobody can take that away from us.”
  • Leslie – “Creating the space to talk about mental health and wellbeing. And allowing that to be accepted is a powerful piece of what each and every one of us brings to every day and every conversation.”
  • Sumit – “the neutral state of any human being is wellbeing is peace. That’s a neutral state. It’s not like jumping with joy, but it’s also not being depressed or sad, the neutral state. We don’t really have to do anything if we just let things go that we are trying to control. That’s where (the neutral state) we will land automatically.”

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Humble Inquiries [02] – Hiring & Retaining People

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into Hiring, engaging and retaining people – a huge challenge for leaders in the era of the great resignation and talent shortages.

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Leslie – “Everyone wants to be valued and to have a purpose in their work”
  • Sumit – “Communication is not only about what is being said. Communication is also about what is not being said, which needs to be said, and what is being said, but  which you are not hearing.”
  • Sumit – “Good leadership improves the productivity of those people you already have. Hiring is a challenge because there is more demand for work. But another way to address it rather than just adding more people is to increase the productivity and wellbeing of those whom you already have and good leadership skills, good listening skills, especially coaching as a skill for managers become very important.”
  • Leslie – “You can’t have the typical water cooler conversation that you may have had around the coffee pot in the morning. How do you create the space for that?”
  • Sumit – “People are also demanding fairness, honesty and transparency, and equal pay for equal work.”
  • Leslie – “It really is about creating space. Before you created that space physically, you created a lunchroom, you created a little lounge, and you created some space built within your culture that fostered that. Now that space needs to be created virtually or in a hybrid format to be able to continue to cultivate those relationships and conversations.”
  • Sumit – “People do not just want a place to work or a place to get a salary. They want meaning, purpose and they want to work in a company where they feel loved and valued.” 
  • Leslie – “The leader doesn’t have to have those solutions. The leader needs to create the environment, to have the conversations, to be able to come up with those solutions.”
  • Sumit – “If we can help leaders get better at the conversations they are having that will also solve not just the productivity problem, but also the hiring problem. Coaching is just a way to have conversations more effectively.”
  • Sumit – “The point of feedback is not to show people where they are wrong. It’s not to fix them. It’s not to put them into boxes of underperforming, exceeding expectations, and so on. It’s to help them get better so that the team gets better and so that the company gets better.”
  • Sumit – “This is also an opportunity to involve people and to listen to, and do and implement what they feel is the right thing to do rather than what you can plan or devise as a leader.”
  • Sumit – “Vacation should not be taken to distress or to avoid burnout. Everybody should be free to use their vacation days for travelling, practising their hobbies, any other passions, spending time with family. But if you use vacation for de-stressing. Then it means that something is wrong in the workplace itself. And that’s where we can focus our attention.”
  • Leslie – “When your talented employees and the driven ones become silent, that’s the really scary moment because something is wrong.”

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Humble Inquiries [01] – Change, Pressure, and Uncertainty

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into Change, Pressure, and Uncertainty – which is one of the most pressing challenges leaders are facing today. 

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Leslie – “There’s no script for how to manage this”
  • Sumit – “Rather than falling back to the old patterns which might have worked pretty well for a different era, for the 21st century, we need a new way of doing business and leading people.”
  • Leslie – “You have to be humble to be able to do that with your team, with your whole organization, no matter what your role may be to open up and be a little vulnerable and create that space so that everyone else knows it’s okay.”
  • Sumit – ” the first step is to acknowledge what it is and what it is not.”
  • Leslie – “Grief happens with any change and ending really. There is no normal, that normal has ended and we all have experienced grief. Some of us are still in it, some of us are moving through it.”
  • Leslie – “You have to allow the space and acknowledge what’s happening and still trying to work through it, not just wallowing in it, but giving space for it. And moving ahead. “
  • Sumit – “Any emotion is not the problem.  The problem is that we block the emotion. We don’t create a space to talk about it, to express it, whether it is with fear or anger or sadness.”
  • Sumit – “The key thing here is taking responsibility doesn’t mean that you have to take a burden.”
  • Sumit – “These are very small steps, but they can make a huge difference over a period of time. “
  • Leslie – “silence is okay. “

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Humble Inquiries [00] – Intro Episode

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this series, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into some of the most pressing challenges leaders are facing today. We have curated these challenges from conversations with hundreds of leaders in the past few months.

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Leadership Journeys [13] – John Featherby – “What I’m doing with my time is why I’m here!”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, John talks about how can we make work a place where people can seek and find dignity, uncover who they are and find joy in what they do, in addition to just making a living. He opens up about his faith, about our tricky relationship with money, and he shares that what he does today is the reason he is here. We also talk about the importance of having people to lean back on and of celebration in the context of leadership.

You can find John at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • How do we kind of rescue the company in a way and provide a place where people can seek and find dignity and who they are and joy in what they do and as well as making a living?
  • It’s more that we lost our way and we forgot, what was important or we separated what we felt was important from what we actually did.
  • I think the pandemic has accelerated this question around that people wants to do meaningful things with their time.
  • The company of the future is going to be quite different, but for a number of different reasons, not just meaningful work, The family structure has changed. People who go to work have changed and digital, the digital landscape has changed. The regulatory landscape is changing. Almost everything has changed except for the structure of a company.
  • A very rampant individualism has made people feel like I can force my will on the world. And the companies have felt the same, but I think are increasingly finding that it’s not quite as forward. And you’re not quite as in control as you thought.
  • Our purpose is to restore joy, meaning and freedom to every workplace.
  • It is starting to see money as a tool, as opposed to something that you have rather than it has you.
  • How do we use money more wisely? How can we redirect its energy and power in a positive direction as opposed to just being captured by it all the time?
  • I think trade has always been part of the human experience and it always will be, but I think we are perhaps moving beyond the sort of obsession with consumerism and material identification.
  • The real problem is in people. It’s in their hearts and souls and that spirit, why do I do this? What matters to me? How am I going to treat people? What level of courage do I have? How much sacrifice could I cope with?
  • You might need some painkillers, but long term, if you really want to change, you’re going to have to put in the effort.
  • I have a faith myself I do lean on that and have my kind of rituals or prayer or whatever that helps me feel.
  • The bigger that responsibility gets the lonelier. And with it comes more wealth and in the world’s eyes, more power, but it can be extremely isolating.
  • It is really important to, even with the small things, to take time out, to feast and celebrate and find gratitude and joy in what you’re doing.
  • I quite like challenging the stereotype of who I am, I come from a particular background and, sometimes that means in some situations, people make assumptions about how you’re going to see the world. And I enjoy sometimes disrupting those and then being surprised at what my perspective on something might be or what I might say.
  • How do we design education to support children becoming adults for jobs that are not only very different from the average professional of my age, but potentially not just companies that aren’t there, but whole sectors that might show up?
  • When big companies start talking about questions of purpose and meaning in work, these are such deep human questions that I think it is a mistake for them to imagine that they can control those in a kind of manufactured and corporate way.

     

Leadership Journeys [12] – Roei Samuel – “You should never get too high when you win and never get too low when you lose”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Roei opens up about his views on entrepreneurship, leadership, and his relationship with money. We also talk about how our early experiences shape us in subtle ways we do not realise, and the importance of vulnerability, transparency, and caring for people. We also discuss the responsibility of an early-stage startup leader to their team and investors – and how that is paramount.

You can find Roei at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • It’s easy to see entrepreneurialism to see, leadership and think, oh, that looks great and looks really attractive, but it doesn’t all the time. And when it is not always a success, it can have real impacts.
  • My experience growing up as a child, teenager was one of, whatever you get in your life, you’re going to have to work for, there wasn’t going to be any handouts.
  • If you did have that experience growing up, I think you mature at a much quicker rate. So I think if you, at eight years old, 10 years old, whatever, it might be, start having to face those realities of, what the real world is. I think it definitely means that when you come into 18, 19 years old, you’re already a few years ahead
  • I’ve got a very strange relationship with money and it’s not been a good one for a long time.
  • That was a really great learning experience for me that, you back people because you want to be involved with the right people and want to support the right people.
  • What I’m learning is you have really got to nurture all of your people to go on, not just the journey for the company, but their own. And you really got to help those people achieve what they want to do because ultimately unless you’ve got the right team to execute on things, that is just not going to work. People are everything.
  • So making sure that you put an arm around everyone and give everyone their own personal plan. It’s so important, but it’s a difficult thing to do.
  • Your job as a CEO in many ways is to protect your time to spend with your core team. So bringing in an EA has massively helped on that side and trying to limit the amount of time I spend on smaller tasks.
  • I don’t buy into this idea of if you’re a founder of a business, you could do a four-day working week. I think your responsibility is to your team and to your investors.
  • I’m very fortunate as well that my girlfriend understands the entrepreneurial journey. Her brother’s an entrepreneur. She’s seen it from a very early age where means to have that commitment. If you’re with someone who doesn’t understand, it can be very difficult.
  • It’s about transparency as well. Being transparent with your team of being authentic and saying, look, guys, I’m struggling with the idea of this. That I’m just going, to be honest with you guys. It’s super important, but, and it’s one of the most difficult things to strike the balance because you need to show and truthfully be very considerate, very open to what other people think about.
  • But you also need to be decisive enough that people have faith in you as a leader. So it’s getting that balance of saying, I want to listen to everyone and I want to take on board all of your ideas and manage that with, but don’t worry, guys, this is the decision. This is what we’re going to do.
  • My mum grew up in communist Hungary and they escaped and she ended up in a refugee camp and, all, but then they were sent back and then when they got send back to hungry, people had taken over that house. So I also think it’s one of the reasons I’m such a hard worker is, from where they’ve come from and it transcends through the way that they brought me up and everything else.
  • I think that so much of life is luck. I’m very grateful that, with real support, we got the right thing at the right time and I’d be so grateful for so many opportunities.
  • I’m still learning so much that I feel like my journey in a leadership position, my journey as a leader is so at the beginning that I still feel like every day I’m learning so much about what I mean.
  • No matter what’s going on in business, if you’re flying and you’ve got a hundred employees and you’re about to do a big fundraiser, you still got to do the dishes at home there. You still got to help out around the house. If you want to have a happy home life.
  • I think success is doing everything you can to reach your potential. Whatever that means, that could be financial, it could be creative. It could be raising a family who are happy, many different people have different views on that. But I think that you need to go for it, whatever your view on success is.
  • You just got to love the journey because you’ll always be on the journey. The second you stop loving the job, you need to evaluate whether it’s a journey you want to be on, or if there’s something else that would make you happy.

Leadership Journeys [11] – Catherine Nakalembe – “With very little, you can do so much”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Catherine shares how she had very humble beginnings growing up just outside Kampala, Uganda, and how she learned so much from her parents – who were very resourceful despite having very little resources. She talked about her openness to learn and build new things, and also shares the value of speaking in a language your audience understands. We also discussed how acknowledging that “I do not know” is often what allows growth to happen.

You can find Catherine at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • “I really enjoyed badminton. I taught myself how to teach aerobics. I was a games prefect when I was in high school. And for some reason that I can’t really pinpoint, it kept me together and I liked doing it also kept me and my sisters really close because we all played it.”
  • “I always loved math. I did do pretty well at math and I loved geography. And so those two things coming together allow me to be able to do this environmental science program. And that’s how I took the path into. Environmental science.”
  • “I liked computers so much that I bought my first computer with what would have been my housing stipend. I made a deal with my mom that I’d like to use that money to buy a computer.”
  • “I didn’t have access to books and stuff like that growing up. So like my view or perception of the world was, it was very limited. And so going to university and finding out all these other things you can study made me think that I need to do more of it.”
  • “Just like with discovering more and more stars and stuff like that, it’s there’s more after this is more, there’s more.”
  • “It was in the city, but we lived in a mudhouse and I wanted to my primary school does not exist anymore. It was very small, it’s a place called Katwe. There’s a market there and it’s a slum. And yeah, it was very simple. To watch television I’d have to go to the neighbours.”
  • “I walked to school from when I was three, at least six or seven kilometres from home where I went to like kindergarten. And yeah, so it was like that.”
  • “It is in my nature maybe want to build on things.  When I was five. I didn’t think I was going to be a rocket scientist. I didn’t even know what a rocket scientist or I didn’t say I wanted to be a doctor or I didn’t have that kind of mind frame, but what I had was what I had with me, I would make something.”
  • “So like with what I have, I tried to do something with and that, because of that, I discovered more and more which I think opened up more and more doors. I bought a computer, which was dead, had making that computer work, buying additional drives and stuff like that. So that taught me about IT.”
  • “It’s just being open and being, having that, the mindset of, if a window opened, you can look in and then see how far you can look at.”
  • “You find that there are some people who can do something so quickly and it’s better that they do it. And that makes it makes it a better fit and a better outcome.”
  • “I like to communicate as effectively as possible. Trying to sound like a very good scientist when I’m talking to a farmer is completely pointless.”
  • “I’m also really grateful for my husband, and my kids that give me I’m blown away by my kids. I’m learning so much through them, which is so exciting.”
  • “I try to be present when I’m doing a task. I can tell when I’m not like when I’m supposed to be watching my sons, but I get distracted. I can tell that I get angry really quickly when they ask me something, which as kids they should. Recognizing that helps me like switch off immediately.”
  • “The advice that I would give, have given to myself was to keep exploring, even with the limited things that that I had, I liked creating and creating with nothing. Kids learn things from touching and moulding from putting blocks together, it gives them they learn a lot of things and it doesn’t have to be anything special. It doesn’t have to be Legos. You could just be like regular blocks that they made with boxes and things like that.”
  • “With very little, you can do so much. No work is beneath you as long as you learn something from it, nothing is beneath anybody.”
  • “I listened to some of your podcasts. I’ve listened to, three or four episodes. And it’s just incredible how people reflect on this place and what they do. And it’s, there’s just so much to learn and I learn a lot by listening.” 

Leadership Journeys [10] – Moky Makura – “You can present all the facts, but it’s actually the stories that change people”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Moky talks about her trust in the universe, and how that allows her to take risks and venture into very different territories. We talk about how growing up in Nigeria gave her such a boost of confidence that she doesn’t see “failure” as anything except learning. She also highlighted how her parents never told her that she can not do this or that – and which allowed her to take big risks in her career.

You can find Christian at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • “Our theory of change is that in order to shift or change the narrative, you’ve got to introduce new different stories.”
  • “Where do you want to be buried? And when I think about that, I won’t be buried in Nigeria or my ashes sprinkled in Nigeria that’s home. So I think first and foremost, I am Nigerian and second be I am an African”
  • “I used to have a talk about my career, which is called jumping trees. And the reason why I use that analogy was that I never climbed the tree to get to the top of it. I went to the top of one. To the top of another, to the top of another. So I was jumping trees.”
  • I went from never being an actress to having been a lead on a what turned out to be a really groundbreaking, a major drama series in Africa. So I went straight from never having gone to drama school to being in a top drama that required a lot of being brave because I’d never acted before. You’ve just got to trust the universe that when you do these things, when you jump onto a tree or you jump from one thing to another, I just trust the universe, which requires a lot of confidence in both yourself and the universe.”
  • “There was this image that, because you’re black, you weren’t as good. And you were African, you were even not really not as good because I’ve always said there’s a hierarchy. It’s probably white men at the top, then black men, then white women and then black women. 
    And then at the bottom of that is African women”
  • “my formative years were, spent in Nigeria and there was something about that continent that. Us all such a boost of confidence. I stepped out in the world as if I was in first class and the world had to fall behind me. I grew up believing I was a proud Nigerian and still am, and that makes a very big difference.”
  • “Failure is part and parcel of who I am, because I don’t see it as failure. I just see it as, the experience. And I think that is a huge sort of difference in confidence booster because I never failed. I just learnt. “
  • “Storytelling is powerful. It is the single thing that can inform, educate, influence. If you think about, for example, how you got your impression about America? It wasn’t probably because you went there. It was because you watched the American movies, then you figured out that’s, you know who they are.”
  • “It’s not about, fighting the issue. It’s about putting out stories that counter the issue because people’s beliefs do not come from facts. It comes from perceptions and an ideology and all these other soft things. You can present the facts, but it’s actually the stories that change people. “
  • “I think we need to learn to embrace diversity because we are not very good at it. It’s actually why there is so much polarization because people want us all to be the same. Nobody’s allowing that truth that you live, let me live. For me, it’s really not about, one, anything it’s about, embracing the diversity of this globe.”

     

Leadership Journeys [09] – Christian Guttmann – “It is important to put yourself into the shoes of those that you want to inspire”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Christian and I spoke about our common love for technology and leadership, about computers and people, and about artificial and human intelligence. We talk about the importance of listening with empathy, understanding the cultural assumptions that lie behind all conversations, and the important role of curiosity when it comes to leadership.

You can find Christian at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • I think I realized early on my big ambition of seeing big AI projects turning into something requires you to work very closely together with lots and lots of other experts with great people. All sorts of qualities that they can bring to the table. And of course, each of these individuals have different backgrounds, different ambitions, different ways of communicating a different view on the world.
  • If you understand where people come from, if you can connect to those individuals. That’s a different quality that you need to bring in as a leader. 
  • Regardless of how big the company is, your responsibility at the end of the day is to really make sure you’re viable as a business.
  • If you’re lucky, you also understand the assumptions, the underlying life assumptions of the other individual that you see that still today, clearly in the bigger setup where culture in which individuals or operating, plays a big role in how people make decisions and how they be
  • It’s a good level of curiosity. I’m genuinely curious about another person, how they think what’s the background, what’s the interest, what’s the ambition. How do they want to change the world? What do they see as being responsible for which role. In this big theater we call life, do they consider it being their role, right?
  • If you manage to have followers,  it is important to have empathy, to put yourself into the shoes of those that you want to inspire, that you want to help and want to lead and want to manage and want to give a perspective. 
  • Focus on the purpose, focus on the meaning of doing this type of work. It’s answering that question. “Why am I here?” 
  • The expectation for me is not only to know the latest algorithm but to actually also understand how do I attract the people that know the latest algorithm, how do I keep them all happy and meaningful?

     

Leadership Journeys [08] – Nina Rauch – “So many people appear confident, but there’s always something going on.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Nina shares how losing her mother inspired her to start Pink Week. She opens up and talks about how bad things hurt her heart, and how knowing that has shaped her career. She also talks about the importance of working in a company where you feel comfortable expressing your voice, which I think is one of the main tasks of any leader in any organisation.

You can find Nina at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • I was really inspired by my mother. She passed away when I was young. Gosh, she had breast cancer for around three years.
  • It was really important to me to just say, why don’t we just bring that awareness level a few years earlier? Why do we have to wait until we reach an age where we are vulnerable to breast cancer? And why can’t we like look at a preventative away?
  • I really hate seeing bad things happen. It really hurts my heart. And I think that’s very much why it ended up in the nonprofit sector, because I just feel like a real connection with giving back and facilitating other people.
  • I think for-profits are the organizations that need to pave the way for a new kind of giving, engaging a completely new consumer set,  and a target audience that could be interested in giving back and perhaps becoming more dedicated to these nonprofits as they.
  • I think all corporations should be B Corps, because I think it’s really the best way to do business nowadays. 
  • I think that if you have a job that you’re passionate about and that you’re focused on, it really helps to calm the nubs and decrease some of that intense pressure because you’re going in the right direction.
  • I think when you come to a leadership role at a young age, then everybody struggles with this kind of imposter syndrome. And that’s something that I definitely feel. 
  • I think, so many people appear confident, there’s really always something going on behind closed doors. So I think everyone should be more open about how they’re really feeling. And then live in a much more transparent environment.

     

Leadership Journeys [07] – Jason Rees – “You do not have to be the cleverest person in the room”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Jason shares how playing and coaching team sports like Rugby has shaped his leadership. He talks about how as a leader, you do not have to be the most clever person in the room with all the answers, and how he sees listening to different perspectives as a superpower. He told me his leadership is not about him, but about his teams. And I found that very powerful.

You can find Jason at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • I would say a lot of reasons I’ve shaped by that is I’ve played team sports. Like rugby is the sort of sport I played the most. 
  • The feedback is not “you’ve done this wrong.” It’s much more. “What did you observe? What went well, what didn’t go well”
  • “I try to actually put the time in my diary to take a step back. There’s a danger that we are operational all the time,  we’re hitting our KPIs, our targets, whatever we measure our business by and what that means is, and again, especially in the current work. People get burnt out. I think people get burnt out by just getting the tasks done.”
  • Everyone wants to feel relevant. Everyone wants to feel, they understand why a big company or a small company quite frankly, is going in the direction is doing going. 
  • You don’t have to be the cleverest person in the room. What you need to do is make sure that you have people with diverse backgrounds, diverse experiences who are all able to look at problems in different ways. And sometimes the problem can be solved in a totally different way. And I think that’s that for me is the superpower. 
  • I don’t care where people come from. I think it’s just better that we’ve got diverse ideas. 
  • Leaders need to tap into what that person’s passion is, and if we can get it aligned to our company goals the corporate goals, then you create high performing team.
  • I think it’s not about the quantity of communication. It’s about the quality of communication. And then listening basically plays a huge part. 
  • Don’t be held back by the fear of failure, just be excited by what you can do.

     

Leadership Journeys [06] – Bojana Duovski – “Success to me is being the person you want to be and, to look in the mirror and just be good with it.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

What stood out during our interview with Bojana was how she dedicates time for her “Walk and talk”, which is, in her own words, “a gift of her presence that she voluntarily gives others”. She has done over 400 of these in the last few years, where she would walk and talk in the woods or in a park in Amsterdam with the other person.

You can find Bojana at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • I have an 11-year-old daughter and I’m actually aiming to be the example I have never had to her. That’s my biggest goal in life.”
  • “I always question the status quo, because I love to explore boundaries and where possible to colour outside the lines. If a framework is there, I always go to the edges.”
  • “I invest in others, because I missed that in life, I really think paying forward is the way to go. To give people something more as a human being and as a leader. “
  • “I learned over time to see the power of asking for help. I was very much aware that people in my teams are smarter and better at certain things. I am there to guide them towards an end goal and the full potential of themselves.”
  • “I don’t need a lot of influence from outside to feel okay with myself. “
  • “Whatever you say or whatever you do, people are listening through the filter of their own needs. They always reflect with their own framework, so actually, they are not listening to you and as a leader it’s also important to take responsibility for the interpretation people make”.
  • “With the war in my home-country it was my goal to earn money and there was no room for self-reflection in that period, so it didn’t matter which route I would take to get to my goal. From the very lowest position in advertising, I grew to managing director within 10 years. And actually when I reached this position, I was thinking: ‘What am I doing here?’”

Leadership Journeys [05] – Yarrow Kraner – “We can’t be of service to the world without truly knowing ourselves”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

Yarrow opened up about his childhood and shares how he was bullied at school where he was the only white boy. He speaks about how this experience allowed him to build empathy later on and understand his own privilege as a white man. He shared how this led him to start an organisation looking to find the superhero in every person, and how it continues to shape his leadership.

You can find Yarrow at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • “I grew up in Montana in the U S which is a very small population in the middle of nowhere. Big skies, vast horizons. I think it sort of inspired me to dream”
  • “I got beat up every, every other day, anytime that they could catch me before I could get home. And so I started growing this chip on my shoulder. “
  • “And to take the moment or to really sort of sit and ask the question of why this person is feeling like that in that moment, you know, I just recognize like, It’s not really me, that they’re angry at the sort of, you know, I’m a stand-in for a lot of injustices that have occurred and, you know, moving, moving kind of through life.”
  • “We’re bringing a hundred or so right people together that can lead to collaborations that could impact the lives of a hundred million. But those are sort of seeds. The seeds that are planted.”
  • “How do we say the world? It’s like, we have to start with ourselves inside.  We can be as great of service to the rest of the world without truly knowing ourselves and working on ourselves and in our work.”
  • “I have to sit with things for a while. The lessons that I’ve learned in the last couple of years is to be patient and I’m not a very patient person.”

Leadership Journeys [04] – Stuart Williams – “My mother taught me to color outside the lines”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

What I found fascinating in Stuart’s story is how he reflects on his childhood and credits his mother for everything he has done and achieved. He shares a simple story of his mother teaching him to color outside the lines, and how that lesson to be brave and think outside of the box, stayed with him in all his endeavours.

You can find Stuart at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • “You absolutely have to have a passion in your heart for what you’re doing”
  • “Ever since I was a young child, my mother taught me to color outside the lines, do not cover inside the lines, because then you’re part of the establishment color, outside the lines, be brave, they’ll create something, you know, literally, you know, create the future. You’d like to see. And, and so. I I’ve never had to think outside the box because I was never put in a box in the first place.”
  • “Have the courage of your convictions, but you better be prepared to actually do the work right now.”

Leadership Journeys [03] – Vicky Kennedy – “I learned to be my own advocate and take risks”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

Vicky shares how it was rattling for her to be laid off from a job where she had worked for 10 years. What surprised me was that, on top of that, she decided to switch her industry and city when that happened. She packed her bags and move from Florida to New York City to find work in a totally new industry. In the episode, she shares what gave her the courage to make such a massive shift.

You can find Vicky at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • how getting laid off was quite shocking and a bit rattling for her because she had worked there for 10 years
  • how she took this opportunity to basically reset her whole professional life move to New York city with nothing other than what fit in her car and three pets
  • “I had people to sort of lean on and ask for direction or guidance, suggestions on how to navigate different things”
  • “I also really did learn to be my own advocate and take those risks.
  • “Sometimes we can feel stuck in a story, we can feel stuck in a path. But there’s a lot of opportunities out there. 
  • “If someone who is listening has a desire to shake it up, try something new, do not worry about perception or what you are supposed to do, or what is the next logical step, but to consider taking calculated risks and to be your own advocate with that.”

Leadership Journeys [02] – Kate Daniels – “I want to live in a world where all companies are B corporations”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

Kate opens up about growing up in a very isolated town with a population of only 432, and how that created a hunger to go out and experience the world. She talks about studying in Italy and later Ireland and then working in South Africa and Dubai on international aid programs. She talks about how leaving her country taught her the value of empathy and seeing the different ways people do things in different places.

You can find Kate at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • the experience that helped her realize that there were a lot of exciting things going on outside of the US and she wanted to be part of it.
  • “I would argue that companies that have a responsible orientation and strong ESG standards and sort of an impact orientation into their DNA from the beginning are companies who are going to do better financially as well.”
  • “Environmental, social and governance information makes for more robust investment decision-making. And I also think that ESG kind of serves as a proxy indicator for leadership”
  • “I want to live in a world where all companies are B corporations and all investments are impact investments.”
  • “I think one of the most important things I ever did was leave my country. There’s something very powerful and beautiful about studying abroad. There’s something very powerful about being a foreigner in a foreign lens and having to negotiate and figure that out.”
  • “there’s real value in exposing ourselves to ways of thinking or to worldviews that don’t reflect our own.”
  • “the more that one can slow down and ask questions and listen and engage in informal connection with other human beings, the more effective he or she is going to be at getting it done, whatever it is that they want to get done”
  • “As I work with people in companies and organizations across the world is that we have so much more in common than we do not in common. And I think that’s perhaps a bit trite and perhaps a bit, bit of a, you know, sort of aphorism, but it’s also true”

Leadership Journeys [01] – Ramon Llamas – “It is not a zero-sum game”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

Ramon shares his journey of coming from an immigrant family, and how losing his grandfather to cancer allowed him to experience and later shape the role of healthcare in society. Today he empowers individuals to take ownership and be more proactive when it comes to health. Treating everybody with dignity is one of his core values, and he is giving dignity back by focusing on public health in underserved populations.

You can find Ramon at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • how to empower and encourage individuals to take ownership of their own health and be more proactive
  • how to ensure productivity and manage your day?
  • the core value of “we want to treat everybody with dignity”
  • labels have associations with it. And what we’re trying to do is give dignity back
  • how our metrics of success are not calibrated for social impact

Intro Episode – Why “Choosing Leadership”?

What most people know about me is that I have spent 20 years doing computer programming, 8 years doing photography, and started 2 companies, 1 non-profit organisation and a few social initiatives in the past. What most people don’t know about me is that I have spent a lifetime staying invisible. I have used my computer and camera as tools to hide behind.

This podcast is titled “Choosing Leadership” because I believe that is what leadership is. Yes, you heard it right. Leadership is a choice and we all have this choice in every moment of our lives – to choose leadership or not. In fact, I am choosing leadership right now as I record this podcast, as I have been procrastinating on it for more than a year.