Choosing Leadership

with Sumit Gupta

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

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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 celebrating leaders for the choices they have made, which are not always easy and comfortable, to get to where they are today. So that all of us can learn from their journey.

Can't Stay Silent

This series is about the courage to speak our truth and live authentically. For most of my life, I have kept my voice hidden beneath layers of fear and insecurity. In this series, I will express myself fully from the heart.

Humble Inquiries

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we deliberately 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.

Recent Episodes

Leadership Journeys [47] – Andrea Fernandez – “When there is no focus and it is hard, It’s actually not a bad idea to slow down and take a break”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Andrea spoke about constantly moving across continents and how that has shaped her attitude to flexibility and adaptability. She spoke about a key moment while leading a team at Fresh Direct in which she showed up a leader in an emergency situation. We also discuss confidence, finance, creativity, and storytelling from a leadership perspective.

You can find Andrea at the below links

In the interview, Andrea shares

  • I always had like a very big interest In the world in general.
  • I think there are many different things you pick up, uh, when you live in different countries. I think you become very flexible. Um, because, and adaptable, because you have to do it every so often. Um, I think you also, um, learn appreciation actually because you learn to appreciate like the different things in different places.
  • because you are faced with making new friendships from start, so, You actually kind of get skills in how to understand people, in how to deal with different kinds of people, obviously languages and the ability, to communicate with people at different levels.
  • at the end of the day, leadership is about dealing with people 
  • I’m not doing it because I think it’s a fancy thing to do. or a, let’s say timely thing only. It’s like a trendy thing to do, rather, That’s the right word to use. It is a real problem in society. 
  • there will always be doubters like, there will always be doubters on anything you do, so you might as well just find the ones that believe in it and go for those and, partner with those people.
  • I’m a strong believer that there are new ways of managing and leading than I think the ones that I have seen used many times in my career.
  • I’d like to refer you to a professor that I had at Harvard. Her name is Frances Frei, she uses this methodology. It’s a triangle that she says that it is really critical factors in leadership if I remember them correctly. It’s one authenticity two empathy and three logic and basic ability to do what you to do, to execute, to think, to put your mind, uh, and develop interesting solutions.
  • I have seen many times when people leave companies and are very destroyed because of management styles, and leadership styles, and I think that’s a pretty bad outcome for an organization. if we would measure things a little bit differently, um, then we would lead differently
  •  if you have a person come to work and being fearful, uh, scared about the reaction of the manager or the boss, uh, insecure about what he or she’s bringing to the table, you may not get to listen to really great ideas that can change the outcome of a project, you may not get to experience a great team, an environment that can actually create different outcomes. So I think there’s much more to be done on that side still in the world of business 
  • I think children are a great source of creativity and like really, like it almost feels, um, weird, but when you spend time with kids, I think you really. Kind of disconnect from the day-to-day and therefore kind of a new window opens up in your head.

Leadership Journeys [46] – Paulina Tenner – “I have my own agenda but I’m also surrendered to the wisdom of the process of life”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Paulina opens up about her mental health challenges and how life has prepared her for what she does rather than any formal education. We spoke about her unusual background, and how she continues to draw lessons and inspiration from that – for herself and others. We spoke about the role meditation plays in her life, and the value of nourishing important relationships.

You can find Paulina at the below links

In the interview, Paulina shares

  • the biggest challenges for me will always be related to things I care the most about, and that would be my relationships with people that love me and support me.
  • when we talk about choosing leadership, I would kind of bring it to choosing inner or self-leadership first. How you want to show up?  Is what you’re doing aligned with your values? 
  • And if it is, it almost doesn’t matter whether your message is heard. Two people or 200,000 because that authenticity means everything.
  • I totally believe that if you choose to show your authenticity and in your self-readership over and over again, sooner or later the world will pay attention.
  • I would say come back to what feels really good in your body. So when you are doing it, it feels meaningful. And after you’ve done it, you get this internal feeling of satisfaction and prioritize these things like taking courage enough to prioritize yourself, your desires, and your passions. 
  • Just be prepared for the fact that some people love you, some people will be neutral and some people will hate you. And that is the journey of any person that chooses to be real In the world. 

Leadership Journeys [45] – Faisal Hoque – “Life is somewhere in between letting it happen and making it happen.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Faisal shares how he himself financed coming to America at the age of 17 from Bangladesh, and the wisdom he learned from his supervisor when he was working as a janitor. He shared the health challenges of his mother and son, and how he derives meaning from what he does. He shared about travelling to Japan and being influenced by Zen meditation – and the role and relevance of meditation for today’s leaders.

You can find Faisal at the below links

In the interview, Faisal shares

  • The definition of entrepreneurship is at the end of the day. It’s taking care of Your, financial well-being with your own venture.
  • Life is a journey and you have ups and down, you have failures after failures, and then you have few successes, and then you have failures. So it’s never like a straight line.
  • I’ve always been a dreamer, but I’m pragmatic and now I prepare for the worst-case scenario with a pragmatic mindset.
  • You connect with what’s your true calling and try to make an impact. So it’s evolution, and it’s a journey and I, despite the ups and downs, I totally enjoy it. 
  • Experience is the best teacher.
  • If you want to lift others first you have to lift yourself. 
  • Because of technology, today’s also an opportunity to make an impact, to be able to connect with people wherever and able to really take advantage of whatever gift that you may have.
  • You can’t follow somebody else’s path. It’s your own unique journey. 
  • Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere.
  • Life is somewhere in between letting it happen and making it happen. There’s a fine balance.
  • A lot of people think mindfulness is about – you meditate and completely emptying your mind and you get lost and as a result you connect with yourself. That is a method, that’s a formal method of practising meditation, and then as a result you achieve mindfulness. But, since you mentioned Zen Buddhism, the monks two activities they treasure and practice repeatedly is sweeping and cleaning and cooking. The definition of mindfulness is really just focusing on the present moment.
  • Let’s not get confused that you can make things happen without systemic execution. This combination of mindfulness and being empathetic to other people’s needs and where they are, combining those two things, that’s the hallmark of new leadership.
  • We have absolutely entered into a creative innovative phase of evolution where mundane work is being taken over by automation and the real value comes from creativity and innovation.
  • The best leaders are very mindful and they’re also very empathetic.

Leadership Journeys [44] – Colleen Nagle – “Holding yourself accountable is half the battle in success”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Colleen opens up and shares about her early fascination with tech and data, and how she has continued to be an innovator. She also spoke about her health challenges and what has that taught her as a leader. We speak about the importance of having hope, facing our own fears,  and the importance of holding ourselves accountable.

You can find Colleen at the below links

In the interview, Colleen shares

  • Whether it’s the smallest thing in the world or the biggest objective, I think, Learning to have hope and being in that mindset of, I can do this, I see that this can be overcome is a really big part of it.
  • I’m so grateful, certainly not for going through difficulties with health, but I’m certainly super grateful for that silver lining of what it taught me.
  • Holding yourself accountable is so much half the battle. , Because if you continually hold yourself accountable and end up experiencing success, you’re gonna associate success with holding yourself accountable.
  • Having my ups and downs of coping and yet, still being able to go out there. And focus on achieving the overall goal. It was coming not necessarily from this place of confidence, but I  was doing confidence-building things along the way that I think, with that momentum eventually added up to something.
  • If you keep your agreement, that’s one thing. But if everybody keeps their agreements now, that’s the story. 
  • I think leadership isn’t something with a small l it’s something with a capital L and we each need to figure out what that capital L looks like for each of us. Stepping forward because leadership is not, also not something that comes with the title.

Leadership Journeys [43] – Radmila Blazheska – “Leadership is the combination of determination and openness to listen to others.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In our conversation, we spoke about how moving from Macedonia to the UK has shaped her as a leader. We talked about resilience, persistence, and the difficult choice she had to make once she moved to the UK. We speak about how people are often surprised by her determination, and how she has learned to show vulnerability as well as be open to criticism.

You can find Radmila at the below links

In the interview, Radmila shares

  • Even if you are a successful person at what you did, There’s always something that you can train and do a little bit better.
  • If you have a passion, if you have ambition, don’t give up on it. It doesn’t matter when it’s gonna pan out, it will pan out in the end.
  • I also show that I’m vulnerable as well. I do mistakes and I honor them, and I also am open to criticism whether it’s negative, positive criticism. I’m open to it.
  • I am looking at everyone’s on a level that we are all people, whether we are leaders, whether we are all working together for someone’s objective.
  • If there is a friction. You need to work on that section. Never let it go. Never let it just under the carpet because at some point in your life or your working career will come back and bite you.
  • I guess the combination of my determination and openness to listen to other people in their opinion, I think that’s the combination that makes me a good leader.
  • And I think one of the key things is that also, even if you are in a boardroom and you’re talking to your board and you know that you want to say something, but you are fearing to say that, say it’s better to be said and done rather than keep it to yourself.

     

Leadership Journeys [42] – David Jayatillake – “As a Leader, If you’re not involved with your team, you will be isolated.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, David shares how he grew up with a love for Math and Physics, and how that changed once he started managing people. We spoke about mentoring and coaching, and the important role of emotions and empathy in building strong relationships. He shared an example of how playing football led to a breakthrough in conversation which was not happening otherwise, and that led to an interesting conversation.

You can find David at the below links

In the interview, David shares

  • A lot of people who go into leadership for the first time still think they need to be firing on all cylinders as an individual contributor as well. And really, once you’ve got a team of three or four, that’s actually the minority of your time, the majority of your time is looking after your team.
  • And then, suddenly I’m looking after a team of three or four, and I’ve learned to that I’m supposed to be delegating a fair amount. I think that was helpful for me.
  • You need to be doing organizational impact work. And if that’s not there, you begin to feel a bit lost.
  • if you’re not involved, you just get isolated. There’s, it’s very difficult.

Leadership Journeys [41] – Jami Kiran – “Having clarity as a leader helps us understand who we are while making choices.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Jami shares about the people who have impacted his journey, the importance of clarity and self-leadership, and how that allows you to move forward with purpose and courage. We spoke about his dreams and ambitions, how he deals with change, and the power of choosing to do something instead of it being an obligation.

You can find Jami at the below links

In the interview, Jami shares

  • We have to have very good clarity. Clarity is very important and having core clarity helps us to understand who we are while we are, making choices.
  • Leadership is part of life, it is not only related to the business layer but also to the personal layer and on the social and civic and every aspect of it.
  • Leadership is not only from driving value, it’s also about the identity and also how you advocate your ideas and how you boldly take the decisions and how you stand for yourself and for others, and how you develop and hope you double up and drive the influence, not only with your connection, with your community, but also how you support to build trust, which will act as an enabler.
  • Multi-lateral communication is vital.
  • Leadership need two things. One is mind and heart, but now it is heart and mind together. 

Leadership Journeys [40] – Kevin O’Loughlin – “Possessions and things don’t amend happiness, but people around us do”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

Kevin spoke about the lessons he learnt from that experience, the value of transparency and honesty, and putting people first. He shares his vision for Nostra for the next 10-15 years, while at the same time expressing gratitude to his family and everybody he works with.

You can find Kevin at the below links

In the interview, Kevin shares

  • Our key strategy has been getting a customer, look after everything to do with it, including the supply of people, if they’re required and then keeping the customer for as long as you possibly can.
  • We very rarely lose a customer.
  • I’ve learned that my wife and kids are far more important than any of those things.
  • People’s happiness comes from the people that are around them. And one of the things, that I’m blessed with is having a great family, a very supportive wife, and amazing kids who are all flying. 
  • Every business is about people and you have to get yourself in a place that you’re in a good place personally. And then you can grow a business 
  • The number of times that the directors and the company had to have their salaries delayed for the following couple of years, it was very difficult, but the learning, it was, we learned. How to survive. We learned how to negotiate.  We didn’t lose any people during that period. And, we even had some of the internal staff saying, listen, I’ve got a credit card. If we need to use it to buy things, I had unbelievable support from everybody.
  • One of the reasons our accounts were so bad was I wanted to look after the people. So at no point was I gonna let good people go that I cared about, we would carry everyone.
  • There are lots in companies that is left unsaid and left undone. And for me, it’s, if you’re not enjoying leadership, there’s something wrong. Go find it, figure it out, have the conversation and deal with things as they come up.
  • We said we would get through which we did. And then we’d move on. And that’s something I’m very proud of.
  • No matter what challenge or headwind comes out at an organization, there is always a way out.

     

Leadership Journeys [39] – Nermeen Ghoniem – “I cannot dictate how people feel about me, but I can dictate how I react to 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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, she talks about being a women in a male-dominated tech world, and how her mother inspired her to be her own self. We discussed how knowing who you are and trusting yourself first is the key to move forward in a world where you do not feel like you fit in or understand what you are permitted to do. She gave a powerful message of not giving anybody else the permission to make you upset, stressed, or impact your mental health. I loved interviewing her, and I am sure you – the listener – will take a lot away too from this interview.

You can find Nermeen at the below links

In the interview, Nermeen shares

  • I’ve continued to live my life from a very young age being a hybrid between I like to be involved in storytelling and impacting people’s life.
  • At the same time, I’m also very much a scientist at heart and to sit down and really nerd out the technologies. So I think  I have always been balancing these two 
  • The technology world is very male dominated and I’m also currently based now in Silicon valley and it’s also very male dominated.
  • I realized that there is a really big gap in how we communicate these fields to women.
  • I want more women in technology and especially more women in AI engineering
  • More women are working and more women are taking into leadership positions. And a lot of men are welcoming to it and some are less welcoming to it. But that’s part of the journey.
  • Unapologetically, be yourself because I think confidence comes up from within. And you can strongly believe that you are being your best self and at the same time also allow room for constructive criticism.
  • I cannot dictate what other people will say to me. I cannot dictate how people feel about me, but I can dictate how I react to it.
  • I don’t think it’s worth getting personal
  • You can control how things affect you. You can control what you want to hear, and if it doesn’t serve your purpose, if it doesn’t serve your growth, it’s not worth putting your energy in. 
  • We become too sensitive as the generation sometimes. And if we consider everything to be a negative message, then we will not grow.
  • And if you trust a little bit more, I think you were able to do whatever you put your heart to. 
  • You are also much more powerful than you think you are. I think a lot of women sometimes put themselves down and don’t think they’re good enough for the job or good enough to get into the engineering field or good enough to start their dream.
  • I can do whatever I want.
  • I think people don’t realize that I am a work in progress to get to this place. And there are moments where I feel insecure and where I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing, where I’m going and it’s okay.

Leadership Journeys [38] – Ennio R. Neumann Senese – “I recommend people who work with me to do a couple of days retreat in complete silence”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In our conversation, we talk about nature vs nurture, how we are shaped as individuals, and how growing up in an entrepreneurial family shaped him. He shared a couple of serendipitous moments which have turned out to be instrumental in his journey. We touched upon the important role of meditation in helping him stay balanced as a leader, and how his leadership style has evolved over the years.

You can find Ennio at the below links

In the interview, Ennio shares

  • I believe that people have to be self-supportive. But if we can’t be, if they can’t be self-supportive, then we as a state or as a society needs need to help those people in moving along.
  • There are so many books about leadership. If you have read them all, the risk is that by the end, you still don’t know what leadership is.
  • Some bits of an ego you need to have in order to move on because otherwise, it becomes a very passive life, 
  • So I’m very grateful for the fact that I’ve been able to fail. On a couple of occasions, which gave me the opportunity to learn and to see that there are better ways to move on.
  • I think it’s about balance first thing. So that’s a key word balance.
  • In the end, you need to ask yourself, what am I doing? Is that what I’m contributing to? Is that really something that is contributing to, the better of mankind, to improve the world to have some, another type of gold than just purely commercial?
  • Those types of existential questions. I think if people would dedicate more time without having their relatives or loved and dying around them but dedicate more time to think about those types of existential questions. I think, first of all, we would live in a better world for sure.
  • I always recommend also to people who work with me to do a bit of a retreat for a couple of days in complete silence and just think about, the purpose of life, things that you are grateful for, things that you have experienced, lessons learned, over a period of time.
  • I meditate but sometimes events happen. Also, unexpected events, which basically prevent you from, from staying calm because it’s easy to stay calm in a very calm environment where there is no pressure, et cetera, et cetera.
  • In the end, it’s always about reflection and the ability to see how unimportant you really are.  at the end.

     

Leadership Journeys [37] – Natalie Kaminski- ”You can accomplish a lot more by being an empathetic leader rather than being a demanding manager.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, we speak about how starting JetRockets was not planned but accidental, and why she is running a TEAL self-managed organisation. We spoke about her views on leaders, some of the recent mistakes she had made, and her commitment to her employees was evident from how they moved their employees out of Russia because “it was the right thing to do”.

You can find Natalie at the below links

In the interview, Natalie shares

  • I had to take a step back and learn to delegate. And to learn to focus on working on the business, not in the business.
  • You can accomplish a lot more by being an empathetic leader as opposed to being a demanding manager
  • if a mistake is made, it’s okay. It’s a learning, it’s a learning opportunity and I actually encourage my people, my employees, to go outside of their box, their thinking box, to try new things because that’s what contributes to creativity and improvement over time.
  • You have to treat your employees as children in a right and you allow your children to make mistakes, and that’s how to learn to walk.
  • I’ve learned a lesson never to try and address the issue immediately. So if something were to happen, you gotta take a break of a few minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or even an hour is not going to change anything dramatically in terms of your response, but it will definitely, in terms of your response time, but it’ll definitely have a drastic effect and quality of your response.
  • I want to understand what happened instead of coming to that employee and being, How could you have done this? The question is, what do you think went wrong? What could you have done differently?
  • If they take ownership, There are two things that happen. First of all, they see that you’re trying to help them grow. Second of all, they remember that lesson and it, they retain it in their mind. So the likelihood of the same issue occurring again decreases dramatically.
  • Ultimately your goal as a leader is to build that relationship with your team so that they come to you. It has nothing to do with fear of punishment or repercussion or anything like that.
  • We’re business. We’re not an army.
  • So it’s my job to serve them, to empower them to then service our clients, which in turn helps me accomplish my goal of building a, larger and more successful organization.

     

Leadership Journeys [36] – Tauseef Ahmad – “Capital deprived? Yes, we are. Are we worried? No, we are not”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Tauseef opens up about the very personal loss of his mother and cousin and how that inspired him to start a company to make healthcare easier to access for people from their homes. The conviction in his voice, despite all his challenges, was very strong and decisive, and that is a lesson in the embodiment of a purpose for anybody listening.

You can find Tauseef at the below links

In the interview, Tauseef shares

  • We have a great mission. And that mission Is the only fuel that we have right now. 
  • I am changing The culture and the standard of healthcare in, especially in my community. And I think I will continue to do that. No matter 
  • Capital deprived? Yes, we are. Are we worried? No, we are not
  • My biggest fear is if you raise venture capital dollars, okay. And five years down the line, I will. I’m sure that we will be very valuable. Okay. And there would be times when people want to acquire us. People wanted to change the direction that we are presently in right now.

Leadership Journeys [35] – Shahram Maralani- “As a leader you need to be a good simulator of the situations your people are in.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, he spoke about growing up in Iran and the importance of a multicultural approach to leadership today. We talked about the role of chance and serendipity in our journeys, the new skills required when any individual contributor grows to be a manager, and the importance of balance in life.

You can find Shahram at the below links

In the interview, Shahram shares

  • The balance between taking the opportunities as they unfold, But also planning your career properly is quite important in shaping a successful career. 
  • You will never be a hundred per cent correct. Maybe you are only 50, 60% correct. But being able to assume how people perceive how people are seeing their own situation and what are their opportunities and challenges is quite important as an authentic leader. 
  • Culture is like the operating system of our brain
  • On the other hand, the operating system, which is loaded in our body, which is our culture and the way we grow up and what we experience in life shapes most of who we become as a person, as a professional, but also as a leader.
  • But I think in, as a leader, if you want to be successful, maybe the exact opposite is the honest advice because you need to a bit dismantle yourself from the culture you belong to and analyze the situation with the different views you have. 
  • And as a leader, you need to understand that and be flexible and allow people to basically express themselves properly.

     

Leadership Journeys [34] – Vinod Kumar- “An entrepreneur needs to be comfortable with ambiguity and things going wrong”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

Vinod shares in the interview how he and his wife started a coffee house in 2015 to provide a sip of happiness to every customer, and to enhance the experience around coffee. He shares how they navigated covid and are now looking to expand, and how they have leveraged technology during covid. He also talks about caring for people and building a team on a solid foundation of values.

You can find Vinod at the below links

In the interview, Vinod shares

  • We knew immediately that was the first opportunity that we gotta pursue it. So we put our eggs in that basket and we went forward with it.
  • It took me five years to find the connection and when I found it, It clicked immediately because we were then able to leverage my background.
  • Most business schools don’t necessarily focus on running a small business. This is what we realized.
  • only when you make an attempt to actually get closer to the customer, understand the customer, you understand the challenges in it and the actual value of why it is so important.
  • We never thought we will be delivering a cup of cappuccino. Pizza is one thing. But delivering a cappuccino is a totally different problem that we never thought we’d be delivering a cappuccino, but now we do. 
  • In hindsight, everything is easy and clear, but when you’re going through the process it’s a mess.
  • The second thing that motivates us is we feel like we need to take care of the people That work for us. And it’s important to take care of them because quite literally, their livelihood is dependent on the business.
  • an entrepreneur needs to be very comfortable with ambiguity. I think that’s the thing. You have to be comfortable with ambiguity and you have to be comfortable with things going wrong and things not going according to plan. 
  • And you have to know what the non-negotiables are, You have to pick the right fight, cuz when things go wrong and you have to fight the circumstances, it’s easy to lose energy.

Leadership Journeys [33] – Raymond Aaron- “It’s wonderful to have goals and intentions because that’s the fuel of the soul.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Raymond shares about his journey of being 100k dollars in debt before becoming a teacher, coach, and successful businessman. He also shares that he only does what he loves to do, and spoke a bit about some of his crazy adventures – including a 350-mile foot race to the North Pole. We spoke about leadership, growth, commitment, and how to have more than 24 hours in a day.

You can find Raymond at the below links

In the interview, Raymond shares

  • People typically underguess my age by five to 15 years, and my secret is that I do only what I love. 
  • I tried all these businesses and they all failed, and I did extremely well as a salaried employee in math and computer. But I didn’t enjoy it, and so at age 39, I was a 39-year-old life loser. I was a hundred thousand dollars in debt, completely broke. 
  • My boss had just fired me. I told my wife I got fired, and she did the only thing a reasonable woman could do. She dumped me out of our marriage and I was depressed. I didn’t know what to do.
  • It just exploded because I was meant to be a teacher. And so if you want to know how it all really got started, it’s the day I found out that I was supposed to be a teacher.
  • Once you commit the resources come to you. Once you commit, the physical universe gets pushed to the side and the spiritual universe delivers to you whatever you want.
  • You can’t know what’s gonna happen. You have to be able to allow chance encounters.
  • Not only should you burn plan B and C, which I really love, I’ve never heard that before, but I say you should burn Plan A, and just go for it. Ready, Fire, aim.
  • It’s wonderful to have intentions because that’s the fuel of the soul.
  • If you don’t have an assistant, you are one. 
  • There are always ways to have people help you.

Leadership Journeys [32] – Silvia Hecher- “Get a coach way before there are conflicts/struggles or things are falling apart.”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In the interview, Silvia shares how she is empowering women and couples by translating medical research into valuable information for family planning. She shares how the mission of her startup is also her personal mission, how similar leadership is to parenting, and the challenges of convincing investors as well as other stakeholders about what they are doing and why.

You can find Silvia at the below links

In the interview, Silvia shares

  • When you’re struggling to conceive, it’s not just women who are part of the equation, but also men.
  • Part of my life that led me here was wanting to be a mom for a long time.
  • And you wanna have kids and then it didn’t work. And  I was overwhelmed by that sense of urgency, that belonging, or that desire to have a child. Was so strong all of a sudden, and then realizing that you want something badly, then not able to get it. That like really sparked something in me and gave me the energy to do something about that.
  • There are so many hundreds and thousands of clinical studies where issues regarding fertility diagnostics and fertility therapy are discussed. Are found great results, but they’re not made available to the people who really need them.
  • Patients typically think that doctors should have all the answers. They should know everything, but that is an unrealistic expectation from my point of view. 
  • We have to empower women to make good decisions for family planning and for diagnosing fertility and addressing fertility issues.
  • I wouldn’t say that it’s so niche because every sixth to seventh, a couple struggles to conceive it really depends on who, and how open your friends and family are.
  • People just don’t open up that they’re doing IVF because they’re embarrassed. Very few couples share fertility struggles openly, or even with their family and friends. 
  • It’s impossible to know everything. 
  • When it comes to coaches the important thing is to not get a coach when everything is falling apart, but to get a coach way before and when you’re doing well.
  • many people tell you no, you can’t do this. No, this can’t be done. No, you’re too early for this. No, you’re not the right person. And I think having a coach helps you navigate all the different responses from your environment and the different expectations from customers and the expectations from your team and how you grow with that and how you struggle with that.
  • I see a coach like a mirror on the wall, really reflecting things and pushing back things to me and giving me things to think about. And to question not as somebody who’s giving me the solutions.
  • Motherhood for me is challenging just like, for everybody, I would say it is very fulfilling.  It is a lot of fun. I just love the directness and the honesty that you get from your kids.
  • I struggle to be a mother and have a startup at the same time, I feel like I’m never doing enough on the one end and I’m never doing enough on the other. I always would like to have more time for my children more quality time. And I always have things for my startup at the end of the day.

     

     

Leadership Journeys [31] – Chris Federspiel – “This is about the journey and not about achieving the thing at the end”

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. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In a very candid conversation, I don’t even want to call it an interview, Chris shares so much of his life that we normally keep hidden – not just from others but also from ourselves. He opens up and shares about his childhood, his tryst with entrepreneurship, failure, success, mental heath challenges, and what gives his life meaning. Listen to this conversation to understand who Chris is and his story. We talk about material success as well as meditation, doing more as well as doing nothing, and fear as well as courage.

You can find Chris at the below links

In the interview, Chris shares

  • I ended up spending a lot of time after my parents split and got divorced when I was very depressed, just sitting at my computer and it helped me be very comfortable with computers.
  • And I ended up finding computers to be very safe. There was nothing that could like physically or emotionally hurt me with a computer.
  • I got diagnosed with bipolar two when I was 20 or 21.
  • Whenever I had to do something interpersonal, I did not deal with it very well. I tended to be very abrupt or brash when talking to people like they were a computer  I wasn’t empathetic and I tended to type strong messages
  • It was very painful. Going through therapy sucks. I don’t enjoy one bit of it, but the benefits of it really helped me in my life.
  • If anyone has a mental illness where there’s like heavy anxiety, it helps to do a lot of exercises to manage that it helps to level it out.
  • From the base of the mountain, you can see the mountain, but from the top of the mountain, you can no longer see the mountain. And the concept is about the journey. It’s not about achieving the thing in the end. And there’s something rewarding about the journey that I look forward to.
  • Boys are taught to not talk about their emotions and girls are taught to shut up. And it’s interesting the struggles that men and women have after getting a bit older
  • The last company I co-founded, when I sold it when I sold my interest, it really hurt because this thing that I had devoted, like almost every waking hour or two for a year and a half, it was suddenly gone.
  • And it made me realize one, one day, I want to be able to change that dynamic if I can because you hear all these things. If you had a day to live, what would you do? And if your company’s gonna go away from you, what would you do? It was a big lesson I learned.

     

Leadership Journeys [30] – Brian Curtis – “When people become more and more separated and the less time we spend around one another, our relationships suffer”

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, we talk about how that led him to create a software solution to fix communication breakdowns. Brian shared how any corporate group behaves like a larger organism. We spoke about the transition from working in a company to starting your own thing, and how that requires stopping being anonymous and becoming comfortable with being in the limelight.

You can find Brian at the below links

In the interview, Brian shares

  • What happens is there’s this slow disengagement of the employee over a long period of time.
  • The decentralized process has more to do with the efficiency of creating better relationships than it does, even information because information only travels when the relationships are in a growth cycle.
  • You have to put yourself out there and say, Hey, this is what I’ve got. This is who I am. And it’s a totally different process. You become a promoter of yourself and then you’re creating, new relationships constantly on the outside.
  • We’re all part of basically the same growing organism, and that organism works better when our relationships work better.
  • COVID pulled us apart. And we saw the, I think we’re seeing the after-effects of that.
  • Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an accident before people realized how important they are to one another.
  • A bigger group has an emotional body and a mental body just like you.
  • Organizations are built like a tree.
  • I don’t think anybody wants to be in a state of conflict. So any system that we can put in place where. We get out of that state of conflict. All you have to do is start the growing cycle. 
  • Conflict is a negative growing cycle where you’re, you’re growing up apart. You just have to overcome that negative growing cycle.
  • Nobody grows without failures. And well, what we conceive as failures actually tell us more about ourselves in order for us to keep moving forward. So I think I’m grateful for all those experiences

     

     

Leadership Journeys [29] – Yasmina Kazitani – “As a leader, do not fear being wrong or not knowing everything”

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 celebrate leaders for the choices they have made, which are not always easy or comfortable, and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Yasmina spoke about the power of being yourself and then demonstrated it wonderfully by being her wonderful self. We talked about thinking outside the box, connecting with people as human beings first, and her journey from her roots in Africa to working in many male-dominated industries. She shares with us the valuable lesson she learned from her dad about working for passion and not for making money.

You can find Yasmina Kazitani at the below links

In the interview, Yasmina shares

  • We are doing it because we love doing it. And we impress people because we are driven by our passion. So passion is, again, all about your leadership.
  • I do not consider my teams like team members. I always keep them as a family because we grow together. We nurture together. I’m not your leader or your manager. I’m the person who’s just having the job title.
  • When we talk about leadership. It’s tribal, it’s really, tribal’s ways of doing.
  • Don’t be nice. Be yourself because you have your ups and downs.
  • As a leader, you can not fear being wrong or being not knowing.

Leadership Journeys [28] – Gilad Regev – “Fear can be my friend, I’m not trying to control my fear or ego. I look at them and get the information from them but I’m not trying to suppress them.”

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, Gilad talks about how he spent 25 years of his life doing M&As and realised he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his career making rich people richer. He now works to solve the biggest challenge humanity faces – climate change – through a rewards based approach. Listen to this episode as we discuss fear, ego, greed, taking responsibility without burden, seeing money as energy, and the importance of our body when it comes to leadership.

You can find Gilad at the below links

In the interview, Gilad shares

  • The way to scale up climate action is through changing of the economy.
  • I started many years ago to work on my fears. I didn’t want my fears to control me. And then suddenly I realized that there is another guy that controls my life and that’s the ego. And. I see by the way, ego and fear as a ying-yang
  • And then once you start to look at your ego, it’s much easier for you to look at the mirror and say, Hey where is my responsibility?
  • There was less and less resistance from my being for me to ask these questions. It was less and less. I could be more and more honest with myself because that ego, that small devil did not take over and reject those thoughts. And I think that really what helped a lot.
  • Fear can be my friend, which means I’m not trying to control my fear. I also don’t try to control my ego. When they’re popping out, I look at them, they look at me, and I get the information from them but I’m not trying to suppress them.
  • I physically felt that money is energy. Because when you’re practising Tai Chi, you’re practising on energies. 
  • I’m more in harmony with myself. Hence I’m not afraid of letting go.
  • Maybe the best advice I can give is if any person can, from time to time, just stop all the noise. We have so much noise around. It’s coming from all directions. And just try to be with oneself and try to become observant. It doesn’t have to be meditation, people sometimes afraid, but just to breathe, just to turn off everything, for five minutes or for seven minutes, and maybe that’s can be the starting of the process.
  • Everything is in front of you, but because you are not stopping or you are always in that rush, you’re not seeing it. And sometimes by just stopping pausing, and allowing things to settle down, you will see it for yourself.