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Greatness Podcast
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Greatness Podcast

Author: Gretchen Gagel

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The podcast where the world's leading thinkers share their ideas about how to create greatness. Great leaders, great teams and great organizations. Why be good when you can be great!
38 Episodes
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Mindfulness – one of this century’s most popular buzzwords, yet do we really deeply understand what mindfulness means? How do leaders and teams go about developing mindfulness competencies? Michael Chaskalson is noted for being the first person in the world to receive a masters in the clinical application of mindfulness. Michael joined the Greatness podcast from Cambridge to share research on the three competencies of mindfulness and new work on how teams approach collective mindfulness. I loved Michael’s “why” for mindfulness – keeping us from making “dumb moves” – those actions we take when we aren’t fully present to the moment. 
Hello everyone, this is Gretchen Gagel with Greatness. Just a warning that today's episode deals with some sensitive topics, specifically domestic violence and abuse. This is different from our usual subject matter and may be difficult for some listeners, so I wanted to put include a warning up front. With that out of the way, I think everyone can learn something from today's episode. Thank you.Years ago I watched a speaker write “vict” on a flipchart, and then make the point that two letters change this from “victim” to “victor”. We have all overcome challenges in our lives, some more horrific than others. Cathy Oddie, Family Violence Lived Experience Consultant, embodies the journey from victim to advocate, and I’m grateful that she shared her powerful story on the Greatness Podcast.
Do you experience frustration that no matter how much you encourage people to speak up you still feel that you’re not hearing everything you need to hear? You’re not alone. Megan Reitz, author of “Speak Up”, visited the Greatness podcast to share her research about the conversational patters we become stuck within both as people and as organizations; and how power and labels, real and imagined, filter what we hear and what we say. Megan shares research-based tips for how to listen with curiosity, not just a skill but a philosophy and one that is central to our work at Conversant.
Community – what does that word mean to you? To our team, community is critical to the vitality of an organization. It’s about focusing our energy and our actions to achieve a mutually important purpose. It’s about aligning our strategies and tactics based upon our common values. It’s about looking out for one another on the way to extraordinary success. Conversant Founder and Chairman Mickey Connolly shares great tips for how “connected leaders” effectively build community and unleash brilliance. 
We speak frequently of an organization’s purpose, but purpose is also relevant to an industry. Judo Bank Co-Founder and Co-CEO Joseph Healy argues in his latest book, Breaking the Banks, that the global banking industry has lost it’s purpose. Joseph joined the Greatest podcast to reflect upon why banking is one of the least trusted industries globally, discussing the systemic and cultural challenges faced. His perspective is relevant regardless of your industry. We as leaders need to keep in mind that our organization, our industry, serves a purpose in society, just as banking serves the economy by “pumping blood around the body, the economy”. 
One of the greatest challenges in creating an agile organization is driving urgency for the need to change. Covid-19 has created an urgent need to change. But what about two years from now? How can you, as a leader, create a nimble organization that is “proactive in reacting”, that embraces “wonder” and the urgent need to evolve? It was really fun to turn the tables on the Greatness podcast by having my associate, Max Affleck, interview me about what I learned on these topics during my recent PhD studies. I hope you enjoy my comments and find them useful!
How can leaders create learning organizations that enable people to achieve their greatest personal contribution? How can we as leaders not allow the stress of today’s situation to drive us back to the learned behaviors of a heroic culture?  These are the strategic concerns of today’s world discussed by Jim Motroni, Senior Partner with Conversant, during this compelling conversation on the Greatness podcast. Jim shares concrete tips for how leaders can create vibrant environments of innovation and co-creation. 
Can you help someone develop collaboration skills? Absolutely according to Francesca Gino, Harvard professor and author of Rebel Talent. Francesca joined the Greatness podcast to discuss how critical collaboration is in today’s disruptive business environment and the six training techniques to build collaboration skills in yourself and others. Francesca also shares the five secret talents of the rebels in your organization, and why having rebels is a good idea.
How can we have productive conversations with no visual cues? And, what does that tell us about how to thrive amid the big crisis-driven move to virtual communication?  Mickey Connolly, Founder and Chairman of Conversant, joined the Greatness podcast to talk about one of the foundational tools of the organization, the “conversation meter”. When used, this powerful tool elevates our conversations to a place of finding mutual purposes that drives productivity, collaboration, innovation and success. With many of us facing more virtual conversations, I think you will like the simple, powerful questions that drive conversations towards authenticity and trust.
Does your organization have a soul? Bill Boyar, Founding Shareholder of BoyarMiller, joined the Greatness podcast to discuss why he left one law firm, which “had no soul”, to found another firm where growing and making money was the outcome, not the purpose. Bill shares some of the tough decisions he and his partners have faced over the years, and how they continue to focus upon consistently behaving in a way that aligns with their values - with each other, their clients, even opposing attorneys. It’s a great story of how to build transparency, curiosity, and ultimately success through the power of authentic conversations.
What could be more interesting that 30 minutes on the phone with acclaimed Harvard professor, consultant and author Michael Beer? Not much and he has offered just that during this Greatness podcast. In his latest book, Fit to Compete, Mike states that most strategic failures spring from an organization’s inability to have honest conversations. It was one of the most important factors in my decision to join Conversant. The underpinnings of our strategic advisement hinge on this critical ability – how to build transparent cultures with systems of human connectedness that unleash brilliance. Mike has many sound tips for any leader interested in achieving transparency and alignment within their organization.
How do you effectively engage a system of stakeholders for an extraordinary outcome? How do you create a “system of human connectedness” versus “disjointed simultaneous monologues”? Anne Murray Allen of Conversant joined the Greatness Podcast to discuss how The Nature Conservancy took a systems approach in addressing water quality on the Mississippi River. Key to their success was framing the issue in a manner that united the various stakeholders along the river to build community and co-create innovative solutions that met their unique needs. This is a great story of success in changing the way people accomplish work and creating a system of learning to achieve a “moon shot”
Thirty years ago this man, Ron Erps, had the courage to put a 27-year-old woman in charge of an 800 person manufacturing operation in a failing company that was given 12 months to turn it around or face closure. This leadership opportunity early in my career had a profound impact upon me and shaped my thinking on a number of topics – leadership, leading change, listening, and empowering a community of hundreds of people to drive success. I’m so thankful I was able to visit with Ron and his wife Janet in 2018 as he sadly passed away last year. I’ll never forget his mentorship and faith in me. Thank you, Mickey Connolly, for interviewing me for the Greatness podcast so that I could share this story. I think there are a few relevant tips in here for leaders in today’s turbulent business environment.
Does your organization understand it’s role in bringing value to society?  Are you exhibiting purpose-driven leadership? And is your organization focused upon a holistic approach to health and wellbeing? The Greatness podcast welcomed Dr. Amanda Rischbieth, business leader and visiting scientist at Harvard, to talk about these critical questions. The 2019 US Business Roundtable statement sent a clear message that business plays a critical role in the wellbeing of society, and Amanda discusses how investment strategies are shifting to recognize this need.
How do you effectively bring the right 40 stakeholders together to collectively represent the interests of thousands of employees to avoid a seemingly unavoidable strike? How do you get the “system” in the conversation when your organization is facing seemingly insurmountable challenges? Conversant Chairman and Founder Mickey Connolly shares an incredible case study that is relevant in today’s turbulent business environment. Enjoy! 
Society is in a deep and vigorous discussion on the right trade-off between health and economy.. .. to many that is a shocking idea. Research into mental health in the workplace suggests that this trade-off is a reality of work, in fact “62% of managers have had to put the interests of their organization above staff wellbeing either sometimes, regularly or every day” ..  now that is shocking ..  It contributes to stress, anxiety, declining productivity and increasing business cost.!   Evelyn has been exploring this paradigm and researching the foundations of healthy workplaces in a way that makes long term economic sense.  Maybe it’s not a trade off after all?
Many of you are facing difficult decisions about balancing the success of your business long term with the immediate needs of your people. Conversant Chairman and Founder, Mickey Connolly, discusses a timely case study where an organization handles the challenge of a plant closing with grace and respect for their employees. 
Great leaders seek information from nontraditional sources. Track cyclist Anna Meares, the only Australian to medal individually in four consecutive Olympics, generously shares her insights on achieving sustained greatness as our guest on the Greatness podcast. From embracing change and controlling the controllable, to overcoming the adversity of a broken neck, Anna's lessons are remarkable and apply to us all. 
Great teams aren't just about great leaders, they are about how people "show up" as great teammates. Jan and Michelle Terkelson share their amazing work with teams, including spot-on insights about the role of vulnerability in achieving team performance. 
Few argue that helping our employees more effectively communicate with each other, customers, etc. is critical to the success of our organizations and the people within them. Does your company's investment in building these skills reflect an unwavering commitment to this? The Greatness podcast welcomed Soft as Steel author Dennis Doran to discuss his research on the soft skills our employees care about and why. 
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