DiscoverThe Executive Connect Podcast
The Executive Connect Podcast
Claim Ownership

The Executive Connect Podcast

Author: Melissa Aarskaug

Subscribed: 0Played: 0


This is the Executive Connect Podcast - a show for the new generation of leaders. Join us as we discover unconventional leadership strategies not traditionally associated with executive roles. Our guests include upper-level C-Suite executives charting new ways to grow their organizations, successful entrepreneurs changing the way the world does business, and experts and thought leaders from fields outside of Corporate America that can bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth - all while connecting on a human level. No one has all the answers - but by building a community of open-minded and engaged leaders we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.
33 Episodes
In this episode, Dave Fox, an expert in AI recruitment and personal development, delves into the transformative impact of artificial intelligence on human resources (HR). He begins by sharing his journey into the realms of HR and AI, illustrating how AI is revolutionizing HR by streamlining tasks such as resume screening and talent sourcing.Dave provides insights on how companies can develop their own AI models to enhance efficiency and productivity. He also discusses the challenges and benefits associated with remote and hybrid work models, emphasizing the crucial role of personal development and continuous learning in today's work environment.Additionally, Dave explores the intersection of emotional intelligence and AI, highlighting how AI can assist companies in building and maintaining a strong, positive culture.
Hall Martin, the founder and CEO of Ten Capital Network, delves into the evolution of startup funding over the past 25 years and the transformative impact of technology on venture capital. He discusses the emergence of new investment avenues such as crowdfunding, micro VC funds, and syndication groups. Martin underscores the significance of online platforms and tools in making the investment process more efficient. He shares his insights on how podcasts play a crucial role in educating both investors and entrepreneurs, and he explores the challenges and opportunities in various sectors, with a particular focus on healthcare and the convergence of technology and therapeutics. Additionally, Martin offers valuable advice for new founders, stressing the importance of building a strong network, staying at the forefront of industry trends, and contributing back to the angel investing community.
In this episode, Jason Anthoine discusses the challenges of communication within organizations and provides tips for effective communication. He emphasizes the importance of building relationships with employees and tailoring communication to their preferences. Jason also highlights the impact of culture on communication and the need for leaders to initiate difficult conversations. He suggests that leaders should create a safe and comfortable space for employees to give feedback and share their thoughts. Additionally, he encourages leaders to prioritize human connection and use analog methods, such as handwritten notes, to make a lasting impact.
Welcome to another episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, hosted by Melissa Aarskaug. Melissa spoke with Amiee Gindin, a Boston-based executive leadership coach, on her journey from therapist to unpaid marketing intern to CMO, and her expertise in marketing in the age of AI. Amiee shares valuable insights on leveraging marketing tools, understanding the target audience, and the importance of maintaining a personal and professional brand.Key Takeaways:0:00 - Introduction1:47 - The Evolution of Marketing Careers • The transition from traditional roles to marketing can be driven by diverse professional backgrounds.• Marketing offers a unique blend of creativity and business strategy, appealing to those interested in understanding human behavior and communication.5:19 - Marketing on Different Budgets• Effective marketing doesn’t require a massive budget. From $500 to $5 million, there are strategies for every financial situation.• Building a strong brand through storytelling and professional presentation is essential, regardless of budget size.9:42 - Leveraging Technology and AI in Marketing • The role of a marketing technologist is becoming increasingly important to manage and integrate various marketing tools.• AI is changing the skill set required for marketers, emphasizing the need for strong editing skills over traditional content creation.15:24 - Building and Maintaining a Personal Brand • Authenticity and consistent engagement are key to developing a strong personal brand.• Utilize tools like Canva and Hootsuite to create and manage professional content without extensive resources.26:29 - Business Branding Essentials• Maintain a substantial marketing budget (5-10% of revenue) to ensure effective promotion and demand generation.• Hire knowledgeable marketing technologists to streamline and optimize the tech stack, ensuring cohesive and efficient marketing operations.Guest Bio:Aimee Gindin is a leadership coach, keynote speaker and author of dozens of published business and lifestyle articles. With a background as both a former mental health clinician and a seasoned marketing executive, she combines her passion for personal growth with her business experience to create actionable steps for women aspiring to become senior leaders and executives looking to build more inclusive cultures.Personal LinkedIn – - https://www.aimeegindin.comAbout Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -
From Process to People: How to Build High-Performance Sales TeamsIn this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug interviewed Joe Sulima, an expert in building high-performance sales teams. Joe shared his insights on the critical elements necessary for developing successful sales teams, from establishing robust sales processes to finding and nurturing the right talent. He emphasized the importance of empathy, confidence, and continuous learning for sales professionals. Additionally, Joe discussed strategies for maintaining motivation, differentiating from competitors, providing exceptional customer service, and using technology to engage with clients effectively.Key Takeaways:0:00 - Introduction1:53 - The Importance of a Sales ProcessBefore hiring, ensure a clear and effective sales process is in place.Onboarding should integrate new hires into the system and clarify marketplace differentiation.4:16 - Motivating Sales Teams Establish a mission to inspire and keep the team motivated.Regular check-ins help maintain motivation, especially in remote work environments.7:46 - Customer Service and DifferentiationExceptional customer service can significantly differentiate a business.Listening to customers’ needs and providing tailored solutions builds long-term loyalty.14:13 - Mentoring and Addressing UnderperformanceIdentify and address the root causes of underperformance, whether personal or skill-related.Implement performance plans to help employees get back on track, emphasizing support over termination.25:15 - Effective Communication and Relationship BuildingUse social media and video to build relationships and engage with potential clients.Establishing long-term relationships by providing value beyond immediate sales can lead to future opportunities.Tune in to this episode for an in-depth discussion on the strategies and practices that build and sustain high-performing sales teams.Guest Bio:As a Fractional Sales Manager and Sales and Sales Management Coach, Joe Sulima transforms underperforming sales teams into high-achieving powerhouses. With a proven track record of building and nurturing top-tier sales teams, he helps companies unlock their full potential and achieve exceptional sales performance.Personal LinkedIn – Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - - -
In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug spoke with Stacey Giulianti, the Chief Legal Officer at Florida Peninsula Insurance Company. Stacey shared his journey from a consumer attorney to leading a billion-dollar insurance company. They discussed the importance of strategic decision-making, effective delegation, and maintaining a customer-focused approach. Stacey also highlights the significance of building a strong team and empowering employees to take initiative, drawing on his extensive experience in the insurance industry.Key Takeaways0:00 - Introduction1:56 - The Role of Luck and Hard Work in Success• Success involves a combination of hard work and a bit of luck; acknowledging both is crucial.• Surrounding oneself with knowledgeable people and knowing one's limitations is essential for scaling a business.4:03 - Understanding Customer Perspective • Starting from a consumer-facing role provides valuable insights into customer needs and expectations.• Balancing the needs of customers and employees is key to maintaining a successful business.8:31 - Effective Delegation Strategies• Learning what and how to delegate tasks is vital for business owners to avoid burnout and focus on growth.• Outsourcing tasks that are not core competencies can be a practical approach in the early stages of a business.13:45 - Balancing Speed and Quality in Service • Customers often prioritize quality over speed; it's important to communicate this balance effectively.• Ensuring thoroughness in transactions and customer service builds trust and satisfaction among customers.23:19 - Empowering and Supporting Team Members• Encouraging and supporting team members' ideas fosters innovation and engagement.• Giving credit to team members for their contributions enhances their confidence and promotes a collaborative environment.Guest Bio:Stacey A. Giulianti, Esquire, is the Chief Legal Officer at Florida Peninsula Insurance Company/Windward Risk Managers, a Florida-based property insurance carrier group, where he oversees the Claims, Special Investigations, and Legal Departments. He founded the company with his partners in 2005, and has since helped it grow to become the 5th largest homeowners insurance company in Florida. As a licensed attorney, he has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1993 and The Maine Bar since 2018. He serves as a representative member of both the Florida Insurance Council and the Florida Property and Casualty Association. He has spoken on various insurance law subjects for the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, The Florida Bar, the National Business Institute, Professional Education Seminars, the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the National Underwriter Company. From 1998 to 2006, Mr. Giulianti served as a member of the judiciary as a Traffic Magistrate in Broward County. He is the Author of numerous published works, including Florida Insurance Law, Thomson West Publishing, 2007-2024. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Law cum laude in 1993 (staff member, University of Miami Law Review). Mr. Giulianti has been an adjunct professor of business at Southern Maine Community College, and as an adjunct professor of business law at Florida International University, where he taught for more than 12 years. He is an Accredited Claims Adjuster and a licensed Florida Auctioneer.Personal LinkedIn: Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -
In this conversation, Matt McCarthy discusses personal development, emotional intelligence, trauma, and goal setting. He shares insights on integrating emotional intelligence into coaching, understanding trauma's impact on achievement, and techniques for increasing emotional intelligence. Matt also emphasizes the importance of setting meaningful goals, building fulfillment, and preparing for setbacks. He offers an assessment for understanding trauma's impact and encourages reaching out for further support.
In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug interviewed Raj Shroff, Director of Applied AI Research at Blu Artificial Intelligence. They discussed the evolving landscape of AI in business, the practical applications of AI in various industries, the ethical considerations surrounding AI, and its potential to drive sustainability and innovation. Raj shared insights from his experiences in AI strategy and education, offering valuable perspectives on how businesses can leverage AI to optimize operations and stay competitive.Key Takeaways0:00-Introduction10:12-The Evolution of AI in BusinessAI is transitioning from a niche technology to a mainstream tool across variousindustries.Businesses are leveraging AI for digital transformation, enhancing decision-makingprocesses and operational efficiency.15:05-Key Business Problems Solved by AIBusiness Insights: AI helps in understanding customer behavior, market trends, and company performance to make informed decisions.Risk and Cost Reduction: AI applications like fraud detection and inventory management systems reduce operational risks and costs.21:00-Cybersecurity and AIAI is enhancing cybersecurity by identifying unusual network activities and potential threats through machine learning models.Educating employees about cybersecurity threats, such as AI-generated phishing emails, is crucial in preventing cyber attacks
OverviewIn this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug interviewed Kylie van Luyn, a Master Practitioner of NLP therapy. They discussed how neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) can be a powerful tool for enhancing leadership skills and decision-making, especially in high-pressure environments. Through real-life examples and detailed discussions, Kylie explained the practical applications of NLP techniques in professional settings, and how they can lead to personal transformation and professional success. Key Takeaways 0:00 – Introduction 2:23 - Understanding NLP and Its Benefits ·         Definition of NLP: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) involves analyzing strategies used by successful individuals to achieve personal or professional goals.·         Components of NLP: The neuro aspect refers to the brain, linguistic to the language used, and programming to how our brains are wired to frame and reframe beliefs and perceptions. 4:27 - Key NLP Techniques for Leaders·         Timeline Therapy: Used to address and release negative emotions and limiting beliefs rooted in past experiences, crucial for sustained behavior change.·         Anchoring: Involves associating a specific stimulus with a desired emotional state, helping leaders access confidence and calmness during high-pressure situations. 9:18 - Success Stories with NLP·         Client Case Study: A new executive struggled with perfectionism and people-pleasing due to a controlling childhood. Through timeline therapy and reframing techniques, she transformed her mindset, improving her leadership effectiveness and personal confidence.·         Impact of NLP: Highlighting the significant positive changes in clients' professional lives after addressing deep-seated limiting beliefs 15:11 - Essential Qualities of Effective Leaders·         Emotional Intelligence: Vital for understanding one's own behaviors and building trust and rapport with teams. Leaders lacking this often struggle with connection and trust.·         Visionary Skills: Having a clear vision and the ability to communicate it effectively is crucial for gaining team buy-in and navigating through change. 19:43 - Aligning Values, Purpose, and Mindset ·         Identifying Core Values: Knowing your core values is essential for discovering your purpose and achieving fulfillment in both personal and professional life.·         Growth Mindset: Embracing a mindset open to learning and viewing challenges as opportunities is key to personal and professional success. Guest Bio:Kylie van Luyn is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Elevated Coaching & Consulting Global. She is an international speaker, best-selling author, award-winning coach and consultant.Kylie is a Harvard Business School graduate, a Psychotherapist, an emotional intelligence coach, an NLP Master Practitioner, and an accredited Human Rights Consultant. She has Master’s qualifications in Human Resources and leadership and her first book was published in 2023 on Emotional Intelligence. Kylie is an Executive with over 15 years of international experience specializing in workforce development, workplace psychological safety, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.Personal LinkedIn - Elevated Workplace training program - Mindset™ coaching program - About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -
In this episode, Dr. Benjamin Ritter explores the concept of fearlessness and how to overcome fear to reach our full potential. He defines fearlessness as the ability to take action without being held back by doubt or lack of confidence.  To manage fear, he suggests strategies such as interrupting the fear cycle and challenging our beliefs. He differentiates between healthy risk-taking and recklessness in pursuing our ambitions, highlighting the importance of self-awareness, accountability, and maintaining a positive mindset in becoming fearless. By adopting these approaches, individuals can break free from the constraints of fear and achieve their goals. Chapters 00:00 Introduction: Unleashing Fearlessness04:44 Differentiating Healthy Risk-Taking from Recklessness10:48 Making the Thing You Want More Important than Fear25:28 Fearlessness in the Workplace: Being Authentically You32:32 Conclusion: Taking Small Steps to Overcome Fear
Overview:Welcome to the latest episode of the Executive Connect Podcast. Host Melissa Aarskaug spoke with Jeremy Lessaris, a seasoned entrepreneur with a diverse background in building and selling businesses across various industries. Jeremy shared the highs and lows of his journey, insights into the payments landscape, the impact of technology, and offered valuable tips for scaling and exiting businesses. Learn about the challenges and opportunities in today's entrepreneurial landscape and get practical advice on growing your business. Key Takeaways: 00:00 - Introduction 05:30 - The Evolution of Payments Technology·         The payments landscape has become increasingly seamless, allowing for quick and easy transactions.·         Despite the convenience, small to medium-sized businesses often bear the brunt of high transaction fees, which can be predatory.·         Machine learning can help small businesses negotiate better transaction rates.·         The convenience of modern payment systems often hides the high costs for smaller companies. 09:03 - Impact of AI and Machine Learning·         AI and machine learning are transforming various industries, including payments and customer interactions.·         There's a growing value in handcrafted, human-interaction-focused businesses as a counterbalance to AI-dominated services.·         AI's influence will likely increase, but human-centered crafts and services will see a resurgence.·         The blend of technology and human touch can create unique opportunities for businesses. 19:33 - Strategies for Scaling Businesses·         Focus on sales and revenue as the primary drivers for scaling.·         Bootstrapping can lead to more disciplined and careful financial management.·         Building a strong sales foundation is crucial before addressing other aspects of the business.·         Bootstrapping helps entrepreneurs prioritize profitability and sustainability. 20: 36 - Mentorship and Networking·         Having mentors and a strong network is invaluable for entrepreneurial success.·         Mentors can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights that are crucial for growth.·         Seek out mentors who can offer practical advice and support based on their experiences.·         Building a network of supportive individuals can significantly impact your business journey. 27:35 - Balancing Work and Personal Life·         Striving for a balance between work and personal life is essential for long-term success and well-being.·         Entrepreneurs should build businesses that align with their desired lifestyle rather than compromising their personal lives.·         Consider how business decisions impact your day-to-day life and overall happiness.·         Aim for business models that support a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout.·         By focusing on these key takeaways, listeners can gain a deeper understanding of the current entrepreneurial landscape, the importance of technological integration, and practical strategies for achieving business growth and personal fulfillment. Guest Bio:Jeremy is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and former global marketing & communications executive. Over the past two decades Jeremy has founded and led eight of his companies to successful exits. Jeremy is currently the Founder & CEO of Payment Brokers, a fintech company, focused on AI-enabled cost reductions.Personal LinkedIn - About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -
In this episode, Jacqueline Reinhart discusses the transformative power of AI and its impact on various industries. She explains the concept of collective intelligence, which combines the strengths of humans and machines to achieve better results. Jacqueline provides examples of AI in daily life, including virtual agents, predictive analytics, and robotic technologies. She also distinguishes between traditional AI and GenAI, highlighting the differences in their design and transparency. Jacqueline offers strategies for businesses considering AI investments, emphasizing the importance of understanding the purpose, data strategy, talent requirements, and compliance. She discusses the role of AI startups in driving innovation and advises on selecting reliable vendor partners. Jacqueline shares examples of AI applications in healthcare and banking, such as disease identification, drug discovery, and personalized financial recommendations. She raises ethical concerns related to AI, including user rights, privacy, intellectual property, and environmental impact. Jacqueline concludes by encouraging society to shape the future of AI through defining guidelines and considering the broader implications.Takeaways·         AI combines the strengths of humans and machines to achieve better results, enhancing human intuition, creativity, and intelligence.·         AI has transformed various aspects of daily life, including search engines, virtual agents, personalized recommendations, and robotic technologies.·         GenAI is an emerging technology that differs from traditional AI in its design and lack of transparency, requiring careful consideration and evaluation.·         When investing in AI, businesses should consider their goals, data strategy, talent requirements, compliance, and the potential for ROI.·         AI startups play a crucial role in driving innovation and providing cost-effective solutions for businesses of all sizes.·         AI is revolutionizing industries such as healthcare and banking, enabling disease identification, drug discovery, robotic surgeries, and personalized financial recommendations.·         Ethical dilemmas in AI include defining acceptable uses, protecting user rights and privacy, honoring intellectual property, and addressing environmental impact.Chapters00:00  Introduction00:31 The Transformative Power of AI03:13 AI in Health and Science04:07 AI in Personal Life and Retail05:05 The Difference Between AI and GenAI06:18 Considerations for Investing in AI12:18 The Role of AI Startups29:53 Ethical Dilemmas and Considerations in AI34:57 Closing Thoughts and How to Connect 
In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug spoke with Diane Kenyon about the pivotal role of community in both professional and personal spheres. They discussed the value of intentionality in community involvement, the give-and-take nature of community building, and the need for regular contact and follow-up to maintain relationships. With Diane's extensive experience in the Austin community and tech industry, she offered valuable insights into the dynamics of building and nurturing communities, whether in physical or virtual spaces.  Key Takeaways: 0:00 - Introduction 3:27 - Being Intentional in Community Engagement·         Set clear goals: Emphasize the importance of defining specific objectives when engaging with communities, whether it's expanding professional networks or pursuing personal interests.·         Proactive networking efforts: Take intentional actions such as attending networking events, joining professional groups, and reaching out to individuals to foster meaningful connections. 6:40 - Community's Impact on Professional Growth·         Leveraging networking opportunities: Share anecdotes highlighting how active participation in community networks has led to valuable professional opportunities, demonstrating the significance of networking in career advancement.·         Collaboration and knowledge sharing: Engaging with diverse communities exposes individuals to new ideas, insights, and perspectives, fostering personal and professional growth. 12:37 - Effective Connection Management·         Utilize online platforms: Recommend leveraging platforms like LinkedIn for managing and nurturing connections, emphasizing the importance of maintaining an updated profile and engaging with connections regularly.·         Consistent follow-up: Stress the significance of following up with contacts after networking events or meetings to strengthen relationships and sustain connections over time. 19:19 - Navigating Community in Hybrid Work Environments·         Balancing internal and external networks: Discuss the importance of nurturing both internal work communities and external professional networks in hybrid work setups to maintain collaboration and support.·         Creating inclusive spaces: Implement virtual coffee meetings, team-building activities, and online forums to ensure all team members, regardless of location, feel connected and engaged. 22:29 - Actionable Steps for Community Building·         Set SMART goals: Advise setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals for community engagement to track progress and stay focused.·         Utilize networking platforms: Encourage utilizing platforms like Facebook events, Meetup, and LinkedIn to discover and connect with like-minded individuals and organizations. Guest Bio:Diane Kenyon is an IT Leader who actively Pays It Forward by career coaching individuals in transition, mentoring, and participating in the Austin technology and non-profit communities. She is active with Austin Women in Technology, Innotech Austin, Society of Information Management, Austin Technology Council, and LinkedIn Local. Diane serves on the UT MIS Advisory Board. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Technology from Purdue University and an MBA from Kennesaw State University.Personal LinkedIn - About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -
In this special episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, we delve into the intricate balance between motherhood and executive leadership. Our esteemed guests share their personal stories and insights, revealing how they navigate the dual responsibilities of raising children and steering corporate strategies. They explore key themes such as decision-making, problem-solving, and the critical support systems that enable success in both roles. The conversation further highlights the evolving societal attitudes toward working moms and the growing recognition of the need to harmonize work and family life. 00:00 Introduction: Being a Mother and an Executive Leader06:50 The Importance of Self-Care27:13 Being Present and Engaged with Family35:07 Setting Intentions and Deviating from Societal Expectations45:36 Giving Oneself Grace and Embracing Personal Growth
Overview:In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, Melissa Aarskaug and Kinga Vajda discussed the importance of embracing the “grey zone” in personal and professional growth. Together, they explored the importance of navigating uncertainty, overcoming challenges, and embracing personal growth and professional development in the face of ambiguity. They also shared insights from their own journeys and offered valuable tools and practices for thriving in life's grey areas. Key Takeaways 0:00 - Introduction 02:09 - Defining the Grey Zone·         The grey zone encompasses uncertainty, ambiguity, and adversity, where decisions aren't always clear-cut. 03:59 - Challenges in the Grey Zone ·         Individuals face challenges like uncertainty, lack of direction, and conflicting advice from well-meaning sources.·         Navigating ambiguity requires introspection, decisiveness, and the ability to filter advice effectively.·         Embracing ambiguity involves exploration, curiosity, and adapting based on personal values and goals. 09:29 - Positive Outcomes of Embracing the Grey Zone ·         Embracing ambiguity can lead to unexpected opportunities and personal growth beyond predefined paths. 13:36 - Shifting Mindsets to Embrace Ambiguity·         Strategic planning, alignment, and communication are crucial for navigating ambiguity effectively.·         Understanding individual preferences and fostering a supportive community can help individuals thrive in the grey zone. 17:18 - Adversity and Resilience·         Resilience requires acknowledging discomfort and fostering growth, rather than merely toughening up in the face of challenges.·         Advocating for a trauma-informed approach emphasizes understanding and supporting individuals through their challenges. 22:51 - Coaching in the Grey Zone·         Effective coaching involves understanding clients' unique circumstances and co-creating personalized plans.·         Prioritizing clients' goals, fostering conscious decision-making, and valuing community support are essential for effective coaching in the grey zone. 27:41 - Project Management Approach to Personal Growth·         Applying project management principles to personal development involves constant reprioritization, strategic planning, and leveraging community support.·         A structured approach helps individuals navigate uncertainty and achieve their goals with clarity and focus. 32:21 - Top Tools for Navigating the Grey Zone ·         Constant reprioritization: Being conscious of strategic goals while adapting to changing circumstances.·         Conscious decision-making: Making informed choices aligned with personal values and aspirations.·         Valuing community support: Building a supportive network to provide guidance and encouragement during challenging times. Guest Bio:As the founder of Execute Your Intentions, LLC, Kinga Vajda is renowned for guiding visionary leaders and innovators on transformative journeys. With a passion for strategic innovation and a commitment to empowering others, Kinga has dedicated her career to helping individuals and teams turn bold intentions into impactful realities. About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -  
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast. In today’s episode, Melissa Aarskaug and her guest Salena Accardo discussed effective monetization strategies for AI in various industries, emphasizing the importance of key performance indicators, usage metering, and hyper-personalization. They also highlighted the need for organizations to establish governance structures that align with their values and risk tolerance and discussed the importance of balancing productivity and compliance when integrating AI in the workplace.  Key Takeaways: 0:00 - Introduction·         Melissa introduces Salena Accardo, Vice President and Founding Practice Leader at Gartner's Executive Advisory Services, to discuss strategies for monetizing AI across industries. 1:11 - Effective Strategies for Monetizing AI·         Discussion about the complementary nature of AI, highlighting its potential to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in various operations.·         Key strategies include establishing clear key performance indicators, implementing usage metering, improving quoting and pricing accuracy, forecasting demand, and modernizing billing practices.·         Examples like Microsoft's integration of OpenAI into Bing showcase the power of hyper-personalization in driving ad revenue and consumer engagement.  4:13 - Risks Associated with AI Deployments·         Discussion of the lack of regulation surrounding AI and the potential risks associated with data consumption and privacy.·         Organizations are advised to develop robust governance structures based on their comfort levels with data sharing and compliance with national regulations. 7:51 - Utilizing AI like ChatGPT·         An exploration of practical applications of AI tools such as ChatGPT in enhancing grammar, writing, and customer support experiences.·         Examples from companies like Tesla and Cardinal Health demonstrate AI's role in revolutionizing consumer interactions and support systems. 11:00 - Shaping Behavior and Preferences with AI·         AI's focus on hyper-personalization is predicted to streamline consumer experiences, saving time and increasing engagement.·         Examples from streaming services like Netflix illustrate the impact of AI in delivering tailored content and minimizing decision fatigue. 15:18 - Compliance and Regulatory Considerations·         Why organizations should align their AI usage with national regulations and compliance standards, especially in handling sensitive data like personally identifiable information (PII). 17:24 - Metrics Tied to AI Productivity·         While effectiveness metrics are prevalent, productivity metrics are still evolving, with preliminary data indicating AI's efficacy in education and lesson planning. 19:36 - AI Tools for Personal and Professional Use·         Grammarly, ChatGPT, Socratic, and Chegg are recommended for enhancing productivity and educational experiences.·         AI-powered tools can assist with tasks ranging from time management to recipe searching, offering personalized solutions for everyday challenges. 21:52 - Advice for Employees and Individuals·         Embrace AI with an exploratory mindset, seeking out tools that address specific challenges in both professional and personal contexts.·         Stay open-minded and receptive to the transformative potential of AI in improving efficiency and effectiveness in daily life.·         By leveraging AI technologies responsibly and adaptively, individuals and organizations can unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation in an increasingly digitized world.  Guest Bio:Salena Accardo is a seasoned business executive and technology expert renowned for her prowess in fostering the growth and optimization of both public and private enterprises. With a wealth of experience under her belt, Salena has been instrumental in guiding organizations towards international expansion, diversification into new product verticals, and achieving remarkable enhancements in gross margins, sometimes reaching an impressive 50%. Having collaborated with multi-billion-dollar global corporations as well as smaller, privately held firms (with revenues below $100 million), Salena has spearheaded multi-million-dollar systems integrations, forged strategic partnerships on domestic and international fronts, and broadened product portfolios. These endeavors have consistently yielded tangible results, including enhanced organizational efficiency, augmented gross revenue, and bolstered EBITDA for the entities she has served. About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - - 
In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, Melissa Aarskaug and guest Nina Johnsondiscussed the importance of building diverse teams and shared strategies for managing and leading effective teams. They emphasized the value of bringing in individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets to enhance team performance and decision-making. They also shared insights on addressing toxic employees, managing remote teams, rebuilding trust, and effective leadership strategies.  Key Insights: 00:00 - Intro01:09 - The Party AnalogyBuilding the perfect team is like hosting the perfect party. Discussion about the importance of diversity in experiences and thought leadership within teams to stimulate innovation and growth. 04:16 - Evolving Perspectives on Team BuildingEarly career in their careers, many team builders hire people just like them. Nina spoke about her shift in approach to hiring, moving away from replicating her own skill set towards seeking diverse perspectives and experiences. 06:23 - Interviewing for Diversity: When starting on an interview process for a team, understand the importance of assessing candidates for their unique perspectives and problem-solving abilities rather than solely focusing on technical skills. 11:54 - Addressing Team DysfunctionHow to handle situations where trust is broken or a team member proves to be toxic. Learn about proactive intervention and, when necessary, restructuring or exiting individuals to maintain team morale and productivity. 15:08 - Filling Team VacanciesA discussion on strategies for filling team vacancies, prioritizing internal growth opportunities and seeking candidates who complement existing team dynamics and skill sets. 16:47 -Nurturing Remote Team CultureWhen it comes to remote work, look for consistency in communication, fostering regular team interactions, and creating opportunities for virtual and in-person connections. 21:43 - Building Trust and Empathy How important is empathy in leadership? Nina and Melissa gave some examples of accommodating employees' personal commitments to foster trust and loyalty and spoke about the importance of addressing trust issues directly and facilitating open dialogue to rebuild team cohesion. 23:06 - Key Leadership Principles A conversation about top leadership principles, including customizing leadership approaches, recognizing the time investment required for effective team building, and trusting oneself to grow and adapt as a leader over time.  Guest Bio:Nina Johnson is a +20 year veteran in the consumer-packaged goods industry with specialized functional experience, including revenue growth management, go-to-market strategy, business planning, and category & consumer insights. The majority of her career has been working to grow one of the most iconic, recognizable brands in the world, Coca-Cola. She is known to have a strategic mindset with a holistic enterprise approach when solving problems. She can see both the big and the little picture at the same time. Her most recent role was the Vice President of Commercial Channel Strategy and Planning for one of the largest U.S. Coca-Cola bottlers, where she was responsible for developing the go-to-market strategy across the entire Coca-Cola portfolio, and across all channels of trade for the Midwest and West region. She has worked on innovative strategies that span new package pilots, flavor segmentation, and retail strategy. Nina holds an MBA from Kennesaw State University and a dual bachelors degree, one in Business Administration and one in Finance, from DePaul University. About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -
Building a Culture of Respect: Strategies for Leaders  Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast, where modern leaders find inspiration and guidance. In today's episode, host Melissa Aarskaug welcomes her friend Nicole Pletka, a trailblazer in technology and community activism. Nicole shares insights from her roles at Zeitcode and her work with Austin Women in Technology, highlighting the importance of respect in the workplace. Join us for a candid conversation on fostering respect, addressing challenges, and empowering others to thrive. Topics include: 00:00 – Introductions and overview 05:00 - Understanding Individual Communication Preferences - Effective communication is crucial in any workplace environment. Understanding individual communication preferences ensures that messages are conveyed clearly and respectfully, fostering better relationships and collaboration. 09:26 - Addressing Disrespectful Behavior Promptly - Allowing disrespectful behavior to persist can negatively impact team morale and productivity. Addressing it promptly sends a message that such behavior is not tolerated, setting clear expectations for respectful conduct. 15:14 - Advocating for Change and Leading by Example - Leaders play a crucial role in shaping workplace culture. By advocating for respect and leading by example, they inspire others to follow suit, creating a positive and supportive work environment. 26:13 - Fostering Open Communication within Teams - Open communication encourages transparency, trust, and collaboration within teams. It allows individuals to express concerns, provide feedback, and address issues effectively, leading to improved team dynamics and performance. 31:40 - Prioritizing Self-Respect and Self-Care - Self-respect is the foundation for advocating for respect in all aspects of life. Prioritizing self-care and positive self-talk enables individuals to set boundaries, maintain confidence, and navigate challenging situations with resilience. As we come to the end of another insightful episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, we want to give a big thanks to Nicole Pletka for sharing her valuable insights with us today. Her down-to-earth approach to fostering respect in the workplace reminds us that simple acts of kindness and understanding can go a long way. Remember, respect starts with each one of us. So, let's continue to uplift and support one another on our journey towards success. Thanks for tuning in, and until next time, keep connecting and growing! Guest Bio:Starting her career in anthropology and environmental science, Nicole Pletka found her passion for tech by using GIS to answer archaeological hypotheses in her Master’s research.  Nicole currently serves as the Director of Operations and Project Management at Zeitcode, an Austin, Texas based software development firm focused on creating custom applications for a variety of clients. In this role, she not only creates the project delivery process for Zeitcode, but she also provides consultation and software solutions in support of a few large, corporate Project Management Offices. Among several professional affiliations, Nicole is the Programs Director and President elect for Austin Women in Technology where she organizes monthly networking events. She has also volunteered her time at several professional conferences by moderating expert panels on topics including diversification of employment practices, corporate culture, data privacy, and Web3. Nicole believes in strengths-based leadership, and she is intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. Outside of work, Nicole finds joy playing with her dog, dancing, spending time with her family, and supporting her close friends.  About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - - 
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast with your host, Melissa Aarskaug. Today, with guest Wendy Howell, we discussed the dynamic world of networking and connections, exploring how these vital components can drive meaningful impact in both professional and personal spheres. Join us as we uncover practical strategies, personal anecdotes, and valuable insights into fostering meaningful relationships and community engagement.  00:00 – Introductions and overview 01:25 - Investing in Meaningful Connections - Prioritize building genuine connections in networking endeavors. Authentic relationships can lead to valuable opportunities and collaborations.  08:18 - Strategic Networking Practices - Implement memory techniques and personal connection strategies to enhance networking effectiveness. Small gestures and genuine interest in others can go a long way in fostering meaningful connections.  15:30 - Balancing Networking Commitments - Strike a balance between networking activities and personal boundaries. Prioritize engagements that align with your goals and values to maximize impact.  20:18 - Networking for Community Engagement - Engage with community-driven initiatives to expand your network and contribute to meaningful causes. Participating in such initiatives not only fosters connections but also allows for collective impact and social change. [] 27:16 – Use Multiple Networking Platforms - Leverage networking platforms like LinkedIn to expand your professional network and stay connected with like-minded individuals. Actively engage in online communities and groups to foster connections and exchange valuable insights and opportunities.  Whether you're navigating mentorship, refining your networking skills, or balancing professional commitments, this episode offers valuable guidance to empower your journey toward impactful connections. Thank you for joining us, and we look forward to exploring more impactful topics in future episodes. Guest Bio:Wendy Howell is the CEO of Executive Council Network. Previous roles include Chief of Staff at Cisco and executive roles in M&A and Strategy at Symantec and VERITAS.  Wendy is a people alchemist, a true connector, and a community builder “for good”.  She is a staunch advocate for giving back. She is deeply involved in non-profit as a Managing Director of Girls In Tech, Co-Chair of 50/50 Women On Boards, a passionate supporter of Code To College, board member of The Kindness Campaign and Wonders & Worries, former chair of Girl Scouts of Central Texas Women Of Distinction, and a judge for TiE Young Entrepreneurs. She is particularly passionate about supporting females, the underserved, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She considers herself a “rebel with a cause” and is known for her dogged tenacity and creativity to support her passion for giving back! Nothing excites her more than creating a positive social impact and helping to catalyze the next generation of empowered leaders. About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -
In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug welcomed Laurie Canepa, a seasoned expert in executive recruitment, to discuss the evolving trends and challenges impacting the recruitment of executives in today's dynamic job market. Laurie shared valuable insights into market trends, the importance of flexibility, and the significance of cultural fit and preparation in the recruitment process. Key Points Covered: 00:00 – Introductions and overview 02:20 - Market Trends Impacting Executive Recruitment ·         The increasing importance of flexibility in today's job market, highlighting shifts towards remote, hybrid, and on-site work models.·         The evolution of remote roles and the trade-offs candidates must consider between leadership positions and remote work. 09:29 - Navigating Economic Uncertainty and Compensation Negotiations ·         Insights into compensation negotiations, stressing the importance of transparency and understanding the full compensation package.·         How can candidates effectively negotiate compensation while maintaining focus on cultural fit and long-term career goals. 16:29 - Preparing for Successful Interviews and Building Personal Branding ·         Valuable tips for candidates on preparing for interviews, including thorough research, effective communication, and authenticity.·         Highlighting the significance of personal branding, emphasizing the role of platforms like LinkedIn in showcasing professional identity and engagement. 30:33 - Tips for Different Interview Formats ·         Practical advice for navigating different interview formats, from phone interviews to virtual and onsite meetings.·         Discussing the importance of preparation and practice to overcome challenges and make a positive impression during interviews. From understanding market trends to mastering interview preparation, today’s episode offers actionable strategies for achieving success in executive job hunting.  Guest Bio:Laurie Canepa began her career in Finance and Accounting in 1997, and transitioned into recruiting in Texas in 2006, earning notable accomplishments throughout her career. Her 17+ years of expertise within the Texas market and her network of top Finance and Accounting talent are key attributes Laurie brings to the Managing Director of Finance and Accounting Search role at StevenDouglas.  Laurie is known by clients and candidates alike for her dedication to excellence in the recruiting process, and her unique ability to connect with the people she works and supports. These qualities have made her a “Recruiting Professional of Choice” in the Texas market. Laurie excels at placing positions from mid and senior-level F&A professionals to C-Suite roles in organizations ranging from non-profits to global, publicly-traded corporations. Prior to joining StevenDouglas, Laurie spent over 15 years as a Partner and Division Director for one of the top boutique Accounting and Finance Search firms in Texas. As the top producer there, she played a critical role in bringing the firm to its pinnacle, creating major growth opportunities and an array of successful placements. The first 10 years of Laurie’s career were spent gaining hands-on experience in the world of public accounting, as well as executing industry accounting as a Corporate Controller. About Melissa Aarskaug:I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space. Personal LinkedIn - LinkedIn - -