Why We Started the Learn To Lead Podcast
Learn To Lead is a podcast that explores the world of leadership development and shares stories about the journey we all take learning to lead. On our show, we talk about how people can lead teams more effectively and how organizations can enhance their approaches to developing the leaders of tomorrow. We dig deep and talk to our guests about their own journeys of professional and personal development.
We speak to authors, professors, artists, and business and community leaders about how they developed as a leader and how they are working to develop future leaders.
Jennifer Brenneman is a Senior Director of Leadership Development at MongoDB. Prior to her work at MongoDB, Jennifer worked in Leadership Development and Instructional Leadership at Teach For All. Thus far, her career has focused on supporting adults to achieve their potential through facilitated experiences, coaching, and leadership development programs. On this episode, we discussed the difference between a career built on a foundation of values rather than goals, why Jennifer isn't interested in "building a career," and why knowing yourself is arguably one of the most important skills to develop. Finally, Jennifer shares a bit about how becoming a parent changed her work and some of the misconceptions folks often carry about work-life balance.
Morag Barrett is a highly accomplished keynote speaker, leadership development expert, and bestselling author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships and The Future-Proof Workplace. Morag is the founder and CEO of SkyeTeam, a boutique leadership development firm, and has supported more than 15,000 leaders from 20 countries and on 4 continents achieve outstanding results by improving the effectiveness of their leadership and teams. On this episode, we discuss how she found her way (accidentally) into leadership development, what advice she'd give her younger self, and why it's so important to cultivate a sense of reflection for leaders. Finally, she shares her simple technique for staying focused on the right goals and getting the right work done.
Niiamah Ashong is the Founder of the Outliers' Edge Multiverse, a leadership expert, and a high-performance coach. His work focuses on what you can do when you realize you have a different perspective or don't "fit in" -- when you're an outlier. Niiamah's experiences working at organizations as varied as the leading global consulting firm Deloitte and cutting-edge tech companies have given him a unique perspective on what it takes for leaders to grow and ultimately achieve their goals. On this episode, we discuss why Niiamah believes it is essential that all leaders understand with deep clarity what makes them unique and the importance of differentiating between your Zone of Excellence and your Zone of Genius. Niiamah also shares a story about "the moment [he] became a Black man" and what that moment meant for his life, his leadership, and his career. Finally, Matt and Niiamah discuss how he works with growing leaders to shift from thinking about their productivity to how they can think about managing their energy.
In over 80 episodes, Abilitie’s Learn to Lead podcast has inspired listeners to focus on more than metrics, embrace failure as an option, and be more vulnerable leaders.
Susan Kushnir, co-author of Decoding Executives: What They Say, What They Mean, and What You Should Do, has enjoyed a career in learning and development spanning the non-profit, public, and private sectors with a focus on leadership and people management. She has been the Head of Learning & Development at Sterling National Bank, Director of Lean Six Sigma & Director of Global Learning and Development at S&P Global, and Director of Organizational Development, Learning, Talent and Engagement for the Girl Scouts of the USA. On this episode, we discuss her advice for folks who are early in their learning & development careers, what she wishes people understood about how to get a lot done with few resources, and the lessons she's learned about what it really takes to achieve a goal. Finally, she shares some key insights about interacting with executives and how leaders can better teach these lessons to younger generations entering the workforce.
Vaishali Jadhav is a Global Leadership Development Program Designer and Facilitator at the University of Texas at Austin, a Culterati Summit Fellow, an Instructor at the Kendra Scott Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, and an all-around leadership development practitioner. Her career has followed the "red thread" of building conscious leaders in organizations like Gallup, Whole Foods Market, Indeed, and, most recently, Procore Technologies. Throughout all her roles and the time she's spent advancing leadership programs at organizations, she has maintained a focus on growing purpose-driven leaders connected to their organizations' greater missions. On this episode, we discuss how she developed her own ability to connect to heart-led leadership practices, what she means when she says that the best leaders understand their purpose, and what she's learned making the move from professional services to technology. Finally, Vaishali shares how people leaders at all organizations can adjust their practices to uplift their direct reports and connect them to the bigger purpose -- without spending any extra money or drastically upending their organizations.
Jeff Levin is a National Managing Director at a global consulting firm with over 20 years of experience leveraging passion, technology, and innovative solutions to lead and inspire teams. He was also one of Learn to Lead host Matt Confer's early leaders. On this episode, we discuss the ways that Jeff's leadership has grown and changed since his early years, how he's adjusted to manage a group of over 1,000 individuals, and how he hopes to continue growing into the future. Matt and Jeff also discuss how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has informed each of their relationships with work and how Jeff is working to maintain a strong organizational culture even as more members of his team only know each other through Zoom.
Jaimie Krause is a Senior Manager of Learning & Development at Indeed, the world's "#1 Job Site" where she oversees all learning and development initiatives for Indeed’s sales enablement professionals. With a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Jaimie's works at the intersection of I/O psychology, talent development, and corporate L&D strategy. She designs programs and coaches people to drive personal and commercial productivity helping people who help people get jobs. On this episode, we discussed the tactical challenges and opportunities when developing leaders in a global organization, the importance of encouraging your learners to think about how skills will be applied at work, and why she thinks the senior leadership at Indeed has been successful in modeling vulnerability during COVID-19.
Bryan Clayton is the Co-Founder and CEO of GreenPal, an online marketplace that connects homeowners with local lawn care professionals. GreenPal has been called the “Uber for lawn care” by Entrepreneur magazine and has over 100,000 active users completing thousands of transactions per day. Before starting GreenPal, Bryan Clayton founded Peachtree Inc., one of the largest landscaping companies in the state of Tennessee, growing it to over $10 million a year in annual revenue before it was acquired by Lusa holdings in 2013. On this episode, we discussed Bryan’s journey into the tech world, what he’s learned about running a rapidly growing company, and being in it for the long haul. Bryan also shared some book recommendations and explained why as the CEO he still spends an hour or two doing direct customer support daily.
A senior leadership/board advisor, educator, executive coach, and bestselling author, David Nour is internationally recognized as the leading expert on applications of strategic relationships in profitable growth, sustained innovation, and lasting change. The author of ten books, including bestsellers Relationship Economics, Co-Create, and Curve Benders (Wiley, 2021). On this episode, we discussed David's perspective on collaboration, why he always asks the question "Who else should we involve in this project?", and how he helps companies build cultures of innovation and iteration. Finally, we discuss his best advice for prioritizing the most important work and why he thinks it's important for organizations to understand "prudent risk" if they want to become more creative.
Erin Diehl is a veteran improviser from the top improvisational training programs in Chicago, including The Second City, i.O. Theater and The Annoyance Theatre. Erin conducts workshops across the country leveraging improvisational techniques to improve employees’ skills in corporate settings. Her work with clients such as United Airlines, PepsiCo, Deloitte, and The Obama Foundation earned her the 2014 Chicago RedEye Big Idea Award and has nominated her for the 2015-2019 Chicago Innovations Award. She is also a proud member of The Chicago Innovation Awards Women’s Cohort and a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. On this episode, we discussed what improv has to do with the corporate world, how her first client set her on the path to make a leap into entrepreneurship, and her advice for anyone trying to manage their time wisely. FInally, we discussed why she is most proud in her career of successfully coercing over 12,000 professionals to chicken dance.
Wes Schroll is a serial entrepreneur who started his first company at 14-years old. After two small start up ventures, he wrote a business plan for what would one day become Fetch Rewards during his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In March of 2021, Fetch closed its Series D round of financing with $220 Million led by SoftBank. Fetch is a bonafide "Unicorn" with a valuation of over $1 Billion. On this episode, we discuss some of the lessons Wes has learned along the way, how it felt for him to realize the Fetch Rewards app has more daily users than there are residents of New York City, and his trouble with productivity advice. Finally, Wes shares his approach to hiring leaders in his organization and why the two most important things he looks for are how well they understand the product and whether or not they can give and receive feedback.
Learn To Lead is Hosted by Matthew Confer, the Vice President of Strategy at Abilitie
Matt has spoken on the topic of decision making at the TEDx Conference, and on the topic of leadership development at The Learning & Development Executive Summit. His work has been featured by The Association For Talent Development and his recent articles have appeared in Training Industry Magazine.