Show cover of The Leading Edge

The Leading Edge

The Leading Edge podcast is hosted by Tom Stewart where he talks to people who are taking enterprises to the next level of achievement and talk about the ideas that make that possible


Innovation That Starts With People With Gretchen Goffe, Founder and CEO of DTLiveLAB
Gretchen Goffe is the Founder and CEO of DTLiveLAB, which helps companies drive revenue and improve the customer experience using a human-centered approach to innovation. DTLiveLAB works with clients spanning all industries and sizes, from small agencies to Fortune 100 giants such as Nationwide, Ohio State University, Smithfield, and more.  As the CEO, Goffe bridges the gap between executives and employees, helping them innovate and develop a customer experience roadmap. She personally manages client relationships and is continuously developing new frameworks and teaching methods. DTLiveLAB offers a “learn-by-doing” approach that includes engagement rewards, live interviews, real-world examples, and coached sprints that always keep the customer top-of-mind. In this episode: When it comes to innovation, there are two ways most companies look at it: like a machine and like a garden. With an innovation machine, companies are responsible for the design, construction, and management. With a garden, companies sow the seeds and let the magic happen. But, according to design thinking strategist Gretchen Goffe, there’s one major component that both approaches need: a human-centered approach.  Goffe has helped notable organizations like Nationwide, The Ohio State University, and Smithfield cultivate innovation opportunities through a customer-centric lens. By adopting the customer’s perspective throughout the entire buying journey, an innovator can look for opportunities not just in the product or service itself, but at many other places where there are pain points, unmet needs, or simply ways to do things better.  How can you inspire your team to generate these innovative ideas? One of the most powerful tools to understand the customer journey is empathy — walking in the customer’s shoes. But according to Goffe, 90% of employees never get to talk to a customer. In order to foster more empathy in the workplace, Goffe ensures that each member of her team engages with a customer down their internal supply chain. The results? An innovative team with a customer mindset. Goffe talks about this and more as she joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Gretchen Goffe, Founder and CEO of DTLiveLAB, to talk about cultivating innovation through a human-centric lens. Goffe explains the steps a company should take to fill growth gaps, where to find opportunities for innovation, and how to empower employees to understand the customer perspective.
30:01 05/04/2022
Coach: What Great Coaches Can Teach Us About the Four Kinds of Leaders With Best-Selling Author, Justin Spizman
Justin Spizman is an award-winning and best-selling author, ghostwriter, editor, and proposal writer. Since beginning his writing career in law school, Spizman has worked on numerous nonfiction books and successful book proposals. He now works with people from all different backgrounds, upbringings, and expertise (including celebrities, athletes, and entertainers) to author and consult on their books. Working closely with some of the most successful people in their respective industries, Spizman has gained strong insight and understanding into the most efficient and effective ways to create a marketable story. He collaborates with clients to not only write books, but also strengthen brands, build legacies, and create enormous opportunities. In this episode: Pat Summitt, the former Head Coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team, once said, “Most people get excited about the games, but I get excited about practice because that’s my classroom.” This wisdom doesn’t only apply to athletic coaches. Whether on the court or in an office, leaders have to be students of the game. This is just one takeaway from award-winning author Justin Spizman’s study of the chemistry and capability of coaching, which he describes in his book, Coach: The Greatest Teachers in Sports and Their Lessons for Us All. In his book, Spizman interviews 168 renowned leaders in sports, including famous coaches like Pat Summitt, Bill Belichick, and Aimee Boorman, and also dozens of unknowns who lead high school teams or stand at the side of individuals and teams in minor sports, to discover their strategies for developing top-performing players and teams. Although every coach has a unique approach, Spizman breaks down their action plans into four main coaching styles: the strategists, the team builders, the technicians, and the closers. When you understand your coaching style, you can better play to your strengths, hire for your weaknesses, build an impressive team, and help individual players reach their full potential. However, these four categories aren’t the only keys to success. No matter if you’re in business or sports, all coaches need fortitude, dedication, and an insatiable desire to learn and improve. Spizman talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart talks with best-selling author and consultant, Justin Spizman, about lessons on leadership from some of the best coaches in the sports industry. Spizman shares how this wisdom applies to the business world, guides listeners through the four coaching styles, and explains why it’s crucial for leaders to be a student of their craft.
35:02 04/20/2022
How to Design and Build a Talent Machine With Marc Effron, President of The Talent Strategy Group
Marc Effron is the President of The Talent Strategy Group, a company that helps the world’s leading organizations increase the quality and depth of their talent. As President, Effron leads the firm’s global consulting, education, and publishing businesses. He also co-founded The Talent Management Institute, created TalentQ magazine, and co-authored the Harvard Business Publishing best-seller One Page Talent Management.  Before founding The Talent Strategy Group, Effron was the VP of Talent Management at Avon Products and led the Global Leadership Consulting practice for Aon Hewitt. He received his BA from the University of Washington and his MBA from Yale School of Management. In this episode: The tight labor market has forced leaders to scramble to rethink and redevelop the ways they compete for top talent and ensure that they’re growing a strong team. In many companies, there’s a kind of panic — a feeling of being caught unprepared, a sense that they lack a talent strategy, and that talent tools that once served them well aren‘t working. According to Marc Effron, a leading thinker and practitioner in the talent field, these challenges are nothing new. Over the past decade, exit rates have been on a steady, uninterrupted climb. The difference nowadays is that these talent issues are more noticeable — and solving them more expensive. If you want better talent faster, Effron says, a “production mindset” is what’s going to get you there. You need to build a talent machine. Companies can raise the level of talent management if they look at talent acquisition and retention as if they were a production line. To develop a strong team, you must get clear on what you’re trying to build, who you want in the company, the raw materials you need (that is, what people you need to fill pivotal roles), and the ways in which you assemble it (that is, your hiring processes, training and development, and retention tools). Effron talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Marc Effron, President of The Talent Strategy Group, to talk about building a talent machine to solve hiring and retention challenges. Effron breaks down the critical components of a successful talent strategy, why you should invest in your top employees, and how to de-risk your talent production process.
35:52 04/06/2022
Why Don’t Businesses Talk Like People? With Schulich School of Business Professor, Grant Packard
Grant Packard is the Associate Professor of Marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. He studies the consumption and production of language, and his expertise lies in data-intensive marketing strategies in retail, media, cultural products, financial services, and consumer packaged goods. Professor Packard’s original research appears in outlets such as the Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, Psychological Science, MIT Sloan Management Review, and others. He also currently serves as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Consumer Psychology and as an Editorial Board Member at the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing. Professor Packard received his PhD from the University of Michigan, his MBA from McGill University, and his BS from the University of Colorado Boulder. He was selected as an MSI Young Scholar by the Marketing Science Institute and received the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. In this episode: A few simple changes in words you and your people use when talking to customers can profoundly affect customers’ feelings about your company, their loyalty and satisfaction, and their likelihood to buy. Advanced linguistic studies show that many of the scripts given to customer service people — and many of the ideas companies have about what makes for effective communication — are in fact wrong. How so? Professor Grant Packard talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. Professor Packard has spent a decade researching the microeconomics of language, reviewing and analyzing transcripts of calls and online interactions, to uncover how we speak and how others receive and process what we say. What he has learned overturns a lot of conventional wisdom about how to engage with customers. Often, he finds, frontline employees are carefully schooled to speak as company representatives and mask their individual identities. That, it turns out, is a mistake.  In their customer service scripts, employees are often taught to use “we” instead of the first person, signaling that they’re no more than a cog in the wheel of the company. But this tactic won’t get you very far with the customer. According to Professor Packard’s findings, customers prefer warm, personal, engaging conversations with employees — while at the same time, they want to know that the person they’re talking to has the skills and authority to solve their problems. That combination of empathy and expertise is what customers want. When you focus on the individual and give employees a playbook — not a script — you’re creating a better experience for all parties involved (and boosting ROI for your business)! In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart talks with Schulich School of Business Professor, Grant Packard, about the power of language and how it can make or break your business. From warm and confident speech to the ins and outs of customer service scripts, Professor Packard breaks down his research findings, discusses the ways in which communication goes wrong in business, and shares strategies to improve connections between employees and consumers.
36:22 03/23/2022
Leadership in a Digital Age: What's Different? with Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani of Strategy&
Paul Leinwand is the Global Managing Director of Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting group, where he advises clients on the topics of strategy, growth, and capability building. Leinwand is also an Adjunct Professor of Management and Strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He has co-authored three books as well as several articles in the Harvard Business Review and strategy+business. Mahadeva Matt Mani is a Partner at PwC’s Strategy&. As a global leader of their transformation platform, he works with companies and leaders across industries to achieve improvements in business performance and organization cost and effectiveness. Mani has over 25 years of industry and consulting experience, and he’s co-authored one book and many articles published in the Harvard Business Review and strategy+business. In this episode: Digital transformation isn’t just about the latest and greatest technology — it’s also about leadership. But how is digital changing the work and role of a leader? What do leaders need to succeed in the digital age? Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani talk about this and more as they join Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. With the rise of digital, many leaders are worried about keeping up with the newest tool or strategy. But, Leinwand and Mani say there’s a more important question that leaders need to address: how are you going to lead your organization through these changes? These two strategy experts have thoroughly researched the effects of digital transformation on leaders in a multi-year, in-depth study of leadership, digitization, and transformation at a dozen companies, ranging from Honeywell to Adobe, Microsoft to Komatsu. In their book, Beyond Digital: How Great Leaders Transform Their Organizations and Shape the Future, they detail how these and other enterprises have navigated this shift and the key steps leaders should follow to find success digitally. Instead of focusing on processes and tools, Leinwand and Mani say that companies must begin by reimagining their place in the world, starting from there to rethink strategy, talent, and the products and services they sell. As the digital world evolves, so do the expectations of a leader. How do you uniquely contribute to customers and stakeholders? What value can you bring to your ecosystem of networks to create a win-win for everyone? The foundations of success in the digital age are laid in a values-based circle of trust between you, your team, and your customers. Focusing on this will help you and your organization stay relevant — regardless of the digital disruption around you. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart sits down with Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani, Global Managing Director and Partner of Strategy&, respectively. Together, they discuss how leadership is changing in this new digital age. Leinwand and Mani lay out the steps leaders should take to navigate current changes, the skillsets leaders need to succeed digitally, and how to gain privileged insights from a value-based customer relationship.
40:27 03/09/2022
How Digital Do You Really Need to Be? With Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School
Julian Birkinshaw is a Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School. He has been on the faculty for 23 years, where he is also the Academic Director of the Insitute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital. Birkinshaw is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the Academy of International Business. Birkinshaw is a recognized expert in innovation, entrepreneurship, and renewal in large corporations. He has written 15 books, including Fast/Forward and Becoming a Better Boss. He’s also published over 90 articles in journals such as the Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and the Strategic Management Journal. In this episode: As the demand for digital intensifies, companies are feeling pressure to quickly digitize every facet of their strategy. This begs the question: is the “transform or die” mentality the key to success? When it comes to digital transformation, how do you separate strategic need from hype and salesmanship? Professor Julian Birkinshaw, an expert in innovation, strategy, and entrepreneurship, is looking beyond the headlines and using data to drive insight and answer the question: “How digital do you really need to be?”  Although digital disruption is a phenomenon that everyone is talking about, Birkinshaw says that much of the change is concentrated in the technology, media, telecom, and retail industries. Analyzing data from Fortune 500 companies between the mid-90s, when the Internet first started to become a business phenomenon, and present day, Birkinshaw found that only 17 out of 500 companies are less than 25 years old. The other 483 have been in existence since 1995 — or much earlier. What exactly does that mean for your company in the era of digital?  Although the transformative mindset is top-of-mind with a focus on digital revolutionaries such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, there aren’t as many fully digital companies as you’d think. Your company doesn’t have to completely transform itself in the digital world, but you should learn to adapt to the demand.  Birkinshaw suggests that incumbents take a look at their industry and decide which strategy is best to adapt — whether that’s waiting out the disruption, fighting back, consolidating, or reinventing yourself. Above all, Birkinshaw advises the following: “We must not lose sight of our identity and our core [values], and we should not allow ourselves to be taken away from what it is that’s always made us successful.” Birkinshaw talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School, to talk about the truths of digitization. Birkinshaw breaks down the hype around digital disruption, shares stories of success and failure within digital transformation initiatives, and discusses the strategies established brands can use to become more agile in this fast-changing world.
34:48 02/23/2022
Analytics in Action: How a Startup Is Transforming Fashion Retailing with Jade Huang, Co-Founder and CEO of StyleSage
Jade Huang is the Co-founder and CEO of StyleSage, an AI-powered data analytics platform designed for the fashion, beauty, and home industries. An ex-fashion designer-turned-technologist, Huang has over 10 years of award-winning experience in digital strategy, design, and technology.  Huang is a frequent industry speaker, having presented in more than six countries over the span of her career. She studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design and holds a bachelor’s degree in international trade from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Huang also has an MPA in international economics from Columbia University and an MBA from INSEAD, where she was awarded the L'Oreal Scholarship for Creativity and Entrepreneurship Spirit. In this episode: In the era of digital transformation, information is power. And with increasing online accessibility, consumers now have more information at their fingertips than ever before — often more than retailers themselves. So how do brands keep up with this ultra-savvy, digitally native generation of customers? Award-winning technologist and former fashion designer Jade Huang talks about this and more as she joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. Huang has worked with world-class retailers including ASOS, Zalando, and Neiman Marcus, empowering them with real-time data so they can make more informed, market-driven, and profitable decisions. Her company, StyleSage, has been recognized by CNBC, Vogue, and more for its AI-powered, fast-track solutions for retailer success. Using image recognition and machine learning tools, StyleSage’s platform helps brands analyze the complex details behind a product, understand consumer purchase drivers, and stay up to date on the shifting trends of the fashion industry–even learning when and in what locations competitors put specific items on sale, for example.  With an extensive background in technology, Huang understands that digital is here to stay. When e-commerce first emerged, it was a very small part of retail, taking up between 1% and 5% of sales. Now, that number has jumped between 15% and 20% for hybrid businesses (and often much higher for digitally native brands). E-commerce initiatives and up-to-date market research are a must if you want to compete with the big-name brands. With StyleSage, companies that don’t have the scale and reach of larger retailers can still analyze local and global consumer trends to revolutionize their digital strategies–and big companies can track the behavior of rivals that might otherwise have flown beneath their radar.  In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart sits down with Jade Huang, Co-founder and CEO of StyleSage, to talk about transforming the retail industry through AI-powered data analytics. Huang shares how her company is helping retailers make data-driven decisions, the lessons she learned on self-care and building out processes, and why technology enablement is vital to the success of current retail brands.
43:06 02/09/2022
Stay Positive, Stay Curious, Stay Kind: How a Third-Generation Family Business Has Reimagined Its Operations — and Is Playing a Role in Bringing Manufacturing Back to the United States with Michael Ar
Michael Araten is the President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, a family holding company that manufactures plastic injection molding products for B2B and B2C markets, medical devices, food and pharma packaging, toys, and more. Araten also holds executive positions at The Rodon Group (Sterling Drive Ventures’ manufacturing division), SillDry Industries, LLC, and StartEngine — the largest equity crowdfunding platform in the US. Araten has played a key role in his community as a board member for various organizations, including the Almo Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, and KABOOM! He’s also on the Board of Trustees for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. In this episode: Just as talent became a budding topic during the pandemic, supply chain issues similarly weighed heavy on people’s minds — and businesses. In this episode of The Leading Edge, you’ll hear how one company has managed its suppliers and distributors through all the twists and turns of the last two years — and what you can learn from its success. When the pandemic first hit, a report by the National Center for the Middle Market indicated that the #1 area where executives felt least effective — and least able to control — was the supply chain. Michael Araten, who runs a third-generation family manufacturing company, felt the same. With pressure to uphold a business that’s been around since the late ‘50s, Araten knew he had to become flexible in order to survive. Within two weeks, Araten had a plan for change: he carved out space to meet the needs of the public, created molds for COVID-19 testing swabs, and changed 30% of his product. Now, as “normal” continues to be an elusive word, he has managed to avoid the supply-chain hassles from which so many other companies have suffered, and brought significant manufacturing capabilities back onshore from overseas. How did he do it?  By staying positive, kind, and curious, Araten was able to build optionality into his business and make a lasting impact on the manufacturing industry. On top of this, Araten says his major shift wouldn’t have been possible without key long-term relationships and a strong focus on the future. Araten talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Michael Araten, President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, to discuss how Araten’s family-owned business transformed itself during the pandemic. Together, they talk about the steps Araten took to keep his company afloat, the trends and challenges of reshoring manufacturing, and why catastrophes are a reason to double-down on your business values, not cut them back.
41:37 01/26/2022
The New Rules for Success in a New Role with Rob Cross, Founder and Chief Research Scientist at Connected Commons
Rob Cross is the Founder and Chief Research Scientist at Connected Commons, a consortium of over 100 leading organizations accelerating network research and practice. Cross is also the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Leadership at Babson College and Co-author of the November-December cover story of the Harvard Business Review, titled “How to Succeed Quickly in a New Role.” As a networking expert, Cross has worked with over 300 organizations, reaching thousands of leaders from the front line to the C-suite. He has identified ways to cultivate vibrant, effective networks at all levels of an organization and any career stage. Through writing, speaking, consulting, and course creation, Cross’ network strategies are transforming the way people lead, work, and live in a hyper-connected world. In this episode: Succeeding in a new role today does not look the same as it did 10 or 20 years ago. Conventional wisdom says that transitioning to a new position is about making a big difference fast. But studies of the most successful transitions show that the key to long-term accomplishment is to focus on developing your network, especially the internal network of peers, superiors, and subordinates — the team that gets work done in today’s cross-functional, interconnected, collaborative workplaces. So what steps can you take to flourish in the current professional climate? Networking expert Rob Cross talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises.  Whether you’ve been promoted, transferred to a new department or division, or been brought in from outside, the network is the key. Cross has practical strategies to help you reach success. For more than 20 years, Cross has studied the underlying networks of effective organizations and the collaborative practices of high performers. He’s found that the value of your network is critical if you want to thrive in a new role. As the digital world develops, Cross says that “...the way we work is more interdependent in these networks.” The rise of remote work has made networking even more important, as leaders and other key employees spend more time on calls, in Zoom meetings, and using digital communication tools such as Slack. It’s less important to be an individual star, and more important to be part of a constellation. So what does this mean for you? When you’re starting a new position, don’t try to sell or prove yourself. Instead, build relationships and trust within the organization for long-term success. The value of your network extends beyond your career transitions. Even with the right skills and experience, neglecting to nurture your existing network can lead to underperformance, a high churn rate, and slowed productivity down the road. In a recent article he co-authored for the Harvard Business Review, Cross references a Gartner statistic indicating that “49% of people promoted within their own companies are underperforming up to 18 months after those moves.” To combat this underperformance, you have to shift and adapt your network strategies. When moving up the ranks at your current company, it’s still important to create mutual wins among your network, be proactive in shaping your role, and engage with your team at all levels. After all, it’s the people in your network that will help you grow, scale, and prosper.  In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart sits down with Rob Cross, Founder and Chief Research Scientist at Connected Commons, to discuss current strategies for success in a new role. Cross talks about the steps you should take within the first 90 days of a new position, tips for navigating the pressure of a new role, and the principles that will maximize your network’s value.
39:14 01/12/2022
How Midsize Enterprises Can Fight — and Win — the War for Talent with Jeff Green, Co-Founder and Principal of PROXUS
Jeff Green is the Co-founder and Principal of PROXUS, a talent and HR professional services firm that helps organizations align their people with their business strategy so they can reach their full potential. In his current role, Green is responsible for driving long-term growth and profitability through strategic planning, business development, sales, and marketing. He also provides guidance to business leaders and HR executives, as well as coaching for PROXUS’ team of HR practitioners. Green has over 24 years of experience in HR management. Before founding PROXUS, he was the Owner and President of Granatt HR and the Founder and President of Competitive Edge Group LLC. Green has received the Business Leadership Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Philadelphia Chapter and a Minority Business Leader Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal. In this episode: The pandemic brought about an abundance of challenges, including the Great Resignation. This intense movement, which is still sweeping across the US, is impacting the growth of midsize companies in various industries. So what can organizations do to combat this issue, attract top talent, and retain strong employees? With an extensive history as an HR executive, Jeff Green reminds organizations that “your ability to scale up and grow is tied directly to your ability to find and retain the people that you need to support that growth.” Mid-market companies, in particular, are seeing tremendous opportunities in the marketplace — but they don’t have the staff to expand and take their businesses to the next level. That’s why Green founded his firm, PROXUS: to help companies align their people strategy with their business strategy and hire employees that will help their organizations thrive. Green recently co-authored an article for the Harvard Business Review on the best ways to attract and retain talent right now. His strategies? First, recognize that the war for talent is fought on two fronts — keeping talent and finding it. The better you do at the former, the easier the latter becomes. To help with retention, invest in opportunities for employee education and development, maintain a great culture and work environment, and strengthen talent management. If you want to attract the right individuals to your company, an employee-centered approach, stronger employer branding, and, above all, a more intentional, strategic approach will make a big difference.  Green talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Jeff Green, the Co-founder and Principal of PROXUS, to talk about his top strategies for resolving current recruitment and retention issues. Green shares the mistakes many companies make in their hiring approach — and how to avoid them. He also details the importance of implementing a solid HR infrastructure, empowering leaders with the necessary management skills, and cultivating a great workplace culture.
37:33 12/29/2021
Revolutionizing the Fan Experience with Ruby Newell-Legner, Founder of 7 Star Service
Ruby Newell-Legner is a consultant, speaker, trainer, and fan engagement expert. She is the Founder of 7 Star Service, where she helps sports, leisure, and entertainment venues create amazing fan experiences. Newell-Legner’s goal is to guide leaders in creating the ultimate guest experience and positive, engaging workplace cultures. Since 1996, she has used her expertise to transform over 60 professional sports teams and more than 90 stadiums. Newell-Legner is also a popular workshop presenter and speaker for annual conferences and has presented more than 2,500 programs in 23 countries. She is currently a workshop host with the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the Founder of the Sports Celebrity Speaker Workshop, where she helps current and retired professional athletes enhance their speaking skills and get connected with the NSA. In this episode: What goes into creating an exceptional customer experience? How does a positive work environment lead to a loyal fan base? Fan engagement expert Ruby Newell-Legner talks about this and more as she joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. Newell-Legner has consulted with and designed customized training programs for 66 professional sports teams and hundreds of facilities. With over two decades of expertise in the guest service and fan experience realm, she knows what it takes to revitalize a venue’s customer engagement plan. So where do companies go wrong? As she says, a fan’s happiness should not be dependent upon a team’s win or loss — the bells and whistles are, in fact, necessary elements for creating a memorable event. Oftentimes, executives and frontline employees fail to recognize that “they’re not just delivering a ballgame, they’re delivering an experience.” With Newell-Legner’s tried-and-true approach, businesses can convert customers into loyal fans by inspiring and educating their employees, focusing on their leadership teams, and transforming the culture of their organizations. According to Newell-Legner, the guest experience doesn’t begin when fans walk into the venue — it begins with a strong communication plan between executives and employees. When employees are engaged from the moment they join the team, empowered with information, and treated well by the leadership team, they are better equipped to build customer relationships and create raving fans. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart sits down with Ruby Newell-Legner, the Founder of 7 Star Service, to peel back the layers of a great guest experience. Together, they talk about enhancing customer loyalty and retention through an exceptional experience, the importance of strong communication across teams, and how companies can address engagement opportunities to transform their culture.
37:51 12/15/2021
Cultivating a Network of Advocacy For Women in the World after Covid with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Founder and CEO of Hewlett Consulting Partners
Sylvia Ann Hewlett is a world-renowned author, economist, and entrepreneur. She is the Founder and CEO of Hewlett Consulting Partners, a boutique consultancy focused on helping organizations leverage talents and bridge the divides of culture, gender, and generation. Dr. Hewlett is also the Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Center for Talent Innovation (formerly Center for Work-Life Policy), a non-profit leader in diversity and talent management that promotes diversity, equality, and inclusion. She is an advocate for the sponsorship of highly qualified women, people of color, and LGBTQ employees attempting to gain traction in their careers. As a celebrated speaker, Dr. Hewlett has spoken at MWC Barcelona (formerly the Mobile World Congress), the “Women at the Top” conference, and the White House. She is the most published author in the Harvard Business Review with 17 articles and has written 16 books, including When the Bough Breaks, Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor, and #MeToo in the Corporate World. In this episode: What can be done in the workplace for people of color and women? How has the pandemic affected the ways and means by which women progress in their careers? To discover the key to navigating this new world of work, Thomas A. Stewart joins Sylvia Ann Hewlett — whose pioneering work on the importance of sponsorship and the effects of “on-ramps and off-ramps” on women’s careers has impacted a new generation of women and work. Dr. Hewlett has long been an expert on the ways in which women's careers are interrupted or stymied. She is a Cambridge-educated economist and expert on gender in the workplace who has worked with leading organizations including Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Cartier, and the State Department. Throughout her career, Dr. Hewlett has focused on promoting progress for professionals despite their gender, age, sexual orientation, race, and culture in the office and beyond — and now she’s focused her attention on the ways the pandemic has disrupted the female workforce. Over the past year and a half, women, especially women of color, have left their places of work to take on the role of primary caregiver. Dr. Hewlett has studied the data: when a highly qualified woman steps off the career ladder to care for her family, she decreases her compensation by 18% upon her return to work. Further, Dr. Hewlett explains that only 90% of women who leave the workforce eventually return. How can women come back to work in their respective fields without a decrease in status or compensation? Dr. Hewlett believes that the answer can be found in sponsorship: when a higher-level executive invests their political capital in a protegee’s advancement. As she says, women can cultivate a more inclusive culture that promotes their advancement when advocating for one another. However, the value of a more flexible workplace comes at a cost, and remote and hybrid work structures have made sponsorship harder. As they continue to juggle home and work roles, women must take active steps to find and shape the sponsoring relationships so important to their career progression. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart talks with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, world-renowned author, economist, entrepreneur, and Founder and CEO of Hewlett Consulting Partners, to discuss the disadvantages women experience in the workplace and how to overcome them. Dr. Hewlett talks about the displacement of women’s roles in the workforce due to the pandemic, how to bring value to your business, and why sponsorship and advocacy are essential for building your career in the current climate.
37:44 12/01/2021
How to Win Through Customer Experience--in a World where Customers Are in Control with Douglas Longenecker, Tara Baumgarten, and Patricia O'Connell
Douglas Longenecker is the CMO, CEO, and Chief Collaboration Officer at //NKST, a growth acceleration firm. He is an entrepreneur and leader who specializes in fostering environments of listening, curiosity, and innovation to help businesses and brands evolve. Longenecker is passionate about creating an atmosphere of open possibilities and forging human connections to drive real results. Tara Baumgarten is the Head of Public Relations at //NKST. She has experience providing creative senior counsel to corporations, professional service firms, consultants, authors, and more. As a PR and marketing strategist, Baumgarten specializes in thought leadership, executive visibility, messaging, and customer experience. Patricia O'Connell is the President of Aerten Consulting, a content strategy firm that helps companies define their stories and refine their cultures. She is the co-author of Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight, alongside Thomas A. Stewart. O’Connell is also the host of This is Capitalism: CEO Stories, a podcast where she discusses entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation in the free market. In this episode: Customer have more power than ever--which means companies must do more than ever to understand and meet their expectations and to forge relationships that last. To get the latest insights, Thomas A. Stewart invited Douglas Longenecker, Patricia O’Connell, and Tara Baumgarten to join him on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. The customer experience encapsulates everything a consumer sees, feels, and touches — and it’s up to companies to design a winning experience strategy across all tiers of their organization--not just in branding, not just in sales or service, but in every place and at every moment where company and customer interact. That’s where Longenecker, O’Connell, and Baumgarten come in. With expertise in marketing innovations and relationship-building, they are helping companies meet this new demand for a tailored, defined, and satisfying experience. How? For Longenecker, O’Connell, and Baumgarten, it begins with the employee. Empowering and equipping your employees with the right capabilities, knowledge, and incentives can help them understand what customers expect and equip them to meet those expectations. When you deliver on your brand promises from bottom up and top down, you can create a company that lives and breathes success. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart talks with Douglas Longenecker, the CMO, CEO, and CCO at //NKST, Tara Baumgarten, the Head of Public Relations at //NKST, and Patricia O'Connell, the President of Aerten Consulting, to discuss how to develop customer experiences in a consumer-controlled world. Together, they talk about executing a winning brand strategy, organizing expectations within your company, and exploring new ideas and processes to revolutionize your marketing.
37:15 11/17/2021
Sustained Innovation: How to Keep Those Ideas Coming with Martin Reeves, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG
Martin Reeves is the Managing Director and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group’s San Francisco office. With over 30 years of experience in consulting, Reeves specializes in business strategy management and idea origination and development. He is also the Chairman of the BCG Henderson Institute, BCG’s think tank and laboratory. Reeves is the co-author of multiple books, including Your Strategy Needs a Strategy and his most recent release, The Imagination Machine. He has a triple first-class MA in natural sciences from Cambridge University and an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. In this episode: How does an enterprise turn innovation from a one-time thing into a sustained part of its business model and culture? Most businesses begin with a creative spark; a few manage to be innovative over years or decades. But only a handful have managed to keep sparking for decades. One of those is the Boston Consulting Group. Long admired as the most innovative of the great strategy consultants, BCG has kept new ideas coming for more than half a century.  How? To find out, Tom Stewart sat down with Martin Reeves, a senior partner of BCG who runs the firm’s Henderson Institute, the internal think tank named for founder Bruce Henderson. A leading strategist and thinker about strategy — Reeves’s books include The Imagination Machine and Your Strategy Needs a Strategy — Reeves talks about how probing anomalies and analogies can uncover new ideas, the importance of cognitive and intellectual diversity, and how a company can truly encourage the kind of maverick thinking that is necessary for a sustained culture of new ideas. Reeves also identifies five innovation killers, guaranteed to smother creativity in its crib, and offers his list of five companies that have developed what he calls “complexity pruning mechanisms” — organizational policies that help cut back the vines that can choke innovation as companies get big. Along the way, Reeves takes us on a virtual tour of BCG’s “Napkin Gallery,” an online collection of the actual first visualizations of great business ideas — some of them, yes, actually drawn on napkins. Martin Reeves talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart sits down with the Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG, Martin Reeves, to talk about nurturing innovation and creativity in business. Together, they discuss the importance of cognitive and intellectual diversity in the workplace, how to develop new and valuable business ideas, and the BCG approach to problem-solving. Stay tuned.
42:58 11/03/2021
Enhancing Dialogue and Collaboration in the Workplace with Nancy Dixon, Knowledge Transfer Expert
Nancy Dixon is an author, consultant, researcher, and expert in the field of knowledge transfer. Dixon launched her career in organizational learning as a researcher and professor at the University of Texas before moving to George Washington University. She has spent the last 15 years as a consultant helping NASA and other organizations build effective knowledge transfer processes.  Dixon’s drive to use dialogue as an agent for change led her to write eight books, most notably Common Knowledge: How Companies Thrive by Sharing What They Know. She has published more than 80 articles about transferring knowledge across organizations and currently runs a blog on the subject. In this episode: How do you encourage people to share information? In the wake of the pandemic, when collaboration among groups is more crucial than ever, is there a way to overcome the barriers to communication? Hybrid and remote workplaces are changing the ways knowledge is shared — and it’s up to leaders to find new ways to enhance connection and problem-solving within teams. One of the world’s leading experts on how knowledge is shared, Nancy Dixon knows the importance of facilitating effective communication in and between teams. With an evolving workplace, leaders are left questioning how to connect strategy with what employees know and do — at a time when “normal channels” — imperfect though they were — no longer work as they did. How do you create an environment of trust, belonging, and dialogue — while also maintaining your organization’s underlying values, principles, and priorities? Nancy Dixon talks about this and more as she joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart has a conversation with Nancy Dixon, an expert on knowledge transfer and communication, about generating collaboration and productivity at work — in all the new forms it is taking. Together, they discuss the importance of dialogue for problem-solving, how to reduce stress within teams, and why relationship-building is more essential than ever.
41:57 10/20/2021
Leadership Leverage: What You Get Done Depends on Where You Stand ? With Eric Herrenkohl, Managing Director of Executive Coaching and Executive Career Services at AchieveNEXT, and Milton Corsey, Dire
Eric Herrenkohl is the Managing Director of Executive Coaching and Executive Career Services for AchieveNEXT, a management consulting firm for emerging and mid-market enterprises. He is also the best-selling author of the book, How To Hire A-Players, the creator of the A-Player Executive and Leadership Leverage coaching systems, and works with executives to improve financial results. Milton Corsey is the Director of Human Capital Solutions at AchieveNEXT. Throughout his career, he’s also been a Professor Emeritus at Rowan College of South Jersey. Corsey has worked to transform the growth of some of the most recognizable Fortune 500 companies.  In this episode: What makes some leaders so much more effective than others? How can changes in leaders/ behavior release more power and energy from their teams? Eric Herrenkohl and Milton Corsey talk about this and more as they join Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises.  Understanding leverage is the key to success for leaders, say Herrenkohl and Corsey, experts in leadership and growth development. When leaders don’t give their teams room to operate and act, both become less effective. Think about a lever, Herrenkohl and Corsey say: If the lever’s too short--if you stand too close to the fulcrum--its power to work diminishes.  Making leverage possible isn’t easy and, for many detail- and performance-oriented people, standing back doesn’t come naturally. It requires training and continual support. Herrenkohl’s work focuses on coaching senior executives, and Corsey’s, is about building leadership competencies throughout an organization: They both find that understanding the principles of leadership leverage is the necessary first step toward strengthening individuals, teams, and ultimately enterprises. A great leader builds a program and utilizes practices that transform the likelihood of success. By acquiring a pattern of continual improvement and growth, the enterprise and its employees will benefit.  In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Eric Herrenkohl, Managing Director of Executive Coaching and Executive Career Services at AchieveNEXT, and Milton Corsey, Director of Human Capital Solutions for AchieveNEXT, to discuss the importance of leverage in leadership. Together, they discuss cultivating a growth mindset, intentionally building leadership architecture, and key elements that strengthen a leader. Stay tuned.
44:29 10/06/2021
Strengthen Your Talent-Management Capabilities with Rob Sher, Founder and CEO of Mastering Midsized
Rob Sher is the Founder and CEO of Mastering Midsized, a company that partners with leading middle-market companies to maximize growth. Prior to founding Mastering Midsized, Sher was the Co-founder and CEO of Bentley Publishing Group for over 20 years. He has experience as a consultant, lecturer, and board member for various companies.  Sher is also the author of multiple books, including the just-released Driving Midsized Growth and Mighty Midsized Companies. He earned his MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California. In this episode: Talent — finding people, keeping people, and helping people give their best — is the #1 challenge businesses face. And for mid-sized companies, fighting the “war for talent” is particularly hard. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart talks to Rob Sher about how middle-market enterprises can transform recruiting processes, develop a high-quality talent pool, and drive long-term growth.  According to Rob Sher, an expert on middle-market companies, there are three drivers for successful growth: recruiting valuable candidates, developing talent, and leading teams — but most company leaders don’t open up these processes to see how to do them better. By creating a persuasive recruiting process that highlights your employer brand, you can effectively acquire new talent and remain involved in future employment searches. Successful midsized businesses must place value in current and potential employees to facilitate next-level brand growth. As Sher says, this is the secret to becoming an industry leader.    In this episode, Rob Sher, the Founder and CEO of Mastering Midsized, shares his expert strategies for driving leadership growth in midsized companies. Sher shares the results of new research about how to develop an engaging recruitment process, hire valuable talent, and build an employer brand. Discover this and more as Sher joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises.
31:06 09/22/2021
Decision-Making in the Workplace with Bob Frisch, Founding Partner of Strategic Offsites Group
Bob Frisch is the Founding Partner of Strategic Offsites Group, a boutique consulting firm that designs and facilitates strategic conversations for executive teams and boards. Before founding Strategic Offsites Group, Bob was a Managing Partner for Accenture, the Vice President and Strategy Practice Head for Gemini Consulting & Services, and a Manager for Boston Consulting Group. Bob is also the best-selling author of two books and has published multiple articles in Harvard Business Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management. In this episode: What makes a meeting great? Mediocre? Crummy? Why are some offsites inspiring and others enervating? How can leaders and their teams work together to make decisions better — and make better decisions? Bob Frisch, Founder of Strategic Offsites Group, has built his career and his business to explore and answer those questions. Bob has shared his insights in a score of Harvard Business Review articles and now shares them on The Leading Edge. Success is often created by conversations — conversations that lead to decisions and actions. Making those conversations happen is the leader’s job, but not often one in which he or she is particularly skilled. According to Bob Frisch, productive strategy meetings can be achieved through effective communication and a well-thought-out process. As he says, it’s important for a team to have an active role in the decisions that are being made — and often that means the leader must speak last. Bob has spent his career working with senior executive teams to incorporate proven success strategies, and today he’s here to share his decision-making advice for leaders. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Tom and Bob talk about the human dynamics of decision-making — and the real-world tips and tricks that can help leaders guide their teams to better decisions. They discuss the value of implementing two rounds of decision-making at your company, the impact the pandemic has had on collaboration, and how to achieve alignment in your leadership team. Stay tuned for this and more on The Leading Edge — a podcast where new ideas are cultivated and leaders find their edge to succeed.
45:50 09/08/2021
How to Hand Off the Reins
Jeff Sonnenfeld is the Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies at the Yale School of Management, where he also serves as the Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management. Sonnenfeld is also the Founder of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI), a nonprofit educational and research institute focused on corporate governance and executive leadership. In addition to this, Sonnenfeld is the author of eight books on leadership — most notably, The Hero’s Farewell: What Happens When CEOs Retire. His research has been published in 100 scholarly articles and he frequently contributes to CNBC and Fortune. In this episode: What can CEOs do to avoid corporate atrophy? Why is it so vital for today’s leaders to participate in critical discussions? Jeff Sonnenfeld talks about this and more as he joins Tom on The Leading Edge — a place where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. According to Sonnenfeld, corporate leadership works best when a network of executives is working toward greater social impact and business development. With decades of experience with corporate governance and CEO leadership, Sonnenfeld knows the challenges leaders face when pushing the limits in their businesses. As he says, the best CEOs succeed by seeking feedback from their peers and adopting a forward-thinking mindset. In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Jeff Sonnenfeld, the Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies at the Yale School of Management, to discuss leadership in the corporate ecosystem. Together they talk about the engine of innovation for executives, the generational gap in governance, and the importance of placing value in people and communities for a sustainable future.
29:21 08/25/2021
A Brand Is an Experience
Russell Klein is the CEO of the American Marketing Association, the force and voice of marketing. He is a master of digital marketing campaigns, and his pioneering thinking has changed the very definition of what a brand is and what marketing does. Over the years, Klein has led teams for Dr. Pepper, Gatorade, 7-Eleven, Burger King, and Arby’s. The teams he has led have won innumerable awards for their work, and more than four dozen people he trained have gone on to become CMOs in their own right.  In this episode... Is it possible to create a seamless omnichannel brand presence? What are the best strategies for building a brand and ushering in the next era of digital marketing? According to Russell Klein, there can be harmony between physical and digital channels — and this unity can produce the perfect orchestration for a brand and--more than that--a customer experience. Great brands do not emerge overnight; Russ Klein’s experience has taught him that building a brand takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and intention. What’s more, a brand is more than a logo, more than marketing  — more, even, than positioning: a brand is an environment meant to immerse the customer in a unique experience. When done well, this complex — but essential — process of brand building starts with trust and results in brand loyalty and explosive growth. Klein talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises.  In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart sits down with Russell Klein, the CEO of the American Marketing Association and a legendary marketer in his own right, to talk about the perfect equation for brand building. Together, they discuss the continual evolution of content marketing, how storytelling crafts a customer’s experience, and the power behind consumer rituals and brand loyalty. Stay tuned to learn all of this and more — and subscribe to never miss another episode.
38:43 08/11/2021
The Culture-Strategy Connection
Jame Cofran is the CEO of THRUUE, an expert management consultancy that works at the intersection of culture and strategy. Prior to his time at THRUUE, he served as the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Business Development at CGI and was the Vice President of Financial Services Products at American Management Systems.  Jame has more than thirty years of experience promoting the connection between strategy and culture. He specializes in helping organizations and people recognize and wield the power they need to achieve their potential to perform and grow. He is also a zealous competitive sailor and has competed in races in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Aegean Sea.  In this episode... Company culture: everyone knows it’s important; everyone knows that a strong culture helps create strong performance and that a passive or toxic culture is enervating or destructive. But when it comes to changing culture — well, as someone said, that can be like trying to nail Jell-o to a wall. How can you identify and change the areas of cultural weakness in your company? In what ways can you measure your organization’s gap between culture and strategy? Jame Cofran knows. He is the CEO of THRUUE, a company that helps clients connect strategic planning to culture change from the start, rather than trying to do “the culture piece” separately. Jame says THRUUE’s clients have on average increased their growth rate by 9.47% after engaging with them to set strategy and shift culture — drawing a straight line that connects strategy to employee experience and front-line work to corner-office priorities.  In this episode of The Leading Edge, Tom and Jame discuss practical ways to marry culture and strategy, so that culture is something you do, not just something you feel — and so that strategy is an outgrowth of who you are, not just a set of PowerPoint bullets. This is The Leading Edge — a podcast where new ideas are cultivated and leaders find their edge to succeed. Subscribe to never miss another episode! 
30:43 07/28/2021
Make the Office a Competitive Advantage
Professor Larry Inks is an award-winning Clinical Associate Professor in the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. As a professor, he teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as within the college’s executive education programs.  In addition to teaching, Professor Inks also offers management consulting to external organizations. He has many years of experience working in leadership positions for several prominent companies, including Cardinal Health, AlliedSignal, and PepsiCo. Professor Inks specializes in the application of human resource initiatives and holds a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology.  In this episode: How do you put the workplace back together again after the stresses, strains, and experiments of the COVID-19 pandemic? Is it in your company’s best interest to continue with a remote workforce, or are you better off with a return to the office? What can you do to optimize your strategic decisions in the midst of such uncertainty? Professor Larry Inks talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. Professor Inks proposes that there isn’t a simple solution for every business — but there are ways to make smart decisions about how your company should proceed. Instead of rushing forward blindly to accomplish what you can do, he instead suggests taking your time to figure out what you should do. There’s no hurry, but if you’re looking for a competitive advantage, you’ll need the courage to follow through on whatever you discover is best.  Professor Larry Inks joins Thomas A. Stewart on this episode of The Leading Edge to discuss the best strategies for approaching the return-to-work dilemma. Listen in as Professor Inks reveals how to gain a competitive advantage by taking your time to fully examine your company’s needs from both a short-term and long-term perspective before making your next move. Plus, Professor Inks explores what some of the studies have to say about the advantages and disadvantages of a remote workforce. Stay tuned for more!
29:01 07/14/2021
M&A Is Back — and It's Changing — Are You Ready?
Kenneth H. Marks is the Founder and Managing Partner of High Rock Partners, a boutique firm providing M&A and strategic advisory services to middle-market companies. Prior to founding High Rock Partners, he served as the President of JPS Communications, Inc. Kenneth also founded and grew the engineering and electronic manufacturing company Kenmar Business Groups, Inc., to $22 million in revenue while serving as the President and CEO during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Kenneth is the co-author of many books, including Middle Market M&A: Handbook for Investment Banking and Business Consulting; The Handbook of Financing Growth: Strategies, Capital Structure, and M&A Transactions; and Value Levers: Increase the Value of Your Business From 3x to 7x. Kenneth is a Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisor, has a background in electrical engineering, and holds an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In this episode... The pandemic disrupted the business-as-usual model in many sectors, including mergers and acquisitions. As business leaders are emerging from lockdown, so is the market. If M&A is part of your strategy — as a path to growth or as an exit — how should you adjust your thinking as the economy emerges from the pandemic? Kenneth H. Marks talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. According to Kenneth H. Marks, a certified M&A Advisor and co-author of Middle Market M&A, we’re in a potentially hot deal environment where there’s a great deal of capital looking for places to invest as well as some pent-up demand to sell. Nevertheless, the market is still uncertain; valuations are unclear, and trends are hard to read. In this kind of environment, Kenneth says, companies need to understand their personal and corporate objectives — which might not be identical — and be ruthlessly honest about their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In this type of climate, personal and company clarity are more valuable than ever, as personal objectives and company objectives can sometimes diverge. Stay tuned!
31:09 06/30/2021
From Entrepreneur to CEO
Jim Collins is a best-selling author, advisor, teacher, researcher, and expert in the field of business. Over three decades ago, when he was studying at Stanford Business School, Jim wanted to know what makes great companies tick. When he couldn’t find a satisfying answer, he set out to do the research himself. Those early discoveries would launch the beginning of a life-long exploration into uncovering the mysteries of success.  Jim’s unrelenting curiosity has led to a considerable number of transformative findings and inspired the business world to adopt a new lexicon and embrace the novel concepts that emerged from his work. His books, including Good to Great, Built to Last, and, most recently, BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0), an upgraded version of an enduring classic, are often thought of as required reading for leaders, entrepreneurs, and anyone searching for answers in business. In 2017, Forbes named Jim as one of the “100 Greatest Living Business Minds.” In This Episode... How can you turn your business into an enduring enterprise? When is the best time to delegate, and where should you take a hands-on approach? Is it possible to transform yourself into the right person to lead your company to the next level? Jim Collins joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great and other best-selling books, began his career studying leaders in young and emerging enterprises — a theme he returns to in his newest book. Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 is a return to research he began as a young professor with his mentor Bill Lazier, in which they learned that great leadership is not just an art — it is a science whose principles can be studied and learned. Great leaders don’t actually possess innate talents that are elusive to the rest of us. Jim’s research has uncovered learnable techniques and proven strategies to improve your likelihood of success. If you want to turn your organization into something exceptional, don’t rely on luck — transform yourself into the leader it needs to get there.  In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart sits down with best-selling author Jim Collins to talk about what it takes to create and lead a great company. Together, they discuss why decisions about people are the most important calls leaders make, what exceptional leadership actually requires, and how self-renewal is a crucial element of success.
50:38 06/16/2021
“How Can I Help?”: The Radical Power of Empowering Others
Robert “Bob” Nicholas is the Director of Sales for Amerisure Insurance, where he has faithfully worked for more than 18 years. In this role, Bob leads the Field Marketing & Underwriting sales processes for Amerisure, creates new business top line goals, executes agency business planning, and much more. He started at the company as a Service Carrier Operations Supervisor in 2002, and has since worked up to his current role as Director of Sales.  Some of Bob’s past positions include Youth Minister for the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and Lay Director for the Cursillo Movement of the Diocese of Memphis.  In this episode… Do you want to become a more empathetic leader? Are you ready to model a different kind of leadership — one that selflessly enables employees to succeed?  When it comes to empowerment, more people talk a good game than play one — but not Bob Nicholas. Bob goes far beyond lip service and embodies real service: the kind that disrupts the status quo and inspires employees. "My personal passion,” he explains, “is to help people go home in better shape than when they came to work that day.” According to Bob, this profound process of employee empowerment all starts by asking “How can I help?” and treating your employees with the dignity they deserve. So, what is it really like to empower a team day-to-day, and how can you become a more employee-focused leader? Step out onto the leading edge to find out.  In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart interviews Bob Nicholas, the Director of Sales at Amerisure Insurance, to discuss how radical — and practical — empowerment can be, and what it takes to be an empowering boss. Listen in as Bob reveals how Amerisure chooses its agents, how it translates passion into customer value, and how it empowers and improves the lives of its employees. This is The Leading Edge — a podcast where new ideas are cultivated and leaders find their edge to succeed. Subscribe to never miss another episode!
29:25 06/02/2021
Welcome to The Leading Edge
Thomas A. Stewart is the host of The Leading Edge, where he speaks with business leaders and thinkers about what it means to live and work on the leading edge — where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises. In this first episode, Dr. Jeremy Weisz of Rise25 talks to Tom about ideas and actions that have shaped his career, his work in the fields of intellectual capital and customer experience, and his management philosophy. Tom is the Chief Knowledge Officer at AchieveNEXT, a learning and development ecosystem that combines peer learning networks with talent performance solutions. He formerly served as the Editor in Chief of Harvard Business Review, a member of the Board of Editors of Fortune, and the Executive Director of the National Center for the Middle Market. He is the author of Intellectual Capital and The Wealth of Knowledge, and (co-authored with Patricia O’Connell) Woo, Wow, and Win. In this episode… Are you looking for a tried-and-true business philosophy? Do you want concrete strategies that will help you be a better entrepreneur, manager, or employee?  Thomas A. Stewart, a successful business writer and managing director, has a unique perspective on business: When broken down to its basic components, business is simply the combination of theory and practice. Theory without practice leads to ineffective sales and useless daydreaming. Practice without theory results in stagnant business with no advancement. However, when merged together, theory and practice lead companies into the future with new and exciting ideas that actually work. This perspective has carried Tom through decades of success — and today, he’s here to share his hard-won wisdom with listeners everywhere. In this introductory episode, Tom sits down with Dr. Jeremy Weisz, Co-founder of Rise25, to talk about what it means to work on the leading edge — a place where new ideas are cultivated and sharpened, and where leaders find their edge to succeed. Listen in as Tom recalls working at Fortune and Harvard Business Review, identifies the impacts he’s made on the world of business, and analyzes how his distinct style of management has grown over the years. Stay tuned!
29:14 04/28/2021