134: Leaders with Heart Embrace Change and Rise from It

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In this episode, Heather speaks directly to listeners about some recent changes she has made, and how she has learned to embrace change even during this pandemic. Heather also shares some key decisions she has made to create a metamorphosis in her life.

Key takeaways:

  • Now is the time to see change as a positive despite what is front of us.
  • Starting anew right now might be exactly what you need to help you see the situation differently.
  • How aligned are you with your personal and professional mission?
  • There are powerful ways to overcome your challenges and it all starts in the mind.
Prepare your ears for this wonderful episode. Listen and learn!

Embracing Change

I have reached quite a few milestones in my business these last couple of months during the coronavirus. My second book has been completed, and it’s a pretty big deal to write a book during a pandemic. I recognize it, and feel blessed to have done it.  

During this time, I know what I should have done. But I wasn’t doing it. I decided to do something that seems so obvious to me but I kept on fighting it—doing a name change for my business.

To be honest, my heart was really more in the place of employees. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Noble Beginnings

For the last four or five years, the business name has been Customer Fanatix, and I decided to change it to Employee Fanatix. It was obvious because all of my work has been focused on employee listening, leadership development, and everything related to the employee experience, engagement, and retention.

The reason why I fought was because my heart was with customers and employees early on in my career. When I started Customer Fanatix, the idea was I would help organizations understand the connection between how leaders can impact both the customer and employee experience, and how we can look at it as a continuum or a journey. That’s looking at both stakeholders at the same time.

Over time, people were more confused if I was more on the customer side or on the employee side. My efforts and messaging on social media became more singular, focused and it was more about leaders and their impact on employees. I just made a choice not to include all of the customers.

I started my company in 2015. People were reaching out to me because of my writings on LinkedIn. They wanted me to help them on both the customer and employee experience. The focus changed, but in the end my heart didn’t change.

My end goal is to help employees and leaders be better and stronger. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetEverything I do is about how we impact in their (employee) experience, whether they are working with leaders, executive, facilitating groups, or speaking on stage. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Metamorphosis

It was always about the underdog. When I was a child, I felt like an underdog. So, I have always been an advocate for people.

We are in very unsettling times. But I am thinking of what’s happening right now as a metamorphosis. It’s all about change and being comfortable with it. To be honest, I haven’t always been comfortable with change.

But what has worked for me in the past is I try to focus on a mission that is bigger than myself. I try to focus on something exciting, powerful, and way beyond me that it helps me move forward past any adversity put in front of me. It helps me build my resilience.

Recently, I have just hired my very first employee, Monica. I just brought in a marketing team to really help me take the business on and take things off my lap so I can be the leader I talk to you about all the time— the one who focuses on caring for myself and my family first.

Aligning what I was already doing and using this time to start anew and afresh help me focus on shedding some of the skin of the past and the pain of the current. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetMy desire is to uplift people by my words and my actions, and to bring people together in collaborative settings of safety. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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132: Leaders with Heart Listen to the Lessons of Imperfection

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Greg Brenner, Assistant Vice President for Talent & Organizational Development (HR) about his leadership style, his great example of when he was not the best version of himself, and some great pearls of wisdom.

Key takeaways:

  • Figure out how you want to engage with those you lead by being more intentional.
  • Put people at the center.
  • Be the grown up in the interactions with your people; take control of your emotions.
  • Choose whether you cast a shadow or not on those you lead.
  • Leadership is not a perfection game.
This episode will surely improve your leadership skills. Enjoy!

Greg Brenner is the author of the “Smack Dab in the Middle of Life” series. His passions are with all things people. In collaboration with his incredible wife, he has two wonderful kids, a sixteen-year-old son and a thirteen-year-old daughter who make him distinctly qualified to be “the Dad”.

At work, Greg supports a wonderful tribe who has taught him to learn, inspire and grow as the Assistant Vice President of Talent and Organizational Development at the fantastic University of Miami and Health System – UHealth.

Greg cherishes the time to write about HR, leadership, and daily life. Thanks to his tribe, colleagues, network, and family, Greg always has plenty of material. Hence, writer’s block is never a problem. Some say he can be very funny, sometimes serious, but always authentic.

Greg’s specialties include executive coaching, organizational development, listening, strategic planning and thinking, employee experience, culture transformation, human resources, recruiting, hiring, compensation negotiations, employee relations, conflict resolution & interventions, operations, leadership training, and team building.

Getting Better

I have learned a lot of things. I have grown a lot more in the senior level. Now, I’m in a space where you can get some more things done. It’s a good place to be. At the same time, it’s surrounded with challenges.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It is hard. It takes time. You cannot rely on your laurels. You cannot rely on what you did three months ago. It’s totally different. You have to shake it up, spit it out, do it all over again, then try to do something new. You have to continually get better, learn and grow as a leader.

Not everybody is a people-person, and that is perfectly okay. – Greg Brenner #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Loving the Work

Loyalty, Leadership, and Love. You have to love the work of leadership. You have to love the people. You can say that you don’t really love the people you’re working with a lot. But you have to love them if you’re going to be the difference between someone who is really strong at leadership and one who is just an off-the-chart leader. 

The latter walk in regardless of the fancy shoes they are wearing. You know they’re the leader and they’ve got it all over them. That’s because they love the people that are part of the organization and the mission they have.

I am very much a people-oriented person. I am a big picture thinker and I do things with heart. But my style is not for everybody. I allow people to do the job they’ve been hired to do, and that can rub some people in the wrong way. 

I would rather get ten root canals than work for a micromanager. I am centered at respecting people at their core. But I understand that not everybody is a people person.

Leadership has always been something that is inherent in me. Both my parents, although having different personalities, were so much focused on us being leaders. It was ingrained in our heads. My dad’s strength was showing up everyday for his patients. My mom, who worked just as hard as my dad at home, was all about caring for people.

You have a name, and you have to have respect that goes with the name. – Greg Brenner #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetBe a good person. – Greg Brenner #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Listening to the Lessons

I needed to lead better. People can lead when it’s a normal day, every day. The reason why a pilot gets paid so well is not when the plane is flying naturally since it is easy to do. When something does not go right, that’s when they earn money. Hence, I have to be a better leader moving forward.

It is about learning from your failing moments. If I would have gone through that moment and allowed that to be okay, I would have been a whole different leader today than I should have or could have been gone down that road—being another disastrous leader just because I didn’t listen to the lesson.

You’ve got to listen to the lessons. Thankfully, I learned my lessons early in my career. I am far from perfect and there’s still a lot of not-so-great things that I do. But when you put people at the center of it, it gives a lot of sense.

You cast a shadow on the people you are leading. It’s your choice to cast a good shadow or a dark cloud that is going to hang over like an albatross. – Greg Brenner #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetLeadership is difficult. It's not a perfection game. – Greg Brenner #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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130: Leaders with Heart Create a Space for Others to Follow

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In this rich episode, Heather speaks with LaToya Lyn about her drive to lead (which you will love), her short time spent with the late John Lewis, civil rights advocate who was very close with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and some brilliant pearls of wisdom for every leader to think about.

Key takeaways:

  • As a leader, it is not what you do, but how you do it.
  • Leaders don’t lead; they create a space for others to follow.
  • Do your people feel like they need an invitation to participate, or are they free to join?
  • Lead in and bring your people into your circle.
Don’t miss this insightful ride! Listen and learn!

LaToya Lyn is an HR leader with a deep passion for people within the workplace. 

LaToya has a dual masters in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior from Brooklyn College. Her professional experience spans from executive coaching to driving organizational changes and culture transformations for technology companies globally. She has contributed to the world of cognitive neuroscience, including adult learning theories, and animal research. 

LaToya is also a four-time National DisruptHR presenter, GoCoach, and ThinkHuman reoccurring contributor. She is also a recent Harvard University and MIT executive coaching and artificial intelligence professional. 

Bringing People

I have had various leadership opportunities. I have been blessed with a gift to bring people together, as well as bring out their best selves and their fullest potential in a very authentic way. Also, I have also been blessed to be a student and to learn from them. It’s been just a great journey and I’m really looking forward to my next chapter.

I think I was placed in leadership roles, because people listen to me and not because I had a smart thing to say. If I am asked how did I choose to lead, I think I just don’t know any better.


I am in a position to move forward knowing that John Lewis is over all of us. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Not Alone

John Lewis was an amazing figure in everybody’s life from a political and civil rights standpoint. He was best known as Martin Luther King’s right-hand partner, his steady hand, who kind of kept his heart to the ground, and really fought against the adversities among people in the South.

He protested for people of color, Black people especially, who were being oppressed and segregated in the height of the Jim Crow era. He had been a congressman and a part of our American constitution for many years. He had written lots of legislation and fought for everyone’s rights. He was a divine human being.

I had a chance to meet him. A few years ago, I was asked to do a keynote at a private college in New Jersey. Part of it was to have the opportunity to meet Congressman John Lewis, and he was supposed to give us some encouragement to get us juiced up.

Then something told me to just go up to him, so I went up to him. I just said to him, “Why is it so hard?” I am the only black woman in an executive leadership space, and I’m always there to help and guide people through. But no one is helping me.

He looked me in the eye, grabbed by hand very firmly, and told me, “Don’t worry. You’re not alone.” I didn’t explain much but he immediately knew what I was talking about. He also told me, “The ancestors are guiding you. Don’t worry.” Hearing such encouragement was one of the most pivotal moments in my life.

I call the people that report to me my colleagues intentionally. My role as their leader is to inspire them and move things out of the way. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetBeing a leader is a privilege. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Align and Respect

People ask me, “What makes you a good leader?” Or, “What makes anyone a good leader?” That is a billion-dollar industry. But I always advise people to get aligned with their own values.

What’s important to me is that I am high-integrity. I have gone through so much in my life like oppression and traumas. But I act with a sense of urgency, naturally, because time is limited. When I think about integrity, it’s about the intention and not the mistakes

We work in a model where direct reports know more than you. Direct reports have expertise that I don’t have. With that, then what I need to do is to work on my character and how I approach things to get the most out of people. Hence, leaders need to check in with themselves how they can lead their teams effectively.

Another thing that’s really important is respect for my life. Because I have respect for my life, I will automatically have respect for yours.

Our tendency as human beings is either to fight or flight. But to fight when you’re leading someone is very difficult. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Working with kids had groomed me to be the leader I am today because I had to really listen with my heart. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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Read LaToya’s article on John Lewis HERE.

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127: Leaders with Heart Don’t Give Away Their Influence

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In this episode, Heather speaks to Michele Nevarez, CEO of Goleman EI about her drive to lead, her leadership style, a time when she was not the best version of herself and her interesting take on discovering what we can influence and impact.

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t give away your influence.
  • Realize that we have a choice to focus our thinking on what we can influence.
  • Are your current thought patterns helping you or hurting you?
  • What are your thinking habits?
  • Keep building evidence for who you want to be.
  • We are often stuck in our own mindsets.
Listen to this episode and strengthen your leadership with heart!

Michelle Nevarez serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Goleman EI. 

Founder and creator of the Goleman EI suite of Coaching and Training programs, Michele’s vision is to democratize EI as a means of igniting personal and global agency. This driving force for Michele is at the core of how Goleman EI’s programs translate emotional intelligence from theory to a powerful and practical vehicle for meaningful transformation and lasting habit change. 

Michele brings 25+ years of executive leadership experience working for industry leaders in healthcare, investment management, management consulting, and manufacturing. A founding member of Rangjung Yeshe Institute based in Kathmandu, Nepal, Michele has practiced mindfulness-based training for 27+ years.

Michele received a B. A. in Religion from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Science degree in Positive Organizational Development and Change from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. 

Twist and Turns

I think I might have been too hard and a little too critical on the CEO’s that I have reported to in the past. My leadership journey has been marked with being the head of a startup, and having zero startup capital. That required a lot of creativity, hard work, and it’s taken a lot of twists and turns along the way.

Being a good leader, in general and as a CEO of a particularly small company, has a lot to do with how you interact with your people and how much time you spend interfacing with your team.

I have always been fascinated by what causes people to behave the way they do and how their beliefs factor in. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Innovation and Kindness

My people tell me that I tend to have kind of an innovative streak, and I am definitely the kind of leader that leads with vision and innovation in mind. I have no shortage of ideas—that’s never the issue. It’s the ability to execute on them.

I am a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of person, in my natural style. But anything to an extreme is also not great. There are potential negative behavioral implications to that.

I’m pretty hands off if I think the person has it covered, but I’m more inclined to be present to someone new, or a person doing initial setup. But I struggle with carving out enough time for all the important things. It’s actually a real challenge, to be honest.

My drive to lead is linked to my desire to do good in the world and to be of benefit to the maximum of my potential in this life. I want to do so in a way that amounts to playing big.

I come from a long line of really hard workers, migrant laborers during an era that was not so kind. That’s where my work ethic, the idea of fighting for the underprivileged, fighting for people who really need some ground cover, and believing that I have the ability to somehow provide something to that equation of benefit, come from.

The things that keep us stuck are causally linked to ultimately our thinking, mindset, and beliefs. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Everybody's situations are very different. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Influence and Control

As humans, we’re inclined to spend a lot of time worrying, persevering, or being focused on things that we don’t actually have that much control or any control over. So, it becomes a waste of our time and energy.

I always encourage my clients and the people who go through our program to think about influence more critically. Where do they actually have influence and control over, where do they have none? Going through that analysis and realization that they would do well; we would focus on where we have the ability to impact.

We don’t always have the ability to control what comes up, but in that moment of becoming aware of what’s there, we have at least the possibility of choice of how we will relate to whatever we find—an emotion, or a thought. Also, we have agency to work with our thinking and relating to our thoughts that is more productive.

When we turn our capacity for awareness to a productive point of observation or focus that can actually move us forward, there’s a lot of possibility in that. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThere's no power in victim mentality. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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122: Leaders with Heart That We All Get Better One Step at a Time

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Matt Sweetwood, CEO of LUXnow, on his leadership style, his strong drive to lead, and where it comes from. He also shares how he treats his employees like family, and his very profound story of adversity and rebirth.

Key takeaways:

  • When things go wrong in life and business, focus on fixing one thing at a time while looking forward.
  • Sometimes when we are easy on team members whose performance is short, we enable them to fail. Then, that failure becomes our own.
  • Set the bar high, live it and then raise it once your team members meet the bar.
  • Regarding challenges, this too shall pass if you make it pass.
  • Succeed one step at a time.
Hope you don’t miss this episode. Listen and learn!

Matt Sweetwood is the CEO of LUXnow – the marketplace for luxury autos, homes and yachts. 

He is an internationally known professional speaker, author and life coach. With over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, Matt has been credited with the reinvention of the modern camera store. However, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. 

He is a frequent TV and publication contributor and has a #1 best-selling book: “Leader of the Pack: How a single dad of five led his kids, his business and himself from disaster to success.”

Success, A Habit

When success is a habit, you’re just driven to make sure to end the day more successful than before. Finding success is what makes me complete as a human being. If I fail at something, I really take a deep look at it and try to overcome. If there’s something in your life that you want badly enough, you’re going to make it happen.

I want to be successful. I don’t want to be a failure in front of my kids. When I retire someday, I don’t want to be sitting there, figuring out how I’m going to pay the bills. Drive for success comes from within.

Being able to feel somebody and put yourself in their circumstance actually helps you lead them. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Tough Love

I always treat my staff like my family. I have written hundreds of articles, and some of the popular ones talked about how similar leadership in business is with parenting at home. In fact, one of my articles that was featured best of the day on LinkedIn was, “What’s the difference between great parenting and great leadership?” My conclusion, of course, is that they are the same.

I think sometimes I’m too easy on my staff. I am too humanistic with them. Sometimes, in a CEO position, you have to be a little more ruthless. Every time I say that to myself, the name Mike Bloomberg comes to mind. He had a reputation for being ruthless. He has a long standing reputation of throwing resigning people out of the window and never speaking with them. But he became a billionaire.

I’m not saying this that I want to be like them, but I just think it’s an interesting study on leadership—to find the balance between having your staff love you and hate you, and what’s the right mix to find the most success. It’s something that I deal with all the time.

I was the good guy. My door is always open. I deal with my staff on a personal basis. But I sometimes wonder whether I should have been a whole lot harder. Maybe I would have found more success or more balance, I don’t know.

If I want it badly enough, I'm going to win. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou cannot be successful unless you're in good shape. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Raise Your Level

Sometimes when you’re too easy on an employee you enable them to fail. I think being too easy on a poorly performing employee enables their failure. Then the failure becomes yours. 

You have an obligation as a leader to correct people obviously in a kind way, never in a demeaning way. If you don’t do that, then the failure is yours.

Your job as a leader is to never let your level, go to the level of your staff. You have to bring them to your level. The goal is, you bring everybody to your level. When they get to yours, raise your level then bring them up again. That’s how you build the biggest and best of enterprises.

Always keep pushing yourself to be better. Never allow your standards, your morals and your ideology in any way to be compromised. Your principles always have to stay in in charge. 

If you’re the leader, you’re leading the company. You’re responsible for failure or success. Make sure you don’t fail because you lowered your level. Simple as that.

Let us start fixing things one by one. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetJust keep going and enjoy it. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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120: Leaders with Heart Don’t Seek Perfection in Themselves

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Stephen Christopher about his leadership style and where his drive to lead come from. He also shares about the time when he allowed himself to hold onto an employee who was not open to change, what he did to come out of that circumstance, and what he does now to stop himself for doing that. 

Key takeaways:

  • Set aside time to be with people who just need to talk.
  • Look for greatness in people, but they have to want to improve.
  • Be a student of learning.
  • All your people to be their greatest selves.
Jumpstart your week by listening to this wonderful episode. Enjoy!

Stephen Christopher is the founder of a multi million marketing agency, Wit Digital, that serves home service companies. With a huge passion in intuitive guiding and coaching, He has been able to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Stephen helps home service companies grow their business through proper digital marketing strategies customized based on their objectives. He also inspires leaders to learn that they’re in control of their lives and how to harness the power of creation to choose the life they desire to live. 

Stephen also helps business owners exit the day to day of their business while still owning the company, as well as inspiring them to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Student of Leadership

I’ve started a couple companies over the last 15 years and I’ve been running teams really ever since then. I’ve been leading groups of people for well over a decade, but at the same time, I feel like I’m still young, every single day. 

I’m still learning because there’s always something new that comes up—like new situations where I can apply everything I have learned in the past but also learn something new from it. I guess, I’m just a student of leadership.

Be honest with your teams. They don't expect you to be perfect in every single moment. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building Up

I don’t believe that I’ll ever be a graduated professional. It’s a constantly evolving learning experience, especially based on how the world outside changes. 

We’re so far different than we were 10 years ago in the world. As those things continue to evolve and change, there’s never one answer that’s going to fit. And, there’s no finish line.

If somebody comes with a problem or an issue, or maybe they’re feeling great, oftentimes what they say the problem is, is really not necessarily the issue nor the root of it. 

That’s why I’m always trying to figure out the more of the root, so we can address something deeper and apply them in a lot more areas. It takes a while to build up that level of trust to where your team will actually tell you the truth. It can take years. But it’s well worth it.

Be gentle on yourself. Take into consideration lessons we can learn from the things we did and how we can do better next time. But that’s it. It’s purely factual information. There’s no need to tie heavy emotions to it because that just drains our energy. 

Also, it makes us a much less effective leader. Nobody wants to go to work or be led by who is down and not being the best version of themselves that they can.

We need every leader to get a little bit better every single day to make the world a better place. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThere's nothing you can change about where you are today because the past has already been written. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The First Piece

When talking about why, mine is to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. Leadership is like “I know that you can. I know you are capable more than you even are aware, and I’m going to offer you the ability to start to tease that out a little bit.”

The most exciting thing for me is having somebody come to us. You hear some leaders say like, “Oh, if only they would try a little harder. If only. How can I get them to work a little harder.”

People making those statements believe that if their people would work a little harder, they would give them a little bit more. But it’s the opposite.

You must give them more, then they will create the things that you’re looking for—better client relationships better output, more creativity and more innovation. You’ve got to put the first piece.

We're all in this human experience. None of us have all of the answers. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe're just so hard on ourselves, but it doesn't do us any good. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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119: Leaders With Heart Understand Who They Are And Use It To Lead Well

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In this episode, Heather speaks to Karen Weeks about her leadership journey and the way she sees how the differences in leadership styles impact the way we lead. She also shares more about her drive to lead and interesting lessons she learned when she left a team member out of an important meeting:

Key takeaways:

  • Collaborate with team members to ensure you aren’t making assumptions about their future opportunities.
  • Understand your unique style and how that helps you lead better.
  • Our mistakes inform our future decisions. Don’t hide from them, but embrace them.
  • Feedback is a gift.
Start your week right by listening to this wonderful episode. Enjoy!

Over fifteen years ago, Karen made a career change from theatre to HR and never looked back!  She found her passion in helping organizations build amazing cultures while guiding individuals to find success in their careers.  Karen is a results-focused, strategic partner, whose drive is to help companies build and scale their teams and culture to meet their business goals.  Her passion is around talent development, organizational effectiveness, change management and helping individuals build fulfilling careers.   She has been asked to speak on several panels, podcasts and serve as a guest writer on change fatigue, bringing a company’s values to life, scaling culture without sounding like “HR” and overall talent development.  She recently published her first book, “Setting the Stage: A Guide to Preparing for any Feedback Conversation” which is now available on Amazon.  Recently, she was named one of the 2020 Notable Women in Talent by Crain’s New York Business.

Currently, Karen serves as the VP of People at Ordergroove, where she is building the people strategy and focuses on maintaining a strong culture during the growth stage of the company, including winning Best Companies to Work in New York two years in a row!  Additionally, she can be found teaching management and HR strategy courses at Baruch College and as a professional development coach with GoCoach.  Karen’s academic credentials include an MS in Human Resources Development from Villanova University and a BA in Theatre Arts from Elon University.   She lives in NYC with her husband of almost 20 years and her furry babies.

Realizing Leadership

I felt like I kind of fell into leadership. I think it is partially because of being in an HR role. You’re always working with other people and helping them in their journey, so you sort of lose track of your own. All of a sudden, I would realize that now I’m the leader. In the moment of struggle, I would say, “Wait, I am actually the leader in this situation.” I’m the one people are looking up to.

I love what I do. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now. I truly see myself as a leader for the whole organization, whether it’s my direct team or the other folks.

You don't have to be a manager to be a leader. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Bettering Leadership

You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader. A lot of engineers don’t want to be managers, so they become architects or things that are just much more senior individual contributors. In those roles descriptions, we would talk about team leader, culture champion, and things that we actually look for in our people managers. Yet, it was important for them to have those qualities, even if they didn’t manage people. It took a while for me to realize that it actually applies to me as well.

Anybody can be a leader. It’s more about knowing your style and how you’re going to use that to be a better leader. It’s important to know your styles. Maybe someone more introverted or more analytical can’t be or will be a better leader than someone else. Do it in your own style.

Back in the day, having feelings and talking to people like humans was a bad thing. It’s supposed to be business only. Either because they were afraid or they were misunderstood. Actually, being human and showing that side of you is what will make you a better leader.

Vulnerability, approachability, empathy, being willing to try something and fail, and try again are what’s making good leaders these days. That’s all based on who you are as a person and how you think about other human beings.

We are all humans in this journey together. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetIf we are putting someone in a manager role, they need to have the maturity to have tough conversations. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Bringing People

I’m very approachable and supportive. I want you to see me as a human. At the end of the day, we are humans coming together, all with the same goal. I want to get to know you. 

I want you to be able to talk to me about things that are going on in your life. I want to know what’s important to you, whether that is in your career, or in your personal life. How can I support and help you get the things that are important to you?

In general, I did not want that spotlight. Looking back at my childhood, I realized I was always trying to bring people together. I wanted people to have a shared experience or shared journey for them to enjoy it. I think that’s a lot of what leadership actually is—bringing people together, supporting them, helping them achieve their goals.

Most people will rather hear tough or confusing stuff, because when you hear nothing you fill in the gaps with negativity every single time. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetVulnerability, approachability, empathy, being willing to try something and fail, and try again are what's making good leaders these days. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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118: Leaders With Heart Know That They Must Do The Right Thing At All Times

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Wes Struebing, Founder and President at Logistics Titans about his very direct and caring leadership style, where his drive to lead comes from, and some great nuggets for all leaders to move forward in their leadership.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you cannot or are not helping those you lead, you must leave or change your position.
  • You are either green and growing or you are dying. Which do you choose?
  • Doing the right thing is the only thing to do.
Don’t miss your chance, leaders with heart! Listen and learn!

Wes Struebing is the founder and president at Logistics Titans. 

After more than 30 years of being in the logistics industry, Wes learned a thing or two about moving things around and leading people to do their best and give their best to our clients. Whether it’s in life or business, he believes in one thing: he only wants to be there if he can make it better.

Logistics is his passion. He helps client partners figure out how to minimize loss and expenses with a reverse logistics plan that improve their bottom line and the environment. He knows how to create solutions for high-touch products, minimize cost, and become an extension of the client’s team.

Outside of his professional life, Wes has got a brand new baby. He also likes to cook, watch college football, and travel. 

Green and Growing

There’s a saying that either you’re green and growing, or ripe and rotting. Personally, I think I am green and growing as a leader since I still want to work and get better at it. I am open to being wrong and I want to learn new stuff all of the time. I absolutely learn more from failing than I do at winning. That’s where I am.

In difficult times, like this COVID crisis, I am clear with my team about me not taking a salary, and the rifts this could be to all of us. I tell them we’ll continue to communicate and navigate this the best we can.

If you’re not actively learning, you’re going to be in big trouble. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Make it Better

I’ve worked in a family business for a long time. But for the last 22 years I worked in another enterprise. I looked at the way they operate and how they care or did not care about people. I also observed some of the mistakes people have made in the organization. I think that they feel they are building things for themselves.

I live my life by a very simple rule—I want to be in your life as long as I can make it better. When I cannot make your life better, I will get out. That goes for my employees, my clients, and my friends; and it touches every part of my life. 

I am here to try and make your life better. If I can’t, then I won’t do it. Over time, I think this has become contagious. Also, it has thrusted me to this leadership role. You’re in this to make someone’s life better. Following this mantra has given me more gifts personally and professionally.

I just wish everyone would sit back and do the right thing. When in doubt do the right thing because there is no other choice. Just do it.

Life evolves. Things evolve. Right now more than ever, we have to evolve. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet My mission is to help. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Keeping the Community

Every morning I have an 8 AM Zoom call with my entire team, as well as a 5 PM end-of-the-day call with them. During the call, we’ll go through what we’re going to get done for the day, and what we’ve accomplished at the end of the day. All in a very quick and concise manner.

It has really put me more in touch with everybody in the company. I know more about what goes on with my people right now than I have ever have. Their families are also invited in the meetings. This is one of the ways that we have really kept our sense of community when there’s no office to go to

Early on in my career, I had the tendency to want to do everything myself because I knew no one can do it as well as I could. Until I was able to let that go, and help and teach others how to do things, I wouldn’t be as effective as I am today. Not even close.

Everyone’s going to know it’s not you and the way you really feel. Genuine works. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI am a blind advocate for my customers, regardless of financial gain. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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117: Leaders with Heart Live by the Golden Rule

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks to Scott Shay, Chairman of Signature Bank of New York about his leadership style, his mentors on leadership and a very unlikely journey to where he is today. He also shares his organization’s communication strategy in the midst of the Corona Virus, a time when he was not the best leader he could be and much more.

Key takeaways:

  • The most valuable asset in any organization is its employees.
  • Use the Golden Rule in your standards of conduct or organizational norms.
  • Don’t do something to your client or employees that you wouldn’t want them to do unto you.
  • Some things can be caught but not taught.
  • Listen to the people who are closely connected to your business issues. Otherwise, it’s dangerous.
This episode is surely insightful. Listen and learn!

Scott A. Shay is a Co-Founder and Chairman of Signature Bank.

Scott is also the Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Elah Fund, an Israel private equity fund.  He is a passionate community activist as well. He started an adult educational program, chaired several major Jewish educational programs and, with his wife Susan, started a Hebrew School.  

He is the author of In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism and Getting our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry.  He has also written articles on Judaism, belief and the economy for many leading publications. Scott has been thinking about religion, reason, and modernity since wondering why his parents sent him to Hebrew school. 

Rubber Meets the Road

I am actually at a time when everything that I’ve learned is now coming to bear. We are in the midst of this huge COVID-19 crisis and it’s having a serious and devastating impact on the economy. We’re dealing with it every day. It’s sort of a continuing 24-hour emergency with clients who are wondering whether to continue in business, or how they would work with their employees. 

This is truly a time when the rubber meets the road, and a time when you can really see authentic leaders who care about people and who are not. 

The most valuable asset to the bank is our colleagues. – Scott Shay #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Golden Rule

My colleagues are now under tremendous pressure from their clients because of huge essential decision making for their companies. They need to be mindful. They shouldn’t be nervous while knowing where they stand. They should also know where the bank stands and how the bank is going to treat their clients.

I’ll tell you my basic rule, the golden rule. The golden rule is as old as the Bible. Don’t do what would be hateful on to you to someone else. We actually have put that in our standards of conduct. If you get this right, the rest is really detail.

If you don’t do something to your client that you wouldn’t want done to you, that will take you a long way. It really is the golden rule. This means we have to treat every client with compassion. Sometimes that’s challenging, but we do it. We want our colleagues to know they’re going to be rewarded for always being compassionate and always letting the client know where they stand.

This is a trying time, and what got people here won’t necessarily get them to the next step. – Scott Shay #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe sometimes get so caught up in regulations and rules that we lose sight of a very simple reality. – Scott Shay #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Right Thing

My father always centered me in a moral way. He always did the right thing. Some things can be caught but not taught. My father was really good at that. Occasionally he would bring someone home from the street. If we had an old coat he’d give them an old coat. He would feed them dinner.

When I was younger, I was little bit afraid of these people he would bring in. They did not necessarily looked or smell the best, but he always treated people like human beings. I think that came from his concentration camp experience. When somebody’s really down and there seems to be nothing, how can you give them hope?

My parents did not have a lot of funds but they always gave money to the needy. They felt like there were people with less and they think of how to help them. Now, I wanted to do better. I always recognize my parents never raised me thinking we’re poor. I didn’t know what that meant until, I compared what we were doing with the rest of the world. I don’t think that ever came out of their mouths.

Sometimes, it is in our most intimate encounters that we recognize things that have epic consequences in our lives. – Scott Shay #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Think about what your clients want from you. Make sure your team feels like they can tell you what you don’t necessarily want to hear. – Scott Shay #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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116: Leaders with Heart Have Care as Their North Star

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Erik Van Bramer, SVP at Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago about his leadership style, his North Star for Leading, a very distant place from where his drive to lead comes from and something key for leaders to remember.

Key takeaways:

  • Figure out what the needs of your people are and meet them there.
  • When you are truly happy to see your people getting recognition for their work separately from your part in it, you know you are a caring leader.
  • Keep your eye on the prize with your team. Otherwise, they will know it when it veers off.
This episode is surely a gem. Listen and learn!

Erik Van Bramer was named senior vice president and national sales director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Customer Relations and Support Office (CRSO). Erik has served as the national sales director since 2017 and was previously vice president and director of the Federal Reserve Bank’s national account program. 

Erik joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 1998 and transitioned to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2005. Then, Erik was promoted to assistant vice president and national account executive in 2010. He was promoted to vice president in 2014 with responsibility for leading the group which managed the relationships for the large and complex financial institutions.

Erik holds a bachelor’s degree from The Colorado College and has done additional graduate studies at The Lake Forest Graduate School of Business, The Booth School of Business, and obtained his certificate from the Graduate School of Banking at The University of Colorado.  He serves on several boards throughout the Denver metro area with particular interest in injury prevention and underserved children and communities.

The New Next Level

I’m in an interesting stage in my leadership journey. For much of my career, I defined my leadership around obtaining the next level, and getting more responsibility.  But in the last couple of years, I was not interested in the next level anymore. 

My focus now is on being better at leading people. It’s about how I feel when I’m leading people, and how the people who work on my team would feel. And it’s very refreshing to find myself more focused on my people: the people I lead, the people I work with, as well as my own personal growth and development.

Your success is no longer defined by how you do but how the people who work with you do. – Erik Van Bramer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Understanding Influence

There’s a fine line between managing people and treating people differently. When I work with an individual, I try to understand their needs. So, I tailor my leadership to their needs. If a person needs constant feedback, I try to focus and give them that constant feedback. Meanwhile, others are interested in big nuggets and it being more powerful when it’s received less often because they know that there’s strong intent behind it.

It takes some time to understand people’s needs. When you work in a big organization with a large team, it’s impossible to know everybody’s needs. But with time, and when a lot of you have worked together for many years, you have a great understanding of each other’s needs. I tailor my philosophy and style by focusing time and energy to understand people’s needs without treating them differently.

It’s one thing to influence your peers. But as I grow as a leader, when I combine influence with authority by setting the tone and the cultures, I found that I had more success. What drove me for many years was wanting to expand my realm of influence as much as I could. And I would do that by obtaining the next level and pushing myself.  Now I’m in a position where I’m more focused on being a better leader for my team and on influencing other people.

If I take my caring and passion for other people and wanting the best for them, how can I get the most bang for my buck? – Erik Van Bramer #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetBe better and help as many people as you can. – Erik Van Bramer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The North Star Realignment

I had a point in my career where I wasn’t empathetic to my peers. When I got to a higher position, I forgot to think how it affected them and became more focused on myself and how wonderful this got for me. Once it hit me that I would counsel to care about people, but yet, I was not thinking of the people who helped get me here.

It almost took a slap in the face to see that I need to refocus and look back at why I wanted to be here in the first place. Someone who I’d been really close to with called me out and said, “Oh sorry, Mr. Big shot now. Why don’t you tell us peons what it is we need to do next?” This was coming from someone who I was very close to. The thought that he would think that to me was a signal that I have completely lost my way.

Rather than blaming him, I had to look at myself and realize that I was caught up with how fast my career was moving. It was a brutal moment, but it set me up to see my guiding star of reason once again. Now, I’m not interested or looking for that next step up. If I hadn’t had that moment, I might be frustrated in finding the next steps where in truth I just don’t see them.

If I can keep the spark and enthusiasm going with everyone on my team, it sets us up to be successful. – Erik Van Bramer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet How in my life can I impact the most people? – Erik Van Bramer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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