The Bold Leader Blog


What is a Bold Leader?

By | Thursday, March 12, 2015|

There are whole sections in business libraries and bookstores dedicated to the topic of leadership.  What it is.  What it requires.  Masters write about it and rewrite about it over and over again. Some new and long established names you may have read:  Peter Drucker, John Kotter, Seth Godin, Warren Bennis, Daniel Pink, Gary Hamel, Steven Covey, Clayton Christensen, Daniel Goleman, Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Patrick Lencioni… and I could go on.  The field is large and rich.  People study and pursue advanced degrees in it. […]

Why Map an Ideal Customer Experience?

By | Monday, November 4, 2013|

Like the old cliché “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know if you get there?” there is a benefit for everyone in your organization to have a clear, unclouded vision of the point on the horizon to which you are aiming. In the cliché the risk is overshooting the target. In business the risk is that individuals, functions or even your whole company could be unwittingly marching away from the outcomes that would yield the best performance for your company. […]

Nurturing Boldness: An Interview with Diana Rehnberg

By | Wednesday, May 18, 2016|

Once upon a time (well, actually many times over decades!), I was a mentor in a national program that paired experienced executives with up and coming business leaders. My first mentee in that program, Colleen Larson, and I have stayed in touch [...]

Pausing to Move Forward: Sending a Powerful Message

By | Thursday, March 31, 2016|

You’ve probably seen the headlines over the last few weeks about how Chipotle closed all locations for a company-wide meeting on food safety. The news articles range from mildly noteworthy to shocked predictions of the certain doom of the restaurant chain. When [...]

Thinking of Great Ideas AND Making Them Walk, Too – An Interview with Becky Roloff

By | Wednesday, March 30, 2016|

Becky Roloff is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA of Minneapolis.  As their website describes, the YWCA serves over 30,000 annually with a budget of $23 million through a dedicated staff of over 600 full and part-time employees.  I’ve [...]

Optimistic. Empathetic. Curious. An Interview with Carly Broderick

By | Friday, March 4, 2016|

Let me start this post where Carly Broderick and I ended our bold leader conversation. Optimistic, empathetic and curious were three adjectives Carly offered as the best descriptors of herself. I don’t know her well but in our few exchanges, all three [...]

Never Satisfied and Always Moving Forward: An Interview with Dr. Nicolas Guggenheim

By | Wednesday, February 24, 2016|

I’ve known Dr. Nicolas Guggenheim, the President of Heraeus Medical Components (HMC) and worked with him and his team for a couple of years now. We have (hopefully he agrees!) a strong, positive working relationship and yet I find him a bit [...]

Learn Out Loud: An Interview with Nancy Dahl

By | Thursday, February 18, 2016|

I remember the day I met Nancy Dahl. It was 1999 and I was in a small fishbowl conference room at Lifetouch where she was at the time Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. It was a small group, discussing the implications [...]

Connect the Dots Through What and Why: An Interview with Steven Guida

By | Tuesday, February 9, 2016|

  My bold leader interview with Steve Guida picked up after a 15 – 20-year gap. Neither of us could remember exactly the last time we saw each other. As so often happens when you haven’t seen someone in a while, you [...]

4 Ways to Accurately Anticipate Customer Needs

By | Thursday, January 14, 2016|

You’ve given your customer a reason to come to your company in the first place and succeeded in solving one of your customer’s needs. Congratulations on a job well done. What’s next?  Delivering another winner that will alleviate the next customer problem [...]

Beyond the Usual Limits of Conventional Thought or Action: An Interview with John Hoskins

By | Friday, January 8, 2016|

One of the things I ask everyone I meet through these bold leader interviews, especially those who have been referred to me so I’m meeting them for the first time, is: “Why do you think (referring person) sees you as a bold leader? And, do you think of yourself that way?” John Hoskins’ response was one I loved: “I originally thought no. Then I looked up the word [bold] for fun and there were 8 definitions. The one that I liked was from (adjective) beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.” I knew I was in for a great conversation because John had in an instant put his finger on a very simple description of the kind of bold leaders we are looking for:  Unconventional. Action oriented. Imaginative. […]

A Bold Leader with a Sense of Urgency: An Interview with Ezra Ernst

By | Tuesday, November 17, 2015|

While there is no single profile of a Bold Leader, I’m struck by the number of bold leaders we have interviewed that have a resume of short, intense engagements. Perhaps I look for this profile as it mirrors my own. As I often say, it isn’t easy building a 35 year business career – 3 ½ years at a time. But, when I reflect back on the most impactful organizational transformations that I have been involved with – that change often largely occurred within a fairly condensed time frame (9 months to 18 months). […]

Bold Leaders Have Humility. An Interview with Damien Harmon

By | Thursday, August 27, 2015|

I’ve had the privilege to work with a lot of great leaders in my career.  As I applied the additional lens of “bold leadership” to that list – Damien Harmon easily rose to the top.  Damien is VP of Operations at Bridgestone Retail Operations, and as I spoke with him, an important element of bold leadership emerged – and that was the notion of humility.  Damien shared that when you are humble, you are naturally able to make your purpose and message much higher than yourself.  It’s not about being right; it’s about having extreme focus on customer outcomes, and knowing you alone don’t have all the answers on how to get there.    […]

Are you leading or ‘just out taking a walk?’ An Interview with LTG (Ret) Benjamin C. Freakley

By | Wednesday, August 5, 2015|

Ben Freakley, Lieutenant General (Ret), is the first military leader I’ve had the opportunity to interview for this bold leader series, and boy did I get lucky. Now Special Advisor to the President of ASU for Leadership Initiatives, a Senior Advisor to The McCain Institute for International Leadership and former Eagle Scout, one of the first things Ben said to me when I asked him about his path to bold leadership was, “I think it started when I was about 11 and joined the Boy Scouts. I have learned to be a leader, and by your definition of bold leader, yes, of course I have gotten things done.” As we discussed development of leadership skills, Ben commented, “I once heard someone say, ‘If no one is following, you’re just out taking a walk.’” That set the tone for our whole enjoyable conversation. […]

Do you know your personal brand? An interview with Phil Soran

By | Friday, July 17, 2015|

Phil Soran is a bold leader who knows himself very well. Not in a braggadocios way but in a confident, warm, and engaging way. Before committing to the actual interview, Phil wanted a conversation and asked me more questions than anyone I’ve interviewed to date. I thought that was great! And interesting. Through our two conversations, I met a leader who is curious and confident and has a clear point of view. And he has a marketing orientation to the way he sees the role of a leader. This culminated in a statement he made near the end of our interview: “I tell people that come to me all the time, ‘Figure out your differentiators, name them, brand them.’” Do you know your personal brand? Can you name it? […]

Jodi Prohofsky Interview: Bold Leaders Know When to Improve and When to Disrupt

By | Thursday, June 4, 2015|

I’ve found that bold leaders are drawn to organizations under some kind of negative or positive stress.  Jodi Prohofsky was drawn to a company grappling with both, simultaneously. Jodi’s team, responsible for billions in provider and supplier contracts, is part of a massive effort at WalMart to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. Imagine: the massive machinery of big box retail, the shifting sands of the health care market space, and millions upon millions of us who need better and more affordable options for health care. The negative stress of turning a big ship. The positive stress of new opportunity. […]

Sam Yagan Interview: Fail Because You Are Trying…

By | Wednesday, May 20, 2015|

The latter part of the title is the beginning of a quote from my conversation with Sam Yagan, CEO of  The whole quote is: “Fail because you are trying, not because you are not trying.” It is probably a good example of why Time Magazine in 2013 named him one of “the 100 most influential people in the world, from artists and leaders to pioneers, titans and icons.” People hesitant to act for fear of failing accomplish little. All of my bold leader interviews to date have reinforced this fact. […]