September 27, 2021
On this episode of the Growing With Purpose podcast, Paul Spiegelman talks with Mel Gravely, majority owner and CEO of TriVersity Construction. He is also the author of nine books, including his most recent, Dear White Friend.
As a self-proclaimed product of Affirmative Action, from an early age Mel understood not only that his presence as a black man in professional settings was met with negative perceptions, but also that the intentionality of inclusion offered him opportunities that the systems in this country would not have naturally led to. After a successful career at IBM, earning his PhD, and starting several other companies, Mel went on to lead TriVersity Construction, which is a consistent member of the Deloitte 100 list of the largest privately owned companies.
After writing eight business books relating to his PhD in entrepreneurship focused on African Americans, Mel felt compelled to contribute to the social justice movement with his book Dear White Friend (in which he intentionally left out his PhD). Through a series of letters to his white friends, Mel cites extensive research and data to support his own sentiments around race, and how our country’s history and systems have led us to this point in history, but has not prepared us for it. As he says, “If we can’t figure out how to talk about what we’re feeling and experiencing and what we see, how can we hope to solve it?”
In this episode, hear Mel tell Paul his approach to this book and what kind of impact he hopes it can have on future discussions around race. Plus, hear how Mel’s parents helped prepare him to be a successful leader, and what his definition of success is for his company.
Listen to Mel’s story below:
August 23, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Conni Reed, founder and CEO of Consuela.
Starting with a computer science degree, Conni had a steady career in the corporate tech world. But she was feeling uninspired, unhappy, and, in her own words, “I was pretty much just un.” After a self-proclaimed “early mid-life crisis at 35,” she left her job to start her own business. What began as making one-of-a-kind art in her garage has grown into a multi-million dollar company selling joyously colorful handbags, as well as the mission “make today ridiculously awesome!”.
In this episode, Connie explains how hearing many “no’s” helped her to understand her values even more, the personal importance of working with artisans in Mexico, and the strength that empathy has given her throughout her life. After you listen, head on over to the Consuela website for some accessory eye candy and heartwarming messages.
July 18, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Drew Patrick, owner and CEO of Skidmore Studio in Detroit, Michigan. In March 2020, Drew also founded Michigan Fields, an online specialty market that delivers the best of Michigan food and beverage directly to Metro Detroit homes.
Drew's story is one of passion, resilience, and a feeling that all entrepreneurs can identify with: shit happens. On this episode, Paul sits down with Drew to delve into his winding road into entrepreneurship, which culminated in him becoming the owner of Skidmore Studio under the worst of all possible circumstances: the owner — and Drew's personal friend — Tim Smith passed away suddenly in 2018. Not only that, Tim passed away shortly after Drew told Tim that he planned to leave the company. But the soul of Skidmore — its people and values — kept Drew on board, as he recommitted himself to a company that has been part of the creative fabric of Detroit for decades.
In this episode, listen along as Paul and Drew explore some of the most pivotal moments of Drew's career, from the year when Skidmore lost 70% of its revenue in a matter of 3 weeks, to the change of heart that led to Drew taking the reins of a company he planned to leave. You'll also hear why (and how) Drew started a brand-new company at the height of the pandemic — and it actually succeeded.
June 14, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Sabrina White, Head of People & Customer Experience at Text-Em-All, and Leslie DeMent, Managing Director at Tailwind. Sabrina and Leslie are graduates of the Small Giants Leadership Academy who found lifelong friendship in one another and with the other leaders in their class.
On this episode, Paul sits down with Sabrina and Leslie to dive into what makes their friendship so special. Sabrina and Leslie were in the same class of the Small Giants Leadership Academy, but they didn't really get to know one another until six months into the program, when they spent time together at the Small Giants Summit
, which is included in the Leadership Academy experience. The two hit it off right away, and went on to form a friendship that has only grown since they graduated from the Academy.
Today, Sabrina and Leslie rely on one another as friends and as leadership mentors. As Sabrina prepared to become a new mom – and also the first person in her organization to ever become pregnant — Leslie drew on her experience as a working mother to help Sabrina plan for maternity leave and map out a blueprint for her team. And the support is mutual: Leslie loves to remind Sabrina that they're going to be "friends forever" and that she relies on Sabrina as a trusted sounding board for her leadership and personal challenges.
In this episode, listen along as Paul, Sabrina, and Leslie have a fun, inspiring conversation about the friendships that emerge from the Small Giants Leadership Academy and the Small Giants Community at large. You'll hear Leslie and Sabrina's reflections on the importance of peer relationships in leadership, and learn why all three of them believe that accountability is a cornerstone of Small Giants leadership.
May 16, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO of the The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and a graduate of the Small Giants Leadership Academy, to talk about his leadership journey, his experiences as a Black leader, and his perspective on the important role business can play in our nation's fight for racial justice.
Like all of us, Torey and his colleagues at ASLA were deeply impacted by the murder of George Floyd last summer. "The 8 minutes and 46 seconds murder of George Floyd brought ASLA — and the world, quite frankly — to a full stop and reminded us all that the road to a more just and fair society is long and winding," says Torey.
For many, a period of deep self-reflection followed. For host Paul Spiegelman, this social justice movement moved him to start a new initiative within the Small Giants Community, the LIFT Scholarship Program (Leaders for Inclusion, Fairness & Transparency)
. Paul and his family will personally fund enrollment in the Small Giants Leadership Academy for business leaders of color, particularly leaders in underserved communities.
As CEO of ASLA, Torey turned his attention to his own organization and the industry to which it belongs, releasing a racial equity plan of action titled “Our Work Continues…”
in hopes that the landscape architecture profession and global design community will join them on this important journey.
In this episode, Paul and Torey have a frank conversation about the role of race in business, leadership, and life, and they reflect on the unique challenges and opportunities of the moment our nation finds itself in. You'll hear Paul and Torey's perspectives on why people find it so hard to talk about race, and learn why Torey thinks it's less about the conversation and more about listening.
April 25, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Colin Quinn, Founder/Co-Director at Be Positive in Edinburgh, Scotland. Be Positive is an IT services company that provides consulting, staffing, and training in the area of business analysis.
Colin's role at Be Positive is the head of vision and strategy. Away from work, Colin is the Director of the Glasgow City Football Club, Glasgow's most successful women's football team. Colin's relationship with host Paul Spiegelman is a special one: the two are paired together in the Small Giants Sounding Board
, a mentorship program that pairs you with a tenured Small Giant leader to help you through challenges, navigate workplace relationships, offer guidance, share wisdom, and simply listen.
This episode is a rare glimpse into the special bond that forms through mentorship, and a thoughtful reflection on what makes mentorship successful. Plus, hear Paul and Colin reflect on what many business leaders get wrong about visioning, and hear their thoughts on how the pandemic has many reimagining their purpose in life – including their own.
Interested in learning more about purpose-driven mentorship through the Small Giants Sounding Board? Learn more.
March 28, 2021
On this bonus mailbag episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman answers listener questions all about small business finances with special guest Mackey McNeill, CPA, PFS, and Founder and CEO of the private business financial coaching firm, MACKEY.
If the events of the last year taught us anything, it's that unexpected things happen and as business leaders, we need to be prepared for them. Right now, many leaders in the Small Giants Community are facing more questions than answers, especially when it comes to the economy and financial planning.
That's why we’re doing a special mailbag episode to answer your questions about how Small Giants can expect the best and prepare for the unexpected in the year ahead. Listeners of this podcast submitted their questions and we've invited special guest Mackey McNeill to lend her expertise.
Mackey is a Small Giants Community Summit sponsor and those who registered early will receive a copy of her book Prosperity Playbook. Want to learn from and meet inspiring purpose-driven leaders like Mackey?
Register for the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit where you'll connect with hundreds of purpose-driven business leaders for meaningful relationship sharing and interactive learning.
March 14, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Jim Hume, Owner and Principal of Phire Group, a research and brand strategy firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Under Jim's leadership, Phire Group delivers complete research and brand strategy along with creative and comprehensive digital and traditional capabilities to uncover a brand’s full potential. Jim founded Phire Group when he was just twenty-six years old, and over the years Jim has done a complete 180 on his approach to leadership, business and life.
After he was blindsided ten years ago by a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, Jim took a step back to assess his priorities, his purpose and how that played out in his business. Many changes had to be made and today, Phire Group is an award-winning purpose-driven organization that puts people and purpose first. In 2020, Phire Group was named a Forbes Small Giant
In this conversation, hear how Phire Group takes a non-traditional approach to marketing that aims to inspire and motivate, not manipulate. Plus, Paul and Jim discuss the practical ways in which leaders can build culture, keep purpose at the center of the business, and build an organization that will exist long beyond its founder.
Want to learn from and meet inspiring purpose-driven leaders like Jim? Register for the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit where you'll connect with hundreds of purpose-driven business leaders for meaningful relationship sharing and interactive learning.
February 14, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Khalilah Olokunola, Chief People Officer at Tru Colors, a for-profit start up brewery owned & operated by active gang members with a social mission to unify and decrease gang violence across the country.
KO was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She spent much of her teens active on the streets of Brooklyn and Troy, New York with what many view as the cities’ most notorious street gangs — Bloods, Crips and Folks. She eventually faced the consequences of her activities and lost her name for four years to a Department of Corrections number.
Throughout it all, KO remained adamant about the importance of education in her life, and spent her nights imagining the American dream she saw on television. But it wasn't about the picket fence: she simply wanted the opportunity to impact the lives of others, especially those who had walked in her shoes.
Driven by her past experiences and her innate servant leadership, KO has forged an impressive career path and today, she is Chief People Officer for TRU Colors Brewing, where she is the force that shapes its company culture and works tirelessly to cultivate both personal and professional growth for their team members.
In this conversation, hear how KO uses an in-depth, eight-week onboarding program to train cohorts of gang members and second-chance hires in the life, social, business and beer skills they'll need to be successful. Plus, Paul and KO discuss the importance of beliefs in leadership development and how we can challenge others — and ourselves — to build more just, equitable and inclusive communities.
Want to learn meet inspiring purpose-driven leaders like Khalilah? Register for the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit where you'll connect with hundreds of purpose-driven business leaders for meaningful relationship sharing and interactive learning.
January 17, 2021
On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of the Zingerman's community of businesses.
The Small Giants movement began in 2003 when author Bo Burlingham wrote an article for Inc. magazine dubbing Zingerman’s The Coolest Small Company in America. The idea to start a community for like-minded, purpose-driven business leaders took root from there, when a group of leaders gathered at Zingerman's deli to try its famous corned beef sandwiches and to see for themselves what made this small company so special.
In this conversation, hear Zingerman's origin story from a founder's perspective and hear how Ari and his co-founder, Paul Saginaw, used visioning to transform their business. Plus, hear Ari's reflections on the 12 natural laws of business they've uncovered in their decades of success running Zingerman's community of businesses.
Want to learn more from one of the most revered Small Giants leaders around? Register for the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit where Ari will give a keynote about what it takes to be a Small Giant today.
Purchase Ari's latest work, "Humility: A Humble, Anarchist Inquiry" and other resources when you sign up for e-news from Zingerman's community of businesses.