Growing with Purpose

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April 25, 2021  

Colin Quinn: Every Leader Needs a Sounding Board

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  

Bonus Mailbag with Mackey McNeill: How to Thrive, Not Just Survive This Year

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  

Jim Hume: The Harsh Wake-Up Call That Changed Everything

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  

Khalilah “KO” Olokunola: From the Block to the Boardroom

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  

Ari Weinzweig: While the World Gets Louder, Humility Can Quietly Help

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.


December 13, 2020  

Jay Wilkinson: Fired as CEO of Your Own Company

Note: This interview was recorded at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

On this encore episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Jay Wilkinson, founder and CEO of Firespring, an inside-out marketing agency and Nebraska's first B Corp. Firespring is also a 2020 Forbes Small Giant.

With a team of more than 200 employees, Jay spends most of his time working on the culture at Firespring and helping leaders in other companies become purpose-driven. But in the early 2000s, Jay experienced a pivotal moment in his life and career when he was fired as CEO of his own company. In the wake of the September 11th attacks and the economic decline that followed, his board of directors wanted him to fire more than half of their staff. When Jay refused, they fired him from the very company that he built.

In this encore episode, hear how Jay recovered from that experience and managed to buy out the venture capitalists on his board and rebuild the company. Plus, hear Paul and Jay discuss how to care for introverts on your team, starting from the very first interview.

November 7, 2020  

Bo Burlingham: What Makes a Company Great?

On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Bo Burlingham, author of the Small Giants book among many others, former executive editor of Inc. Magazine, a Forbes contributor, and co-founder of the Small Giants Community.

When Bo Burlingham published Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, he didn't know he was starting a movement. In the years since, entrepreneurs around the world and from across industries have picked up the Small Giants book and had a lightbulb moment.

Even more, these entrepreneurs felt a sense of relief in discovering that there were other leaders out there who also believed in a different way of doing business: putting people and purpose before profits. Not long after, the Small Giants Community formed to bring these leaders together to learn and grow with purpose.

Those involved with the Small Giants Community today are familiar with Bo's writing and the inspiring ideas he explores in his books, but what you might not know is Bo's storied journey into business journalism. Bo has always had a spirit of curiosity, and in college, he was drawn into many of the radical movements of the 1960s and 1970s. But his counterculture ideals didn't last forever — eventually, Bo wound up working at Fidelity Investments, before moving into a role as a founding editor at Inc. Magazine. Although much has changed for Bo over the years, his values never have.

In this special episode with the Small Giants author and co-founder, hear Bo's reflections on what makes a company great and what the future holds for Small Giants companies. Plus, hear Paul and Bo revisit how they first met and what their relationship has meant to them over the years.

October 8, 2020  

Delcie Bean: On a Mission to Make I.T. Fun

On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Delcie Bean, CEO of Paragus Strategic IT.

Delcie Bean started the company that became Paragus when he was only 13 years old. Although he didn't flourish in the traditional school environment, he found great success in entrepreneurship at an incredibly young age. By his high school years, Delcie's business required an office space and employees of its own to meet client demand.

Today, Paragus has become one of the most successful, fastest-growing IT firms in the region and was named a 2020 Forbes Small Giant: Best Small Companies in America.

Over the years, Delcie has worked hard to build a culture defined by fostering fun for employees and customers, a spirit of transparency, and humility. But that has also meant making tough decisions about transitioning out people who no longer fit the culture, and knowing when the organization has outgrown its talent.

Delcie also believes in giving back to his employees: Paragus has a unique Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) structure that puts ownership of 40 percent of the company in the hands of its 50-plus employees. 

In this episode, hear Delcie's (very) early experiences in entrepreneurship and how he built the award-winning culture at Paragus today. Plus, hear Paul and Delcie discuss the hardest failure Delcie has ever lived through and what he learned from it.


September 18, 2020  

Elizabeth Glasbrenner: Can a Leader Care Too Much?

On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Elizabeth Glasbrenner, co-founder and President/CEO of Smiley Technologies, Inc.

Smiley Technologies, Inc. (STI), is a group of entrepreneurial, service-centric software developers and support staff in Central Arkansas, with business practices and traditions that recall those who ushered in the first big wave of bank technology innovation a half century ago. Smiley Technologies is also a 2020 Forbes Small Giant: Best Small Companies in America.

Although Elizabeth co-founded the business with her brother seventeen years ago, she never envisioned herself as CEO. A self-described bleeding heart, she worked in non-profits and gravitated to positions where she could be in service to others and help them succeed.

When she had the opportunity to become CEO of Smiley, she was reluctant — she thought she cared far too much to become CEO. But she took a leap of faith and accepted the role, drawing inspiration on her father's example of purpose-driven leadership that she witnessed growing up. Today, Elizabeth is a compassionate, servant leader leading a successful and profitable business. 

In this episode, hear how Elizabeth challenged her own beliefs about leadership to realize she was built to become a CEO. Plus, hear Paul and Elizabeth discuss what the role of a leader really is: to help create success for other people.

August 28, 2020  

Travis Slisher Interviews Paul Spiegelman: Take Care of the Person In Front of You

On a very special episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, the tables are turned and host Paul Spiegelman is in the hot seat.

Small Giants Leadership Academy graduate Travis Slisher interviews Paul about his life journey and shares with Paul the impact of the Small Giants Scholarship Fund, which allowed him to embark on a journey to grow as a leader.

Travis has a story that many emerging leaders can identify with: he believes in a different, more purposeful style of leadership but he often feels isolated in his beliefs. Where could he find training and mentorship that aligned with his values and would give him the tools to grow himself and his organization?

"Then I discovered this community that I didn't know existed in Small Giants," says Travis. "I found what I was looking for here, and then Paul invested in me personally through the Small Giants Scholarship Fund. I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart."

Travis is the inaugural recipient of the Small Giants Scholarship Fund, which connects emerging leaders to the funds they need to complete the Small Giants Leadership Academy and become certified Small Giant leaders. As Travis' graduation approached, he asked for the opportunity to interview Paul — who seeded the Scholarship Fund — about his own leadership beliefs and lessons learned.

This episode is a rare opportunity to hear directly from our co-founder about his early days building a business with his brothers, which eventually became BerylHealth, why he started the Small Giants Community, and the endeavors that give him a sense of purpose today.

Paul also shares formative family stories — like his father's experience leaving Poland right before Hitler invaded — and his urgent advice to people of all ages: if you're not fulfilled by the life you're in right now, do not settle. 

In this episode, Travis has the opportunity to talk to the person who founded the Community that is impacting his life today and ask anything he wants. They cover everything from mindfulness to firing clients to the current movement for racial justice.

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