Growing with Purpose

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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.

August 3, 2020  

Lisa Wise: Empathy Is My Engine

On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Lisa Wise, who leads Flock DC, a family of service companies with an innovative approach to real estate management and preservation.

 

Over the last 25 years, Lisa Wise’s professional experiences have all been anchored in empowering individuals as consumers, building stronger communities, and creating forward-thinking businesses. Growing up surrounded by love but short on resources, Lisa began seeking security by building businesses from a young age, starting with her first enterprise, The Sherlock Holmes Detective Agency in her parents' backyard toolshed.

 

Today, Lisa's leadership is defined by vulnerability, humility, and a fierce passion for justice for all people. With our country in the midst of a global pandemic, an economic crisis and widespread protests for racial justice, Lisa is stepping up in this moment with bold and unapologetic leadership, personal sacrifices, and a commitment to caring for her team members. 

 

In this episode, hear how Lisa has cultivated a circle of growth in her companies that puts employees first. Plus, hear Paul and Lisa discuss how to raise conscious children and the one thing they think parents get wrong about college.

July 19, 2020  

Jay Wilkinson: Leading with the Heart First

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

On this 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 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.

 

June 7, 2020  

Emily Tetto: Tap Into Your Inner Journey

Note: This interview was recorded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Emily Tetto, Vice President of Talent and Culture at Acceleration Partners.

Emily is also a Small Giants Leadership Academy facilitator, lending her expertise on how to hire and onboard top talent to emerging purpose-driven leaders. Early in her career, Emily worked in event planning and management, but she's always had a passion for people. As she moved into talent development, Emily realized that company culture is an event in itself: it's a living, breathing thing that takes intention and expertise to get right.

In this episode, hear Paul and Emily discuss the expertise she's developed in her career and how she finds and develops top talent for Acceleration Partners.

May 29, 2020  

Jonathan Keyser: You Don’t Have to Be Ruthless to Win

Note: This episode was recorded in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. 
 
Jonathan Keyser is the founder and thought leader behind Keyser, the largest occupier services commercial real estate brokerage firm in Arizona. Through sheer determination and focus on selfless service, Jonathan is disrupting the commercial real estate (CRE) industry, and beyond.
 
A best-selling author, media contributor, and strong supporter of the Conscious Capitalism movement, Jonathan is here today to share his journey, mission, and selfless service approach to business. In his book and on this episode, You Don’t Have to be Ruthless to Win, Jonathan shares how you can activate selflessness in your life and see how and why this counterintuitive strategy can create long-term success in your own business. 
May 17, 2020  

Blair Kellison: Be Inspired to Be Like You

On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Blair Kellison, CEO of Traditional Medicinals, a mission-driven, organic and fair trade wellness tea company based in Sonoma County, California.

Blair Kellison made the best decision in 1995 by taking a 70 percent pay cut to leave the corporate world and take a job at a mission-driven, vegetarian tea company. As a four-time non-founder CEO, Blair has a reputation for being able to go into companies and transition them from a traditional, command-and-control style of leadership to a collaborative, values-driven team approach.

At Traditional Medicinals, Blair has helped grow the company from 60 employees to 200, and they recently surpassed $100 million in revenue. More importantly, Blair has finally found his passion: both working in the mission-driven, health food space and in helping others find their own passions. A deeply purpose-driven person, Blair is committed to making every person at Traditional Medicinals feel cared for and seen as an individual, and he's teaching founders and other leaders how to do the same.

In this episode, hear Paul and Blair discuss the key differences between founders and CEOs, and how leadership is an ongoing commitment to doing better than the day before. Plus, hear Blair's inspiring advice for those still looking for their passion, and his personal promise to help you find it. 

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