miscellaneous topics

Everyday leadership: How podcasts have contributed to my career transition

Everyday leadership: How podcasts have contributed to my career transition

My career interests have expanded and shifted over the past ~2 years and it has taken me until now to start becoming public about this. Writing this post is a small act of courage: I am claiming and making known my in-transition and growing professional identity.

This post outlines how a few podcasts have had a key role in shaping the direction of my career. I am writing this to highlight the importance of everyday leadership and lollipop moments–those moments when people show up, share their inspiration and have a profound effect on someone else, often without knowing that they’ve done so. I feel much gratitude for the work of every person and podcast mentioned here.

Everyday Leadership through Podcasts

The visual below is my best attempt at demonstrating how the connections (note 1) were made and what theme//idea/guest in that particular podcast significantly contributed to my career transitionUnder the visual is a brief textual description.

(Click on the image for a larger view)

[oh no, I cut off Dr. Tracy Timberlake’s name by accident!]

Text summary of the visual: It started with Bonni Stachowiak’s Teaching in Higher Education podcast. I don’t even recall how I discovered it but know that I was still fully immersed in my educational developer identity when I started listening. Bonni and her guests talked about teaching in higher education (surprise, surprise) and she also talked about this fine fellow Dave Stachowiak who has the Coaching for Leaders podcast. I had a hunch I might like it. I did, and do! On Coaching for Leaders, I was introduced to the Introvert Entrepreneur podcast by Beth Buelow. One day, Beth interviewed Kwame Christian who hosts the Negotiate Anything podcast. In one of his episodes, Kwame had a conversation with Lisa Cummings, of Lead Through Strengths, about ‘smart yesses and wise nos‘ and they talked about StrengthsFinder. I was intrigued and primed because I had taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment in 2016 and had found it revelatory.  I started to listen to Lisa’s podcast and, within a short time, began to seriously consider developing as a Gallup Strengths coach.  Alongside the above podcasts, I was also hooked on Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle School and a regular listener to You’ve Got This, in which academic entrepreneur Katie Linder shared about her consulting ventures and inspirations.

The Transition and the Now

Approximately one year ago, I recognized the extent to which my professional interests had grown. I was still immersed and engaged in the field of educational development through my work at UBC, but wanted to pursue coaching and entrepreneurial activities.

To honour my changing interests and new career goals, I made a number of decisions:

  • enrolled in Tracy Timberlake’s course for new entrepreneurs (Tracy was a guest on the Introvert Entrepreneur)
  • sought educational consulting opportunities
  • registered and then completed the Gallup’s Accelerated Strengths coaching course

I am now a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and very energized by this journey I’ve begun.

Thank you to my everyday leaders.


Note 1:  For anyone who knows StrengthsFinder, you probably won’t be surprised to know that my Top 5 are: Learner, Intellection, Input, Achiever and Connectedness.

Note 2I am a regular listener to all the podcasts I mentioned above because I learn SO much from these. I also learn a great deal from other podcasts, but the ones I’ve highlighted are that had a distinct role in my career transition.

Note 3: This post is inspired by Bonni Stachowiak’s blog post in which she wrote about podcasts’ contribution to her personal knowledge management system.


Documenting the impact of educational leadership in faculty member careers

Leadership quote

For just under a year, I have been involved in a collaborative project concerning educational leadership (EL) in faculty member careers.

This initiative involves (1) clarifying what EL is in the context of faculty member careers and (2) helping faculty members articulate the evidence and impact of their EL activities.The people with whom I am collaborating are Dr. Simon Bates (lead) and Dr. Simon Albon. Though my involvement is in the UBC context, this is part of a larger international Universitas 21 project.

One of the reasons that articulating evidence and impact of EL matters is because Educational Leadership Stream faculty must be able to do so to advance their careers (see note 1). However, since EL is a concept people are still trying to figure out, it is not yet ‘obvious’ what counts as evidence and how to communicate the impact.

We have begun to develop some resources to help with this and are workshopping them with faculty members and others to get their feedback.

The tool I wish to share about in this blog post is the Educational Leadership Mapping (ELM) tool.  The ELM tool is an organizing framework that can help instructors begin to categorize and make sense of their EL activities. This two-dimensional framework asks instructors to plot what they do related to teaching/learning and the forms of enactment. Learn more here.

Download the ELM tool here as a PowerPoint slide.

In our experience, faculty members have an easier time plotting along the horizontal axis than on the vertical; they can find it difficult to distinguish between “Manage” and “Lead” and may have a (negative) reaction to the word “manage”. The distinctions made on page 2 of The University of Glasgow’s Guidelines for Learning, Teaching & Scholarship Track may be helpful for distinguishing where to place an activity along the vertical (i.e., items in the Professorial list would match up best with “Lead”).

Our work is ongoing and we welcome your feedback. We will be presenting this work at the 2017 POD Conference in Montreal and I will be writing more posts on the topic as we prepare for that session.


Note 1: Though faculty members in the Educational Leadership stream MUST demonstrate EL, faculty members at all ranks and appointments may be engaging in EL.

Photocredit: https: //flic.kr/p/8X2jaV.photosteve101  planetofsuccess.com


Favourite Podcasts (at this time!)

podcast listen

Inspired by Katie Linder’s “You’ve Got This” episode about her favourite podcasts, I decided to create my own list. Since I feel like doing some light and fun blog writing, this seems like the perfect fit for this month’s post.

In no particular order, my favourites are:

Side Hustle School: I’ll try not to gush…**but**this one is so much fun to learn from! Daily episodes are short stories of a pursuit someone has followed through on which has fulfilled a purpose and made some money. The hustle is actualized while that person is working another job (or more than one) and juggling many other responsibilities. Chris Guillebeau‘s narratives are engaging and his take-aways are rich. I have been a committed listener and am excited to be taking first steps on my own side hustle (thanks to what I’ve learned and been inspired to do via this show).

Coaching for Leaders: In this podcast, Dave Stachowiak interviews people with expertise on various facets of leadership. Topics include facilitating conversations that matter, productivity, cross-cultural communication, coaching, feedback and more. His style is warm and affirming and I always glean many useful and practical lessons from these 30-minute weekly interviews. I came to this podcast via the Teaching in Higher Education podcast hosted by Dave’s wife (see below).

Under the InfluenceTerri O’Reilly is a master story teller in this podcast focused on marketing, advertising, adventure (yes!) and persuasion. The team produces tight, well-researched, 30-minute episodes that are fun, educational, and delight me with surprises. The season is short and I always look forward to it. A CBC podcast.

Teaching in Higher Education: In this weekly 30-minute podcast, host Bonni Stachowiak interviews an expert on an aspect of teaching in higher education. Shows may focus on concepts, practical approaches, productivity, technology–or a combination of these areas. This is another excellent source of learning for me and I thoroughly enjoy the relaxed (Bonni has a great laugh!) yet informative approach in these shows. This podcast has helped shift my own thinking about technology in teaching.

Lead Through Strengths. I only recently started listening to this one after hearing an excellent interview with host Lisa Cummings in another podcast. Lisa focuses on how to help people use their ‘strengths’ (which are really talents) to thrive in their career and workplace. She draws from StrengthsFinder as the source of her work and her style is warm, friendly, knowledgeable and engaging as she interviews guests. Via this show, I am not only learning about StrengthsFinder, but a lot about leadership and human communication.

Les Eclaireurs. A fun, informative podcast (in French) that deals with social trends, marketing, consumer choices, travel, and health. Each episode is hosted by Sophie-Andrée Blondin and features several guests who share lively exchanges and laughter. Proud to listen to CBC podcasts🙂

The Hidden Brain. Like some of the other podcasts above, this one involves wonderful story telling. Drawing from psychology and science, host Shankar Vedantam explains some of the unconscious patters at work in our society, choices, habits.

The Introvert Entrepreuneur. In this show, Beth Buelow interviews guests and covers various topics which are related to entrepreneurship, life, choices, career, and well-being. She also has some solo episodes in which she reflects on any of these broad areas. I enjoy her straightforward, gentle, honest style.  I came to this show via Coaching for Leaders.

You’ve Got This. Branded as “a podcast for academics and higher education professionals looking to increase their confidence and capacity for juggling ….” their various responsibilities and demands. I enjoy these short weekly podcasts in which Katie Linder shares her experience in a relaxed and conversational style. It is like listening to a wise friend.


Photo credit: Terry Freedman “Podcast listen” https: //flic.kr/p/aWGFS6

Thank you Jan!

Below is a short speech I prepared as a public ‘thank-you’ to Janice Johnson, my long-time mentor. Jan retired from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology in 2016, after a long career there.



Photo of Janice Johnson (taken by Gabriel Lascu)

Jan hired me as a graduate student assistant to work on a teaching portfolio initiative at the teaching and learning centre, then called TAG.

At that time, I had never heard of a teaching portfolio nor of a teaching and learning centre.

Does that mean Jan was a poor decision maker?

No, it means she was (and remains) an outstanding mentor.

Dear Jan,

It is my pleasure to be able to thank you publicly today.

You have shaped my professional life in significant ways and mentored me in the field of educational development for over a decade.

You introduced me to a pocket of academic culture that I was unfamiliar with as a graduate student. I only knew a culture of fierce competition and one-upmanship. At the teaching and learning centre, people shared openly, supported one another, and collaborated meaningfully. And, this is the approach you took with me and others you have hired and worked with.

Over the years, you have introduced me to a host of communities and projects…instructional skills network, bc teaching and learning folks, peer review of teaching, to name a few.  You identified opportunities I was often unaware of and gently invited me in, honouring the fact that I tend to be cautious and seek information before making decisions.

I have learned so much from our conversations and from watching you—from near and afar—“facilitate with ease”. Your skills as a facilitator are ever so masterful and have been revealed to me over time, as my awareness of facilitation has grown.

You are a generous leader, who has never, ever, EVER turned me away when I’ve knocked on your door with “do you have a few minutes?”.

Once you’re not longer at CTLT, I will walk past your door and think of you. And, as a nod to the wrap up in the peer review of teaching workshop that we co-facilitated so many times together, here is my top 10 about Jan:

  • Encouraging
  • Learner
  • Leader
  • Teacher
  • Loyal
  • Perspective-seeker
  • Community-builder
  • Music enthusiast
  • Family-oriented
  • Dog lover

Starting a mastermind group

I first heard the term “Mastermind Groups” in the Coaching for Leaders podcast approximately 8 months ago. Since I am thinking about starting one, but wasn’t clear on how these differed or were the same as other support groups, I did some reading on the topic and wanted share what I have learned.

Graphic Conversation

What is a mastermind group?

A mastermind group is created when two or more people come together to work towards a purpose. Individual members set goals and seek to accomplish these. Meetings provide support in a group setting and often involve feedback, brainstorming, sharing resources and peer accountability.

How is a mastermind group different from group coaching?

Mastermind groups draw on the wisdom of the group and allow individual members to benefit from everyone’s feedback, support and advice. The facilitator, if there is one, helps with the process and conditions to support the group. In group coaching, the mentor/facilitator coaches individuals in a group setting.

Determine a focus

A mastermind group works best when there is a clear focus. Whether you are starting a group or joining one, you’ll want to think carefully about this piece as it affects the success and sustainability of the group and its membership.

Selecting members for your mastermind group

I have belonged to various ‘support groups’ (i.e., writing groups, PhD cohort, and others), and, based on that experience and according to what I have read on mastermind groups, the who matters a lot.

In a successful mastermind, members have:

Your screening process may be more formal or less so, depending on your preference. Members should be clear (to the extent that they can) on what they hope to get from/contribute to the group.

How many members should you have?

Several posts (e.g., Lifehack and ChristineKane) suggest masterminds should be composed only of a small group of 3-6 people. In my experience, a group of 6 can work when you have a set meeting day/time (i.e., every Friday at 1 pm) and group of 3 is better when people’s schedules vary and you find yourself having to alter the meeting times.

Structuring and running a mastermind group

Mastermind groups may meet weekly, every two weeks or once a month. Scheduling meetings in advance is advisable, meeting less than once a month isn’t. Your conversations can be in person, by phone, or online.

Overall, your meetings will be guided by your “unifying purpose”. In his post about mastermind groups, Michael Hyatt suggests the following structure:

  • each member shares their highs and lows from the week/month (15 minutes)
  • one member gets the “hot seat” meaning they get focussed attention and time during which they discuss a particular issue, can benefit from the group’s input, and strategize (30 minutes)
  • each member determines and shares one action to which she wants to be held accountable (15 minutes)

Others (Savara at Lifehack, Karyn Greenstreet at the Success Alliance), however, suggest that every member should be in the “hot seat” at every meeting. If you choose this option, time in the hot seat needs to be shortened to keep meetings to a reasonable time.

My next steps

As mentioned at the start of this post, I wrote this because I have an interest in starting/joining a mastermind group related either to writing or to doing educational consulting as a “side gig” (as Dr. Katie Linder calls it). The accountability aspect of masterminds appeals to me at this time and the focus on a common purpose because I think both of these matter a great deal to the success of the individual and group.


In writing this post, I have discovered there are many resources on the internet about starting and running a mastermind group.  Some additional resources that I have not linked to above include:

You’ve Got This Podcast by Dr. Katie Linder (Thank you Katie for inspiring this post!)

Go Beyond Simple Networking and Organize your own Mastermind Group


Photo credit: Marc Wathieu, Flickr, Graphic Conversation https: //flic.kr/p/5xi8KT