active CEO Podcast Mike Nishi Chicago Event Management Chicago Marathon Beyond The Race Craig Johns Speaker

active CEO Podcast #94 Mike Nishi Chicago Marathon Beyond The Race

active CEO Podcast Mike Nishi Chicago Event Management Chicago Marathon Beyond The Race Craig Johns Speaker
Mike Nishi – General Manager Bank of America Chicago Marathon

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with Mike Nishi about Chicago Marathon Beyond The Race, risk and crisis management in mass participation events, closed loop environmental sustainability strategies and the power of collaboration.

We also discuss the Nike Breaking2 Project, partnering with Abbotts World Marathons, why he ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon at the age of 13 years old, and why placing community at the center of event management decisions is so crucial.

Mike Nishi – Chicago Marathon Beyond The Race

Mike Nishi is the General Manager of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a global leader in environmentally sustainable events, and is described as professional, highly organised and forward thinking leader. A dedicated family man, he is an avid runner and cyclist, completed his first ever Chicago marathon at the tender age of 13 years old, and is a board member for Girls on the Run Chicago

He started out as an intern, while at school, before becoming an employee for the Chicago Event Management company in 1989. Currently, his role is Executive Vice President of Business Development and Operations looking after the organisation of the Chicago Marathon, J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, Girls on the Run and the Nike Breaking2 project in 2017.

His role oversees the production of all Chicago Event Management events with a particular focus in event operations, emergency response and sustainability logistics. Over a decade a go he founded the Race Management Program, ten years ago, to provide an intimate forum for race organiser’s to share ideas and find solutions to create unforgettable event experiences.

Mike talks about:

  • Running my first Chicago Marathon in 4hr 25min, as a 13 year old.
  • 3 decades working with Carey Pinkowski at Chicago Event Management.
  • Growing the Chicago Marathon from 5,000 to 45,963 finishers.
  • Safety and security being the number one priority following 9/11.
  • Planning for the unknown and unexpected is very challenging.
  • Creating a forward command facility to protect the safety of athletes and the community.
  • Chicago Marathon Beyond The Race.
  • Creating sustainable partnerships with Abbott World Marathons.
  • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon environmental initiatives.
  • Closed loop sustainability program with compostable cups.
  • Using storytelling to share the journey of recyclable products.
  • Bamboo cups and Nike t-shirts made out of recycled plastic bottles.
  • Nike Breaking2 project to break the 2hr marathon mark in 2017.
  • Sponsorships Nike, Gatorade, American Airlines & Bank of America.
  • Aligning partner’s values in a collaborative arrangement.
  • Race Management Program to support the event industry.
  • Celebrating mistakes not on the outcome, but what you learnt
  • Incorporating Pilates and mediation in his daily routine.

Active CEO Performance Tip

SINGLE-task Not Multi-task For Productivity – If you try and multi-task, our brains move too fast, we lose focus and take on too much. In fact, the brain can’t actually multi-task and what it actually does is task switching. If you are task switching to often or too quickly, it slows down your response time and prevents you from completing tasks quickly, if at all. Break down your work into single tasks and block your time accordingly to the highest priority tasks. First, write down all your tasks. Second, prioritise your tasks according to low, medium and high priority. Third, schedule time specifically for high priority tasks first, in your calendar. Then delegate all medium and low priorities where possible. Plan your day so that you can single task to get the best productivity and performance as a leader.


“It is hard to plan for things that might not happen and things that you just don’t like to think about, but have to do, whether you initiate or not.” Mike Nishi talks about crisis management, on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Michael Nishi LinkedIn
Michael Nishi Instagram
Michael Nishi Twitter
Michael Nishi Facebook
Chicago Event Management
Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Craig Johns
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn

Recommended Reading:

Fuel Your Body For Leadership Performance Read Article
How Exercise Enhances A Leaders Performance Read Article
Four Basic Fundamentals Of Being A High Performing Leader Read Article
How To Be A High Performing Leader In 2020 Read Article
active CEO Lessons In 2019 Read Article
Four Ways To Overcome CEO Loneliness In 2020 Read Article

Recent active CEO Podcast Episodes

#94 – Mike Nishi (Chicago Event Management) Chicago Marathon Beyond The Race Link
#93 – OWN Your OWN FREEDOM Link
#92 – Lisa Tamati (Author of Relentless) Relentless Leadership In Life Link
#91 – 8 Ways To OWN Your OWN Influence Link
#90 – Jason Treu (Unstoppable Workplaces) Building Trust For Transformation Link
#89 – How Many CEO Performance Habits Link
#88 – Kate Maree O’Brien (SHE Conference) Tenacious Spirit Of An Entrepreneur Link
#87 – Have You Got CEO Presence Link
#86 – Chris Tabish (Comediology) Leadership Effectiveness With Comediology Link
#85 – Raise Your Energy Bar With CEO Periodization Link
#84 – Catherine Molloy (Auspac Business Advantage) The Conscious Leader Link

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active CEO Podcast 88 Kate Maree O'Brien NRG2Perform GameChangersLive

active CEO Podcast #88 Kate Maree O’Brien Tenacious Spirit Of An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur active CEO Podcast Kate Maree O'Brien Tenacious Spirit of An Entrepreneur Craig Johns NRG2Perform
Kate Maree O’Brien – Founder SHE Conference

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with Kate Maree O’Brien about the tenacious spirit of an entrepreneur, coping with pressure and the feeling of isolation, understanding limiting beliefs, and the importance of adaptive leadership.

We also talk about having a number 8 wire New Zealand mentality, the future of SHE Conference, recently launching the She Leads A New Future Podcast, and why she tried exotic pole dancing.

Kate Maree O’Brien – Tenacious Spirit Of An Entrepreneur

Kate is a woman who lives and breathes personal leadership, overcome addiction and social anxiety, delivers breakthroughs, smashes through glass ceilings, and is the founder of SHE – Australasia’s largest women’s leadership and empowerment event. She is a highly regarded leadership coach, sought after speaker, who is known for her down to earth teachings and no BS approach to getting results. Known as a visionary performance leader, Kate tells it as it is, loves playing it big, empowers women to take charge of their life, and is living life to her fullest with her beautiful family in Bali.

Rising from depression, bulimia, anorexia and drug use, she has thrown everything into gaining her life back and making a positive difference to many peoples lives. She has served as a clinical nurse educator in New Zealand, curated two phenomenal conferences, SHE and GameChanger Global Summit, and collaborates with worldwide personal transformation leaders such as Jack Canfield and Brendon Burchard.

Kate talks about:

  • CEO loneliness and building a team of people around you.
  • “Feeling of knowing that we can create so much and we don’t have to have this idea that it is not possible, it can’t be done, I feel stuck.”
  • “If you feel stuck, you are not seeing the bigger picture and the opportunities around us. “
  • Realising there was hope & she can make a difference in people’s lives.
  • Having the tenacious spirit of an entrepreneur.
  • What changes people is not just knowledge, it is impacting our hearts.
  • It is always going to feel risky when you take something to a new level.
  • Leadership exists to alter the future.
  • Fundamentally we are wired to stay where it feels safe.
  • My core wiring is that “I have done something wrong”.
  • Strategies for people to unlock their limiting beliefs.
  • You can’t escape your humanity & that has been the most significant breakthrough for me.
  • The importance of influencing yourself & creating room to own our own space.
  • If we really want really big changes, we require an adaptive leadership decision.
  • Being willing not to be living from the ideas and rules and structure that is around you

Active CEO Performance Tip

Unique Leadership – Are you prepared to be vulnerable and have the courage to truly live your purpose? Are you willing to go beyond what is comfortable to make a difference in the world? If yes, then its time for you to “Stand up and live in an uncommon place.” As a leader it Is important that you be absolutely positively uniquely you. Lead from your heart and a place that brings out your true passion, energy and drive.


“Part of the entrepreneurial journey is to see a new future, but be willing to back yourself even when there is not a carved out path to get there.” The entrepreneurial journey with Kate Maree O’Brien, on the active CEO Podcast.

“Anytime an obstacle comes up, its an opportunity just to grow bigger, be more creative or be more resourceful or look at things from a new perspective. There is always someway through it or around it.” Kate Maree O’Brien talks about overcoming obstacles, on the active CEO Podcast.

“That narrator may not always be telling us the truth. It tells us stories to make us feel safe.” Kate Maree O’Brien goes deep on the narrator part of the brain, on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Kate Maree O’Brien
Kate Maree O’Brien Speech
Kate Maree O’Brien Instagram
Kate Maree O’Brien LinkedIn
Kate Maree O’Brien Facebook
Kate Maree O’Brien Twitter
Kate Maree O’Brien YouTube
Kate Maree O’Brien Shop
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn

Recommended Reading:

4 Day Week – Andrew Barnes Order Now

Fuel Your Body For Leadership Performance Read ArticleHow Exercise Enhances A Leaders Performance Read Article
Four Basic Fundamentals Of Being A High Performing Leader Read Article
How To Be A High Performing Leader In 2020 Read Article
active CEO Lessons In 2019 Read Article
Four Ways To Overcome CEO Loneliness In 2020 Read Article

Recent active CEO Podcast Episodes

#88 – Kate Maree O’Brien (SHE Conference) Tenacious Spirit Of An Entrepreneur Link
#87 – Have You Got CEO Presence Link
#86 – Chris Tabish (Comediology) Leadership Effectiveness With Comediology Link
#85 – Raise Your Energy Bar With CEO Periodization Link
#84 – Catherine Molloy (Auspac Business Advantage) The Conscious Leader Link
#83 – 3 P’s Of The Leadership Performance Formula Link
#82 – Revital Golan (Anemone Ventures) Entrepreneur State Of Mind Link
#81 – How A Leader Can Recover With Purpose Link
#80 – Jonathan Rake Launchpad To Go Beyond Borders Link
#79 – Free Your Mind Link
#78 – Hillary Poole Leading Healthy Sustainable Systems Link

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active CEO Podcast Andrew Klein (Spike Presentations) – Speaking It’s An Occupational Hazard

active CEO Podcast #35 Andrew Klein Speaking Its An Occupational Hazard

Andrew Klein – Spike Presentations

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with Andrew Klein, his struggle with being a lawyer; how debating and theater sports led to a career in speaking; why authenticity is number one for speakers; the art of influence, persuasion and presence; the importance of recovery as a performer; and leading an active and healthy lifestyle. He also energetically talks about aspiring to be Michael Jordan; idolising the comedy science of Jerry Seinfeld; dressing up as the ‘Swedish Chef’ from the Muppets; introducing Sir Bob Geldof; and delivering pub quizzes.

Andrew Klein

Andrew Klein is a professional, articulate, entertaining and crowd-favourite professional MC. He thrived in Drama, Basketball and Theatre at Sydney Boys High School, and studied a Bachelor of Arts and Law at the University of NSW. His career highlights include being director of Impact EnterTrainers, Director of Legal Policy at NSW Department of Multicultural & Ethnic Affairs and Solicitor at Clayton Utz.

Known for personalising experiences, injecting energy, being right on the mark and keeping it fresh as the founder of Spike Presentations, Andrew has hosted successful events at companies such as Westpac, Ernst & Young, Telstra, IBM, Coca-Cola and Commonwealth Bank. A creative man, he invented “Life’s a Pitch” and “How to Awe Them, Not Bore Them”.

Andrew talks about:

• Bringing energy and a dash of zest to the room.
• Growing up in Sydney.
• The passion behind becoming a lawyer.
• The decision in 1995 to finish his law career and step onto stage.
• Idolizing comedians and following comedy.
• Why Jerry Seinfeld is his hero.
• Why it is important to set the mood at the beginning of an event.
• His pre-event routine leading up to the event opening.
• What makes a great speaker leave a permanent mark on the audience.
• The “Spike Presentations” elevator pitch and how it works?
• Bringing charisma and injecting a dose of humor in a performance.
• Balancing being a conference emcee with teaching presentation skills.
• The emotional intelligence of reading the room.
• You are there to serve the audience, it’s not about you.
• How he stays fit & healthy when travelling & working a busy schedule.
• The routines, habits and triggers allow him reset his body and mind.
• “how do we change the way we educate children at school?”
• The impact the famous Australia poet, Brook Emery had on his life.

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Focus in the moment – What we can control is right now! We can’t change history, however we can take what we have learnt; good or bad, right or wrong; and harness the opportunities to do something better or leapfrog off what we was successful. Use your strengths to be better now, improve the way you live and make the world a better place. It starts with making a choice, a decision that only you can own in the moment, right now.


“When you are on the stage, you are a performer whether you like it or not.” Andrew Klein discusses stage performance, on the active CEO Podcast.

“You have been in the audience time and time again, listening to people who are knowledgeable on a topic but unable to engage with you. Are you one of those people?” Andrew Klein discusses the Spike Presentations elevator pitch, on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Andrew Klein
Andrew Klein LinkedIn
Andrew Klein Facebook
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn
Ben Gathercole LinkedIn
Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben Gathercole

Serving the ACE!

ACE 2017 3

By Craig Johns

I am feeling NRGized this week after delving into topics such as the future is human, one team, disruption, relevance and mission control as the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) served up at an ACE at their annual conference in Sydney.

Check out the first segment from my highlights from #ACESYD17 below, including key learnings and insights that can help you in your organisation or business. (Photos courtesy of AuSAE & Oneill Photographics)

Held at the brand new International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney, we were led by the colorful, entertaining and insightful MC Andrew Klein from Spike Presentations, as the conference delivered world-leading content over the two days.

Highlighting the conference were keynote presentations by Craig Davis, the vision behind the most innovative parcel delivery company in the world, Sendle; Kitty Chiller, the 2016 Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission, providing “lessons on leadership“; Liana Downey, Executive Director at Liana Downey & Associates (strategic advisers to governments and non-profits), inspiring us to take on Mission Control; and Naomi Simson, founding Director of RedBalloon and celebrity Shark Tank specialist, taking us on a roller-coaster ride into her life as mum, CEO and celebrity.


The Future Looks Human

Craig Davis kicked off #ACESYD17, providing an overview of the “age of acceleration of everything” and then stepped it up by sharing his three steps to success:

  • Train Your Attention (Focus)
  • Learn to Appreciate Failure (Learn)
  • Go on a Journey from Ego to Empathy to Compassion (Serve)

He spoke about the importance of attention, noting that it is the world’s most scarce resource. Craig shared research that, on average, attention spans have reduced from 12 to 8 seconds, since 2007. His approach to human failure is that it cultivates resilience and the learning from failure that leads to our successes. Craig finished off by taking  us through the Sendle journey and how it developed by accident as TuShare required a more efficient delivery service.

“Be present. Don’t leave the best part of you at home when going to work.”




Kitty Chiller, Australia’s 1st ever female Olympic Games Chef de Mission, gave us an in-depth insight into the life behind an Australian Olympic Games Team. Not one to take a backwards step, Kitty discussed the reasons behind the “One Team” approach and how every decision was based on “will this make the boat go faster”. She spoke about the importance of embracing the challenge, but doing it with sincerity.

Kitty provided advice for leaders on coping under pressure. She stayed true to her motto “best planned, best prepared, best performed” as she motivated herself and inspired the entire Olympic team through one of the toughest Olympics in history. Kitty talked about the importance of an extensive roadshow to develop trust and buy-in to the “One Team” approach. All the Australian Olympic Team Management staff where required to write a one-page plan, when they commenced their role, outlining what their role was in making a difference to the “One Team” performance. This approach was designed to gain value, feel valued as making a a difference to the team, and ensure everyone feels part of the team.

“Take responsibility for your own potential.”

MICHAEL JOHNSON Olympic Gold Medalist


Mission Control 

Liana Downey is determined to help leaders change the world. Liana spoke about the “Power of Focus” and that it requires a lot of courage to control it. She gave a great presentation on how to control your companies mission and what to be aware of that can side-track the organisation. 

Mission creep (trying to do too much) is an all too common problem facing organisations. Missions usually get out of control because of:

  • Chasing funding
  • Start with a symptom, rather than the root cause (ask the right questions)
  • Difficulty in saying NO!
  • Lots of stakeholders

Liana’s 7 key steps to Mission Control are:

  1. Get the FACTS – environment, sector, clients
  2. Set your GOAL – clear (7 year old proof), describes an end-state, ensure its spine-tingling (energises & galvanises staff), distinguish between goal & strategy
  3. Identify your OPTIONS – i.e.: profit option tree
  4. Identify what WORKS – experts, research, learn from your experiences, impact must be tied to results
  5. Look INWARDS – what are your organisations strengths
  6. Find your SWEET SPOT
  7. Tell your STORY – know where you are going (goal), how will you get there (strategy) and why will it work

3-month plan vs. 10 year? – 3-month as people will leave the room knowing what they will achieve and can see its within their reach.

“You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something to someone.”



Shark Tank

Naomi Simson reminded us of the importance of remembering what it felt like to serve your first customer. It’s that moment of trust and the greatest impact you are likely to have on that customer!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Naomi has developed the extremely successful RedBalloon company. The model is based on growth through relationships, with word-of-mouth being their most powerful promotional tool. She talked about the importance of reading customer feedback “How people talk about you” and improving the quality of the product and service when required.

“Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.”


Naomi reiterated the importance of people understanding the difference between managers and leaders, and to run an effective show, all staff are required to fulfill their role. “Everyone brings their right talent’s for the boat to perform”

  • Manager – nurture the uniqueness of the individual to perform
  • Leader – unite everyone for the same cause

Some of the other key take homes were:

  • “People thing” – fixing people is the biggest challenge
  • Is your organisation in the right flow? 
  • Keep working – its not set & forget
  • Do we give guarantees that are just words? (what is the commitment to the members?)
  • “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Bill Gates
  • Listening posts to get a balanced and fair view of consumers. (both positive & negative)
  • Ensure your organisation has relevance during times of disruption
  • Keep relationships close has the best effect on disrupters
  • Look after the well-being of employees as it translates to the customer
  • If you are rushing to their importance, you are not getting to your importance
  • You can never earn more time
  • Own your own parameters

“A brand is a promise. It creates expectations, that the product has to deliver.”


The second segment from #ACE2017 is now available! click here…

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Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles by Craig Johns: