Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast #160 David Kidder New To Big Igniting Growth

Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast #160 David Kidder New To Big Igniting Growth

Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast #160 David Kidder New To Big Igniting Growth


On this episode of the Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with David Kidder about New To Big igniting growth, finding your proprietary gift, the interior life of leaders, 3 jobs of a Founder, and venture investing entrepreneurship. 

We also delve into creating an idea killing machine, the only way to go faster is to do less work, not being a well-rounded person, breaking the addiction of always being right, enabling permission and how did you bet your life? 

David Kidder – Igniting Growth New To Big 

David Kidder is an experienced entrepreneur and an angel investor in over 40 companies, co-founder and CEO of Bionic, growth transformation and innovation expert, and best-selling author of New To Big. He is an pioneer, an early angel investor in SpaceX and Airbnb, ignites growth revolutions and loves helping people build a permanent ladder to the moon.  

He has a BA in Industrial Design from the Rochester Institute of technology, received ID Magazine’s International Design Award, and was the Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2008. As an entrepreneur and businessman, he has co-founded Net-X, SmartRay Network, Renaissance Integrated Solutions, All Option Return, and Clickable.  As a New York Times best-selling author, David has produced The Intellectual Devotional Book Series, The Startup Playbook and most recently New To Big. 

David talks about 

  • Apple computers inspiring an interest in what’s inside. 
  • Having the space that allows people to consider things. 
  • Business-building vs company-building. 
  • Finding your proprietary gift. 
  • Clickable solving skill friction across platforms. 
  • 5 critical lens to view the world through before you bet your life on something. 
  • The company is a direct reflection of the CEO.  
  • How far are you willing to go? 
  • Having high conviction and non-consensus. 
  • Bionic unlocking new growth and competitiveness. 
  • What the CEO believes is possible, will limit what the company will do. 
  • Working in the science of experimentation. 
  • Thinking about growth mindset as lenses. 
  • Creating value that helps customers stay in a problem with you for several years. 
  • Your gift is your mind, when you decide.  


“This isn’t about a one-off innovation moonshot. It’s about building a permanent ladder to the moon.” Discussing innovation with David Kidder on the Inspiring Great leaders Podcast.  

“You can’t live or lead through a lens of fear if you want to create growth.” Having a growth mindset with David Kidder on the Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast.  

“When your daily actions are in concert with your higher beliefs, you have a credible claim to inner peace.” Talking with David Kidder on the Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast.  

Resources Mentioned in this show: 
David Kidder
David Kidder Linkedin 
David Kidder Twitter
David Kidder Instagram
On Bionic 
Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast
Speakers Institute Corporate 
Craig Johns 
Craig Johns 
Craig Johns LinkedIn  

Recommended Reading: 

New To Big Book  



active CEO Podcast with Craig Johns Fiona Robertson Culture Is The Rules Of Belonging

active CEO Podcast #108 Fiona Robertson Culture Is The Rules Of Belonging

active CEO Podcast with Craig Johns Fiona Robertson Culture Is The Rules Of Belonging

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with Fiona Robertson about the rules of belonging, lessons learnt in culture working at Oglivy and IBM, listening with intention, and the Intersection between culture and strategy.

We also delve into living outside your comfort zone, you have to notice before you choose, being a warm authoritative leader, a coach is not a friend and having an obsession with human interaction.

Fiona Robertson – Culture Is The Rules Of Belonging

Fiona Robertson is a culture change expert who has 30 years experience with blue chip corporates around the world. She loves bringing people on the change journey, is a master of managing group dynamics, and genuinely cares about the work that she does, the people she interacts with and the impact it makes on the organisation. Fiona is known as a passionate, caring, deeply committed and relentless leader of change.

Her education included a BA English Literature at Monash University, an Executive MBA from the London Business School, is certified as an Executive Coach from the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership, and is a certified Company Director from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Fiona’s career has included roles in marketing, communications, consulting and human resources at companies such as Ogilvy, Kiboodle, Growth Solutions Group, Right Management and National Australia Bank. She founded Robertson Consulting Services in 2017, to help leaders and business owners create the culture they need to execute strategy.

Fiona talks about:

  • Experiencing turbulent change when her parents divorced.
  • Igniting a love of language and fascination with the human condition.
  • The extraordinary similarities between countries but vast differences in cultures.
  • We all look at the world through our own unique lens.
  • Our ability to predict the future is becoming less and less.
  • If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
  • What characteristics are needed to be an effective leader of cultural change?
  • Need to be nimble to respond to the marketplace.
  • Humans adopt the behaviour that is considered successful in the group that they join.
  • Our brains are very good at keeping us safe; they believe that to belong is to be safe.
  • Culture is the rules of belonging.
  • Leading with core values with a combination of empathy and high expectations.
  • When you are changing something, tell them the ten things that are not changing.
  • Pay attention, culture should be continually nudged as strategy changes.
  • A coach is person who is there to challenge and support you in equal measure.
  • If you want to change something in life you have to notice what you are doing now.

Active CEO Performance Tip

Own Your OWN FREEDOM – Are you content with how you are living your life or the way that you might be living someone else’s life? Find the passion, happiness & direction in your life. What fuels the fire in your belly? What are you willing to sacrifice to fulfill your passion? What allows you to feel content and fall asleep at ease? What is your purpose and direction in life? Questions to ask yourself – 1. What makes you come alive. 2. What are your innate strengths. 3. Where do you add greatest value


“Everyone looks through their own lens at the world. Meet people where they are. Attempt to see the world through their eyes. Listen intently to what is said and not said. Try to imagine yourself dealing with the pressures with who ever you are speaking with is dealing with on a day to day basis, because everybody has them.” Fiona Robertson on the rules of belonging, on the active CEO Podcast.

“Our brains are very good at keeping us safe, they believe that to belong is to be safe. They will resist consciously and unconsciously a change to the rules of belonging.” Discussing how the human brain reacts to change with Fiona Robertson, on the active CEO Podcast.

“Living inside your comfort zone makes you feel safe but prevents you from trying the things that you make you more successful.” Fiona Robertson describing living inside your comfort zone, on the active CEO Podcast.

“People perform best when they know they are fully supported, so any form of failure or mistake is a beautiful learning opportunity.” Being a supportive leader with Fiona Robertson on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Fiona Robertson
Fiona Robertson LinkedIn
Fiona Robertson Twitter
Craig Johns
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn

Recommended Reading:

The Rules Of Belonging Fiona Robertson Book

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
Four Ways To Overcome CEO Loneliness In 2020 Read Article

Recent active CEO Podcast Episodes

#108 – Fiona Robertson (Coach) Culture Is The Rules Of Belonging Link
#107 – Create Your OWN MBA Link
#106 – Kathy Robinson (Athena Wellness) The Athena Principles Link
#105 – Own Your OWN SPACE Link
#104 – Mark Weatherall (Te Araroa) Leading The Great Outdoors Link
#103 – Be Your OWN CEO Link
#102 – Scott Leggo An Eye For Detail Link
#101 – Own Your OWN VULNERABILITY Link
#100 – Sandhya Shetty Supermodel To Global Influencer Link
#99 – Build Your OWN TRIBE Link
#98 – Shannan Gove (Rosterfy) Building Motivated Workforces Link

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active CEO Podcast Tips To Fuel Your Leadership Performance

active CEO Podcast #77 Tips To Fuel Your Leadership Performance

active CEO Podcast Tips To Fuel Your Leadership Performance

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast we talk about Tips To Fuel Your Leadership Performance, on episode #4 of Breaking The CEO Code. It is a short podcast episode where host Craig Johns decodes a new aspect of being a high performing leader each week.

Craig talks about the impact that focusing on how you fuel your leadership, has on a CEO or leader’s performance, including:

  1. Effects of nutrition on company productivity and bottom line;
  2. Eating food for the brain, rather than focusing on the body;
  3. Nutrition for leadership is a lifestyle change, not a diet change;
  4. Negative effects of a diet high in saturated fats and low in Omega-3’s on brain performance;
  5. Importance of lowering oxidative stress through eating foods high in antioxidants;
  6. How workplace nutrition strategies can decrease medical expenses, sick leave, absenteeism and presenteeism;
  7. The effect food can have on mood and mental health;
  8. Power of hydration on overall body performance and health.;and
  9. Why a variety of fresh, plant-base, lean food and hydration options will help you maintain a healthy body and mind to perform at your optimum every day.

He also takes about there being a lot of noise in the marketplace, when it comes to what we should or shouldn’t eat. When it comes down eating for energy, health, vitality and leadership performance, there are a couple of key fundamentals that will set you in the right direction, so it’s time to fuel your leadership.

Check out the newly Breaking The CEO Code whitepaper. It provides an overview of Breaking The CEO Code and showcases the 6 key phases. We also go a little deeper into the 2nd phase PERFORMANCE, where we discuss the 3 P’s of Leadership Performance.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Subscribe to active CEO Podcast on Itunes
Craig Johns Keynote Speaker
active CEO Coaching
active CEO Podcast
Corporate Programs
Sport Performance
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn

Recent active CEO Podcast Episodes

#76 – Paul Veric (BTE Consulting) The Peaceful Warrior CEO Link
#75 – How Exercise Enhances Leadership Performance Link
#74 – Lucy Bennett Baggs (Just Challenge) Just Challenge Global Impact Link
#73 – Four Basic Fundamentals Of Being A High Performing Leader Link
#72 – Azran Osman Rani (Naluri) – Power Of The Human Mind Link
#71 – How To Be A High Performing Leader In 2020 Link
#70 – Miles Stewart (Triathlon Australia) A Lifetime Chasing Results Link 
#69 – Deepthi Bopaiah (GoSports Foundation) – India’s Next Olympic Gold Link
#68 – Abraham Kamarck (True Made Foods) – Leadership Lessons From The Sky Link
#67 – Liz Volpe (Ambisie) – Dare to Dream Link
#66 – Bill Coletti (Kith) – Reputational Resilience & Transformation Link

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

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active CEO Podcast #51 Chris Robb Money Can’t Buy Experiences

Chris Robb Mass Participation World Money Cant Buy Experiences
Chris Robb – Founder Mass Participation World

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with Chris Robb about mass participation sport events, growing the Standard Chartered Marathon to over 60,00 participants, being the course manager for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games marathon, and changing people’s lives through money can’t buy experiences. We also delve into the immense power of pause, coping with it being lonely at the top as a CEO, collaborative leadership, inspiring others to make a powerful impact on the world and serving a tennis ball into the back of Sir Richard Branson’s head.

Chris Robb – Money Can’t Buy Experiences.

Chris is an international authority on iconic large-scale mass participation events; a humble, loyal and curious leader; and a passionate family man now living in Bali, Indonesia. He is an enabler of people to have an active and healthy lifestyle, author of Mass Participation Sports Events and Better business Better Life Better World, is a high impact consultant and a champion of Buy 1 Give 1.

Growing up in Zimbabwe, he studied a Bachelor Commerce and Bachelor of Agricultural Management at the University of KwaZulu-Nattal. Getting his first taste of event management while at high school, our guest has over 30 years experience organising and leading events. During his career he has been at the helm of events for more than one million participants in the likes of Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Zimbabwe, South Africa and India.

He established Spectrum Worldwide in Australia in 1992, where he worked on the 2000 Sydney Olympics, before establishing himself in Singapore at the commencement of the Asian health and fitness boom in the 2000’s. In 2015 he established Mass Participation Asia, an annual conference for event stakeholders, before selling Spectrum Worldwide to IRONMAN, in 2016.

Chris talks about:

  • Life growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe, during the independence war.
  • Having a rich upbringing from life experiences, even though they were financially poor.
  • The importance of embracing circumstances you find yourself in.
  • Being an 800m and 1500m runner training on farm tracks and dirt roads.
  • Planning to go back and run the family business on the farm.
  • Being involved in organising the Comrades Marathon while studying at University.
  • Changing people’s lives through money can’t buy experiences.
  • Getting parents out and getting active with their kids.
  • Getting more governments globally to recognise the value of sport especially the social and health impact.
  • Organising the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon with over 60,000 participants.
  • Expanding the JP Morgan corporate challenge running events into Asia.
  • Partnering with Dave Hansen from Supersprint Events and Robbie McEwan.
  • Going from zero to sixty thousand customers within 6 months.
  • Ramping up from a team of 30 to more than 5,000 people over a 3 month period.
  • A mindset expecting that there is going to be a curveball will be thrown at you.
  • Collaborative leadership where you are always looking for a solution.
  • Surround yourself with a great group of mentors much like an athlete has.
  • Having ritual’s and keeping yourself mentally and physically in shape.
  • Helping make it easier for our future leaders to grow in the industry.

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Life Is Not A Dress Rehearsal – It is important that you turn up, show up and be present right now. It’s not about what you did yesterday or what you plan in the future. It is all about this one second, one minute, one hour or even one day and you are ready to go.


“Connecting with a community and a tribe and doing training and things together and taking you into the outdoors. It’s crucial for the health and wellbeing of the world.” Chris Robb talking about the power of sport and events on bringing people together, on the active CEO Podcast.

“I love putting that jigsaw together and making sure that everyone knows what they are doing, but also empowering them to make decisions.” Chris Robb on leading people, on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Chris Robb LinkedIn
Chris Robb Facebook
Chris Robb Website
Chris Robb Email
Mass Participation World
Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn

Recommended Reading:

Mass Participation Sports Events Chris Robb
Better Business Better Life Better World Chris Robb

Liza Pavlakos ( – Adversity Transforms Lives

active CEO Podcast #16 Liza Pavlakos Adversity Transforms Lives

Liza Pavalakos – Founder

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, we are blessed to hear a compelling insight into the incredible life of Liza Pavlakos, from being physically and sexually abused, raped, homeless, kidnapped, tortured and human trafficked, to leading highly successful businesses and becoming an acclaimed international speaker, with limited high school education and no business training. We discuss overcoming and coping with adversity, starting a business with no education or business education, selling the service before the product, treating everyone as human beings, being proud to talk about your adversities, first knowing your ‘why’ before you know your ‘how’, and how she leads an active CEO lifestyle. This is one episode of the active CEO Podcast that you do not want to miss.


Liza Pavlakos is a beautiful lady who has emerged from the depths of misery, frustration of powerlessness, humiliation of sexual and physical abuse, heartache of abduction, loneliness as a homeless teenager, hopelessness of being human trafficked and hardships of poverty, to rise up and lead a highly successful life as a businesswomen and international motivational speaker.

Her grit and determination to turn around her life, overcome adversity, understand life is worth living, be exceptional and become a successful entrepreneur, has led her to inspiring and motivating many people around the world.

She broke through barriers and bounded over obstacles, as a young self-taught entrepreneur and philanthropist, to transform Minibar Piccolo into a popular Melbourne café, successfully grow Finest Alterations from a struggling business to a thriving profitable five-outlet franchise, and at the age of 23, plan and stage the Miss India International Pageant generating $100,000 in ticket sales.

This remarkable woman inspires hope, empowers audiences, energises people and transforms lives with her moving story, beautiful soul, lasting imprint and infectious optimism. She shares her story and message around the globe through the Liza Pavlakos Foundation, and with global companies such as CNN, Ritz Carlton, PWC, Qatar Airways, Colonial and ANZ.

Liza talks about:

  • Being exceptional about the way we think about the situations that be fall us and being the best version of yourself that you can be.
  • How we choose to handle adversities, is what defines us.
  • Being physically and sexually abused from the age of six by her uncle and cousin, who she really loved and trusted.
  • Feeling unheard at the age of 15 she developed depression, which led to an addiction to suicide and running away from home at the age of 17.
  • From a very sheltered Malaysian Islamic background, to being homeless and alone on the streets of Melbourne in Australia.
  • Being kidnapped by a stranger while walking home from school, to a destination she did not recognize and tortured for 8 hours till she was a knife edge away from death as she was given her last rights.
  • Feeling the heartbeat of her first child made her feel that she was loved, that she had a sense of purpose and to be the best version of myself.
  • Coming up with her first business idea that resulted in a $100,000 profit, Miss India International beauty pageant, with zero start up and a baby in her hand.
  • Empowering women and girls that have been abused themselves, but who weren’t able to articulate it or come out in the open.
  • Feeling the calmness come over you when tragedy is about to strike you
  • An Uber ride in the Middle East with her cameraman and assistant that led to being held at a prison and the uncovering of a human trafficking ring of over 350 people who had been gagged, murdered and burnt as military intelligence saved their lives.
  • Suffering and coping with Post-traumatic stress syndrome, and now having the courage to make change and talk about it. .
  • Having to ask customers how to make a Latte during her first days at Minibar Piccolo.
  • The product should always be good, but it is always selling the service first before the product.
  • Treating everyone as human beings as everyone has a story.
  • Treating everyone who works with her as family members and they all will have a vested interest in the business.
  • Staying calm, relaxed and focused on the person or people who need you to be strong, during moments of vulnerability.
  • Seeing people from the eyes of love, forgiveness, empathy and understanding that it makes the world of difference.
  • Know your “why” and then you will know your “how”.
  • The purpose of the Liza Pavlakos Foundation.
  • Teaching her children that they don’t need to shy away from anything and they don’t have to worry how people perceive them.
  • Waking up in the morning, preparing food for dinner, going to the gym, doing something for her, listening to music and reading books.
  • When travelling she always ensures that she has arranged a trainer ahead of time.
  • Her soon to be released book – Voiceless No More

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and Craig discuss the importance of getting active in the workplace. Extended periods of time spent sitting can result in chronic back pain, cardiovascular disease, muscle deterioration, decreased productivity and even poor mental health. It supports a sedentary lifestyle that could also lead to weight gain, poor cardiovascular health, weakened muscles, stiff joints, and even diabetes.


“The adversities are the very thing that makes them beautiful, that make them unique, that make them resilient, that make them strong.” Overcoming adversity with Liza Pavlakos on the active CEO Podcast.

“I am proof that a person can prevail against seemingly insurmountable circumstances if they have perseverance and the right mindset.” Liza Pavlakos on being consistent in the pursuit of her dream, on the active CEO Podcast.


Resources Mentioned in this show:

Liza Pavlakos LinkedIn

Liza Pavlakos

Liza Pavlakos Facebook

Liza Pavlakos Instagram

Finest Alterations link

Craig Johns LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#15 – Michael Sewards (SkyBus) – All Aboard the SkyBus Link
#14 – Jamin Heppell & Jen Ziegner (Mountains & Marathons) – Leading From the Mountain Tops Link
#13 – Chris Dean (Choice Energy) – Disrupting the Energy Spectrum link
#12 – Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game link
#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
#10 – Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 – Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

December NRGizer Newsletter

IMG_8193The NRGizer by NRG2Perform December newsletter is now available – Be the Best Version of Yourself – In this issue we discuss Changing the Game with Kate Palmer of Sport Australia; quietening the mind before going to sleep; parking the ego in a co-CEO environment with Michael Sewards SkyBus, and take a look at whether you are seeing the big picture.

Ben Gathercole and Craig Johns also delve into disrupting the energy sector with Christopher Dean, you can’t stop rotting wood; leading from the mountain tops with Jamin Heppell and Jen Ziegner on Mountains and Marathons; and are you working out with a purpose.

View the Newsletter

You Can’t Stop Rotting Wood

Have you ever felt like the company you are working for is like a ship that has sprung a leak, taking on water and gradually going under?

At first you put a wrong decision, behavior or action down to a mistake or an interesting choice, but after it is replicated many times, it feels like you are on a runaway train with no brakes.

Once a negative culture or behavior becomes ingrained it is like wood in that when rot sets in there is no way to stop its progress.

Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash

I have found that a dysfunctional company or team culture starts from the leader or leaders of an organization lacking the necessary skillsets to one, set a positive culture, and two, have the ability to manage the direction of the culture created.

The demise of many teams and companies can be directly related to the environment created by a leader, leadership team or a group of people who are able to use their influencing abilities in a negative manner.

As is often noted in business circles, ‘the fish rots from the head down’, meaning that the when a team or company fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.

BRIAN CHESKY, co-founder and CEO, Airbnb

Deloitte completed a Global Human Capital Trends survey in 2016, which found that 82 percent of respondents believe that culture is a potential competitive advantage as it drives people’s behavior, innovation and customer service. (Kaplan et al. 2016)

Ashworth (2015) noted that, “a company’s culture is the only truly unique identifier. It is like a fingerprint. It may be similar to others, but is uniquely distinct to your business”.

Iannarino (2012) pointed out that, “if leadership doesn’t establish and protect a healthy culture, some unhealthy culture will fill that vacuum… If a pocket of negativity or cynicism exists, it’s because leadership hasn’t cut it out of the organisation – especially when the pocket of negativity comes from the leadership ranks”.

Culture is like the wind. It is invisible; yet its effect can be seen and felt.

BRYAN WALKER, Partner and Managing Director, IDEO

There was this one time when I was working for a start-up company who over-hired during the pre-opening phase due to the ambitious large scale of the operation.

As the company moved into the opening and post-opening phases they had to reduce the size of the team to improve financial and operational efficiency.

The problem was is that the leadership team continued to down-size more than once and the leadership team continually change over a period of three years, which resulted in a lack of trust and the development of an unhealthy culture.

An unhealthy culture then began to spread external to the company into the community, like a plague of locusts, creating negative brand image and consumer distrust that resulted in members leaving.

Today I want to share with you three ways that you can be in more control of your culture and ensure that a positive environment exists in your team or company:

  1. You must live and breath the values, lead by example, be a positive role model, and show your team members what the right or acceptable behavior is.
  2. Communicate regularly with your team members, get to know them in both a formal and informal setting, and be curious by asking questions that allow the team members to feel valued and know that their work matters.
  3. Empower team members, motivate and inspire them to do their best work, and recognize and reward them for positive behaviors that continually strengthen the culture.

It is important that you protect your wood, ensure that it is watered, has adequate nutrients and is protected from the harsh elements.


Ashworth, P. (2015). Why Company Culture is So Important to Business Success. BrightCoach LinkedIn Article. link

Iannarino, A. (2012). A Fish Rots from the Head Down (A Note to the Sales Leader). Iannarino Company Website. link

Kaplan, M., Dollar, B., Melian, V., Van Durme, Y., Wong, J. (2016). Shape Culture Drive Strategy. Deloitte Insights. link

Looking for More?

Keep up-to-date on the latest membership information, research and ideas by signing up the the NRGizer Newsletter. SIGN UP NOW

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

Michael Sewards (SkyBus) – All Aboard the SkyBus

active CEO Podcast #15 Michael Sewards All Aboard the SkyBus

Michael Sewards – CEO SkyBus

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, we discuss how Michael’s team are elevating the experience of the SkyBus Passengers, coping with passengers varying stress levels, expanding both nationally and internationally, and solving the congestion problems at airports. We delve into Michael’s leadership style, parking the ego in a co-CEO environment, the growing pains when expanding quickly from 140 to 600 team members, and leading through transparency, energy and purpose, in a practical manner.


Michael Sewards is a CEO that is always on the move, ensuring that customers are placed first and the passenger experience is of the highest quality. His leadership style is a charismatic, but humble, approach that suits being at the heart of a world-class transport service that caters for over 4 million passengers per year. He became Co-CEO of SkyBus in 2014, the company services airport passengers across Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne, Gold Coast, Auckland and Hobart, at no cost to the tax payers.

His efficient nature shines through in his ability to manage multiple site locations, volunteering at various sport organisations, supporting charities, spending time with his family and finding time to ride his bike. Michael is known for his generosity and caring nature, he spends a lot of time with his wife supporting and making a difference with those less fortunate such as starving children and women dealing with Breast Cancer.

Michael talks about:

  • Growing up and dreaming of being a Professional soccer player, and the harsh realities of trialling for Queens Park Rangers and realising that you don’t have enough talent to succeed.
  • The importance of preparation and understanding the environment you are about to enter.
  • How having part-time roles during High School and University allowed him to develop the fundamental skills required to be successful in business.
  • The first 100 days as the new CEO of SkyBus and being handed the keys.
  • Underestimating the strength of the culture in a family business that had been developed over 36 years.
  • Having a co-CEO and the relationship that has been developed for over 20 years.
  • SkyBus being proud to showcase and love the passenger’s destination, and making sure that their first impression is truly amazing.
  • Coping with passengers differing levels of stress, feelings, experience and approach to travelling.
  • Why it is important for the CEO to be clipping tickets at the curb or driving the bus.
  • Understanding the pinch points and degrees of stress in the business because of an event or certain time of the year, and deploying the management team to the curb.
  • The expansion strategy of SkyBus and the most important components for making it successful.
  • Understanding what the market knew and felt about SkyBus. Is there sense of brand equity and passenger ownership of the brand?
  • The greatest limitation to growth at airports is congestion in the forecourt terminal.
  • Partnerships are becoming very important in the growth and development of both business and most importantly the community.
  • SkyBus powered by Vodafone.
  • Wrapping the bus in promoting White Ribbon and Breast Cancer Network, and getting the bus drivers to sign the bus and commit to stopping any violence towards women.
  • The importance of turning off from work, having interests outside of work, riding a bike before work and reading a book per week.
  • Doing something new, every day, for the last four years.

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and Craig talk about giving it a rest. It is amazing how many people disregard the most important technique for stress management, productivity, mental health, physical health and performance, GET A GOODS NIGHT SLEEP! People who get less than 6hrs sleep double the likelihood of weight gain and diabetes because of raised cortisol levels and the affects it has on insulin metabolism and blood-sugar control. Getting 8 or more hours sleep a night has a positive affect on your biochemical balance, predisposition to chronic diseases, performance, mood, energy levels, helping you to lose weight, controlling your stress response and vigour. Prioritise the time you go to bed.


“The most important thing our team members need to know, is that somebody is there to help.” Gaining an insight into Michael Sewards, CEO of SkyBus, on the active CEO Podcast.

“It is challenging to apply the learning’s from Australia and to pivot and mold in New Zealand. It is just such an incredibly dynamic market because everything that happens in New Zealand is really done for the rest of the world.” Michael Sewards on expanding SkyBus into New Zealand, on the active CEO Podcast.


Resources Mentioned in this show:

Michael Sewards LinkedIn


Craig Johns LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book link

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#14 – Jamin Heppell & Jen Ziegner (Mountains & Marathons) – Leading From the Mountain Tops Link
– Chris Dean (Choice Energy) – Disrupting the Energy Spectrum link
#12 – Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game link
#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
– Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 –
Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link 
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game

active CEO Podcast #12 Kate Palmer Changing the Game

On this episode of the Sportspeople Recruitment active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns and Ben Gathercole talk with Kate Palmer about finding her dream job, where she combines her passion for sport, and desire to improve the health and wellbeing of a nation. We delve into her role of leading and catalysing the Australian sport industry to encourage more Australians to become more active, and shape the future of elite and grassroots sport.

We also discuss topics such as transformational change, reducing layers of compliance, the future of sport business structures, the new ‘move it’ campaign, and how she implements health and wellness into the team at Sport Australia.

Kate Palmer

Kate is one of the leading female CEO’s in the global sport industry. In January 2017, Kate took the reigns of the Australian Sports Commission, which has since been rebranded Sport Australia. She has a successful record in leading transformational organisation change, instilling good governance and providing excellent people management at organisations such as Netball Victoria and Netball Australia.

Growing up in regional Victoria, Australia in the town of Shepparton, Kate fell in love with sport playing netball, softball and was a keen waterskier. She studied a Honours Degree in Applied Science at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and a Masters of Sport Management at Deakin University. In 2014, Kate was awarded the AIS Sports Performance Leadership Award. Her passion for sport extends to governance roles at the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, Victoria Institute of Sport, Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, International Netball Federation and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Known for her ability to engage a diverse audience, she values having different voices and opinions at the table. She knows that to influence a system you need to get inside it, be reasonable and don’t give up. As a leader she believes in working with people in a team, showing them a vision for the future and being truly authentic.

Kate talks about:

  • Her memories of sport as a young child.
  • Growing up in rural Victoria, in Shepparton.
  • The benefits of meetings in motion and walking meetings.
  • Sport providing the health of local communities.
  • Ensuring young children learn the basic movement fundamentals.
  • What inspired her to become a sport administrator.
  • Taking the reigns as CEO of Sport Australia.
  • Transitioning from being a CEO of employees to leading a whole industry.
  • The relationship between the Minister of Sport, the Office of Sport and Sport Australia.
  • Reducing layers of compliance and keeping it simple.
  • Why it is important for sport organisations to consider and adapt to new business models in the future.
  • Ensuring sport organisations have the structures and capability to be sustainable in the future.
  • Health and wellness of athletes, and how they transition into the ‘real world’ after life in sport.
  • Changing the lives of people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
  • Can we look at different ways of working in the sport industry as an administrator, coach or high performance management.
  • The significance of the ‘move it’ and ‘find our 30’ campaigns.
  • Changing the balance and ensuring that she reads, exercises and eats a healthy breakfast.
  • The Hugh Palmer scholarship and the “corporate handbag”.

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and I talk about the importance of self-regulation and why it is such an important element of emotional intelligence. We talk about being aware of your emotions, how to manage and express them at the right time. Self-regulation is also about the ability to remain calm, consider all the possibilities and have a clear head.


“I am quite a practical person, pragmatic, and I can see things, I like to change things, and I like to fix things.” Gaining an insight into Kate Palmer, the CEO of Sport Australia, on the active CEO Podcast.

“Take responsibility and make a decision. If you fail or if you make a mistake we fix it, we will fix it together.” Kate Palmer on giving responsibility to employees, on the active CEO Podcast.

“I don’t think sports can look at us and say, you give us 80 to 90% of our revenue, and that’s a lot of money, but we are not prepared to improve our business.” Kate Palmer on investing in sport for the future, with the active CEO Podcast.


Resources Mentioned in this show:

Kate Palmer LinkedIn
Sport Australia
Find Your 30 website
Netball Australia
Netball Victoria
Australian Commonwealth Games Association website
Victoria Institute of Sport
International Netball Federation website
Melbourne Cricket Ground website
Deakin University
RMIT University
Sportspeople Recruitment
Craig Johns LinkedIn
Ben Gathercole LinkedIn
Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
– Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 –
Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link 
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

How Curious Are You?

Every CEO and leader faces a period of time where the company is moving along smoothly, but the team feel is a bit flat and lacking enthusiasm. It is important that you create an environment where there are constant sparks of energy in the workplace and that is where curiosity becomes invaluable.

Before we delve into ways you can enhance curiosity, here are some example questions that you can ask yourself or your team every day:

  • What is the one service, product, project, idea or topic you are curious about today?
  • What is the one thing you thought about today that you want to know more about?
  • How does that work?
  • Why do we keep finding ourselves in the same position?
  • What would happen if we changed one thing?
  • How can we make it simpler?
  • If I were the end consumer, would I find it easy to use?

Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash

How Curious Are You?

The easiest way to influence your employees and team members, is to model the behaviours you desire. If you are always quick to answer or lack asking questions, you are showcasing a leader who lacks curiosity. For you to succeed as a leader you need to showcase your inner curiosity, as we all know we don’t have all the answers and solutions, as good questions will lead to even more questions.

People tend to shy away from asking questions due to a fear of being judged unintelligent, indecisive and somewhat incompetent. Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking they are supposed to know and provide all the answers. Recognising what we don’t know and cant do, sends a powerful message to those around us and may even motivate them to explore and learn more. Remember, there is always time for questions, as you may ask the one question that prevents the company or team from failing.

Try asking your employees and team members questions such as:

  • How can I make your job easier?
  • If you were leading the company, what is the one thing you would change?
  • Tell me one thing that will allow our consumers and clients to enjoy a greater experience?

The answers to these types of questions will inform you how to approach what changes are required and how to prioritise them. We need to find solutions to the gaps in our knowledge and also continue to identify what other questions still require answers.

Employees will be quick to read between the lines when you don’t know the answer. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you don’t know the answer, as this emphasizes the value of continuing to learn and explore.

People tend to like leaders more when they ask questions. It helps build trust, develops more meaningful relationships and leads to more creative outcomes. Asking questions about ideas leads to people thinking more deeply, approach it from another viewpoint and continue striving for an answer to the challenge puzzles we are faced with.

Photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash

Explore, Broaden and Learn

Do you provide your employees and team members the time and opportunities to explore their interests, other roles or just play? Allowing them to broaden their horizons and perspectives can lead to greater productivity, efficiency and performance. As Gail Jackson once said, “It’s better to train and have them leave than not to train and have them stay.”

When a company faces challenging circumstances, they tend to focus on KPI’s, results and the dreaded HR restructure. They shrink the capacity and capability of the company to identify what the root of the cause is and what solutions will allow them to re-right the ship.

Stimulating a mindset where learning leads to performance outcomes, allows employees to be better problem-solvers, acquire more diverse skillsets and produce better work. Redefine your work environment by focusing on goals that improve competence, acquire new skills and develop mastery. Those who focus on learning versus performance goals tend to be more successful and have greater levels of motivation.

Questioning is only as beneficial as the support and reward that are provided. Develop intervention’s that stimulate and accelerate curiosity, such as invention sessions, creativity walls, internal TEDx type workshops or question of the day. Seeking diverse solutions and answers will allow your employees to interact and communicate more effectively. Be curious about your employees work and the way teams do their business.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Hire the Curious Ones

Look for people who possess the intellectual curiosity to explore, collaborate with others and ask great questions. The curious ones tend to perform better than specialists who stick to themselves and block out the noise. If you want to unearth a real gem then hire people who possess both the empathy to listen thoughtfully and challenge themselves by looking at approaches, decisions or puzzles from a different persons perspective.

When interviewing potential employees it is valuable to discover whether they talk about the success and support of other people when discussing projects, whether successful or not. It is important to understand whether they enjoy collaborating and do they see the benefits of partnering with people, teams or other companies with projects in the future.

Does the potential employee:

  • ask questions about other areas of the company?
  • show fascination in learning news ideas, identifying what they don’t know and going beyond their comfort zone?
  • listen, read and watch topics and interests outside of their specialisation and industry?
  • seem a bit quirky, on another planet, awkward or different from the rest of the pack?

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Start With Why

Each day ask a few ‘why’s’ about the work you and your team are doing. Think about how you will utilise the answers to enhance your work and challenge the status quo.

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