Leaders as Humble as They are Successful

Refreshingly candid conversations with some of today's most humble leaders. Adam Kaufman dives into topics often left unexplored. His guests’ challenges, fears, and motivations show what it takes to become a humble leader.

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Reflecting on Season 2: a Micro Episode

| S:2 E:11
Reflecting on Season 2: a Micro Episode

Season 2 saw another full lineup of remarkably accomplished and humble leaders, -- a Heisman Trophy winner; a world-renowned heart surgeon; and several business leaders. Join Adam Kaufman, Dave Douglas (producer), and special guest, Madison Cichocki as they reflect on some of their favorite moments from the season.

Adam Kaufman: One of the aspects of podcasting I enjoy the most is the ability to delve into long form discussions without any interruption other than a periodic commentary about one of our partners. I'm grateful that Calfee has agreed to partner with us. They a full service firm every type of legal need, so whether it's selling your own business or the more routine needs of creating your first will or anything in between, this firm can really do it all in terms of legal needs. Once again, the firm is Calfee, you can find them at calfee.com or on the Up2 Foundation website.

Adam Kaufman: During the first season of the Up2 podcast, I had several companies and entrepreneurs approached me about potential partnerships, but I'm really selective before choosing to do something like that. One choice we did make happily is to partner with VividFront, a full service digital marketing and website design agency based in Cleveland that works with both local and national brands. A firm I liked before we agreed to partner together for the show. Check out vividfront.com or you can email me and I'll introduce you to their dynamic leader, Andrew Spott.

Dave Douglas: Welcome to another episode of Up2. Our host as always is Adam Kaufman, but today Adam is not going to be interviewing anyone. However, before we get to that, I would like to mention a few milestones that we've reached here at the Up2 podcast. First, we've now been downloaded in 50 countries so we're very excited and thankful for that. And secondly, and this is more of a request than anything, here in the United States, we've been downloaded in 48 States. We want you to share the Up2 podcasts with anyone you know that could find it beneficial, someone in leadership or entrepreneurship or an individual pursuing those things. But right now we're especially interested in finding listeners in those two missing States, Nebraska and Mississippi. If you know someone in those States, now is a great time to share the Up2 podcast with them. And with that, I'll welcome Adam to the show. Adam, how are you doing?

Adam Kaufman: I'm well Dave, but what are we doing here today? If it's not an episode? What are we doing?

Dave Douglas: Well, we just finished season two. That's right.

Adam Kaufman: Thanks for all of your great work on that.

Dave Douglas: And I just wanted to make sure that we got together and did a quick recap because we had so many incredible guests-

Adam Kaufman: We really did.

Dave Douglas: ... and there were so many takeaways that felt really, really important and I kind of just wanted to make sure that we emphasize those.

Adam Kaufman: I thought that was a great idea and truly I hadn't thought of it. So it's kudos to you and I hope our listeners realize that we have heard a little bit more of our super producer, Dave Douglas, each episode because I love your involvement with the program not only behind the scenes but on air too. So thanks for doing this today, Dave.

Dave Douglas: Yeah, you're welcome.

Adam Kaufman: And also to enhance today's micro episode, I asked one of our favorite partners, Vivid Front and specifically Madison Cichocki to join us today. Did I say that correct?

Madison Cichock...: You did.

Adam Kaufman: All right, great.

Madison Cichock...: It was great.

Adam Kaufman: And Madison is going to help us also get her perspective on the season. She's been an avid listener throughout Up2's history and I love her perspective as well because she represents little different demographic, age, and female and she's a creative type unlike me. So, so glad you're here.

Madison Cichock...: So glad to be here. Thank you for having me.

Dave Douglas: Of course, she is on the Vivid Front team and their marketing agency, right Maddie?

Madison Cichock...: Yes. We're always looking for those nuggets that we can share to bring more listenership but also more value to the listeners.

Adam Kaufman: Multiple hats because you as an individual as well, you have your own career and your own life. So I've enjoyed hearing how some of the messages have resonated with you personally as well.

Madison Cichock...: And that they have.

Adam Kaufman: We've now completed 22 episodes of the Up2 podcast including our special series with Umberto Fedeli. And we're gearing up for a third. Thankfully our sponsors have committed to another season, which is tremendous. We're grateful for that. And just as importantly, our listeners are encouraging us to keep going. So we are now in the process of selecting our season three guests. I've had some recommendations and referrals from listeners, so thank you. Please keep those coming. We're going to schedule and then interview and produce nine more episodes and we hope to release in mid spring.

Dave Douglas: Okay, Adam, so if you're going to look back, do you have some favorite moments? Do you have some favorite quotes that you can kind of pull from episodes that have really stuck with you?

Adam Kaufman: Something that I just can't stop thinking about, Dave and Maddie, is so many people have told me about the Doug Holladay episode, former US ambassador and Goldman Sachs executive Doug Holladay, that they literally had to repeat some of the moments and take notes because he was just rolling off one powerful lesson after another. I remember two different people called me saying they were driving, they pulled over to write something down that he had said. So that's something I didn't expect. Dave, you were there with me in DC when we were interviewing him, but when he was saying, for instance, our point of identity is not our strength. Our point of identity with others actually should be our weaknesses, and our fears and worries and that that makes us more relatable. That was really powerful.

Dave Douglas: Yeah. I was really blown away by that and I've heard you say that before. And my understanding is that you've kind of gotten that from him because he said that to you before actually-

Adam Kaufman: Yep. Years ago.

Dave Douglas: ... so it's very natural for us to be wandering around kind of touting all of our strengths and our accomplishments to all the people around us-

Adam Kaufman: Yeah. That's human nature to talk about our most proud aspects of our life.

Dave Douglas: It's great to be able to commiserate with other people in our shortcomings.

Adam Kaufman: Another moment which wasn't expected but I enjoyed after it happened, is interviewing Baker Mayfield, the NFL quarterback, Heisman trophy winner. He was the first person that I interviewed who I didn't previously have a relationship with, so I wasn't sure how that would go. But we quickly developed a rapport, thankfully, but the secret weapon was his wife and I talked for half an hour before Baker arrived and I really liked Emily. And so I called an audible and I invited her onto the show during the show, you were there, and that made him even more relaxed I think to have his wife there. And so I really liked how that sounded later having his wife on. That's the first time we've had a husband and wife combination.

Dave Douglas: Yeah, I agree. Madison, what did you think about that?

Madison Cichock...: I loved her reference to his bracelet. The humble of her hype was the perfect tie in. It was meant to be perfect quotable for us from a marketing side. And also-

Dave Douglas: And I didn't even know he had that.

Madison Cichock...: ... It was perfect. She was great.

Dave Douglas: Yeah, she was great. I really enjoyed her hanging out beforehand and I think she was ... I actually kind of wish she was in the episode more. It was a little bit of a short episode itself. It was at an event that was for the public. And so there was a lot of commotion and whatnot. So was a little bit of a different format.

Adam Kaufman: So I want to hear a little bit more from Madison right now. And one of the reasons I invited Madison to join us today is because she has this unusual background and that she has worked at Townhall-

Madison Cichock...: Yes. I have.

Adam Kaufman: ... one of our partners. She currently is an important executive at Vivid Front, another one of our partners. And if she wasn't such a slacker, she could go to law school and then go work for Calfee or [crosstalk 00:07:53].

Madison Cichock...: I live right down the street. I could commute.

Adam Kaufman: See what I mean? So you are the perfect contributor to this special episode.

Madison Cichock...: Yeah, Townhall was great. I worked there in college, so it was kind of my side hustle while also interning at Vivid Front. So I worked at both places at the same time. Bobby George was great. He's a really strong leader at Townhall, everyone kind of admires him-

Adam Kaufman: Still our most downloaded episode. Excuse me.

Madison Cichock...: Yeah. And I loved his insights when you were chatting with Baker about servant leadership. I think Baker really related well to that from Bobby George. He's been an inspiration to a lot of people at Townhall. It's a family there. I can attest to that.

Adam Kaufman: More broadly, what about the entire season? Is something sticking in your head or touched your heart in a way that you didn't expect?

Madison Cichock...: The strongest message for me this season was about your circle and how the most important decision you can make is who you surround yourself with. Almost every guest talked about the intention of who your circle is, whether it be family, friends, business colleagues. That's a really important decision. I think that it affects you in all stages of life. So at 23 I've already seen it, an important part in my life. Something your parents tell you to do from a young age, know who you're around. You are who your friends are, but something that follows you through life.

Adam Kaufman: So do you think you have a good circle?

Madison Cichock...: I hope so.

Adam Kaufman: Feel good about your circle?

Madison Cichock...: Yeah, especially in my career. Andrew Spott, our CEO leader-

Adam Kaufman: Yes. What a dynamic leader.

Madison Cichock...: ... a mentor to me and to many at our office. And Lisa Perry, she's been a mentor to me as well, his right hand and really has helped me through my career so far.

Adam Kaufman: Terrific. Anything else from season two that sticks out for you, or a favorite moment with a guest perhaps, or more about the tremendous host of Up2?

Madison Cichock...: My favorite guest I have to say, was Joe Pulizzi, mostly because of my background in marketing. I really liked his approach to goal setting and the three Rs that he mentioned.

Adam Kaufman: He was very intentional about his goal setting.

Madison Cichock...: Yeah, I really resonated with that.

Joe Pulizzi: This is the way that you start I think as just being a productive human being and the one is record, we just talked about that. Write down your desires, whatever they may be in those categories we just talked about. So that's record. The second one is review. Review those goals on a regular basis, we just talked about that. And then the third one, which we haven't talked about is remove. What is in your way that you're not accomplishing those goals? So remove that.

Adam Kaufman: That's great. How about you, Dave? Anything else coming to mind from your side?

Dave Douglas: Well, I suppose like a lot of people that Doug Holladay episode I thought was really incredible and really stuck with me. Outside of that one, I think my next favorite one was the time that we spent with Dr. Gillinov, the heart surgeon at the Cleveland clinic. Yeah., Exactly. I thought that was just a really special time that we had there kind of having this insight into his outlook and a person that ... of course, all these people are extremely successful, but this is a person who is ... their successes are everyday saving 10 people's lives. It's just-

Adam Kaufman: All in a day's work.

Dave Douglas: Yeah. And it's just incredible hearing him talk about it. It'd be very easy for him to certainly give himself a lot of importance and kind of have that air about him, but he really didn't at all. So I just really enjoyed that time.

Adam Kaufman: I came here today planning on bringing that up. So it's terrific you had the same memory. Madison, to refresh your and everyone's memory, it's when I was talking about how Dr. Gillinov was number one in his class at a prestigious high school, and he was number one in his class at Yale, and he was in number one in his class at Johns Hopkins Medical School, the number one ranked medical school, and now he was chairman of the number one ranked heart center. And I was asking him, does he set these goals, speaking of Joe Pulizzi, to always be number one? And I said, "I even give you permission to say yes, you set goals." But he didn't. He just said, "We always just try to do the best we can." And I said, "But you're number one at everything." And he goes, "Yeah, that's kind of nice." And Dave and I were just like, "Oh my gosh." We could not believe how humble he was.

Madison Cichock...: You can't get more humble than that.

Adam Kaufman: Let's talk about school. You were number one in your class in high school. You were a number one in your class at Yale. You were number one in your class at Johns Hopkins, which Hopkins and Harvard are ranked the top medical schools every year. And now you're the chairman of heart surgery at the number one ranked heart center. Are you trying to be at the top?

Dr. Gillinov: I can only try to be the best I can be and that's about it.

Adam Kaufman: So you weren't motivated to be number one in your class? Is there a competitive streak in you at all? I guess that's what I'm searching for.

Dr. Gillinov: Yeah, some. It's a nice thing, but there's always going to be someone somewhere who's better without a doubt.

Adam Kaufman: You're listening to the Up2 podcast. We'll be right back.

Adam Kaufman: I want to tell you about a group that I'm grateful for and that is Townhall. Cleveland's most popular restaurant, Townhall was the first all non-GMO restaurant in the US and they're now expanding into Columbus, Ohio soon. I'm also very selective about who we choose to partner with for this podcast. And it was with open arms that I embraced the idea of partnering with Bobby George and Townhall. to learn more about what they're up to, you can visit townhallohiocity.com.

Dave Douglas: You're listening to the up to podcast with host, Adam Kaufman. Welcome back.

Adam Kaufman: Another favorite moment of mine was with Philippe Bourguignon. He was the former CEO of Euro Disney and the co-CEO of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a really global citizen. And I'm passionate about searching out humility. This whole show is about humble leaders, but he coined a phrase that I hadn't thought about before. He said, "We're most successful with a limited ego because our ego can blind us." And I love that phrase and I don't know if it was because of his friends translation in his head, but I haven't heard Americans talk about ego blinding us because we shut our eyes to new opportunities or to criticism.

Dave Douglas: Yeah.

Madison Cichock...: And I think Bernie also, if I remember correctly, touched on ego and talked a lot about the importance of a partner-

Adam Kaufman: Bernie Moreno, the businessman now technologist.

Madison Cichock...: Yes. Keeping you grounded and somebody who can kind of check you to make you come back to that place of humility and realize that ego doesn't have a place in growth.

Adam Kaufman: That's right. That was a good point. He and I both shared that our wives serve that role importantly for us.

Madison Cichock...: Yeah. Whether a partner or a colleague, it's really important to have that someone who could check you.

Adam Kaufman: So I loved when Philippe said that. And then I also found Scott Wolfenstein, the real estate developer who had this privileged family that he was born into, but then his hard working life and his rise to success and then he lost it all, and he's trying to work it back again. I loved his storytelling and he said, if you remember, Dave, "If we don't take anything for granted, it's a lot easier to be happy."

Madison Cichock...: Love it.

Adam Kaufman: It's simple but tremendous.

Madison Cichock...: It's poetic.

Dave Douglas: Yeah, it's really tough to put yourself in that position though. To actually honestly not take things for granted.

Adam Kaufman: Yeah. So just think about that for a minute. If we don't take anything for granted, like this sweater that keeps me warm or this roof over our head, it's tremendous. What else? Do you have any other favorite moments, Maddie?

Madison Cichock...: Another favorite from Bernie was about indecision and being confident, and how being indecisive can create an enemy within yourself. And I really liked that message for a younger demographic because I think it can be hard to stand by your opinions and your thoughts and follow your gut when you don't have a lot of background, or knowledge or tacit knowledge to-

Adam Kaufman: Small sample size.

Madison Cichock...: Exactly. I really liked that moment. Another favorite was from you, our host talking about relationship equity. And I know you shared that with me in meetings that we've had one on one and with our team at Vivid, but I thought that message was really strong. I like the ETM reference, what you put in versus what you take out, make more deposits than withdrawals. And I've shared that message with a lot of people.

Adam Kaufman: Awesome. Thank you. And I've loved how the younger generation have continually told me that they like hearing these lessons in the beginning of their career. I'm 49 so a lot of us are looking backwards or trying to improve during this next phase, but I love that so many of you in your cohort are encouraged to start off on these paths of lessons learned from the older people who've already been there, done that, made the mistakes.

Madison Cichock...: Yeah, we can make it actionable.

Adam Kaufman: Awesome.

Dave Douglas: And that's something that I think is worth stressing too because Adam, you yourself expressed that you thought maybe this would be more leaning towards a demographic that's a little bit older-

Adam Kaufman: Like my peer group, right.

Dave Douglas: Yeah. And it's been pretty equal across what seems to be all age demographics really. The universal truth, and encouragement and wisdom that your guests are talking about here are really applicable no matter how old you are.

Adam Kaufman: It transcends age.

Dave Douglas: Yeah, exactly. Okay. Adam, so we've talked a little bit about some of our takeaways and our feelings about the season and how it went and some of the wisdom that we were able to glean from your guests. And I'm wondering if we can, once again, hear just a little bit from some of your listeners.

Adam Kaufman: We definitely can do that, and I love feedback and I accept all types of feedback, criticisms as well as compliments. So please continue to email me, text me or even send something into the show. I sat down today in the studio and Dave handed me a card and a book, The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. So thank you, I won't give the last name, but Jessica, thank you so much for writing this lovely note of encouragement and providing this book to read. I really appreciate it. Additionally, we get a lot of electronic mail in today's age Dave. One of my favorites recently came in.

Adam Kaufman: Hello Adam. My name is Lindsey and I'm an entrepreneur and physical therapist and I just wanted to share that I'm greatly enjoying your podcasts. As the daughter of two exceptionally humble and remarkable parents, I have long admired leaders who demonstrate humble greatness coupled with abundant kindness. For many years, I watched my father in board meetings almost always be the last person to speak on his own accord. When he did speak after careful consumption of all views, to my repeated astonishment, he could alter the air in the room with just a few sentences. I've come to appreciate the subtle expression of power and I just love how you amplify leaders with these traits on your podcast. Thank you for refilling my cup and giving me further nourishment to grow in my own endeavors with entrepreneurship. With gratitude, Lindsey Watson, the CEO of Augment Therapy.

Adam Kaufman: Wasn't that nice?

Dave Douglas: Wow.

Adam Kaufman: Refilling her cup. I love that and I loved it because again, it's a younger entrepreneur, an example of the crowd I wasn't expecting who would listen so much to these episodes, but great to hear from her. I have one more as I stumble right now.

Adam Kaufman: Dear Mr. Kaufman, I played college golf and ... first of all, Mr. Kaufman, now signifying I am an older person. Dear Mr. Kaufman, I played college golf and after graduating last year with a degree in business, I moved to Washington DC to work in digital media, digital media. I'm thoroughly enjoying my experience at my company and I'm eager to continue to challenge myself to live a life of meaningful impact. I take personal development seriously. I love studying the many aspects of leadership and you're Up2 podcast has been a great source of inspiration for me. I often find myself having to pause and take notes on the content discussed. So yet again, someone taking notes, they never expected that.

Adam Kaufman: So I've always been interested in leadership development and gaining perspective on how to navigate life in a meaningful way. And then this young man boldly asks ... you got to ask for it. Take the risk. Would you be interested in grabbing lunch or coffee sometime? Yeah, he went for it.

Madison Cichock...: He did.

Dave Douglas: That's good.

Adam Kaufman: So I met with Anton in Washington DC. And we had coffee and he's a really sharp young man and I'm really rooting for him now. I'm on his team.

Madison Cichock...: That's amazing.

Dave Douglas: Wow.

Adam Kaufman: Kind of fun.

Dave Douglas: Adam, will you have coffee with me sometime?

Adam Kaufman: I would love to, Dave.

Dave Douglas: That's great.

Adam Kaufman: Yeah.

Dave Douglas: This has been a really great time to do a little recap here. And Madison, I want to thank you for coming in and spending a little bit of time with Adam and I.

Madison Cichock...: Thank you so much for having me.

Adam Kaufman: This is your first, but hopefully not your last podcast.

Madison Cichock...: Yes. Thank you for having me.

Dave Douglas: Yeah. Maybe we can get Madison on the podcast again, maybe next recap.

Madison Cichock...: Yes.

Adam Kaufman: Thanks for the idea of doing this, Dave. Looking forward to season three.

Dave Douglas: Thanks for listening to another episode of the up to podcast. Please continue to share and send your feedback to [email protected]

Adam Kaufman: Up2 is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thanks to our producer and audio engineer, Dave Douglas. I'm your host Adam Kaufman, and thank you so much for listening to the Up2 podcast.

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