This is a special “behind the scenes” of The Learning Leader Show episode.  My friend Jay Acunzo is back.  This time, he takes the reins and asks me the questions.  Jay is the founder of Marketing Showrunners, author of the book Break the Wheel, and a decorated show host and executive producer. Jay got his start as a sports journalist and previously worked in tech for Google, HubSpot, and the VC firm NextView. His thinking has been cited in courses at Harvard Business School and by writers at the New York Times, the Washington Post, FastCompany, Fortune, Entrepreneur, and more. Salesforce called him “a creativity savant,” while the American City Business Journals named him as one of Boston’s “50 On Fire.”


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The Learning Leader Show

“Want to learn about a person?  Read the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT section of their book.”

Some of the questions Jay asked… (and my answers)

  • SECTION ONE: Superlatives
    • Hardest interview:  — Jim Collins.
    • Most-downloaded all-time:Show has steadily grown since it was created, so the most downloaded is a recent episode.  From this year: #310 David Epstein. He wrote Range and The Sports Gene,  Some popular ones from the past are: #300 with my dad and brother AJ, #216 Jim Collins episode is a popular one. 
    • Most referenced: the one you cite the most in conversation or your work – #78 with Kat Cole (Courage/Confidence + Curiosity/Humility) = Productive Achievers.
    • Biggest delta between what you thought they’d be like…and what they were actually like?  General Stanley McChrystal.  War hero. 4 star General.  Expected him to be super intimidating, but he was so kind, thoughtful, curious, and caring.  Followed up to ask him to write the Foreword to my book and he said yes. 
    • Hardest part of running this show?  It’s never ending.  Must always be working on it – Reaching out to guests, cold emails, preparing for each conversation, reading their books, watching everything they have online, etc.  It never stops.
    • Where have you most improved? Better conversationalist.  Understand how to ask better questions, be more thoughtful, intentional with my actions/behavior. 
    • Biggest benefits to your life…  1) The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know…  I’ve become more curious. 
    • Most active listeners: who do you see popping up a lot?  – My Leadership Circle
  •  SECTION TWO: Stagnation Is The Enemy
    • We undervalue the power of consistency:  Consistency + Quality is the key to long term success.  Most people quit.  Must keep going.
    • Why start it? – I wanted to create my own Leadership PhD.  One where I get to choose the professors.  Share with others, be a multiplier… Had dinner with Founder of, Todd Wagner. Publishing work is the best form of networking.  Create a reason for people to WANT to contact you.
    • The preparation process –  Read their books, watch their talks, read articles written by them and about them.  Talk to friends we have in common. Read the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT section of their books to ask questions about meaningful in their lives (this gets them to open up and feel free to speak more emotionally… Which can be great audio and REAL)
    • Given repeat ability and longevity, how do YOU stay engaged? Mental heuristics, intrinsic things that you just do/try, proactive remixes and reinventions? — Have to be genuinely curious in the guest.  Have to enjoy the pain of preparation. What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out (Neil Pasricha). I love the preparation process, reading/thinking of angles to take a conversation with a specific guest that I’m curious about.
    • Given that stagnation isn’t just caused by US but also by the market saturating, how do you operate today compared to before? Early mover advantage wanes…and so many more podcasts about your topic specifically now exist. — Willing to try new things (like this).  Study and understand my listeners. You’ll often hear me speak to the exact avatar of my listener.  I’m not trying to have the biggest show ever. I’m trying to be the right show for the people who email me (mid-level manager in corporate America.  Building teams, hiring/firing, qualities to look for when building a team). It helps directly with those people, but have also found niche audiences in other spaces like NCAA basketball coaches, NBA players, etc.
  •  SECTION THREE: What’s next? 
    • What are you excited to do next?  Try new projects like this episode… Continue to do live shows with an audience, travel more for in person recordings (Koppelman, Roberge), and keep going.  My book.
    • Where does this show go? What other projects surround it now, vs what you want to try? – Live shows, travel for in person.  Bring on guests for my Leadership Circles (paid Mastermind groups.  My groups ask for a guest, I bring them on). Creates group teaching and a ton of value for my Leadership Circles. My book.
    • What’s pissing you off about leadership in the corporate world that you’d like to explore and help solve? – Bad bosses.  I’ve worked for a few (as have we all).  I wrote about that goes through the process of being a bad boss to being a better one.  I lived it and I’ve learned so much from others. That’s what WELCOME TO MANAGEMENT is all about.

“Every once in a while, you need to dunk on a Fisher Price hoop.”

More Resources:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership