Big ideas flew recently when Evan Hackel, host of Training Unleashed, interviewed Krister Ungerbock. Krister is the former CEO of a global tech company and a leadership language expert. His insights have been covered in numerous national and international publications, including NPR, Forbes, Inc., Chief Executive and Entrepreneur. Prior to exiting corporate life at age 42, Krister was CEO of a $200M global software company. Krister is also the author of 22 Talk Shifts: Tools to Transform Leadership In Business, In Partnership and In Life, a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

While leading that company to over 3,000% growth, Krister’s team won five consecutive Top Workplace Awards, achieved remarkable employee engagement levels of 99.3%, and became a dominant player in its market niche — event management software.

We know you won’t want to miss a word of this conversation between Evan and Krister. So please watch the podcast! Here are edited excerpts.

Evan and Krister Discuss Communication, Leadership . . . and More

Evan: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another exciting edition of Training Unleashed. I have a great guest with me, Krister Ungerbock. He is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. I want to tell you I have bestselling authors on air all the time that are Amazon bestselling authors. I’m an Amazon bestselling author, and it doesn’t mean much compared to being a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. That is a coveted thing.

Krister, you have said, “Change your words, change your _______ {blank}.”  What do you mean by that?

Krister: I started down this path as a former CEO to write a book about communication that could cross over into leadership in the context of business, but also leadership in the context of relationships. As a father, a parent, in a marriage or whatever.

Evan: Can you share some examples of how your world changes when you change your words?

Krister: I would say one of the most common example is how hard it is to have difficult conversations . . . As leaders, we often are really talking about how we make commitments to other people. [Too often]  you know, often we make commitments like, “Hey, I’ll get that to you next week.”

Evan:  Your book is about 22 Talk Shifts. Does that mean you have 22 key points?

Krister: There are 22 short chapters, and each chapter offers a different tool.

Evan: I also know you have a very unusual way that people who are in the corporate world can utilize your book. Can you give us a bit of background on that?

Krister: So I ran a relatively, I guess, it was a small company. When I started it, it was like 10 employees. When I wanted to invest more in training, my shareholders were not on board with it. So we were always looking for really affordable ways to train.

Evan: I want to ask what I think is the most important question in this interview. It is fundamental to the concept of Training Unleashed, which is that we’re training champions. We’re here to advocate for training because we believe that effective training can make a huge change in the company.

Listeners to this show say they often get frustrated because their senior management doesn’t take training seriously enough. It’s an afterthought. It’s underfunded. So what advice would you give to our listeners to get senior management to listen to them better? How could they change their words? How can they be more effective to get buy-in and support for training initiatives?

Krister: We know that tools will create practical value. I’ve been to leadership courses where I spent three days and when I walked out, I still didn’t know what I was going to do differently. I heard a lot of platitudes.

Evan: I’m hearing you say that is instead of talking about what the training is, talk what the training does.

Krister: Yes, using real examples.

Evan: I think people would like to know what your company does. Who are your ideal customers? This is your opportunity to let everyone know about your company.

Krister: Our mission is to change the words of the world, and we give 100 percent of our profits back to initiatives that will help us to change the words of the world. I take no salary, so this is really just about changing the words of the world

Evan: As we end each podcast, I always ask our guests the same question. If you had one tip to share, what would that one tip be?

Krister: I think the simplest one is to start all your conversations with a question that that starts with the word what or how. And if you observe the questions that others ask and you observe the questions that you ask . . .

Evan: And start with those words, and see if they start with them too, then you will be discussing better issues. That is a wonderful piece of advice. Thank you very much!

Tools to Build Better Bosses—and Become One

We Invite You to Check out Krister’s Transformative Book!

22 Talk Shifts: Tools to Transform Leadership in Business, In Partnership and In Life

(Published by Lioncrest).

About the book:

Strained and estranged relationships are everywhere in business. Salespeople are frustrated by the finance people, customer service and operations people are frustrated by salespeople, and everyone is frustrated by the IT people.

It’s time to shift the conversation.

In 22 Talk SHIFTs, you’ll discover unconventional, sometimes counter-intuitive communication techniques that can make your year, or your career. You’ll learn how to:

  • Increase employee engagement, leadership communication, and growth
  • Become a better partner, parent, and boss using these 10 statements
  • Speak like an emotional Einstein
  • Lead people to their solutions, not yours
  • Cultivate connection, compassion, and commitment at work and home

TalkSHIFTs create great teams—but here’s the bonus—they also create great families. These practical tools include fill-in-the-blank phrases, powerful questions, and provocative exercises that can break the cycle of strained communication and strained relationships.


The TalkSHIFTs are the result of Krister Ungerbock’s real-world experience leading teams in languages and building businesses on five continents.

Learn language changes that make a big difference—in business, partnership, and life.