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How to Unmute Yourself and Your People to Achieve Greater Success with Heather Hansen

Heather Hansen is Founder and CEO of Global Speech Academy and author of the new book Unmuted: How to Show Up, Speak Up, and Inspire Action. In a recent Training Unleashed Podcast, she and host Evan Hackel explored her very big idea that we can all succeed and accomplish more if we are “unmuted.”

It’s a fascinating concept. We know you will benefit from these edited portions of their remarkable conversation.

Evan and Heather Discuss “Unmuting”

Evan: Let me start by asking what you mean when you say that we can “unmute” ourselves. When did you first start to think about what it means?

Heather: What did it mean to be unmuted when we moved online during the pandemic? In so many video meetings we kept hearing, “You’re on mute, you’re on mute.” And after hearing that a million times, I thought, do you know what? How many of us are really on mute? We’ve been on mute way before the pandemic in our lives and our careers and our families, not having the courage to speak up to share our bright ideas. And that’s hurting our businesses.

Evan: That’s a great concept. So it means that we’re not giving fully right? How do you see muted employees hurting business and unmuted employees impacting the business in a positive way?

Heather: I think there are a number of benefits, innovation for one, when we start hearing everyone’s ideas . . . not just the eloquent speakers, not just the leaders, but the people who are looked over on a daily basis.

We all have something to contribute. So innovation is a big one. Inclusion is a big one, when we start really listening to every voice. There are a number of different movements happening now. You know, there is the concept of the fearless organization with Amy Edmondson, there is psychological safety, there is greater awareness around cross-cultural issues.

There are so many things coming together right now, and I think we will have a real awakening happening after the pandemic where we’re looking for new styles of leadership. We’re looking for a new way to interact in our companies, a more human way to appear at work. And when we start showing up fully, I think we’re going to see a massive shift in the success of businesses and in innovation, inclusion and ultimately, in bottom-line profits.

Evan: I totally agree. When I was a kid, I think people were taught that you don’t say anything at work, just do what you are told. But I think the younger generations want to be unmuted. But of course, that requires management to be receptive to listening. So let’s talk about management for a moment. What does management need to do to encourage people to unmute and to create a safe space to be unmuted?

Heather: That’s a really great question, because I think a lot of the change does have to happen top-down. We have to see leaders showing up and unmuting themselves. And there’s the big bad word. Every time I say it out loud, I get the worst feedback from leadership. And that is the word vulnerability. In my talks or workshops, I will always get a hand in the air and someone will ask, “Oh, why do I have to be vulnerable? Vulnerable is a bad word. I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want to be seen as weak.”

And there are a lot of cultural issues tied up in this as well, of course. But I think it’s important that we start realizing that vulnerability isn’t a bad word. It doesn’t mean putting your private life on a plate for everyone in the office to see. It doesn’t mean crying at work. It means showing up and sharing your full self, not just the professional side.

I struggled with it. As I wrote my new book, I kept reminding myself, “Heather, live your mantra. As leaders, we have to walk the talk.” Now, that doesn’t take the responsibility off of everyone else because we also down the ranks need to be willing to speak up in a toxic environment, need to be willing to speak up when we see a mistake, and be willing to speak up with very positive and good ideas that we have. And so it does go both ways. But if management is not creating that open culture where we aren’t afraid of failure, where we’re able to speak up without negative repercussions, we’re going to run into some problems. So I think you nailed it right there. It starts at the top.

Evan: Yes. People have to lead by example. One of the things that I talk about a lot is that people are evasive in a lot of cases because they’re trying to not hurt people’s feelings. And you know, the polite police are the enemy of a good meeting. What advice do you give to employees to unmute themselves? How do I go about encouraging that?

Heather: Well, ideally a culture has developed where there is a space for that. So maybe it’s in the weekly meetings, maybe it’s actually the leader who’s been asking for that feedback. If that person is receptive, then most likely people aren’t going to have a lot of trouble unmuting because they know the leader is receptive. And it’s been made very clear and it’s a part of the culture, and there isn’t any real worry about voicing a concern or saying, “Hey, I have this amazing, amazing right hand woman who supports me, and I’ve made it very clear to her that she needs to speak up and tell me what I don’t see, right?”

We can’t have all the answers. And of course, you know, we’re in a very global environment. I’m dealing across cultures as well, where there’s a lot more stress. Even if I come in and say, “Please tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me,” that doesn’t mean that people will necessarily tell me. Maybe the person you’re speaking with is based in Singapore or om Southeast Asia, where there’s a very strong culture around not necessarily challenging a superior in the workplace.

And we see that happening in a number of ways in larger organizations, people taking their concerns to H.R. instead of the individual wanting to be anonymous in their feedback. Again, a lot of these are systems that would have to be set up by the company . . . this idea of managing up is very difficult for a lot of people. But being able to sit down with that person and be quite open and honest with them and focus on the situation and not the person.

It can mean saying, “I’ve been thinking about this project, and I wonder if I could just share some different ideas with you that I was thinking about.” And not to say, “I don’t think that the direction that you’re taking is the right way.”

Being unmuted isn’t throwing your ideas in someone’s face and being hurtful. It’s being conscious and aware and emotionally intelligent. So it is about building the relationship with the individual, focusing on the situation and not the person, and airing your ideas and solutions and not just focusing on problems.

When we are in meetings, we can say, “I know that you have amazing ideas and I want everyone to hear them.” And if I’m doing my job properly in the meeting, I am going to be turning to you and specifically asking you for feedback. So I might warn you of that and say, “I want you to know that in meetings, people are sometimes talking over you. I know that you have ideas that you want to voice and you aren’t getting the opportunity. So I’m going to make sure that I create that space for you. I want you to be able to speak up in those situations. And how do you feel about that?”

Evan: If you had only one tip to share with our audience, what would it be?

Heather: Oh, I love that question. And when it comes to communication training in particular and enhancing our communication skills, the one tip I’m always telling my clients (and I wish they would practice more) is to set an intention in the morning of what you want to focus on that day for your communication skills. Because we are communicating all day, every day.

If you’re trying to slow down your speaking pace, then set that intention. If you want to speak clearly, think about how you are articulating in every conversation. If you want to be a better listener, try to press mute more often today and really listen to people.

We have every opportunity all day long to enhance the way that we are communicating with people! Simply set aside five minutes in the morning to think about how we are going to do that today and how are we going to inspire others to do the same. And so that would be my big tip when it comes to improving our communication skills.

A Special Offer from Heather for Members of the Training Unleashed Community

Heather invites you to take advantage of free bonuses that accompany her book. Go to and open unmuted assignments and exercises you can start with your team. You’ll find an implementation guide for companies and HR departments that want to experience the effectiveness of unmuting their people.

About Our Guest

Heather Hansen is Founder and CEO of Global Speech Academy and author of the new book Unmuted: How to Show Up, Speak Up, and Inspire Action. She helps top global leaders show up, speak up, and inspire action in a changing world. She is on a mission to unmute leaders and teams so they can be more innovative, inclusive and efficient while adapting to modern challenges.

Heather’s primary areas of expertise:

  • Global English Pronunciation and Intelligibility
  • Workplace and Leadership Communication
  • Linguistic Diversity and Inclusion
  • Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Presentation and Interpersonal Skills
  • Language and Virtual Communication Policy

Heather is an outspoken advocate for global voices. She raises awareness around microinequities related to language and accent in international teams and helps companies build UNMUTED communication cultures where every voice is heard.

Heather’s experiences speaking foreign languages and working in global environments give her increased empathy for her clients and their challenges. She has spent a combined eleven years in her current home, Singapore, where she first moved in 2006. Her work has taken her to 16 countries on four continents, and her clients come from every corner of the world. She was an early adopter of online technology and has been coaching and training her global clients online since 2012. She published her first fully-online course, the Pronunciation Mastery Program, in 2013.

Watch Heather’s 2018 TEDx Odense talk: 2 Billion Voices: How to speak bad English perfectly

2022-05-13T16:58:46-04:00May 13, 2022|

The Future of Leadership with Eric Spenser

Evan Hackel opened a recent Training Unleashed Podcast by asking his guest David Spencer a provocative question . . .

“Let’s just pretend for a moment it’s 20 years from now. What has changed in leadership?”

Eric is just the right person to put on his thinking cap and consider big questions like that. He is COO of and a founder of He has spent more than 20years shaping HR for organizations, from startups to Fortune 100 companies. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker and mentor in the field of maximizing leadership and organizational culture.

We know you will enjoy and benefit from every big idea about leadership that these two men shared. Please make time to listen today!

Evan and Eric Talk Leadership

Here are some edited excerpts from their Podcast conversation . . .

Evan Hackel: Let’s just pretend for a moment it’s 20 years from now. What has changed in leadership?

Eric Spencer:  Evan, I think 20 years from now we will have figured out some things about leading remotely. We squeezed about a decade’s worth of change in the last two years. There are some folks out there that are doing it well and some folks that are just sort of feeling their way around in the dark still when it comes to leading remotely

I think if you fast forward 20 years from today, we’ll have learned how to do remote leadership really well, really effectively. Distributed teams won’t be presenting the challenges that we’re dealing with today.

Evan: I think there are great opportunities that didn’t exist before, because people are getting used to the technology. You are a leadership expert. What is your advice for someone right now, today? I mean, we just talked about the future, but what should people be doing now to grow their leadership?

Eric: It’s knowing your people. It’s knowing your people beyond what they do at work and how they do their work. It’s about knowing who they are, how they’re wired and what lights them up.

We’ve had an opportunity to see literally into people’s homes for the last 18 months. We’ve seen their pets step into the frame. We’ve seen kids jump into the picture. We’ve sometimes seen not very clothed spouses pass through the frame.

We’ve seen a lot of stuff, but a lot of folks out there haven’t capitalized on the opportunities to really get to know their people. We were in a loneliness epidemic prior to COVID, and it’s only intensified. So if I was going to focus on one thing, it would be the quality and depth of the relationships you have with the people on your team.

Evan: Can we talk about the four questions you have developed that leaders can use to check their relationships?

Eric: I call them the four yeses. They are simple questions to help you understand where you are in any given relationship.

Question number one is, “can I count on you?” Meaning, can I count on you to show up and do your job?

Question number two is, “can I depend on you?” Question number one (“Can I count on you?”) is reactive. It’s about showing up. But question two is much more proactive. It’s centered on issues like, “Are you going to give me the warnings of impending disaster?” and, “Are you going to give me the heads up that something’s coming, like the boss is expecting something on Friday that I know you’re on the hook for?” You can have a perfectly acceptable work relationship at the “count on you” and depend on you” level. But the magic starts to happen with the next two, final questions.

Question number three is, “Do I care about you?” And it’s not a group hug. This is, “Do I care about you as a human being? Do I know your story? Do I know who you are, what you’re about?”

Question number four is the kicker question, “Do I trust you?” It’s about codependent care and trust, which are how we assess the quality of relationships.

And if you don’t say yes to all four of those questions, you’re not in what we call an ally relationship. That might be OK in certain relationships at work but once we know that, we have a choice to make as to what we’re going to do in that relationship. Will we invest in it? Hang back? Are we comfortable where it is? Or do we need it to be in a different spot?

Evan: So I would assume that this is more important in certain kinds of roles than in others. So if someone’s working on the production floor – not to say that they’re not important, but maybe the relationship is different than if somebody you’re working with daily. So when you look at these four questions. What types of people are you referring to? Or is it literally everybody?

Eric: I think that’s the beautiful thing about the questions, because they’re applicable at whatever level or however you want to cut your relationships. On the shop floor, we can have a perfectly effective relationship at the count on “ and “show up and do your stuff” levels.

But if we need to elevate that relationship, if we’re looking to increase efficiency, productivity throughput rate, if we’re thinking about the quality of the relationships of the people on that line, it’s going to be different. Right? Productivity is going to be different. If I know you, Evan (and I trust you and I like you), the chances of me having your back, even in that shop floor situation, are way higher, right? Versus letting you fail and costing the team productivity.

In a leadership role, you have a lot of power to assess relationships at multiple levels.

Evan: How does a leader create trust and how does an employee create trust? And which comes first?

Eric: Yeah, chickens and eggs, right? So I’ll say a couple of things about that. I think you create trust by walking the walk. You know, people often ask us, “How do I get more allies in my relationships?” And our answer is simple. You’ve got to be one. You’ve got to show up as one. You’ve got to do the things you say you’re going to do. You’ve got to hold yourself accountable. When you screw up, you’ve got to own it. You’ve got to step in and take accountability for that.

In workshops and at keynotes when I talk about trust I’ll often ask, “Who here has ever flown in an airplane?” People raise their hands. And I say, “I’m assuming that you interviewed the pilot and crew and made sure that they were sufficiently trained.” And of course, nobody does that. We get on the plane. We don’t even know who’s up there in the cabin, other than the voice. But we grant that trust to that person, to that crew that is going to get us where we intend to go, reasonably close to the time we intend to get there in one piece. Right? So we always grant some trust, given the structure of the relationship.

Where it gets interesting and somewhat wonky is as we move up the corporate ladder, people tend to get a little bit more puffy-chested and they’ll say things like, “Well, you’ve got to earn my trust,” And I think really, people give it to the pilot, you give it to the chef cooking your dinner, but not the guy who works in your organization?

Evan: Now we’re at the most fun part of the podcast, which is what if you had one tip to share, what would that tip be?

Eric: If you take nothing else away from our conversation about relationships at work, take away the concept of what I call The Relationship Pulse Check. It’s the easiest thing that you can do to see where things are with a specific person with whom you work. It is made up of just three questions you ask:

  • What’s working for you in our relationship?
  • What’s not working?
  • What’s one thing that I can do to help us or you be more successful?

A Special Offer from Eric to Members of the Training Unleashed Community

Eric personally invites you to visit his company website,, where you will find a number of learning and training modules that members of the Training Unleashed family can access free of charge.

“And when you get in there and choose your modules,” Eric says, “go to Check Out and type in the coupon code `training unleashed’ (all lower-case letters) and the modules you choose will be available to you free of charge.”

Let’s all learn about those four powerful questions Eric has created, and how to use them to improve our leadership and company performance!

Thank you, Eric!

About Our Guest

Eric Spencer, COO of and a founder of, has spent 20+ years shaping HR for organizations, from startups to Fortune 100 companies. He is a leading consultant, speaker and mentor in the field of maximizing leadership and organizational culture.

Eric’s books include You, Me, We: Why We All Need to Be a Friend at Work (and How to Show Up as One!), which he co-authored with Morag Barrett.

2022-05-06T09:23:22-04:00May 4, 2022|

New Ways to Train Better in a Post-Covid World with Andrew Scivally

Evan Hackel recently welcomed Andrew Scivally, one of the founders of eLearning Brothers, to share his views on a Training Unleashed Podcast. Their conversation has the power to expand and transform the way your company trains its people today. Read on to learn more!

About eLearning Brothers

eLearning Brothers is a small company in Utah that has a unique story. Back in 2009, two brothers – Andrew and his brother Sean, started a company in their basement with a great idea.

They believed that they had the skills and knowledge to put together interactive, engaging, and inspiring content to help companies dramatically enhance their eLearning courses. And they were right! That is just what eLearning Brothers have been doing ever since . . .and are still doing today.

Andrew and Evan Discuss Training Today

Here are some edited excerpts from what Evan and Andrew, two expert trainers, had to say.

Evan: Andrew is CEO of E-learning Brothers, and he is one of the original two brothers there. He has immense knowledge of what’s going on in the world of training. And let me add that e-Learning Brothers is one of the leading companies in the world of training today.

Andrew, let me just start with the question that everyone likes to ask just now. What has changed because of the pandemic?

Andrew: A lot has changed, right? I think the biggest thing is that companies that had not adopted digital training before the pandemic are doing it now. They have fully embraced it, whether they wanted to or not. Before the pandemic, we would go to companies that were doing a lot of business and had lots of employees. Yet when I asked if they were doing any online training they would say, “No, we haven’t even thought of that . . . why would we want to do that?

And I mean, these were big companies! So I think that’s the biggest thing that’s changed. There has been a massive acceleration of adoption. Without the pandemic, I don’t know how else we would have gotten this done.

Evan:  I’ve seen the same thing. Now, people are less afraid to be on camera, more comfortable with video and technology where before the pandemic, they were afraid. I think acceptance of technology has been major. And I actually think leader-led training, which was dying somewhat before the pandemic, has come back a little bit. But now it’s being done virtually!

Andrew: I know! I used to get on Zoom calls with 19 or 20  people, whatever, and nobody had their cameras on! It was just one way to talk to each other. But now on every call I have with partners or clients, I get to see them. And that’s been awesome.

Evan: One of the premises of this show is that a lot of people don’t really understand how to do good training. What are the foundations of having effective training that actually moves the dial and has a positive impact on a company?

Andrew: If you are going to take your employees’ time, if you’re going to invest in developing training and all of that, you should create a really great, interactive, engaging experience for them.

Now, that doesn’t mean you need to spend a million dollars. But when you’re building training, you should think about a number of things. It should look really good. It should be on point, which means that you don’t include a lot of extra junk that people don’t need to know about.

Sometimes people are just pushing and pumping out training and they’re just kind of checking a box that says, “Hey, they did the training.” But those companies are not really thinking about the fact that there’s a person on the other side of this that actually has to go through this stuff.

Evan: And it is an investment. People think, “Well, we really can’t afford it.” But then they stop and think that maybe they have 1,000 employees who are each going to spend 10 minutes on the training. Well, that means the training will take up 10,000 minutes of employee time. And when you think how much you are paying those people for that many minutes of their time, you realize that the training itself is only maybe one percent of the actual cost of training. The lion’s share is the amount of time that employees are investing.

Andrew: It is peanuts. One thing I’ve always thought about is that marketing companies spend a ton of money just to make their work look really pretty. At the end of the day, everything they produce looks really, really good, professional, slick and all that.

But what about our training departments? What if they invested the time and effort to make what they produce look amazing? It is not that hard or expensive to make training look pretty darn good . . . using some really nice visuals, making sure that your branding aligns with what the company would expect or is trying to push.

When employees go through that kind of better training, they say, “Well, do you know what? This feels like our company. This looks amazing. The training department actually knows what they’re doing.”

And that gives you credibility as a training department because you put out good stuff! And so I think that’s been missing and it’s happening a lot more now.

Evan: I totally agree with you, and some big companies just don’t get it. I was recently with a client who was showing me all their rebranding, and it was excellent. And I said to them, “Well, now’s the time to look at all of your training and upgrade it and take it to the next level.”

And they said, “Why is that?” I said, “Well, if you’re rebranding the company, you’ve got to redo all your training to the new branding, right, dramatically different.” And their response was, “Ah, we never thought about that.”

Andrew: If your employees went through a branded training experience that was just top-notch, they’d be your biggest ambassadors in the world. They’re talking to your customers. Shouldn’t you use branded training that makes employees feel that they are part of this new company? It only makes sense, but unfortunately, sometimes people aren’t thinking about the training department in that kind of way.

Evan: If you had one tip to offer to our audience, what would it be?

Andrew: One piece of advice? Going back to what we touched on earlier, Evan, and that is to tie yourself and your training to the goals of your business. So figure out how your training department can actually move the needle on the goals that your company executives care about. So if you want to get in the game, if you want to get into the executive room and into the brains of those executives and into their hearts, help them achieve their business goals.

A Special Offer from Andrew to Members of the Training Unleashed Podcast Family

Andrew invites all members of the Training Unleashed family to explore and use all the rich training resources that are found on the website. Simply click on the Resources tab on the website and you will find eBooks, a knowledge base, as well as access to a number of powerful, information-packed webinars about creating superior training. It’s all there for you.

“Just dig around and enjoy it,” Andrew says.

 About Our Guest

Andrew Scivally is the co-founder and CEO of eLearning Brothers. He has 20 years of experience in the learning technology space, including all aspects of course design and development, as well as leading learning and development teams for financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase and Zions Bank. He holds a master’s degree in computer education and cognitive systems. Led by Andrew, eLearning Brothers has established an industry-leading brand and been featured in the Inc. 5000 for six consecutive years.

2022-04-15T15:33:47-04:00April 15, 2022|

How Diversity and Inclusion Will Build Your Organization’s Ultimate Success with Leslie Short


In a new Training Unleashed Podcast, Evan Hackel and Leslie Short explored a very practical way to assure that your company will become dramatically more successful . . .

When you focus on Diversity and Inclusion, you will become better attuned to the clients you serve in the marketplace and as a result, far more successful.

Your organization will enjoy many other benefits too, as you will learn in our article today.

Leslie is President, CEO and Founder of The Cavu Group, an innovative firm that offers highly impactful workshops and consulting services to help organizations expand beyond their current cultures by embracing diversity and inclusion. The company’s core belief, found on its home page, is, “Diversity is no longer an option. Inclusion is not only having a seat at the table, it’s having a valued voice at the table.”

Leslie is also author of the new book Expand Beyond Your Current Culture: Diversity & Inclusion for CEOs & Leadership.

We know you will want to watch this podcast, which will transform your organization and your leadership. We are pleased to give you a preview with the following edited excerpts.

Evan and Leslie Discuss Diversity and Inclusion

Evan: Today we’re going to have a great show. We’re going to talk about something I’m deeply passionate about: why diversity, equity and inclusion really improve and grow a business. And we have a great guest. She is Leslie Short, President, CEO and Founder of The Cavu Group and author of the book, Expand Beyond Your Current Culture: Diversity & Inclusion for CEOs & Leadership. She is a diversity and inclusion pioneer and specialist.

Leslie, my first question is about the company you founded, The Cavu Group. Why did you come up with that name?

Leslie: I’m happy to be here! Cavu is an aviation term that stands for “Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited.” It means your visibility is unlimited. And when we think about diversity, equity and inclusion, our visibility should be unlimited.

Evan: Well, I do like that. I think you and I agree that diversity and inclusion are not only about doing what is right (although it is right). It’s about building a stronger and better business. Why do diversity, equity and inclusion help people build more successful businesses?

Leslie: If you build diversity and inclusion into the foundation of your business, then you don’t have to think constantly about adding it on and figuring it out. You’re not thinking about who your consumer is or who the people are that are working with you.

How do I get that diversity of thought, of culture, of being? When you have people sitting in a room where they can share their different cultures and thoughts and beings and education and all the other things that come along with them, that only makes you a stronger option for a consumer that’s looking to invest back into a company. And when I say invest as a customer, that means every time I go to buy something I know I’m buying from a company that understands maybe just a small piece of who I am.

Evan: Well, I think what you’re saying is really important because diversity of thought is hugely important to a business. And companies that do not allow alternate points of view because the right people are literally absent, that’s a shortcoming and they’re not going to reach the whole market.

Let’s take this into culture. How do you create culture with an organization that not only wants diversity, equity and inclusion to be visible, but to really become the organizational culture?

Leslie: Well, one, you have to recognize what diversity is to you, right? So many people think it’s Black and White, while diversity is gender, race, LGBTQ, plus disability, and veterans.

Evan: And age.

Leslie: And age! I like to say, “What’s in their bag?”

That means, what are they bringing to the table in their skill set and in their understanding of cultural things? And when you build that and you recognize that each person brings something, that helps you build a company culture. Company culture also means you’re giving people equity. That is pay equity, access to tools to learn, to think, to continue education, to be promoted and understand the systems you have put in place.

Evan: Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about leadership. What advice do you have for a leader? And I’m going to pose a question on behalf of the audience. I’ve been a leader for years. I consider myself a good leader, but I’ve never used the filter of diversity, equity and inclusion in my leadership. What do I do now? How do I shift? What are the key tidbits, the key suggestions that you would give to a leader to become effective?

Leslie: As a leader, you have to understand who you are, who you are as a person. It’s not about having the title “leader,” but about who you are as a person, what you bring to your leadership, what you offer. Are you someone that’s an active listener that has empathy?

Then more than anything, you have to look at people for who they are. Why were they hired? What’s the skill set they’re bringing? And then beyond that, who are they?

And then when you’re doing that, the way that you are looking at diversity, equity and inclusion will be automatic because you’re seeing a full being and not what you think they should be to fit into the hole that you need filled.

Evan: So what I’m hearing you say is as a leader, you have to have tremendous empathy. And that you need to look at the teams that you’re building and consider the diversity of people, personalities, all of these things to have effective teams. And those are really the two keys.

Leslie: Those are the two keys. Yes.

Evan: And diversity and inclusion have a major effect on retention too.

Leslie: Absolutely. There’s a reason people stay and a reason why people leave. And if they can see themselves within the company, if their work is valued, if they express a value voice or value action by what they do every day, they will stay and they will continue to grow and want to grow within the company. That is a huge benefit.

Evan: Do you have one tip to share with our viewers?

Leslie: Yes, I do. Continue to expand beyond your current culture!

A Special Offer from Leslie to Members of the Training Unleashed Community

Many guests on Training Unleashed offer viewers a free book or a complimentary subscription to a newsletter. Those are generous gifts! But we are excited to let you know that Leslie Short is offering you something that is remarkably powerful and transformative . . .

Leslie is offering to spend time talking with you!

Why? Leslie explains, “I do have a book, Expand Beyond Your Current Culture. It gives different tips and stories. But I really want diversity and inclusion to be successful for you and your company. I don’t want to hear that diversity and inclusion are “just buzzwords,” and I don’t want to hear that diversity and inclusion don’t work.

“So let’s have a conversation of how it can work for you.”

How can you schedule a time to talk to Leslie? Email her at [email protected].

Be sure to mention that you are taking advantage of the offer she made for members of the Training Unleashed family.

About Our Guest

Leslie Short is President, CEO and Founder of The Cavu Group, a consulting company that is committed to helping organizations formulate the next generation of understanding unlimited visibility and eliminating unconscious bias by educating and sensitizing senior leadership and all employees.

Leslie brings four decades of experience that includes fostering growth through open conversations, conflict coaching, training and workshops. She firmly believes that issues don’t go away because programs are in place. Solutions require continually evolving and having a channel to listen to and understand people.

Leslie is author of the new book Expand Beyond Your Current Culture: Diversity & Inclusion for CEOs & Leadership.

2022-04-06T01:09:54-04:00April 1, 2022|

Learning, Training, Leadership and More with Dirk van Reenen

Our host Evan Hackel recently interviewed Dirk van Reenen, founder of BERGflow, for another great Training Unleashed podcast.

What is BERGflow? If you visit the company’s website, you will see that the company’s mission is “helping service-based companies build better teams.” But when Evan and Dirk started to chat, their discussion took off like a skyrocket. Yes, they were talking about building teams, but before long they were discussing how humans adapt to rapid change, about leadership, recruitment, job satisfaction, performance, and of course, training.

Their conversation was remarkable, deep, and extraordinary. We are pleased to offer you the following excerpts. Be sure to watch the podcast and learn more.

Evan – Today, we’re going to talk about a whole bunch of things. We’re going to talk about recruitment and retention. How do you keep people? How do you keep them excited? How do you get the best from your staff?

Dirk – In 2016, I was the CEO of a large organization with 500 salespeople who were doing over $800 million a year in sales. And I learned something that year that was very significant, and it had to do with the rate of change in the world and the human ability to adapt to change.

Several universities did research and determined that a human being has a static ability to adapt to change. And once the rate of change exceeds that, then the human starts experiencing a higher level of stress, anxiety and feeling lost.

That resonated with me on such a deep level, and I started understanding, this is going to start shattering the business world. Up until that point, leaders could tell their people what to do and leaders could navigate the world for their people.

But after that point, leaders could no longer by themselves navigate the world. They had to start switching to a collaborative team model to be able to navigate the increasingly rapid rate of change. So when I understood that, I resigned from my corporate position, and I started a company that could help businesses navigate building teams in this new kind of environment.

So when we looked at what we were going to be doing regarding teams, we said, “We want to be able to take on large challenges because only if you’re willing to take on big challenges in the world, will you be able to unlock big opportunities. And if you can unlock big opportunity and capitalize on it, then you get a big reward.”

Evan – Can you explain your company’s name? Berg means mountain, and that reflects what you just said about big challenges and big rewards, right?

Dirk – Yes. In the physical world, we said, okay, what represents something big? And for us, it’s a mountain. So that’s where the word “berg” came from in our name, it means mountain.

The flow part of it came from a documentary called “Happy.” If you’ve never seen it, I would highly recommend watching it. It looks at what creates joy and happiness within people. It identifies about five different elements that have to be present. One of them was this thing called flow. And that documentary was actually the first time I’d heard about the state of flow. It stuck with me.

Flow is that state where you are doing something and nothing else matters, time ceases to exist, and you’re fully immersed in what you’re doing. And the documentary actually presented research that flow had to be present in your life if you wanted to experience higher levels of happiness. So for us at the company, it wasn’t just about taking on big challenges, it was also being able to do work where you could experience flow, and that’s where the name BERGflow came from.

Evan – There’s been a seismic shift in the way we do business. The top-down authoritarian style is no longer effective. And you know, we’re in an environment where workers have never had more power than they have right now. It requires companies to be excellent in how they work with their team and staff to retain people. This is as hot a topic as there is right now. What are the keys to building a culture that retains great people?

Dirk – Well, I think the first thing to recognize is that there has been a really big shift. People who work for companies have said, “Hey, enough, if you can’t care about me as a human being, you know what? I’ll go find somewhere else to work.”

And I heard a prediction a few weeks ago that more than 30 percent of the workforce is going to change jobs in the next year. That is a massive number,

Evan – I’ll just share with you that for years and years, Gallup has done research that has shown somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of employees, if they could, would change jobs. So when you say 30 percent are going to shift? I totally get it because I think there’s pent-up demand of people that have wanted to but have been afraid to and haven’t had the opportunities to change. Now, they see those opportunities.

Dirk – Virtual work has completely changed opportunities for people. So today, people are saying, “Why do I work? Where I work? Why do I do the kind of work I do? If I could do something else, what would that look like?”

It’s essentially a buyer’s market today. Companies are scrambling to try to find good talent. The talent has the power in their hands. So the question that they have is, OK, if I have the control, where am I going to work?

Companies that understand the shift are gaining massive ground on the companies that don’t understand what’s happening right now.

I heard a John Maxwell podcast not too long ago, where he was [saying]  . . It’s not about leadership anymore, it’s about collaborative teams. When we started in 2016, we knew that the key for companies to survive the future was that there would be no leaders that were smart enough to navigate all the changes, make all the decisions, or train their people

Suddenly, it had to be about finding the right people and teaching teams how to start working together and supporting each other. And I think one of the biggest changes in the workplace today is companies that are building that kind of environment and culture where it’s not about you showing up and doing your job, it’s about being part of a team. And part of that means that you are looking out for your coworkers, for your peers.

Evan – You’ve talked about the importance of getting to know people as people right now. By the same token, we’ve got training around that, sexual harassment training in particular, where there are very clear boundaries. You need to be careful that someone doesn’t feel like they’re misreading your intention. If you understand what I’m saying.

So I guess my question is, how do we connect with people and learn about their lives yet at the same time, respect a certain degree of privacy and boundary?

Dirk – Yeah, and this is a this is a really good question, because there’s definitely a clash between human resource type regulations and what it looks like to really get to know a person, right? There’s that there’s that clash within the workplace. And I think a lot of companies are so afraid of all the rules and regulations that they create a system where people are cogs because they feel like if they go any further than that, they’re going to put themselves at risk.

So the first thing I’d say is always follow EEOC compliance where, you know, within your state, within the U.S. and be compliant in what you do. Now, with that in mind, is there still an element of getting to know people?

On the Value of Training

Evan – Training in many, many companies is undervalued. Management doesn’t take it seriously, yet we know that effective training has a huge impact on companies and can massively improve sales margins. Operational efficiency can create people who really understand the brand. So you get brand stewards, and people who can deal with people with different personalities. A lot of times the training department doesn’t have the voice at upper management, or it doesn’t have the voice themselves to advocate. What advice do you give to people in training to help them as their team is part of the bigger team?

Dirk – And again, the short answer is, look, if you don’t have the right people in the right positions, it is going to be really hard to train them. If we understand more about the human beings that are in those positions, we can adjust the training to their preferred learning style, to their level of cognitive agility, how fast they’re processing.

A Special Offer for You from Dirk van Reenan

Dirk would like to invite fans of Training Unleashed podcasts to have a complimentary call and consultation. To take advantage of this offer, visit, contact Dirk and his team, and request your free consultation. Be sure to mention Training Unleashed.

About Our Guest

Dirk van Reenen is founder of BERGflow, a training and education company specializing in working with CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs. BERGflow empowers these individuals to think bigger, gain massive clarity, find new purpose and passion, and become alive again through raw adventure!

Before founding BERGflow, Dirk was CEO of a large organization with 500 salespeople who were doing over $800 million a year in sales.

2022-04-06T01:08:28-04:00March 8, 2022|

Plan to grow a million leaders in the next three years with Scott Drake

People have been talking about a “leadership crisis” for years. They have consistently pointed out that there are just not enough leaders, that the leaders who do exist lack the skills they need to address current problems, that there are not enough talented young people coming up through the ranks to lead our important organizations, and more.

There are people who worry about this crisis, but one person is doing something about it. He is Scott Drake, founder and Executive Director of a training and leadership development company called JumpCoach. Scott is planning to train a million great leaders, and to do it in the next three years.

In a recent Training Unleashed podcast, Scott talked with host Evan Hackel about this ambitious goal and how he plans to reach it.

To bring you up to speed on Scott’s plans and progress, here are some edited portions of his talk with Training Unleashed’s host Evan Hackel. 

The Current Crisis in Leadership

Evan Hackel: Scott Drake is the founder and executive director at JumpCoach. He is on a mission to train a million new leaders in the next three years. Scott, what is that about? Why does leadership matter?

Scott Drake: My goal is to grow a million leaders in the next three years. That came about because when you talk to executives, they will say one of the biggest problems they see is a lack of leadership in their organizations. And it’s not just top-level leadership, it is front-line leadership

We just haven’t had really effective leadership training. You know, in my journey it took me about 10 years to kind of level up into being a confident, competent leader. That’s a long learning curve!

So the question really is, how do we shortcut that and then, how do we do it on a on a pretty big scale? Because if we can fix leadership problems, we can fix a lot of other problems too. So that’s my goal.

Evan: It’s a very, very ambitious goal. Let’s start with a really basic question. What is a leader?

Scott: I define a leader as someone who can work through others to get things done. There’s a lot of debate and if you go ask a lot of leaders what leadership is, most of them will be scratching their heads. Or they’re going to fall back.

Evan: What do you mean by fall back?

Scott: I came out of computer programing. And if you talk to people with that background, they’re going to think of leadership as being a super version of being a computer programmer. But a leader is someone who can work through others to get things done. It’s different from management, which is more around deciding which tasks you’re going to tackle and how you’re going to do them.

Evan: I think people confuse management with leadership. They’re totally different specialties. And I think a person that doesn’t manage a single person can still be the leader in an organization.

Scott: Yes! A leader can be a nonprofit executive who’s rallying a group of people to help solve a problem. A leader can be the computer programmer who has no authority but has to work through a team to get certain things solved so that a whole project comes together. And it’s not about authority and it’s not about management, it’s not about control, it’s about how do I work through others and be effective in a healthy way to get things done?

Evan: Let’s discuss mindset shift, which I know you have talked about. Because I think it’s an important part of the conversation. What is this shift? Where are people at now regarding leadership and where do they need to shift to?

Scott: Most people are very inwardly focused. They’re focused on, “What am I bringing to the table?” They’re focused on “How do I stand out?” or, “How am I contributing” or, “How can I be valuable?” Right?

A leader has to shift that focus outward and say, “What does this other person want from this work? I know we need to accomplish goals. But what does this person want?”

So it has to become, “What do they want?” not, “What do I want?” You have to be willing to turn that focus off yourself . . . so you’re not in what I call a competency war with your team. You let your team take ownership . . . So that’s a big one, to adopt an outward focus.

Evan: If you had one tip to share with our audience, what would it be?

Scott: An area of leadership can be called moments that matter. Leadership happens when you are working through others, as we have discussed. But when does that happen?

Leadership happens in those moments of interaction between two or more people. And in that interaction, people get what they need, they get clarity, they get direction, they feel good about themselves, they feel good about the relationship with the leader.

But if in those moments people get things they don’t need, like confusion or doubt or if they question their status in your relationship with them, then then you’re really going to struggle as a leader. Leaders are telling people what to do. They’re saying, “Here’s how I would do it.” But often, leaders are giving people things they don’t need or want, so everyone ends up feeling bad about the relationship.

It’s often a simple moment where the boss was trying to be helpful or trying to do something right, but ended up doing something wrong. Leadership is really about mastering those small moments that matter.

Be Sure to Listen to the Complete Conversation Between Evan and Scott on Training Unleashed! 

A Free Offer for Members of the Training Unleashed Audience

Scott invites you to take part in JumpCoach’s Community Edition of the Leadership Accelerator Program – at no charge.

This program offers three lessons that will quickly build your leadership skills. We encourage you to take advantage of this offer from Scott and start your in-depth leadership program today.

About Our Guest Scott Drake and JumpCoach, His Company

JumpCoach was founded by technology executive and consultant Scott Drake. Scott’s journey into leadership was long, painful, and he made every mistake in the book. It took him 10 years to thrive as a leader and not feel like an imposter.

When he became a leader of leaders, he saw next-generation leaders making the same mistakes and having the same struggles. Selfishly, he couldn’t spend 10 years watching new leaders wreck his teams while they figured out how to lead, so he began searching for a faster way to teach leadership. That search turned into a five-year research project and the innovations that are now JumpCoach.

2022-06-07T20:07:14-04:00February 11, 2022|

Virtual reality to train your employees on a deeper level with Robin Rosenberg


In a recent episode of Training Unleashed, our host Evan Hackel talked with Robin about how she and her company, Live In Their World, have developed this practical new approach to leadership and employee development.

We know you will want to watch the podcast to absorb everything Robin says about her company’s unique approach to leading.

We are pleased to share with you these edited portions of their talk as Evan and Robin discuss a new, deeper way to train employees and unlock their full potential . . . 

Evan: My guest is Robin Rosenberg. She’s the CEO and founder of Live in Their World and she is a psychologist. Let me just start by asking about the name of your company. What does it mean?

Robin: The reason it’s called Live in Their World is because the domain “Walk In My Shoes” was not available! [laughs] Our program, in part, uses virtual reality. It allows people to literally walk in the shoes of people from different demographic groups.

Evan: Scenario-based training is an effective way to train. But you’re really taking that to the next level.

Robin: Correct. VR (virtual reality) is exquisitely good when it’s well done for what we call emotional learning, which is powerful and very different than cognitive learning.

Evan: I’m very intrigued with this. Does this training have to be done in your facility, or can it be done anywhere?

Robin: It can be done anywhere, because of the pandemic.

Evan: Is your training leader-led? Is it done on a learning management system?

Robin: It’s done on our platform. We also provide cognitive learning because emotional learning isn’t enough. I mean, it’s powerful and it’s really motivating. But what we want to do is really train habits.

Evan: So your primary curriculum is around diversity, acceptance and inclusion?

Robin: So you could call it that, although I think what we’re actually about is cultivating respect in the workplace.

Evan: What results do companies see after using your training?

Robin: Part of what they see is a subtle change in behavior.

Evan: Can you give us an example?

Robin: There is something that you probably haven’t ever experienced, but many women have, which is when a man comes over to your workstation, you’re sitting and he’s looking at something on your computer with you, but his crotch is in your face . . . unintentionally, unintentionally.

Evan: And men have a similar situation where a part of the woman’s anatomy is in their faces, which they don’t necessarily want to be looking at.

Robin: A great example. So quite a number of men who did the relevant part of our training have told me that it was a very powerful experience.

Evan: But it is really about being economically good for companies. Diversity of thought creates better products and better businesses. It attracts the right employees. I think the benefits are absolutely huge. And, you know, it’s interesting. Most people who are managers think that there are no issues of discrimination in their companies. There really are issues of course, but that’s not their reality. There are no issues in their minds.

Robin: We all have blind spots.

Evan: If you had one tip to share with our audience, what would that tip be?

Robin: Well, one tip would be to really treat  colleagues and customers and business partners with respect.

About Our Guest

Robin Rosenberg, Ph.D., is CEO and Founder of Live in Their World, a company that uses, in part, virtual reality to address issues of bias and incivility in the workplace and upskill all employees, as well as leaders in particular, for respectful engagement. She is a clinical psychologist, and prior to starting her company, she had executive coaching and psychotherapy practices, wrote college textbooks, and taught psychology classes at Harvard University and Lesley University.

Robin has been interested in virtual reality (VR) for years, and was the lead author of a study to investigate using “VR for good.” She has combined her interest in immersive technologies with her coaching and clinical experiences to foster in employees a deeper understanding of how and why other people may feel slighted or marginalized, and how to approach such interactions differently.

2022-02-03T17:11:10-05:00February 3, 2022|

Strategies to build great leadership skills with Krister Ungerbock


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.


2022-01-20T14:50:55-05:00January 20, 2022|

Meredith Bell Interviews Evan Hackel about His Philosophy of Ingagement

If you have been watching and learning from our series of great Training Unleashed podcasts – and we hope you have – we would like to tell you about something unusual! Today, we are reporting on a recent podcast in which Evan Hackel does not do the interviewing . . . he gets interviewed.

The podcast is part of the Strong Performance podcast series, hosted by an inspiring woman named Meredith Bell. Meredith is co-founder of Performance Support Systems in Hayes, Virginia.

We are excited to share these edited excerpts from their conversation.

Meredith: Welcome to the Strong Performance podcast. I’m your host, Meredith Bell, and I am passionate about having conversations with guests who will inspire and challenge you. I’m very excited to have Evan Hackel with me as my guest today. Evan Hackel, welcome to my show.

Evan: Fantastic to be here.

Meredith: Evan is on the cutting edge when it comes to the creation of mobile training platforms. Evan, can you tell us about your journey to the work you’re doing today with training and consulting?

Evan: My journey, which is really a journey of understanding the importance of Ingagement, started in my family business. I said, “We need a strategic plan.”

One thing I’ll say to every listener now is that plans make things happen, whether it’s in your life or business.

Meredith: This word Ingage is really a cornerstone of your work, and so I want to talk a little bit about why you spell it differently. Why is it Ingage with an “I” instead of Engage with an “E”?

Evan: I‘m defining it as a higher level of engagement.

Meredith: I’d love to know what are some of the key insights? You mentioned planning a minute ago. What was blocking progress in the organization you mentioned?

Evan: We had all these different parts of the organization and they all had their own goals. We started to ask, “Are we getting the perspectives of the people in the company? Do we really get their perspective when we talk to the team members in the company?”

If you get everyone’s perspective, you can see the whole picture. But worst case, if your organization is an echo chamber of senior management, you really have no idea what’s going on out there and you have a vision of things you can do that are not based in reality. I like to refer to this as “High-Level Dumb” because you’re in that echo chamber. Our goal in the company was to have 40 percent of those 800 people actively involved in some form of leadership and actively contributing. Ultimately, we is more powerful than me because when you build teamwork and success, it raises everyone’s boat.

Meredith: You have said that Millennials are the best workers who have ever entered the workforce and that Generation Z will only be better. Why do you say that?

Evan: What I love about the younger generations is they are lifelong learners. They’re totally committed to self-improvement. That’s what you want on your team.

Meredith: What kind of training have you found to be most effective at engaging younger people in learning?

Evan: Whenever I bring on a new hire, I always personally meet with them and review our vision and mission purpose statements and our strategic plan. And I really go into depth about what’s in the plan. The number one reason younger generations leave work is because they do not see personal growth and they do not feel they are getting tracked.

. . . And my last tip is that younger generations like to work for companies they feel great about. If you get right down to it, they want to feel that business is in fact doing something that makes the world a better place. So make sure you grab people and share that with your team, because that’s where the younger generations get really Ingaged.

About Meredith Bell

Meredith’s first career was in education, first as a teacher and then as an administrator. In 1982 she left public education to start a company of her own.

“My passion has always focused on helping people recognize and maximize their full potential,” Meredith says, “showing them how to become stronger for work and life. For several years I had a solo consulting and training practice, working with companies to develop the people side of their business. I worked with leaders and employees alike, teaching them how to communicate more effectively and deliver positive results.”

Then in 1990, Meredith co-founded Performance Support Systems (PSS), with Denny Coates and Paula Schlauch. After a few years, Meredith and her team created a new tool, called 20/20. It is a flexible survey system that has now been used by thousands of organizations and more than a million participants worldwide for traditional 360 feedback, team effectiveness, employee engagement and customer satisfaction surveys.

Meredith states that in the years of helping organizations transform their way of dealing with people, she and her team came to an important realization:

Neither feedback nor training can, by themselves, change behavior.

About Evan Hackel

Evan Hackel is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and franchisee. He is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company, and principal of Ingage Consulting. He is a speaker, hosts “Training Unleashed,” a podcast covering training for business, and author of Ingaging Leadership. To hire Evan as a speaker, visit Follow @ehackel or call 781-820-7609. Why not have Evan Hackel address your group about franchising success?

2022-01-14T16:01:00-05:00January 12, 2022|

Becoming a Champion with Mark Pattison


In a recent Training Unleashed Podcast, Evan Hackel sat down and talked with Mark Pattison about becoming a champion.

There are people who have theories about becoming a champion, and there are people like Mark who has undisputedly done it in the realms of sport, mountaineering and business. The secrets he shared with Evan and our Training Unleashed family are grounded firmly in both his own story and in reality.

About Mark Pattison’s Many Successes

Mark is a former  wide receiver who played for four seasons in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Raiders, the Los Angeles Rams, and the New Orleans Saints. Before he turned pro, Mark played for the University of Washington in Seattle, where he learned life lessons about coaching.

After his NFL career, Mark turned to mountain climbing. In 2013, he began a goal to climb the the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, which mountaineers call the Seven Summits. And Mark, as you will discover in his talk with Evan, is not a person who fails to reach his objectives. He went on to successfully climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2013 and 2017, Mount Elbrus in Russia in 2014, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia in 2015, the Aconcagua in Argentina in 2016, the Denali in Alaska in 2018, the Vinson Massif in the Antarctic in 2019, and Mount Everest in 2021.

Today Mark serves as SVP of Business Development for Sports Illustrated. As a philanthropist, his causes include the Epilepsy Foundation and Higher Ground, an organization that supports veterans. Mark hosts the Finding Your Summit Podcast, and we are thrilled that he spent a life-transforming half hour with our host Evan Hackel.

Excerpts from the Conversation Between Mark and Evan

If you are committed to becoming a champion in your life and your career, you won’t want to miss a minute of the conversation that Mark and Evan shared.

Here are some excerpts of their talk. 

Evan: How many people have climbed the Seven Summits?

Mark: Not a whole lot. You know, I think the total number over time is above 5,000. In terms of NFL players, there are only two of us!

Evan: This show is about training. And I understand you have a philosophy of training that has helped you in every aspect of your life. Why don’t we just start there and what that philosophy is?

Mark: I went to the University of Washington on a football scholarship and when I went there, I was not prepared in any way. I was completely overwhelmed. I really didn’t understand the roadmap to becoming successful. A Hall of Fame coach there, Don James, had taken a page out of the famous basketball coach from UCLA, John Wooden, and he adopted it as his own – the Pyramid of Success.

It helped me understand what it takes to become a champion in anything you do, whether it’s physical or in the business world. And that things don’t happen overnight. The pyramid of success has really helped me get to where I’ve been through the different things I’ve done.

Evan:  Please tell us more about what the pyramid is.

Mark: It’s a pyramid and there are 25 individual and team goals . . . And essentially, when you start talking about individual and team goals, you got to put yourself in a position for success. You’ve got to know the game. You have to know what you’re in for. You have to understand that it’s a daily grind.

All those little things lead to the bigger things and in terms of a team, you also have to learn how to integrate them into to a larger concept. When I was playing football, there were 11 guys on each side of the ball . . . We started off with 21 team members on Everest and only 10 of us made it. When we got down to that core 10, we had to really rely on each other for various things.

And in business, there’s no question that you can’t succeed if you don’t have people. We all have different core strengths. Success is like ascending a ladder, and it can take years.

The Seven Summits took me almost 10 years to achieve. The gaming company I founded, it took me years to start in 2001 and sell in 2008. So it was over a course of time. But competitive greatness at the end of the day means that you will love the process. And if you don’t love the process in business and sports and other things that we do in life, there are going to be obstacles. And if you don’t have a strong “why” on the reason you’re doing all these different things, you’ll quit.

Evan: Climbing Everest is certainly not a walk in the park. I know that at one point you were snow blind, so you essentially couldn’t see. You hadn’t eaten for three days. And you didn’t have supplemental oxygen. Can you talk about that?

Mark: Yeah, that’s almost right. I was snow blind in one eye, so out of one I could still see okay, but . . . climbing a hard enough feat on your best day. But when it turns out to be your worst day and you don’t have the energy, and all the energy that you do have is going towards . . .  why am I so blind?

And also, you’re trying to reach down and clip in because you’re tethered to the mountain. You’ve got fixed lines that are about 100 yards apart, and they’re anchored by screws and you’re constantly reaching down and slipping in and clipping out and clipping into the next one. And the problem with that is that because of these past expeditions, they haven’t taken those five other ropes off the father lines up the mountain. And so you’re looking at this, you know, and your depth perception is off. And are you clipping in to the right one? Because if you don’t clip in, the other ones are frayed and especially as you get higher on the mountain, it is straight down to Tibet and there’s no stopping.

And you’re stepping over dead bodies. There are a lot of negatives in terms of the supplemental oxygen. I ran out on my way down and my sherpa had left me. And so I had to go through this battle of trying to gasp for air. I was out [of oxygen] for 18 hours and I’m not an endurance athlete.

John Wooden said you need to be at your best when your best is required. And my breath was required on that particular day, but I was not at my best. You know, you’ve got to figure out a way to come up with the gumption to keep driving and the why of not quitting, and I’m going to do this and keep going.

It’s just too easy to quit and there are so many dead bodies up on Everest as you get to the top that, you know, I was looking around and it’s like, this is not the day that Mark dies.

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2022-01-04T16:43:07-05:00January 4, 2022|
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