Reflections on Leadership: My Favorite Podcasts

Weekly Inspiration

My Favorite Podcasts

Do you know what a podcast is? That may sound like a silly question but a year ago I was only loosely familiar with them conceptually. And I am a pretty technologically astute guy!

A podcast is essentially a radio audio (though there are videos too) program pre-recorded and downloadable from a variety of services. If you have a smartphone there is usually a podcast app built right in and connected to one of the various cloud-based services – you can listen on your computer too. You subscribe to the podcast (usually 100% free) and they are automatically delivered to your device to listen to at you leisure. There are literally thousands of shows available about any topic you can think of and they release new episodes, on average, weekly.

As I mentioned I was not a podcast listener just over a year ago. Then I left my previous job and started my 4+ month sabbatical. During this time I would go out for a walk or run pretty much every day and sometimes for hours at a time. My longest was the day (and it was an exercise “rest” day) that I decided to go for a 12+ mile walk. With all of this time I needed something to listen to and didn’t always want music.

Also during my sabbatical I was going through a significant personal transformation. I was rediscovering who I was and figuring out who I wanted to be. I needed input. I needed inspiration. I needed different ways of looking at things. I guess I was pretty needy, huh?

This is when I started listening to podcasts.

As a leader it is important for us to continue learning and expanding our minds. The top choice for how to do this is reading but that isn’t always convenient. So podcasts are a great alternative. They are a good source for your recommended daily allowance of learning, perspective and inspiration. Finding a favorite podcast or two can be an amazing addition to your walk, your workout, your commute or even to replace your background music at work.

While I don’t listen to every episode of all of my subscribed podcasts I try to listen to a lot of them. I listen almost every day to some content. My goals for podcast listening are varied but they generally follow a pattern.

  1. To keep me motivated and energized when chasing my goals
  2. To help me grow my skills, chart my path & build my business
  3. To challenge my thinking and push me to think bigger
  4. To entertain me
  5. To keep improving my project management skills
  6. To learn more about health & fitness

While some podcasts fit into multiple categories I have bucketed each of my subscribed podcasts into just one bucket below. I wanted to share my list in case something here becomes valuable to you.

Keeping me motivated & energized

Grow my skills, chart my path and build my business

Challenge me to think bigger

To entertain me

Improving my project management

  • Projectified by Project Management Institute
  • I have tried to find more here but I think this is an under-served category in the podcast world. Potential opportunity for me?

Health & fitness

  • I have recently unsubscribed from everything I was listening to here as my journey has evolved. I need new recommendations if anybody knows any good options.

There you have it

Call to Action: find a podcast that you love. Give a listen to the ones I mentioned above or go searching for ones that resonate with you. Whatever your choice just give a podcast a try.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Join my email list to have weekly Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox:

Week 91: Crossing Finish Lines

I have written many times about how my brain works. In Gallup StrengthsFinder am high in the “achiever”so I like to have a continuous stream of accomplishments. I am also high (my top strength) in “competition” so I like measurable performance and to know that I am doing better than my competitors even if that just means me. My high achiever and high competition strengths mean that I love finish lines! And I had a couple of big finish lines this week plus I celebrated the one-year anniversary of crossing my 100-pound finish line!

Race Day and a New PR

Today was race day for me and I ran the Scioto Miles 5k with my buddy Steve.

Scioto Miles is a series of two races over 3 weeks on the Scioto Trail in downtown Columbus. You choose between a 5k, 10k or 15k distance for each race which basically translates to how many laps you run on the 5k course. I chose a 5k for both races but I may move to 10k or 15k for the second race because it is just 20 days before the half marathon.

This morning’s race was very cold, started at 25 degrees when I left the house. I usually don’t run my best when the temperature is under 30 so I was a bit concerned. Also the course has tons of elevation so we ran uphill a lot which is also not my favorite. But if you wait for conditions to be perfect you never leave the couch.

Right as the sun came up over the downtown buildings we were off. I tried hard to hang with the 9-minute pace group because that is pretty much my top speed for distance running and that would be faster than my personal best to-date. My best ever distance run was the Jingle Bell Run at the start of December in pouring rain .

I stuck with the pack and crossed the finish line with a new personal record… kind of. My total pace time was one second faster than in December but my total run was longer. Turns out the course was just over 5k by a few yards. But I am calling it a record.

The best part of this race is that race season is here! I had today’s race, the next one on April 7, the Cap City half marathon on April 27, my Operation Melt 5k in mid-June, the Indian Lake 5k on the Lake in early July and so on. I still need to find a run in May but that isn’t hard to do. At least 10 more finish lines yet to come!

My Book Crosses the Finish Line

My book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, is done!

After working for the past year on planning, writing, editing and finishing the book, it is finally done. It will launch this week starting with an invitation only soft launch today.

My plan is to sell the eBook in ePub format on my website only for a few weeks. Then I will expand the eBook to both ePub and Kindle format and sell through the major eBook marketplaces (Amazon, iTunes, etc) for a few months. Later this summer I will launch a second edition in both eBook and print format. But please don’t wait for the print version as it will be more expensive.

I am pretty nervous but here we go!

Data Rollercoaster

In last week’s blog (link) I talked about the ups and downs of data. Well that issue continued this week. My weight remained a rollercoaster and I was often at 200 pounds, then I dropped, then I spiked and it was maddening. Oh well, that is just what happens when you are at you low weight.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the big announcement this week of my book!

Last week’s stats (3/4-3/10):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 198.8 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 8.43 miles
Total walk/run miles: 33 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
One race per month: March race 3/17, April Races 4/7 & 4/27
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,039 calories under budget

100-pound Anniversary

One year ago today, I woke up, stepped on the scale and had a big surprise. Then I wrote the following in my 3/13/2018 blog post:

I have lost 100.2 pounds since 6/15/2017 – that is less than 9 months! As most of you know, my goal was over 100 in under a year and I did it in far less time.

I didn’t really know how I would feel the day I hit my goal. I can tell you that my first feeling was utter surprise. I expected to have lost a bit since yesterday, but honestly thought I wouldn’t be past the 99 pound mark. So, it was a huge shock!

Me, 3/13/2018

So much has changed in my life through this journey and since hitting the 100-pound mark. I am so happy I did this and can’t wait to celebrate this anniversary today.

In a very short time, a matter of days really, I will be launching my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year. The good feelings that I feel after achieving this milestone are why I wrote my book. I want to help other people feel this way after achieving their big goals.

Thank you so much for continuing to follow my journey and for supporting me along the way. While my weight loss journey is over my fitness journey and my life journey is just getting started.

I am more powerful and capable than I ever thought!

Week 90: Data Driven vs. Data Obsessed

This week’s blog post is focused on one thing: data. This is a week when I discovered my data driven mind might be almost data obsessed. I know this is more text heavy than normal but it was a big ah ha for me.

18 Months of Weight Loss

My weight loss journey lasted a total of 18 months.

I kicked off in June with a goal of losing 100 pounds by the following June. I reached the 100-pound mark by mid-March (hint: big anniversary coming this week) and I kept going. By the 1-year mark I had lost about 120 pounds (20% more than my goal) and I kept going. At the end of that calendar year I had the realization that I had pretty much lost all of the weight that I was going to lose and I brought my weight loss to a close after losing about 132 total pounds.

My fitness journey continued but the weight loss phase was done.

Data is my Friend

My weight loss journey was a phenomenal success. My achievements were greater than I had ever expected or thought possible. As I have said over and over again I owe this success to two things: data and project management.

In my upcoming book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I explain how I started my plan based on one of my favorite quotes.

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

Lord Kelvin

My entire plan was based around my ability to measure my progress towards my goal. I setup a framework using project management and tracked it every day. The data kept me going because that is how I am wired. I am data driven and motivated by results.

Data Became Who I Was

For 18 months I stepped on the scale every morning and saw weight loss almost every day.I had become accustomed to seeing results daily and the results were easy to understand: weight went down means good day, weight went up means bad day.

On top of the data telling me how I was doing it told others too. Through my blog and social media I shared my updates, my milestones, my progress and publicly celebrated success. So much so that somebody once told me that weight loss had become my brand. It was who I was becoming – the formerly obese guy who sees his weight decrease daily.

Data Goes the Wrong Way

At the end of the year I switched to maintenance mode. My goal was to maintain a weight in the range of 189 pounds to 199 pounds. But in my head I expected to get down to 189 pounds which is where my BMI becomes “normal” instead of “overweight.” I hadn’t reached that point yet but fully expected to do so.

Just under 3 months into the new year I have a data problem: I have gained weight.

My weight has pretty much stabilized in the 198-199 range which is at the top of my target maintenance goal. But this is higher than I thought I would be, it is higher than my low weight and I never reached the “normal” weight range.

After 18 months of seeing my weight fall I have now seen my weight increase.

Data Failed Me or I Failed It

Here I am seeing my weight go up and I am feeling like a failure. But that isn’t the whole story.

If I was paying proper attention to more than the weight I would have looked at this differently.

  • I had reached a very low body fat percentage.
  • My strength was increasing significantly.
  • My muscle tone and definition has increased.

All of these factors add up to tell me that my weight is increasing the right way: muscle. My muscle mass continues to increase as my training yields more success. This muscle mass has weight and it means I am a little heavier.

Data Obsessed

Here I am getting frustrated by something that I should have celebrated as a victory. I have built a strong, athletic body and can do things I couldn’t do just a few short months ago. But I am feeling disappointed because my weight increased.

My wife summed up the situation perfectly in something she said this week: “you are obsessed with the data!”

She is right! I have turned a tool into the thing I focus on. I have let myself be defined, in my own brain, by a single measurement of success or failure. I let the quality of my day and my mood be defined by what the scale said.

I became a little too obsessed with the data and not with all of the data, just a single measurement.

So What?

Data is good!

Data is a beneficial and critical tool to achieving any goal. I will never discount the importance of data. I really believe Lord Kelvin: If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.

How you look at data can be bad!

I built a phenomenally successful weight loss journey without cutting a single thing out of my life and I did it through balance. Everything in moderation. Everything that I liked fit into my plan as long as I balanced it and looked holistically at what I was consuming and burning.

Data is the same way. You can’t just look at one number associated with your goal and let it define you. This applies to any goal:

  • Weight
  • Salary
  • Title/level
  • Revenue
  • Net worth
  • Follower/friends
  • Likes/retweets

You have to look holistically at the full situation and the balance of various data points to get a true assessment of your progress.

If the numbers don’t tell the story I want one day, I just have to forgive myself and move on. Bad days happen. This journey is not a sprint it is a marathon and a life-long commitment. I can’t let a single bad number kill my momentum… particularly when it isn’t a bad number at all and is something to celebrate not mourn!

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (2/25-3/3):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 199 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 12.9 miles
Total walk/run miles: 37 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 2 workouts
One race per month: no February race, next race 3/17
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,425 calories under budget

Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Aren’t Immune to Self-doubt

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Aren’t Immune to Self-doubt

I am sticking to just a short post this week but one that is important.

In my Reflections on Leadership series I usually talk about all the important things that great leaders do (except maybe when I said Leaders don’t know what they are doing). It would be easy to think that great leaders are always on and never have an off day. It would also be easy to think that great leaders always have a plan and are confident that things are in track and are going to work out perfectly. In our social media and bullet point culture we can sometimes just end up seeing a highlight reel and thinking there are never problems.

Don’t forget that leaders are people. They are human beings with all the normal shortcomings, setbacks, worries, anxiety and everything else that comes along with being a person.

Leaders also have self-doubt, they aren’t immune. We all have that voice inside of us that says “you are going to fail,” “you aren’t good enough,” “who do you think you are,” “why would anybody care what you have to say?” It happens to everybody including great leaders.

When self-doubt surfaces you have a choice. You have the power to choose how to respond (remember E+R=O). Your best choice is to simply acknowledge that the feelings are there and do what you need to do to push past them and to get back on track. Remember all that you have accomplished to get you to this point and know that you have the power to push forward. You are a rockstar, a superhero and you are powerful. Greatness is just on the other side of that self-doubt.

Call to Action:give yourself a break and know that those feelings of self-doubt don’t mean there is something wrong with you. You suffer from the same condition as the rest of the leaders out there – acute humanity. These feelings are perfectly natural and you have to choose to move past them. You are a superhero and you are capable of so much… you didn’t come this far just to come this far… keep it up!

About Reflections on Leadership 

Reflections on Leadershipis my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Meltis to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Join my email list to have weekly Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox: