Strategy Session

Workplace Jazz with Gerald Leonard

leadership performance podcast productivity
Mindset Coach Business Coach


It takes buy-in, effective communication, and member contribution to create high-performing businesses and teams. Culture change expert, Gerald Leonard shares with us his unique style and musical learnings to improve workplace productivity. If you’re interested in optimizing in harmony tune in to learn more… 


In this episode, we talk about:

🎵 Predictions for diversity and inclusivity in today’s world

🎵 The #1 thing to be aware of and implement when it comes to culture change

🎵 How high-achieving leaders get a sustainable and competitive edge

🎵 Tips to get unstuck and back on track

  And more!

More About Gerald:

A professional bassist, Gerald J. Leonard offers a unique approach to accomplishing more productivity in the workplace. Gerald is an international Keynote Bassist and Culture Change Expert. His programs integrate music, productivity, workplace culture, and neuroscience.

Gerald Leonard is the author of “Culture Is The Bass: 7 Steps to Creating High Performing Teams,” listed on Entrepreneur magazine as one of the “Top 15 Books on Business Culture That You Need to Read Today," and the book, "Workplace Jazz: How to Improvise,” listed on Human Resources Online as one of the Top 10 must-read HR books. Gerald is the CEO of Principles of Execution, dba Turnberry Premiere, a Strategic Project Portfolio Management, Culture Change, and IT consulting firm with over 20 years of experience working with large Federal and State Governments and Multi-National Corporations.  

Connect with Gerald:

🌺 Continue the conversation in the Women Developing Brilliance® Facebook Group.

Sign up for the free Know Thyself and Lead mini-training here.

 Listener Feedback


Refreshing, fun, & actionable!

Kc is warm and engaging while pulling out these golden nuggets and tips for living a successful life and having a thriving time in business. As an entrepreneur, it's very refreshing to have her as a resource for my business, yet she still addresses me as a whole person, which is so important. Thanks, Kc!

karynski925 from the United States


Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] Kc Rossi: Gerald. Thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show. I'm really excited because out of 147 episodes, you are my first male guest. So welcome,  

[00:00:15] Gerald Leonard: Thank you for having me..  

[00:00:20] Kc Rossi: I was very intrigued with the mashup that you have in your field between music and leadership, things that are very near and dear to my heart. 

[00:00:31] I play piano and I love to sing. And so I know we're going to have an excellent conversation. I would appreciate it. If you could introduce yourself in your own words, to the listeners who are new to you. 

[00:00:47] Gerald Leonard: And I am a professional basis and a certified business consultant. I own a couple of companies, one called Turnberry premier, which is a strategic project program, portfolio management, and it consulting firm. [00:01:00] And it's a minority based business as well as Leonard productivity intelligence Institute, which is an online magazine called productivity intelligence. 

[00:01:11] And in both of my businesses and my book, I integrate productivity, workplace culture, and where science in the core concepts of what I teach and consult in. But I also, in my books, I use music as the metaphor because I did my bachelor's and master's in music. And I met bass masters at Cincinnati conservatory and classical music and studied the year at Julliard after. 

[00:01:35] But my teacher's teacher and played professionally in New York. And so after being in the field of it for a long time and still playing professionally, I started seeing the synergy between music and business and high-performing music teams and high-performing business teams and saw that there was a quality. 

[00:01:55] Between the two and I started writing about it and one of my, [00:02:00]  

[00:02:00] Kc Rossi: oh, fantastic. I can't wait to dive into those parallels and correlations, but first off, I just want to rewind because you mentioned minority business and I'm very curious to see. Your thoughts are here, are your thoughts on how you envisioned diversity and inclusivity arising more in today's marketplace and businesses? 

[00:02:23] Gerald Leonard: Yeah, I think at this point in time, the nation's conscience has been pricked. I think there was like the perfect storm, not to mention the George Floyd situation. But I think it was the catalyst with the perfect storm of the pandemic. And the perfect storm of the economy. And just so many other things that were going on and not the previous to that. 

[00:02:48] When you had any kind of situation that happened like that, that created some form of an uprising, you didn't have Mormons of people sitting at home feeling like they can't. [00:03:00] Because they were a lockdown because of the pandemic, they were, they lost their job. They had family members that were dying. 

[00:03:07] They couldn't go anywhere. They couldn't, you couldn't travel internationally. It was like the whole world had been put into. And so when those words came out, I can't believe, I think it resonated across the globe for everyone because in some form or fashion, everyone felt themselves in a position where they couldn't believe, I, again, I can't reach out and go see my mom. 

[00:03:30] I can't see my grandma. I can't go to work. I I'm not sure how I'm going to hold onto my. And there was so much pent up demand or our frustration, our trauma that it resonated and people albeit, I guess their own health reasons went out and marched and did other things. And so I think it just prick the conscious and then when it comes to business, I think it made corporations a lot more aware of the need for diversity and just [00:04:00] how, the minority or. 

[00:04:02] Cultures, how much they spend from a business perspective and that they can't be ignored from that perspective anymore and do well in business. Plus the demographics of our society is changing. There's so many more women in business that we have to really take consideration and be a lot more aware and sensitive to that, as well as the diversity and companies that have before. 

[00:04:27] Kc Rossi: Absolutely 100%. I have a question for you because a lot of our listeners are solo preneurs. They may just be a team of one. And in that, how can we take steps and initiatives towards diversity and inclusivity?  

[00:04:43] Gerald Leonard: Yeah, for the most part of my consulting practice, I was a team of one and. And it was being a team of one, but seeing yourself as being able to build something of significance. 

[00:04:59] I remember [00:05:00] when I first started, I used to go to a round table, two round tables, one rev CEO, round table of small business CEOs who had stabbed. Brick and mortar and out of here, all the headaches and everything they're going through. And it was like a let's look, everyone out and, figure out how to get to the next level of leading. 

[00:05:17] And then I would go to the national speakers association meetings because I was a part of the national speakers association and I got to meet, bill Cates, Shep Hyken, Willie Jolley, all really great guys. And then we'll set up runners, but they were making seven figures and they were working maybe a hundred to 150 days. 

[00:05:36] They were traveling around the world and I'm going something doesn't fit. 

[00:05:44] And so the idea is okay, but which one of these rails do I want? I started my business independently at a, at an a M. I would say advanced age, but, I was older when I started it. And I didn't want to have the burden of having [00:06:00] to carry all of the employees and everything else that was on, that was included in Burlingame, a consulting firm of 200 people or so, and I love being engaged with the client. 

[00:06:11] I love being I love writing and speaking. I love being in the game of consult. And I felt like the other row I was going to become a business owner and all I'm doing now is just pushing papers around and making sure I'm meeting payroll. And it was attractive to go to those meetings with NSA because what they would do in the meetings is pull back the curtain and say, here's how. 

[00:06:33] And so I learned about marketing. I learned about PR. I learned about the importance of writing a good book and how to position a book and writing a book that I've, that I want to talk about for the next five to 10 years. Because once you read a book and it takes off, you're going to be talking about it for the next five or 10 years. 

[00:06:48] You'd better. Make sure you write a book that you want to talk about. Exactly. And so there are so many different just little nuances on what websites they [00:07:00] use, what tools they use, how did they use them? Where did they get their information from? Who were they partnered with? And so you started seeing a theme of, although they were selling. 

[00:07:11] They weren't by themselves. They had mastermind groups. They they attended association meetings. They network like crazy. They gave back, they they were constantly marketing themselves, whether it was through a podcast, through articles, through, various things that they were doing, they were costly putting themselves out there. 

[00:07:31] And if they had. Are there at 10 books. They, we're still going to courses about writing in book publishing to figure out how to do it better and how to network with the people who are really doing it well and learning and are a member of the first time I went to one of the. I was living in the Washington DC area at the time. 

[00:07:50] And at that time when I first got there, there was this lady named Jan Fox who was on the news. It's she was like a Emmy-winning news reporter. So on and so forth. Let's say 10 years later, when I [00:08:00] finally go to the NSA meetings, I'm sitting at a table and who's sitting next to me, taking notes is Jan Fox. 

[00:08:09] So I'm thinking, okay, Jan Fox, this is a place where John Fox will come, who has won some animals. Wouldn't book speaks all over the world and she's still coming here to learn the most.  

[00:08:21] Kc Rossi: I love that. I love that I'm a forever learner and I think that there's always room for growth. I'm a big fan of the Kaizen philosophy, just never get improvement, but I know that you're also a fan of culture change and I'm interested in if you were going to distill it into. Number one thing that we implement, of course, awareness, it precedes any implementation, but if you were going to implement one thing that contributes to culture change, what would it be  

[00:08:50] Gerald Leonard: People buy into what they create. 

[00:08:54] People buy into what they create. If you're going to implement a major change in the [00:09:00] organization, then the best thing you can do is to get a core group of the right people. And help them allow them to help you build it. But at the end of the day, it's not your solution. It's our solution because they're going to go back into the field and they're going to, evangelize and say, this is something we created as an organization. 

[00:09:23] We all had a voice in this. We thought about everything that we were going through and we made sure that it fit our, the way we do things. It's, it speaks our language. When you do that you will be successful. An example of that is one of my clients is a very large transportation department of transportation. 

[00:09:40] And when I got there, they had about 14,000 people. And a $16 billion budget for their six year program. So pepperoni, largest things that I ever worked on. And it's probably one of the largest things out there. And when we a company I'll say three or four years previous to that had tried to come in and do some of those similar things that [00:10:00] we were in charge of doing. 

[00:10:01] I was going to exhibit them at expert at three developers and. They created the solution. They rolled it out, but it was extremely technical. It was a cafe Combinator. It was a good solution, but they didn't take into consideration the people who are going to be using it. So everybody who was going to be using it, pushed back and said, this is not what we want. 

[00:10:25] There was too much, it was too much change. It was too much against the grain of what they were used to. And our state employees, then don't move. When we came in, we surveyed the landscape and said, wait a minute. These guys are used to using this tool. They're used to dealing with this more. Why don't we do all of our work first, like curbing better work, where we're preparing the landscape and you're preparing to build the apartment building or repairing to build the the shopping mall. 

[00:10:52] You've got to put in all the plumbing, all the roads, everything. And so they started seeing the benefit of the [00:11:00] solution without ever using the solution. When I finally got to use the solution after taking the consideration, who they wrote, how they worked their culture, and we were trying to move them to, we gave them three things to do on the screen. 

[00:11:13] We taught them for an hour and a half in a course and then gave them three things to do so they understood the process behind it. And then we have follow-up coaching calls. As of today, you couldn't pull that solution out of it. They were also audited by the federal highway administration and found to be number one in the country when it comes to road scheduling, we've cut the budget. 

[00:11:34] We've cut those projects in half because we were able to close out a bunch of projects that running about 8,000 privates. Now their budget is done at the 24 Bernabei.  

[00:11:43] Kc Rossi: Wow. Congratulations. What I'm hearing as the secret sauce is buy in effective communication and member contribution. Sounds like the trifecta of what made that a successful project. 

[00:11:57] Thank you for sharing that. I am [00:12:00] curious about your thoughts Gerald, about how do we, as high achieving leaders actually get a sustainable competitive.  

[00:12:08] Gerald Leonard: I call it the black box effect. And so what I mean by that is why was KFC? Even the other companies created, fried chicken, if you will, but they couldn't do what KFC did because they're always had their secret recipe. 

[00:12:21] You think of Southwest airlines, they have a motto or the process and how they do things. And although America and continental, other companies come up. Unless you're going to bear about us. So we're going to fly. One type of plane, have one type of engineer, had one type of pilot and do hub and spoke or flights. 

[00:12:40] You can't compete with Southwest. They've always been profitable as an airline. So they figured out the secret sauce that it's really difficult to imitate, even if they explained it to you, because it would require you to make so much change. So you have to figure out as a business owner, when's your secrets. 

[00:12:58] For me, it was [00:13:00] immigrating what I had learned as a musician that all of the concepts and principles I had learned as a musician from when I first started till even mail, constantly growing as a musician. What I had learned as a technician and realizing that I needed to use both sides of my brain, be technical as well as have the soft skills and be paperwork. 

[00:13:22] And then take into consideration the cultural aspect. So then combining that, and also then adding in the neuroscience behind it, of that, there's a scientific peer review process that I use. So it becomes very difficult for anyone to then come in and go, we're going to replace what he's doing. That's going to be really difficult,  

[00:13:40] extremely unique. 

[00:13:41] Kc Rossi: I love that. Like I said, at the top the mashup is unique and I love that. That is your secret sauce as an. That you bring to the table. That's very different on your personal experience. So share with us a few parallels between a great jazz ensemble and [00:14:00] building a high performing business and team.  

[00:14:04] Gerald Leonard: I be happy too, because first thing is, first musicians are always what we call. 

[00:14:10] And that's called, let's basically practicing, but it's not just, I'm going to go in a room and play may have land for the thousand time or, the box suites or whatever they push themselves. And they, and here's the other secret sauce for musicians. They always have a teacher, whether they are chicory had just passed away. 

[00:14:30] Not too long ago. He was in his late eighties. He was still studying. He was still doing little videos and explaining how, what he was learning from listening to other people and composing musicians. Because when you first started off as a musician, the first thing you need to grow as a union teacher. 

[00:14:48] And so you realize, okay, for me to go to the next level, I need a better teacher. Pretty soon if you get to a certain level, it's hard to find a teacher who's doing it was better than you are. So then you go obviously are. Maybe there they've [00:15:00] passed on. So you go listen to the recordings of some of the masters and you study them and analyze them. 

[00:15:06] In other words, you work on yourself first. It's kinda like the airplane, when you're on the plane, those emergency, put your mask on first, then find a kid that you love the most put it on them and then the rest and so on. But but the idea is that you put it on. So really working on your skills first circuit is that now that you've worked on and you're really good at what you do, when musicians come together, they then focus on the big picture. 

[00:15:32] They leave their egos at the door. If it's a good band, if it's a good ensemble, then he goes out the door and then when they start the music, they're now intently listening to each other for the flow and the groove of where this is. And you can tell it's if it's a concept yeah. It's okay, then Brittany positions, but they weren't living. 

[00:15:52] But if you go to a concert and you getting mostly moved and swept up into the music, when you have musicians who are really, they're good at [00:16:00] what they do, but they've submitted themselves to the music and to each other, to really listen. What I found in business is when you have a team of experts who are focused on the mission of the project, if you will, and they come to the table, And their first focus is we're here to learn a listen, how to make this better, not to just, put out my solution or what I think should work or what I did with this other client that worked better. 

[00:16:31] No, I'm here to listen to your problem, to your situation, and then add my secret sauce or add my Mo what I've been working on to that to make it.  

[00:16:42] Kc Rossi: Absolutely. I love that synergistic approach. Again, going back to contribution and how do we pool all of our unique resources to make something in the end that is just absolutely stunning, unique and beautiful. 

[00:16:56] One of the things that came to mind when you first mentioned musicians, [00:17:00] always having a mentor, always having a teacher is. Knowing which teacher to choose, because I first started taking piano when I was seven and I studied with that same teacher for six years. And then I went to the Eastman school of music and one of the very first things, my teacher, yeah. 

[00:17:18] She said, okay, now we have to unteach you what you did for the last six years, because this is the new path, a new way, the way for everything. So I think that distinction of Really being so specific when you choose your mentor, making sure that they have them themself have achieved those goals that you want. 

[00:17:39] I think it's just a little side note to the valuable info that you shared. So I'm curious, Gerald, because I know that a lot of people, especially, you mentioned the pandemic, we're still It's been over a year. We're really still trying to get our sea legs, especially even on an emotional level. 

[00:17:55] And I'm curious if you have any tips for individuals [00:18:00] that are currently feeling stuck, what can they do to get back on track?  

[00:18:04] Gerald Leonard: So I have this, so productivity intelligence is one of the things that I've been I've created and creating that helps with that because my focus is on, for myself and for other high achievers. 

[00:18:16] And the idea behind that is it's one it's concepts, it's articles. It's I partnered with a group called learning strategies where they have a set of music programs or audio programs that use a technology called holes think and submit some additional things in there that basically allows you to help reset your mind. 

[00:18:40] So it's almost like it takes you into a deep medicine. And and it is, it really helps you to, if you're in a fault or feeling overwhelmed in one, it takes you into different brainwave states, like from into alpha, into theta and to Delta with some affirmations that really helps[00:19:00] ground you. 

[00:19:00] And we set you to, to mentally. Feeling okay, I can do this now. I have confidence. I'm a more grounded I have. I've taken a bit of a mentor vacation if you will. And refreshed my brain to the point where I can now handle, because a lot of what happens to us, there was a great book by a guy named bill Harris called thresholds of the mind where, what happens to us is that life puts us in a pressure. 

[00:19:28] And that pressure cook goes like being on a one, on a two lane highway, there's only a one on the right or left lane, but there's so much pressure that all the traffic starts backing up. The only way around that is to expand the. It's expand the highway, which is called an open system. 

[00:19:46] Our bodies and our brains are able to do that. But if we do it in our own, most of the time, without things like meditation or yoga or Chico or other energy, things that along that line, they [00:20:00] stay stagnant. And we keep that one lane that two lane highway going, and the pressure that. The capacity isn't there to be able to handle that. 

[00:20:08] And so by using toys some of the learning strategy Paraliminals that I advertise on my website are things that I've written in my book about exercises and things all along that. And helps you expand your brain's kind of burden to be able to now handle more with ease, if that makes any sense. 

[00:20:28] Because a lot of times we get overwhelmed, especially as we're trying to go through what we're doing with dealing with. And it's the problem is that our capacity to handle it, isn't as great as it needs to be. And so we have to expand it, but you have to know how to expand that.  

[00:20:46] Kc Rossi: Interesting. 

[00:20:47] Interesting. So I'm curious because you have integrated two passions, your music, passion, and leadership and work productivity. So you have literally combined the [00:21:00] work-life balance right. For your day to day. So I'm curious, how else do you tap into that synergy and integration for yourself? They're already combined for your quote unquote job. 

[00:21:14] How else do you see it? Come to life?  

[00:21:17] Gerald Leonard: I have my routines and I plan out my day. Cause again, I'm running two companies and both of them were pretty busy. It was a lot going on that when I get up in the morning, I have a routine of. I do scripture reading. I do prayer. I do. She gone. I have a a ma a book that I carry with me. 

[00:21:35] Even when I travel that I write out my affirmation. So my goals, I write them as affirmations. And I guess I do it every day, but I do it pretty consistently. It was to write them out by him. And just have at least 30 minutes to just stop and meditate and visualize where am I going? 

[00:21:53] What's going on? And then out of that, normally one or two ideas will come of, Hey, this can help me move [00:22:00] forward in this area. I exercise. I have a Peloton note and a treadmill. So I do 30 minutes of exercise a day, at least six days a week on that. And even with moderation, as you see my arms in a slow adjust and go, okay, I'll have to do moderate, moderate my exercise, but I still do it. 

[00:22:24] I still get on the bike. I still get on the treadmill. And by having. A routine and also reading books and learning from others who are really getting the results you war and look at what are some of their routines, some of them, they may not fit your lifestyle or what you do. But others, they may give you ideas. 

[00:22:46] And I've called mine out over time from, either books I've read or people I've met where the ideas have come. And I found something that fits for me that works, that allow, it gives me energy and here's something else that I do in the mode. [00:23:00] I take it. It depends on and I'll usually have some like meditative music. 

[00:23:06] And I'll set my phone for 30 minutes. I'll put my earphones on and I'll close my office door. I have a futon in my office and I'll call up on it. We need to tell him to him in the background. Cause I noticed that little television and I will just close my eyes and take a 30 minute nap. And because the music puts me in alpha wave, even if I don't sleep. 

[00:23:28] I work, I get up rested because my brain is calm down and regroup. And Thomas Edison did that all the time. Best ideas come when I'm either napping or before my arm, I would go out and hit golf balls. And sometimes I would just go to the golf range and for 30 minutes hit golf balls and I'd get amazing business ideas because I've gotten away from the work in my brain. 

[00:23:56] Kc Rossi: I think that's so very important, especially to understand that [00:24:00] as a high performer, that some of your highlights come up during the creative space, during the stillness during times that you're taking advantage of that relaxation, brainwave. And I feel that especially for people that are in the grind and they push and they're really, into their metrics. 

[00:24:19] Sometimes they don't give themselves that they don't, they look at it almost like a luxury, but what I'm hearing and what I really, what I'm appreciating is the fact that we have to put that in there. I love that you bake in spirituality in your am bookend by reading scripture. I love the fact that you're consistent, but you also, it doesn't sound like you put this. 

[00:24:42] To be perfect. And when we do that, I think it comes off robotic and it doesn't have that authentic flow. You want to underscore too. Your am routine is the fact that you are capitalizing on neuroscience by writing down [00:25:00] your goals in the form of an affirmation. Because when we write it down, we become part of that 1% of the top. 

[00:25:08] Performers because we're focused, conscious and writing it down. So you got a great recipe, my friend, thank you so much for sharing that. If people want to learn more about you workplace jazz and all the amazing things that you've got going on under your umbrella, how can they take a step closer to your world? 

[00:25:28] Gerald Leonard: So productivity intelligence,, productivity intelligence Institute dot.  

[00:25:34] Kc Rossi: Beautiful. I will make sure to put that link in the show notes. So it's super easy for them to connect with you. And if you wanted to leave our listeners with a final piece of bright light wisdom, what would you like to share? 

[00:25:46] Gerald Leonard: Never stop learning. Love it, never stop learning. Beautiful. My friend. Thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom.  

[00:25:56] Kc Rossi: Take care.[00:26:00]  


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