From the Corner Office

Join us every week on From the Corner Office by the Business Observer for exclusive interviews with accomplished business leaders, where we delve into their unique experiences and insights. Gain valuable lessons from their expertise that you can apply to your own business.

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Episodes

Thursday May 02, 2024

This week, we speak with John Miles, author, podcaster, keynote speaker and entrepreneur. John is the author of “Passion Struck: Twelve Powerful Principles to Unlock Your Purpose and Ignite Your Most Intentional Life.” Prior to the book, John had a successful career in the U.S. Navy and Corporate America, with Dell and Lowe’s, among others. 
Together, we speak about what drove John to leave his high-paying C-suite role to become an author and keynote speaker working with people on what it means to live a life fueled by passion and purpose. We also discuss the early morning encounter — it involved a gunman who broke into his house — that led to his life epiphany. 
3 Takeaways:
(01:50) “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”
(14:00) Successful individuals have a consistent pursuit of reinvention
(19:45) Great leaders speak with their feet
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing John Miles and Passion Struck
(03:50) Climbing the corporate ladder to Fortune 500 C-Suite Executive
(06:45) Major life events that lead to Passion Struck
(13:10) Leadership advice from Passion Struck interviews
(18:20) Work-life balance
(19:18) What makes a good leader?
(23:55) Ski or be skied
(25:55) Passion Struck in 2024
(28:00) Rapid fire questions
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
 

Thursday Apr 25, 2024

This week, we speak with Kristen Lessig-Schenerlein, founder of Koi Coaching and Consulting and Hannah McGowan, founder of Hannah McGowan Coaching.  
Kristen and Hannah, each with independent coaching consulting firms, are teaming up to create a leadership coaching course and curriculum for nonprofit and for-profit professionals in the region.  
Together, we talk about their diverging career paths that led them to their current passions and their big plans to help even more professionals. We also discuss the power of positive psychology and curiosity to become a better leader.  
Instagram: @coreleadershipcoaching
Email: connect@coreleadershipcoaching.com
3 Takeaways:
(08:15) Leadership starts with self awareness
(10:30) The reason you have a team is because your mission is larger than one person
(15:20) Don’t get so defensive
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Kristen Lessig Schenerlein & Hannah McGowan
(01:10) Koi Coaching & Consulting
(03:00) Hannah McGowan Coaching
(06:00) New initiative - CORE Leadership
(07:30) Solving for the leadership gap
(09:45) “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious”
(11:30) How does applied positive psychology get incorporated into Core leadership?
(12:50) Memorable leadership advice
(17:45) We bring our full selves to work
(18:40) Memorable leadership learning experiences
(23:55) Learning from mentors
(27:15) Tell us more about CORE leadership
(29:00) Rapid fire questions
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.

Thursday Apr 18, 2024

This week, we speak with Michael Westafer, founder and CEO of Roger West Creative & Code. Michael founded the company, a full-service marketing agency, in 2007. The company recently merged with Digital Brew, an Orlando video production company, and will be run under a holding company called Roger & James, with a combined 45 employees.
Together, we talk about how Michael founded and grew the business and some early challenges he overcame to scale and work with bigger clients. We also discuss Michael’s leadership style and how builds a culture of open communication at the company.  
3 Takeaways:
(03:25) It all starts with connections
(11:40) You can learn as much from bad leaders as you can from good ones
(12:35) It is hard to say “no” to projects
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Michael Westafer
(02:00) What led to the founding and growth of the firm?
(04:35) What were some key tipping points along the way?
(05:55) What do you look for when hiring employees and leaders?
(09:20) Tell us about EOS for your company
(11:00) Learning from other leaders
(12:30) What have you learned from running the company?
(14:15) Company-wide goal setting
(15:00) New announcement
(16:00) What can we look forward to in 2024?
(16:45) Rapid fire question
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.

Thursday Apr 11, 2024

This week, we speak with Susie Bowie, CEO, The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. Susie was named CEO of the foundation in March 2023. She was executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation before this new role, and has been involved with nonprofits in the area for some two decades.
Together, we discuss Susie’s passion for leadership and facilitating environments in organizations that make people feel heard and valued. We also talk about what the Selby Foundation is up to next and how she’s addressing the challenges in her new job. 
3 Takeaways:
(05:55) Always be thinking about what you could do better
(06:45) Empathy is a learned trait
(09:35) Meet with anyone. None of us get where we are without other people.
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Susie Bowie, CEO of the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation
(02:30) Tell us about your previous roles in the nonprofit sector
(04:25) Growing up, did you always want to be involved in the nonprofit sector?
(05:30) Being an empathetic leader & learning from Mr. Rogers
(09:00) What is a piece of leadership advice that stands out to you?
(11:50) Is there a failure you learned from in your career?
(15:10) Goal setting
(17:50) Mentorship & executive coaching
(20:27) What is coming in 2024 for the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation?
(22:05) Rapid fire question
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
 

Thursday Apr 04, 2024

This week we are speaking with Dan Bavaro, founder of Bavaro Hospitality. Bavaro Hospitality operates five Bavaro restaurant locations and a culinary commissary. The company has more than 200 employees in locations from Tampa Bay to Sarasota. Together, we talk about the challenges — and sometimes hilarious stories — in running a growing restaurant business for the past 15 years. We also discuss what Dan looks for in hiring and promoting people, how he got in, then got out of the retail sauce business and the dramatic saga of opening a location in downtown Sarasota.    
3 Takeaways:
(14:30) Cut products that are not part of the future.
(20:52) 20% of your efforts should create 80% of your results.
(23:40) Work in the business before you open your own.
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Dan Bavaro and Bavaro Hospitality
(03:25) Sourcing the pizza ovens
(05:45) The challenges of opening the Sarasota restaurant
(11:12) The story of the Bavaro sauce line
(16:00) What do you look for in managers?
(19:38) What have you learned from Bob Johnson of Melting Pot?
(21:40) What advice would you give someone who wants to start a restaurant?
(24:00) What is going on in 2024 for Bavaro Hospitality?
(25:12) Rapid fire questions
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
 

Thursday Mar 28, 2024

This week we are speaking with Jay Girotto, President of Farmland Opportunity. Jay founded Farmland Opportunity in 2009 after a career in tech on the West Coast of the country, including stints at Microsoft, Bain Capital, and multiple startups. Jay holds BA and MBA degrees from Harvard University. Farmland Opportunity manages a billion-dollar portfolio of row crop farms in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, with an eye toward creating efficiencies and leasing land back to local family farmers
Together, we talk about how Jay was influenced to begin Farmland Opportunity. We also talk about his greatest role model and member of underappreciated Collins Commercial Avionics, his father, Jay’s involvement in TIGER 21, and his recent relocation to Sarasota.  
3 Takeaways:
(11:00) Know your fit
(13:25) Understand the importance of long term relationships
(16:10) There is a skill around preserving optionality
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Jay Girotto and Farmland Opportunity
(03:30) Farmland Opportunity mission
(07:25) Jay’s career in tech
(10:00) Lessons from working at Microsoft
(12:50) Jay’s leadership style
(15:42) Advice you would give to a startup
(18:00) Jay’s biggest mentor, his father, and innovation
(21:30) Finding Sarasota
(23:30) Jay’s involvement in TIGER 21
(26:20) Rapid fire questions
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.

Thursday Mar 21, 2024

This week we are speaking with Nelle Miller, President and CEO of All Faiths Food Bank. Nelle has had two careers: one in business with technology and a focus on mergers and acquisitions. And another in nonprofits and philanthropy, in chairing boards and overseeing several nonprofits in Sarasota. She was named CEO of the food bank earlier this year. 
Together, we talk about how she navigated challenges across her career, in addition to her personal why that motivates her to work with so many different nonprofits. We also talk about how and why she believes it’s crucial to prioritize employees’ wellbeing to build a great organizational culture.
3 Takeaways:
(12:14) No one job on a staff matters more than any other
(12:25) If you are going to be a leader, you have to be willing to do every other job on the staff
(18:30) You never know what someone hears and what they don’t hear
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Nelle Miller and All Faiths Food Bank
(03:05) What does “ending hunger” mean?
(04:15) What drew you to this role at All Faiths Food Bank?
(06:00) How Nelle got into Interim-CEO-for-hire roles
(09:00) What lessons about culture did you learn from the other organizations?
(11:40) Nelle’s for-profit career in startups
(14:30) Who are mentors that have stood out throughout your career?
(16:50) What do you look for in a good leader?
(19:05) Checking ego at the door
(20:40) Anything coming up in 2024?
(21:55) Rapid fire questions
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.

Thursday Mar 14, 2024

This week we are speaking with Greg Zolkos, President and CEO of Atlas Professional Services. Greg founded Atlas in 2006, after heading up Information Technology for a large concrete company in Tampa. Atlas now provides IT and related technology services for companies across Tampa Bay and in Florida.  
Together, we talk about how and why building a great company culture and place to work has long been a priority — to the point where the Atlas office is so cool two Atlas employees got married there. We also talk about lessons in leadership and management, and the metrics Greg and Atlas use to both reward employees, and, when necessary, hold them accountable.  
3 Takeaways:
(15:30) Have visible KPIs for your employees
(19:30) You have to be sure not to outgrow your service capabilities
(23:20) You cannot have a short term outlook on relationships
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Greg Zolkos and Atlas Professional Services
(03:15) How does Atlas differentiate itself?
(06:25) How did you get into this work?
(09:08) Why is a strong company culture important?
(15:10) How do you hold people accountable?
(19:20) How to not outgrow your service capabilities?
(25:25) Rapid fire questions

Thursday Mar 07, 2024

This week we are speaking with Elizabeth Dosoretz, Elite DNA Behavioral Health, CEO and founder. Elizabeth is a licensed clinical social worker and founded Elite DNA Behavioral Health in 2013. Since then, the company has grown into one the of the largest mental health providers in Florida, providing in-person and virtual behavioral services to children, adolescents and adults at over 30 locations statewide. 
Together, we talk about the early days of Elite DNA and how and why Elizabeth started the company, in addition to the unique hidden meaning behind the name of the organization. We also talk about how Elizabeth has managed the growth of the company to meet a surging demand for mental health services, and why she's a fierce advocate for expanding availability of mental health services. 
3 Takeaways:
(04:40) Begin where your client is
(13:52) It is easy to get distracted, and sometimes it is convenient to be distracted when things are hard
(16:40) If we take care of people well, everything else will fall in line
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Elizabeth Dosoretz and Elite DNA Behavioral Health
(04:05) How did you grow the company?
(05:50) What is the footprint of Elite DNA now?
(07:10) Communicating the importance of mental health
(08:50) How do you keep a consistent culture while expanding?
(11:35) What book is the organization reading now?
(13:05) Key lessons Elizabeth learned building the business
(15:25) Who are the mentors you have learned from?
(17:05) What do people misunderstand about mental health?
(19:45) What can we look forward to in 2024?
(20:45) Rapid fire questions

Thursday Feb 29, 2024

This week, we speak with Don Yaeger, author and public speaker. Don was an associate editor with Sports Illustrated and is an author of 40 books, including 11 that made the New York Times Best Selling list. He is now based in Tallahassee and is an executive leadership coach, podcaster and keynote speaker. 
Together we talk about why storytelling is important for business and nonprofit leaders and some key tips for anyone to be better at it. Don also told a story that includes his love for basketball and how that intersects with Michael Jordan.   
3 Takeaways:
(07:35) A good story makes you want to do, think, or feel something
(13:10) A loss is not a failure until you make an excuse
(20:50) Craft and memorize the first 3 minutes of a story
Timestamps:
(00:00) Introducing Don Yaeger
(03:10) The current state of Sports Illustrated
(05:25) What makes for good storytelling?
(08:30) The Michael Jordan story
(15:15) What tips do you have to tell better stories?
(17:25) Using emotion in stories - The Warrick Dunn story
(20:00) Any other tips about storytelling?
(23:15) Rapid fire questions
Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more.
Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.

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