There is No Right or Wrong – Dr. Laura Gallaher

Dr. Laura Gallaher is an organizational psychologist who is obsessed with the idea of building cultures and organizations from the inside out. She is a speaker, facilitator and executive coach.

At 24 Dr. Gallaher had the opportunity to work at NASA. After the Columbia tragedy, there was an investigation into what went wrong and why lives were lost in the incident. Although much of the report had to do with the technicalities of the incident, there was a large portion of the report which cited the company culture at NASA during the time. Factors in the report stated how the company was designed and how emerging culture faltered to provide an environment where colleagues felt like they could voice their opinions or make suggestions. After a year and a half of identifying key leadership behaviors NASA thought was important, Dr. Gallaher was part of the team hired to help transform the culture and develop leaders to create psychological safety to ensure the best possible decisions were being made for the organization.

Dr. Gallaher currently runs her own company, Gallaher Edge, which is a consultancy that works with small businesses. They primarily work with executive teams to help the team members become more self-aware and practice more self- accountability so executives can truly align, build trust, and collaborate. By helping the leaders of an organization improve, the goal is to have the results cascade through the organization to help improve the overall culture of the organization. She attributes much of her success to those she has surrounded herself with throughout her career. Learning different techniques and skills from her peers and colleagues, Dr. Gallaher has developed a unique skill set which is instrumental in her work and success.

Dr. Gallaher explains how accountability starts are the self-level. Each individual in any given situation or scenario should be asking themselves what have I done to contribute to the situation and what can I do now to create the solution I want. Accountability should always be future focused. Dr. Gallaher has seen many people in organizations think accountability means knowing who to blame when something goes wrong. In an organization where culture creates highly productive, motivated, inspired and engaged employees, accountability cannot become a blaming game where you take a powerless stance. It is natural to have a victim mentality when it comes to accountability because subconsciously we are trying to protect our self-concept. Dr. Gallaher challenges listeners to not think about right and wrong. During situations where you see what someone else is doing and find it fearful to confront them, think in terms of your own experience and what you see and believe and the other person’s experience and what they see and believe. Using self-accountable communication to create and design something together will likely result in the most effective way to solve the problem.

To learn more about Dr. Laura Gallaher and Gallaher’s Edge, visit her website:

Tackling Life – Tahir Whitehead

Going into his 8th year in the NFL, Oakland Raiders defensive linebacker Tahir Whitehead shares his story on what it took to make it to the big stage and what it takes to stay there.

Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Tahir did not want to become a “product of his environment”. Newark is generally associated with crime, violence, and many other typical stereotypes of an inner city. Tahir realized he would not be able to be successful and achieve what he wanted to if he did not make a conscious change. In his junior year of high school, Tahir realized he had the opportunity to become the first person in his family to go to college. Tahir made the decision with the encouragement and support of his mother to switch schools his senior year of high school in order to get a fresh start to focus on bringing up his grades and doing whatever it took to make it to college. He would not let himself become another statistic. Tahir accredits his high school football coach for pushing him and advising him to put his head down and keep grinding when waiting to hear about football scholarships.

With the opportunity to go to Temple University, Tahir’s new teammates and coaches continued to help him excel with important lessons on and off the field. Even though he may not have been the strongest or fastest, Tahir used hard work to continue to thrive. In order to win and achieve greatness, Tahir knew he had to do his 1/11th. In football, each player on the team needs to do their individual jobs and if all 11 players on the field do their one part, they will succeed. In life, Tahir translates the message to make sure he is always giving 100% in each role he plays.

Accountability is a major part of Tahir’s success. Facing the man in the mirror keeps Tahir focused on the job ahead. At the end of the day, he knows if he did all he could to be the best he can be. Taking ownership of his actions is one of the major factors of what makes Tahir a great leader. In life there will always be someone waiting to take your job. In the NFL, it is no different. Every year there is a draft class, players around the league on free agency, and even players on your team all fighting for the starting position. In order to attain the starting position, you cannot take any days off. Tahir explains how you need to go to work every day being the ultimate professional who is constantly grinding and working hard.

With his success, Tahir now has the opportunity to give back. This year he will be hosting his 5th annual youth football camp. Instead of just going through football drills, this year Tahir also wants to enlighten Newark youth on how to succeed and be a professional regardless of the field they aspire to be in. He plans to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, stress the importance of not slacking on schoolwork and grades, how to transition to college, and how to carry and conduct yourself throughout life.

Tahir has hundreds of tackles in the NFL, but has tackled and continues to tackles thousands of obstacles in life.

Start, Stop, Keep – Eric Widmondt

Eric Widmondt is the second generation leader of Woodmont Properties. The northeast based development company was built by his father, and now Eric is the CEO and principal leading the organization. Although Woodmont is located primarily in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they have also branched out to Georgia and Colorado. Servicing the community to cultivate properties where people live, work and play, Woodmont develops the highest end industrial buildings, retail spaces, apartments and housing to provide something which cannot be found elsewhere.

Looking towards his father, Eric learned how to be self-aware, driven, and selfless. Eric is a leader who believes perseverance is one of the best qualities you can have. The key to Woodmont’s success is at the core of their culture and doing things, the “Woodmont Way” – learn from your mistakes to do better and always do the right thing. As the organization grows, Eric has found his role also evolves. Eric wants to build an organization with a successful legacy and continues to empower the managers and colleagues to give them the freedom to drive their own divisions and business. Looking back from when he started working for Woodmont 20 years ago, Eric is now able to be more of a mentor and coach, as opposed to someone driving the day to day operations. He sets the direction and has become a visionary for the organization.

One of the biggest challenges Woodmont leadership faces is for all of their colleagues, in all positions and locations, to feel engrained in their organization’s culture. Eric believes it is important for every colleague to understand they are part of the mission. Woodmont ensures all colleagues have their voice heard. Throughout the year, the Woodmont staff participates in “Start, Stop, Keep”. Each colleague is able to submit an idea for the three categories: what new things they should implement as a company, what is not working and they should stop doing, and what processes they should continue to keep building upon.

Not only does this process aid in colleague investment of the company mission and goals, but the start, stop, keep model is also something Eric uses in his everyday life. Eric is a measured results oriented individual. Every year he sets personal, professional and family goals he monitors on a weekly basis. He evaluates what he is doing right, what he should stop doing, and what new things he can do to allow him to achieve his goals.

Eric believes it is critical for everyone to realize we can improve ourselves daily. Every challenge or setback is actually a learning experience. Woodmont also has a process to reward those who bring up challenges they faced or situations which did not go “the right way”. Woodmont prides itself on the culture of all hands on deck when an issue occurs. Through their collaborative efforts, they are able to figure out the best solution so colleagues can learn from one another and are able to use those solutions to help the organization down the road.

To learn more about Eric’s work and Woodmont Properties, visit their websites:

Supporting Caregivers – A Human Responsibility

At 9 years old, Lindsay Jurist-Rosner became a caregiver for her mother when she was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. While caring for her mother for over 25 years, Lindsay became obsessed with the topic. 66 million Americans take care of aging, chronically ill, or disabled loved ones, and Lindsay created a company to help take the pressure off of them. Lindsay is the CEO for Wellthy, a mission driven organization, which provides support and expertise for caregivers and their loved ones.

While building Wellthy from the ground up, Lindsay realized sales skills were vital to the company’s success. Her best advice for entrepreneurs is to make sure they know how to sell and pitch ideas, concepts, and products. Although sales can have a negative connotation, leaders are constantly selling. Whether Lindsay is selling the concept of Wellthy to potential investors, selling products to potential customers, or selling the mission of the company to potential team members, Lindsay incorporates her passion into sales. Lindsay also encourages listeners to empathize with their audiences and think about what they are looking for and how to meet their needs.

From one caregiver to another, Lindsay shares advice for those who tend to put the weight of the world on their shoulders. It is important to put your own needs first. Do not feel like you are being selfish. Even Lindsay had to have the hard conversation with her mom about moving out of the house. Lindsay explained how her decision to move out helped her to regain the mother/daughter relationship, instead of only serving as her mom’s aide. Women tend to take on the role of caregiver, and it is important for their families to also remember to step in and help take some pressure off of them. Lindsay hopes to instill the idea of delegating tasks in order to share responsibilities with others and not carry the burden of caregiver alone.

Using the mission of the company as their driving factor, Wellthy has a built in culture and their workforce is truly one big family. Many of Wellthy’s founding team members never worked in health care, including Lindsay, but they all have a personal connection to the mission. In forming the company, they used their passion for the topic to help them research and develop a way to create a better healthcare experience. Wellthy was founded on a completely different approach from the standard health care system and was launched direct to consumer, with the position of being a family first service. Now, Wellthy services are also offered as an employee benefit to help organizations address the caregiving crisis, which has previously been widely ignored. Being a tech powered company, Wellthy is able to deliver consistent service across the country. Every day, Wellthy team members are excited to set out to develop an experience for families to provide what the family may need.

To learn more about Wellthy’s mission, products, and services, visit their website:

Opioids – The American Health Care Crisis: Interview with Dr. Daniel Knecht

In his current role with Aetna, Dr. Daniel Knecht leads the team who creates and executes programs which impact the unmet health needs for their members. They work with internal stakeholders and external partners to implement strategies. Currently, the opioid epidemic is at the forefront of the issues Dr. Knecht and his team are trying to help their members tackle.

The opioid epidemic is the biggest health crisis to impact American society. Although it started in the late 1990’s when there was inappropriate marketing of opioids to patients dealing with chronic pain, our society and species has been struggling with opioids for much longer. Hypocrisy, the father of medicine, warned against the duel nature of opioids. In the US, veterans struggled with opioids after the civil war. Research and data have proven opioids are not effective for treating chronic pain. There are many other alternative treatments for chronic pain other than opioids, and Dr. Knecht and his colleagues are helping to bring awareness to these additional pain management options. Dr. Knecht explains how pain started to be looked at as a vital sign, but it is important to understand it is not realistic for human beings to be pain free. The opioid epidemic has been an issue for more than a century, but the unprecedented crisis is currently worse than it has ever been.

All walks of life are effected by opioid use disorder. Dr. Knecht believes as a society we need to start treating this problem as a medical condition, and less as a mental health issue or moral shortcoming. Those who know someone struggling with opioid use disorder may not fully understand the condition or treatment. Education for families, friends and even medical professionals will be key in helping to turn this epidemic around. Over the past two years, Dr. Knecht and his team were able to travel to the areas hardest hit by the epidemic. He will continue to work with local medical professionals to train and educate them on opioid use disorder. Aetna has also implemented the Guardian Angel Program. The program utilized trained medical professionals to call Aetna members who had overdosed to discuss what had happened and how they could help. They were able to connect with, educate, and even book appointments for many members who had suffered from an overdose and were able to aid them in their recovery. Dr. Knecht is excited and hopeful these programs and others will help to increase awareness of opioids and the treatments available.

Listen for more on this epidemic including Aetna’s comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid crisis, how Dr. Knecht believes leaders in organizations can aide colleagues who may be struggling with opioid use disorder, informative understanding of opioid use disorder treatments, and more on the different treatments available to help with chronic pain.


Habits of a Champion – Coach Dana Cavalea

One warm night in Texas Dana Cavalea was a 23-year-old Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the one of the greatest organizations in major league sports. During the 7th inning, the starting pitcher suddenly pulled his hamstring, and ended a no hitter start on the mound. The next morning, Dana had a meeting with executives that would change his life. He accepted the position to become the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the New York Yankees.

Although he was young, Dana had been working with the organization for many years, and even as an intern, he built up relationships with the players. While working for free, Dana knew he had nothing to lose. He would approach players as they entered the weight room and knew that the worst thing someone could say is no and that eventually someone would say yes and give him a chance. Dana admits that when he was starting out, he was underqualified and did not quiet have the science background for the role. However, he built a skill set about a new conditioning concept and used that to gain valuable trust and respect from not only the players, but also other staff members. He used the internship opportunity to show his passion and potential to the organization, which eventually led him to the head role, which he had for 12 years.

Throughout his career as a strength and conditioning coach, Dana spent time with some of the world’s greatest athletes. Dana learned that champions follow a simple and consistent routine that is paramount in their success. The greatest performers were also relaxed and comfortable in their own skin and were able to always play offensive in their careers and lives. The greatest athletes knew who they were, what they were really good at and what they needed to do in order to remain really good at it. In fact, he changed his way of thinking when he realized it was not how much time you spent at the job, but the productivity level you have while there. He came to realize that everyone’s routine may be different, but those who had consistent routines generally outlasted those who were always looking for the next method to improve. To Dana, greatness is defined as showing up every day and being consistent and achieving. As time passes, and you prove that you are achieving consistently, you will be considered great. Dana has used his knowledge and insight from his work to write “Habits of a Champion: Nobody Becomes a Champion by Accident.” In the book, he shares 15 lessons of what it takes to become a champion.

Coach Dana Cavalea is now an executive leadership coach and speaker and teaches the philosophies to help make individuals successful in the many facets of their lives. To learn more about Dana, his work, ideals and background visit his website:


Michelle McCloskey – From Oil Fields to Boardrooms

A self-proclaimed story teller, Michelle McCloskey, shares her path to success on the podcast today. Michelle is the President of the America’s Man Group and the President of Man Group FRM. Her role is to be the senior representative for the executive committee in North America. The London based investment management firm oversees over 114 billion dollars, over 5 different investment engines.

Michelle’s story starts in Texas as the 5th generation child of the oil business. Due to her roots, she went to school for engineering and when she graduated at 22, she went to work in the oil fields in Alaska. Her colleagues there advised her that she talked too much to be an engineer, so she began trading natural gas in the physical world when the market became deregulated. The natural gas market propelled Michelle, as it did with many other women, into opportunity galore, and at 24 years old she began transferring into futures trading when it became available. Although it presented challenges, Michelle was confident to succeed in the new opportunity. Over the course of time, she developed so many close relationships with clients that the company decided Michelle’s time and energy would be better facing outward than inward. After over 20 years of sitting behind a screen trading, Michelle now spends her days interacting with other to represent the firm. She uses her skills and knowledge to communicate with clients and colleagues to find true collaboration to help them grow.

Many of the jobs that Michelle has held, she was the only woman in the room. Michelle was able to find ways to adapt to make sure she stayed in the game. She advises listeners to try not to be intimidated and not to let yourself get told no. Find a way to get yourself to the table and show that you can carry your weight and you will prove yourself and achieve. Michelle used her network of peers to learn from and relied on them for support through her challenges. Whenever a new opportunity presents itself, Michelle is not afraid to take the risk. As a calculated risk taker, when a door opens, Michelle has the confidence in herself to try something new and figure it out along the way. An inspirational leader, Michelle has the opportunity to craft and shape the team around her. She wants to ensure that the environment her staff works in was not the same cut throat environment she had worked in so many time before. She tries to truly cultivate the essence of collaboration, and uses her communication skills to reach those who may have lost the art of communication sitting behind a screen. Michelle’s leadership style is one of caring about all of those around her, and she is excited to see where her story will go next.

For more about Michelle’s work with the Man Group and the Man Group FRM, visit their website: and to learn more about Michelle’s story, connect with her on LinkedIn.


How to Find the Edge – Anthony C. Gruppo

After one full year of The Roots of Leadership podcasts, I would like to share with you some of the things we have learned together: what we have learned from our guests, what we have learned from you the listeners, and how our experiences have come together. I would like to thank each one of our guests for having a major impact on me. To you, our listeners, thank you for making me think a great deal about the questions you have sent in through social media. You have all helped me form and adapt my way of thinking. I would also like to thank my Roots of Leadership colleagues who were not in the media business a year ago and had to find the ability to remake themselves in a new industry. Our team is committed to continue to put the best possible guests we can out there for you to listen and learn from. I thank you so much for supporting the vision we had a year ago and making the show what it is today, and continuing to support us as we continue to deliver the messages, innovations, and concepts from The Roots of Leadership guests. Tens of thousands of listeners, countless words of encouragement, and incredible guest suggestions, you helped me build this platform. You helped me build this show.

During this episode of the Roots of Leadership, I would like you to ask yourself what area you can stretch yourself into that would be new, different, and a bit uncomfortable. All of the leaders on this show did not start out on top. Today’s podcast is about finding an uncomfortable spot to create even more comfort for yourself and those you care about. Think for a moment about you. What is the edge of your risk? Are you going about your routine every day, looking at your devices, spending hours in areas that do not help you grow, but perhaps only help you spend time? Where can you spend time looking for the edge? Look for the edge that should be a little uncomfortable. Define your edge of risk.

You can defy the odds. You can define your way to greatness. You can be a force of one. You can live in the moment where you stand right now and learn to win in that moment. Be an individual of great courage. Inspiration is the intersection of difficult with the belief that you can do it. Do not make excuses for what has happened in your past and do not make excuses to prevent what could happen in your future. You can create best practices for achieving successful outcomes in your life. What are you prepared to do to help yourself build the edge of greatness?


Chetan Dube – Can Machines Think?

Chetan Dube, the CEO of IPsoft Inc, goes one on one with Anthony to discuss the future of the workforce and how technology will change how we think and work. IPsoft is the largest privately owned artificial intelligence company. Chetan started his company after a question began to haunt him – “Can machines think?” His goal is to have machines come together with carbon forms to create a more efficient planet. IPsoft has already created technology that is changing the way companies interact with their customers. They have created the most human-like robot named Amelia, who is already utilized by some of the biggest corporations in the world.

However, new technology comes with fear. Some fear that we may not be able to distinguish carbon life forms from androids. Colleagues in the workforce fear that machines and technology will take their jobs. Leadership fears the cost and risk associated with implementing new technology. Chetan explains how leadership will be redefined in the years to come. The risk of not implementing and utilizing technology is greater than the risk of adapting to the changes technology will bring to the workforce. Technology will change the landscape of the workforce and it is not a matter of if it will change, but when and how it will change. This technological revolution took 1/5th of the time of the first economic evolution. Chetan’s one fear is that the masses will not be ready for the speed of the revolution. It is extremely important for leaders to align their business models with the changes that technology will bring, and to wake up the masses. Leaders need to prepare their workforce to understand that this technology is here to help them. It will open up colleagues’ time to new creative thinking and problem solving, and their roles will be redefined, giving thought back to the people who lost it to task.

With the changes that new technology will bring to the workforce, Chetan is hopeful and energized with the thought that the future will be filled with more imaginative and creative thinking. For the first 10 years of the company’s existence, IPsoft’s staff focused all of their efforts on researching and learning as much about the human brain as possible, not even writing a single line of code. Chetan sites current research which states the average human uses their creative brain less than 30% of the day, while 70-80% of every day is pulled down by common chores. He is excited to see what kind of human creativity will be unshackled as technology helps to unlock more time to use our creative brains. Humans are at the top of the food chain because of our brain and the new cortex, which allows us to think creatively. Chetan is confident that as technology evolves, human thinking will also evolve with it.

To learn more about Chetan Dube and the IPsoft’s work, visit their website:

Dr. Ed Placke – The Bridge to Adulthood

After retiring as a superintendent of a state school district, Dr. Ed Placke got a call from Green Chimneys. At first Ed, who has over 35 years of experience in education, hesitated to take the call, but after 15 seconds of visiting the 160-acre farm, he knew it was the place for him. Green Chimneys educates students with disabilities from ages 5 to 21. The school’s goal is to guide their students across the bridge to adulthood successfully. Throughout this podcast consider how important the lessons at Green Chimneys are for not only the children learning them, but also how important they can be in all careers and how they could be incorporated into everyone’s lives. 

Green Chimneys is not your typical “boarding school”. They have over 100 boarders at the school and 150 students who commute. Their goal is to help provide coping skills and strategies so that within 1-2 years the students can move back home and re-enter their public school systems. One of the driving factors for Ed’s work and all of Green Chimneys’ staff is that the employment rate for adults with disabilities is less than 30%, and with the addition of behavioral or psychiatric issues, the employment rate drops down to single digits. Through research with schools, companies and agencies, Green Chimneys found that the primary reason people lose their jobs is that they lack soft skills. On campus, Green Chimneys makes sure to teach their students how to work with their peers, important communication skills and how to be active listeners.

Utilizing standard classroom learning and working to care for the over 300 animals on the farm, students learn academic, social, emotional and many more necessary skills to help them succeed. Each student who comes to Green Chimneys represents the spectrum of humanity. Youngsters come with a variety of different skills and the staff’s focus is to capitalize on each child’s strengths and to extinguish their weaker skills. Each student also has their own individualized education plan with particular goals and outcomes regarding more than just their academic experience.  A team of staffers reviews the students’ progress and goals each quarter to make sure that Green Chimneys continues to guide the children on the path to success.

Early in his career as an administrator, Ed thought that he needed to bring the energy and focus to the job in order to lead. However, over time Ed realized that was not a way to create a sustainable team environment. Now, Ed tries to cultivate each team members’ confidence and independence by developing an organization where accountability, communication and high energy for each member is key.  Although one of his challenges is still learning how to balance when to let his staff take control of a situation and when he needs to step in and make decisions, he remains extremely passionate about his work at Green Chimneys. Ed spends 10-15 hours a day working, but it helps that he also lives on campus.

As a former special education teacher, Dr. Ed Placke knows that his job it to help each of his students. One of Ed’s greatest joys is when they release a bird of prey when a student completes their educational program at Green Chimneys. Ed has learned throughout his career that the skills these students bring to the table far outweigh any needs they may have. He is motivated every day to work with the students to help each child develop across the bridge to adulthood and have a successful life, one soul at a time.

Learn more about the mission of Green Chimneys