Who Gets to Lead?

The Lead From Wherever You Are project started as an exploration of what "leadership" really means. There is so much out there in the leadership development space - so much research, programming and writing from people way smarter than me about how to be a great leader. But, after spending most of the past ten years fully emersed in the art and science of leadership development, I’ve noticed two things:

  • Most of the “Leadership Greatest Hits” are aimed at the top levels of organizations. Not everyone is (or wants to be) the boss! Even if you don’t have direct control over the culture, you’re not officially leading people, or just want to be an invaluable team player, you can still influence a healthy, productive, enjoyable environment.
  • Even in the most enlightened organizations, not everyone “gets it.” Even in the most challenging cultures, you can influence how things get done in your own part of the world.

A lot of current organizational development theory makes the distinction between leadership and management. If you take away the flow charts and titles - the designated authority that’s part of most human interaction – perhaps what me mean by leadership is really the ability to influence people and groups to be their best, most productive, mort fulfilled selves.

LFWYA is about uncovering and practicing five key factors for optimal influence whether or not you’re the boss.  Spoiler alert, most of these skills are actually pretty simple and already hardwired into you!


The Framework  

Lead From Wherever You Are is designed around the framework that I’m using to organize my research into leadership, influence, and the way people work together.

  • Maximize Your Wiring: exploring how all humans are hard-wired to thrive in groups; how your brain has evolved to make you uniquely you; and, tools to maximize that wiring to do your best work and live your best life.
  • Expand Your Thinking: explores the art and science of making good decisions. We look at different ways to balance emotions, data, and experience to discern your best role (and response).
  • Play to You Audience is the chapter where we explore ways to amplify the essential, brain-based, and improvable skills that allow you to communicate effectively with the people you interact with.
  • And in Share Accountability, we’ll explore the vital role of defining what success looks like – in your mind and in those of the people you are trying to lead. Accountability is the critical leadership skill of creating clarity around desired outcomes.


About John

My Purpose (My Why): I discover, develop, and share the brain-based behaviors and tools that allow people to lead from wherever they are.

What Inspires Me: Creativity. Which for me means helping people synthesize what’s known, what’s not known, and what’s possible into something transformative and impactful.

Name Dropping: I’ve designed, produced or facilitated leadership and culture programs at American Airlines, Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute, Meijer stores, US Bank Community Development Corporation, Flexera Software, Promax/BDA, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (St. Louis/Clayton), San Diego Youth Symphony and numerous start-up, small and mid-sized organizations.

My Most Inspiring Work: Helping build Mama’s Kitchen, a meal delivery service for people living with HIV and AIDS. As the organization’s first Executive Director at a time when no one wanted to talk about HIV and AIDS, I learned fast how to recruit allies and funders, persuade people to overcome huge bias and join the cause, and, most importantly, build and lead a team of people learning on the fly.  The legacy we left? Today Mama’s is one of the most beloved social services programs in San Diego, serving thousands of meals each day to people living with HIV, cancer and other life threatening situations.

My Formative Life: I spent most of my 20’s traveling the world with the international performing group, Up with People, traveling the world from small towns in South Dakota to stadiums in Rome to a TV show seen by 15 million people in China.  What stays with me the most are the random people I met in each place I visited. 

My Producing Life:  Prior to getting into the organizational culture and leadership world, I was a theatre producer and manager, including having a hand in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions and the development of several world premiere musicals. I also helped produce the half-time show for Super Bowl XX in New Orleans and numerous major meetings and events in the US, Europe and Argentina.

My Learning Life:  As far as traditional schooling goes, I earned a BA in Political Science from University of California, San Diego and a Masters in Theatre Management and Producing at Columbia University.  I’m exploring a fascination with the neuroscience of human interactions, mostly through everything the NeuroLeadership Institute has to offer. Professional Certifications include:  Foundations in Neuroleadership, Brain Based Coaching Skills, Korn Ferry Leadership Architect and KF360 Assessments, Genos Emotional Intelligence Assessment. 

My Current Best Life: Living my dream life in San Diego near the beach with my husband, Johnny, and our dogs Penny (German shepherd, very!) and Beau (super dopey golden retriever). Our village includes a big collection of my mom, brothers, their families, neighbors, and friends filled with silliness and love. We all make the most of this amazing place we live, surfing, hiking, and cycling as much as possible.