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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

Nov 16, 2016

Co-hosts Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos interview Michael Simpson, Co-Founder and CEO of Pairin. Michael's passion for helping people reach their potential was fueled by his own rise from poverty to international recognition as a market strategist. The son of educators, he went on to become a corporate intrapreneur, and then a three-time entrepreneur. He co-founded Pairin after a decade as a certified coach and six years in Russia, coaching many at-risk young adults to successful careers. He is an avid cyclist; fly fisherman; and award winning chocolatier. Jan and Jim talk with Michael about personal loss and growth, the proper and improper use of assessment surveys, the roadblocks to expression that block some personalities behind “masks,” and realizing the full potential of workers, and teams through assessment and great coaching.

Listen in to learn how assessment surveys can reveal the inherent potential of the people in your organization.


Key Takeaways

[3:03] After the loss of a baby, Michael and his wife took a nine-month sabbatical. Michael studied chocolate, and became an award-winning chocolatier, an enterprise he will continue in retirement.

[5:40] Jan and Jim discuss the Patagonia Crucible, and how Pairin provided participant profiles, predictive analysis and predictive coaching, to ensure an experience as positive as possible.

[8:57] The Crucible team profiles: the former military personnel have incredibly high performance and a very high ability to defer; the executives have high performance, and a very low deference.

[11:39] In December, Business Insider included Pairin in “The 50 Coolest New Companies in America to Work.” Their website blew up with hits. They Googled ‘Pairin,’ to find out why!

[13:31] All people have intrinsic value, but most people never realize what that is. That's also true of employers. They don't know the value of the people that they have.

[20:06] The assessment survey is to identify what makes people successful. Pairin charges by the target, and for access to the system; you can survey as many people as you want.

[21:40] The best teams Michael has been on, coached, or seen, have a diversity of thought, but a predictability of behavior.

[29:45] If team skills were taught in schools, where children are put in teams from the age of four, there would be no need for executive, leader, or team coaching.

[31:59] Michael's mentors were a friend who led him to quit drugs, and an uncle who included him in his family; gave him books, and coached him by questions, without Michael being aware of the mentoring until years later, when he found he was echoing his uncle, in mentoring others.

[37:06] Michael read only non-fiction during his professional development, but then discovered fiction, where he learned to be absorbed in the story. He came to an epiphany on unrealized potential, during the last chapter of Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.


Quotable Quotes

"We reveal that intrinsic value in a person, and we help them aspire, and attain their goals."

"Every single person was created with desire to be deeply known, that is in constant conflict with this fear of being exposed."

“A successful team has healthy conflict.”
“Our greatest strengths are also our greatest challenges.”

“I learned a long time ago, not to 'should' on myself, and not to 'should' on other people.”


Click Here to get access to our Points to Ponder - notes to help you and your team get more out of each episode.


Books Mentioned on the Show

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni

Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry



Michael learned to uncover hidden gems in people and products, working closely with CEOs and executives in startup to multi-billion-dollar corporations. The son of educators, he went on to become a corporate intrapreneur, and then a three-time entrepreneur. As the CEO of Pairin, he works to make education more relevant for students and their future employers through the development of attitudes, motivations and behavioral proficiencies. At Pairin, he works to bridge the opportunity gap for future generations by enabling educators and employers to predict and develop behavioral performance. In this role he's had the privilege of partnering with organizations like the U.S. Department of Labor, The Center for Data Science and Public Policy, many post-secondary institutions and many workforce readiness programs. He's deeply involved in the regular analysis of soft skills data from more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, veterans, students, and businesspeople.

Michael has contributed to books on Knowledge Management (KM), Identity and Networking, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). His background in strategy and marketing for all identity, security and management products while at Novell, Inc. contributes to Pairin’s unwavering commitment to digital personal privacy.


Twitter: @PairinCEO

Facebook: PairinInc