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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 23, 2016

Co-hosts Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos interview Paul Spiegelman, Chief Culture Officer of Stericycle, a NASDAQ listed global services organization, with more than 25 thousand employees. Jan and Jim talk with Paul about his journey from starting a small company, exiting, and taking on a C-suite role. They also discuss The Small Giants community, Paul’s three books, and the reality that the problem is not change, but a lack of transparency.

Listen in to learn how culture is truly about leader engagement throughout the organization.


Key Takeaways

[4:27] If you create an environment in which people love the work and feel cared for personally; if you help them achieve their personal vision, as well as the company vision, they perform better.

[7:48] What was the intention of founding the Small Giants community?

[10:06] Paul and his brothers started their business based on their Dad’s saying, “Always be nice; treat people with respect; and don’t burn bridges.”

[10:55] ‘Command and Control’ leaders need to acquire new skills for a collaborative culture.

[15:02] Leadership balance is a promise to provide an environment in which leaders care as much about employees and their personal growth, as leaders expect employees to care about the organization and its growth. Responsibility and accountability is required on both sides.

[18:52] Respect and trust at the highest level can cascade to the rest of the organization, which takes time.

[29:03] Change becomes problematic when there is no transparency, when employee buy-in is not sought. Leaders lose trust when they don’t communicate the ‘why.’

[30:06] People adjust willingly, as long as you keep them in the loop with what’s going on.

[37:26] Paul recommends reading business books, and seeking mentors to learn and grow. And, as a leader, mentor other people, and master the art of storytelling.

[45:02] Paul’s message is to lead with your heart, and allow people to be themselves.  Culture then becomes the driving force of the success.


Quotable Quotes

"When the kids knew that you cared about them, they performed better, and they took feedback better."

“We sold, not what we did as a business, but who we are -- who we were, as a company.”
“I became passionate about this idea of people being the driver for business success.”

“We all want to grow our businesses, but they wanted to grow with purpose. They wanted to lead with values.”

“You not only have to perform, but you also have to have the engagement and respect of your team.”



Books Mentioned on the Show

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great, Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't, by Jim Collins

Why Is Everyone Smiling?: The Secret Behind Passion, Productivity, and Profit, by Paul Spiegelman

Smile Guide: Employee Perspectives on Culture, Loyalty and Profit, by Paul Spiegelman

Patients Come Second: Leading Change by Changing the Way You Lead, by Britt Berrett, ‎Paul Spiegelman



Paul Spiegelman is the founder of BerylHealth, the Beryl Institute, and the Small Giants community. Paul is a New York Times bestselling author, and has been honored with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Paul is a sought-after speaker, and author on leadership, employee engagement, entrepreneurship, corporate culture, and customer relationships. He makes frequent radio and TV appearances, his views have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and Inc. Magazine, and he’s currently a columnist for

Paul’s passion is to make culture into a core competency of an organization, not just an accident of leadership.