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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 15, 2017

Tricia Halsey, Founder & Executive Director of the Big Idea Project, discusses with Jan and Jim how she learned the value of coaching. She was coached as a swimmer to step out of her comfort zone and learned that extending your reach you extend your potential. The Big Idea Project, fueled by Generous Leadership®, is a scholastic project to help students develop leadership skills. Students are mentored to perform meaningful service that creates positive change. For Tricia, leadership is not a set of skills for accomplishment, but a mindset of generosity directed toward building the potential of others.


Key Takeaways

[2:38] Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Tricia sees opportunities the same way, and her most important aspiration is building up people.

[4:38] Tricia’s favorite building story is one of her first successes, as a high school swim coach. She wanted the team to become better people first and better swimmers second. She sees the potential in people and calls it forth. She coached an awkward JV team into breaking 12 school records and winning in the league for the first time in school history. They all moved to Varsity in one year.

[8:36] Tricia credits her high school swimming coach for calling out leadership within her at a young age. Tricia saw a leadership gap and said something has to change. Bosses that think of themselves a lot are not the leaders that people want to follow.

[11:52] Tricia elaborates on the courage of forgetting yourself and your fears and looking at building up the people around you and on your team into better people who do better work. The paradigm of generous leadership consists of deeply held beliefs that affect what we think, feel, and do. Generous leadership has a core of empathy. It involves how you see yourself, others, and your place in the world.

[13:55] Tricia quotes a post by Simon Sinek, from Leaders Eat Last: “Leaders are the ones who run headfirst into the unknown. They rush toward the danger. They put their own interests aside to protect us or to pull us into the future. Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours. And they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs. This is what it means to be a leader.”

[15:30] Generous leadership is soul care — mind, heart, and doing (will). You change that level of being by working. Tricia teaches generous leadership through The Big Idea Project in a semester of service learning, moving from knowledge to behavior change. Students go through an experience that is so challenging that it rocks them and makes them redefine themselves, serving others with real needs.

[19:02] Tricia introduces business leaders into the classroom as mentors and resources for the teachers. The students have a presentation night, using real-life business skills in their projects. The projects involve real service, such as working with a homeless family to see what they need, rather than researching homelessness online. Business leaders help the students execute the project.

[24:29] Coaching is helping people develop their potential. Coaching is learned from other coaches. The Big Idea Project forces students to take up their responsibility. Coaches do not do the work for the students. They see, guide, and help where there’s a lack of skills, but the best coaches let the students flounder a bit to become stronger. The student presentation is the moment of truth.

[32:19] Tricia shares a recent story of what she learned in starting The Big Idea Project and the busyness that was involved. Busyness keeps you from who you need to be. She got physically sick and had to pull back and unplug for a few months in another country. Give yourself some rest. Be a good person, and you’ll be an influencer. Lead from being good in a needed way.



Facebook: Big Idea Project

LinkedIn: Big Idea Project

LinkedIn: Tricia Halsey


Quotable Quotes


“I see potential; I see opportunity; I see destiny almost as destiny’s calling.”


“When you care about people and you call them forth, they will rise, if they know that you care about them.”


Leadership is not about you. It is fundamentally other-centered. It takes courage to set self aside and look at others.


Generous leadership is abundantly giving of yourself so that others can be better people who do better work.


You can’t give out of a place of abundance if you’re constantly looking inward.


Generous leadership has three facets: how you see yourself, how you see others, and how you see your place in the world.


Service learning is going out and solving a problem that affects somebody else.


Deep beliefs can foster behavior change if a change is desired. Our goal in life should be always to grow and do better.


We need to look at what our actions are saying about our head and our heart.


“In all social spheres, we need new leaders. I’m calling leaders to stand up for a new brand of leadership.”


“What wake are you leaving behind in your life? We need the wake of generous leaders.”



Tricia Halsey is Founder & Executive Director of Big Idea Project. First and foremost, Tricia is a builder. She has worked with nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies to build organizational capacity, identity, culture, strategy, programs, product, and teams.


Tricia, along with her husband Bryan, created the Big Idea Project in 2009 for Columbine High School. The success of the Project led to the launch of the Big Idea Project organization in 2014 to provide hands-on transformational leadership experiences to youth through a train-the-trainer program with high schools.


Tricia is the thought leader of the Generous Leadership® paradigm, a leadership approach that requires empathy and the courage to move past self for the sake of elevating others.


Big Idea Project utilizes Tricia’s Generous Leadership® paradigm to prepare our next generation of generous leaders who lead lifelong impact on their families, communities, and careers.


Books mentioned in this episode

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, by Simon Sinek