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Nerding Out About Improving the World

We invite you to #nerdout with us #improvementnerds and our guests as we host conversations about that things that make us nerdy.


The idea behind the Improvement Nerds podcast is to host conversations about all things improvement. Ranging from self-improvement, to teams, organizations, communities, and even improvement at a larger, more societal scale.


While you are here, be sure to check out some of our popular services: online training, downloadable tools, and our articles.

Bonus Episode

More on Leadership Speech Acts

If you listened to Episode 40, in which Mary Andrawis and I explore the topic, and nerd out a bit about Leadership Speech Acts, you probably sensed that we had a lot more that we wanted to talk about. And you’d be right. In this bonus episode Mary and I revisit Leadership Speech Acts and dive a bit deeper sprinkling in a few complimentary topics such as “Yes, and…”, “Loose/Tight”, “Power of Choice”, and “Assuming Positive Intent”.


Episode 40

Leadership Speech Acts

Do you know what Leadership Speech Acts are? I didn’t either. But now that I know what they are, you can bet I will be more intentional in using my words to shape the future. Huge thanks to Mary Andrawis for being my guest and for sharing your passion for Leadership Speech Acts. Be sure to listen to Episode 40 Teaser.

Episode 39

Hire by Design

In Episode 39, I have the great privilege of nerding out with the bestselling author, Jodi Brandstetter as we discuss how the improvement method, Design Thinking can be applied to HR –  helping to identify, recruit, onboard, and retain top talent. Be sure to listen to Episode 39 Teaser.

Episode 38

Becoming an Improvement Nerd Generalist

In Episode 38, AJ Hobbs and I discuss the multiple ways an belt can add value to an organization. During our conversation we discuss the advantages of becoming a generalist when it comes to improvement. We can appreciate that there are two sides to this coin, generalizing vs. specializing. We do tip our hats to the specialists, but we don’t necessarily nerd out about that. Instead we dive deep on becoming an Improvement Nerd Generalist, while discussing what it is like to go to grad school during a crisis. Be sure to listen to Episode 38 Teaser.

Episode 37

Process Mapping at the Speed of Conversation

In Episode 37, I get to nerd out with Craig Willis about the importance of process mapping.

Craig’s goal is to make process mapping and analysis easy and accessible so that anyone can do it. Providing insights and process maps to your process improvement team so they can focus on fixing the gnarly problems. Creating a common language and simple taxonomy for the organization that doesn’t require extensive training.

Be sure to listen to Episode 37 Teaser.

Episode 36

Wabi Sabi

In Episode 36, guest Minid Epstein gives the Improvement Nerds audience permission to be their authentic selves. To embrace their imperfections and to go forward even when you don’t have it all figured out. By practicing Wabi Sabi, you learn to see the beauty in imperfection, no longer allowing perfection to get in your way of becoming who you were meant to be. Be sure to check out the Episode 36 Teaser. And, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and YouTube channel.

Episode 35

Designing Your Career

Have you found yourself at a career crossroads and not known what to do? In Episode 35, Marla Holdread shares that the best thing to do when at a career crossroad, is to think like a designer. Her advice is to stay curious, to be willing to experiment, to reframe the problem, and to collaborate. Be sure to check out the Episode 35 Teaser. And, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and YouTube channel.

Episode 34

Best Places to Work

In Episode 34 I have the chance to nerd out with Angie Redmon about some of the strategies that an organization can employ to help improve their work culture, while embarking on a journey to become one of the Best Places to Work. Angie works with companies who aspire to have an award-winning workplace distinction. You’ve heard of these, I’m sure—Best Workplaces, Top Workplaces, Best Banks, etc. She has 15 best workplaces awards under her belt, and now she guides companies through the process of pursuing their own. Be sure to check out the Episode 34 Teaser. And, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and YouTube channel.

Episode 33

Servant Leadership

Episode 33 is timely for two reasons. One is that the episode is about servant leadership. And the other reason is that the episode airs shortly after Veterans Day. Our guest Tom Crea, joins us and nerds out with us about his years of service and the lessons he learned about serving others. Be sure to listen to Episode 33 Teaser.

Episode 32


Episode 32 is so streaking awesome. Join me, Jami Downs, and Jeffrey Downs as we nerd out about streaking – not the streaking you’re thinking. This streaking includes creating a “be statement”, setting a goal, and then streaking your way toward improvement.This episode celebrates the idea of becoming who you want to be through consistent conscious actions done daily, weekly, or monthly or through Streaking. Be sure to listen to Episode 32 Teaser.

Episode 31

Design Thinking in an Agile Way

How many creative types do you know that can nerd out about Design Thinking and Agile Project Management? Yeah, not many. My guest for Episode 31, Sheena Birt, does that and opens the door for how combining the best of left-braining thinking and right-brain thinking can lead to awesome design in an organized, repeatable way. Be sure to listen to Episode 31 Teaser.

Episode 30

Culture in the Workplace

In Episode 30, Mike Bensi and I nerd out about the importance of culture in the workplace. As we dive deep on the topic we talk about the importance of routinely assessing culture and studying what the key drivers of culture might be. In Mike’s experience there are many things that impact culture, but the big ones are: trust in leadership, communication, clarity of goal, making an impact, having the resources you need to do you job, and opportunities for growth and development. Be sure to listen to Episode 30 Teaser.

Bonus Episode

Becoming a Certified Black Belt

In this Bonus Episode with Laura Pullen McMichael, we nerd out about journey of becoming a Certified Black Belt through ASQ. As we reflect on our individual journeys to certify we talk about study strategy, preparing for the exam, passing the exam, and applying our new knowledge to help drive improvement. Be sure to listen to the Bonus Episode Teaser.

Episode 29

Extreme Ownership

In Episode 29, I nerd out with Amy Woodall about the idea of Extreme Ownership. In Amy’s words, “Extreme Ownership is about owning your 50. It is about accepting that in any situation you are 50% of the problem and 50% of the solution.” In this episode we dive deep on Extreme Ownership, but we also nerd out about The Dreaded Drama Triangle, leadership, parenting, and self-awareness. Be sure to check out the Episode 29 Teaser on YouTube.

Episode 28

The Healing Healthcare Project

In this episode, Sarah brings her global health experience, travel nursing experience, and passion for caring for the caregiver to the table as we envision how much better healthcare could be if we provided nurses the space they need to practice self-care. I struggle to summarize this episode because we touch on so much. We talk a bit about the struggles and excitement of starting a business. The heartache of watching people wrestle with burnout. The importance of morning routines. And the hope of the good things that can happen when people show up more whole. Be sure to check out the Episode 28 Teaser on Youtube.

Episode 27

Making Authentic Connections

In Episode 27 I nerd out with Lindsay Tjepkema about the importance of making authentic connections as a leader, as a business, and as a brand. In this episode Lindsay shares strategies on how leaders and organization’s can establish trust while building a strong relationships that will drive engagement and loyalty. Lindsay Tjepkema is the CEO and co-founder of Casted, the first and only marketing platform built around branded podcasts. With more than 15 years of experience in B2B marketing, including running her own consulting agency, she’s a dynamic leader who’s had tremendous success building and growing marketing teams on a local and global level. Be sure to check out the Episode 27 Teaser on Youtube.

Episode 26

Wholeness and Wellness

Episode 26 dives deep on the concept that you have to be well before you can have the energy to enact lasting change in your career, your family, your health, in others, etc. In Erica’s words, for a person to have whole wellness they need to focus on 6 key things: what they eat, how much they sleep, how they move, what is their purpose, what is their community, and spirituality. Be sure to check out the Episode 26 Teaser on YouTube.

Episode 25

Culture is Everything

In Episode 25 Jeff Veyera and I nerd out about the importance of addressing culture as part of any change or improvement initiative. In this episode we dive deep on culture, engagement, process improvement, and Quality 4.0. Jeff Veyera is a 25 year quality professional, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Senior Member of the American Society for Quality with multi-industry experience.  Air Force Academy graduate and former Air Force logistics officer.  Author of “Culture Is Everything”. Be sure to check out the Episode 25 Teaser on YouTube.

Episode 24

Innovation Profiles

In Episode 24, Lori Lovens and I nerd out about the important role that trust and safety play in innovation. We also discuss the innovation spectrum on how people naturally innovate and improvise, while others seek to stabilize and maintain. As Lori puts it, we all are on a scale of change from chaos to order. On the ends are destructive chaos and stifling control. But in the middle exists space for change and innovation to actually occur through creative chaos and constructive order. Be sure to check out the Episode 24 Teaser on YouTube.

Episode 23

Communities of Excellence

In Episode 23, Stephanie Norling and I connect to discuss the ins and outs of the Communities of Excellence program sponsored by Baldrige. The Communities of Excellence program is a framework that is used by self-defined communities to help them define their approach to leadership, establish a strategy for their community, and implement their plan while tracking results. Be sure to check out the Episode 23 Teaser.

Episode 22

Emotional Intelligence

In Episode 22, Gerald Bush, and I get down and dirty about Emotional Intelligence. Specifically, what is it, why its important, and how individuals can strengthen their EQ.Per Gerald, Emotional Intelligence in leaders, and environments that are psychologically safe to take risks go hand in hand. We hope you enjoy the episode. Be sure to check out the Episode 22 Teaser.

Episode 21

Standardizing Then Scaling

In episode 21, Jeanette Renshaw, from Smart Scale Consulting, and I nerd out hard core about the importance of standardizing first, then scaling second. Some of the other things we nerd out about include systems thinking, the Goal, pizza trackers, and inspection. Jeanette is true improvement nerd, she is a problem solver with a passion to help companies achieve repeatable, predictable, and profitable results in order to scale revenue and optimize their business. Be sure to check out the Episode 21 Teaser.

Episode 20

Igniting the Fire Starter Within

In Episode 20, Jason Barnaby and I nerd out hardcore about helping people to address self-doubt and to take the first steps toward doing what they are passionate about. As Jason puts it, he wants to “Torch Fear and Ignite Hope.” Which is the mission of the company he founded, Fire Starters, Inc. These days, achieving his mission of #IgniteHope and #TorchFear means working with executive teams to accelerate THRU the firestorm of the New Now and navigate TO the New Normal. To create a better and more meaningful life on the other side of change. Be sure to check out the Episode 20 Teaser.

Episode 19

Fatherhood on Fire

In this episode Ryan Sullivan and I nerd out about creating and building community that empowers each of us to explore and to be our whole, authentic selves. Especially as parents. In this episode, Ryan shares his passion about being a father (loving his wife and daughter and soon to arrive newborn with a whole heart), growing his Christian faith, creating a fulfilling career, and staying athletically competitive. Ryan is the founder of Fatherhood On Fire, an organization that Celebrates, Elevates, and Encourages men embracing their role as fathers. Also, be sure to check out Ryan’s Fatherhood on Fire Podcast. Also, be sure to check out the Episode 19 Teaser.

Episode 18

Giving Generously and Make-A-Wish

In episode 18, I nerd out with KJ McGlinn about the importance of having a servant’s heart and giving. Per KJ, “those that give, get”. Regardless of the size of the gift. As a representative of the Make A Wish organization, KJ helps to bring dreams to life for patients and families facing medical complications. KJ does this by building a community of people who are passionate about granting wishes and providing patients and families with hope. In this episode KJ shares some of her best practices for building a community, for celebrating success, and leading a purposeful life. Be sure to check out the Episode 18 Teaser.

Episode 17

Mastering Conflict Through Spiral Impact

In Episode 17, I nerd out with Karen Valencic about managing conflict and creating flow through her leadership approach called Spiral Impact. Karen Valencic is founder Spiral impact, a Performance Improvement Company specializing in leadership and team development. As a degreed-tenured engineer, effectiveness and practicality informs her work; 30 years of aikido training brings the artistic flare and power to her content. Karen works with leaders and teams through speaking, coaching and consulting. In times of accelerated change and disruption, peoples’ lagging ability to adapt opens Pandora’s Box for destructive conflict, burnout, and division. In her recent Black Belt Edition release of Spiral Impact: The Power to Get It Done with Grace, Karen Valencic shares how to bring forth your True Power and master the art of conflict to help you foster collaboration, innovation, and civility, greatly impacting your individual sense of freedom and engagement in your life. Karen’s Spiral Impact® Method is grounded in the martial art, aikido, and in physics, which she blends with three decades of experience working deeply with leaders and teams. Be sure to check out the Episode 17 Teaser.

Episode 16

Mental Wealth

In Episode 16, Jeremiah and I nerd out about his upcoming book Mental Wealth. Mental Wealth is Jeremiah’s approach for helping others achieve financial well-being and freedom. Jeremiah, who grew up a region kid, has overcome the circumstances of a poor school system, having a kid at an early age, and $210,711 worth of debt. Now, Jeremiah has dedicated himself to changing the mindset of others and to help them defeat their financial issues and much more be focusing on the 5Ps – purpose, plan, people, persistence, and prayer. Be sure to check out the Episode 16 Teaser. Mental Wealth is currently available for purchase through Jeremiah’s website (

Bonus Episode

Hidden Brilliance

Why not have two episodes with Katie Rasoul. In a follow up to Katie’s full episode, I wanted to create a bonus episode were all we do is get nerdy about her amazing book Hidden Brilliance: A High-Achieving Introvert’s Guide to Self-Discovery, Leadership, and Playing Big. In this bonus episode Katie and I try our best to provide a brief recap of her book. We talk about what it feels like to carry the weight of being a high-achiever. We also talk about imposter syndrome and having an internal Board of Directors. Lastly, we discuss a few tactics for increasing your “Hell Yes!” quota.

Episode 15

Belonging at Work

Episode 15 is a must listen to episode about the importance of creating psychological safety at work. My guest, Katie Rasoul shares a masterful story about how organization’s need to strive to give people more than a job. That they need to give them a purpose. Katie Rasoul is a keynote speaker, TEDTalk presenter, author, and business owner at Team Awesome. Her book Hidden Brilliance is available on Amazon, and is an absolute must read. Especially for high-achieving introverts. Be sure to check out Episode 15 Teaser.

Episode 14

The Leadership Challenge

Join Andrea Butcher and I for Episode 14 as we nerd out about The Leadership Challenge. Highlighting the specific behaviors that help to create an effective leader. For those that are not familiar with The Leadership Challenge, it is a model that consists of 5 leadership behaviors that can be evaluated, role modeled, and learned:  1). Model the Way  2). Inspire a Shared Vision  3). Challenge the Process  4). Enable Others to Act  5). Encourage the Heart. The Leadership Challenge is a true passion for Andrea. Per Andrea, it gets results, but beyond that it helps leaders to be better people. And to help the people they are responsible for leading, to be better too.

Episode 13


In Episode 13, Shelley Brown and I nerd out about mindfulness, among other topics – empathy, leadership, self-awareness, compassion, and meditation. Shelley Brown is a Baltimore based mindfulness speaker, webinar, in-person workshop facilitator and the founder of ROI Mindfulness. She facilitates workshops around the United States with leaders from Executive Committee to front-line managers from a variety of industries. Per Shelley, mindfulness helps foster a more focused, productive, and connected workplace where employees feel fulfilled and valued.

Episode 12

Business Process Management

Episode 12 with Travis Lozier was a lot of fun to create. In this episode Travis and I discuss Process Based Management and celebrate the forward-thinking organizations that view their processes as assets. Travis is the Chief Quality Officer at Jordan Johnson Inc. Travis’s personal mission is to unlock human potential. Travis claims to be a 100% Certified Improvement Nerd and he has the credentials to prove it. Travis has nearly 20 years of healthcare leadership experience. He is a Certified ASQ Master Black Belt, Project Management Professional, Scrum Master, Certified Business Process Professional.

Episode 11

Enable Management Systems

In this episode in #nerdout with a fellow #improvementnerds, Emily Bopp and Dane DeLozier from Enable Management Systems. The Enable Management System is all about helping everyone in the organization to unite around common goals, while engaging in routine dialog about what is working and what is not working. This is a true passion for Emily and Dane. As you listen in, I think you will see why.

Episode 10

Future of HR

In this episode in #nerdout with a fellow #improvementnerd, Jacqueline Martinez. Be warned, this gets really nerdy, really fast as Jacqueline starts the episode out by talking about the value that HR can create in an organization. As she shares this summary, she talks about the way HR functions as an end-to-end value stream, what she calls “hire to retire”. Jacqueline gets way outside of the traditional silos of HR – which is often a collection of different departments with very different goals…. the recruiting department manages the job website, job posts, and paperwork to hire people. Payroll does what they do. Benefits does their own thing. And collaboration is low. In Jacqueline’s mind, all these things need to be seemless, and all working together to achieve one thing – to help people be their best selves.

Bonus Episode

Lean Coffee

Nerding out with Mark Ryan about Lean Coffee was a lot of fun. For several years now, Mark Ryan and Sarah White have been hosting Lean Coffee session in Indianapolis, Indiana. The focus of the sessions are to help bring improvement professionals together to connect, share, and learn. I encourage you to connect with Mark Ryan on LinkedIn. And, to stay up to date on all the Lean Coffee Indy activities by sure to follow the hashtag #leancoffeeindy and join the LinkedIn group, Lean Coffee Indy. Also, Sarah White, is a huge part of Lean Coffee Indy too. So be sure to show her the love.

Episode 9

Designer’s Mindset

In this episode, I nerd out with Eric Eicher, co-owner of RightHAND, a consulting company that helps organizations through creative storytelling, brand strategy, and problem definition.

Episode 8

Values-Driven Organization

As Nick Smarrelli puts it, “creating a culture that is values-driven is the responsibility for every leader”. Organization’s values can’t be complex, or un-actionable. And that they can’t just be a collection of words posted on the wall. Values should serve as the organization’s compass. Values should be role modeled by everyone interaction. Values should be integrated. Most importantly, values should be the things that unite people together when times are tough, or when an organization is facing uncertainty.

Episode 7

Diversity and Inclusion

More and more diversity and inclusion has risen as one of the most important topics in our society. During this episode my guest, Julie Kratz, shares with us ideas on how leaders, middle managers, and everyday people can act as an ally for those that need representation. As Julie puts it, “this is hard work that has to happen.” As you think about your role as a leader, parent, mentor, neighbor, etc. please do what you can to invite diversity and to be inclusive.

Episode 6

Living Content, Collaborative Authorship, and a Learning Organization

The sign of a great leader is to make changes and create a culture that lasts longer than they do. In this episode Amanda Cross and I discuss her career in IT as a technical writer and how she made herself valuable by becoming replaceable.

Episode 5

Communicating with Confidence

Communication is the key ingredient for almost every successful change and transformation. Alex Perry of Practically Speaking has made it her personal mission to help people and organizations improve how they communicate so that ideas can be shared, people can blossom, and change can occur. To learn more about Alex and her company, Practically Speaking, check her out on LinkedIn and on her website.

Bonus Episode

HSPI2020 Conference Recap

This past week LP and I had the pleasure of attending the Health Systems Process Improvement conference in Savannah. In this episode we nerd out about the conference and share some of our key takeaways. Check up the good things the hosting organization is up to by visiting their website.

Episode 3


Rachel shares her journey as she nerds out about the Enneagram. Whether you have been typed or have never heard of the tool before – this episode is for you. Rachel gets down and dirty while highlighting some resources to help you get back to your authentic self. To learn more, please connect with Rachel online or on LinkedIn.

Episode 2

Influences and Motivations

Join us for Episode 2 as Travis and I discuss the people who have influenced us and helped us to grow as people. Without these mentors we would have had to figure out a lot of things on our own – and that would have been disastrous, because let’s be honest, we were and still are a project.

Episode 1

The Big “Nerdy” Picture

Join us for Episode 1 as Travis and I get the ball rolling on this podcast idea. The production isn’t perfect, but it is definitely nerdy. We were so excited to be embarking on this journey, that we weren’t going to let perfect be the enemy of good. So we hit the record button and just started talking about the vision behind the Improvement Nerds podcast.

Improvement Nerds Podcast

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