New “Leaderboard” podcast asks CEOs how to create a more inclusive community

A new podcast from the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) and DEI consultancy 365 Nation focuses on leaders of the area’s business community – and what they think needs to happen to make the city a more welcoming, inclusive place.

“Businesses are focused on creating a sense of belonging inside the four corners of their business. But even if you got it perfect, which no company does, what’s happening outside of your business is as important, if not more important, to a sense of belonging,” said GMCC President Zach Brandon, who cohosts the podcast with 365 Nation CEO Henry Sanders. Sanders is also CEO of 365 Media Foundation and publisher of Blueprint365.

The idea came from the DIJE Initiative – GMCC’s effort to help the business community work toward diversity, inclusion, justice and equity. One component of that was to interview top executives about how the greater Madison community could create a more inclusive and equitable environment and a sense of belonging in order to retain a more diverse talent pool.

After more than 60 interviews, Sanders and Brandon realized they had to share the stories they were hearing.

“We came out of that realizing that there were stories to be told,” Brandon said. “A lot of times you see the profile piece or the bio on the website or even their social media persona, and you have a sense of who they are. But you don’t really know where they came from, what made them who they are. … Henry and I kept saying after each of these calls, ‘That was a crazy story, that was fascinating … others should have an opportunity to hear these stories too.’”

“One of the main themes I heard in our interviews is that leadership developed over time and failure is often part of the growth process of becoming a more effective leader,” Sanders said.

Episodes of the podcast are about 30 minutes in length. The first two episodes are out today, featuring Madison College President Dr. Jack E. Daniels III and Anesis Family Therapy founder Myra McNair.

“I think the audience would be other leaders learning more about their friends or their colleagues, but also aspiring leaders or next generation leaders to both understand what to expect in their journey, but also to be able to model other people who have come before them.  And then there’s also a thread about economic inclusion and equity that runs through each of the conversations,” Brandon said.

“The Leaderboard podcast helps give access to some of our top leaders in the Greater Madison area, learning about their origin stories but also hearing how they view inclusion in the workplace,” Sanders said. “This is just one little step of building an environment where everyone can have the same access and accountability when it comes to inclusion.”

Brandon said not all the topics covered are too serious.

“There’ll be some really prominent leaders that the public probably hasn’t been hasn’t had a chance to hear a conversation about what their aspirations were when they were teenagers, what were the challenges of their career and who’s the best MC in history,” he said.

Brandon said the podcast is produced by 22 Media, a Black-owned production company, and recorded at a studio owned by Third Eye Collective, a partnership of three Black women photographers. They’ve already recorded several episodes to release in the coming weeks, but are ready to make adjustments based on what listeners want to hear.

“We want to launch and kind of see how it goes. If you just think about the 60-plus CEOs that we interviewed privately, that’s a couple seasons right there,” he said. “It’ll morph, based on what people are looking for. I would say to anyone who logs in to listen, we truly want feedback. We designed what we think people would want, but there’s no boundaries to what it could be, if people give us good feedback.”

The Leaderboard podcast is available beginning today on all major podcast platforms.