As a leader, are you living up to your true potential?

Well get ready to take it up a notch as you listen to episode #143 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast!

That’s because we’re interviewing leadership expert Jeff Nischwitz, a passionate Author, Speaker and a man on a mission to help all of us improve the way we approach leadership.

In this episode you’re going to learn ‘How To Unleash Your True Leadership Potential’.

Some of the key takeaways in this interview include:

  • Leadership is about growing your people
  • The importance of living in the present
  • How walking backwards can help you become a more effective leader
  • Why leadership is more important at home than work
  • Why you should ask yourself ‘What am I afraid of’
  • Why you don’t have to have everyone in your next meeting
  • Why you should have a few goosebumps every day and more

Shirley Benson

Jeff Nischwitz - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Known as a Facilitator of Truth, Snow Globe Shaker and the Leader of Shift, Jeff  is a man on a mission – a mission to help people shift how they lead. As an international leadership, team engagement and culture speaker, he is known for his unique perspectives, for challenging traditional thinking, and for delivering tangible shifts for leaders to grow their people, build their businesses and enhance their relationships. Jeff is the author of three books: Unmask: Let Go of Who You’re “Supposed” to Be & Unleash Your True Leader  and Arrows of Truth: Simple Shifts for Personal Transformation. Jeff works with a range of organizations on growing leaders, building engaged and empowered teams, accountability and achieving your whole other level of impact and influence.

You can get in touch with Jeff at

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Gordon Sheppard: Are you a leader who knows they just aren’t quite reaching their full potential? Well, stick around for today’s Episode on the Meeting Leadership Podcast, because we’ve got the facilitator of truth, Jeff Nischwitz.

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for practical tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with, Gordon Sheppard.

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast, my name is, Gordon Sheppard. I just want to say thank you so much for being here. Thank you for being the type of leader who knows they want to tweak their game or make big, big changes and you are trusting this podcast and the great guests, and all the great ideas that are being brought forward to help you do just that. I really appreciate that you’re here.

And I’m also happy to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now there you’re going to find some terrific live training and online training options that you and your team can use to really kind of get some spark into your meetings, make them significantly better, and really connect every one of them directly to your organization strategy so that you can move the entire organization forward and ultimately have a stronger impact on your customers and your community.

And you can learn more about that by going to And if you are a leader who’s really looking for a way to significantly change the way that you lead, then you’re going to get a lot out of today’s show. That’s because today we’re going to talk about, How To Unleash Your True Leadership Potential, and we’ve got a great guest on the show to do just that. His name is, Jeff Nischwitz.

And before I jump into some of the highlights from Jeff’s bio, let me say that I’ve met Jeff personally and I can tell you if you are for just a second, getting anywhere away from the truth, he’s just not having any of it. He really is able to ask wonderful questions and the time that I spent with him, I actually learned a ton about professional speaking, the impact that he’s having all around the world, and that was the main reason why I wanted to invite him on the show.

And just to help you get to know Jeff a little bit better, well, he’s known as the facilitator of truth, a snow globe shaker. Isn’t that a great image just snowing and shaking those things up? And the leader of shift, he’s a man on a mission, a mission to help people shift how they lead. And Jeff, is also an author, a speaker, a consultant, he helps people all around the world to really do the things they need to do when it comes to upping their leadership game. And with that in mind, I’m not going to hold you back any longer. Here’s the great interview with Jeff Nischwitz. Jeff, welcome to the show.

Jeff Nischwitz: Hey, thank you, Gord.

Gordon Sheppard: It’s really great to have you here because if there’s someone where truth doesn’t get mentioned more often, we are so lucky to have you here, especially from a leadership perspective. I mean, you are soaked in this in the presentations that you do, in the books that you write, but there’s a lot of people who really that don’t know you quite yet. If you had to introduce yourself at a party, what would you say?

Jeff Nischwitz: Well, that’s an easy one because I often have to introduce myself at party or party equivalents and I always say the same thing. I am a recovering reformed lawyer, which people immediately start to wonder about me. That has been on a journey for the last about 18 years since I quit practicing law with a singular focus on leadership, understanding leadership, better helping people see leadership differently, and hopefully making an impact in the world when it comes to leadership and the people who follow them.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, an impact in the world is definitely true because we know you’ve been on stages around the world speaking literally to thousands of people and empowering all kinds of leaders. Where’s the motivation to make better leaders come from for you?

Jeff Nischwitz: Well, two things. One is from a gap. And the gap is, I look around the world, I look around the country and I’ve traveled, as you said, in fact, I was in Germany just a month ago speaking at an innovation conference. And I asked them at the beginning, I said, “Do you feel like you have the same struggles with leadership?” And I’m finding that it’s not just a US or North American issue. Part of it is I see this huge gap in leadership and the people that are left in the wake of that are all the people who work with organizations that are lacking that leadership, that followership, someone to really follow that they can trust.

I think our people, I mean, this is not just business, this to me is, this is in our families, in our relationships. This lack of leadership is keeping people from growing, people from really achieving and ultimately having more impact in the small scale or the large scale. I get excited, I get sometimes frustrated, which shows up as passion when I see so many people… I’ll tell you, Gord, I really think we have lost, literally lost sight of what leadership is.

And what I see today is we have a lot of people who can manage, we have a lot of people who can get things done, we even have some people who can run a business well, but I don’t see them leading because leadership to me comes down to the singular goal of growing my people. And I’m all about people and I want to change that outcome.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, it’s so lucky to have someone with that high level of motivation sort of putting it out there day in and day out. And grow your people is a great theme and I’m sure that’s a big part of your new book. Tell us about that one.

Jeff Nischwitz: The new book is interesting. It’s called, Just One Step: The Journey to Your Unstoppable You. And it came to me, it wasn’t planned, it’s based upon my trip to Northern Spain a couple of years ago to walk a couple hundred miles on something called the Camino de Santiago, The Way of Saint James. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be, I knew it was a calling for me to take that walk. But the book tells the story of the walk, but it really tells the story in the context of not just what I learned about myself, but what did I learn about life and how to show up differently.

Much of the book is about different thinking. The core chapter where someone said, “Jeff, you’ve got to throw away the whole book and leave one chapter,” that book is on living in the present, because I believe that living in the present is a superpower and that when we can do that, we lead more deeply, we have more impact, we have more influence, we achieve more, we have more joy, more peace, virtually no stress, better relationship. I think presence is the secret sauce.

And the second chapter that I would hold on to is one called, Walking Backwards, which was an experience that was very real for me on the trip, of some very, very painful issues with my feet and shins that led me to walk a significant part of this journey in Spain, walking it downhill backwards, literally, and how that applies to completely flipping our thinking as leaders in whatever part of our life we’re talking about. I’m excited about the book. It looks like it’s going to be out in early January, and it’s the scariest book I’ve ever written, which tells me for now it’s the most important.

Gordon Sheppard: I’m just going to zone in on the walking backwards idea. There’s a moment where there’s pre bad feet and then there’s bad feet. And there you are with your bad feet and you’re having to do things differently, which is uncomfortable obviously for you and again the metaphor here for so many different people. What was it like in those first moments when you started to walk backwards and how did that begin to seep in to shift your perspective?

Jeff Nischwitz: Well, at the beginning it was like most things, it was scary and I was hesitant, and I was trying to walk backwards with my head over my shoulder because I wanted to know where I was going. And I see that so much in leadership saying, “We really want to grow, we want to accelerate, but we got to know where we’re going and we got to make sure we’re safe.” And that keeps us from achieving our objective. I couldn’t do that because walking backwards with my head over my shoulder meant walking a third of the speed. And I also learned that I felt not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, I felt better when I had momentum.

I started to trust myself, I started to trust the different way of being and started walking backwards without looking. And I had a system that every 100 steps or so I would look just to make sure there wasn’t a tree, or a ditch, or literally a stream, or a person. There was a lot of trust in it, and it was about trusting myself and trusting this idea that as risky as things may be, everything will be okay. And now I’ve just brought that into real life and said, “What does that look like every day versus walking a trail in Northern Spain?”

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and you can hear your experience here because it’s one thing to read a textbook or do an MBA, if you think you’re going to transform as a leader. But it’s another thing to take wisdom from someone experienced like yourself and say, “Wait a second. Yes there’s that maybe which might be foundational,” but this idea that in a given moment you could just simply walk backwards in a sense and we can start to go from there to start to change leadership.

There’s an exercise I do when I’m with audiences as well. This idea of, I’ll say, “Everybody in the audience, okay, go ahead cross your arms.” And they all cross their arms and then you just say, “Okay, now cross them in the opposite direction.” And you’ll see like 10% of the audience doesn’t even know how to re-interlock their arms, I got such a sudden shock for them. This idea of walk backwards and you just said it there as well, which is, you’re only going to go a third as fast if you want to hang onto the old way of doing things, but now you can bring that right forward into your work. It’s great.

Jeff Nischwitz: It’s amazing. Your word, you used the word Gord, transformation and so many people I’ve heard say, “Transformation is cliche.” And I said, “You know what? Nothing is cliche if you actually do it, nothing is cliche if you’re living it, nothing is cliche if you achieve it. It’s only cliche if you talk about it and don’t live it.” And I’m living the reality of transformation and I see how this different thinking can transform people, organizations, leaders, families, relationships. I’ve seen it happen and it just requires a fundamental shift but it always starts as the book title, with just one step.

Gordon Sheppard: Just one step. And I think also what is so important about what you’re saying right now is that leadership is not just at work.

Jeff Nischwitz: Oh, no. In fact, I would argue that leadership matters more away from work. Because this is what I believe and you mentioned before we got on the air, my last book or one of my other books was called, Unmask: Letting Go of Who You’re Supposed To Be and Unleashing Your True Leader. Because I believe how we are as leaders is a cross our lives. The kind of leader you are at home is the same kind of leader you are at work and vice versa, so there is no separation.

But let’s start at home because most of us, when it gets down to it that’s what we say is our top priority, is our family and our relationship. But are we really making choices that way and are we leading as if our family and relationships were most important? I say let’s start there and let’s bring it into the workplace and change every level of the world.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, this is a great, great gift. Is there something practical that you’re doing, sort of, I’m going to say a multistep process or something like that where you’re with a leader and if you’re with them for a short burst, something practical that our listeners can take away, again, beyond say the walking backwards idea, but another one of your kind of key concepts that we can again learn from you about how to transform our leadership?

Jeff Nischwitz: Yeah, there’s two. There are two different categories, I’ll just touch on them quickly. One is to I say, I tell the leaders, “Let’s always start and let’s get right into what’s the impact.” And the way I frame it is as a couple part question. The first is whatever was done or not done, and then say, you can do this with your team members. What was your intended impact? Because that’s what leadership is about, it’s about impact.

Most of the time we don’t think about impact. We start with, what was your intended impact? And most people say, “I didn’t think about it. Well, there’s a start, do you need to be thinking about it?” And then the second question is, what might have been the unintended impact of what you did, what you didn’t do, how you said it, timing? Because so much of leadership is about impact, but we have a lot of unintended impact on the people around us, on our teams. And then we want to say, “Oh, I didn’t mean that.” But it doesn’t matter, we have the impact.

I try and really ingrain in leaders that their role is to create impact and that starts with them being more conscious and aware of their impact. That’s the big one and I could end with that, but I just left a meeting with a client and I feel it’s important to share this one. So many people feel stuck, indecisive and they’re not on course. And the question I offer them in any situation where you’re not where you want to be is to ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”

Because none of us want to believe we’re afraid, and if we ask ourselves if we’re afraid the answer is usually no, of course not. But when you just assume it, which I do and say, “What am I afraid of?” The answer comes to you and now you can deal with what that fear is and do something different despite the fear, but we can’t overcome our fear if we pretend we don’t have any.

Gordon Sheppard: Wow. If people just got that last three sentences out of this, that will be again another way to change their game. I’m going to back up for a second and give you a macro story that I came across recently about unintended consequences. I’m a member of Rotary International, and one of the things they fight to do is eradicate polio. And they’re actually getting into it now where they’ve got it down to literally dozens of cases in certain countries in the world and they’re working that through down from three or 400,000, 30 years ago. It’s a remarkable thing.

Here’s the crazy thing. When you vaccinate there’s unintended consequences. And now the complication of this is yes, it’s a great thing, but polio doesn’t just end. Oh and by the way, what are the impacts when we take this disease out of the food chain, what other things start to occur? So the best of intentions at that big level, and there you are saying to these leaders, what did you intend and are you aware of your impact and then this unintended piece as well?

That is just unbelievable in terms of raising consciousness. That afraid piece, I got a colleague who was on the show, her name is Kathy Archer. She says, “Before you walk into a meeting, what are you bracing yourself for?” And that is a powerful sentence because can you imagine on getting better ways to be self-aware and aware of what you need to do in that meeting? It’s just such good stuff.

Jeff Nischwitz: That’s the game change, Gord. That’s how you create transformation. You can’t transform by tinkering around the edges and doing it a little different.

Gordon Sheppard: You mean-

Jeff Nischwitz: You have to fundamentally, I say jump into the fire and be willing to get burned because that’s where the leadership happens. I need leadership in the fire, not around the edges of the fire, toast and marshmallows.

Gordon Sheppard: So many so unwilling, right? To jump in, right?

Jeff Nischwitz: Absolutely. It’s not for everybody and everybody can be there, but it’s a choice to lead or not. You are not ordained to lead, we choose to lead or not.

Gordon Sheppard: And we choose to lead people. And one of the most important things, I’ll just extend the next part of where we’d like to go in these interviews, and that is to kind of get some of your best meeting tips. When you’re sort of coaching these leaders to go in to run a better meeting, what do you like to say?

Jeff Nischwitz: Well, first of all, I like to say, “Just be honest and admit that your meetings are lousy because your people, that’s what they think.” I could have used other words, I’m being very appropriate here, Gord. We are horrible at meetings, it’s my best joke when I speak. When I get up to speak in any audience all I have to say is, “Look, I know you folks love your meetings. You can’t wait to have more and when you get back to the office tomorrow or next week, the number one thing you’re looking forward to are all, and proudly the effective meetings you have,” and everybody laughs.

Nobody is sitting there saying, “Oh no, we have great meetings.” We’re terrible at meetings and we’re not getting better because again, we’re not changing things. I look at meetings and I mean, I’ve got like this handful of things I talk about, I don’t know if this is the right time, Gord, to jump right in there?

Gordon Sheppard: Go get in there, yeah.

Jeff Nischwitz: One thing is everybody always says you have to have a clear agenda. I agree with that, but I don’t think that goes far enough. I always say you need a clear agenda, but even more importantly, you need a clear intention basically in advance answering the question, why are we meeting? Because most people meet because they go, “Oh yeah, I have a meeting.” We could get rid of probably half of our meetings and be 10 times or a 100 times more effective because the meetings actually don’t serve a purpose and we didn’t ask that question.

I’ll say, “Yes, I have an agenda, but let’s have a clear intention to know why we’re meeting.” And part of that is let’s make sure the right people are there. And what that means is we rarely are missing people, but we often have too many people in the meeting. And it’s a waste of their time to be there for the meeting or all of it, if people don’t need to be there, let them leave. Why? It’s not like jail, we get people in the room and then we keep them all there for the whole time and we needed them in snippets because somehow we all need to be equally punished. No, right people in, wrong people out at the right time.

Certainly time is a factor. Most meetings don’t start on time, don’t end on time. That’s a basic one but we miss that one. One of my favorite questions in a meeting, I believe every meeting needs to end with this question, “What did we decide?” Because what we’re going to find out is, we’ve got confusion, we’re going to find out that we actually didn’t decide anything most of the time because what we love to do is talk about things and it feels like we made a decision. When you ask that question, I always say allow a lot of time because you’re going to realize how bad your meeting was when you ask that question.

Gordon Sheppard: Wow.

Jeff Nischwitz: … but you’ll get better.

Gordon Sheppard: The big thing that I can hear, because these are again one, two, three bombshells that people can take away, especially combining with the other wisdom that you’ve brought to the front end of this interview. The piece in there is that people need to be intentional and use their time wisely. This is great, great stuff and the final thing that we’d like to do in these interviews to get experts like yourselves on is to say, “Please answer this simple question.” What inspires you?

Jeff Nischwitz: People inspire me. I have the most emotional reaction when I see people just showing up in their lives. And it does not have to be a big thing, it could be a small thing. That’s why I tie it together with leadership. I love interacting with people. When I work with organizations the warning I give the designated leaders is, “Look, don’t bring me in here if you’re not ready to really support your people, because by the time I leave, your people are going to raise the bar on you.”

Because I see so many people that are so gifted and they are not being allowed to shine in their organization and by holding them down, the organization is not all it can be, but man, the way I like to say it is I get inspired by people on fire and so if I’m in an organization, I’m trying to shake things up to create the conditions for that fire to really set aflame. And if I’m coaching, I’m doing everything I can to take the burdens and help people get out of their own way so they can basically live life on fire. Man, I see that and I get goosebumps and I believe life is about goosebumps. I tell people, “If you haven’t had a goosebump today, you missed a day.”

Gordon Sheppard: Life is about goosebumps. I’ve heard so many high impact words here today, it would be even tough to summarize them. I just can’t believe we’ve had a good opportunity to get you on the show to share your wisdom and I know that people are going to want to reach out when they’ve heard this interview. Where’s the best place to get in touch with you?

Jeff Nischwitz: Best way to find me if my website, I have this funky last name, but I’ll spell it for you. It’s www.nischwitz, N-I-S-C-H-W-I-T-Z,, and you can email me at that same, Reach out, ask questions, sign up for my newsletter. I write every day some, I call it my crazy thoughts about how to see the world and lead differently. That’s about.

Gordon Sheppard: Jeff, it is been just a great gift to have you here on the show. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Jeff Nischwitz: Gord, thank you so much for having me and allowing me to share a little bit of my passion about leadership. Really grateful, Gord.

Gordon Sheppard: I just have to tell you that one of my favorite things to do after these interviews is to actually go back, listen to them again and make notes, and I filled up an entire sheet with great notes from this interview. I know you’re going to have to agree that there were so many wonderful takeaways. The piece that I really want to focus on though is the fact that leaders have to want to walk into the fire.

You’re not sitting around the edges, you’re not cooking the marshmallows, you’re the one right smack in the middle of it because you want to be there. And when you want to be there and you want to do sort of the, with humility, the development that you need to do, then that is when you’re in a great position to grow your people. And when you do that, your family, your organization, and everything that Jeff intends can get way, way better.

And when it comes to making improvements, here’s a few more episodes from the Meeting Leadership Podcast that you’ll want to take advantage of listening to. In Episode 11, you’ll learn how Coach Carter inspires leaders to be accountable. Now, that episode is based on a real movie called Coach Carter, and the character in that movie is based on a real coach who actually went through and helped to transform an entire community.

And you can get that episode by going to And then in Episode 32, it’s called, 10 Ways For Meeting Leaders to Become More Self-Aware. And it’s the first part of a two part series and it’s one of those things where it’s kind of must have if you’re kind of going back to take stock of your leadership. And you can get that episode by going to

And finally, because Jeff talked about the fact that you really need to have the right people in and kick the right people out, Episode 115 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast is called, Stop The Meeting Madness: Cut Out Your Worst Meetings Today. And you can get that episode by going to And I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy.

Now there you’re going to find some terrific online options and live training options. If you’re looking for some live one-on-one coaching, if you’re looking for group options for you and your team to actually really improve, there are half-day options, full-day workshop options. There’s hands-on work, there’s great workbooks and all kinds of information to help you and your team get the spark they need to make their meetings significantly better.

And you can learn all about that by going to And I want to take a moment to say thanks so much to everyone who has already subscribed to the show. And if you haven’t done it yet, take a moment to hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app to make sure you don’t miss another great interview like the one you just heard. And as always, thank you so much for listening, and we’ll see you next time on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies that help you become an outstanding leader, and don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you even more great content. We’ll see you next time, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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