“When you learn how to open a meeting well–how to frame it, how to ask the right questions–you can radically change what happens in that room” — Elise Keith

This quote is one of many jewels expressed by Lucid’s Elise Keith about how to conduct meetings in MLP 125.  We go beyond that to discuss inspiration stories in the corporate sector. 

As we’ve come to learn in her previous visits (see links section), Elise always has a deep perspective on things many of us overlook.

Elise Keith

Elise Keith - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

J. Elise Keith is the founder and CEO of Lucid Meetings, the author of Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization, and regular contributor for Inc. and other publications. Lucid Meetings provides services, software, and resources that help thousands of organizations worldwide implement a system of successful meetings.

You can follow her on

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00:00 – Show Opening

If you are a leader who is looking to get energized, then stick around for today’s episode on The Meeting Leadership Podcast because today we’ve got another inspiring leadership story and our guest is Elise Keith from Lucid Meetings.

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily 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.

00:40 – Podcast content starts here!

Gordon Sheppard: Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I want to say thanks for being here. Whether you’re on the treadmill, maybe you’re driving in the car, thanks for taking time out of your valuable day to spend time on the podcast here, getting inspired, getting another practical tip, getting something that you can take out to make your next meeting way, way better. It is honestly really good to have you here.

01:02 – What inspires you?

Gordon Sheppard: Today on the show, I am really glad to say that we’ve got another installment from our inspiring leadership stories. This is where we take some of the great guests that we’ve had on the show and we just ask them that simple question, what inspires you, and I can tell you what’s transpiring in today’s show with Elise Keith from Lucid Meetings is absolutely a blockbuster. For those of you who haven’t caught up with Elise just yet, she was on Episode 110 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

01:23 – Welcome back, Elise Keith! – MLP 110 – MLP 117

Gordon Sheppard: It was called how Lucid provides a systematic approach for highly effective meetings and you can get that episode by going to, and then Elise came back on episode 117 and it was called How The Successful Meetings Quickstart Program can help you grow. You can get that episode by going to For those of you who’d like just a few more details, let me tell you about Elise.

Now, she is the founder and CEO of Lucid Meetings. She’s also the author of Where The Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization. She writes for big publications like, and I think fundamentally, she leads a company that is out there to really influence thousands and thousands of other companies to change their culture by really improving their meetings and really their leaders are taking it way up to the next level after she comes in and does her great work with her team.

02:37 – Interview starts here

Gordon Sheppard: With that in mind, I’m not going to make you wait any longer. Here’s the inspiring interview with Elise Keith. Elise Keith, welcome back to the show.

Elise Keith: Thank you. I’m pleased to be here.

03:13 – Elise’s self-introduction

Gordon Sheppard: So lucky to have an expert like you on episode 110, episode 117. I’m going to make sure I explain that very thoroughly in the show notes here where people can go and learn from you about this really important and current way to help get change into their meetings and ultimately go way beyond that and change the entire cultures of their organizations for the better to become high performers. It’s just lucky to have you here. For the folks that are actually though hearing you for the first time, how do you introduce yourself?

Elise Keith: Hi, my name is Elise Keith. I’m the CEO and founder of Lucid Meetings where it’s our mission to make it easy for teams to run successful meetings every day.

03:52 – What inspires Elise Keith?

Gordon Sheppard: And you come by that honestly, I can really attest I’m enrolled right now in one of the courses on your website. I can hear from all the work that you’re doing. In the introduction, we talked about the fact that you’re contributing to Inc. Magazine at that level, I mean you were all over this topic. But today, it’s actually a part of our inspiring leadership stories series and that’s that chance to bring back great guests from the show to actually learn about what inspires them. So I’m just going to stop for a second and say that simple question. What inspires you?

Elise Keith: I am inspired by seeing what great teams are able to accomplish and hearing their stories. So it comes from everywhere. There are so many examples of fabulous and interesting ways of working that it’s just too much fun not to work on it.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and I know you’re a great storyteller, so I’ve got to jump in there and say, well, what’s one of those fabulous teams that’s actually inspired you and let us know?

Elise Keith: I find it everywhere and this is I think one of the things that makes our work so much fun. Like who says that, right? We’re meeting experts, which of course is a blast.

04:17 – Meetings can be fun? 

Gordon Sheppard: Meeting is fun. It doesn’t go together.

Elise Keith: Oh, but it is. It totally is. So if you go and you pick up any modern business book and you see what they’re talking about. So Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead, for example. Now, Brene Brown is an expert in vulnerability and how we can bring vulnerability to the workplace to increase trust and connection and performance. And as you read her examples of how that works in practice, how her team makes vulnerability a part of what they do in a safe, powerful way, you’ll see that she describes the way they run their meetings. I find that inspiring.

05:08 – Culture Code –  Fabulous teams

Elise Keith:  Daniel Coyle’s book Culture Code. I have had many people come to me and they’re like, “Did you notice that that book isn’t mostly a book about meetings?” I’m like, “Oh, yes I did.” So they’re NBA basketball teams, the Navy SEALs, Pixar, fabulous famous restaurants. They all have really powerful ways that they come together as teams and talk about their work and move it forward. That kind of inspiration is just everywhere.

05:36 – Ashley Goodal – Increasing employee engagement scores and performance at Cysco

Elise Keith: Recently, I found it really fun. So I had a chance to talk to Ashley Goodall who just wrote a book with Marcus Buckingham and Marcus Buckingham, if you’re not familiar with him, he’s kind of the pioneer of the whole strength movement, you know, work from your strength, StrengthFinders and all of that. They wrote a book called Nine Lies about work, which is about all of the things that we’re doing in our performance management system and in our HR systems that are actually huge waste of time and not moving the ball forward.

They talked about how those things don’t work, but here’s what does and actually, Goodall, he’s the vice president of Leadership and Innovation or something like that at Cisco, and he was able to put his ideas into practice. So at Cisco, they’re trying to improve employee engagement. Cisco is a huge company. You know, huge international company, thousands of employees all over the world.

So what do they do? Well, they started to experiment with how team leaders run one-on-ones. And by changing the way they ran one-on-ones and creating a system that had this new way of running them, they were able, in fact, to reliably increase employee engagement scores and therefore overall company performance across 15,000 teams globally within three years.

Gordon Sheppard: That’s moving a mountain that is just unbelievable. A big inspiration for me is my own management time. When I was a corporate employee, 25,000 people and I was an employee who died to be a manager until I became a manager. Right? So then there I am managing a little team of nine people, right? And you’re just taking me back to the, literally that one-on-one disaster moment with my little team and we had to score them from one to four. I would score half the people on the team a four. They were doing a great job. I was really proud of them. Then I would take those results to my next up and he would look at me and go, “We can’t give them a four. If we give them a four we’ve got to give him a raise, give them all three.”

07:03 – The reality of old systems

Gordon Sheppard: That’s sort of just ridiculousness of the reality of these old systems. And to hear that a company like Cisco where you’re talking about it, because I’m getting inspired just thinking about what you’re talking about now. To think that a company at that scale could be honest about it and actually dig in and find out what works and not have these sort of, I don’t know, consulting systems forced onto people where they just want to rack up statistics that actually don’t improve performance. I mean this is completely inspiring. I’m so glad you’re telling me this story.

08:08 – Having the courage to ditch what isn’t working

Elise Keith: It was really, really cool because I mean obviously at Cisco they had to have a leader and they do in their people in culture, their HR director who had courage, right? You had the courage to stop doing the inhumane, wasteful, expensive things that don’t work. It takes courage to ditch your performance management system even though you know it doesn’t make anybody happy and it doesn’t actually have any measurable, tangible results that you can rely on. But they did. They had that courage.

And then the other thing that I find so exciting and inspiring about it, not surprising because our research shows this, but it’s inspiring that they found the same results at scale, was that the way in which you can impact real change every day on the ground is by having great intention and clarity about how you run your conversations, right? How you run those meetings.

Elise Keith: That was it. They designed those meetings and then when they found the design that worked, they made that a performance metric for all of the team leaders and rolled it out. And by golly, if it doesn’t work and now they’re starting to explore and experiment with the next level up meetings. So that was just one-on-ones, just this one practice and now they’re looking at how does the all-hands update from the CEO impact that number and how do the way that the whole team get together impact that number. So it’s a very cool stuff.

09:33 – Innovating corporate behaviors 

Gordon Sheppard: If the large corporate global folks can innovate in this area, which is, I don’t know, this human behavior that we’ve had around for thousands of years in a sense for getting to this poor meeting zone that we’re in now to see. I just hope that spills over to our politicians because when I think about the lousy, lousy example and pick any country, it doesn’t matter, what they’re doing at their whatever national levels their state, provincial levels, whatever those things are. Those folks are not giving examples to our young people. What we see is bickering in the news and the amount of lost time.

So the possibility that someone say at that Cisco level might be able to then at some point influence what’s actually going on in these other areas and see if our institutions can take some of that and start to get that exchange going back and forth and get to really where meetings need to be for all of us.

10:45 – Meetings can be radically changed by learning how to open them

Gordon Sheppard: One of the things that I draw on in my own work is the fact that we want to tackle the biggest issues of our time. We need to learn how to meet better. So we don’t need to have another lousy climate change meeting. We need to have a meeting that is taking some of what you just that magic dust that you’re saying is happening at Cisco from your work and get it injected into these big issue meetings so that they can actually move forward.

Elise Keith: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that… I’m sure you found this with your own journey as you got into facilitation and whatnot, and it was something certainly I learned when I took my facilitation training. When you learn how to open a meeting well, how to frame it, how to ask the right questions, you can radically change what’s possible in that room and you can radically determine the results. It’s kind of a superpower, but it’s a super power you can use both for good or for ill.

And when you were talking about like our politicians, like their meetings are poisonous and they’re partially poisonous, I believe on purpose. They’ve got competing agendas and they’re not actually particularly interested in working together, many of them. You can look at those as examples also of how you can use these powers to prevent progress or prevent change that you’re not interested in seeing happen and realize that that’s a power you should learn to take yourself and put to good use in your companies and your communities.

Gordon Sheppard: I think that’s so inspiring. I just realized that we could talk on and on and on. My favorite ones today are intention and clarity. I’m going to really take that away. I’m going to remember this Cisco story forever and I’m going to imagine, Oh and a company with whatever it is, I’m going to guess there are hundreds of thousand employees or whatever they’re doing. It’s possible. And again, I think your through line-

Elise Keith: It’s possible.

12:26 – Contact Elise Keith –  

Gordon Sheppard: … through all the times you’ve been here on the podcast is it’s possible and there’s a way to do it and I hope that people reach out to you at lucid. People need to get in touch. How can they do that?

Elise Keith: You can find me and my team at

Gordon Sheppard: Well, thank you so much for being on the show again.

Elise Keith: Thank you for having me.

Gordon Sheppard: You know, I have to honestly say I feel really lucky to be able to interview people like Elise. Imagine being able to learn from their inspiration, carry that forward to people just like yourself and really start to build capacity everywhere we go. It’s just a great opportunity and I love those pieces of intention and clarity, especially around meetings and meeting and culture change and all those good things that Elise and her team at Lucid Meetings are doing for thousands and thousands of companies.

13:05 –  MLP 110: How Lucid Provides A Systematic Approach For Highly Productive Meetings with Elise Keith  –

Gordon Sheppard: If you’d like to hear even more from Elise, then check out episode 110 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast, it’s called How Lucid Provides A Systematic Approach For Highly Effective Meetings and you can get that episode by going to and after you check out Episode 110, 

13:21 – MLP 117: How The Successful Meetings Quickstart Program Can Help You Grow with Elise Keith  –

Gordon Sheppard: then listen to Episode 117, it’s called How The Successful Meetings Quickstart Program Can Help You Grow. And there again, Elise Keith provides a ton of value. You can get that episode by going to I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy.

13:41 – Meeting Leadership Academy –

Gordon Sheppard: Now there, you’re going to find some terrific live training options and online training options for you and your team to improve your meetings, grow your leadership skills, and really take it up a notch. So I hope you go to to learn more. If you haven’t done it yet, please take a moment to hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app and we’d also really appreciate it if you leave a rating and review because then we can respond to it and program even more great content and upcoming episodes. And as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

14:24 – Podcast Outro

Gordon Sheppard: Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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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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