Make the Decision to Invest in Yourself

Dr. Relly Nadler: We always have great guests and we will bring on Luke Owings in a moment. He is going to share some of his expertise as a top performer in the organization he’s been with and also the consulting company that he’s been with.

Luke is the Vice President of Products at Albilitie, which is a leadership development company that offers virtual mini-MBAs and business simulations that help senior executives from companies around the world build leadership skills and improve strategy execution.

Since 2015, they have taught 25,000+ executives in 50+ countries. Their clients have included many Fortune 500 companies that we all know: Paypal, Marriott, Cocoa Cola, GE, and Southwest Airlines.

In 2020, Abilitie was recognized as one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies and also one of the best places to work in America.

Luke is on the advisory board, Haymakers for Hope. That is a non-profit that has raised 20 million for cancer cure research.

Before going to Abilitie, Luke was an expert associate partner McKenzie. We know McKenzie is a global management consulting firm and they have been trusted advisors to 2/3rds of the Fortune 1000 business governments around the world.

Luke has a BA in Economics from Princeton, and an MBA from Harvard Business School and was also a teaching fellow at Harvard Universities Undergraduate Economics class.

Luke, welcome to the show here, we are really glad to have you.

Luke Owings: Hey Relly, can you hear me okay?

Dr. Relly Nadler: Yah, I can hear you great, thank you.

Luke Owings: Well, that was quite a mouthful on the biography. It was great to hear you go through it. I had forgotten about it, there are just so many pieces to it.

I’m grateful to be here on the show with you and grateful to talk about leadership development, the emotional intelligence which is more important than ever in today’s world. Some of the ways we do it with our programs at Abilitie and then broadly just how you all see it showing up. I think this world that you and I are in is changing so dramatically. The return to office question occurs, it’s the hybrid working that changes everything and what leadership is and how it manifests itself. It’s more important than ever to be intentional.

So, I’m excited to be here on the phone with you, I’m excited to be here on the call. Yah, and thanks for that truly wonderful introduction.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Great, great. Well, I’m always intrigued you know, because we are in similar fields. Luke, one of the things that I end up saying, being a sports enthusiast, for leaders this the Super Bowl of leadership, or whatever sports you know, the World Cup, whatever sports you follow given what I said in your intro, there’s just so much going on and I don’t think leaders necessarily have the background on some of these softer skills which are so needed now.

So, I’m really interested in picking your brain, hearing what has been successful for you, and what’s been successful for Abilitie. So before we jump into things around leadership, say a little bit about your background and maybe some of the influences that got you to where you are today.

Luke Owings: Absolutely, absolutely, Relly. It’s interesting that you use sports as the analogy because so much of my DNA from the leadership side comes from sports. I played basketball at Princeton when I was in college, so I got to really imagine that in the flow moment of things go good/things go bad, things that you have to figure out how to be resilient, how to lead a team, how to push yourself forward and how to do that in the public eye. I think that any of the college athletes out there will resonate with this where it’s quite an experience to have to win and lose in front of other people. You have to pull together a team and say, okay, how are we all in this together and that to me was very much my crucible of leadership.

After I left there and really started into some of the bigger companies in the world and I did a lot of my leadership development training at McKenzie as I started as an analyst and eventually spent time as an associate partner, that was where I got more of the framework. The more of the intellectual side of leadership. So more of the, okay, how do you lead yourself? How do you lead others? How do you lead an organization and what are the frames that you use for that?

Less on the emotional side, but more on the intellectual.

Then, just over the years of jumping back and forth and having the experience being an executive at small tech companies, small intech companies, it’s become the crucible of actually putting that emotional intelligence from the sporting world of leadership with intellectual understanding from some of the consulting firms and my MBA and then seeing how it actually manifests in real life. Leadership is hard. There’s no question about it. You and I both know that Relly, and we see it all over the place, but there’s nothing quite like living it.

So, I feel very blessed to be able to be the Head of Product of a really fast-growing company that gets to teach leadership development and gets to push the boundaries of that. I personally learn something new every single day.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Yah, wow. So, that is what is so cool about the field that we are in. It sounds like that already just from the energy you have, working with people and loving people. I think for me, the same kind of thing in working with individuals who are always so intriguing and learning from, but then organizations and the organizational culture. Sometimes I would tell people I think I’m like a professional voyeur. You kind of get this peek into the people, the culture, that no one really has and then the good news is if you leave, you don’t have to always be there day in and day out but help them. I think like you, for a couple of years I played football at college, University of Hartford, so we are both…sounds like; are you originally from back East?

Luke Owings: I grew up in Maryland and about that time just about everywhere on the East Coast. Yah.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Oh good. I grew up in New Jersey and spent time in Connecticut and then, fortunately, now we are both on the West Coast. I’m glad I’m out here. I’ve been out here for quite a while.

Luke Owings: There’s something Relly, that I’d love to pick up on and we can talk about it later or now.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Yah, go ahead.

Luke Owings: There is no one right way of leadership, right? You talked about being a voyeur at these places. I think that one of the amazing things for me with our clients is that being able to go and see what great looks like can manifest totally differently in different cultures. I always say one of the best things about being in leadership development, especially when I am teaching programs, is that often in the room I know the least so I can learn the most. It’s really fascinating…because you get to work with leaders who have 25, 30, or 40 years of experience in an industry. It’s very different if you are working in a tech industry vs if you are working in oil and gas, vs if you are working in consumer product goods in a different place.

I have just been able to see so many different cultures and how leadership in one, that’s successful in one, is not always successful in another.

You can listen to the entire interview above by clicking on the play button.

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