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September 25, 2008 – Cross-Cultural Insights with Elizabeth Weiland of the Insight Speaker Series

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[ad#250by250]Rob: Hey. Welcome to Startup Story Radio. I’m Rob McNealy and I hope you’re having a wonderful day because I certainly am. We have a great guest today and her name is Elizabeth Weiland. She is the founder and CEO of the Insights Speaker Series, which is this brand new series of some amazing speakers that she’s bringing to Colorado. In and of itself, that may not sound like the most interesting idea, but the way she’s gone about doing this and where she’s come from to make this happen is actually a really amazing story. I don’t want to spoil it all so I’ll just bring her on. Elizabeth, how are you?

Elizabeth: Great. How are you doing, Rob?

Rob: I am doing wonderfully. I appreciate you coming on the show today. So, tell me who you are. What is your background and how did you get into creating this really amazing panel of speakers?

Elizabeth: Such a broad question! I have a very broad range background. I started in international relations and I’ve always been interested in what’s going on around the globe. My mother used to laugh about how when I was in high school I was reading Anwar Sadat’s autobiography when other kids were still reading Nancy Drew mysteries. That’s always been an interest of mine and that’s a challenge in Colorado because I wanted to create an international career and Colorado is not a very internationally focused state. As a result I’ve done a lot of different, very interesting things. I’ve exported beef to Japan and I sold books around the world. I was an international marketing director for eleven country offices and telecommunications outside the United States.

And so along the lines of working with different industries and different people, I found that there were two or three things that were really critical to me. In terms of developing effective collaborative teams across all these different cultures and all these different country offices, you can’t lead by just telling people what to do because people in Japan, people in Germany, people in Australia all have different priorities and different goals and different bosses in different regions, so being able to create collaborative teams to reach those goals has always been a skill that I’ve worked on and you do that by inspiring and engaging people in what’s going on and that really I think is the basis for the speaker series. We’ve brought in these really exciting, engaging speakers that cross different cultural interests in order to get people excited about current evens and what’s going on in the world.

Rob: So, you talk about a speaker series. What exactly does that look like? Is it just having one random person come in or a whole panel? What exactly does someone get out of a speaker series like this?

Elizabeth: The idea behind this series is that we’re creating a community of people who are intellectually curious about thought leaders in the community. You come once a month and you know you’re going to be entertained, but also stimulated intellectually and you’re going to have this group of other people who are excited by the same interests, who are going to have discussions about fascinating things going on in the world. So our theme, in terms of picking the people we’re going to have as speakers, is people and ideas that change the world. Everyone we have in our series is someone who has been at the center of change and has either a real expertise in terms of what’s going on or has been changed and has a really fascinating personal story or has stood up in times of challenge and become a leader.

So, for example, Archbishop Desmond Tutu… when all the apartheid and the shifts and challenges were going on in South Africa, he was a school teacher and he had a family and he just wanted to be left alone. But he was put in the middle of this huge change and he himself changed and became a great leader within that in order to not only stand up against the South Africa apartheid, but also to stand up against the people who wanted to promote violence within his own side and then to become a part of the Reconciliation and Justice Commission. So he’s a fascinating example of a personal story, of someone who was in a time of tremendous change and really made something out of that.

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