Our Podcast: Leader ReadyCast

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Featuring real-world lessons, best practices, and action-oriented insights for the “You’re It” moments when you are called to lead. Each concise episode features insights from frontline leaders and the faculty of the NPLI.



Eric McNulty host of Leader ReadyCast podcastYour Host: Eric J. McNulty is the Associate Director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. He researches, writes about, and teaches leadership, crisis leadership, conflict resolution, and negotiation in graduate and executive education at Harvard and other institutions. He is a regular speaker at conferences and corporate events. McNulty is co-author of You’re It: The Pivot from Everyday to Crisis Leadership, Renegotiating Healthcare: Resolving Conflict to Build Collaboration, and author of numerous articles. He is a contributing editor to strategy+business magazine and past contributing editor at Harvard Business Publishing. McNulty holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an M.A. in Leadership from Lesley University.


Episode 44: Self-awareness is among the most challenging competencies to develop in those who lead and those who aspire to lead. We put a lot of emphasis on what to do, the hard skills, yet much less on who to be. Dain Dunston, author of “Being Essential: Seven Questions for Living and Leading with Radical Self-awareness” joins us to discuss this topic.

Episode 43: Government is charged with everything from delivering basic services to tackling complex challenges. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and his former chief of Staff, Steve Kadish share insights with the NPLI on how to meet those challenges from their book, Results: Getting Beyond Politics to Get Important Work Done. 

Episode 42: How can age-old practices help improve performance and bolster resilience among preparedness and response professionals and their teams? Listen in as Karina de Allicon, an experienced business continuity leader and mindfulness authority explains.

Episode 41: Join us this month to listen to Dane Jensen; he helps leaders reset their relationship with pressure into a more productive one. Dane is the author of The Power of Pressure: Why Pressure Isn’t the Problem, It’s the Solution and CEO of Third Factor.

Episode 40: Brad Borkan, decision expert and author, shares his insights on preparing to make truly challenging choices drawing from deep historical research. He is co-author of When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic and Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results.: How an Explorer, an Engineer and a Statesman Shaped our Modern World. 

Episode 39:  Dr. Kinari Webb, founder of the nonprofit Health and Harmony. She is an exemplar of innovative, systemic thinking, as well as of the determination it takes to make a difference on the ground. I think that her journey has lessons for all of us who wrestle with the thorny social issues and who work to lead for greater good is also captured.

Episode 38:  Michelle Wucker, a risk strategist and best selling author. If any topic should be top of mind right now, its risk, how we perceive it, how we evaluate it, what we do about it, for extreme weather to extreme politics. Uncertainty is a feature, not a bug of our current age. They help explore what this means for leaders.

Episode 37:  Todd De Voe, EM Weekly. Every major crisis has a public health component and, as seen during the pandemic, emergency management can greatly assist in the public health response. What can each discipline learn from the other? How can they best work together?

Episode 36:  April Rinne, Author. April has been a futurist, advisor, microfinance lawyer, global development executive, more. She has worked with organizations from Airbnb to the World Bank as well as governments around the world. Through it all, April has become expert at navigating change, and that’s what I’m going to speak with her about today.

Episode 35: Gillian Cribbs, Executive Coach.  Cribbs works with global leaders and high potential executives across a range of sectors. In this episode we will be talking about the leader as coach, the coach. It is not a newly recognized skill for organizational leaders, though it remains an elusive one.

Episode 34:  Eric Jones, FM Global, Exploring the World of Risk. Leaders today face a risky world. In this episode, learn how take a more nuanced view of risk and how to navigate it. Our guest is Eric Jones, global manager of business risk consulting for property risk mutual insurance company, FM Global.

Episode 33:  Chloe Demrovsky, President and CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute. DRI is the oldest and largest nonprofit that helps organizations around the world prepare for and recover from disasters by providing education, accreditation, and thought leadership in business continuity, disaster recovery, cyber resilience and related fields. We discuss what happened in 2020 and what we can look forward to in 2021.

Episode 32: Decoding Office Politics with Nancy Halpern: Halpern is a pioneer in the leadership development field and an expert in leading with what she calls political IQ. Political IQ is organizational politics with a lowercase P, not the partisan battles that are roiling our nation right now. Nancy has worked with organizations of all sizes and in many industries. She has a keen sense for understanding what makes them tick and how to make them run better.

Episode 31: Leading with Grit with Shannon Huffman Polson. Huffman Polson has persevered through personal and professional adversity to develop a deep understanding of what it takes to stay strong through turbulence and change. She has climbed mountains, trekked the Artic on a personal journey of grief, and was among the Army’s first Apache attack helicopter pilots. She’s a triathlete and has been a corporate executive. In this interview she shares her insights as well as those of a range of female leaders she interviewed for her latest book, The Grit Factor.

Episode 30: Reimagining Training for Adult Learners with Muriel Barnier: Companies whose standard operating environment is rich with risk have been leading the way to help us better understand how to reimagine training and education to better engage recipients and increase the likelihood of tangible positive outcomes. Our guest today is at the forefront of this transformation. Muriel Barnier, a founder of Lime Core Training and Communications headquartered in the UAE discusses with us some interesting, new ways to approach training.

Episode 29: Cybersecurity Strategy with Keyaan Williams: While much of the focus these days is on the coronavirus as well as street protests, those with their eyes open are seeing an increase in cyber threats. To help us understand what’s going on and what leaders can do about it, Keyaan Williams the founder and managing director of Cyber Leadership and Strategy Solutions, joins us to discuss this issue.


Episode 28: Simplifying Brain Science with Donna Volpitta and Michelle Palladini. Recognizing cognitive bias and understanding other insights from brain science in order to get smarter than your brain. Michelle and Donna have used that same underlying science to work with leaders in our homes, schools and communities. Michelle Palladini is a detective and school resource officer for a Massachusetts police department, as well as a yoga and mindfulness teacher. Donna Volpitta is a founder and education director of Pathways to Empower.

Episode 27: Dan Heath on Solving Problems Before They Happen. In his new book, Upstream, best-selling author Dan Heath explores how to solve problems before they start–what he calls moving “upstream.” It is complex, difficult work though essential as we confront crises and disasters that are increasingly difficult and expensive to manage through response. Leaders need to put increasing emphasis on prevention, preparedness, and recovery in order to build more resilient, less response-dependent environments.

Episode 26: Building Grassroots Resilience with Michelle Efendi: Effendi is founder of the Neighborhood Admins Resilience Network, a network of hyper-local Facebook Groups supporting community preparedness, response, and resilience. Michelle discusses the challenges and opportunities of “bottom up” leadership during the COVID-19 response.

Episode 25:  Exploring Disaster Medicine with Dr. Greg Ciottone: Ciottone, Medical Preparedness Director, NPLI and Division of Disaster Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is known around the world as an expert in disaster and crisis medicine. In this episode, he introduces us to the concerns of this emerging specialty.

Episode 24:  Leading through Covid-19 with with Regina Phelps: Phelps, an internationally recognized expert in the field of crisis management, continuity planning and exercise design, shares insights on leading through the most significant public health crisis of the century.

Episode 23: Leading through Covid-19 with Juliette Kayyem: The former assistant secretary for homeland security under President Obama and faculty chair of Homeland Security program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government shares with us her analysis of the challenges of leading through the pandemic.

Episode 22: Leading from the Ground Up with Suzanne Bernier: A former journalist and government press secretary, Bernier  shares with us the stories of everyday “disaster heroes” she has collected to illustrate the altruism and courage of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

Episode 21:  Crisis Communications with Andy Gilman, president and CEO of CommCore: The world is in the midst of a highly volatile situation with a Corona outbreak. Each day brings a new twist in the story as a leader. What does it take to communicate effectively right now? Gilman speaks with us about the four Fs principles to communicate in a crisis like this.

Episode 20: The Challenges of Security Leadership in Large Public Venues with Greg McCurdy with the NFL and Colm Lydon with Boston Red Sox: Sports venues are a truly complex environment in which to lead. You have a league and owners with a business to run. They want things to be safe but not through an obtrusive security presence that might seem unwelcoming to fans. Fans want to see a game and expect to roam freely about the stadium. Players are high-profile individuals; there are always VIPs in the house; and of course, you have a heavy media presence.

Episode 19: Making Better Decisions with Dr. Carl Spetzler, CEO of Strategic Decision Group:  Decisions, decisions, decisions. When leading, particularly in the midst of crisis, your decisions are often how you are judged. You rarely have all of the information or time you’d like. Yet, when “you’re it,” you must decide. Given the importance of the ability to make decisions is to effectiveness when leading, it is odd that so few people are formally trained in the art and science of making the best possible decision in whatever circumstances you happen to find yourself.

Episode 18: Communications and connecting in a virtual world with Dr. Nick Morgan, CEO and Founder of Public Words: Communicating well is a core competency for anyone leading others. You may be called upon to set direction, provide feedback, clarify a situation, or any of a hundred other challenges. Your ability to understand the communications need and fulfill it effectively may spell the difference between your success and failure.

Episode 17:  Leading for Resilience Through Catastrophic Global Events from a Policy Perspective with Alice Hill: Much of the attention around disaster leadership goes to response. However, a lot of what happens in response is shaped by the policy choices in mitigation, preparedness, and recovery. Alice Hill, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution where she focuses on potentially catastrophic global events such as climate change, speaks with us about leading from a policy standpoint.

Episode 16: Turning Bystanders into Life Savers with Dr. Eric Goralnick, Medical Director of Emergency Preparedness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital: The goal is laudable: save lives. In this episode we discuss the Stop the Bleed and other efforts to put tourniquets in the hands of the general public. Recent research, however, shows that it isn’t as easy as putting kits on the wall in public spaces. Training matters.

Episode 15:  Working with Local Media with Lisa Hughes, Journalist and Anchor, CBS News Boston: How do you work with the media in a crisis? This is one aspect that continually vexes practitioners. Lisa Hughes is part of WBZ-TV’s team coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and was on the media bridge at the time of the explosions. She was one of the first journalists reporting from the scene and has covered just about every major news event in Boston over the past 19 years. Take a listen to what she has to say.

Episode 14:  Leading a Major Public Event with Major Richard Ball of the Massachusetts State Police: The spectacular July 4th Celebration with the Boston Pops is a tradition that began with Arthur Fiedler in 1929, and the greater Boston area has used events such as this as opportunities to train and learn. The high profile event draws crowds that swell to about a half-million people on the Charles River Esplanade with celebrants aligning parks and neighborhoods along both sides of the river. So how does the city and the MSP plan and prepare to keep everyone safe?

Episode 13: Leonard Marcus and Eric McNulty on Leading When it Matters Most: Today, in an instant, leaders can find themselves face-to-face with crisis. And active shooter. A media controversy. A data breach. This book takes you to the front lines of some of the toughest decisions facing our nations leaders. Leonard Marcus, founding Co-Director and Eric McNulty, Associate Director of the NPLI and two of the authors of You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most provide you with some background how to lead through crisis and change.

Episode 12: Patty McCord on Creating the Netflix Culture Deck: Building a powerful culture on your team and in your organization can be tough, particularly in large institutions such as government agencies and legacy corporations. Yet there are steps that anyone can take that can make an enormous difference. Chief talent officer, Patty McCord at Netflix helped create the Netflix Culture Deck that has been viewed online more than 15 million times.

Episode 11: Public Safety Leadership in Campus Settings with Darrell Darnell and Kelly Nee: Universities are microcosms of the communities in which they reside and often present health, safety, and security issues as complex as those found in major urban areas. Darryl Darnell, former Senior Associate Vice President for Safety & Security and Superintendent of Police at George Washington University and Kelly Nee, Chief of Police at Boston University discuss the issue with the NPLI.

Episode 10: Combating Violent Extremism with Farah Pandith: Trucks ramming into crowds. Bombs in the marketplace. Active shooters in schools and workplaces. Passive and active security measures are ever more present. Violent extremism has become part of the fabric of our lives. In this podcast we discuss combating violent extremism with our guest, Farah Pandith. She’s going to share her thinking and counter-intuitive views on how we do that and give us a preview of her new book, How We Win.

Episode 09: NPLI’s 15 Year Anniversary:  In this podcast we look back at the NPLI’s greatest hits—and looking forward at what is next to come with Dr. Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the NPLI, and Rich Serino, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the NPLI. Both have been here since the beginning, Lenny as one of the original faculty and Rich a member of the NPLI Executive Education Program Cohort I. The EEP now boasts more than 800 alumni  and thousands more have been trained in meta-leadership through other symposia and initiatives across the country and around the globe. Many of these individuals are leading preparedness and response efforts from our most significant challenges.

Episode 08: Building a Culture of Preparedness with Dr. Eric Goralnick: How do you build a culture of preparedness, educate the public—what are the limits of relying upon the public in a response, and understand  the dynamics of active shooter and other mass casualty events? Dr. Eric Goralnick, Medical Director of Emergency Preparedness, Brigham and Women’s Hospital will share with us his experiences in the Boston Marathon bombing response and expertise on the intersection of emergency medicine with disaster preparedness and response.

Episode 07: What’s Your Story? A Conversation with Dr. Murray Nossel: A continual challenge for preparedness and response leaders is communicating their story. Dr. Murray Nossel, author of Powered by Storytelling: Excavate, Craft, and Present Stories to Transform Business Communication, shares insights and examples from his 30 years of helping individuals and organizations become better story tellers. Hint: It starts with listening and emerges from “the inside out.” This is NOT about media strategy. It is a lively exploration how to communicate more effectively and authentically with internal and external audiences.

Episode 06: Combating the Opioid Epidemic with Brian Hastings: Brian Hastings, Director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency discusses his NPLI executive education meta-leadership team project on combating opioid addiction. The team project has become an enduring initiative as he has transitioned from the military to leading a civilian agency.

Episode 05: Keep the Faith with Marcus Coleman: Marcus Coleman, Jr., Acting Deputy Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, shares his leadership experience, dispels false assumptions, and points to opportunities to increase the impact of these vital organizations through programs such as FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaisons.

Episode 04: The Evolving Roles of NGOs in Preparedness and Response with Jono Anzalone: Join us as we explore the evolving role of non-governmental organizations in disaster response with Jono Anzalone, Vice President for International Services at the American Red Cross. He shares his first-hand leadership experiences in both domestic and international response efforts. Anzalone is an alumnus of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and was the recipient of our 2017 Meta-Leader of the Year Award.


Episode 03: Thinking About Trust and Risk with Harlan Loeb: Today, leaders confront declining trust and escalating risk in a time of seeming constant turbulence. In this episode of Leader ReadyCast, we discuss how leaders can prepare for and deal with these vexing challenges with Harlan Loeb, Global Chair for Crisis and Reputation Risk at Edelman, the global public relations firm. Loeb, also a professor of Crisis Litigation and the Court of Public Opinion at Northwestern University and a lecturer and Ford Scholar at the Kellogg School of Management, offers concrete insights useful for leaders in any sector.


Episode 02: Public Health Emergency Preparedness with Dr. Suzet McKinney: From flu to unusual threats such as Ebola to the possibility of a chemical or other unconventional attack, public health leaders sit in a unique perch in the world of emergency preparedness and response. Dr. Suzet McKinney, CEO of the Illinois Medical District, program faculty at the NPLI, and co-author of the new book, Public Health Emergency Preparedness explains that they must be familiar with a complex array of possible threats and, when an incident occurs, skillfully lead their peers, political officials, and the general public who may not fully understand the threat and its consequences.


Episode 01: Lessons from the 2017 Hurricanes with Richard Serino: In this episode we look back at the unprecedented 2017 hurricane season with Richard Serino, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard, former Deputy Administrator of FEMA, and former Chief of EMS in Boston. Serino shares what the responses to Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria tell us as we look forward to 2018 and beyond. We explore lessons that should be applied as communities face more extreme weather events.