Top Five Lessons Learned from the Most Listened to Podcasts from 2021 Part 1

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There’s no question that 2021 was a year for the history books. At Fast Frontiers, this stemmed not from a global pandemic but from amazing podcast guests who came and shared their wisdom with us throughout the year.

Although each podcast episode included excellent information and forward-thinking advice, we wanted to highlight the most listened to podcasts from the past year. In part one of this twopart series, we’re taking some of the top lessons learned from each of those five interview sessions and sharing them.

Cultural Wisdom from Wendy Lea

Leading digital innovations strategist and ecosystem development guru Wendy Lea shared a wealth of information on Season 2 Episode 1 of our podcast this past year.

Currently, Wendy is the acting CEO of Energize Colorado, where she’s mobilizing resources and relief for small businesses, non-profits, and individuals recovering from the economic impact of COVID-19. She also serves on Danaher Water Innovation Technology Board, P&G Ventures Advisory Board, and several venture-backed startup boards. Wendy had many lessons to share with us; two favorites were about respecting—and integrating—with the culture of the region you are working in.

Our highlight lesson from Wendy’s podcast was two-fold: If you’re working in a new region, study everything about them. This way, you’ll avoid embarrassing cultural errors. Also, don’t try to implement the same processes region-to-region. In other words, don’t treat Louisville like Silicon Valley

Wendy explained how when she first moved to Cincinnati for work, she was unfamiliar with it and quickly learned that relationships were everything because those people patiently taught her how to integrate within—and bring value to—the region.

Of this experience, she explained, “I would say that to others that may be listening, you don’t know for sure in the beginning of a new role or a new experience—you don’t really know the value you’re going to be able to exchange over time. All you can do is stay present and listen and learn and observe. Listen, learn, observe, being mindful of where you are and how that place has certain cultural norms … and just be mindful of that.”

Hard Lessons from Steve Walchek

Steve Walchek joined us in Season 2 Episode 3 of the podcast. Steve is the Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at FIS, a rapidly growing corporation covering frontier technology and financial transactions.

Steve has learned many lessons over his career, but among the top is that there is no easy path to success—especially if it is dealing with embarking on brave and bold new frontiers. With this in mind, Steve explained that “No matter what, if you’re operating and doing something new that’s going to change an industry; it’s going to be hard.” When this happens, Steve advised that “keeping your head on straight” is paramount.

Steve offered an analogy of a pilot to bring this idea home. When you are on a plane and hit some turbulence, do you want to be piloted by the flight officer who panics and grips the wheel with white knuckles in a panic, or do you want to be the pilot who remains calm, relaxed, and collected in the face of adversity?

We all want to be led by a pilot who is confident and calm. As Steve explained it, you want to “be the pilot who’s getting on the horn and saying, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, a little bit of turbulence, no big deal. We’ll be on the ground in two hours.’”

Apart from adopting this calm, cool, and collected voice and learning how to lead through chaos, Steve pointed to tenacity as yet another invaluable asset to success: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a big company, [it] can be chaotic and hard. So tenacity is the big lesson that I’ve always taken away. [You’ve got to] remain tenacious, keep pushing, and take that resilience and kind of judo that momentum into opportunity.”

Although it seems like listening before you act, tenacity, confidence, and calm are all prerequisites to entrepreneurship, when we’re faced with difficult situations it’s easy to forget these cornerstone characteristics. Steve and Wendy remind us that taking a deep breath and taking a second to re-establish the basics can always set us straight when faced with adversity.

Thank you to Steve and Wendy for these lessons, and stay tuned for our last top episodes of 2021.