With Martin G. Moore

Episode #200

5 Episodes That Every Leader Must Listen To!

When Em and I started the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast in September 2018, we spent a lot of time thinking about how we would ensure that our message would stand out in the never-ending tsunami of leadership content.

We wanted our content to be clear, no bullsh!t and practical.

This might sound easy if you say it fast enough, but creating content about the complexities of navigating the workplace as a leader is incredibly difficult to do in 15-20 minutes without oversimplifying it or sounding as though we’re offering a silver bullet!

Over the years we’ve become better at doing this, but there are some episodes that stick out more than others.

To celebrate our 200th episode, Em and I are going to talk you through the 5 episodes we believe every leader MUST listen to. If these are the only episodes you listen to out of the 200 we’ve produced, you’ll be far better off in your pursuit of exceptional leadership.

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Episode #200 5 Episodes That Every Leader Must Listen To!

There’s an overwhelming amount of leadership content being created every single day. Leadership experts from every corner of the globe are publishing blogs, articles, videos, and podcasts covering their perspective on the vast array of topics that fit under the leadership banner. When Em and I started our podcast, No Bullsh!t Leadership in September 2018, we spent a lot of time thinking about how we’d ensure that our message would stand out in this never ending tsunami of media.

We decided we wanted our content to be clear, no bullsh!t and practical. This sounds really easy if you say it fast enough, but creating content about the complexities of navigating the workplace as a leader is incredibly difficult to do in 15 to 20 minutes without oversimplifying it or sounding as though I’m offering a silver bullet. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at doing this but there are some episodes that stick out more than others today to celebrate our 200th episode.

If these are the only episodes you listen to out of the 200 we’ve produced, you’ll be far better off in your pursuit of exceptional leadership. These episodes are the ones that have been most impactful to our  incredible podcast community, and that we believe will offer you a genuine change in perspective. While I have a soft spot for every episode we’ve produced, these ones really stand out.


It’s interesting that while so much of our business has changed over the past four years, we haven’t actually changed much in terms of our recording and production process. We’ve upgraded one microphone and tried a few different recording softwares, but we still do almost everything exactly the same way. I still record from my home studio but I’ve now found a way to get the sound quality without having to put a blanket over my head!

Before we get into the five episodes that every leader must listen to, we want to share three things that Em and I have each learned over the last four years of podcasting.


1. There is way more leadership content to cover than I could have conceptualized initially.

If you had asked me back in 2018 whether we’d be able to come up with 200 episodes of original content, I would’ve told you you’re dreaming! But every week, some new thing pops up that we haven’t covered, whether it’s a listener question, or just interesting things in the news that we want to talk about and give our perspective on. The number of leadership angles that we’ve been able to cover has absolutely exceeded my initial expectations. When we started, I think we had about 25 on the chalkboard, and we thought those are the foundational pieces. It’s just amazing that we’ve been able to keep going.

2. Putting the podcast out each week on its own, isn’t enough to build that really strong, connected community. 

The podcast itself is just one aspect. Creating that valuable content and getting over 25,000 downloads every week is great, but it’s the whole ecosystem of what we do that brings our podcast listeners into the community. It goes beyond the episodes and the platform into all our social media channels. We have amazing conversations with leaders every week via email and direct messages. We work hard to involve our community at every turn. So a big learning for me has been that while the podcast is great, it’s everything that we’ve built around it that has created such a vibrant and loyal community. I’m actually really proud of that and the way we have done that.

3. Nothing great happens overnight. 

I see so many people starting podcasts that run for a few months, they don’t get the listens they want and then they give up. I think our successes come down to, obviously Marty’s great content, but also the consistency – we haven’t missed an episode. We’ve just kept focusing on delivering value to our listeners every week and not letting them down. And it’s taken four years for us to get over 2.6 million listens. So, I just think podcasting is really a game of patience and consistency.


I’m not sure if I can do three without repetition because one of Emma’s is a really important one for me as well.

1. Consistency pays

Every Wednesday morning Australian time, we drop an episode and we’ve done that for 200 weeks. You could actually set your clock to it. In fact, that’s actually how I remember how long Em and I have been in business for: 203 weeks! I left my CEO role at CS Energy three weeks before the first episode dropped.

2. It takes a lot of thought and effort to get a key topic down to a 15 to 20 minute episode

As Blaise Pascal said, “I would’ve written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have time.” I used to beat myself up for not being more efficient, but I learned that, in order to do justice to a topic in a 20 minute episode and to really create something simple, powerful, and practical, it takes as long as it takes. So I’d spend seven to eight hours on every episode to research, script, and record it and to produce the collateral such as show notes, video, downloadable resources, and so forth. Then of course Em will do the editing and production, and Tash and Kel get it out to our community through different channels.

3. It’s really borne out one of our core beliefs, which of course underpins our business model: income follows impact 

Now, the focus on giving some of our best content away for free wasn’t a comfortable place for me to launch a business from, but I trusted Em. And we worked out that loads of people found the content so valuable that they decided to invest in Leadership Beyond the Theory. In fact, 75% of the leaders who join us for our LBT program have listened to the podcast.

Knowing that this milestone was coming up, we put out a call to our podcast community to find out their favorite episodes – the ones that have been truly the most impactful. We collated all of the responses and we’ve come up with the three episodes every leader should listen to, as well as a favorite episode from Em and me.


Before we get into the top three listener episodes, I want to share some favorites from what our Leadership Beyond the Theory students call ‘Martyisms’. These are the sayings and phrases that Marty turns out on the regular. Some of them are just so damn sticky – they stick in your head as leadership mantras so that when you’re faced with a specific challenge, you can pull out the phrase in the moment and use it to direct your behavior or the behavior of others. So, I want to share with you some of the Martyisms that our community shared as being particularly impactful. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for any length of time, you would’ve heard these at least once:

Russ loved “Feedback is a gift”.

Charlie and James resonated with “Challenge, coach, confront”.

Genessa’s top Martyism is “Friendly, not friends”.

Stuart’s is “Excellence over perfection”.

Glaucus likes “The people who built the house can’t renovate it”.

George said “Work at the right level” has been the most impactful for him.

Leon came through with two favorites: “You don’t buy a dog and bark yourself” (which is actually a Jeffrey J. Fox quote that we reference in Leadership Beyond the Theory, but it’s still a cracker). And “It’s better to reign in a stallion than it is to flog a donkey”.

My husband, Royce, loves, “If you and I think the same thing, then at least one of us is redundant and it’s probably not me”.

Jody loves “The standard you walk past is the standard you set”.

Obviously not all of those are original: let’s face it, very little is in the world of leadership. But Marty certainly puts his own spin on them, which is why I think they resonate with our community. And it definitely speaks to the cut through of being direct, clear, and practical. So let me pull out another Martyism: Simplicity and focus. That’s what you’re after.


3. Episode 131: The Emotional Toll of Leadership: Successful Self-management 

Now I think this is really popular because I call out the key things that cause a leader to experience emotional distress. Everything from performance anxiety, to the guilt of working too hard at the expense of the most important relationships in your life, and of course everything in between. You’ve got politics, lack of control, misalignment of values. We all experience these things, and they’re so easy to identify with.

The key point is that there are answers. So, I give a seven point guide to managing the emotional toll of leadership. No silver bullets, just good practical guidance on the things that are going to make a difference. For example, maintaining your sense of humor is something we don’t often think about, but it’s a great hack for dealing with the stress and emotional pressure that you’re going to face in a big career. Or having a focus on making the right choice in the moment: so often, leaders follow the path of least resistance and no amount of rationalization can fill the hole that that leaves. Listening to this episode 18 months on, it’s still really relevant, and funnily enough, I wouldn’t change anything.

Add this episode to your must-listen list – Episode 131: The Emotional Toll of Leadership

2. Episode 148: Stretching Your People Without Breaking Them 

Stretching your people is most commonly paired with putting them under some kind of stress and at times that can be significant stress. We tend to talk about stress as if it’s entirely negative: because of that, many leaders will just try and avoid it completely. But I guess, somewhat ironically, if we do everything we can to stop our people from being stressed, we’re also usually accepting under-performance and personally overcompensating, which is a trap that eventually leads to working excessive hours at the wrong level. And so the cycle goes.

What this episode does really well is break down the misconception that stress and stretching your people is bad. And it gives solutions around how to get the best out of your people by helping them to see what they’re truly capable of. As a leader, it is your obligation to create this type of environment for your people. It’s up to you to set goals that they’re not sure they can reach and then support and encourage them to reach those goals. The self-esteem that you can help someone to develop through stretching them like this in a safe environment is actually life changing… and what an incredible opportunity you have as a leader to truly make a difference to someone’s life.

Em loves this episode because it really helps with the productive versus unproductive stress mindset shift that you may need to have. It provides solutions for how to stretch your people without simply overwhelming them, and what you can look for just to ensure that you don’t tip them over the edge. And it’s wildly practical when it comes to how to do this in real life: what type of stretch opportunities are you looking for? What conversations do you need to have? And how do you provide the required support to help them get there without actually doing it for them?

Add this episode to your must-listen list – Episode 148: Stretching Your People Without Breaking Them

1. Episode 1: Respect Before Popularity

As Casey Stengel said, “The secret of leading people is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are still undecided.” And look, there’s a reason that I decided to schedule this as the very first episode of No Bullsh!t Leadership. Many of the ills a leader experiences come directly and completely from their inability to get their head, their heart and their gut around this principle. Even if they understand it intellectually, they really struggle with it.

Wanting to be liked is a scourge for a leader because it’s an impossible goal: it can’t be achieved. But human nature is quite deceptive. It’s incredibly easy to rationalize the actions you take that serve no other purpose than to seek approval, positive regard or popularity. This is why I think the drift away from competent leadership to this permissive, wishy-washy love-fest that we’re experiencing today seems entirely reasonable to most people.

Add this episode to your must-listen list – Episode 1: Respect Before Popularity


Marty and I each had to pick one episode each that we felt was the episode to listen to out of the 199 that we’ve made so far. This took me hours because I didn’t just want to choose an episode that was super popular. I think some of our best episodes are actually skimmed over because maybe we haven’t done a great job with the title or they seem like softer or more obvious episodes. The episode I’ve chosen is one that sounds obvious, but it has so much strength behind it. The episode that I think every leader needs to listen to, even if it’s the only one they ever listened to is:

Episode 172: Stop Doing Your People’s Work, Lead Them To Do It

As I said, it sounds obvious, right? But you wouldn’t believe how many leaders we hear from every week who ask about how to combat overwhelm and get more time back in their week. And that’s what this concept is all about. Consciously spending more time on leading rather than just doing.

I’ve spoken many times about how Work At Level is my favorite module of Leadership Beyond the Theory, because when Marty was originally scripting it up and I was editing, all I could think of was, “Oh my god! This is why I’ve had so much trouble with past bosses! They haven’t moved to their correct level. They’re still wanting to be down in the detail of my work, at my level. And that’s where the friction is .”

Now, of course they didn’t mean to be dipping down into my stuff, but they just didn’t know how to get the best out of me and my peers. No one had told them about this critical transition. It was really light bulb after light bulb for me, as I went deeper into this concept and it just makes so much sense. Many leaders just don’t understand that to truly get results from the people they lead, they can’t be rolling their sleeves up and doing the work themselves. They need to be putting the time, energy and effort into building capability below them. I guess that ultimately means letting go of the technical stuff in their comfort zone and leading people to achieve the desired results.

We’re actually working on a new webinar, which will be released in a couple of months time, about how to effectively delegate and only do the work that you’re meant to be doing because it winds into this pain point so seamlessly, but this episode is an absolute must listen. It covers why making that transition from individual contributor to leader; or from leader of others to leader of leaders –  whatever the case may be – is so incredibly important. It talks to the mindset of why leaders tend to over-function for their people, and why that’s so dangerous.

My favorite part though, is the three disciplines of leadership work at the end. I think these three mantras should be repeated by every leader, every day as a reminder of how to actually stay out of your people’s work when the temptation arises. And even when you’re fully across this concept, the temptation will arise from time to time, believe me.

Add this episode to your must-listen list – Episode 172: Stop Doing Your People’s Work, Lead Them To Do It


Drum roll please.

Episode 182: What Is Strong Leadership? Taking People Where They Ought To Be

Obviously that comes from the quote from Rosalynn Carter, who said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people not where they want to go, but where they ought to be.” And that’s a completely different concept.

It’s a more recent episode, but I think it really articulates clearly and crisply what it means to be a strong leader. Working out how to tread that fine line between being a strong leader and being a tyrant can be quite subtle, believe it or not. So I use some great examples of tyrants who’ve managed to perform, but the results they achieve came at a significant cost to the people around them. And business results aren’t necessarily an output of leadership excellence. There are lots of clever executives who are disastrous as leaders.

I outlined the eight defining characteristics that, in my view, are the hallmarks of a strong leader – and one or two of these might be a little surprising. For example, strong leaders have boundless empathy. I also tell a personal story that I don’t tell anywhere else, and probably won’t tell again. It just occurred to me at the time that it fit well. I think this episode is the blueprint for how to think about the ideal posture to have as a leader, regardless of your personality, your leadership style, or your experience.

Add this episode to your must-listen list – Episode 182: What Is Strong Leadership?

We’re so fortunate to be able to serve our community the way we do and to still be putting content out that people love. It’s just so humbling. Thank you so much for joining our leadership community. And remember, at Your CEO Mentor, our purpose is to improve the quality of leaders globally, so I encourage you to share these must-listen episodes with leaders in your network who you think may benefit.

Download our 5 Must-Listen Episodes graphic


  • Episode #1: Respect Before popularity – Listen Here

  • Episode #131: The Emotional Toll of Leadership – Listen Here

  • Episode #148: Stretching Your People Without Breaking Them – Listen Here

  • Episode #172: Stop Doing Your People’s Work – Listen Here

  • Episode #182: What Is Strong Leadership – Listen Here

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