With Martin G. Moore

Episode #174

The Five Best Episodes of 2021: Chosen by Marty & Em

As we traditionally do at Christmas time, we take a look back on our year of podcast episodes. Em and I have picked our favorites for you to go back and listen to while you’re enjoying some downtime in the New Year!

2021 has been a big year for Your CEO Mentor! Amongst other things, the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast recently reached 2 million downloads. That translates into a whole lot of impact for the leaders in more than 100 countries who have tuned in.

Once again, to break up the Marty monologues, we had a bunch of Q&As where Em hit me with some of the best listener questions we received. We also introduced a handful of interviews for the first time. NHL legend, Luc Robitaille; global jewelry mogul, Samantha Wills; and leadership futurist, Jacob Morgan each brought another dimension to the show.

Whether you enjoy the current affairs commentaries, the practical ‘how to’s, or the straight no bullsh!t talking, there’s a perfect episode in the annual wrap for you!

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Episode #174 The Five Best Episodes of 2021: Chosen by Marty & Em

This is the fourth Christmas for the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast! Em and I thought we take a look back on the year of episodes and pick out our favourites, so you can go back and listen to them while you’re enjoying some downtime in the New Year.

It’s been a hell of a year. As I look back, I feel an incredible sense of gratitude for what the year has brought. I feel especially humbled by both the business and personal success that Em and I have been fortunate enough to have had this year. 2021’s been a really big one for Your CEO Mentor:

  • We’ve recently reached 2 million downloads for this podcast. Now that’s a whole lot of impact for the leaders in more than 100 countries who’ve tuned in!

  • Our book, No Bullsh!t Leadership was published in the USA by Simon and Schuster through their Rosetta Books. It went to Number 2 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller List for hardcover business books, which actually to tell you the truth, inspired me to read the Number 1 book, Atomic Habits.

  • We’ve conducted two more wildly successful cohorts of Leadership Beyond the Theory. The latest cohort bursting at the seams with 250 leaders.

  • We sold our house in Brisbane and moved to Boston, where Kathy and I have relocated to the USA for the foreseeable future. Now a big shout out to Cathy and Dan Madden, Renee and Simon, and Maureen and Robert for letting us couch surf through our transition.

  • We signed an exclusive agreement with one of the USA’s premiere speaker bureaus, APB.

  • We’ve built a new studio in Boston, which has taken my virtual keynote to the next level.

What a year! Anyhow, as we do, this podcast is a joint effort between me and Em, the other half of YCM and producer of the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. Can you believe it’s Christmas again, Em?


It has come around so quickly, Marty. You know, that I’m a little bit of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, but I am very much looking forward to this one.


Yeah, I’m a bit of a Scrooge too, but you especially need a break after running the business this year in a high growth, high intensity phase. And, if you don’t mind me saying, you’ve done an incredible job as Chief Executive of YCM.


Aww, thank you! Yeah, it’s definitely been our biggest year by far, but after doing our 2022 strategy earlier this month, I think that next year’s actually gonna blow this year out of the water, which is so exciting. There are so many cool things coming up for our community. Now, in terms of wins, something that I’m really proud of this year is that we’ve also brought on two full-time team members. I’ve loved it. Not only because it’s amplified and expanded our capability and output, but it’s also given me an opportunity to do the hard work of leadership. I still edit the podcast episodes though! That’s still my baby.


Yeah. The podcast is really starting to mature, isn’t it?


Oh, absolutely. I can’t believe that this is Episode 174. You know, over three years of incredible free content, if I don’t say so myself. We did a lot on the podcast this year:  we introduced a few interviews; we had our usual sprinkling of Q&As; and of course you took on more current affairs type episodes this year, based on recent events and commenting on those with a No Bullsh!t Leadership lens, which I know our community is absolutely loving.



Oh, totally. There are a couple of notables in that vein, I think. They were mainly around themes like how to manage your people returning to work after the stint of remote working during the pandemic; retaining employees in a hot labour market; and even an on some of the things we learned from the Tokyo Olympics. Now, I also did a number of TV interviews, as you know, over here in the US, commenting on one really hot topic: Should we be forced to turn our cameras on during Zoom meetings? I cannot believe how much traction that one got! And just the other day, I re-watched the interview I did on PIX11 in New York, which has over 10 million viewers! Amazing. Amazing the interest, a simple issue like that can generate.


Wow. I didn’t realise it was that many views. We also did quite a few episodes that I would classify as I guess, ‘calling bullshit’ on conventional wisdom. Marty, what sacred cows did you manage to slaughter this year?


Well, you know, I love taking on the commonly held, but poorly understood leadership cliches. Now, not all the cows were slaughtered, but we did come up with a No Bullsh!t spin on whether or not these held any credibility. Probably my two favourites were:

  • Episode 130, which was Counterintuitive Truths. This dealt with some of the things that sound logical but don’t actually work the way you think they should.

  • The other one for me was Episode 167: Getting Ahead of the Next Crisis, where I covered off really on why teams that perform really well in the crisis aren’t necessarily well managed or high performing teams.

I think the ‘calling bullshit’ episodes are probably my favourites. They’re really fun to explore.


Yeah, absolutely. We also produce some quite technical how-to episodes as well. I know that we said at the outset that our content likely wouldn’t reach into the business and management stuff. That’s typically the domain of business schools, but I think we’ve had a pretty good crack at a few, haven’t we?


Yeah, we have. Once again, it’s mainly to bring a practical, actionable lens to areas where people tend to get very hung up on the theory. Now I thought I covered off most of the fundamental stuff in the how-to category already, but apparently not! We got some great listener questions that encouraged us to release some more baseline content that I think was really useful:

  • Episode 124 was on how to overcome stage fright.

  • Episode 126 on how to sell a proposal to your boss – which I really liked, that almost made my top five episodes.

  • Episode 141 was on risk management.

  • Episode 146 was on talent and succession planning.

I’ve got to confess, I had trouble choosing my top episodes this year because we released so much good content – as you said before, even if I do say so myself. Before we get onto the Top Five, I just wanted to put in a few honourable mentions.

Now for me, I was really proud of a little purple patch I had in the 130s. That was basically the stretch from the end of February through to the end of April in 2021. So we had:

  • Episode 130: Counterintuitive Truths, which I’ve already mentioned.

  • Episode 134: Being More Strategic, which we got some incredible feedback on.

  • Episode 133, which was my favourite interview of the year. That was with Luke Robi, the National Hockey League Hall of Fame legend and President of the LA Kings.

  • Episode 145: Humour is Underrated. I always managed to bring fun to the workplace when I was in corporate. And those who worked for me over the years will attest to the fact that we took the business really seriously, but we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. And even though this may not be the politically correct view of the day, I still believe that the purpose of business is to make money and to have fun.

  • Episode 148: Stretch Your People Don’t Break Them – great fundamentals to open the door for superior performance

  • Another interview with Samantha Wills, who I just found incredibly approachable, engaging, and open. And what a story she told about building an iconic global jewellery brand from a blank sheet of paper!


I love that one too. That was so good.


I don’t know, have I left any episodes out of the 52 we did? Em, do you have any notable ones that didn’t make the cut?


I think the ones that didn’t make the top favourites cut for me, but that I think brought our listeners a huge amount of value this year are all the ones around talent retention. I’m pretty sure a new article comes out every two minutes on LinkedIn talking about the Great Resignation and skill shortages. So I think the episodes that you did on how to retain and motivate your talent were especially helpful. The key ones that I think were great were:



All favourites too. They were really good. Alright, that’s enough ruminating from us. Let’s get into the top five episodes. Why don’t you go first at Number Five, Em?


Sounds good! My first favourite episode of 2021 is Episode 131: The Emotional Toll of Leadership: Successful Self-management. This one really struck a chord with me and according to our Spotify Wrapped for 2021, it was also our top episode. It clearly resonated with our listeners. Leadership is hard. We say it all the time, but I think one of the hardest things to cope with is the emotional toll that it takes over time. When you’re ambitious, you’re moving fast with urgency, you’re challenging, coaching and confronting your people in order to get results. And ultimately you want to succeed. So you have this drive that’s pushing you forward. Well, it’s a lot to manage. I said on this podcast a few times, I am a recovering perfectionist. I still struggle with this a lot today in my personal life, but not really at work anymore. I think as leaders, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect, to be chosen to lead that next big project, to get that next promotion.

I thought that having this practical guide that you laid out in 20 minutes on how to deal with the emotional toll of leadership was just an absolute godsend. Some of your key points really hit home with me and they changed the way that I was behaving and thinking. In particular, developing good habits. So really just doubling down on my habit tracking template and making sure that I wasn’t self-medicating with a few glasses of red wine at night to decompress. Another was not over-functioning for my people. So just being very aware of when I was potentially dipping down and then delegating more than I typically would’ve in the past, which has really just become second nature to me now. The last one was learning to make the right choice in the moment. When you spoke in this episode about all the micro-decisions that we make all day, every day as leaders, and the things that we really always need to be doing in order to make sure that we’re making those correct micro-decisions that really impacted me.

You know, as a leader, you need to choose respect over popularity. You need to choose to have the conversation, to put self interest aside for the good of the team and to hold people to account for their behaviour. I just thought that was incredibly powerful. We have a great free downloadable guide from that episode as well that I encourage every listener to download over the holidays. The Seven Tips for Handling the Emotional Toll of Leadership, which you can get here. Alright, Marty, you’re up. What’s your first favourite that you want to talk about?


I’m going for Episode 166: Don’t Mollycoddle Your People. For those of you who don’t have that same sort of quaint turn-of-phrase that we do in Australia in the UK: mollycoddle, meaning to pamper them, to succumb to their every wish. This was really timely for me. There’s so much noise around this Great Resignation, the concept of trying to get people back in the office – what’s this “trying to get people back in the office” – ridiculous! They work for you and the necessity of running the business, and optimising your resources has to take precedence over your desire to cater for every individual circumstances and desires. Too many leaders in this day and age just pander to the whims of their staff.

Don’t get me wrong. You have to listen to your people and you have to work with them. You have to find compromises that suit everyone, and you have to be open to new ways of working, but you shouldn’t just capitulate to any request from your employees. Your job’s not just to look after the short term whims of your people, but to think about how long-term value is gonna be generated for all your stakeholders: your customers, investors, suppliers, the communities in which you operate – and yes, of course, your employees. But sometimes you just have to take a strong position. Otherwise you effectively give the inmates the keys to the asylum. Em, what’s next on your list?


I really like that episode as well. That was in my Top 10 when I was whittling them down, so I’m glad that was in yours as well. My second favourite episode is Episode 162: Managing Up, A Cheat Sheet. Boy, do I wish I had this episode when I was working for someone else. One of the most common questions that we get during our leadership beyond the theory cohorts is how do I manage up? And it’s across all contexts. How do I manage up when my boss doesn’t understand why value delivery is important? How do I manage up when my boss isn’t resilient? How do I manage up when my boss is a micromanager? It goes on and on. And it’s really difficult to be an exceptional leader when your boss is., I don’t know… Let’s just say, not a No Bullsh!t leader.

I just thought this episode was so practical. The first tip was, I think, one of the best. Before you start worrying about how to manage your boss, you need to know your boss. I think we can get very caught up in wanting our boss to know all about us, to see our individual brilliance, that we kind of miss this step. Really understanding your boss helps you to better influence and communicate with them. You gave some great thought starters on how to get to know your boss if you don’t already. Another super valuable free PDF downloadable for this episode, The Nine Tips for Managing Up, which you can download here.

You also went through some of the key elements that I think it’s really easy to forget when you’re seeing red, because of something that your boss has done. So, two of my favourite points out of those nine:

1. Learning how to give your boss feedback 

A lot of what we talk about on the podcast is about giving feedback to those below you. But it’s just so important to be able to communicate your thoughts to your boss clearly, respectfully and succinctly. No boss is a mind reader. Just because we think they should know something, you can’t be sure they do until you say it to them.

2. Building trust

Life is so much easier when your boss trusts you, when they know that you’re gonna do what you say you’re going to do. Everything just gets so much more seamless and they tend to stay out of your knitting. Trust is everything. Without it, no amount of managing up is going to help you.

All in all a cracking episode, super practical, and it covered a topic that a huge amount of our community really struggles with. All right, Marty, you’re up!


Next one for me, Em, Episode 138: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know. This episode was a real toss up for my favourite of the year, funnily enough. The reason being, this is a comprehensive guide to building all the things you need to be successful in business and life. I’ve learned a huge amount over the years by reading, observing, and doing. I’ve had the opportunity to rub shoulders with many people who society considers to be the most successful – even though that measure may be a little one dimensional, I guess. But more importantly, I’ve been privileged to spend time with people who have genuine well-rounded life success. And they are unfortunately, many fewer than the ones who have the ostentatious success. One of the most gratifying things for me is the knowledge that I wouldn’t trade places with anyone on the planet for any reason. So in this episode, I identify 10 things that I think most contribute to your success ecosystem, as I call it. Definitely some gold in this one and absolutely worth the 22 minutes and 49 seconds of your life to listen to it.

Alright, Em. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Why don’t you unveil our top episode for 2021?


It actually took us a while to come up with our agreed favourite because there were so many episodes that we launched this year where we said, “Yeah, okay. That one is my favourite episode of the year.” But the one that we settled on is Episode 135: When Empathy Becomes Sympathy. Now for me, I think that empathy is the buzzword of the decade when it comes to leadership. But I don’t think that it’s clear at all how to clearly distinguish it from sympathy. I see many people falling into the trap of being sympathetic and getting into the hole with their people. When empathy becomes sympathy, it completely takes the strength out of it, so this episode hit me like a pie in the face. I love that you are so crystal clear about there being no such thing as too much empathy, as I’ve heard that being bandied around a little bit.

You want to have unlimited empathy, but you also need to be really clear and strong on your leadership style and approach. As I’ve said before, you’re the kind of leader who chooses to put respect before popularity. You hold your people to account for their performance, no matter what. You believe in people’s agency and their freedom to make choices and decisions on their own. You take your duty of care to the organisation and your people very, very seriously. Your last line in this episode was incredibly powerful to me: “Over time, your empathy will become boundless, but as long as you’re strong enough to do the right thing, you’ll do it even better, understanding what it means for all the people involved.” What a quote. Alright, Marty, why did you choose this episode?


I love that you love that quote – I’m not sure that I would’ve put it as my best of the year, but I’ll tell you what, it is cracker. I think this is definitely one of the most practical episodes I’ve ever done because in this one, I ran through two very detailed scenarios to demonstrate the difference between how a strong and empathetic leader deals with a situation as opposed to a weak and sympathetic leader. It’s such a critical distinction to understand, but so few leaders seem to grasp it, and it causes a huge amount of internal turmoil for them. I also really love the exploration of desirable leadership attributes in this one – you know, this is my favourite. We hear so much chatter about desirable leadership attributes, which I think is just virtue-signalling. And we feel as though we should sign up to that way of thinking. Much of this dialogue sounds really noble, and it sounds like it should be true – and we feel as though if we disagree, people will think less of us. But if we really think about it, the virtue-signalling movement is a gross oversimplification of the way the world works. Especially so for leaders dealing with the myriad complexities and nuances of human interaction.


Yeah, absolutely. Marty, that was such a good episode. Well, I think that’s this episode wrapped up, Marty. It’s been another fantastic year for the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. We’re both really proud of the body of knowledge that we’re building here for leaders both now and in the future.

We put such a significant amount of time each week into creating these free episodes, so if you’ve got any value from any of the episodes in 2021, please share your favourite episode with your network and take two minutes to rate, review, and subscribe or follow the podcast on your favourite podcast player. It helps us to reach even more No Bullsh!t leaders, who are just like you. And it would be a great Christmas present for us! I can’t wait to get stuck into creating all the content that we’ve got planned for 2022.


  • Ep. 124: Overcoming Stage Fright – Listen Here

  • Ep. 126: Selling Your Proposal – Listen Here

  • Ep. 130: Counterintuitive Truths – Listen Here

  • Ep. 131: The Emotional Toll of Leadership – Listen Here

  • Ep. 133: Elite Athlete to Top Executive – Listen Here

  • Ep. 134: Being More Strategic – Listen Here

  • Ep. 135: When Empathy Becomes Sympathy – Listen Here

  • Ep. 138: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know – Listen Here

  • Ep. 141: Mastering Risk – Listen Here

  • Ep. 144: The Skills Shortage – Listen Here

  • Ep. 145: Humour Is Underrated – Listen Here

  • Ep. 146: Succession Planning – Listen Here

  • Ep. 148: Stretching Your People – Listen Here

  • Ep. 151: Motivating Process Workers – Listen Here

  • Ep. 157: From Kitchen Table to Global Icon: Samantha Wills Interview – Listen Here

  • Ep. 159: Don’t Lose Your Best People – Listen Here

  • Ep. 162: Managing Up: A Cheat Sheet – Listen Here

  • Ep. 166: Don’t Mollycoddle Your People – Listen Here

  • Ep. 167: Getting Ahead of the Next Crisis – Listen Here


  • Explore other podcast episodes – Here

  • Take our FREE Level Up Leadership Masterclass – Start Now

  • Leadership Beyond the Theory – Learn More


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