In the Arena: Conversations of a Lifetime

In the Arena: Conversations of a Lifetime

What makes leaders tick? In the Arena podcast delves into the inner workings and personal dynamics of leadership. We’ll shine a light on the life-shaping experiences and perspectives of leaders who have navigated adversity and moved their organizations and themselves forward. Defining moments, lessons learned, and points of inspiration provide a roadmap for these conversations of a lifetime. The podcast title In the Arena has historical roots. In 1910, a year after leaving the presidency, Teddy Roosevelt gave a rousing address in Paris in which he chastised cynics and grenade-throwing critics who lambasted leaders as they worked valiantly to improve the human condition. Over time TR’s “The Man in the Arena” became indelibly linked to the nobility and struggles of leadership. In the Arena host Brad Rieger is the chief executive officer at Cooper-Smith, a full-service marketing and advertising agency headquartered in Toledo, OH with a satellite office in Stamford, CT. Prior to working in the private sector, Brad enjoyed a meaningful 31-year career in education serving in the roles of teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent. He is a student of the complexities and nuances of leadership and admires the strivers, trailblazers, and influencers who lead with conviction, courage, and resilience.

Episodes

June 29, 2022 74 min

Elizabeth and Wallace Motley always encouraged their daughter to believe in herself and pursue stretch goals. One of Dr. Motley’s early mentors advised her to “walk through the door” when an opportunity presented itself. She became a teacher in order to create meaningful learning experiences and life-shaping opportunities for students. Prior to becoming superintendent, Dr. Motley served in a wide variety of building-level and centr...

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At a very young age Tod Kowalczyk was determined to become a college basketball coach. Growing-up in a small town near Green Bay, Wisconsin, he was shaped by his blue-collar upbringing, education and athletic minded parents, and a series of college coaches that served as mentors. In 2010 the University of Toledo hired Tod to resuscitate a basketball program that was in shambles. Now in his 13th year as head coach, he has tallied a ...

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The foundation for Wendi’s personal and professional trajectory was set by her goal-oriented and highly supportive parents. She draws upon her experience as a lawyer, church worker, and college athlete to tackle poverty and food insecurity in the Toledo region. 

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For over 40 years Dr. Longenecker has been teaching, writing and speaking about all things leadership. His work with collegians, CEOs, and private sector and nonprofit organizations gives him a robust perspective about leadership effectiveness. A highly acclaimed business professor, author, and keynote speaker, Dr. Longenecker displays a relentless positive outlook and ability to connect with and motivate people around him. Serving...

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Kadee Anstadt worked 20 years in the private sector before making a career pivot into education. Her lifelong desire to be a teacher and a serious health incident were the motivating factors behind this change in direction. Whether as a teacher, central office administrator, or superintendent, Kadee brings a purposed-driven and student-centered approach to her role. The enthusiasm and energy that she displays during school visits, ...

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Jim’s experiences as an educator and high school football coach planted a seed about the importance of the human dimension within every organization. He took what he learned from school administration and the gridiron and built a dynamic business consultancy company that serves major corporations around the world. For the past 35 years Jim and his team at Root have helped CEOs and senior leadership teams find ways to connect with e...

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Stuart was born with osteogenesis imperfecta. His parents never treated him like he had a disability and never dampened his dreams. As a result, Stuart pursued goals, stretched himself, and attained prominent roles in the private and nonprofit sectors. His strong advocacy for independent living and full inclusion for people with disabilities is at the core of who he is as a leader.  

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Ann is a driven, compassionate, and down-to-earth leader who works tirelessly to help people experiencing extreme hardship. Cherry Street Mission Ministries, located in downtown Toledo, Ohio, has been serving the homeless in NW Ohio and SE Michigan for 75 years. Using a Christian service approach, the goal is to reverse the cycle of poverty and help people living on the margins lead productive lives. Some of the services provided b...

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Alongside a highly successful career at a prestigious law firm, Stephen Rothschild always gave generously of his time and talents to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. A rewarding stint as a school board member made it clear to him that he was ready to pivot from the private sector to a public, mission-based organization. He now leads the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, an umbrella organization that provides services a...

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Since 1921, the Toledo-based Mancy family has been providing an exceptional dining experience to customers. In this episode Gus Mancy shares how he, his brothers/cousins, and first and second generation family members built an iconic restaurant brand. His insights about running a high-profile establishment, the customer experience, creating a positive culture, making decisions, and adapting/improvising thru COVID provide a glimpse ...

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As an educator, pastor, and executive director of a community-centered non-profit, Christine Sweeney lives a purpose-filled life. Her servant leadership approach is embedded into the mission of the Art Tatum Zone: improving the human condition one person and one family at a time. Christine’s life story and reflections about the Junction Neighborhood, her love of teaching, the three steps she uses to prepare for homilies, the value ...

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September 9, 2021 55 min

At a very young age Florida native Vicky Hurst emerged as a golf sensation. As a high schooler she was a two-time Florida Player of the Year, member of the US Junior Solheim Team, and the top-ranked US amateur. She turned pro during her senior year of high school and burst onto the Symetra and LPGA Tours. The early victories and Top Ten finishes earned her a coveted spot on the 2011 US Solheim Team. In late 2012 Vicky’s rocket traj...

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In 2013, at the age of 37, Dr. Romules Durant became the CEO/superintendent of the fourth largest school district in Ohio. Purpose-driven, highly accomplished, student-centered, and homegrown are just a few ways to describe this dynamic school leader. During this episode, Dr. Durant talks candidly about his upbringing, his love for Toledo, the role athletics played in his development, handling adversity, and the importance of perso...

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In this episode, high-impact leader Sharon Speyer describes a serendipity career path that merged her legal experience and business skills. Her insights about collaboration, the 2008 financial crisis, vulnerability, surviving cancer, social equity, and community development point to a higher purpose that she attaches to her professional role. The person she admires most… her father, Rabbi Alan Sokobin. 

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Rita Mansour is a highly successful financial advisor and business owner, plus a mission-driven humanitarian. She was chosen as the 2020 Jefferson Award recipient because of the multitude of philanthropic efforts and organizations that she supports. Her mission trips to refugee camps in the Middle East have been life-changing. Rita talks fondly about the role her parents and the nuns who taught her in high school had in putting her...

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Serving in several high-profile roles during his career, the foundation of Mike Bell’s leadership approach has always emphasized helping others and making things better. During this episode Mike talks about growing-up in Louisiana and Toledo Ohio, people who influenced him early on, playing college football and being a basketball cheerleader, why he became a firefighter, dealing with bias and discrimination, the rewards and challen...

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Entrepreneur, philanthropist, business owner, and author… Aly Sterling left the security of a significant position with a top-shelf employer to start her own firm. During this episode Aly describes in personal terms the driving factors that led her to make this leap, along with the challenges, rewards, and lessons learned associated with her entrepreneurial journey. Aly’s career/life path and gained insights provide a meaningful pe...

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March 24, 2021 111 min

Fritz Byer’s career/life path is lined with significance. This purpose-driven and highly regarded attorney shares his life-shaping experiences associated with Duke University and Harvard Law, 43 years in the legal profession, the Toledo Metroparks, hosting the Jazz Spectrum radio show for 32 years, Roger Federer and Bob Dylan, and the Fritz Byers Band.

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A renown theologian and lecturer, Fr. Jim Bacik has been a Catholic priest for nearly 60 years. In this far-ranging conversation, Fr. Bacik talks about his family life growing-up, influences and mentors, love of sports, seminary experience, parishioners who taught him how to be a good priest, leadership dynamics of being a pastor, handling criticism, his approach to public speaking, the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal, and what...

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Anna Toney’s enthusiasm for leadership development, community engagement, and the Toledo region propels her work as the executive director at Leadership Toledo. In this episode Anna describes the life-shaping impact of her theatrical roles, what led her to Leadership Toledo, shouldering decisions, handling adversity, the courage to be vulnerable, and the importance of walking in another person’s shoes. 

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