The Wingman

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As a leader, your brand, style, message of the company, and the company itself are intertwined. SW&A coaches many leaders and considers themselves the “wingman” for people in leadership positions.

On this episode of What’s Your Story?, Sally talks with instructors Francie Schulwolf and Lia Panayotidis about their experience as The Wingman.

More About Our Guests

Francie Schulwolf: Francie’s focus is on developing strong, confident communicators. With close to twenty-five years of global, corporate experience in advertising, marketing and communications, she is intimately familiar with the demands executives face. This understanding, along with her honest and warm style, create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to learn and grow.

Lia Panayotidis: As a lead instructor for our style programs, Lia focuses on raising awareness of individual brands and working with people to strengthen personal presence. She creates an insightful learning environment in each program and can make the most vulnerable discussions a little easier. She approaches each program with a natural joy of connection and fifteen years of diverse experience in training and development

Show Highlights:

  • As a leader, your brand, style, message of the company, and the company itself are intertwined.
  • Sally Williams and Associates coach several leaders and consider themselves the “wingman” for people in leadership positions.
    • Wingman means the person behind the leader who is focused on that individual to become successful.
  • Sally has spent several years speaking in front of groups and now uses the tools she learned in leadership and visible roles to help others.
  • Coaching is about observing others.
    • There is more joy in watching someone else succeed.
  • What is the role of communications as an influencer?
    • Having the ability to get people to deliver on a message they can get behind.
    • Understand every CEO has a different approach and skill set.
    • Being the voice behind the curtain that makes everybody sound really good.
    • Understand how to separate content from style components.
    • Practice and teach others how to become self-aware and develop self-confidence.
  • Coaching is all about connections and getting leaders to the next level.
  • What is done with the content collected?
    • SWA talks about celebrations and people.
    • SWA learns from each new leader they work with.
  • Coaches are trying to figure out what is going on and how to get their leaders/clients to that next place.
    • They work toward figuring out how to help them discover their voice and how to get them there.
  • What is frustrating as a coach?
    • Coming into a session and encountering apprehension from the beginning and an unwillingness to be open. When clients have their guards up from the start.
    • Seeing the potential that the coach knows is there and they are matched with resistance.
    • Clients who don’t realize the value of feedback.
    • Leaders who refuse to watch themselves on stage to learn.
  • What makes a great coach?
    • Chemistry.
    • Connection.
    • Relationship.
    • Creating a safe zone where clients can try new things.
    • Coaches who are still learning.
  • The clients that are remembered are the ones that really made a difference during the training.
  • The ones who grew a lot not.
  • Leadership is about:
    • learning what is happening in the room
    • Embracing the intent is behind what they are doing
    • Discovering how the listener is doing
  • Coaching is taking the love of people and development and putting it together.
  • How do you coach mastery?
    • You give them the tools and show them how to master it.
    • Encourage clients to be intentional about practicing.
    • Realize that each person’s goals are different and embrace it.
    • Ask the clients:
      • What do you want for yourself?
      • What do you see for yourself?
    • Success is gauged by audience response.
    • Helping clients realize it comes down to their own desire to master it.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

How Securities Teams Share Data Insights with Kim Keever

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Every communicator plays a significant role within an organization, but some of those roles get more visibility than others. Sales shares about customer insights, marketing relays their brand and product strategies, and something we’ve seen grow in the last five years, is that data security teams have become big communicators, with many CISO’s managing the communication to leadership teams and corporate Boards.

On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally connects with Kim Keever, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of Cox Communications, one of the leading cable, internet and home automation providers to talk about the increased demand for security insights and how she brings clarity to a pretty complex topic.


More About Kim Keever

Kim Keever is Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Senior Vice President of Security, Analytics and Technology Services for Cox Communications (CCI) in Atlanta, Georgia. Her teams are responsible for all aspects of Information Security for Cox Communications; the Technology, Product and Operations Center of Excellence for Analytics; and for Technology people programs. Since joining Cox, she has built an industry recognized security team.  Additionally, the new Analytics COE has transformed the use of analytics resulting in significant cost savings for Cox. Her teams partner closely with Cox Enterprises, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group. In early 2016, Kim’s team received an innovation award from CSO Magazine, and Kim was named a top woman in technology by Multichannel News. Each year from 2017-2019, she was named one of the most powerful women in cable by Cablefax.  She was a 2018 Women in Technology (WIT) honoree in the large/enterprise organization category, and early in 2019 she was named the Information Security Executive (ISE) of the Year for the Southeast Region and in November 2019 named the North American Information Security Executive (ISE) of the Year in the Commercial category.

Kim is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology.  She is a member of several industry associations and boards including Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) and the FCC Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council V. She is active in volunteer organizations including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Technology Advisory Board and support of homeless shelters located in Atlanta.


Show Highlights:

  • There has been an increased demand for security insights since 2014 because of large company security breaches.
  • Leaders started looking for an increase in security insights out of worry and wanted to know: what happened, how did it happen, and could it happen to us?
  • How do you talk to leaders about security without scaring them?
  •  We talk about security with a risk based approach:
    • Call out the highest risks first.
    • Do a little bit at a time.
    • Give them context.
    • Give them a comparison so they can better understand where the risks are.
  • There are two types of CISO’s:
    • High tech.
    • Business focused.
  • The ability to explain the technology in a business context and alert companies to what the risks are is important because it’s the most effective way to help CISO’s operate. Companies will be more likely to get buy-in and senior leaders will feel more comfortable with the security team.
  • How do you understand the magnitude of what to keep a watch on?
  • There are different areas in which data breaches are happening:
    • Bad Guys.
    • Nation State Actors.
    • Hack-tivists.
  • When you start talking about security and risk, you run the risk of making companies look bad as far as their security of data goes.
  • Don’t let your vulnerability be because of funding. How can you partner with other departments or organizations to get the funding needed to reduce the risks and fix the issues early on?
  • Don’t bombard your listeners with too much detail, give them the facts but don’t overwhelm them.
  • Train your employees on effective communication, and continue to practice it.
  • Be sensitive of the information you share.
  • Help clear up misunderstandings or potential misunderstandings.
  • When you speak about complex things, you may need to say them multiple times and tell them in different ways in order for listeners to fully understand and remember.
  • The security team is trying to educate the entire organization, more than just talking about security risks.
  • Hands on experiences have helped prove the need for heightened security. Finding ways to make security fun and interesting tends to help the content resonate with people.
  • A strong leader is someone that employees are willing to follow.
  • As a leader, hire people who are smarter than you and have diversity of thought, those who are independent in their work and want to do the right thing.
  • Give employees opportunities to keep them engaged, allow people to own their own space, and let them grow in their career.
  • Keep your employee’s best interest in mind, and always keep an open dialogue.
  • Security is a great field to get into. Having a background in technology helps, and this career is in high demand and won’t go away.
  • Be willing to gently show people that they may not be doing enough in one area.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Communicating Through Crisis with Special Guest Panel

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As we focus on a pandemic around the world, we are all searching for information and for answers. On a personal level, we’re relying on our government and our media to share what’s happening. It’s an unprecedented topic and a new normal in our homes, schools and our lives.  But we also wonder about our professional lives. And companies have to interpret the impact of that new normal for employees.  In most companies, that calls up the communications and human resources teams to activate or develop a crisis communication plan.

SW&A hosted a special panel with some of our colleagues and friends, who know how to manage crisis communications. You’ll hear insights and best practices on what employees and customers need and want during trying times. It takes clarity in ambiguity, confidence in uncertainty and some guidance and advice from those who’ve been there a time or two.


More About Our Panel

Patti Wilmot: former HR Leader – Patti has over twenty years’ experience as a former-chief human resources officer. She has helped create award-winning leadership development programs focused on creating a “bench” of future leaders. She brings expertise in assessing talent, improving the effectiveness of leadership teams and helping leaders leverage their strengths to improve effectiveness and impact.

Steve Soltis: former Executive Communications Leader – Steve is a senior adviser with MAS Leadership Communication. Soltis recently retired from The Coca-Cola Company, where he led both executive and internal communication for the past 11 years. In his role at Coca-Cola, Soltis was responsible for orchestrating the company’s entire C-suite executive visibility efforts and for formulating its employee communication strategies and execution.

Francie Schulwolf: Former Communications Leader at InterContinental Hotel Group – Francie’s focus is on developing strong, confident communicators. With close to twenty-five years of global, corporate experience in advertising, marketing and communications, she is intimately familiar with the demands executives face. This understanding, along with her honest and warm style, create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to learn and grow.

Sally Williamson: Founder of SW&A – Sally is a leading resource for improving the impact of spoken communications. She has developed key messages and coached leaders and their teams to deliver them effectively for more than thirty years. Sally specializes in executive coaching and developing custom programs for groups across company verticals.


Show Highlights:

  • What is the picture of success? What do you want to achieve through this situation?
  • How can businesses leverage this situation? How to win hearts and minds. 
  • What is your central message and who are your stakeholders? 
  • Know how your employees are doing, understand what your consumers are needing to hear.
  • Timing is critical and consistency is key. 
  • Address compensation as best as possible for employees. Be honest with your messaging, if you don’t know the answer let employees know. 
  • You can be just as clear about what you know and what you don’t know.
  • Always show unity with leadership and re-enforce it in your messaging.
  • Figure out who are your best messengers who can clearly communicate. Be in constant contact with your employees. 
  • Come out with messaging that connects with your brand and your culture. 
  • How to construct a plan that shows a picture of success – do this through employee engagement and build off of that. 
  • How do you help a group think about clarity and how to understand it? 
  • How do leaders deliver this messaging to their teams? There needs to be a means to get the message to them, let employees know how it will get to them and be consistent. 
  • Front line people managers are incredibly important during this time, this is the time to step up and this is the time to reach out to employees. 
  • Contact each individual employee frequently and know what is going on with your employees. 
  • Even if you don’t have something to say to employees, still have that touch point to contact them frequently. Employee care is incredibly important. Keep morale up. 
  • Make sure your employees hear about what you are doing before the public knows.
  • Get senior leadership out, touching base with employees personally. 
  • Learn to develop manager talking points from leadership.
  • What companies are doing a good job with communicating their message through the crisis?
  • Clarity of truth is important. Not all companies can give good news. 
  • This is the moment that will define your leadership. 
  • It’s overwhelming as a leader right now, leaders need to be the calming force and utilize empathy.
  • Leaders need to be able to send information both ways, up to higher leadership and down to employees. 
  • Don’t let a world wide crisis become your crisis, do everything with kindness and with accurate information. 
  • Ask people how they are and if they know what they are supposed to be doing during this time. 
  • How we treat our team members now will come back to us.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!