Arizona Originals

Arizona Originals, hosted by Jason Isaak, is brought to you by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Here we share with you the stories, leadership lessons, and life lessons of the people who make Arizona a great place to live and work.
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Feb 15, 2018

Our guest is Russ Perry, the founder of Design Pickle - a subscription-based, on-demand graphic design service based in Scottsdale, AZ.  Russ recently released his new book, The Sober Entrepreneur.

Russ is a 3rd generation Arizonan with roots in the historic Copper Triangle mining area.  Our conversation not only covers his personal story, but includes insights on a wide range of issues affecting your personal and professional life.  Russ also shares a powerful story about a Pepsi vending will not want to miss that story or the moral of that tale.

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Feb 7, 2018

This week our guest is Shiva Planjery - the co-founder and CEO of Codelucida, a Tucson-based company working to improve error-correction solutions for everything from flash drives to hard disk drives. Shiva shares his story which took him from the US to South Korea to India to Canada and, ultimately, to Tucson. He not only shares insights about life and work stemming from his formative years, but how they help inform how he approaches his life as an entrepreneur.

It’s another great story coming out of Tech Launch Arizona at the University of Arizona...I know you will learn from our conversation.

Jan 24, 2018
In Season 2 Episode 12, we spoke with David Kolbe, the CEO of Kolbe Corp.  If you haven’t already listened to that episode, we encourage you to do so.
David was kind enough to share his thoughts on a variety of topics in short, topical episodes which we will share intermittently over the coming months.
This week we spend a few moments with David on the topic of millennials and the multi-generational workforce.  He shares some common-sense insights which demystify what many make out to be complex and potentially counterproductive.
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Check out what is happening at the AZ Chamber
Jan 17, 2018

This week our guest is Jordan Lancaster - the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Avery Therapeutics, a Tucson-based company working to solve the problem of heart tissue regeneration. Jordan comes from a long line of cardiologists and has found himself focused on the research side of the heart…and now is leading an entrepreneurial endeavor to bring scientific innovations to make the next leap forward in cardiac care.

Jordan, who cycled for the University of Arizona and rode his first El Tour de Tucson at the age of eight, discusses topics ranging from mentoring, to building a culture of teamwork, to bringing research into the entrepreneurial space.


Avery Therapeutics on LinkedIn

McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship - Eller College of Management - University of Arizona

Tech Launch Arizona

Zach Ferres podcast

Hickman's Family Farms podcast

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Check out what is happening at the AZ Chamber 

Jan 9, 2018

This week our guest is Mac Perlich - the president and publisher of ON Media Publications. Mac shares what I believe are two of the best life lessons we can all learn from and discusses her journey from nursing into publishing. I know you’ll enjoy her insights and her passion for everything she is involved with from publishing, to the Culture Pass program, to the Act One Foundation.

We cover a wide range of topics from how to develop meaningful and mutually-beneficial business relationships, to thoughts about retirement, and much more.

Follow us on our new social media channels - Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (thanks to Beth Lewellen for all her help on this)!


Dec 20, 2017

Joann MacMaster brought extensive background in entrepreneurship and startups to her position as the Director of Business Development for the University of Arizona's Tech Launch Arizona.  In addition to having three successful exits (including one IPO) in private enterprise, she has served as Director of the Arizona Center for Innovation (AzCI) technology business incubator, Program Director for the UA McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, and is a UA Academic Leadership Institute Fellow.

Among the many topics we cover, Joann discusses how to create a healthy corporate culture, mentorship and building mentor networks, and changes in the culture of entrepreneurship.


Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The Rainforest - by Victor Hwang

Prescott College 


Arizona Chamber of Commerce



Dec 12, 2017

John Phelps is the CEO and executive director of the State Bar of Arizona, an organization focused on improving the administration of justice and the competency, ethics, and professionalism of lawyers in Arizona.

John's introduction to Arizona came when his father was stationed at Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  Ultimately, John became a second generation career Army officer where he also became an intelligence officer before pursuing a law degree from the University of Arizona and joining the US Army's JAG corps.  Following his 25-year career in the Army, John served in the Arizona Office of Homeland Security, the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross, and as the chief of staff at the US General Services Administration.

John discusses topics ranging from the challenges of leading in a "zero-defect" environment, balancing "gut feelings" with data, leading in non-profits and government organizations, surrounding yourself with trusted advisers, and so much more.


Good to Great and the Social Sectors by Jim Collins

Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Dec 6, 2017

We’re joined by three generations of leaders from Hickman’s Family Farms - Bill Hickman, Sr., Glenn Hickman, and Branden Hickman. Each one shares stories and insights I know you will enjoy and learn from.

They share some unique insights to being part of a family business, engaging with community, the importance of education, and how they approach changing production requirements in response to customer demands for products such as cage-free eggs.


Arizona's Future of Education Vision event on 12/12/17 (Glenn mentioned in the podcast)

Dirty Jobs w/ Mike Rowe at Hickman's Family Farms (Season 4, Episode 25)

Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Nov 28, 2017

David Kolbe - the CEO of Kolbe Corp - shares insights into how they help individuals and companies thrive, how leveraging technology can grow your audience and simultaneously reduce costs, and how seeking feedback from users can lead to new product offerings.  

Additionally, David shares his story which takes him from Brophy College Prep to the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.  After a brief stop on Capitol Hill, he returned to Arizona to attend law school at Arizona State University, practice law, and ultimately join Kolbe Corp.

David’s mother, Kathy Kolbe, founded Kolbe Corp in Phoenix in 1975.  Kolbe Corp helps businesses and individuals identify, understand, apply, and leverage their unique instinctive strengths so they can be more productive and more fulfilled. 


Wonderlic Personnel Test

Michael Hyatt podcast where he discusses the Kolbe A Index

Takes Two

5 Love Languages assessment

Elvis Costello

Rex Orange County

Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Nov 14, 2017
This week we talk with Zach Ferres - the CEO of Coplex, a startup accelerator focused on founders who are not coders.  Zach grew up in Ohio and we talk about everything from leadership lessons he has learned from Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, to lessons he learned from his parents who instilled a strong, customer-centric work ethic. 
Zach shares his thoughts on coders being founders, lessons from sports, risk management, whether startups need business plans, the essentials of culture and emotional intelligence, and his love of gluten-free pancakes and Family Guy.  
Reebok Ragnar del Sol

Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Nov 7, 2017
This week we talk with Max Hansen, the CEO of Y Scouts, a purpose-based executive recruiting firm.  Max grew up in Glendale, Arizona and went to Northern Arizona University thinking football would be his future.  He discusses that change in plan and what ultimately led him to the field of recruiting.  
Max covers a wide range of topics, including how to align purpose, values, leadership and culture within an organization and within your hiring process.  He discusses being disruptive in the marketplace, connecting people and purpose, having an attitude of abundance, and winning the Gumball 3000.
Also, be sure to check out Y Scouts co-founder Brian Mohr's own podcast - Built On Purpose - which takes a look at leaders in Arizona and beyond.
The Captain Class by Sam Walker
Human Elements
Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Oct 31, 2017

This week we talk with Justin Gray, the CEO and founder of LeadMD, co-founder of PaidSuite,  co-owner of Greyson Organics (an organic farm in rural Missouri), and co-founder of Six Bricks.

Justin, who grew up in Fountain Hills and attended the University of Arizona, talks with us about his passion for entrepreneurship and modern-day marketing - topics he has written and spoken about extensively.  Justin has been published over 300 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., as well as featured contributor statuses with Entrepreneur and others.

We cover a wide range of topics including how he approaches writing (and why it is important for marketers to hone this skill), when should founders get out of the way, the importance of culture and values governing behavior, his views on unicorns and hiring, empathy, and the concept of 1+1=4.

Also, check out Justin's podcast - Driven & Co. - which examines guests' "unconventional roads to leadership."  Great stuff!


Connect with Justin: Email, Twitter, LinkedIn


Ear Hustle


Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Oct 24, 2017

Todd Belfer is the managing partner of the venture capital firm Canal Partners.  Todd shares his early entrepreneurial days when he bused fraternity and sorority students to Laughlin and later found himself founding software companies, restaurants (Ra Sushi Bar), and supplement and herbal tea companies.  Today, he and his partners focus on helping entrepreneurs and founders, in a defined stage of their growth, flourish.

Todd touches on a number of topics of interest to founders, entrepreneurs, college students, and each one of us who have a passion for what we do.  In fact, he really dissects the subject of "passion" and gives some great insights we can all learn from on that and many other topics.


DeMello Spirituality Center

New Way Academy

Jiro Dreams of Sushi - Official Site

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Arizona Chamber of Commerce


Oct 17, 2017

Ambassador Barbara Barrett joins us for this week's conversation.  She currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Aerospace Corporation and as the CEO of Triple Creek Ranch.  Ambassador Barrett has served as the US Ambassador to Finland, the Deputy Director of the Federal Aviation Administration, the President of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and the CEO of the American Management Association, just to mention a few.

Our conversation covers not only her story, but her passion for education, lifelong learning, problem solving, and leading through significant change and rebuilding of an organization.  Ambassador Barrett discusses her passion for supporting the military, advocating for space exploration and aerospace, and giving back to the community.  She also shares some poignant thoughts on legacy, influence and why she does not embrace the concept of a "bucket list" (and what she and her husband, Craig, use instead).  Undoubtedly, you will benefit personally and professionally from what she has to say.


Fighter Country Foundation

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Oct 11, 2017

Heidi Jannenga is the president and co-founder of WebPT, a SaaS company providing support to physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists.  

WebPT has been on the INC 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US for five years straight and is one of Arizona's fastest growing companies.  

Our conversation takes us from Heidi’s days playing basketball to finding her passion in the profession of physical therapy. She then explains how seeing a huge problem led to the creation of WebPT. We talk about corporate culture, engaging your customers, the fear of failure, generational issues, and so much more.



WebPT careers

WebPT's values

Conscious Capitalism

Special Episode with Michael Lorsch - Vision v. Behavior

Special Episode with Michael Lorsch - Overcoming Failure


Arizona Chamber of Commerce

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Rising Strong - Brene Brown

Oct 3, 2017

This week Jeffrey Pruitt, founder and CEO of Tallwave, joins us for a fascinating conversation about his journey from accountancy to entrepreneurship and from "running through walls" to leading smarter.

An Arizona native, Jeffrey explores taking ideas to market, finding capitol for those ideas, and building a strong organization based on values and strategy.  You will want to have your notebook ready for this conversation, especially as he talks practically about how Tallwave strives to be a friction-less workplace.


Jeffrey Pruitt on LinkedIn


Tallwave Capital


Camelback Mountain

12 Week Year by Brian Moran

The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Sep 27, 2017

This week, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack returns for the second installment of our conversation.  When she last joined us in Season One, we left her in Colorado, and today we hear the rest of the story.

In addition to her journey, Colleen addresses topics each of us can learn from.  Those range from mentoring, to life-long learning, to taking risks, and finding balance in life.  You will also want to hear her story about one particular cast of the show "Evita" and the lessons we can learn about excellence and accountability.


ASU Gammage

Stadium 365

Built to Last

The Experience Economy

Bernstein Meets Broadway

Yes, Chef: A Memoir

Setting the Table

Noorderzon - Performing Arts Festival - Groningen

Traverse Theatre Edinburgh

Game of Thrones

Being Mary Jane

Arizona Chamber of Commerce

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Sep 19, 2017


Jason Pistillo is the president of the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona.  Our conversation takes us from Jason building his first computer game at the age of eight, to becoming a network engineer at 21, to his 23-year career at UAT.  He has been recognized as a leader in business and was most recently given the East Valley Institute Technology's "Sam and Olga Bender Award" for being a strong community partner over the past decade.

We cover a wide range of topics ranging from building a "fast, fun, friendly and smart" culture, instituting rigorous hiring practices, maintaining motivation and focus, investing in the community, and empowering staff.  Jason also discusses why their culture of vulnerability among staff has made their team stronger, and so much more.


University of Advancing Technology

Contact Jason via email

Ballet Arizona YouTube video

Valley Leadership


Leading Geeks by Paul Glen

Alignment For Success by Katherine Halpin

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge

S*** My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Sep 12, 2017

Greg Head has spent most of his professional life in the world of software, including being part of the startup and growth stages of two major Arizona companies and as the chief marketing officer for Chandler-based Infusionsoft.  Today, Greg consults founders and CEOs, curates Gregslist (an active list of Arizona-based software companies...over 300 strong), and has more projects and initiatives on the way.

In our conversation, Greg shares thoughts on not only marketing, but focus, intensity, scaling your business, Arizona's technology mindset, and what it means to transition your business from being ADD to OCD.  You will want to take notes!


Greg Head - LinkedIn

Greg Head Consulting


Clate Mask podcast interview

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Sep 5, 2017

Our first guest of the new season is Brian Mueller - Chairman, President and CEO of Grand Canyon University.  Our conversation begins in Milwaukee, WI where Brian grew up along with his parents and seven siblings.  We then look at his years as a teacher and basketball coach and ultimately to his move into leading two major higher education institutions.

President Mueller discusses everything from finding purpose and passion to the importance of focusing on planning and preparation.  He talks about the time in his life he received the best training for leading businesses, and discusses his decision checklist when it comes to running a publicly traded company.  We also talk about partnerships, team building, and so much more.


Grand Canyon University


Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Jun 28, 2017

This week we are joined by Jackie Norton who is the president and CEO of The Rodel Foundation of Arizona.  A native Arizonan, Jackie's career path has taken her from the private sector as a partner at the Gallagher & Kennedy law firm, to the public sector where she held several positions including the Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce for two governors, and in the non-profit space where she led the Arizona State University Foundation and now leads at Rodel.

Jackie shares valuable insights about how to become an effective leader though collaboration, focus, and discovering how to leverage assets.  Her views on mentoring, lifelong learning, and vision for an organization will instruct and inspire you.



Interview with Shawn Linam


Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Jun 21, 2017

This week we are joined by Colleen Jennings-Roggensack who serves as the executive director of Arizona State University's Gammage and is ASU's Vice President for Cultural Affairs.  

We recorded this episode just days after Colleen returned from the Tony Awards.  She holds the distinction of being the only Arizonan who casts a ballot for the Tony Awards.  And this year she celebrates both her 25th year leading the way at Gammage and the fact they have already sold out their 2017-18 season.  Not to mention the fact she is responsible for bringing Hamilton to Arizona next year.

Colleen talks about life as a military brat in which she found herself living in 13 states and two countries before going to college.  She recounts the influence her parents had on her and her siblings through the lens of "sacred texts" her parents taught them to live by.

In our brief conversation, we cover several issues related to leadership and personal growth...and we provide some teasers for an eventual Part II to this delightful conversation.


ASU Gammage Beyond

Desert Botanical Garden

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Jun 14, 2017

We all read books and hear inspirational speakers which motivate us to look at how we lead or run our organizations.  But, often, the daily grind prevents us from actually taking action on those ideas.

This week we have a special, topical episode featuring Michael Lorsch, principal consultant for The Table Group which was founded by best-selling author, speaker, and leadership guru Patrick Lencioni.  Today, Michael discusses how to strategically do the hard work to implement ideas.

Jun 6, 2017

This week we speak with Jim Ward, the president and CEO of The Phoenix Symphony.  In addition to his role at the Symphony, Jim is also a Venture Partner in the venture capital firm, Alsop Louie Partners.

In our conversation, Jim takes us from his roots in Indiana to his first move to Arizona where he attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management.  From there, his career took him to places he never expected and afforded him the opportunity to lead global marketing campaigns for Apple, Microsoft, and Nike.  Jim was also recruited to oversee the global distribution and marketing of all of Lucasfilm's motion picture, television, and video properties...and develop the plan to launch Star Wars Episodes 1-3.  In case he needed more to do, he was concurrently named the President of LucasArts where he oversaw the rebuilding of the video game company.

Jim talks about mentors (including his influential piano teacher, Ms. Breckenridge), building trust with clients, the importance of teams, how data influences marketing decisions, and explores the concept of "irreverence justified."  You will enjoy the stories and learn from his perspectives on leading and innovating.


Mind Over Music

B-Sharp Music Wellness

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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May 31, 2017

What happens when your organization drifts from its core mission?  How do successful entities innovate and push the envelope while maintaining firm footing?

This week we have a special, topical episode featuring Michael Lorsch, principal consultant for The Table Group which was founded by best-selling author, speaker, and leadership guru Patrick Lencioni.  Today, Michael discusses the concept of strategic anchors and how organizations use them to make efficient and focused decisions.

Next week we will be back with our regular program where we talk with another Arizona Original!  Please join us again next week.

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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