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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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

Contact us at the podcast:


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 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 24, 2017

This week's guest is Phil Potter, founder and CEO of The Armory Incubator - a non-profit with the mission of helping veterans launch and scale startups.  Fast Company magazine listed The Armory as Arizona's contribution to its "United States of Innovation" special feature in the May, 2017 issue.

Phil earned his Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and then received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Arizona State University.  Phil shares what led to his decision to join the US Air Force where he received his commission and served for six years.  Following his service in the Air Force, Phil returned to academia at ASU and found his way to an opportunity focusing on helping veterans seeking to become entrepreneurs.

Phil shares the early influences which led him to be an entrepreneur, in his own right, at an early age.  From there, he discusses lessons learned from the Air Force, why it is good to be the "dumbest person in the room", identifying the context of leadership, his connection with the book Hillbilly Elegy, and much more.


Email Phil 

Follow The Armory Incubator on Twitter

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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May 16, 2017

Today's guest is longtime Arizona radio personality Tim Hattrick.  In our conversation, Tim tells  stories about notable personalities he has worked with over the years, including his nearly three-decade partnership with Willy D. Loon (the Tim and Willy Show).  At the beginning of 2017, Tim returned to the airwaves at KNIX 102.5 FM as a member of the morning show (the Tim, Ben and Brooke Show) after he encountered some unexpected twists and turns professionally.

Tim shares entertaining stories (including one about Glenn Beck you may not know) and valuable insights he has gained over his many years in the broadcasting booth.  He touches on a number of topics including working with millennials, building rapport with a team, and pursuing your passions.



Connect with Tim via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

The Moth podcast

Arizona Storytellers on KJZZ

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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May 9, 2017

Today's guest, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, has served as a US Navy physician, was hand selected to serve for two years as one of three attending physicians for the US Congress (including the US Supreme Court Justices), and has practiced medicine in Arizona.

The son of political refugees from Syria, Dr. Jasser also founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and can often be found testifying before Congress and speaking at conferences and on television about issues related to terrorism, Islam, and democracy.

He shares his story about growing up in middle America and how his paternal grandfather, in particular, helped foster his passion for political, social and cultural change.  He discusses the concepts of passion, hard work, and how to channel a strong competitive spirit in positive directions.  And listen to the very end of the discussion where he shares some fascinating thoughts about having a sense of humor.


Reform This! - podcast hosted by Dr. Jasser

Dr. Jasser on Twitter (@DrZuhdiJasser)

Take Back Islam

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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May 2, 2017

This week, Dolan Ellis joins us to share his journey from a farm in Kansas, to landing a job at KOOL-TV in Phoenix, to winning a Grammy with The New Christy Minstrels, and then back to Arizona where he continued his career in music.  The merging of his passion for Arizona, music, heritage, nature and photography has resulted in a diverse body of work spanning nearly six decades.

In 1966, then-Governor Sam Goddard approached Dolan and asked if he would be willing to be Arizona's official balladeer, and the first person in the country designated as such.  The next 12 governors made the same designation, and this year marks Dolan's 51st year as Arizona's official balladeer.

In our conversation, we cover a number of topics relevant to entrepreneurs, artists, and people who simply love Arizona, including pursuing your passion, finding mentors, taking risks, and making time for contemplation.  Dolan belies his age (82-years-old) and will enrich the way you think about Arizona.


Dolan's Official Website

Arizona Folklore Preserve

Salt River Wild Horse Management Group

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Apr 25, 2017

You will not want to miss our conversation with Glenn Williamson.  Glenn serves as the Honorary Consul of Canada to Arizona, is the founder and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council, is the chairman and CEO of EPCOR Water USA, and owns and operates Nest Ventures.  But the list of titles and jobs does not end there.  Glenn shares his passion for family and community involvement, and why he values his role as assistant Boy Scout leader.

Glenn holds nothing back as he shares his story which begins in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  His journey takes him from a dysfunctional family, to military school, to becoming a wunderkind in the tourism industry, to finding great ups and downs in the entrepreneurial world, and ultimately to Arizona where he lives out his passion for building strong economies and strong families.

We cover a host of topics and he shares some remarkable insights into how he leads, how he views success and failure, how his mistakes got him hired to a remarkable job, and how he engages with his children.  He imparts wisdom which will inspire and challenge you.

Arizona Originals Podcast Website

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Apr 18, 2017

Co-founder and CEO of Qwaltec, Inc., Shawn Linam, shares the unique journey which led to her role as chief executive of an aerospace engineering company.  As you hear her story, the idea of resilience emerges time and again as she recounts moving frequently as a young girl, struggling with math, and navigating the male-dominated engineering profession.  But through it all, you will hear the constant refrain of hard work, finding your passion, and the importance of being open to unexpected opportunities.

Shawn has led Qwaltec from three employees (the original founders) in 2001 to 65 employees today.  Her company provides support for manned and unmanned space flight programs for both government and private entities.  She also plays an active role in the community where, among other things, she mentors young women and serves as the STEM Director for the Girls Rule Foundation.

Podcast Home Page

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Apr 11, 2017

This week's conversation with Joel Grimes ties together several subjects - entrepreneurship, art, passion, hard work, intuition, competition in the marketplace, and overcoming obstacles.  Drawing upon his real world experience as an acclaimed photographer, who nearly gave up on his dream were it not for a college professor who encouraged him to move beyond a limitation some would consider a non-starter for a photographer, Joel shares marketplace insights relevant to everyone from CEOs to students.

Joel teaches classes all over the world related to lighting and photography, and he holds the distinction of being both one of Canon's Explorers of Light and one of Adobe Photoshop's Spotlight Artists.  Additionally, he continues to work as a professional commercial photographer in Arizona and around the world.


Joel Grimes Photography & Joel Grimes Workshops

Ray Lamontagne

Apr 4, 2017

Kimber Lanning is the founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, a nonprofit that supports, promotes, and advocates for a strong local business community here in Arizona.  In our conversation, Kimber shares how this passion for locally-grown businesses and her connection to "place" developed.  Additionally, Kimber owns both Stinkweeds new and used record store and Modified Arts gallery and performance space.

Kimber discusses the foundations of Local First Arizona's mission, and explains how she engages with employees and communities/neighborhoods to advance that mission.  Additionally, she discusses how she views entrepreneurship through the lens of hometown pride and connection to the individuals in your community and neighborhood.  She also mentions several former podcast guests whose companies exemplify those locally grown businesses, such as Infusionsoft, U-Haul, Upward Projects, and PING.

Learn more about Arizona Originals at

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Find out more about the Arizona Chamber at:


Older, Smaller, Better


Mar 7, 2017

This week Lauren Bailey, CEO of Upward Projects, joins us for a great conversation about entrepreneurship, being in the people business, collaboration, parenting, and so much more.

Lauren is a co-founder of Upward Projects - a locally focused group of restaurateurs in Phoenix.  Their brands include Postino WineCafe, Joyride Taco House, Windsor/Churn and Federal Pizza.  She serves on the boards of both Local First Arizona and the Entrepreneurs Organization, as well as serving as a steering committee member for Devour Phoenix.  Additionally, she has received recognition for her accomplishments from such diverse entities as the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Business Journal, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame, and the Arizona Restaurant Association.

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