004 – Culture is a Team Sport | Tom Zupancic

Are you in a leadership position? If you’re listening to Gut + Science, then you’re answer is likely ‘yes.’ Joining us this week is Tom Zupancic, former Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for the Indianapolis Colts and now GM for DEEM. Tom has more than thirty years of experience from landing multi-million dollar deals to managing thousands of employees.

In this week’s conversation, Tom shares his tools and processes to take your leadership team and company to the next level.

Interested in hearing what didn’t make the show? Send Nikki a message to get the unedited story on how Tom secured the naming rights for Lucas Oil Stadium.

Truth You Can Act On:

  1. Know people’s motivation: We can’t treat all of our people the same. Everyone’s motivated in different ways and we have to know what’s there why. We have to spend time listening and understanding how your employees are motivated.
  2. Employees first: Customer service should be a top priority but it can’t take precedence over your employees. When you help your employees win they’ll walk through fire for you and your customers.
  3. Build on their strengths: Always look for the good in people and acknowledge what they’re doing well. You can build loyalty by leading with positivity. When we have a strong relationship with people they stop expecting you to be perfect and start focusing on how they can help bring the company’s vision to life.

Nikki’s Book Recommendation:


  • LHD Benefits – LHD is a full-service employee benefits firm, that empowers their clients to make the best possible decisions for their employees — to define optimal objectives, monitor outcomes, improve health, and engage and advocate for employees and their loved ones. Visit lhdbenefits.com
  • Custom Concrete – Custom Concrete has been creating foundations for the finest homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities throughout Central Indiana since 1969. Builders, contractors, and homeowners rely on our expertise because so much depends on getting it right. Our knowledge and control of all aspects of the job, from excavation to waterproofing to backfill, means that extra value is built into every project. Codes don’t drive our business, excellence does. See the difference at customeconcrete.com

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003 – The Jackson 5: Five strategies to engage remote employees | Tom Jackson

The secret to good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members or workers better. Featured guest, Tom Jackson, President of Steel Encounters, inspires this episode’s conversation about the top five strategies for engaging and retaining employees.


  1. Authenticity and vulnerability are key. It’s important as leaders to take off the ‘suit and tie’ and be authentic. Connect with your employees human being to human being. It’s really hard to do because it’s this balancing act. I think for a lot of us in leadership roles we want to make sure to walk the fine line on keeping things professional. However, the more authentic you are as a leader the better.
  2. Check-In often. Checking in and spending time with your team members talking through their personal growth journey as much as their professional growth. If you have a two hour meeting, break it in half by spending time helping your people develop individually, which is as important as growing professionally and meeting the goals of your business. In addition, figure out how to be present on a regular basis. Go and see your people out in the field and go travel to new locations to see just see people outside of your office
  3. Personal recognition. The power of personal recognition even in the smallest forms can make the greatest impact. So writing out a note on a notecard can go such a long way. Think about how you can add more personal recognition with simple touches can make such an impact.

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002 – Because if you don’t care about culture, no one will | Mike Davis

The inspiration for this episode comes from this interesting stat, 70 percent of leaders put people and culture in their top three initiatives yet only 20 percent of those leaders can report an ROI on the things they’re doing to move the needle on engagement and drive their culture forward.

If people and culture are such a priority, then why is that most leaders have no idea what’s actually working in their organization? Nikki and guest Mike Davis, CEO of Harley Davidson of Ohio,  explores this idea.


  1. Hire for cultural fit. Make sure this human being is not just being hired for skill set but for cultural fit, meaning that they’re going to jive with the rest of your organization and help everyone be better. You don’t want to go back and fix that later. One of the greatest tests is just thinking through how long would you like to hang out with this person outside of work. That’s really good test because you should want to hang out and be friends with them.
  2. Understand the power of soft skills training. We need to develop our people from the communication to relationship skills like building friendships and knowing how to show up. So I just encourage you to think through not so much the mechanical things and the high level skills that they need as employees to do a great job but the soft skills training as well. Take retreats you know get them away do some team building and really just help develop your people.
  3. Build disciples. When you build Disciple’s you are really building a custom culture to your organization.  The people in your organization will scale and grow your culture. As a CEO you cannot delegate culture. You have to figure out how to scale. So building disciples in your organization is what will allow you to fulfill your vision.  Be visible. Empower the leaders in your org to do the same.

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001 – Meaning and Millennials: How to engage and retain them | Jethro Lloyd

This week we are focusing on millennial employees and the younger generations in our workplace. Ready or not they are the future of our workforce. Featured guest, Jethro LloydCEO of iLAB, shares his take on how to engage millennials and why we’re thinking about them all wrong.


  1. Focus on humanizing your communication. Don’t forget it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. I encourage you to think through how you’re communicating as a whole whether it’s general communications or the more touchy subjects that obviously need more intimate communication around them. Really focusing on how big communication is and how it can impact your organization.
  2. Allow for on one-to one-interaction. I know that as a CEO or president, you can’t be everywhere all the time. However, you can encourage your leaders to be more proactive with one-on-one time with the people on their team. Empower your managers or leaders to do the same thing so that you can really scale the opportunity and make the impact.
  3. Embrace authenticity. Be authentic regularly, especially in the world of millennials and the younger generations, they want to know the real you. The bottom line and all of that we try very hard to be connected to our people but we sometimes forget how much of an impact just talking about our weekends or sharing some kind of just vulnerability. I just encourage you to do more and more of that.

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000 – Gut + Science: What’s this all about? | Nikki Lewallen

Whether you need to land more business or increase output, the road to more revenue and better business outcomes ultimately relies on relationships. And if there’s one thing Nikki Lewallen knows, it’s relationships.

In Gut+Science™, Nikki takes you on a one-of-a-kind ride that cuts to the core of people-first cultures—to see what true success looks like, and how CEOs like you are redefining employee engagement.

If you’re ready to replace gut instinct with the scientific insight you can use to drive change within your organization, this is the podcast for you. Get ready for real talk on leadership, lessons learned and what it truly takes to create winning cultures.

This episode is our introduction and the why behind launching the show.


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