Revolutionizing Advertising with Aaron Itzkowitz and How Successful Leaders Behave with Harrison Monarth

People love being rewarded, and with software like Jinglz, you can get rewards by simply noticing an ad. Aaron Itzkowitz, the CEO, and Founder of Jinglz has extensive experience in technology management and in growing traditional and start-up businesses to profitability. He shares what his software can bring to companies who are seeking noticeability and talks about what differentiates it from the gamification of advertising. Know more about how other amazing apps like Verus Media and Rewardz Shop link with Jinglz to identify how the audience react and interact with ads.

Understanding a leadership’s executive presence is critical towards making or breaking a career. Harrison Monarth, the CEO and Founder of Gurumaker, talks about how successful leaders behave. Having worked with 60 Fortune 500 companies, he reveals how he goes about coaching their CEOs and respected leaders. He also talks about the aspects that are holding people back from excelling, such as communication and lack of self-awareness.

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders Behave


We have Aaron Itzkowitz and Harrison Monarth. Aaron is a CEO at Jinglz, a new startup and very fascinating stuff in the advertising realm. Harrison Monarth is an Executive Coach, New York Times bestselling author, and CEO of GuruMaker Executive Development. This guy is a behavioral expert. I’m looking forward to talking to both Aaron and Harrison.

Listen to the podcast here

Revolutionizing Advertising with Aaron Itzkowitz

I am here with Aaron Itzkowitz, who is the CEO and Founder of Jinglz. He has extensive experience in technology management prior to Jinglz. He has been the CEO, present COO. He has done so much work from Hewlett Packard and on and on. I’m very interested in having you on the show. Welcome, Aaron.

Thanks so much, Diane.

You’re welcome. It was nice of Rich Lofgren to introduce us. I’m interested in Jinglz. I’ve worked in marketing and advertising training and a lot of different things that you deal with. I would like to start with a background of how you got interested in what you’re doing. Can you give your short background story?

I grew up in New York. Out of college, I went into the family business. We were in the picture framing business, small little factory in Manhattan and then in Brooklyn, New York. At the time, my dad, who was the owner of the company, was earning a nice income in the early ‘80s of about $75,000 a year. It’s a successful business, upper-middle class. By the time I left in the mid ‘90s, I had exponentially grown the business with the same infrastructure that we had there and my dad was earning close to $2.5 million a year in personal income. I scaled the business. I took the infrastructure that he had and I went into other markets. That was the stepping stone for me to get into technology. I learned a lot about technology back around early to late 90’s and Hewlett Packard hired me as a consultant. We launched a project literally out of my home in Queens, New York where they sent for people from all over the world to camp out and for us to map out a strategy to launch their large format printers. Within six months of starting the concept for the proof of concept, we closed $140 million sales to Kinko’s. It’s a fast scalable growth.

Jinglz is about providing a solution to a pain in the marketplace. More than 90% of video advertising that’s delivered through mobile and YouTube ads that you skip after three or four seconds, 90% of those don’t get seen. Users are not engaged. What Jinglz is about is we’ve created technology that uses the front-facing camera of a mobile device with the user’s permission. They’re receiving some type of rewards, some type of incentive for engaging in the advertising and we’re delivering advertising where we’re tracking the user’s engagement using the front-facing camera. We tested this in our own mobile app as a proof of concept from 2016 to 2018. We’re at 90% skip the ads or hit that skip button many times. We had 96% engagement in completion. Total polar opposite. The user, for watching the ad from start to finish whether it be a 15 or a 30-second video ad, they received points which they redeemed for gift cards and cash. We built out the test and we’re solving an issue that plagues advertisers and brands which is what they use in the terminology and industry called viewability. “Are people watching their sponsored messaging?” That’s the passion behind Jinglz.

Advertising has a lot of gamification making it more challenging in terms of verifying audience engagement. Click To Tweet

It’s a gamification of sorts because people are planned in a way. Is it for all YouTube ads? Is it specifically for certain things? I know I’ve heard people doing it for considering some similar things for podcasts or if your kids are listening to certain things or watching certain things. Where is this all happening?

There’s a lot of gamification in advertising. Let’s say you’re on an app like Candy Crush and they want to incentivize you for getting another life to play on the next level or whatever that might be. That game is why the advertising may be showing the end, but the biggest challenge is there’s no verification that somebody watched the ad. The ad could be playing and they could put the phone face down on the table where they can look away. With our technology enabled, our ad is delivered through a software development kit or a plugin. Mobile app publishers who are monetizing their apps by using advertising, connect to us as another advertising network and we connect them with brands and advertisers then agencies deliver ads, but with our technology enabled.

Imagine if you are on Candy Crush and an ad starts playing and you have opted in to watch that ad with the technology enabled, you’re going to receive an external reward where you’re collecting points to redeem for gift cards or some other product. When you’re not looking at the screen, let’s say the video is playing in the screens in front of you and then you turn to the left, turn to the right, the video stops playing. The ad pauses and then when you look back at the screen, the ad continues to play. When you lower the volume, the ad pauses. When you increase the volume, the ad starts playing again. The messaging back to the advertisers are that eyes on the screen. There was a real person watching your ad and getting your message and that differentiates us in gamification of advertising.

I’ve been listening a little bit about whether how much we want to have facial recognition and you mentioned that this is something that people have opted into, right?

Let me clarify. We’re not using facial recognition. If the ad is playing on your phone, we are using the geometry of your face, the different points of your face to know that there’s a person in front of the screen. It doesn’t have to be the same person to show you that we address privacy. If you were to hand your phone to the person next to you, the video pause for a moment and then when they would start looking at the screen, the video will continue playing. For privacy issues, we do not use facial recognition libraries to make sure that’s you specifically as the user.

The reason I’m asking is I work on different boards and different things deal with technology. I used to sell computers in the ‘80s and I have a limited technology background, but if you can hand the phone to somebody else, who gets the reward? Does it matter as long as somebody’s watching it? Is that the thought process or do you want the initial person to watch it and that’s the one downside?

Let’s say a thousand people were being delivered an ad by Coca-Cola and they made sure that there were two friends sitting next to them every single time the video ad played, which they never know when it’s going to happen regardless of which mobile app. They’re on. That would be a great case study. That will be very interesting. At the end of the day, the advertisers want to know that people are engaged. Viewability in mobile advertising especially in video advertising is the buzzword and that’s the pain that we’re addressing with our technology and our products.

Who’s paying these rewards? Does it go to your company? If you get a gift card, does it go to that? If I watched a Coca-Cola ad, could I buy a Coca-Cola?

We have launched a platform called Verus Media. Verus is Latin for truthful. Verus Media is an advertising network very similar to Facebook Ads Manager or other ad networks. Advertising agencies will go to Verus Media, set up an account and create campaigns and targeting wherever they want to deliver ads to and on the same platform. If I’m a publisher, National Geographic, the USA Today, Candy Crush, a mobile app gaming company, I would connect my inventory or my audience to the platform. This way when an advertiser wants to deliver ads to a certain demographic, it would then connect to the publisher and then it would be matchmaking and it would deliver the ads.

Very similar to programmatic advertising. In that instance, what happens is the advertisers pay for a campaign to us. For the publishers sharing their audience, we provide them with a revenue share as the ads are being delivered to their audience and we take an amount out of the advertising revenue and set aside for rewards redemption. Everybody wins. Advertisers get something when they see their ad. Publishers make money for the audience that they acquired and make it available for the advertisers and the consumers who are engaging in the ad and for their time they’re being rewarded.

I have a lot of people who have shows like this one. Let’s say they want to monetize their show, they want to get an advertiser on their show. Let’s say Coca-Cola wants to advertise on the show, how would that work then? Can you pin it that way?

If people are watching your show through a mobile app and you decide that you want to monetize, you would probably have your engineers or developers say, “Here’s the commercial break. Now we need to show three or four commercials,” or whatever. We have to connect to an ad network. It’s very similar to Google or anyone else and based on you saying, “The profile of my audience is so and so,” then it would connect to our system and the advertisers who want to target that demographic, they would say, “We have ads that we want to deliver to Diane’s show.” That triggers the videos being played inside your app. Your app, you have installed our software to play this, it’s called the VeriView video ad. The VeriView video ad is being played inside your app. AS people are seeing it, they’re collecting rewards. You, for providing the audience, are receiving a share of the advertising revenue.

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders Behave
How Successful Leaders Behave: Machine learning and artificial intelligence are used to improve the accuracy of capturing audience emotions.


These rewards that they get back if they listen to an ad about Coca-Cola for example, would they get the rewards. If they do get it, do they use it towards Coca-Cola or to other things?

The way we’ve built this out is that regardless of where the consumer visits on their phone, regardless which app they have installed, let’s say they have twenty apps and all those apps have our software installed. They’ve watched twenty separate video ads on each of those apps. They’re accumulating points in our system and then they will install an app called Rewardz Shop.We communicate that to them before they watch the video in your app. They go there, set up their account and then they see their history. It’s like a bank account. “I was on Diane’s app and I got twenty points. I was on Candy Crush and I got 100 points,” and there are gift cards there. Target, Panera bread, a whole bunch of gift cards and different amounts that they can select from and this is how the consumers experience this.

You had shared a link with me, which I thought was interesting because when we’re talking about advertising, there’s so much that goes into it. Remind me again of the website that we looked at with the emotions.

It’s called

You’re tying into something that I’m very much interested in when I do my research, which is the emotions behind advertising. What is CampaignTester? What does that video do for you?

Let me back up a little bit. At the core, Jinglz is a technology company. We’ve created two technologies. One is called VeriView which verifies. These are technology that use a front-facing camera of the mobile device with the user’s permission. VeriView verifies engagement. We’ve created a product called Verus Media and we’re deploying that through publishers and advertisers in that ecosystem. The second technology is called emotiontrac. What emotiontrac does is with the user’s permission, with the front-facing camera of the mobile device activated, we can track a person’s emotional reaction to a video while it’s playing on their mobile device, phone or tablet. If I’m playing a 30-second trailer for a movie, we’re tracking second-by-second, is the person happy? Are they sad? Angry? Confused? Do they have fear? Whatever that is, we are capturing seven emotions.

We’re collecting that data and we’re delivering that data back as insights to the content creator. Whether it be a movie studio, a political marketing manager, somebody creating ads that they’re going to put on Facebook or in television, video ads. What this valuable data does is it allows them to test inside a mobile focus group environment based on the audience that they want to invite to this focus group. Get the emotional intelligence and actionable intelligence so that they can go back and edit the video before they spend loads of money on a television campaign or a social media campaign. That’s CampaignTester.

Are you using Paul Ekman‘s psychological research? Paul was on my show. He was the mind behind the TV show Lie to Me. He found there were six emotions that are commonly associated and everybody’s got it. If you’re born blind, you make these same facial expressions no matter what. Is that what your research is based on?

Viewability in mobile advertising especially in video advertising is the pain that plagues advertisers and brands. Click To Tweet

The research is not based necessarily on any one source. We’re using multiple sources. At the core of our technology, we’re using machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of the emotions that are being captured. Plus, we’re expanding upon that on a regular basis to achieve more of a library size or a sample size. For example, the more video that people watch on an ongoing basis, it improves the accuracy of why the person is happy or smiling. The way we’re doing it is there are very slight changes in the geometry of a person’s face to determine what that emotion is. We have data scientists and data modeling to continue to update the machine to understand what is considered an emotion.

I don’t know if Gillette used anything similar, but when they released their ad that upset so many people, do you see it changing that type of reaction?

Absolutely, that’s the sole purpose of this product using our technology. I don’t know if Gillette did this or not, but if Gillette would have gone to a focus group, a market research company and they want to test this ad, I don’t know how long it would take them. They’d have to get a panel audience, set it up, and have analysts. They’d videotape the people in a room and it could take them two or three weeks to get all the data back. They could be spending $25,000 to $100,000 to gather that data. It’s costly. What we’ve created is a self-serve solution. It’s a platform where you go to a website if you want to run a test. I think of SurveyMonkey. Have you heard of SurveyMonkey?

Yes, the CEO has been on the show.

Think of SurveyMonkey for video in a sense. I can upload a video. I can upload an A, B test, two videos. I can upload to an audience that’s a list of 1,000 people. An invitation gets sent out to 1,000 people and say, “If you participate in this 30-second video survey, all you have to do is watch it naturally and you’ll receive a $2 gift card to Starbucks for participating. You have to complete this within four hours,” then data gets sent out. Let’s say it was Gillette. Gillette would get back on their dashboard on the website an overall score of the entire audience that participated. They would get a second-by-second, frame-by-frame of the actual video that’s testing to say, “From zero to three seconds, 72% of the people were happy. From four to six seconds, they were angry and from seven to eight seconds, they were sad.”

If Gillette didn’t want the sad emotion to be evoked in that time frame and that’s how the audience scored it, they can go back and edit it. Our tests start at $150 and up, so you’re talking about a mass-market solution. I’m not saying it’s going to be at $150. It depends on the length of the video that’s being tested and the number of list size that’s being invited to the test. There are a couple of parameters and an algorithm that calculates the pricing plus the cost of the reward. It gives the marketer and the content creator the ability to do low-cost testing and to see how an audience is going to react to their content. This could be influencers, political marketers, anybody who is doing anything with video, even film directors and film producers. They could test it along the way.

I’m thinking when Zander Lurie, the CEO of SurveyMonkey, was on. I was asking him who the people were behind taking the assessments because you can just pay to have it set to your demographic and all that. Do you have a database or do you tie into something like what they do at SurveyMonkey? Who do you determine to send this to?

This is reminding me a little bit of the types of emotions that you could measure. You could measure something like disgust. Is it ever good to get certain emotions like disgust? I was thinking of Scott Harrison’s Charity: Water. When I watched his video, it was so impactful. These people were drinking water with worms and disgusting things in it. You want people to be disgusted. You can’t expect that they wouldn’t and so they wanted to give to charity. Are there times when you’re looking for these kinds of emotions where you would think maybe normally you wouldn’t want to see disgust, but it’s a good thing?

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders Behave
How Successful Leaders Behave: The more we feed our machine overtime, the better it gets.


We’re looking to expand upon all the emotions that are going to be captured during these tests. There are seven core emotions that are being captured. This is all artificial intelligence. It’s not somebody who’s watching an audience physically and seeing their reaction personally and saying, “That’s a disgusting face. That emotion evokes empathy.” We have to teach the system all these emotions. The more we feed our machine overtime, the better it gets. We will go from seven, ten to fifteen emotions and narrow the emotional reaction back to the content creator so they can react to the audience’s emotional response. It’s the camera capturing the person’s face and how their eyes, their eyebrows are moving or how their nose is twitching or whatever the data that we’re capturing.

What is the reaction when you’re talking to organizations about this? Are they going, “Finally, we’re going to find a way to monetize this?” I imagine they get a sense of, “This is a great idea.”

I had a call with one of the largest media agencies in the world. Let’s say they deploy over $115 billion worth of advertising a year through multi-channels, digital, print, TV and so forth. The guy said to me, “Where have you been all my life?” He’s telling me there are two clients I want to get this to, Netflix and Colgate-Palmolive. I said, “The platform is not ready yet. Trust me I’ll let you know,” but this is the response that we’re getting and we’re having these calls every single day. If anybody wants to sign up for a beta or to know more please visit

Are you looking at this to be a unicorn company? This is very unique.

We’re a private company and we have been raising capital to support the building out of the business. We have people who have indicated to us that we could definitely achieve unicorn status at some point.

Are you in series A?

Maybe we can call it a pre-series A. We’ve been raising money mostly from retail investors, accredited investors and through a private placement for regulations they’re offering. We’re in the middle of a $3 million round of which we have already 50% subscribed through a rolling close and we get checks almost on a daily basis. People tell their friends. If a round is still open and if anybody’s interested, please visit There should be a contact on the page or they can reach out to me directly at

The more deliberate and intentional you have to be, the more you have to work on relationships. Click To Tweet

Thank you, Aaron. This has been fascinating and it ties in to so many things I’m interested in and I’m sure everybody is. This is something I’m starting to hear more interest in. How we can get people to watch the ads if people are skipping and I could see this is going to catch a lot of attention. I appreciate having you on the show. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Diane. I appreciate the time.

You’re welcome.

How Successful Leaders Behave with Harrison Monarth

I am here with Harrison Monarth, who is the CEO and Founder of GuruMaker, an Executive Coach and New York Times bestselling author. He coaches C-suite leaders, senior executives, high-potential managers and other top professionals on effective leadership and positive behavioral change. He has contributed to Harvard Business Review, Fortune Entrepreneur, you name it. It’s such an excitement to have him here. His book, Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO, I’m very anxious to hear about. He has a lot of other books that I’m sure everybody’s familiar with, The Confident Speaker for one. It’s so nice to have you here. Welcome, Harrison.

Thanks for having me.

I was excited to have you on the show because we have a lot of similar interests and I love anything that’s behavioral related. You talked a lot about derailing behaviors and social intelligence. Some of this stuff I’m interested in, but I’m very interested in this Executive Presence that you’ve written and all that goes along with that. Before we get into that, in case anybody out there hasn’t been familiar with your work, can you give a little background of how you got to this point?

Some people with talent and cognitive ability still fail because they are unwilling to listen to feedback. Click To Tweet

I’m an Executive Coach based in New York City. I’m originally from Germany and I started my coaching company in 1999. I initially started by helping executives and managers become more effective communicators and from that work came my first book, The Confident Speaker. It was about confidence and communication skills speaking effectively. Over the years, as my coaching practice grew and I helped more leaders, emerging leaders, senior managers and then top executives, I had the idea for a book called Executive Presence. In fact, the first edition of the book we’re talking about came out in 2009. That then launched me into the next level where people became familiar with this thing called executive presence and understood the importance of it.

It got me involved in senior executive coaching and helping people and so I’ve been doing that. I’ve been working with companies. I’ve worked personally with over 60 Fortune 500 CEOs of some of the top companies and then thousands of senior leaders globally, companies like Deloitte, GE, GM, PepsiCo, Hewlett Packard and so on all over the world. I’ve gained a lot of insight into the specific skills, behaviors and mindsets that make executives, senior executives and managers more effective leaders by way of executive presence, positive influence I call it, and effective communication skills. I’m here and I’ve been working from New York City. I was in Denver, Colorado before that and then Europe before that.

I get a lot of people who call on CEOs and they want to do what you do, but what is the biggest thing that they ask you to help them with when you’re talking to them? Do you have to tie this in to financial benefits? Do you get into EBITDA and all that when you’re coaching with these guys or are you strictly talking about behaviors? I’m curious of your conversations, what they’re asking for help with and how you go about that?

I had that in the intro of my book. I thought that was so interesting, so when I wrote the first edition of the book a couple of years ago, I got a call shortly after from the head of talent management for Merck pharmaceuticals and she said, “We’ve identified a group of leaders that we need to help build their executive presence, develop their executive presence.” She paused and said “What is it?” She asked me what it is even though she answered her own question. She said, “I know it when I see it but I don’t quite know what it is. I can’t put my finger on it.” Certainly, at the time I had some ideas and I helped people with that, but over the years, there have been lots of surveys done, then myself, the way I developed my appreciation for what executive presence is.

It’s years of conversations with senior leaders, about what executive presence looks like and the qualities that they need to see in emerging leaders in their organizations. Close observation of respected leaders who bring out the best in people. I’m always interested in that, “What are they doing?” research in the social sciences and leadership literature. Finally, the failures of people that have talent, have cognitive ability but are still failing or faltering because of an unwillingness to listen to feedback or adapt their behavior. They may listen to the feedback, but they’re not willing to adapt their behavior. That’s how I, over the years, developed my appreciation for it and see the importance of it.

One thing that drove it home for me was one of my clients, McGraw-Hill financial company Standard & Poor’s and the head of HR at the time. He said to me, “There’s a formal narrative in the executive corridor and there’s an informal narrative.” I thought that was such an important quote because that says a lot. That’s formal narrative about you, about people that work for the company. That’s your job, credentials, role, responsibilities, projects and initiatives to working on. An informal narrative, in my experience, that has a lot to do with executive presence because that can make or break someone’s career. That sets up the idea of what is executive presence.

I was curious with the kinds of things that they need help with. Is it charisma? What is it?

The three different types of people that come to us are either the executive or the manager themselves. They realize that they’re stuck. They might see other people around them that are not as talented or hard-working or credentialed and they’re rising faster through the company and they are looking for help. They’re looking for help in terms of what’s missing. We might do a 360 or we interview people around. We find out what is it that the person is not doing or is doing that’s holding them back. Then you have others that are top performers in the company. The CEO, the head of talent management comes to us. They say, “This is a highly valued person that brings a lot of revenue. They have a lot of responsibility, but they have some behaviors that potentially can derail their careers and put the company at risk.”

To your question, that could be somebody who’s treating their people badly, acting on their worst impulses, too tough on people or not inclusive enough, doesn’t praise people enough, is constantly seeing the negatives and the shortcomings. That’s definitely behavior that is not making you an effective leader and is hurting the culture. Another example might be someone who are very smart people, very successful people, but they’re not engaged enough. You might have a leader who’s hanging back in meetings and feels like, “Everybody else is already saying what I was going to say so what’s the need of speaking up.” I see that quite a bit where they don’t show the leadership and their superiors are their boss. Whether it’s the CEO or somebody below that says, “They know this stuff and we need them to speak up.” We need them to show leadership take charge, show the way, motivate and inspire people with their ideas and yet they’re hanging back because why would I add to the noise? That’s typically the excuse, “Why would I contribute to the noise?” Everybody’s always talking, nobody’s saying anything. What you have to tell them is, “Say it first. Be the one who speaks up and frames the discussion, shapes the conversation.”

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders Behave
Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO

It could be a derailing behavior like being too tough, being impatient or not delegating enough, micromanaging. It could be something where they need the more inspiring, motivating, engaged, communicate more effectively. The higher up you go, the clearer you have to be with your communication because as you know you’re not going to get anything done yourself. You’re getting everything done through other people. If you’re not communicating in a way that people get it, understand the value, the why, take the complexity out of it then you’re not going to make it. It’s typically the individual contributors that are working on complexities and working in the detail, in operational detail. The higher up you go, the simpler you have to communicate. The more deliberate and intentional you have to be, the more you have to work on relationships. Those are the types of things that we help people with.

I’m thinking about people who don’t speak up, and I dealt with that with my research and curiosity. A lot of it was based around fear of looking stupid. Fear, sometimes it’s introversion. A lot of times you assume people know things. You have to get down to a simpler level at times and I’ve always been surprised by some of the topics I hear when I go to meetings. I’m thinking, “That’s basic.” This guy’s making $20,000 an hour to say we need to communicate better. Some of it’s for entertainment’s sake. There’s some basic stuff that people still don’t get. Why aren’t we getting it? Why isn’t all of this great content making a dent? I’ve taught thousands of business courses and you’ve seen so much research about the importance of communication. I like to ask my students why aren’t we getting better at this.

What are you getting? What’s the risk? What’s typically the response you’re getting? I’m sure you’re getting some nuggets.

You get a whole new group of people all the time. You got a new generation. You’ve got different ways of communicating with each generation and have technology where you’re texting. You’re communicating completely different than in the past. How great can you communicate without face-to-face? There are different issues even if they’re communicating in a face-to-face atmosphere. I wrote about emotional intelligence and we know emotional intelligence contributes to a lot of this. We talked about social intelligence and all that soft skills of how important they are. When you were talking about these leaders who are moving up and why are they moving up, it made me think.

I worked in a company where the people who did the things you were trying to fix were the ones who were moving up and the ones who are the good workers, a lot of them were women. To be honest, I’m not that person that focuses solely on women issues at all, but I did notice that that organization, the women, no matter how hard they worked, they would be put more into secretarial, administrative tasks and never promoted. I’m curious what things are you seeing that are holding people back from communicating from excelling. Is it that they’re not speaking up? What other things are holding them back?

Communication, because it’s one of those things. We’ve been doing it since we could scream, since we’re little babies in a crib. We’ve been doing it for so long, we take it for granted. When you’re growing up in a family or with your close friends, you develop some code or short shrift or symbolism where it’s very easy to communicate with each other. You come across, you get it, and people like you and they gravitate towards you. You usually don’t have any problems communicating. When you think about it with your friends, you might say a word and everybody starts laughing. You might sound completely unintelligible to everybody else in the world but to this group of friends or family, you sound fine.

Executive presence can shift. You can be witty and engaging at one time but tongue-tied and nervous when you meet other senior executives. Click To Tweet

We grow up with this false sense of, “I’m good at this, I don’t have any problem communicating,” and then we get into the real world. We need to communicate with people that we’re paired with, working with, leading and now this thing that we take for granted all of a sudden becomes this elusive skill and you need to relearn how to communicate. Because it is expected, it’s not part of an onboarding process. Companies don’t typically put you through, “We’re going to do a three-day intensive effective communication program for this company, in this culture, in this system.” Although it probably should be. Imagine how many misunderstandings and how much miscommunication you would probably avoid by doing something like that.

It’s A. we take it for granted and B. there’s a lack of skill to get to adapt to an audience. I’ve seen so many pitches and proposals and boardroom presentations where the smartest people that you can find are presenting something. An idea or a pitch or something focusing completely on their own objectives, but not on the objectives of the audience, the communication style of the audience or on the level of detail that the audience needs or wants or doesn’t want. It’s being too inwardly focused instead of outwardly focused. One of the things is our complete lack of self-awareness. I’m sure you’ve seen the studies. I knew you had Tasha Eurich and Brad Sugars on, great interview, I listened to that.

Our lack of self-awareness is astounding. 94% of college professors think they have above-average teaching skills and these are smart people in my book. I talk about how ER doctors absolutely push back when they hear that they’re over prescribing opioids, but then they see the stats and they’re completely shocked at how much they’re prescribing. This lack of self-awareness is hurting us too. I don’t know how intention is one thing, impact is the big thing. What impact do I have? That’s why you keep seeing the same programs over and over and basic communication skills that you and I might take for granted, but they’re focused on the work. On the work that needs to get done in the company and the other stuff is expected, but as we know it’s not necessarily there.

There’re some industries that do a good job with some of this. You mentioned Merck. I used to work for Astra-Zeneca for almost twenty years and some of their training was excellent, but a lot of its product-focused and they did some personality assessment. Even in the ‘80s, I was surprised by some of the early assessment that they did. They were ahead of their time. A lot of it is learning self-awareness and it was fun to interview Daniel Goleman. I used his work so much when I researched emotional intelligence and sales people. What interests me was that was so long ago and I thought that’s a cool subject. I figured it would blow over. Still half of the people you talk to don’t even have any idea what it is and we need to get this message out there. You talked about this executive presence, blind spots, unhelpful behavior and dark sides to it. I want to talk about some of the negative things that they don’t know. Can you touch on some of that that you write about?

It’s similar to emotional intelligence which, you’re absolutely correct, should be taught basic in elementary school. It’s such an important thing. Executive presence, we all have a profile so you’re not necessarily horrible or have it or not have. It’s that we have certain qualities and certain components of it and others we don’t, like emotional intelligence. The idea is also that executive presence can shift, so you might be a perfectly great conversationalist, witty, funny, engaging, warm and people love you when they first meet you. You meet your new colleagues, then you get into a situation where you’re meeting your boss or the board of directors and other senior executives. Now you fall apart. All of a sudden you tongue tied and nervous. You can’t handle the pressure and you can’t think straight. All of your executive presence goes right out the window, so it’s absolutely contextual.

Looking at the dark side of executive presence, any blind spots, unhelpful type of behaviors?

I have an entire chapter on the dark side of executive presence and what that is. Let’s say confidence. Projected confidence is a very highly sought-after quality. It draws people to you. It gives people the idea that you know what you’re doing and they can trust you, then you have credibility. If we don’t monitor ourselves, if we don’t pay attention to our confidence or our how we feel and how sure we are, then all of a sudden that confidence can absolutely turn into arrogance. It can turn into a sense of infallibility where I feel like I know it all. I don’t need to listen to people and I know better than everyone else. That spells disaster, especially if you’re the CEO. People don’t usually tell you that you’re suffering from overconfidence.

Look around a little bit. A lot of men and women don’t get the feedback you might get at the lower levels and that’s why executive coaching for the senior level is so important. Confidence turning into arrogance, being diligent and being conscientious can turn into micromanaging and nitpicking. Being somebody who prides themselves on conflict resolution and who’s typically good at it might all of a sudden become too concerned about the relationship. Therefore, not deliver feedback in the way it should be delivered and let people get away with things. Toxic behavior for instance, there are lots of different ways where a positive and a strength can turn into something negative. That’s what I call the dark side of executive presence.

I’ve met a lot of people who seemed to say a lot but they don’t say anything, or they put it in a way that makes them sound super intelligent, but there’s no sense. I remember in a company, there was a woman, I never understood a single word she was talking about. She never said anything and I remember talking to my boss and he would say, “This other guy, he’s the future of leadership. This guy, he couldn’t tie his shoes,” I’m thinking, “How can we be so wrong about people?” Is it harder to do self-awareness or interpersonal skills or understand other people? What do you think is harder?

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders Behave
How Successful Leaders Behave: It’s the best politicians that are the most successful leaders.


First of all, I’m a huge fan of Robert Haugen. He made profound comment based on some research and he said, “It’s not the best leaders that are running organizations, it’s the people that have won intense political tournaments inside of organizations.” In a sense, it’s the best politicians that are the most successful leaders and that’s based on research from the University of Nebraska. They said, “There’re successful leaders and there’re effective leaders.” The effective leaders, they’re people that have successful business units. Employees are engaged, satisfied, delivering results and they’re communicating effectively with everyone and managing conflict. Those are the effective leaders. The successful leaders, the ones that are being rapidly promoted in the company, rising through the ranks ending up at the top, those are the people that are engaging entirely different behaviors.

What are those behaviors? They’re networking, politicking as they call it. They are building relationships, schmoozing, focused on connecting with people. There’s a bit of an unfairness here. The people that are typically the effective leaders go, “I have to, in a sense, pimp myself out and act in ways that are distasteful in order to get ahead. This is not fair. My work should speak for itself.” As we know, you do need a healthy dose of both, you need to be effective. You cannot expect for your results and your work to speak for itself. You have to speak for it. You have to speak for yourself which means you don’t need to become visible. You do need to establish relationships. I’m an introvert. In fact, my cultural background is naturally more a reserved background from Germany and I came to the States in my mid-twenties.

I was definitely more than reserved German, definitely more deference to authority or to age and I needed to change my behavior. I didn’t change my personality but I knew that I have had to act in more extroverted ways. Otherwise, an American CEO would never give me the time of day, would never feel like I can handle the job and I can help. You need to be both. You do need to have political savvy and you, as an emotional intelligence expert, know this. Political savvy is absolutely a part of emotional intelligence and building those relationships. The person you’ve described earlier, they’re excellent politicians. They know what to say, the script, how people react and look when they say certain things. Even in politics, you see some people that have a lot of substance but they’re a little bit more in the background and then you see people that have very little substance but they’re excellent in theater, in communication and those are the ones you see. Those are the ones that stand out unfortunately.

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders Behave
The Confident Speaker: Beat Your Nerves and Communicate at Your Best in Any Situation

Do we need to have more board of directors who deal with behavioral input? We have so many people on boards that help with finance, reading statements, ethics, all the different people that you see on these boards. I’ve been hearing a lot more people talk about boards being more diverse and not just all financial because we have so many behavioral problems. It’s time back into engagement which is costing money and we’re at this time back into all the things you and I talked about. Innovation, engagement, productivity, what have you seen in terms of boards? Are they looking for more people who are behavioral experts or do you think that’s not necessary?

I do think it’s necessary because the boards that I deal with, and sometimes it’s the board that hires my firm or hires me as a coach to then work with a CEO. Boards are diverse as the rocks on the beach with different sizes and shapes and colors. The point is the boards that I’ve dealt with, many of them get an executive coach not because the CEO is lacking subject matter expertise or is lacking necessarily strategic vision, but has issues with behaviors. One company where I coached the CEO, that CEO was the former CFO. As the former CFO, he was very much a numbers person, but he didn’t inspire people. He didn’t go out of his office, didn’t travel to the various plants and business units all over the country to engage people. They’re saying, “He needs to shake hands. He needs to slap people on the back, to walk around, to find out what is the guy on the shop floor doing. What does he care about? What is the problem that he’s trying to solve?”

I do see a lot of boards being concerned about the behaviors. This quote I gave you earlier from the head of HR for Standard & Poor’s at the time, the formal narrative and the informal narrative, I do hear that quite a bit and that’s why there is so much work at the senior levels, with senior leaders. Because if they get it wrong, if they aren’t able to marshal the troops and get people to collaborate, work together, and be engaged at work, we know the levels of disengagement are so high and if they can’t make work meaningful for people, then that’s tough. How do you do that? That’s primarily through communication. The way you communicate with them, how you share the vision, how you inspire them. I do see a lot of interest from boards in those areas.

We have plenty to jive about because I love everything that you talk about and your books are amazing. A lot of people would like to know how they can find out more. If they wanted to hire you, read your books and all that, how would they reach you?

They can go to our website, The book is Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO. Somebody’s pointed it out and gave a great review on the book. That person said, “Maybe the book should’ve been called The Art of Earning Respect Like a CEO,” and I fully agree with the person. Commanding respect is such a term but nowadays every word matter. It is more earning respect like a CEO but a lot of people have said the book is a handbook on psychology and how to act as a leader to get the most out of people. People can follow me on LinkedIn as well.

Thank you, Harrison. This was so much fun, I enjoyed having you on the show.

Likewise, thank you and I love your podcast.

The higher up you go, the clearer you have to be with your communication because you're not going to get anything done yourself. Click To Tweet

I’d like to thank both Aaron and Harrison for being my guest. We get so many great guests. If you’ve missed any of the past episodes, please go to I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Aaron Itzkowitz

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders BehaveAaron Itzkowitz is the CEO and Founder of Jinglz. Aaron has extensive experience in technology management and in growing traditional and start-up businesses to profitability. Prior to JINGLZ, Aaron led and its subsidiaries as CEO, President and COO. In 2014, he sold a division of the company at a substantial gain for the investors.

He has launched companies and also worked as a business consultant for small to Fortune 100 companies to increase revenue, implement cost-cutting programs and guide manufacturing and technology expansion. He led a Hewlett Packard initiative to build an on-demand printing solution to introduce their wide-format printers which resulted in a $140 million sale in just 6 months. He also served as CEO of FrameLogix Inc., an online photo framing fulfillment business. Partners included, Kodak and AOL

About Harrison Monarth

TTL 603 | How Successful Leaders BehaveHarrison Monarth is the CEO and Founder of Gurumaker. An Executive Coach and New York Times bestselling author, he coaches C-suite leaders, senior executives, high potential managers and other top professionals on effective leadership and positive behavior change for professional and organizational success. He helps leaders at all levels develop a powerful personal brand and authentic executive presence. With Harrison’s coaching, leaders from various sectors develop increased self-awareness, overcome “derailer” behaviors, enhance personal effectiveness, develop new leadership skills and competencies, and communicate with confidence and competence.

His approach incorporates the latest research in effective leadership, interpersonal communication, and behavioral sciences. Harrison’s client list covers organizations such as General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, MetLife, AT&T, Northrop Grumman, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte Consulting, Cisco Systems, GE and Standard & Poor’s among others, as well as start-up entrepreneurs, political candidates and members of Congress. He has contributed to Harvard Business Review, Fortune and is a regular columnist for


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