The Most Vital Lessons in Leadership, Team Building, and Culture Creation | Asher Haines

EP162 Nicole Greer square (2)

Is continuous learning the key to leadership and team building?

In this podcast episode, Asher Haines from UNC Charlotte’s School of Professional Studies and host Nicole Greer discuss the significance of continuous learning and personal growth. They highlight the supportive environment at the university, which assists students of all ages in pursuing education and applying it to their careers. The conversation underscores the importance of updating skills and embracing a growth mindset. 

We discussed:

  • Importance of continuous learning and developing a culture of learning within the organization
  • Significance of leadership habits and cultivating habits that support leadership skills
  • Attracting, developing, and growing talent within the team
  • Aligning individuals with the organization’s mission and vision
  • Understanding team dynamics, individual personalities, and character quality within the organization
  • Embracing technology and AI in the future of work
  • Navigating organizational changes and building a culture of trust and adaptability
  • Accessibility and relevance of education at UNC Charlotte’s School of Professional Studies


Hello, everyone! I’m Nicole Greer, the host of the Vibrant Culture Podcast, and I recently had the pleasure of engaging in a thought-provoking conversation with Asher Haines, the Associate Provost of the School of Professional Studies at UNC Charlotte. Our discussion delved into the realms of leadership, team building, and the creation of a vibrant culture within the educational sphere. I’m excited to share with you the wealth of insights and practical advice that emerged from our dialogue.

The Essence of Continuous Learning

One of the core themes we explored was the importance of continuous learning. Asher emphasized the value of leveraging resources like local universities to support employees in their educational journeys. At UNC Charlotte, the focus is on encouraging individuals to keep learning, whether it’s completing degrees or enhancing skills relevant to their careers.

Leadership Happens Everywhere

We also touched on the idea that leadership isn’t confined to a title or a specific role. It’s about inspiring and lifting others, creating a ripple effect of positive influence throughout an organization. Asher and I discussed how continuous learning and personal development are integral to this process.

Developing Leadership Habits

Asher shared his perspective on cultivating leadership habits that foster skill development. Active listening and effective communication are pivotal, and he highlighted the practice of setting up one-on-one meetings to enhance these abilities. It’s about creating a habit of engagement and understanding within your team.

Attracting and Growing Talent

A vibrant culture is one that not only attracts talent but also nurtures and retains it. We delved into strategies for enabling employee growth and development, which are essential for empowering individuals and ensuring they feel valued within the organization.

Aligning with Mission and Vision

Asher stressed the significance of aligning team members with the organization’s mission and vision. Understanding individual personalities and character qualities is crucial for fostering a cohesive and dynamic team environment.

Personal Development in Leadership

Throughout his successful career, Asher has maintained that consistency in personal behaviors and a commitment to continuous learning are the bedrocks of effective leadership. These principles have guided him in building a positive team culture at UNC Charlotte.

The Impact of Music Education

Interestingly, we also discussed how music education can develop transferable skills applicable to various careers. Asher’s background as a freelance musician taught him the value of mastering one’s craft and adapting to different team roles.

Embracing Technology and AI

Looking to the future, Asher encouraged embracing technology and AI, recognizing their growing impact on the world of work. He shared insights on navigating organizational changes and building a culture of trust and adaptability.

Continuous Improvement and Change

Our conversation underscored the importance of embracing change and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. It’s about taking a holistic approach to education and professional development.

The Supportive Environment at UNC Charlotte

I want to highlight the incredible support system at UNC Charlotte’s School of Professional Studies. They are dedicated to helping individuals of all ages navigate their educational paths. Whether you’re considering furthering your education or questioning its relevance, the programs and certificates offered are designed to be immediately applicable in the workplace.

Identifying as a Learner

Asher shared a powerful thought: if you want to identify as someone who is growing and learning, reaffirm that by engaging in activities that promote growth. Reading a book, taking a class, or pursuing an MBA can all be part of this reaffirmation.

Accessibility and Flexibility

The university offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to take one class at a time over several years, if needed. The goal is to get you started on your learning journey, regardless of the pace you choose.

Connecting with Asher Haines

For those interested in reaching out to Asher or learning more about the School of Professional Studies, you can find information on their website, My team and I will also include all relevant contact details in the show notes below.

A Call to Action

I’m incredibly grateful for the time and energy Asher shared with us on the Vibrant Culture Podcast. If you’ve enjoyed our conversation, I encourage you to show some love by liking and subscribing to the podcast. And remember, consider signing up for a class—it’s a step towards personal and professional growth.

Final Thoughts

Building a vibrant culture is an ongoing journey, one that requires dedication, openness to learning, and a willingness to embrace change. Asher Haines’ insights serve as a testament to the power of education and leadership in shaping such a culture. I hope you’ve found value in our discussion and feel inspired to continue nurturing your vibrant culture.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration of leadership and learning. Stay inspired and I look forward to reconnecting with you on the next exciting episode of the Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast.

Mentioned in this episode:


Asher Haines: Keep learning and, you know, develop that culture of continuous learning. Tap into the resources that are around you. Check at your local university on what they have and if you’re leading others, encourage that learning. Encourage people to finish the degree they never finished.

Voice Over:  Build a Vibrant Culture podcast your source for the strategies, systems, and insights you need to turn your dreams into your destiny. Every week, we dive into dynamic conversations as our host, Nicole Greer, interviews leadership and business experts. They’re here to shed light on practical solutions to the challenges of personal and professional development. Now, here’s your host, a professional speaker, coach, and consultant, Nicole Greer.

Nicole: Welcome, everybody, to the Vibrant Culture Podcast. My name is Nicole Greer. They call me the Vibrant Coach and I have yet another amazing person who’s going to be a guest on my podcast today. And it is Asher Haynes. Let me read you his bio. He’s amazing and these bios, they don’t ever give everybody all the credit, you know, because you got to get to know somebody at the heart. And that’s what I’m going to do today with Asher. So Asher is UNC Charlotte’s associate provost of the School of Professional Studies. In this role, he directs the school and leads the university’s strategies related to supporting learners of all ages, partnering with companies and organizations to develop their employees through education and training, and collaborating with the university’s academic colleges to develop and deliver programs for adult learners. Are you a lifelong learner? I bet you are. If you’re here, you could sign up for a class today! He overall supports teaching excellence and all the good things over at UNC Charlotte and located in the heart of my hometown where I was born, Charlotte, North Carolina. Welcome to the show, Asher.

Asher: Hi, Nicole, thanks for having me. I’m humbled to be here in this vibrant podcast. So, thank you.

Nicole: Oh you’re welcome. And so like here’s the backstory. I had the privilege one time of my friend Sean calling me, and he says, do you want to be like a guest speaker for an hour while I teach this class at UNC Charlotte? And I said, sure.  And so I went over and I was the guest speaker, and I met one of Asher’s employees, employee extraordinaire Ms. Samantha Bumgarner, and Samantha Baumgartner said, like, do you want to teach more stuff for us? And I said, sure. And I have had just the most beautiful relationship helping you in the school of professional study. So, first of all, I just want to say thanks.

Asher: No, thank you. Yeah, I love origin stories like that where you get to have a moment to shine and then we say, wait, we want more of that.

Nicole:  Yeah, I tell you what, it’s so fantastic. I meet the greatest people and UNC Charlotte is really serving the community in a powerful way. 

Asher:  Thanks, Nicole. 

Nicole: Yeah it’s great. So my first question out of the gate is always the same question. What is your definition of leadership?

Asher: Yeah. Well, you know what? When the story you just shared, I think is a good example that would illustrate sort of my philosophy, which is leadership happens everywhere. It happens all the time because it’s about people with people, right? So, like, what you just described as being a guest speaker and showing up and being someone who was able to lift others and inspire others, others rise up. That to me, is leadership. You know? No, no one needs that manager title or that director title, right, to be a leader. Leadership is all about influencing those around you and in the world to be a better place. Since I’ve listened to your podcast before, I knew this would be the first question and so I thought one of my favorite quotes is Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote about the street sweeper.

Nicole: Oh, tell me, tell me.

Asher:  “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets. Even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry, he should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say here lived a great sweep street sweeper who did his job well.” You didn’t hear anything about leadership there, right? But, if I may be so bold, I would add to what Dr. King, you know, carry his tune a little bit further and would say that Beethoven and Michelangelo and Shakespeare. They didn’t just do their jobs well, they lifted others up around them in the world. Really, the world knows their name and their legacy. So it’s about helping others, lifting others up?

Nicole: Yeah, 100%. Yeah. Recently I’ve been on this big kick. I’ve been using these three things to talk about leadership. And one of the things I think is so important in the work that you do at the School of Professional Studies at UNC Charlotte, is leaders need to be learning all the time because, hello, this world is full of information that we need to have access to, but we also have to learn to kind of decipher what information we’re going to believe, what we’re going to apply. And getting in these classes in the School of Professional Studies is huge. So, the first thing I’m thinking about with leadership is, like, be a lifelong learner. And then what you learn, share. So, if you learn it, teach your people and then what you’re saying, which is and then help people, I mean, that’s to me, that’s my new thing. On leadership the last couple weeks is learning, sharing, and helping.

Asher: Learning, sharing, helping. I love it. All right. Let’s do it.

Nicole:  Yeah. And so I mean that’s exactly what we do over at the School of Professional Study. So I mean, you guys have asked me to teach everything from conflict, you know, conversations to strategy, to this, to that, to the other thing, because, you know, people, it’s hard to know how to apply these things in the real life workplace. And I think that’s what you guys are doing over there. And, you know, Asher’s got a whole team of amazing humans I get to work with. So, tell me how you’ve built such an amazing team, because Sam Bumgarner is just one of them. There’s Amy Wortham. I mean, the list goes on. I love all your people. How have you put that together?

Asher : So, an amazing team, I think starts with good culture. I’m really lucky. I’ve got great people. Yeah. I think the work that we do helps with that. You know, you touched on, we’re in education or in training or in we do innovations around teaching and learning how to help faculty and instructors become better teachers, how to help leaders be better leaders. So, I think our work is inspiring. So, that helps, right? And I think our people are able to self-identify with that work. And they’re committed to, you know, student success or committed to learner outcomes and learner success. That’s what our organization inside of UNC, Charlotte, the School of Professional Studies inside UNC, Charlotte, that’s what we’re all about. So, you know, building that culture, it’s the little things you do every day to build culture.

Nicole:  So, you’ve got a great group of people. And when I listened to you just now, don’t miss everybody, that he’s like, you know, we’re on a mission here. You know, like it’s just kind of oozing out of you. Like, this is what we’re here to do. We’re here to help the faculty do better with our students, and we’re here to help these organizations do better. So, it’s that helping, sharing, learning thing that we’re talking about here. You said it’s the little things that you do in the culture. What are some of the little things you do as a leader that build that vibrant culture? Because your people are pretty turned on. Every time I talk to one of them, they’re like, I got lots to do. I’m on a mission. We’re rocking and rolling over here. How do you get that all ramped up?

Asher :– That’s good to hear. Yeah, sometimes I don’t know. You know.

Nicole: No, I mean, if you talk to Sam Bumgardner or Amy Wortham or Oscar Cuellar or one of those for like five minutes, it’s like there’s this huge sense of urgency to, let’s go!  

Asher : So, the little things, I think good leaders have good leadership habits that they’ve cultivated.

Nicole: Yeah, I’d like to hear about those.

Asher: Because habits drive skills, right? Like, what’s a leadership skill that you would throw out as important?

Nicole: Like communication, emotional intelligence, stuff like that.

Asher: Yeah. Okay. So, communication, maybe a skill that helps with communication would be listening, right? So, you want to drill in on these different skill sets which, by the way, those leadership skills are just people skills, right?

Nicole: Right..

Asher: Which goes back to what we were talking about earlier. But, anyway, the little things of developing leadership habits that support your development of those skills. So, if you want to be a good listener or have good communication, you need to set up the right habits to do that. And that would be, okay, I’m going to have one on ones with my people, and it may be clunky if you’ve never, like, led to one on me, probably. Most people probably have been involved with one on ones, but if you’re new at doing it, you know you learn about what you can to have a good one on one and develop those. There’s great templates out there that you can use to talk about their work, what they’re focused on, if they’re managing people themselves and do some people checks, and how can I help you with things and, you know, cultivate. But cultivating and listening, active listening, skills means you have to learn about that. And, okay, so I set up one on one. That’s a habit. I’m going to stick to that. That’s easy. It’s on my calendar now and I’m going to do it. Sounds easy, but what happens when something conflicts? What are you going to do? No. You got to stick to it because it’s like building a habit is like going to a gym. If you want to get healthier, you can’t just say, I’m going to get healthier. You have to say, all right, at 6 a.m., I’m going to put on my workout clothes and drive to the gym. That’s the habit. Once you get to the gym, it takes care of itself. So, anyway.

Nicole: Right. That’s the hardest part. Getting to the gym, getting to the mat, getting to the one on one. Right?

Asher: Yeah. So, get to the one on one, schedule a one on one, and it forces you to prepare for it. Kind of like, you said, hey Asher, you’re going to be on my podcast.

Nicole: Did I say it like that? 

Asher: No. But, you know that. Put it out there got me ready to prepare for it. Well, as best I could. Yeah. You’re doing great.

Nicole:  We’re having fun.

Asher:  But anyway, these are these habits. Going back to listening, for example, you set up your one on one. You can as you’re learning about what it means to be an active listener. It means you’re good at asking questions. How do I get better at asking questions? Start developing that habit. If you’re noticing a one on one or an interaction that you’re doing all the talking, that’s not good, probably, in most cases, right? You should be probably doing what is a Pareto principle 80, 20, ask questions so you get your people talking most of the time, because, at least for me, I’m not going to be directing a lot. I’m going to be doing a lot of listening and having them direct me on what they’re working on. You know, you hire experts for a reason. Yeah. I went off on a lot of tangents there. But, did I answer it?

Nicole: You totally did. So what we said is what are some of those leadership habits? And he said, and two of my favorite things are being a good listener and asking questions. And I’m just going to add a word in front of the word questions, which would be powerful, you know? So knowing to ask a question that’s open ended or that makes your employee think, right, instead of just a check-in. You know, I think a lot of times people think one on one is, like, I’m just checking in and you are checking in, but you want to have an exploratory conversation where you can really hear what’s going on. Maybe sometimes your employee tells you something and you’re like, oh, well, I’ve got a solution for that. Or, here’s a book I want you to read, or that happened to me. Let me tell you what I did. I messed up or let me tell you what I did. I got lucky, it worked, you know? So I think employees love that back and forth of listening and answering questions and going back and forth. And I think it builds this really important thing. Trust.

Asher: Yeah, yeah. What’s that book? The Speed of Trust?

Nicole:  Oh my God, I love that thing. Covey, Jr. everybody write that down. And those of you listening if you want the, like, the Cliff note version of Stephen Covey Junior’s book, The Speed of Trust, shoot me an email. I’ll get it to you. Excellent, excellent, excellent. All right, so there’s your first resource, everybody. All right. Very good. Okay, so the next thing is, you know, how do you attract and develop and grow people inside your team. Now, your team went through a big transformation. Like didn’t we change the name and reorg and all the things, like, how did you manage that? And I’ve had the privilege of meeting almost every single person on your team, and you’ve got some really cool people. So how have you attracted them and gone through this change?

Asher: So, you said, how do we attract, develop, and grow? And you’re right. We’ve gone through a lot of growth and change over the last few years as we’ve brought some units together that were separate across campus and brought together to do something bigger than we could do individually by ourselves before in these different groups. So when you say, how do we attract, how do we develop and grow? Let’s say most of our time is not spent on how we attract or recruit. I think most of our time is spent on how we develop and grow who we have and because we don’t have to work very hard to attract new people, if people are already the people that we have, are attracted to being here, right? 

Nicole:  Right. You have a good rep.

Asher: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s going to be about, you know, developing your people, having them. One of the reasons, you know, so many of our people is because I brought you in to do training and coaching and things like that, right? So to grow your organization, you have to enable that growth. You can’t just have the seeds out in the garden and not make sure they get sunlight and water, right? You have to help them, help them grow. So, I think, that goes back to the other part of your question, developing. If you’re developing and growing your people, then they will want to retain and stay and grow within your organization. And, you know what? Sometimes they outgrow you. And that’s good, right?

Nicole:   Yes.

Asher: Even in a growing organization where there may be more opportunities to move around either, I hate to say laterally in an organization because I think organization, hierarchical structures, structures are visually flawed.  I think they should all be upside down where the anchor is at the top right and the leaders are supporting from underneath. But, you know, even in an organization that, let’s say, it’s not growing really big or quickly, right? So there aren’t these new opportunities that are popping up laterally or, you know, manager jobs or leadership roles or whatever. You want everyone in your organization to see people be able to progress in their careers to to move to the next big thing, whatever that big thing is. And it’s awesome when it’s here in the School of Professional Studies for that person or, at least, in the university. But if it’s not inside UNC Charlotte, if it’s somewhere else and they’re going on to do big things, everyone in the organization sees that. They see what that person did to contribute while they were here. And they say, man, I want to be able to do something like that, too.

Nicole: I don’t know much about football, but somebody told me one time, Asher, that, and this is probably controversial, but the guy that’s in charge of the Patriots, Belichick? Do I have his name right?

Asher:  The coach.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. So, Belichick, thank you for helping me, I just heard this story, like, in one of the many places I was trying to learn and they were saying that the reason why the guy was so successful, and apparently some things have gone on, I don’t know what I’m talking about, but when he was building his Super Bowl level team, that he had a lot of players come through his program, and then they went somewhere else and they and they’re like, what do you think about that? And he’s like, well, I have the reputation of having the best development, you know, program. And, so, therefore he built, you know, so people wanted to be in his program so that they could be in the Super Bowl someday. And then many of them were. So, I think, what you’re saying is absolutely true. You know, if you build a good system and you’re known as a leader who develops, you’ll attract top talent.  And, like you said, you don’t even have to go looking for them. They want to come work for you.

Asher: He also had Tom Brady which helped.

Nicole: Yeah, the key players are important aren’t they? Absolutely. Yeah. All right. Very good, okay. What is the deal with the culture at the School of Professional Studies? I mean again, every time I get with one of your people or get up with one of your teams, like they’re pretty stoked and energized and what I would call vibrant, so,  what are we doing as a team or as an organization to get that going?

Asher: Yeah, well, we talked about the little things. And, you know, people there feel like everyone feels how they can be aligned to their work. You know, I believe people like to be able to connect the dots to our overall mission and vision of serving, you know, learners of all ages and contributing to that. So, not only that, I guess that personal connection, but a connection to their teammates, too, and not just inside each team, but inter-team dynamics and, you know, encouraging that understanding and collaboration as much as possible.  So we talked about the importance of one on one listening skills earlier. There’s also good, you know, importance around team dynamics. And, you know, I’m sure we don’t get everything right.  You know there’s always going to be some friction or miscommunications. But that means there’s communication happening which is good. And, you know, actually one thing you helped us with was, you know, the TILT training that you pushed through the whole organization, you can give a good 60 second commercial  for every three listeners. But, that helps us understand each of us individually and how we relate to the people we work with. And, you know what? I like how I relate with my family members at home, too. It’s bigger than just work.

Nicole:  Yeah, 100%. And, in a nutshell, I will tell you, I was so impressed with your drive to put this in everybody’s hands. You know, a lot of times people will be like, you know, we can’t do this. It’s too big. We don’t have the time. But what’s so important about what Asher has done with his team is he gives them time to work on themselves so that they can turn around and go out and work with all these humans out here in, you know, the Charlotte area and I know UNC Charlotte probably is goes international in terms of students that come into the system and that kind of thing. But, it’s so important for, I think, for people to turn the mirror inward and say, what’s up with me? You know, and the TILT helps you see your personality, but then the extra layer is the quality of your character. You know, like you, you could be this style, but are you using the best of that style? Are you a man or woman that’s exercising really good character? So that’s what I feel is so good about your organization is the quality of the character of the people.

Voice Over: Are you ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference, or organization to help them with their strategies, systems, and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy, and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email her at, and be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

Nicole: Everybody over there is very driven, very excited, very hardworking. It’s beautiful. The culture is amazing. Now, we talked a little bit about listening as a habit and then also about having one on ones. but you had a successful career before you even got to UNC, Charlotte. And you just keep kind of rising up. He’s what those of you who have listened to the podcast know I talk about turkeys and eagles, Asher is an eagle. So he just keeps going up and up and up. So what habits over your career, if you were to say, like, you know, my first job to hear, here’s some things I’ve kind of put in place that have made me a successful leader.

Asher: Yeah, I think it goes back to some of that consistency around your own personal behaviors every day, like you show up and you’ve had the conversations with those around you at work, you’ve had conversations with your manager, your other people you may see as mentors.  And you know what you need to do. What are the little things that add up every day? Like, on my end, I started off well before I moved into higher ed, I was a musician. 

Nicole: Oh, no, I don’t know that little tidbit. So talk about that a hot minute – guitar, piano, bass, drums. What’s your story?.

Asher: Yes. So I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music performance, trombone performance. 

Nicole: Oh my word!

Asher: Yeah. And, you know, you learn a lot of things that are transferable to all types of careers. When you study music and , you know, as a freelance musician, for a while after I completed school for a few years and, you know, you learn things like how to have stage presence.

Nicole: Oh, I love that. 

Asher: How to, first of all, practice. I have the self-discipline to practice every single day and have purpose with your practice and, like, not just run through the notes, but what am I trying to achieve when I’m doing this? What am I trying to say? What am I trying to communicate? How to show up at a gig and fit into any situation and know okay, in this situation I’m more in the background. I’m just, you know, I’m supporting or I need to step up right now, and now I’m taking the lead on you kind of figure out where you’re at within each group. So I think, yeah, being disciplined around where, you know, you need to work on mastering your craft. It’s never going to be perfect, but we’re gonna ascend to mastery. We’re never going to quite get there. But that goes into like my first job in higher ed, which was academic advising and then enrollment advising. I had goals that my manager said, well, Ashley, you know what, you really need to have this many phone calls every day because your caseload is so big. So I had a little tick sheet. I say, oh, just make my calls. I’m not good at it yet, but I’m getting better with every conversation. And you just go, you know, and you start to get recognized as, you know, doing your job well. And once you figure that out, you start asking your boss, how can I help you do your job better? Like, what do you need? Like, help me understand more about what you’re measured on and you start taking on other responsibilities to help the team. So yeah,  I guess always have a good understanding of what’s important to your leader or your boss’s boss and how all that fits into the big picture as you’re bringing what you can 100% to the role that you’re in and you get, you know, your shoulder gets tapped on for different things.

Nicole:  I love it, and I had no idea you were going to say trombone. That is fantastic in my life, I love that! All right, so next time I’m strolling around UNC, Charlotte campus, I’m coming for you to play me something.

Asher: That’s amazing. I get to play with the student groups because sometimes they’re like, hey, we need another trombone. Asher, we know you play.

Nicole: Oh, you’re kidding. That’s great!

Asher: Yeah. I got some concerts coming up. I’ll send them to you.

Nicole:  Oh, that’s fantastic! That’s fantastic.

Asher:  Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, actually, we’re playing now in a week or two here. 

Nicole: Oh, that’s awesome! 

Nicole: Is it a metaphor, an analogy? What is it? When you said it’s just like, you know, playing the trombone is leadership. I love that. Maybe there’s a book in there for you, something that you could write. But I loved what you were saying about knowing when to speak up and knowing when to take, you know, just be in the background. I think that skill is not part of most leaders’ awareness. Like, that’s a little blind spot place, but you’ve got that figured out.

Asher: And here’s the other thing about being a trombone player. You never take yourself too seriously because nobody else does either. Yeah, right. It’s the thing with, you know, the slide and everything as long as you take your work seriously, but not yourself. So, you know, then you can do some big, pretty awesome things. Yeah, yeah.

Nicole:  Yeah, yeah. So just an aside, so I have two, two children. One’s 30, one’s 23. And so, when they were growing up, I didn’t play like wheels on the bus in the car, I played all my music in the car. So I would always tell the kids I’d be like, you hear that? That’s a horn. So we’d be doing Earth, Wind, and Fire or Chicago or, you know, I’m like, that’s when rock and roll had all the instruments, you know, it just wasn’t, you know, the whole, you know, bass guitar and the drummer. It was when the whole thing was there. So I have a big affinity for horns. You could just ask one of my children. All right. That’s fantastic. So you teach people through the courses that your organization gives to companies, and you have open enrollment for different certificates and things that people can get. And so you talk to them about driving performance. We have classes on that. I’ve taught some of them. So how do you drive performance in your organization and in your people?

Asher: It’s going to come back to making sure your people are driven on their own, you know, like it’s not me stepping on some gas pedal and driving it, right?.  The people are finding that inside themselves to drive. So you have to, I guess, create that environment. I like when anyone on my team can answer three questions for me. If they can answer the question, how does my position impact the university or how does my position impact the work that we do? Like, what’s my impact in my role? What my role’s impact on our institution, on our students, whatever it is. They should be able to answer that question really well. The other one is around performance. Like, what are my performance goals that help me know that I’m achieving that impact. Like, so it’s they need to be able to answer, how am I impacting things and what are my performance goals? And then the last one, which is really where you can get into some details is, okay, how am I impacting performance today? Like what am I doing today? What have I been able to achieve over the last week, and what am I going to be doing this week? You know, make it, like, very present. And that’s when you get cool stories about what people are doing and how they’re connecting themselves to the work and how they’re, at least, how they’re measuring their own work as well.

Nicole: That’s awesome. You know, just having another Sam Bumgarner moment, because she’s been so good to me in my time with you guys. But, when she is doing class, she starts off my class or whatever when we’re live or on Zoom or whatever, she’ll have people graduating through these certificate programs that she runs. And you’re saying the impact that they have and I know your people are thinking that way, because this is what Sam will do. You know what she’ll do? She’ll say, if your mother wants a letter from me that says that you graduated, I’ll send your mother a letter. I’ll send your boss a letter. I’ll send your future employer a letter. I mean, she just understands that, like people have invested in themselves, they’ve taken all this time, money, energy to complete these ten-session, all day courses. You know, she wants to make sure that she can help any little way, even before or after. So, she’s such a poster girl for that whole process.

Asher: She’ll be on your podcast next.

Nicole: I know! I’m going to do that.  That’s a great idea

Asher:. That’s awesome.

Nicole: Great idea. Yeah. Okay. So fantastic. So you got those three questions written down everybody. We’ll put them in the show notes for sure. That’s fantastic. All right. You know I bet maybe on the university campus, you know, it’s a hub of learning and research and all that kind of stuff. What are the opportunities that you see for leaders in the future? There are so many cool things going on, scary things going on, you know, how can we leverage the future? How would you advise people to look at the future? What opportunities?

Asher: Yeah, you say scary things, that’s funny. I was at a conference this week, so I went to a lot of sessions, right? Yeah. It felt like sometimes the speaker could have just said, AI, and then dropped the mic and left the room, right?.

Nicole: Right, right. Figure it out, people.

Asher:  Artificial intelligence. So that’s, you know, the buzzword right now. But so opportunities for leaders in the future, I would say embrace the future of work and what it means, right. We felt that coming through Covid, we’re coming out of it, if we’re out of it, right?. 

Nicole: Oh, God, I hope we’re out.

Asher: Yeah, I know, where we figured out how, oh my gosh, we can do it. Like, today we’re using Zoom, and it’s just like, 

Nicole: Normal. 

Asher: Yeah. In fact, it’s more comfortable than being on the phone now for a lot of people. But that enabled the discussion to go much faster when it comes to hybrid work and remote work, allowing your teams to have that flexibility and freedom to know when they need to be in the office and when they need to be working from home or from the Marriott, wherever, wherever they happen to be working from, at that given moment, so, I’d say, yeah, embrace the future of work, which means embracing technology, embracing AI. What can AI do for you and for your teams and encourage your teams to explore and share? Our instructional design and course development, course production team has been experimenting with AI tools, and they’re coming up with some really awesome things to make it,

Nicole: I know that’s right.

Asher: To enable faculty to do more, do more fast, you know, do more and do it more efficiently. And it’s not just in that area. I said, hey, Lynn, I think some of what you’re talking about is applicable to what Michael is doing in our communications, in our marketing. So, yeah, embracing the technology. And I could go on and on. But I think all that comes back to just embracing a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset of, here’s what we’ve done and what we know we can do to be successful. But really growing off of that. And actually, I guess when we talk about a fixed mindset, a fixed mindset is even more sinister than being stuck in the past.  Fixed mindset means you can’t grow or you’re afraid to grow, right? Is it Carol Dweck?

Nicole:  Yeah, Carol Dweck, her book is called Mindset. And it’s just kind of like people, you know, well, you know, people say, Asher, people in the very classes I teach for you, they’re like, well, that’s the way we’ve always done it. That’s the fixed mindset right there. Everybody can relate to that. Hearing somebody say that in their organization.

Asher: Right. Or you’re afraid to make a mistake.

Nicole:  To look dumb.

Asher:  Yeah. You’re afraid of embarrassing yourself or looking dumb. And that will inhibit a growth mindset for sure. Like if you can’t ask your boss a question because you’re afraid that you’ll look dumb, right? Then that’s a fixed mindset. If you’re afraid to ask your employees questions because you don’t want to look like you don’t know what you’re doing,

Nicole: Right!

Asher: That’s the dumbest thing you could be doing, that’s a fixed mindset.

Nicole: Yeah. And don’t miss what he said earlier. You could rewind this thing. He said, you know, I surround myself with experts. You know, I mean, because, you know, you mentioned the name Lynn, right? And so Lynn is doing the instructional design scene. She’s got like a huge posse of people that she’s leading and what a fantastic group that group is. And one of the things that you guys asked me to do was put together an asynchronous change management course. So I’ve been teaching it live, and apparently we’ll still get to, please Asher. And then, we’re going to do this, but see, different people learn different ways at different paces and want different styles. And so it all goes back to a great leader also knows, as we were talking about with the TILT, how they’re people tick and, you know, and I, I was thinking about as you were talking when I went through school, and I bet you it was the same with you because we’re we’re both kind of like, let’s get her done. And like, you’d have class on Monday. They’d give you an assignment. Oh, okay, I got it done. Now I have to wait all the way to Monday to go again. Traditional learning. And now, like, even this asynchronous and a bunch of, they’re inventing all sorts of little cool things to put into my change management course. I have no clue of which I can’t wait to take that course. But like, I mean, I can get this done in a week if I want to.

Asher: Yeah. You could. You could binge watch your favorite Netflix series in two days if you wanted to. You know, you can drill in and focus on something and really learn about it at your pace.

Nicole: Yeah. And what you’re saying is so true right there because it’s kind of like when you leave the learning bubble, it takes you a little while to be like, okay, what were we talking about? And then you get back in the bubble, you know, but if you just stay in the bubble, you’re good to go. Yeah. So funny you’re talking about AI. So my husband, he’s like, I got a ChatGPT account. I’m like, oh, boy. And so, you know, he’s 59 and he’s in there and he’s like, this is amazing. It’s writing emails for me. I’m like, that’s fantastic, you know? And he’s in sales. So it’s not too late to get on the AI train. That’s what I got to say about that. 

Asher: Yeah. Oh, you will be left behind.

Nicole: That’s right. You will be left behind. That’s one that people are, like, the internet. What? Yeah. So I’m just saying people. All right. So the next question I have for you is, you know, if you think about the last year, I don’t know if you’ve picked up on, kind of, Asher has kind of a steady, consistent pace about himself. And, I bet you’re a reflector, you think about, you know, why did that unfold that way? What made us successful. And I know you’re doing strategic planning. What are you learning from the past year about building a vibrant culture, or building your school of professional studies?

Asher:  I guess it’s that, you know, so I got here eight years ago to the university in a different role, and things have changed as the environment changes, right? And one thing I love about UNC, Charlotte, is that even for an institution of higher education, which is known as higher ed, it is known to move very slowly. And, you know, that glacial.

Nicole Not what’s happening at UNC Charlotte. Things change, change, change, change.

Asher:  Yeah, we have some great leaders here, like, our chancellor and our provost are very tuned in to what is a university’s role. And, specifically, forUNC  Charlotte, you know, our chancellor says every great city has a great university. And she riffs on that all the time. But, for me, what that means is we’re able to understand what the needs are and the environment that we’re in and, yeah, UNC Charlotte is Charlotte’s great, great university, which means we’re responding to what industry needs, what the learners need, what the community needs.  And it kind of goes back to some stuff we were talking about earlier where we don’t get stuck in the way things are always done. So I came into the organization in a different role, and I’m in a position now where I feel like continuing education was sort of on the periphery of most universities and adult education, you know, online education, we’re in the center of it all. Yeah. Like we’re the School of Professional Studies is powering all different parts of the university, the, you know, College of Health and Human Services, College of Business. All the different colleges are coming to us to say, help us do this or do that so we can meet our learners’ needs. So, so yeah, when you ask about the biggest learning from the past year, I guess it’s you got to roll with the changes around you and, you know, navigate your way in into that and with it versus just sitting there with your anchor and, you know, down at the bottom of the sea floor because this is this is the office that we have at the university, you know. No, it needs to change to fit. So I think that sometimes causes a little bit of, well, it definitely causes some uncertainty on your team. But if you can build that trust and that culture of, you know, we’re going to be a culture of change, people change catalysts and we’re going to have people on our team who are really good at being change catalysts. That’s a TILT term for those of you who don’t know. And, we’ll lean into those change catalysts when it makes sense. And we’ll lean into our other folks on the team to help us, you know, check ourselves before we wreck ourselves if we’re going too fast.

Nicole: Oh, I love that. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Don’t miss that. He just, like, tromboned that in there. All right. That was good. That’s good. So I love what you’re saying, too. And, you know, I think one of the things that’s really cool about what you’re doing is, like you said, continuing ed is kind of over here, but now you guys are positioned where, you know, deans of the colleges are calling on you to say, you know, our people know all about biology, but we need learning on emotional intelligence or leadership or whatever to kind of round out our staff, our faculty and get things done. So what I see that’s happening is becoming so holistic, right? What you guys are doing.

Asher: Yeah, yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, I think it’s fantastic. And, if you’re listening to this and you’re not from Charlotte, you’ve never been to Charlotte. One really neat thing about University of North Carolina, Charlotte is that it’s called the university city area, which makes perfect sense, but there’s a railway that will take you straight to uptown, and you guys have the Du Bois Center in, we don’t have a downtown.

Asher: It’s up. It’s uptown here. Yeah.

Nicole: We’re very fancy. We have uptown, but this Du Bois center, y’all. Oh, my gosh, that’s how we also talk in Charlotte, y’all. It is so amazing. It’s this big, beautiful, blue silver building. And it’s also a place where companies can rent the theater portion of it, and have training for their people. So really catering to learning, even if you bring your own learning inside our building so I just want to put a plug in for my favorite spot, the Du Bois Center, in Uptown Charlotte.  I think it’s beautiful.

Asher: Nice, yeah, absolutely.

Nicole: Yeah. And Asher’s got a whole team of people there who will take care of you, feed you. There’s this woman named Denise. Shout out for you, Denise, who will wait on you hand and foot and take care of every little need you ever needed in the world so I really love Denise. Okay. All right. It is, our time is up. It went by really quickly. I hate when that happens, but, you know, I have one special listener out there who’s going. Wait. Don’t let Asher go. Give us one more nugget. So I’m just curious. One more little nugget of wisdom that you would kind of leave our listeners with that would help them in their journey?

Asher:  I don’t know if we’ve talked about it already or not, but, well, we have, but keep learning and, you know, develop that culture of continuous learning. Tap into the resources that are around you, check at your local university on what they have, and if you’re leading others, encourage that learning and encourage people to finish the degree they never finished.

Nicole Oh my gosh, yes.

Asher:  Pick up the different leadership and management and executive leadership skills and, you know, learn that way. We talked about habits earlier. I’ll give you the name of another book.

Nicole: Oh, I want that. 

Asher: Develop leadership skills. You can’t just say it. You have to actually develop the habits that will, over time, help you develop those skills, because you don’t get a skill just at the snap of a finger. It’s going to take work. You have to have habits around the right type of work. You can have good habits or bad habits. You can have a social media checking habit. Or are you going to have a habit of doing what you need to do to achieve this goal? And that book is called Atomic Habits.

Nicole:  Oh, so good, right?

Asher: Well, have you read that one, James Clear, I think.

Nicole–  Yeah, yeah, I got it. I got it on the audible. And, like, sometimes I just click it on to like I need to listen to a little James for a while. Yeah, yeah.

Asher: He makes it all clear.

Nicole: Yeah. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And I just want to echo maybe some of you have heard my story, but I didn’t get a college degree until I was, like, in my early 40s. And those of you who are listening, like it might be like a hang up, like I’m coaching a woman right now, Asher, and she, like, every time I coach her, she says, well, you know, I don’t have an MBA. And so I’m like, you know, she’s got all this experience. You know. She’s doing fantastic things with her work. But I just confronted her and I’m like, okay, what do you know about getting an MBA? She’s like, oh, I haven’t looked at it and I’m like, okay, call up the fine people at UNC Charlotte and get on the phone with an Asher in his earlier career who can answer every stinking question about getting an MBA that you have. It’s like a phone call away, right?

Asher: Yeah, yeah exactly.. So like we talked about earlier, it’s just about getting started in the direction you want to go. So.

Nicole:  Yeah. And here’s what I also want to say. The folks at UNC Charlotte, the folks at the School of Professional Studies, they will help you navigate signing up. They will hold your hand. They will walk you through, practically carry you over the finish line, to help you get where you want to go. So it’s not, like I don’t know, if you’re somebody my age, you know, like 58 years old and you’re thinking, do I even need to go to college? Do I even need to do this? Let me tell you something, right now, the education, if you got one earlier, it’s outdated. You need a fresh education, A, and, B, you would be so surprised how applicable the things are that we teach in these programs, these certificates that you guys have. I mean, you can take this information and put it to work tomorrow at work.

Asher: It just helps you with your own identity too, like, do you want to identify as someone who is growing and learning, then reaffirm that by reading a book, taking a class, signing up for something bigger like an MBA, you know, reaffirm that for yourself. It’s only going to make you feel good about developing good habits like that.

Nicole: Yeah, and this amazing university in this amazing city, you know, you can take one class at a time for the next six years. They don’t care. They just want you to get in here and start learning. So we’ve learned so much from you today, Asher. I’m so grateful you’ve been on the Vibrant Culture podcast. If people wanted to get a hold of you or reach out to you, how would they do that?

Asher: Yeah, well, we have, you know, our website, and it’s got information there like my contact information is in there.

Nicole Yeah, it is. And you can reach out to me. We’ll put it all in the show notes down below.

Asher: Yeah., awesome.

Nicole: Okay, so everybody, thanks for dialing in thinking about following us here at Vibrant Culture Podcast. Do me a favor. Go down to the bottom and click the like button. Show a little love for Asher and I. And then click the subscribe button and make sure you get this right in your inbox. And, Asher, again, I’m so grateful for your time, your energy today.

Asher: Like and subscribe.

Nicole: That’s right. And sign up for a class, people!

Asher: Yeah.

Voice Over: Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. If you found value in today’s episode, please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback helps us improve and reach more like minded listeners. Remember, the journey to building a vibrant culture never stops. Stay inspired. Keep nurturing your vibrant culture and we can’t wait to reconnect with you on the next exciting episode of Build a Vibrant Culture podcast.

Posted in

Leave a Comment



arrow right down

Name the challenge you're facing in your culture, and I will help you solve it.

From executive coaching, culture-shifting workshops, or long-term partnerships, my work is to help you develop your next leaders.

I was fortunate to learn this early from an exceptional leader. She took an eager, overconfident new hire and developed me into a capable leader.

I went on to lead marketing & training for 80+ sites across the U.S. Later, I went out and got almost every credential in leadership development you’ve heard of. (see the list)

Since that time, I’ve joined organizations in almost every industry to build VIBRANT CULTURES where employees take initiative and true ownership in their work.

Let’s build your leadership development strategy together.



I'm really interested in...
(select all that apply)*