Doug Lepisto and Derrick McIver always wanted to start a podcast, and thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and Western Michigan University they were able to start.
The first episode of The Jungle aired March 26, 2020, and featured Western Michigan University President Edward Montgomery. The Jungle have has also featured U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-6th district, former Lt. Gov. Brain Calley and a number of CEOs from across multiple industries.
"A podcast had always been a part of our plan, but we weren't sure when to launch it and when the crises hit, we realized it was the perfect opportunity to bring this out to the world," Lepisto said.
Lepisto and Mclver are co-directors at the Center for Principled Leadership and Business strategy at the Western Michigan University Haworth Business College. In their podcast, the Jungle, they talk to West Michigan Business Leaders about the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's something that's entertaining, but also educating at the same time," Lepisto said.
A promoted podcast isn't something the university has tired before.
"This is a real innovation, we are putting together content and promoting it on social media, in a way that the university has never done before," Lepisto said.
He said he hopes it would provide a space for leaders to talk openly about the challenges they are facing.
"It's not the boardroom, it's not in their organization and it's not at home, it's a third place and I think there they can be a little more vulnerable, really share what it's like behind the scenes and I think that really humanizes the leadership challenges everyone is facing," Lepisto said.
He said he wants to show the community how these businesses are surviving and adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We really want to take folks behind the scene on what it's really like to lead a company through crisis, and really draw out lesson on how you navigate this, how you lead, how you strategist," he said, "There isn't a playbook for going through this."
Lepisto said this is the first time he made a podcast and said it has been a a great learning experience.
"It's been really interesting to see how people think through a crisis, it's been really interesting to hear how people are thinking about the future," he said.
Starting a podcast during the COVID-19 pandemic has it challenges.
"The challenge has been starting to orchestrate and coordinate a lot of different parties to be able to make this come to light," Lepisto said.
However, he said navigating those challenges has been fun and rewarding.
Lepisto and Mclver have included students in the creation of The Jungle Podcast.
"We have students who are working on putting the podcast together, uploading it, promoting it, so it's actually a great education opportunity for our students as well," Lepisto said.
You can find a full list of the episodes online at WMU's website.
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