Leaning In, Being Sentient, and Learning to Pivot

Episode #1053: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, Gail Schaper-Gordon, a Vistage Chair and executive coach, business psychologist, organizational consultant, and experienced CEO, provides insight into the importance of pivoting and changing in times of crisis, the impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses and the economy, and the power of leaning into challenges, coaching, and self.


About Gail Schaper-Gordon

Gail Schaper-Gordon is a Vistage Chair and executive coach, business psychologist, organizational consultant, and experienced CEO. Gail has 22 years of experience as a successful CEO and business leader, has founded and led several successful professional service companies including Aegis Psychological Corporation and Behavioral Health Information Management Systems. The companies she led were the cornerstone of a behavioral health care delivery system that served more than 500 mental health care providers and a quarter of a million clients.


Gail received her Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of California and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Currently, Gail is a board member of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Business Development Committee and Pasadena Media. Gail is also an Organizational Change Consultant and Business Psychologist with Win-Win Workplace Solutions; designing and implementing programs that meet the unique needs of her clients.


Gail has been a part of Vistage for over 13 years and leads 3 peer advisory boards for executives. In 2014 she was awarded the Chair of Excellence Award from Vistage International, and in 2013 she was awarded the 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year by Congressman Adam Schiff. Gail has a passion for helping business leaders strive for excellence and achieve their next level of success.

Key highlights


Deciding to thrive

Timestamp 09:59


Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Gail encouraged her coaching clients to have what she calls a “rallying cry.” She encouraged them to view the COVID-19 pandemic as not just a time to survive, but a time to lean into opportunities that could help them thrive in the long term. Using the example of restaurants, Gail explains how restaurants that shifted their strategy as a result of the pandemic survived, unlike those who didn’t. In taking advantage of new business opportunities, Gail has found that the biggest challenge has been finding the right people who are able to take action on new opportunities.


Leaning into coaching

Timestamp 12:10


When asked what Gail has learned from the pandemic, Gail shares that she has “learned how to lean in ways and be even more engaged.” With the time she has saved using Zoom video conferencing and not driving to a variety of locations, she has been able to invest more time into one-to-one meetings. As her meetings change in regard to COVID-19 restrictions, she has paid special attention to the requests and needs of her groups and clients. Gail states that she works towards “whatever the needs are” of her groups, which she finds has helped her groups become “so engaged and supportive of each other.”


“Resiliency, adaptability, and agility”

Timestamp 21:27


Severin comments on the fluctuations in the global economy and the effects that fear can have on those invested in the economy. Gail responds by stating the importance of “resiliency, adaptability, and agility.” For example, because her coaching clients are having a hard time finding employees, Gail is encouraging them to find new ways to attract employees, keep employees, stay up-to-date with current research and insight, and adapt based on their findings.


The Great Resignation

Timestamp 26:00


When discussing the potential causes of The Great Resignation, Gail shares her insight on the changing role of women in the workplace. Gail discusses the advancement of women in places of work, the development of dual income families, as well as the economic need of a dual income workplace. She states that The Great Resignation might be similar to the way Kawaii rebuilt itself during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Maybe it is nature taking care of itself that we’ve all kind of been working so hard, having so little time with our families and our kids. Maybe we don’t need to have dual income families. Maybe we lost our way” explains Gail. In response, Severin also shares the impact that Digital Nomads have had on The Great Resignation, the impact of truck driver resignations, and the future of automation.


Time management and your most productive hours

Timestamp 34:43


When Gail asked her Vistage groups in Hawaii what training they wanted, she was surprised that they requested training on time management. She was surprised because she thought they managed their time well because they made time for family and outdoor activities. However, she learned that unlike businesses on the mainland, her Vistage groups requested time management training so they could increase their productivity for their businesses and careers. As part of this conversation, Severin introduces the importance of knowing when your most productive hours are and taking advantage of those hours.


Leaning into your identity

Timestamp 38:06


A lesson that Gail learned recently that she wishes she had learned earlier, is the importance of leaning into one’s own identity, seeing things differently, understanding what makes you unique, and how people don’t need to be “be right in other people’s eyes,” just your own.

Being sentient

Timestamp 39:06

Gail’s most powerful questions are those that are asked in the moment and based on the unique conversation she is having with her coaching client. She shares that the way she coaches focuses on “really listening from a deep feeling place and then kind of being like a tuning fork… It’s just being totally in the moment with people and being curious.” She uses this skill throughout her coaching.

Work and life

Timestamp 42:08

Gail shares a story of a woman she was coaching who was a highly successful environmental engineer. During one of her coaching sessions, the woman she was coaching started sharing the difficulties she was facing in her personal life and a recent loss she experienced. Gail states that “we sat there, and we had the emotions, went through it, and then we resumed, and then we started talking about business at hand.” She explains that it is a gift to be able to be with her clients through their hardships in both work and personal life while she helps them achieve their best in their businesses. In Gail’s role as a business psychologist, she helps business owners face the challenges of running a business but also the “life that happens to them” as well.

Embracing clarity

Timestamp 47:38

Gail’s “why” is to help others clarify and make sense of “complicated factors, problems, [and] concepts.” She uses this as a way to build trust so that she can contribute to the lives of those around her. When asked how she would measure her life, Gail shares that she measures her life every day by the “smiles” and the “ah-ha!” moments she gets to witness each day. She has a great “appreciation of seeing people… overcome things that they think…they can” and for “being part of the journey.”

The power of silence

Timestamp 54:10

Gail shares her insight on the power of silence. She states that as a Vistage Chair, it is common to want “to be heard.” Throughout her role as a Vistage Chair, she states that “I’ve learned that the less my opinion is expressed in a group, the less they hear what my idea of a solution would be.” Severin relates to this insight and states that “it’s hard to go from consultants where you were the teller, to coach where you’re the listener.” By embracing the power of silence, Gail allows her Vistage group members to work together and find solutions that best fit their business needs.


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