Podcast Topic

Fear of Failure

Steps to High Performance

Guest: Marc Effron

Kelly talks to talent performance expert Marc Effron about the science behind high performance in business and where our focus should be to get the most out of our people.


Guest: Ingrid Fetell Lee

Kelly connects with former IDEO design director Ingrid Fetell Lee whose new book, "Joyful," looks at the science underneath how we experience joy in the world around us.

The Person You Mean To Be

Guest: Dr. Dolly Chugh

Kelly connects with Dr. Dolly Chugh who studies implicit bias at The Stern School of Business (NYU). Her new book has some surprising and useful insights into how all of us have biases - and how we can become better builders for inclusion and equity.

Ethics, Medicine and Human Nature

Guest: Dan Ariely

Kelly talks to noted behavioral scientist Dan Ariely about a new ethics training program called 'The Medical Professionalism Project,' as well as his own fascinating backstory.

God, Improv and the Art of Living

Guest: MaryAnn Kibben Dana

Kelly has a powerful conversation with pastor MaryAnn McKibben Dana whose new book explores how she has incorporated her improvisational training into her spiritual life and pastoral work.

Business Chemistry

Guest: Kim Christfort

Kelly sits down with Kim Christfort at Deloitte to discuss the magic and science to crafting powerful work relationships.

Designing Creativity at Apple

Guest: Ken Kocienda

Kelly dials up Ken Kocienda who was on the design team at Apple to talk about innovation, Steve Jobs and developing the iPhone.

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers

Guest: Michele Gelfand

Kelly connects with professor Michele Gelfand whose study of culture has led her to believe that our behaviors and attitudes are largely based on whether we are a product of tight cultures or loose cultures.

Getting Out of the Office

Guest: Matt Walsh

Kelly talks to Matt Walsh, the CEO of Green Stone and a business leader who has some interesting insights into the limiting effects of traditional office culture on the ability to be our most creative selves.

Leading with Dignity

Guest: Dr. Donna Hicks

Kelly connects with Harvard professor Donna Hicks about her new book "Leading with Dignity." Dr. Hicks' extensive work in international conflict led her to study the role dignity plays in how human beings can work more effectively with one another.

Marketing as Inclusion

Guest: Clive Sirkin

Kelly has a fascinating conversation with South African-born Kellogg executive Clive Sirkin who is something of an iconoclast when it comes to marketing and established business practices.

The Expertise Economy

Guest: Kelly Palmer

Kelly connects with the former Chief Learning Officer of LinkedIn, Kelly Palmer. Her new book, "The Expertise Economy," shows us how most learning programs aren't conducive to the science of how we actually learn.

Marketing in the #FakeNews Era

Guest: Peter Horst

Kelly talks to the former CMO of Hershey's and Capital One, Peter Horst, whose new book explores how brands can no longer sit on the sidelines in an era dominated by politics, social issues an social media.

No Mistakes

Guest: Keiko Agena

Kelly talks to Keiko Agena, best known as Lane Kim on the Gilmore Girls, about her new book "No Mistakes: A Workbook for Imperfect Artists."

Great Leaders are Great Communicators

Guest: Carmine Gallo

Kelly talks to best selling author Carmine Gallo about his new book "Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great."

Start with Why

Guest: Simon Sinek

Kelly connects with the brilliant Simon Sinek to talk about purpose, creativity and focus.

"Crushing the Box"

Guest: Chris Denson

Kelly talks to Chris Denson, host of the Innovation Crush podcast and author of "Crushing the Box"

Applied Empathy

Guest: Michael Ventura

Kelly talks to the CEO of Sub Rosa, Michael Ventura, about his new leadership book "Applied Empathy."

Powered by Storytelling

Guest: Murray Nossel

Kelly talks to storytelling expert Murray Nossel about the art of effective communication. Stick around at the end for one of the best Yes, And stories we've ever heard.

Brandstage: Using Improv and Comedy to Get to Truth.

Guest: Steve Kakos and Anneliese Toft

Kelly takes his listeners backstage with his colleagues Steve Kakos and Anneliese Toft as they discuss "Brandstage," a process that gets insights by putting brands and organizations through The Second City process.

Why it Pays to Break the Rules

Guest: Francesca Gino

Kelly talks to Francesca Gino, a Harvard professor whose new book, “Rebel Talent,” highlights the unusual characteristics of our most successful innovators - including a chapter looking at the power or improvisation.

How to Thrive in a World of Inevitable Copycats

Guest: Howard Yu

Kelly has a fascinating conversation with scholar Howard Yu about his new book "Leap," which looks at how being the best doesn't guarantee long-term success.

Filmmaking + Improv

Guest: Mike Birbiglia

Kelly interviews Mike Birbiglia whose new film “Don’t Think Twice” is set in the world of improv.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Guest: Eric Barker

Kelly and author Eric Barker talk about his new book “Barking Up The Wrong Tree,” which uncovers the science behind our many, many wrong assumptions about how the world really works.

The Humor Code

Guest: Peter McGraw

Kelly talks comedy and humor with Dr. Peter McGraw, a professor with an expertise in the fields of emotion and behavioral economics. Peter wrote the book “The Humor Code” and directs the Humor Research Lab at UC, Boulder.


Guest: Adam Alter

Kelly is joined by Adam Alter, Professor at NYU Stern School of Business; best-selling author of “Drunk Tank Pink” as well as his latest book on our addiction to technology, “Irresistible.”

Improvisation And Alzheimer’s – The Long Hello

Guest: Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter

Kelly connects with Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter whose story of using improvisational techniques as a way to care for a relative with Alzheimer’s was featured on a memorable episode of “This American Life.”

The Value Of Weird

Guest: Seth Godin

Kelly talks to prolific author, blogger, marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin about money, failure and the value of being weird.

Peak Performance

Guest: Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

Kelly talks to the authors of “Peak Performance,” Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, about the science of success and how individuals can elevate their game and avoid burnout.

Failing Forward

Guest: Julie Wilson

Kelly gets schooled by Julie Wilson, the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for the Future of Learning. Julie spent many years at Harvard and shares her cutting edge views on learning, schools and education.

The Surprising Power Of A “Useless” Liberal Arts Education

Guest: George Anders

Kelly talks to Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times Bestselling author George Anders about his new book “You Can Do Anything,” which offers that a Liberal Arts education is, in fact, the best way to prepare for a job in the future.

People, Purpose And Path

Guest: Kathryn Minshew

Kelly talks to Kathryn Minshew, The Founder and CEO of the online career source The Muse and the co-author of “The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career.”

Chemistry, Comedy And Being In The Band

Guest: Max Weinberg

Kelly swaps stories with legendary drummer Max Weinberg of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. They talk about Max’s time in a pit band on Broadway, auditioning for Bruce, connecting with Conan O’Brien and the time Max gave Charlie Watts an amazing gift.

Comedy In The Era Of Trump

Guest: Frances Callier and Angela Shelton

Kelly talks to Frances Callier and Angela V. Shelton of the comedy duo “Frangela” about their early work at The Second City and creating and performing comedy in a world heightened by issues of politics, race and gender.

Thank You For Arguing

Guest: Jay Heinrichs

Kelly talks to Jay Heinrichs the author the New York Times bestselling book “Thank You for Arguing.” Jay talks about the lost art of persuasion, rhetoric and civil argument.

Extreme You

Guest: Sarah Robb O'Hagan

Kelly connects with Sarah Robb O’Hagan whose career has included stints at Virgin, Nike, Equinox Fitness Clubs and her current role as CEO of Flywheel Sports. She is the author of “Extreme You: Step Up, Stand Out, Kick Ass, Repeat.”

Smart, Pretty, Awkward And Reaching Out

Guest: Molly Beck

Kelly visits with prolific blogger, marketer and author Molly Beck. Her new book is called “Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence.”

The Upside Of Stress

Guest: Kelly McGonigal

Kelly talks to Stanford University psychologist and acclaimed TEDtalk Speaker Kelly McGonigal about her book “The Upside of Stress” and the cutting edge research that shows us how a healthy use of stress can make us happier and more productive.

Feminist, Upbeat And Sad

Guest: Ashley Nicole Black

Kelly catches up with Ashley Nicole Black who is a writer and correspondent for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Ashley dropped out of her PhD program at Northwestern to take classes at The Second City.

The Leading Brain

Guest: Friederike Fabritius

Kelly digs into the powerful science based strategies for achieving peak performance with neuropsychologist Friederike Fabritius who has co-authored a new book called “The Leading Brain.”

The Hacking Of The American Mind

Guest: Robert Lustig

Kelly draws insights from Dr. Robert Lustig whose new book “The Hacking of the American Mind” takes issue with everything from sugar to marketing to corporations.

Why Simple Wins

Guest: Lisa Bodell

Kelly connects with the CEO of Futurethink and author of “Why Simple Wins,” Lisa Bodell. They explore simple techniques to help organizations embrace change and increase their capability for innovation.

Sticky Fingers

Guest: Joe Hagan

Kelly talks to journalist Joe Hagan whose new book, “Sticky Fingers,” traces the evolution of Rolling Stone Magazine and its iconic and controversial founder Jann Wenner.

Awakening Compassion At Work

Guest: Jane Dutton and Monica Worline

Kelly talks to acclaimed scholars Jane Dutton and Monica Worline who show us the evidence based science that a caring workplace is a more successful workplace.

Rediscovering Craftsmanship

Guest: Jim Jacoby and Scott Miller

Kelly talks to two entrepreneurs, Jim Jacoby and Scott Miller, who have joined forces to create the American Design and Master Craft Initiative, a venture that supports innovation at the deepest level. Their first project: The Bienville Legacy, a motorcycle...

Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art

Guest: Sam Wasson

Kelly and noted author Sam Wasson dig deep into his new book, “Improv Nation,” about the history of improvisation in America.

Leading By Owning It

Guest: Wendy Clarke

Kelly sits down with Coca Cola veteran and current CEO of DDB North America, Wendy Clark to talk about the current state of advertising, culture and leadership.

Education, Access And Equity

Guest: Jamie Casap

Kelly connects with Jaime Casap, Google Education Evangelist. They talk about digital inequity, global competency and how Google has entered classrooms all over the country.

From Comedy To Congress

Guest: Sameena Mustafa

Kelly talks to Sameena Mustafa who is running for the United States congress to represent the 5th District of Illinois. They discuss Sameena’s history in Chicago’s comedy scene and why she wants to run for office now.

Living In Outrage Culture

Guest: Lauren Duca

Kelly connects with Lauren Duca, the 26 year old columnist for Teen Vogue who has inspired legions of young women and men while ending up in the crosshairs of Tucker Carlson and Fox News. Check this out. She is wise beyond her years.

Permission To Screw Up

Guest: Kristen Hadeed

Kelly swaps stories with Kristen Hadeed, a young entrepreneur whose new book, “Permission to Screw Up,” supports that idea that failures are inevitable, important and vital to any kind of success.

Radical Candor

Guest: Kim Scott

Kelly Leonard connects with Kim Scott who is the author of the book Radical Candor.Radical Candor is the sweet spot between managers who are obnoxiously aggressive on the one side and ruinously empathetic on the other. It is about providing guidance, which...

Organizations Improvise

Guest: Colin Fisher

This week we talked to Colin Fisher, a scholar, author and teacher of team leadership, creativity and improvisation.


Guest: Mitch Prinstein

Kelly talks to professor Mitch Prinstein about his new book “Popular” which looks at the science behind popularity, status and likability.

The Chaos Imperative

Guest: Ori Brafman

Kelly talks to professor and author Ori Brafman about his book “The Chaos Imperative” which looks at everything from military strategy to open offices, giving us insights into how to better use the chaos that exists in our work and life.

Everything Is Obvious

Guest: Duncan Watts

Kelly talks to the brilliant Cornell professor and Primary Researcher at Microsoft, Duncan Watts. Duncan’s book, “Everything is Obvious,” shows us how and why 80% of our predictions are wrong and we invent stories to make sense of an often unsensible world.


Guest: Melissa Shilling

Kelly talks to Professor Melissa Shilling whose new book “Quirky” explores the science the traits that drive geniuses like Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs and Marie Curie.

The Happiness Track

Guest: Emma Seppala

Kelly talks to scholar and author Emma Seppala about the connection between happiness and a successful career.

Dream Teams

Guest: Shane Snow

Kelly talks to author Shane Snow whose new book “Dream Teams,” shows the normal ways teams fall apart and the unlikely ways that teams can come together to excel.

Bill Clinton, Big Law And Purpose

Guest: Scott Curran

Kelly talks with former Clinton Foundation General Counsel Scott Curran about social impact and innovation and how Scott’s early classes in improvisation informed his career choices.

Great At Work

Guest: Morten Hansen

Kelly digs into the science behind great work performance with Berkeley professor Morten T. Hansen. His new book, “Great at Work,” gives some surprising insight into what makes individuals truly excel in their jobs.

People Aren’t Widgets

Guest: Rodd Wagner

Kelly talks to Rodd Wagner, VP of employment engagement strategies for BI Worldwide and the author of “Widgets.” Rodd shares his powerful point of view around the relationship between organizations and their employees.

Everybody Lies

Guest: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Kelly dials up data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz whose New York Times Bestselling book “Everybody Lies” offers some fascinating and disturbing insights into big data, little lies and the difficult search for truth in our country today.

Medical Improv

Guest: Katie Watson

Kelly talks to Katie Watson, a teacher of bioethics, law and medical humanities at Northwestern. Katie has also been improvising since 1997 and has been an adjunct faculty member at The Second City Training Center. She has created “Medical Improv” – an...

Tapping Group Genius

Guest: Dr. Keith Sawyer

Kelly talks to creativity scholar Dr. Keith Sawyer whose experience working with improvisational troupes in Chicago in the 1990’s led to a lifelong fascination with the science of how we use improvisation to create original and innovative ideas.

How We Work

Guest: Leah Weiss

Kelly sits down with Stanford University professor Leah Weiss whose new book “How We Work” looks at ways in which we can re-humanize the workplace.

Insight Out

Guest: Tina Seelig

Kelly talks to Tina Seelig, a professor at Stanford’s Department of Management Science and Engineering about her research into creativity and innovation.

Improvisation For Autism

Guest: Sylvia Smith and Nick Johne

Kelly meets up with Dr. Sylvia Smith, Executive Director of Giant Steps and Improv teacher Nick Johne to discuss their unique partnership developing and leading Improvisation for Autism classes.

The Powers Of Habit

Guest: Nir Eyal

Kelly talks to Nir Eyal, an entrepreneur and consultant whose book “Hooked” shows how habits are being used to create and sell powerful new technologies.

Sports, Sexism And How We Can Do Better

Guest: Sarah Spain

Kelly sits down with ESPN host and reporter Sarah Spain to talk about the future of sports, broadcasting and finding equity in both.

Woo The Gator

Guest: Zoe Chance

Kelly talks to Zoe Chance, who is a marketing professor teaching influence and persuasion at the Yale School of Management.

Participant Marketing

Guest: Michael Brito

Kelly meets Michael Brito a digital strategist whose new book “Participant Marketing” makes the case for engaging your most powerful marketing tool: your own employees.

Chicago: Collaboration Capital Of The World

Guest: Howard Tullman

Kelly talks to Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, the tech hub that serves as a community for cutting edge digital designers, engineers and entrepreneurs working in Chicago.

Unsafe Thinking

Guest: Jonah Sachs

Kelly talks to author Jonah Sachs about his new book “Unsafe Thinking” which looks at the science and stories behind breakthrough ideas.

Risk, Manchester United And The Value Of Pride

Guest: Phil Clement

Kelly talks with Phil Clement, Global CMO of AON about working at the intersection of risk and people; managing AON’s robust relationship with the Manchester United Football team and the value of pride for the London-based company.

How Work Isn’t Working

Guest: Jason Fried

Kelly sits down with Jason Fried, the CEO and Co-Founder of Basecamp whose TEDtalk “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work,” has been viewed by 4.5 million people. Jason shares his inspiring and unusual ideas about the nature of the workplace.

Elastic Thinking

Guest: Leonard Mlodinow

Kelly meets Leonard Mlodinow, a theoretical physicist who has co-written books with Stephen Hawking and Deepak Chopra. His new book is called “Elastic Thinking”

The Powers Of Two

Guest: Josh Wolf Shenk

Kelly talks to Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of “Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs,” which looks at the creative DNA of dyads, from Lennon and McCartney to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Politics & Parenting

Guest: Dan Kois

Kelly Leonard sits down with Dan Kois of Slate Magazine to discuss politics and parenting.

The Entrepreneur CEO

Guest: Craig Dubitsky

Kelly talks Craig Dubitsky, the CEO of Hello Products and the co-founder of EOS products – the iconic spherical lip balm that your kids are always bugging you to buy for them when you’re checking out at Target.

This Is Your Brain On Improv

Guest: Charles Limb

Kelly talks to Dr. Charles Limb, who has studied the effects of improvisation on the human brain.

Talking Change With The Future’s Guy

Guest: J. Walker Smith

Kelly talks to renowned insight guru J Walker Smith about our need to understand “Change” in order to succeed.

Smarter, Faster, Better

Guest: Charles Duhigg

Kelly sits down with Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times Best Selling author Charles Duhigg about his latest book, “Smarter, Faster, Better” as well as smash hit “The Power of Habit.”

How To Have A Good Day

Guest: Caroline Webb

Kelly talks to Caroline Webb, author of the fantastic new book How to Have a Good Day. Caroline is an Oxford and Cambridge trained economist who spent 15 years at McKinsey before opening her own firm, Sevenshift.

Electoral Dysfunction

Guest: Julie Mason

Kelly talks with Julie Mason, host of the Press Pool on Sirius/XM’s Potus Channel about Trump, Clinton, Media Bias and who are the funniest politicians. Julie spent ten years as a White House Correspondent covering both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Diversity, Dyslexia And Chance The Rapper

Guest: Brian Bannon

Kelly is joined by Brian Bannon, Commissioner Chicago Public Library to discuss “Diversity, Dyslexia and Chance the Rapper.”

The No A****** Rule

Guest: Bob Sutton

Kelly talks with best-selling author and Stanford University professor Bob Sutton about the defining characteristics of assholes and the damage they can do to a business.

The Secrets Of Millennials

Guest: Katie Elfering

Kelly mines insights around the Secrets of Millennials from Katie Elfering, Senior Design Researcher for Microsoft. Katie studies the behaviors of Millennials and Generation Z and shares her research and thoughts around generational differences and...

Grit, Resilience And Passion

Guest: Angela Duckworth

Kelly talks to Angela Duckworth, the author of the New York Times Bestselling book Grit. Angela’s insights on how the term “talent” is doing us a disservice and the grit of one her favorite Second City alums, Tina Fey, make for a fascinating conversation.

Asking The Manager Of Ask A Manager

Guest: Alison Green

Kelly Leonard gets the best work advice about management from Alison Green who runs the popular website AskaManager.org.

God, Marriage And Improvisation

Guest: Reverend Doctor Samuel Wells

Kelly had an unlikely and amazing conversation with the Vicar of St. Martin in the Fields, the Reverend Doctor Samuel Wells who wrote a book on Christian Ethics and Improvisation.

Trump, Basketball, Improv And More

Guest: Adam McKay

Kelly has an engaged and funny conversation with Academy Award winning filmmaker Adam McKay.

The Venture Capitalist

Guest: David Hornik

Why is Kelly talking to a wildly successful venture capitalist? Maybe it’s because he’s really smart and really funny.

Conscious Capitalism, 1989 And Whole Foods

Guest: Raj Sisodia

Kelly connects with Raj Sisodia, the co-founder of Conscious Capitalism who brings some much needed optimism about the world we live in today.

Outsiders, Rebels And Comedy Icons

Guest: Mike Sacks

Kelly Leonard talks to noted comedy writer Mike Sacks about some very funny people and how they got that way.

Great Leaders Are Great Listeners

Guest: Dick Costolo

Kelly talks to former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo about leadership, improvisation and working out with Gavin Newsome.

Leading With A Sense Of Self

Guest: Kathleen Schafer

Kelly talks to leadership expert Kathleen Schafer about running an office and running for an office.

Improvisation And Business

Guest: Dan Klein

Kelly talks professor Dan Klein who teaches and uses improvisation as part of his classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The Culture Code

Guest: Daniel Coyle

This week we talked to Daniel Coyle, author of “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups.”

Ethics, Improvisation, And Gaming

Guest: Erica Salmon Byrne and Jen Ellison

Kelly Leonard is joined by Erica Salmon Byrne and Jen Ellison to find the intersection between Ethics and Improvisation.