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Unleashed - How to Thrive as an Independent Professional

May 29, 2023

Show Notes:

Mahan Tavakoli is a consultant, leadership coach, and host of the podcast Partnering Leadership. He talks about his podcast, the incredible guests he has had on his show, and his time at the Dale Carnegie Leadership Institute. Mahan has been an avid podcast listener for over a decade, and he decided to launch his own podcast in 2020. His podcast focuses on the journey of CEOs and leaders in the Greater Washington DC region. He has interviewed some impressive names and his show is now in the top 1% of podcasts in the leadership category. He credits the pandemic for allowing him to make his podcast more antifragile, as he is now able to reach a much wider audience.

Promoting a Podcast and Crafting a Compelling Story

As the host of the podcast Partnering Leadership, he  has conversations with CEOs from the Greater Washington, DC DMV region on Tuesdays, and leadership book authors on Thursdays. He has interviewed authors such as Seth Godin, Ken Blanchard, John Kotter, Stephen Covey, and Ciaran. He offers tips on reaching out to authors, including using the momentum of the podcast being in the top 1% of podcasts, and often the agents for the authors who want to promote their book reach out to help promote the book. CEOs he interviews are often people he knows well enough to invite on to the show. He shares what he has learned from the CEOs he has  interviewed and notes that they have a tremendous sense of humility and confidence, as well as a growth mindset, and are constantly looking to learn.

Mahan talks about the importance of storytelling for CEOs. He believes the key to a great story is to focus on one moment in time and draw inspiration from Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. He suggests that the leader be the guide of the story, not the hero. He also sends stories of successful storytelling to CEOs, so they can learn to do the same. This will help them communicate their story both internally and externally, which can strengthen the organization. 

Podcast Promotion, Content Development, and Distribution 

Mahan and Will discuss strategies for promoting a podcast. Mahan offers valuable tips, including creating micro content, posting on other places, and getting guests to send out notes. He also suggested posting on LinkedIn as a way to raise awareness. He suggests creating multiple pieces of content from each episode to promote over a six month period. His team focuses primarily on promoting on LinkedIn, but also shares content on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Mahan discusses how he has focused his content development on LinkedIn to get the most traction. He also explains how videos from his interviews go up on YouTube, even though less than 1% of his audience actually watch them. He shares a story of when he got a great client, where he believes they discovered him from his website, podcast, and personal relationships and networking. Overall, he has seen great benefits from his podcast, including building relationships and learning new things, as well as landing new clients. He explains how his team repurposes content to post on social media over a six month period, and how this is important to reach people who like to consume media in a variety of different ways. 

From Salesperson to Chief Strategy Officer at Dale Carnegie

Mahan shares his experience of working for Dale Carnegie, emphasizing the importance of sincerity and genuineness when building relationships with others. Mahan has found that his podcast has helped build his reputation and credibility throughout the business community and has received many referrals who know him as an authority in business leadership. He is currently working with CEOs and senior leadership teams. His practice also involves individual coaching sessions and consulting services.  Mahan started as a salesperson  but eventually moved up to helping start franchises internationally as his board of directors sought to expand their operations. Despite the busy travel schedule, Mahan was able to successfully contribute to the CEO’s strategic vision and was eventually promoted to Chief Strategy Officer. Through this position, he has been able to lead the organization in constant reinvention and adaptation. 

Success As a Business Executive

As a business executive Mahan was constantly on the road, but he realized that his values of family could not be seen in his lifestyle. As a result, he decided to stay in DC, and he started a youth-serving organization to help underserved youth gain access to college and internships. Mahan believes that it is important for the right people to take the right kids to work, so that they can see the opportunities available to them. He has dedicated his life to providing these opportunities to young people and inspiring them to look at the world differently.

He has also been active in the regional community, serving on the board of directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the executive committee of Leadership Greater Washington. His regional focus allows him to take advantage of the relationships he has built in the area, while also allowing him to spend more time with his family. Mahan stresses the  importance of developing relationships and differentiating oneself in the business world. He highlights the importance of building trust, which can be accomplished by showing genuine interest in the other person, and having genuine conversations. He also discusses the importance of brand names and noted that he has been warmly received in various countries because of his affiliation with Carnegie. Finally, he stresses the importance of focusing on differentiating oneself rather than trying to be better than others.


01:24 Mahan Tavakoli's Journey to Becoming a Top 1% Podcast Host

03:16 Insights from CEOs and Leadership Book Authors

10:05 Analysis of CEO Storytelling: Examining What Makes a Great Story Resonate 

16:32 Exploring Strategies for Promoting Content on Social Media 

18:17 Exploring the Benefits of Content Development for LinkedIn and Other Platforms

24:52 Mahan Tavakoli's Journey from Dale Carnegie Training to Chief Strategy Officer

29:06 Regional Focus in Consulting and Coaching 

33:05 Leveraging Regional Relationships and Trust Building with Dale Carnegie

39:07 Building a Leadership Brand

41:26 Appreciating Hard Work and Giving Back 




Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, which has a mission of connecting independent management consultants with one another, creating opportunities for members to meet, build relationships, and share lessons learned. Learn more at