Tom Fox’s guest on this week’s show is Dr. James Kelley, co-founder and CEO of qChange. qChange is a technology company that uses artificial intelligence to improve leaders’ skills and make meetings more impactful. James spent the last 12 years in academia before co-founding qChange. He chats with Tom about his academic research, his book, and how he is helping leaders become more impactful in meetings.



Customize the Message

James’ academic research was a five-country study about consumers’ attitudes towards global brands. He studied various customer attributes and how it impacted their attitudes towards a brand. What he found was that global companies needed to tailor their narrative to reach customers outside of their local audience. This study has implications for internal communications around compliance as well, he points out. “I’ve always argued that if you could diversify your population inside the organization and tailor that messaging, the likelihood of compliance will increase drastically because you’re speaking the language of the individual.”

Crucible Moments

Tom and James discuss James’ book, The Crucible’s Gift. James details why he wrote the book, and shares some insights from his interviews with 150 “authentic leaders”. The greatest learning he took away from those interviews was that they all had a “crucible moment”. “What I found is that a majority of those I interviewed that I perceived as being really authentic took some sort of adversity moment and created an opportunity.” He tells Tom that their crucible moments led them to ultimately become more authentic. Tom shares his own crucible moment. “Learning to see the door and then have the courage to walk through, [that] was the biggest lesson for me,” Tom comments.

Making Meetings Better Through Technology

“[qChange] was born out of this notion that technology – the use of AI – could be a collaborator in a leader’s journey, not a competitor,” James says. “So our whole entire company is predicated on the idea of prompting, measuring, growing, and predicting leaders’ and teams’ success in Microsoft Teams. We’re very meeting focused: we believe that where leaders show up most is in a meeting.” He describes how their AI software prompts leaders to practice specific soft skills within meetings. The comprehensive feedback loop compares the leader’s self-score with how his team members rate them, culminating in a personal leadership score. Making it experiential and real-time helps leaders retain those lessons in a tangible way. James tells Tom that their solution is end-to-end. Tom asks him what he sees as the future of meetings, to which he responds that work is going to be hybrid. He shares how qChange is preparing for the future, and that they’re well-positioned to meet it with success.


qChange on LinkedIn | Facebook

James Kelley on LinkedIn

The Crucible’s Gift book