Hosted by Dr. Heidi K. Gardner and Ivan Matviak, the Smarter Collaboration podcast uses real-world examples to better understand what smarter collaboration looks like – and how it can go wrong.

The Smarter Collaboration podcast looks at wildly different manifestations of smarter collaboration – everything from a Hall of Fame songwriter to an award-winning winemaker to a university president talking about handling crises. To subscribe, click here; typically two episodes are released each month. Please send any ideas for high-profile guests and collaborations to Christine at

Smarter Collaboration Podcast
Listen to the Smarter Collaboration Podcast
PUBLICATION TITLE / Collaboration in Outer Space and Beyond

Whether it’s an unexpected repair during a space walk (think Apollo 13-type problem solving!) or an evacuation order in the Army, Major Kate Rubins keeps cool and collaborative. Maybe it’s being a “fish out of water” that prepared her: the NASA astronaut, microbiologist, and US Army reservist is continually putting herself in new and challenging situations across a wide variety of domains. In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • what prompted her surprise pivot from MIT researcher to astronaut – and how each of us could learn from that experience
  • how cross-discipline collaboration helped her become the first person to sequence DNA in space
  • who she names as her personal heroes
  • what techniques NASA uses to prepare people for the kinds of teamwork required in the tight confines of the International Space Station
Collaboration in Outer Space and Beyond
PUBLICATION TITLE / Building Better Boards (and Teams)

One of Silicon Valley’s first African-American CEOs, best-selling author, and corporate board member extraordinaire, Shellye Archambeau has rich perspectives on what it takes for leaders to thrive and inspire the best in their collaborators. One approach we found highly novel: at the end of a meeting ask each participant how the meeting went—including what they are excited and concerned about.


Building Better Boards (and Teams)
PUBLICATION TITLE / Collaborating on Disney Theme Parks and Other Immersive Experiences

If designing theme parks doesn’t require smarter collaboration, we don’t know what does! In our conversation with former Disney Imagineers and creative consultants Ryan Harmon and Joe Lanziser, we learned about the different parties that come together to turn great entertainment ideas into reality. The pair sees themselves as conductors, who take an initial client concept, “plus” it (that’s Disney lingo for build on it), and then lead the “orchestra” that carries it out. Each person has a role to play, even those who just chime in from time to time. We also learn why both Imagineers each spontaneously picked the same Disney character as their favorite.

Collaborating on Disney Theme Parks and Other Immersive Experiences
PUBLICATION TITLE / Putting Collaboration at the Heart of Branding

When Cynthia Round was hired to help make the Metropolitan Museum of Art more open and accessible, she knew she needed buy-in and collaboration across colleagues and the public. “We needed collaboration across the entire organization, even the security guard at the entrance, to create an open welcoming experience from the get-go,” she told us. Engaging with consumers and other diverse stakeholders have served her well at the Met, United Way, P&G, and throughout her career. In this episode, Cynthia shares polished wisdom on putting collaboration at the heart of branding.

Putting Collaboration at the Heart of Branding
PUBLICATION TITLE / How Collaboration Revolutionized the Eyewear Industry

LensCrafters founder Dean Butler unpacks the collaborations behind “glasses in about an hour,” a service that revolutionized the eyewear industry globally. What struck us most about the groundbreaking approach is the diverse minds that went into making it happen: everyone from a “soap guy” (Butler, a Procter & Gamble alum), to a retail shoe conglomerate (that bought, financed, and provided personnel support and expansion opportunities to LensCrafters), to a variety of suppliers that traditionally hadn’t worked with retail outlets. It’s no wonder that Butler’s collaboration savvy later played out in Rwanda, where all its people received the eyewear they needed. 

How Collaboration Revolutionized the Eyewear Industry
PUBLICATION TITLE / Smarter Collaboration in the Wine Industry

Massican Winery founder and vintner Dan Petroski highlights an important benefit of the “white wine only” winery’s collaboration with E. & J. Gallo Winery:” more time. Having more time to focus on winemaking will lead to more innovative varietals – like new Pinot Grigios –  that really shake up the wine industry and long-established practices.

Smarter Collaboration in the Wine Industry
PUBLICATION TITLE / How Technology and Workspaces Fuel Smarter Collaboration

Ever feel distracted by your finger-tapping colleague in the next cubicle? Unable to get a word in edgewise on Zoom? What if you had the right mix of workspaces and technology to maximize productivity, effective collaboration, and other business outcomes? You can, according to Cisco’s Ray Milora and Janet Monk. In this episode of our Smarter Collaboration podcast series, they reveal some futuristic Cisco offerings and reiterate leadership behaviors to facilitate smarter working and collaboration. Whether you’re a remote, hybrid, or fully onsite worker, you won’t want to miss this one.

How Technology and Workspaces Fuel Smarter Collaboration
PUBLICATION TITLE / Tackling University Crises

University of Idaho President Scott Green speaks about his just launched bookUniversity President’s Crisis Handbook. You’ll be amazed how smarter collaboration helped the university address three major obstacles: financial deficits, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a heinous crime against four students.

Tackling University Crises
PUBLICATION TITLE / Partnerships in Silicon Valley

Straight from Silicon Valley, Dr. Philippe Bouissou (former right hand to Steve Jobs) and John Orcutt bring their decades of collaboration-related insights based on leading and investing in tech companies. Showing that smarter collaboration often sparks some conflict, Dr. Heidi K. Gardner takes on the idea that only former CEOs deserve board seats.

Partnerships in Silicon Valley
PUBLICATION TITLE / Smarter Collaboration Goes to Hollywood

Hear how big-city perspectives have linked up with Middle America – to address gaps in the television and film market. According to Joe Weinstock, “I think the buyers are on the coasts and they watch certain things. I moved back to Oklahoma and I feel I have my own focus group of friends and family that are reminding me of what I should be developing.” 

Smarter Collaboration Goes to Hollywood
PUBLICATION TITLE / Boosting Brand Awareness

What happens when you take a national hair care franchise and meld it with a team of musicians, producers, expert sound designers, audio engineers, and marketers with ASMR expertise? You get an immersive, cutting-edge (get it??) ad that’s on point with the ASMR trend and its calming and relaxing effects. The result? Brand awareness boosted by 15%. 

Boosting Brand Awareness
PUBLICATION TITLE / Collaborating in Nashville

In our kickoff episode, we ask Nashville Hall of Fame songwriter Kent Blazy and his co-writer Leslie Satcher about the secret sauce in their collaborations – as well as projects with superstars like Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire. Hear how they push through hard times and create “magic.” Kent’s memory doesn’t hurt: “You’re almost collaborating with a former iteration of yourself,” Dr. Heidi K. Gardner observes.

Collaborating in Nashville