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IAM1822 – Strategist and Expert Helps Develop Leaders People ‘Want’ to Follow

Podcast Interview with Halelly Azulay

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

This episode on CEO Podcasts features Halelly Azulay, the CEO & leadership development strategist at TalentGrow LLC. Halelly specializes in leadership, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and authentic networking. Her focus is on developing leaders that people want to follow. She is also the author of two books, “Employee Development on a Shoestring” and “Strength to Strength.”

During the episode, Halelly shares her CEO hack, which is to have a small army, such as a virtual assistant, to delegate tasks to. Her CEO nugget emphasizes the importance of building a strong network and seeking out mentors. She encourages entrepreneurs to stick with their goals, get help when needed, and mentions the book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Halelly defines being a CEO as being a visionary who executes on that vision, making an impact on the world and shaping it according to one's desires.

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Halelly Azulay Teaser 00:00

I help companies and organizations put together a leadership development strategy and program. But I also sometimes come into organizations, either to those organizations where I did that consulting, but also into the ones that already have this together. They have an approach, but they need skill building.

This is where I speak at conferences and meetings, or I conduct workshops. One-half day, one day, two days, and so forth, workshops around specific leadership skills.

Intro 00:28

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you are in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:53

Hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners just like you, what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focusing on CEO Hacks and CEO Nuggets. This is by far one of my favorite questions I asked on the show. In other words, I asked, what are the apps, books, and habits that make you more effective and efficient. Those were the CEO hacks. Then I asked for a word of wisdom or a piece of advice or something that you might tell your younger business self if you were to hop into a time machine. Those were the CEO Nuggets. That's what we'll focus on this month and some of the top ones that can instantly impact your business.

I love all the questions, but with every episode, I thought I would walk away with something I could look at and implement right there to save the precious resources, time, and money. Or I would also learn about the advice, tips, and tidbits or tools of the trade on how to level up our organization. So you'll hear some of these this month. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Halelly Azulay of Talent Grow LLC. Halelly, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Halelly Azulay 02:30

Thank you, Gresham. It's great to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:32

No problem. What I want to do is just read a little bit more about Halelly so you can learn a little bit more about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Halelly is the CEO and leadership development strategist at Talent Grow LLC, an expert in leadership, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and authentic networking.

Halelly develops leaders that people want to follow. She's the author of two books, Employee Development on a Shoestring and Strength to Strength. She offers actionable leadership insights and advice as a sought after speaker and workshop leader, as well as on her blog and her leadership podcast, The Talent Grow Show.

Halelly, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Halelly Azulay 03:13

Ready and rocking.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:15

Awesome. Let's do it. So the first question I have is just to learn a little bit more about your CEO story, build upon your bio, and let us hear a little bit more about what led you to start your business.

Halelly Azulay 03:25

Sure. I first spent a good bit of my career as an internal employee. And I don't know at what point it came into my mind that I thought that it would be a good idea to have my own business. I actually don't remember when that started, but I know it was something that I spent a lot of time just thinking about and not doing. I think that for me, it was just getting myself ramped up and ready and feeling like I was. I had the credibility and the experience that could help me differentiate myself and sell myself in a very competitive marketplace.

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And then I think there was probably a series of two or three pattern-forming situations at work that showed me something about myself. And that was that I really, really wanted integrity. It's a top value for me. I kept feeling like I was in situations where I was doing great work and then something would change. There would be a situation where I felt like my integrity was getting put into a risky space where I had to choose between keeping my job or keeping my integrity.

So finally, after I saw that pattern enough times, I thought if I were on my own, I would be 100% in charge of being integrity. That's when I made the decision to do it.

Gresham Harkless 04:33

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you, I guess a little bit more about like how you serve the clients and what exactly you do to help them out.

I know you definitely have a lot of things that you're doing, could you take us through some of the products and services and ways that you serve the clients that you work with?

Halelly Azulay 04:45

Yeah, absolutely. Everything in my work is revolving around developing leaders that people actually want to follow. You know how people say you leave a bad manager, not a job? That's really actually true. So, I've worked with enough managers and leaders in organizations to see that sometimes it's the bad managers. Most of the time, they don't mean to be a bad manager. A lot of times they're a bad manager because in most cases, people are promoted not because they have management or leadership skills or even capability, it's just because they're really good at their technical aspects of their job and then they're just thrown into leadership roles.

Often they're not really given any development beyond that. So especially for a really fast-growing organizations, at some point, they start doing that. They sort of promote people and promote people and promote people and hope that they can fly. They just throw them off a cliff and hope that they can fly. But at some point, it becomes enough of a problem where they see that really great people are leaving and when they ask them why they're leaving, they say my manager isn't good. So this is where I come in.  When that pain point is strong enough, I come in and I help that organization that's been fast growing and has enough of a layer system that's been put into place that they know they have enough people in leadership roles. But not enough of a strategic approach to developing them.

I help them build a strategic, intentional approach to developing leaders. That means that you don't just bring in a workshop or send them to some workshop here and there or do nothing, but you think about this more from a proactive stance from the organization's perspective and build this into the process that the organization uses regularly to build leadership skills, both in the people that are managing and leading, but also in the people that you want to make ready to step into those roles when those roles become necessary or available. So that's the consulting aspect of my work.

I help companies and organizations put together a leadership development strategy and program. But I also sometimes come into organizations, either to those organizations where I did that consulting, but also to the ones that already have this together. They have an approach, but they need skill building. This is where I speak at conferences and meetings, or I conduct workshops like one-half day, one day, two day, and so forth workshops around specific leadership skills. I help develop the leaders around certain areas that they need to get better at.

Gresham Harkless 07:11

Awesome. So I guess when the business becomes more mature, you have to make sure that you are developing that in your management, but also down the line.

Halelly Azulay 07:18

Yeah, because you know what? Like when you have a small business, you just fly by the seat of your pants and you make things up as you go along and it's okay. But at some point, it becomes big enough that doesn't work anymore. Once you've reached that point where you have enough layers that the founder can't really keep like this, it's like the sand is slipping between their fingers and they're trying to hold on to all of it and they cannot.

Once you have enough of the layers going on and the different reporting levels and enough people that are doing it, there is a critical mass that it makes sense to invest in it because when the business is smaller, it doesn't always make sense, although there are ways to develop leaders even within smaller businesses.

But at that point, it makes sense for them to bring someone like me in to help them get this organized within their own system so that it's no longer just an afterthought, but that it is something that is a strategic part of their business. Because if they wanna function and grow, they have to think about everything from a strategic perspective as you and I know, rather than reactive.

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Gresham Harkless 08:17

Exactly. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce, which is whatever you feel distinguishes you or your organization from maybe other potential competitors that you might have.

Halelly Azulay 08:27

A lot of the folks that are out, first of all, there are lots of really great people out there and thank goodness because there's a lot of need for it, but a lot of organizations like me or consultants like me tend to have what I see as one model, one trick pony, they get fixated on an assessment or a model or something where everything is seen through that lens and that's what they sell. They end up developing a lot of off-the-shelf programs that they just sell it over and over. So when people come to them for help, they just try to shove every square peg through a round hole or however you say that.

I don't do things that way. I really look through what does the audience need? What does the client need? What do the people who have a problem need in order to help them resolve it? And I go from there. So everything that I build is customized. Now, of course, I have things that I use repeatedly because they've worked before, but it's always tailored and customized to the client's needs because I feel like a lot of these problems are so contextual and so situational that I really make an effort to make it fit for them.

Gresham Harkless 09:32

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Now I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This might be an app, book or habit that you have, but the idea is it's something that makes you more effective and efficient as a business owner.

Halelly Azulay 09:45

Well, I do have a small business in the sense that I don't have tons and tons of employees. One of the things that I realized in recent years is I used to just try to do everything myself. But the value of my time is much better spent doing what is my secret sauce and doing what my strengths are. There are lots of things that other people can do just as well, if not better. So taking contract virtual assistants and having a small army of people to delegate work to outsource work to, that can help me free up my time to do what only I can do has been a tremendous help.

I've got a virtual assistant helping me with scheduling, with looking for media opportunities, for updating certain things on my website. I have a virtual assistant helping me with my newsletter. I have another one for transcriptions for my podcast and I have another one that helps me do the show notes for my podcast and another one who does like the editing and the production for my podcast. This has been an amazing thing.

So there are lots of people, but none of them are on my payroll or anything like that. So I don't have to worry about, feeding their kids directly, but they free me up to focus on the work where I really add value.

Gresham Harkless 10:56

That's huge. I think that sometimes you try to figure out, you see somebody that's doing so many different things. You're like, how do I have the same 24 hours that they do, but I guess it's all in how you're leveraging it. Is that what you're saying?

Halelly Azulay 11:07

Yeah and making sure that you're thinking about not just okay, I can do it myself. So I'll give you an example, like editing my podcast. Anybody who starts a podcast from nothing, you probably don't come into it with any skills. That's fine. You can build skills around whatever you need. I could probably figure out how to edit a podcast. But it would take me hours and hours and hours. When I thought about it, I was like, I don't think I would enjoy doing it so it would be work that would be grunt work. I would hate it probably. It would take me forever.

I could take someone who's a professional editor who could probably do it in the third or fifth of the time that it would take me and they don't charge what I charge my clients for my hour. They charge what is a fair market share for their time. So for me to spend that money on their hour, I could make that money back and then some in my hour with my clients, right? So it's just thinking about what is your time worth and how can you recapture the value of the time that you lose to certain things?

So making decisions about how you spend your time, even though sometimes it'll cost you money in the long term, it makes you back that money and more.

Gresham Harkless 12:08

Exactly. Now I wanted to ask you for a CEO nugget, and this might be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or maybe something that you might tell your younger business self.

Halelly Azulay 12:17

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I've found that you don't have to know everything and you don't have to be everywhere, but your network is your net worth. Like an old cliché, you can increase your value. You can increase the opportunities you have. You can increase the access you have to information and resources by growing the right kind of network and nurturing it. Then related to that, also making sure that you have mentors. So part of your networking should be connecting with people who can mentor you, who are maybe 1, 2, 10, 100 steps down a similar path further from you, who can give you insights and help you not reinvent the wheel as you're moving on your journey towards whatever your vision is.

I've seen many people who are struggling, who come to me for mentoring, who are struggling in building a business. I often find that what they do is they go pedal to the metal head down and they work on their work and they don't take the time to connect with other people because to them it feels like there's no direct ROI if I go have coffee with someone or, if I connect with someone on the phone, so they don't do it. Then only when they need something, they suddenly remember that they know someone. When you connect with someone after two years, whatever, and all you're doing is asking for a favor, that's not really going to entice them to help you.

What is going to entice them to help you is that you've kept that relationship alive and have given to them along those two years, offered them insights, advice, thank you, kudos, recognition, or even just hello. So that two years later of you doing all of that for those two years, now, if you have something that you want to ask of them, like a favor. They're itching to help you.

Gresham Harkless 13:54

Exactly. And that's not the essence of building relationships where it's not take, take, take, and not give, give, give. You want to be able to balance both of those at the same time, because then you're truly empowering each other as individuals.

Halelly Azulay 14:05

You know, Gary Vaynerchuk has a book called. Jab, jab, jab, right hook, right? Or however, he calls it. I'm terrible. I don't know boxing. So it is a boxing metaphor, he just says, give, give, give before you ask. So I think that's a similar approach we all should follow. Do not count chits. Do not try to balance the checkbook.

You should think about if you're giving and listening to someone and they never give you anything in return, Okay, check that one. But in general, don't worry about giving more than the other because that just primes you for having an abundance around you of people who are so eager to help.

Gresham Harkless 14:40

Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of being a CEO. We're having different CEOs on this podcast, but I wanted to ask you specifically, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Halelly Azulay 14:50

It means being a visionary. It means being someone who executes on your vision. It means being someone who has built something from nothing. You get to control your destiny. You get to make a true impact on the world in a positive way. You get to shape your life the way you want to.

Gresham Harkless 15:11

Awesome. Awesome. I love that definition. Halelly, thank you so much for taking some time out of your schedule. What I wanted to do was pass the mic to you, so to speak, to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and our listeners know. And also how best people can get ahold of you.

Halelly Azulay 15:24

So I would say go for it and stick with it if you haven't already started. If you're in there, get help if you're struggling because there are lots of resources out there to help you so that you can stick with it.

I have a gift I'd love to offer to listeners that is a guide, 10 ways to become a more engaging communicator. So that's something that I know a lot about and I'm happy to share and I can put that on my website, which is the best way to keep in touch with me in general.

Everything, my podcast, my blog, my services, everything is on my website. That's and I'll put that free gift on

Gresham Harkless 16:03

Awesome. Thank you so much Halelly. What we'll do is we'll have that link and the rest of your links in the show notes just so that anybody can listen to your podcast, and visit your website and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:12

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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