Leadership Insights: Interview With Brad Lomenick

Recently, I had the pleasure of connecting with Brad Lomenick. He’s the Grand Poobah, as his podcast partner Ken Coleman calls him, of the Catalyst Leadership Conference.

Brad Lomenick Headshot

Brad’s work has included 5 years at Life@Work Magazine and management consulting with Cornerstone Group. He’s also ridden horses for a living in Colorado. This man has a wide berth of experience. He’s also the author of the soon to be released book The Catalyst Leader.

I hope you’re ready to go deep. Brad really brought it during this interview.

Q1: Brad, could you please share a little about the work Catalyst does and your role with the company?

BL: Catalyst gathers Christian leaders to inspire and equip them to truly be Catalysts in their communities. My role is to lead the organization and provide strategy, vision, brand development, and programming oversight.

Q2: My team has attended two Catalyst events. They’ve been great. It seems like a great place to work. What pleases you most in the work you’ve done with Catalyst?

BL: That we’ve been a part of the story that God is unfolding for this generation. It’s very exciting to see the way young Christian leaders are making a difference, working together, and intent on leading well and leading now. The church is strong, and God’s purposes for this generation are advancing. We’re just incredibly grateful at Catalyst to be a small part of that story that continues to unfold. Also, our team really enjoys working together, both our full time staff as well as the larger circle of folks who help us put on Catalyst events throughout the year. We really do have fun together and enjoy accomplishing the goals we’ve set out to get done.

Q3: How did you get started in leadership?

BL: Early in life. I’ve always been drawn to leadership, whether student council or leadership development. Even in grade school I felt compelled and called towards leadership and trying to be out in front.

Q4: Who has had a great influence on your life? What was so special about this person that their influence has stuck with you?

BL: Bob Foster Sr. He was a man of integrity and lived it out in his 70’s when I was around him. He mentored me for several years while I worked at Lost Valley Ranch.

Q5: Creative thinking can be stifled in many organizations. How do you help promote creative thinking at Catalyst?

BL: We try to look for creativity everywhere. And make sure that everyone feels comfortable and released to bring creativity to the forefront every day. Also realizing that there are no bad ideas. And many times the most creative ideas start out as just average ideas that are built upon.

Q6: Great perspective on the start of creative ideas. You said a lot of times they start out as average ideas. How do you decide which average ideas should be built upon?

BL: Average ideas become great ideas because of the add on principle. You have to give folks the opportunity to “yes, and” your idea, not “no, but” your idea. Most of our best creative moments at Catalyst events over the years have been average ideas that became great because we allowed them to be baked and fleshed out. Give an idea a bit of time to soak in as well. For example, if you come out of a meeting with 10 average ideas, within a week maybe one of those will turn into something great.

Q7: Young leaders face a myriad of challenges, especially as they’re first getting established. What do you think is the biggest challenge they face?

BL: For many a major challenge is discovering and embracing their calling. Another challenge is to make sure there is a strong sense of humility they are leading from and their internal life is always synced up with their external life.

Q8: I can relate to the difficulty of discovering calling. It seems so elusive at times. How would you encourage someone to discover and embrace their calling?

BL: Figure out what you are good at, what you love to do, and what you have the greatest passion for. Calling doesn’t have to be mysterious. Many times we make calling way more complicated and mysterious than I believe it really is. Learn from those who know you best, take tests, look backwards as well as forwards, and pray. Calling in essence is the place where our greatest strengths and deepest passions intersect. That intersection can help anyone discover what their true calling is.

Q9: What is one characteristic you think every leader should possess? How would someone go about building this characteristic?

BL: It’s hard to narrow it down to one. In the upcoming book The Catalyst Leader, we identify 8 essentials necessary for every leader to possess. But I would say integrity and authenticity are crucial. Especially in today’s culture of real time news and social media where it’s much harder to “hide” than ever before. Because of the “on time” and real time culture we live in, it’s more important than ever to be leaders of integrity and authenticity, and being who we say we are and doing what we say we’ll do.

Q10: I’d like to expand on this answer by asking 2 questions. First, would you share what your new book is about and how it will help leaders? Second, if someone has lacked integrity and authenticity in the past, is there hope for them? What should they do to build integrity into their lives or gain authenticity?

BL: On the first question- my new book is entitled The Catalyst Leader and is a roadmap for leaders that includes 8 Key Essentials for becoming a change maker, thus becoming a true Catalyst and true influencer in today’s leadership landscape. It’s based on my experience in leading Catalyst and the leadership lessons I’ve learned over the past 10 years from our Catalyst community. It is practical and will provide application driven content for leaders to lead well, and lead now.

Regarding integrity and authenticity- it’s never too late to start building those into your life, regardless of your past. You have to start with reality and understand who you truly are- an honest assessment. That will help set the stage. Integrity also means having full disclosure in your life in all areas. So surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable and make sure you are staying true to your word. A circle of accountability is crucial.

Q11: You’ve been able to connect with a wide range of leaders. From Jim Collins to Dave Ramsey to Mark Burnett to many others. How could a young leader begin to connect with those that are more advanced in leadership?

BL: Well, many times it’s difficult because it’s only a one way relationship- a young leader just seeking value and connections and info and advice from that person, and giving nothing in return. I would suggest starting with how can you add value or provide significant help to folks you are wanting to connect with, not just thinking about how they can help you. Or helping their organization. Also, if you have a request from someone more advanced in leadership, be direct and very clear in what you are asking for, and when they tell you no, don’t be offended or frustrated, just know that they’re really busy and have lots of folks asking for their time or help on things.

Q12: Besides Catalyst, can you share a couple of resources would you would recommend to a young leader seeking to increase his leadership skills?

BL: Andy Stanley Leadership podcast, Q Conference, Relevant Magazine, Fast Company magazine, Hillsong Conference, TED.

Q13: Final question. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the deal. What does Brad Lomenick eat for breakfast?

BL: Coffee. And an occasional chick-fil-a chicken biscuit!

I’d like to once again thank Brad Lomenick for taking the time out of his day for this interview. I hope his answers were as insightful to you as they were to me.

Question: What was your biggest takeaway from Brad’s interview? Please share what you learned in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I like question #11 and Brad’s answer.  I’ve been learning that the more we can offer up to others as we’re on our own journey to improve, the more we will be allowed into their places.  I always appreciate discussion about creativity, too.  Nice interview, Joe.  

    • That answer was great Dan. People too often go after something for their own gain rather than offering anything up that could benefit the other. This creates a win-lose situation.

  • I like question # 8 because it breaks down the question that so many people have. How do I discover God’s will for my life? Great insight here, do what you are passionate about.

    • Right on Lincoln. Was his answer similar to the way you’ve discovered God’s calling on your life?

  • I like that he said there are no bad ideas. I realize that watching the CEO of our company. He is open to many. Some work and grow and become better. Others simply aren’t right for the moment.

    • Me too. He really shocked me when he mentioned how the leaders at Catalyst will take even the most average of ideas and create something amazing from them. 

  • What a great interview. It’s always good hearing leadership wisdom from someone in the trenches. I enjoyed the answer to question #7 because one of my passions it to help people find and focus on their calling so they can reach their potential. Finding our calling and staying humble is essential. 

    • Thanks Dan. Brad is one of those guys who’s deep in the trenches and sure had a lot of wisdom to share. What else would you have asked him?

      • I would have asked him to share with us his personal growth plan.

    • DS

      Dan – your last statement is a great take away as well – “Finding our calling and staying humble is essential.”

  • DS

    A great point about providing a service back to the leader – not just a one-way street.  Also to not be discouraged about busy leaders saying “no”.

    • Exactly DS. We can’t go in empty handed and expect to be fawned over. We’ve got to go in willing to offer something of worth to the leader. Even if it’s the offer of coffee for a few minutes of their time. 

  • Great interview…I love listening to the Catalyst podcast, so I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Brad in a different environment.

    I wonder what he has to say about the Oklahoma game Friday night… 😉

    • Glad you stopped over and checked out the interview Tessa. Brad and Ken are pretty amazing on the podcast. Speaking of seeing Brad in different environments, are you going to pick up his upcoming book?

      •  I will definitely check it out. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say in it.

  • Great interview. I attended Catalyst in 2011, and it was amazing!

    • The Atlanta one? That was my first and it blew me away. Any plans to attend future events?

      • Yes, Atlanta. It was pretty awesome! I’d love to, if the money allows. The next conference I’d really like to attend is the SCCORE conference. 

        •  Well, if you ever make it back to Catalyst Atlanta, it’d be great to connect with you.

          You’ve got your eye on a great conference with SCCORE. While I haven’t been able to attend it, the reviews are amazing.

  • If you’ve found your passion, if you know what drives you, embrace it and run with the wind!!
    As someone who is probably older than Joe, Brad and all the commenters below, I never found that passion – or, more likely – shied away from it. I never had the boldness to put myself out there, I was too afraid to fail. Now, one of my challenges is to not fall into the chasm of regret. I commented a couple of days ago on being an eternal follower – more accurately – I’m more of an eternal “go-with-the-flower”. I am looking to change that and am not sure where I can find a “leadership” role in the grand scheme of things but I’m working on it.

    All that having been said, having been an observer for the past several decades, integrity and authenticity will ALWAYS carry you through. It will help you rise above the fray and carry you through to the other side. Integrity and authenticity will be your credentials when the dust settles and it’s time to rebuild. They will be your collateral when you need to borrow on the faith of others to trust you to lead them through. I am encouraged by all of you that are younger and bolder than me. Now go out there and make a difference!

    Thanks for the interview, great post.

    • You’re welcome for the interview David. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on it.

  • Thanks for sharing. Great interview, very in-depth. 

    • My pleasure TC. What was the biggest insight you gained from the interview?

      • As I read blogs today I see a theme of passion. Knowing your passion and then acting upon it. Makes life more enjoyable and it spreads to others.

        • You’re right. Passion is a huge focus of a lot of books and blogs. I think it comes from the fact that passion drives us and gives us hope.

  • My biggest take-away:  (and I’m going to quote this in an upcoming blog post) – ” (Our) calling in essence is the place where our greatest strengths and deepest
    passions intersect.”

    What a beautiful definition!

    Thanks for the interview, Joe.  Good, good stuff!

    • I’m excited you found something that resonated with you Michael. Thanks for calling that phrase out.

      Would you say you’ve found that place yet?

      •  I’m not sure that I’ve found my calling.  But I AM sure that I’m getting closer to it.  Time will tell.  (I will keep you posted!)

  • Great interview Joe and what an honor. One thing I see clearly is I have to attend the Catalyst conference at least once. 

    • So glad you enjoyed it my friend. It was fun asking Brad the questions and reading his responses. He’s a man of wisdom.

      And you’re right. You do need to attend a Catalyst event. You won’t be disappointed when you leave it.

  • Joseph, question 9 was key to me. When I think of the phrase that everything rises and falls on leadership, I can’t help but think that “integrity” is at the core of whether leaders succeed or fail. Great interview. 

    • Brad provided a great answer. Like you said, integrity is the cornerstone. Look at business and organizations that have failed. A majority has been due to a lack of integrity.

      What are you doing to strengthen your integrity?

  • Joe, I’ve been following Brad and the Catalyst podcast for the past year or more.  It’s such a great resource.  I love that Brad is coming out with a new book.  I can’t wait to get my hands on this resource which I’m sure will be valuable.  Thanks for sharing this interview with your blogging community.

    • You’re welcome Jon. I hope you got quite a bit out of the interview.

      As I interview more leaders, what other questions would you like to have asked?

      • I’d like to know how leaders stay hungry.  How do they continue to grow?  And how do they prepare for the next step?

  • Brad is a pioneer who has done great service for the next-gen Christ-centered leaders to take a step up a plate and have kingdom-influence. His new book The Catalyst leader has provided a clarion call for action for all Christian Millennials. I’m blessed to have him share his insights here which complements this interview.