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March 2021

Podcast - Episode 10 - "Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies" with Author Matt Paknis

Super special guest today ~ and one for my followers that have a passion for sports and all things football!

Matt starts off the episode quoting Mark Twain: "The two best days of your life are the day you're born and the day you find out why."

He goes on to share how it was his time working as a coach at Penn State when the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke out that really prompted him to devote his life to protecting targets of any kind of bullying.

Matt shares his very difficult childhood experiences of domestic abuse & bullying and power control abuses (his preferred term for childhood sexual abuse), all while his mother was facing stage 4 Melanoma. Her determination to pair him with the right counselor, as she fought for her own life, gave Matt a second chance and he went on to have an incredible highschool & Brown University athletic, academic and coaching experience.

It was the intervention of, and eventual trust in that counselor and his football coaches that changed his life, and how that gift gave him the drive to pay it forward.

Matt's four-part comparative breakdown of the stark differences between healthy workplace culture organizations vs. toxic workplace culture & bullying organizations (Focus, Structure, People, Leadership) is must-have information for anyone entering the work-force, questioning if they are in a toxic workplace and for everyone involved in shining a light on and exposing workplace abuse.

This episode is jam-packed, so get out your notebook and get ready for some incredible insight from this gentle giant!

ABOUT MY GUEST - Matt Paknis

Matt is a senior management consultant with six years of college football coaching and ten years of playing experience through five championship seasons whose focus is on lessening bullying in the workplace. Matt is also the author of "Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies"and his life's journey is featured in the new release "Overcoming: Lessons in Triumphing over Adversity and the Power of Our Common Humanity" by Dr. Augustus White III - the first African-American medical student at Stanford, the first black surgical resident at Yale, the first black professor of surgery at Yale, and the first black chief of service at a Harvard teaching hospital. He is professor of orthopedics and medical education at Harvard Medical School and Professor Emeritus in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Dr. White has pioneered the movement in U.S. and Canadian medical schools for culturally competent care and is a leading voice in the medical community’s ongoing efforts to address the significant disparities in health and healthcare suffered by African Americans and other minorities.


Matt Paknis Leadership Development Blog



On The Web


ABOUT THE HOST Michelle Horlbogen

Two days after reporting ethical concerns to her employer, Michelle was fired. Six months later she launched her website and this podcast as a platform for whistleblowers and victims of workplace bullying, workplace abuse, and workplace retaliation. As a writer, podcast host and speaker, Michelle helps targets of workplace bullying and harassment find their voice by leading with transparency about her own experience and writing and sharing empowering material and content on the subject.

For partnership, collaboration, or to book Michelle to speak, please use the contact button.

VISIT MY WEBSITE The Gentlewoman Boss









YouTube Channel


Thank you for listening!

Don’t forget to Rate, Review & Subscribe!

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What Others Think About You is None of Your Business

Don't give up

Did you ever have one of those weeks when you just couldn't get out of your own head?  Well, I had that kind of week.

It's amazing how one comment by a virtual stranger can get in your head & make you begin to question everything you've worked so hard for.

Rumination is an unwanted skill I learned after I was bullied out of my job & career. I have to work hard to avoid what I know will trigger it.

So, it was painful to get triggered by someone who is a "professional" in the anti-bullying sector. (Yes, apparently bullying exists within the sector as well. But that's another post for another day.)

Here's what I know:

There is room for everyone's story in the fight against workplace abuse.

Everyone's experience is REAL. Everyone's experience MATTERS. Everyone should feel SAFE to share their story, and, if they so choose, use it to HELP others.

I've never claimed to be an "expert" in the field of workplace bullying. I've always been 100% transparent about my very limited education - I'm a high-school graduate. I've never been to college. I'm not certified by a "workplace bullying university", I don't have a degree in the "field" of workplace abuse.

Does that make me unqualified to try to use my experience to help others? Apparently, some people think it does. And from a clinical position, they are correct.  

But here's what I DO HAVE, that a degree or certificate can't guarantee:

A burning desire to use my experience to help others, to educate and empower them so they don't have to go through what I went through.

To support and bolster up those who have suffered workplace abuse, to let them know they aren't alone. 

To use my platform as a sounding board to expose workplace abuse and call out and hold accountable bad leadership and negligent boards of directors whenever it crosses my radar.

I don't need anyone's permission to follow my heart and to be of service to others.

And neither do you.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  

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A is for Authenticity

Authenticity quote


As many of you know, one of my favorite "A" words is "accountability".

I have another one that is tied to it, and that is "authenticity".

What do you think of when you hear the word authentic?

I think of honest, truthful, transparent, genuine, loyal to oneself & one's purpose.

The data tells us that authenticity is critical for anyone selling anything or creating a personal brand (you ARE the product).

Millennials are the largest generation. They have college debt, mediocre salaries and trust issues. They are skeptical of institutions and brands.

That means Millennials aren’t buying.


Millennials are relentless and obsessive in their quest for authenticity.*

They're also super tech-savvy.

We live in a digital world, and researching brand authenticity has never been easier.

Why does that matter?  Here's a for-instance:

In an effort to to make yourself appear in high-demand and to generate new clients, you start a marketing campaign claiming that between your product, online class, course or program being sold-out (it's not) and being so busy taking dozens of virtual & real stages speaking (you're not), that you can barely squeeze in being a guest on a podcast anymore, something you used to do all the time. 

What happens when, in reality, you're still "secretly" showing up on multiple podcasts, which proceed to air in the weeks & months that follow your marketing claims?  The episodes you intentionally don't share on all of your social platforms because that "reality" doesn't align with the "false reality" you're trying to sell potential clients?

News Alert: Just because you don't announce it or post about it, doesn't mean that your audience and potential clients don't know about it.  As previously stated, we live in a digital world, and consumers do their research.  

Exaggeration & sensationalism are tempting marketing tactics to resort to, especially for entrepreneurs and new small business owners.

But remember, you only have one chance to build a trustworthy reputation. 

Staying authentic may slow the journey to financial success, but it will never destroy it the way breaking trust will.




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SURVEY: How Prepared are Highschool, College & Graduate Students to Enter A Potentially Toxic Workplace?

Survey by michelle horlbogen the gentlewoman boss are students prepared for toxic workplace & workplace bullying

Have you experienced a toxic workplace? 🤕

Been targeted by a workplace bully? 👹

Had your career sabotaged? 🚫

Wish you had known then what you know now to better protect yourself? 🔰

Are you about to graduate and enter the workforce? 👩‍🎓👨‍🎓

Still feel unprepared to handle it? 😟

I understand 💯💯💯. 🙋🏼‍♀️

So I'm working on a toolkit that will give you everything you need to walk through that door and own your rightful place at work. ⚒

But first, I need YOUR input and feedback! 📥📩✉

Please take one minute to fill out this anonymous survey I'm conducting (link below ⬇️).

As Jerry Maguire so aptly stated

"Help ME help YOU!" 🎯🎯🎯



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Castbox Media Names The Gentlewoman Boss Podcast the Top 20 Best Whistleblower Podcasts for 2021

The gentlewoman boss podcast top 20 best whistleblowers podcasts 2021 Castbox Media

"When one door closes, a bigger and better one ALWAYS opens."

If you had told me that a year and a half ago when I got fired for trying to do the right thing, I would have laughed at you and said "Please, save it for someone else."

I wasn't exactly feeling positive or hopeful.

But fast forward 20 months, and I stand here as living proof that it's TRUE!

My bullies thought they fired me on that awful, hot August day, but the reality is, there was something so much bigger and better waiting for me on the other side of that phone call.

By speaking my truth I had found a way to shut that dead-end door and open the one that had been calling me all along: helping others find their voice and giving them the tools they need to navigate their way, not just in the workplace, but in every facet of life.

Castbox Media has named The Gentlewoman Boss Podcast the Top 20 Best Who is the Whistleblower Podcasts for 2021. 

Find my podcast HERE.

The gentlewoman boss podcast named top 20 whistleblowers podcasts Castbox Media


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