10 episodes

Nerds are increasingly being asked to have it all—technical expertise and people skills. Join engineer-turned-psychologist Joanie Connell as she interviews nerds and people experts to uncover the best communication strategies for technical people. She brings in everyone from big name scientists and computer geeks to everyday working ones as well as other entertaining and insightful people in a quest for the keys to help nerds interact more successfully with people of all types. Asking thoughtful questions of her guests, she affectionately gives self-proclaimed nerds insights into important people strategies in a light-hearted, conversational style.

Reinventing Nerds Joanie Connell

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 10 Ratings

Nerds are increasingly being asked to have it all—technical expertise and people skills. Join engineer-turned-psychologist Joanie Connell as she interviews nerds and people experts to uncover the best communication strategies for technical people. She brings in everyone from big name scientists and computer geeks to everyday working ones as well as other entertaining and insightful people in a quest for the keys to help nerds interact more successfully with people of all types. Asking thoughtful questions of her guests, she affectionately gives self-proclaimed nerds insights into important people strategies in a light-hearted, conversational style.

    Fabrice Paracuellos: Supporting People Through Holiday Stress

    Fabrice Paracuellos: Supporting People Through Holiday Stress

    Joanie hosts a special holiday episode with Fabrice Paracuellos. Fabrice is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California.  He helps individuals, couples, teams, and organizations with emotions, relationships, self-worth, and wellness. In addition, Fabrice has a technical background with multiple degrees in engineering and business and he’s worked for startups and large tech companies. Today, Fabrice talks about how technical leaders can be supportive to others both at work and at home to people who are stressed out or feeling bad during the holiday season.


    Q: Tell us about your background, including your international studies and your work, and how you came to become a therapist and specialize in wellness and relationships.

    Fabrice received therapy when he was a teen and it was a wonderful experience for him.  He studied math and physics in high school and engineering in college.  He worked in IT for several years. Having a daughter opened his eyes to doing something that was more meaningful to him, and he transitioned to international relations and business.  Later, when he was ready, he trained to become a therapist.

    Q: Technical leaders often say that they want to be a good partner or a good manager or a good friend, but they don’t know what to say to someone when that person says they are stressed out about family dynamics during the holidays. Can you help explain what kinds of stressors and emotions that holidays can bring up for people?

    Fabrice explains that what’s called for in this situation may not play to the strength of a person who is really good at solving problems, as technical leaders often are. Simply listening and understanding the emotions that the person is experiencing may be all that is needed. Empathizing by acknowledging their stress may also help. He advises a straightforward statement, such as “That sounds very stressful.”

    Fabrice has noticed that lots of tech folks, for various reasons, may not have developed a comfort level with emotions. He says that the trick can be to recognize the emotion the person you’re dealing with is experiencing and validating it. He recommends practicing with a good friend.

    He also has found that technical leaders are often used to working in an autonomous fashion.  Asking for help may not come naturally. A good friend can be a good place to start.

    Listen to the episode to hear more from Frabrice about how to be a better listener, how to offer support at the workplace without getting too personal or intrusive, and how to manage your own emotions and stress during the holidays so you don’t become a tyrant at work.

    Word of Wisdom:

    In lots of situations, what’s called for is not what we’re good at.

    Emotions are really logical when you are given the right theory and tools.

    Noticing emotions is a form of data collection.

    Emotions usually have valuable information in them that eventually need attending.

    Contact Fabrice Paracuellos:


    • 29 min
    Katheryn Baker: Bridging Business and Technical People

    Katheryn Baker: Bridging Business and Technical People

    Katheryn Baker is Vice President at Artic Consulting, a consulting firm that provides technology solutions for business and data management.  Katheryn is passionate about both technology and business and is skilled in Enterprise Software, Business Strategy, Productivity, Data, and Program Management.  She’s joining us today from Anaheim, CA.


    Q: You have a background in both business and technology, and you have been a consultant for essentially your entire career.  Tell us your story of how you got to where you are now.

    Katheryn has a degree in Art History but quickly found she was interested in program management.  She became good friends with the dev teams and moved into leading them.  She had to learn as she went.  She has grown dev consulting teams for many years, including at Artic.

    Q: Did you have to learn how to program to lead dev teams?

    Katheryn learned what she called “enough to be dangerous,” both in programming and database management.  She said her sweet spot was understanding how things work together and working with the technical and leadership teams and translating between them.

    Q: You work with a wide range of clients, from small companies to giants across different industries.  Is it pretty much the same to communicate with them or do you have to use different methods?

    She said Agility has been important in all industries, but it’s critical to her as a leader and a consultant to a wide range of clients.

    There are some similarities, but jargon changes across organizations and industries.  Whether people are remote or on site is another consideration.  It is extremely helpful for her team to be able to go on site and actually see what is going on.  She has to use different forms of communication to work with different clients—email, chat, in-person, and so on.

    Listen to the podcast to hear Katheryn’s tips on being flexible with different clients and as a leader working with different team members, how she has handled the talent shortage, and tips on working remotely and what challenges they have overcome at Artic.

    Words of Wisdom:

    There isn’t a one size fits all to a specific issue or goal.

    If you understand what motivates people, you can help them have a sense of pride in their work.

    As a manager, it’s important to recognize that people have different scenarios in their lives at different times.

    It’s a great time for women in the tech industry.

    Contact Katheryn Baker:

    Website: https://www.articconsulting.com/

    Email: katheryn.baker@articconsulting.com

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katheryn-baker-34bb485/

    • 29 min
    Steve Hoffman: People Skills for Founders

    Steve Hoffman: People Skills for Founders

    Joanie has a conversation with Steve Hoffman, CEO of Founders Space, one of the world’s leading startup accelerators. Steve has trained hundreds of startup founders and corporate executives in the art of innovation and provided consulting to many of the world’s largest corporations, including Qualcomm, Huawei, Bosch, Intel, Disney, Warner Brothers, NBC, Gulf Oil, Siemens, and Viacom. Steve is also a venture investor, serial entrepreneur, and author of several award-winning books, including “Surviving a Startup” published by HarperCollins. Steve has also worked in the television and gaming industries and has some great tips and stories to share.


    Q: Steve, you’re known as Captain Hoff in the gaming world. Tell us about your work in the television and gaming industries, as well as what games you play.

    Steve is known in Silicon Valley as Captain Hoff because he’s a game player and designer.  He started out playing Dungeons and Dragons, RuneQuest, and almost any board game you can think of, as well as video games of all kinds.  He worked for Sega on Sonic the Hedgehog, and eventually started a company and created the award-winning strategy game, Gazillionaire, and many other games that are still available on Steam.

    Q: What skills did you have learned along the way to expand your ability from developing to lead teams and companies?  How did you learn to manage people?

    Steve learned the hard way.  He was an introvert and extremely shy.  Even though Steve comes across as an extrovert now, he said it was all trained.  He said he started out being really bad at presenting, interviewing, making sales pitches, and so on, but just did it.  He said the way he learned was to notice every time what worked and what didn’t and never do the same thing twice.

    He learned how to go from telling people what to do to asking them what they think they should do, what problems they are facing, and what they need.

    Listen to the podcast to hear how Steve came to start Founders Space, what some of the most common challenges he see tech startup founders running into, and what kinds of barriers technical founders create for themselves.

    Shout Out:

    Steve’s book called Surviving a Startup: Practical Strategies for Starting a Business, Overcoming Obstacles, and Coming Out on Top.

    Words of Wisdom:

    The only way to meet a challenge is head on.

    Don’t sell people on what you’re doing; figure out what they want.

    You cannot motivate people by standing over their shoulders and nitpicking them.

    Get people on board by asking them what they should be doing.

    Instead of convincing yourself that you’re the best, ask yourself “how can I be better?”

    Contact Steve Hoffman (Captain Hoff):

    Founders Space: https://FoundersSpace.com

    Books: https://FoundersSpace.com/books

    Podcast: https://www.CaptainHoff.com/

    Facebook: https://Facebook.com/groups/FoundersSpace

    LinkedIn: https://LinkedIn.com/in/FoundersSpace/

    Instagram: https://Instagram.com/FoundersSpace/

    Twitter: https://Twitter.com/FoundersSpace/

    • 32 min
    Franklin Taggart: Pros and Cons of Working Alone

    Franklin Taggart: Pros and Cons of Working Alone

    Franklin Taggart is the host of the podcast called Your Own Best Company.  He coaches and leads a community of people who enjoy working alone.  A lot of nerds work alone and it seemed like a good idea to learn more about what kind of support is out there for them.  This is also a special episode because it is the 50th episode and Franklin was my first guest on the podcast.  He gave me the idea to host a podcast and supported me through figuring out how to create one and getting it started.


    Q: What inspired you to support people who work alone?

    Most of the people Franklin has worked with have tended to be people who were working alone.  He noticed some patterns and some specific challenges for this population.  He also brings his enthusiasm for working alone and connecting with others in the same space.

    Q: Are people who work alone typically introverts or does personality matter?

    Franklin says he often works with introverts who enjoy a slow pace and quiet place.

    Q: Who are your typical clients?  Are they remote workers in companies who work on their own or solopreneurs or something else?

    Franklin started off mostly working with artists, authors, and musicians, but now works with a lot of businesspeople too.  The majority of clients are in professional services, like coaching and consulting, some who are freelancers, and others have roles such as technical writers.

    Q: What kinds of challenges do they run into?  How do you help them?

    Franklin discusses several challenges.  One of the biggest challenges is that working alone means having to wear a lot of hats.  A resulting challenge is being unwilling to delegate and let go of control.

    In this episode, we also talk about social isolation, anxiety, and depression, why people who like to work alone would want to have a community, what the benefits are of working alone, ow can extroverts succeed at working alone, and what resources Franklin recommends for people who work alone.

    Shout Out:

    The book The Company of One by Paul Jarvis is a great resource.

    Words of Wisdom:

    Introverted doesn’t mean shy.

    People who prefer working alone still need human contact.

    Contact Franklin Taggart:

    Website: https://www.franklintaggart.com/

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/franklin-taggart-coaching/

    Podcast: Your Own Best Company

    • 31 min
    Angelo Ponzi: Strategic Conversations About Marketing

    Angelo Ponzi: Strategic Conversations About Marketing

    Joanie has a conversation with Angelo Ponzi, a marketing architect at The Ponzi Group. Angelo has more than 25 years of marketing experience in and outside of companies in industries ranging from semiconductors to financial to restaurants to beverage to ice cream. As a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (and marketing nerd!) he helps define market opportunities, develop competitive profiles, and marketing strategies.  Angelo talks to us about how technical leaders can strategize about marketing and what pitfalls to avoid.


    Q: What drew you to the field of marketing?

    Angelo says that it is about being able to solve problems for clients.  He also talks about feedback he received early in his career to identify where his aptitudes lay.

    Q: What’s the difference between what you do and what the typical digital marketing firms do?

    Angelo describes how digital marketing firms are often his clients.  They hire him to conduct market research for them so they know who to target to get clicks.

    Q: What are some common marketing pitfalls technical leaders tend to run into?  Are they different from the pitfalls other types of leaders face?

    Angelo has noticed that there seems to be more of a focus on the features of the product than the functional value of it.

    Q: How can technical people think more strategically about marketing?  When should they start doing this?

    Angelo talks about the importance of telling your product’s story, among other things.

    Q: How can technical people better communicate with and appreciate marketing help?  How would your ideal technical leader interact with you?

    Angelo suggests stepping back to understand the user and the customer.  They may not be the same people. Listen to the show to hear more about what technical leaders can do to improve their marketing strategies.

    Shout Out to Angelo’s podcast Business Growth Café.

    Words of Wisdom:

    It’s the failures that help you learn what you’re good at.

    At the end of the day, you will fall in love with your product but you have to make sure there is a market for it.

    Know your customer and build relationships with them.

    Contact Angelo Ponzi:





    • 30 min
    Michael Puldy: Managing Critical Life Circumstances

    Michael Puldy: Managing Critical Life Circumstances

    Joanie has a deeply personal conversation with Michael Puldy, CEO and Founder of Puldy Resiliency Partners, LLC.  Michael has over three decades of technology, information risk management, and operations experience in the aerospace, banking and computer technology sectors, including at IBM. He is passionately focused on ways companies can improve their offensive and defensive posture towards internal and external threats.  But, in this episode, Michael shares a personal story about how an unexpected suicide impacted his life, both personally and professionally.


    Michael answered these questions and more.

    * Your career was pretty accelerated for the first 25 years. You worked in governments, aerospace, banking, a security services start up and at IBM….and then you personally came to a full stop.   You lost your first wife to suicide.  Walk us through your professional mindset and focus around that time (2009).

    * Professionally, you have built a career around disaster recovery, continuity and incident planning, and crisis management, talk about how your professional vocation helped you through this experience…or did it?

    * Let’s fast forward 12 years later, looking back how did you navigate your way through your crisis both personal and professionally, what worked and how did you reinvent or rebuild yourself?

    Listen to the episode to hear his story, how he took care of himself, how others supported him, and what he learned.

    Shout Out:

    Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, where Michael volunteers.

    Contact Michael Puldy:

    Email: michael@puldypartners.com

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mpuldy/


    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
10 Ratings

10 Ratings

FoundersSpace ,

If you're a nerd, you're going to love this

I'm a nerd, and I'm a huge fan of this podcast. It's at the top of my Geek List.

KE Wilde ,

I love the perspective

I love that the show is focused on what matters to nerds. I think that perspective shift reveals some of the greatest challenges nerds face, including being highly intelligent yet struggling at times to effectively communicate. Your show brings great bits fo wisdom!

CynthiaSundance ,

Joanie Connell's Interviews Are Must-Listens!

These podcast interviews are great! We can all benefit from more insights on communications, connecting, and getting projects accomplished--despite the fact that we're sometimes so different. I highly recommend following this podcast series!

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