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The Business of Meetings

Dec 28, 2021

Today, we have the great pleasure of speaking to Kimberly Gerber, the Founder and CEO of Excelerate. Kimberly has had a fantastic corporate career! She started with Starbucks and became a COO before the age of 32. Twenty years ago, she started a company that focuses on executive leadership. 

In this episode, she talks to us about the great resignation, how to motivate your team and the kind of competence and grit, and the executive presence people need to get promoted to executive leadership. She also shares five leaps senior leaders need to make when going up to the executive level. 

We hope you enjoy our engaging and informative conversation with Kimberly today!

Kimberly Gerber’s bio

As the Founder and CEO of Excelerate, Kimberly Gerber has developed a transformational coaching process that combines high-touch experiences with cutting-edge science and technology to deliver programs that accelerate the thinking, behavior, and results of our clients and the companies they lead. 

Before founding Excelerate in 2002, Kimberly was a Fortune 100 executive herself. She understands the unique responsibilities that come at the executive level and has created programs like the Executive Accelerator to help executives think strategically, elevate their presence, finesse their communication, achieve their goals and provide sustainable business results in a productive environment. 

Kimberly has achieved an unparalleled 100% client rehire rate and has transformed over 1,600 leaders across over 100 companies, including Verizon, Allergan, Whirlpool, USC, Revance, KPMG, Biogen, UCLA, Wescom, and more.

An early taste of leadership at the highest level

Kimberly had some unique opportunities very early on in her career. While in grad school, she worked for a home care agency and quickly got promoted. She eventually became General Manager and then partner, and then started a home health care firm of her own and grew it to a multi-million dollar business within months. That gave her an early taste of what it was like to be a leader at the highest level.

Leadership in Fortune 500 companies

Kimberly went on to do marketing for several Fortune 500 companies. She noticed that many of the principles that work in marketing for consumers also work for people. She saw that the leaders who knew how to communicate with people and cared about the impact they had, were unique in their ability to create results and develop a strong fan base within their organizations. 

Strong leadership

Kimberly is passionate about helping leaders become the very best they can be. She loves working with executives because leaders who can lead at their highest potential can create a better experience, and a better world, for many other people.

What has changed?

Leadership within organizations has evolved. It is no longer the top-down leadership that it was twenty years ago. Now there are more opportunities for people to have a voice at all organizational levels. That means that leaders have to be better communicators.

A generational shift

A generational shift has happened in the last twenty years. As a result, many younger leaders are in high-level positions today. 

More energy

Ten years ago, most of Kimberly’s clients were in their fifties. Today, most of them are in their early forties. She likes working with younger executive leaders because they have more energy and vitality. They also have a longer runway. That changes how they lead and the strategic risks they are willing to take.


Today, leaders are also more visible, so they are under more scrutiny.

A challenge for younger leaders

The challenge the younger leaders of today face is that they lack the depth of experience many C-level executives had in the past. So, they have to be confident, nimble, and responsive and find ways to figure things out quickly. They also need to have an excellent executive presence in any environment.

The five leadership leaps

Even excellent senior leaders need to leap to reach the C-level because C-level executives no longer have anyone looking out for them or checking in on them. The stress level at the C-level is also exponentially higher. Kimberly talks about five leadership leaps senior leaders have to make when going up to the executive level:

  1. Self-leadership, self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-regulation.
  2. Strategic leadership. (Many people today do not know the difference between a strategy and a tactic.)
  3. Organizational leadership. (This involves a shift in relationships in the organization.)
  4. Executive team leadership. (Bringing people together to work in alignment without telling them what to do.)
  5. External leadership. (Showing up with executive presence, being articulate, and making on-the-spot wise decisions.)


Entrepreneurs are executives, so entrepreneurs also need to navigate those leaps. 


Good people leaders do not necessarily make good executives because they might not have the grit and executive presence they need to succeed at an executive level.

Identifying the people who should be promoted

Kimberly guides her clients to look for three characteristics in the individuals who should be promoted:

  1. Competence
  2. Grit
  3. Strong executive presence (or the potential for developing it)


Women still tend to be more timid than their male counterparts in certain areas. To avoid being overlooked for a promotion, women can ask for more responsibility, do more proactively, demonstrate a desire to learn, and never rely on their work to get noticed.

A personal PR plan

Kimberly’s clients create personal PR plans to ensure their work gets noticed. A personal PR plan is like marketing. It involves identifying your talents and making sure the world knows what they are so that you can be known for them, hired for them, and trusted for having them. 

Changing people’s perception of you

It takes less than six months to change the way people see you if you align in a way that corresponds with who you are.

The great resignation

The news is full of stories about “the great resignation” because so many people in Corporate America are leaving their jobs. After the pandemic, people are fatigued and burned out, and they have seen different ways of doing things. They are leaving their jobs because, amongst other things, they want flexibility, and they do not want to work around the clock. 

Kimberly’s Executive Accelerator Program

Kimberly has an Executive Accelerator Program. It is a combination of a live and an online program designed to help executives make the five leaps and become the best versions of themselves, so they can be the best leaders they can be. 

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Book mentioned:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg