My Stand and Deliver series highlights women who lead through inspiration and aspiration. Today’s article highlights how to be a better human at work.
I chose to interview Jennie Byrne, MD, PhD, the author of Work Smart: Use Your Brain and Behavior to Master the Future of Work. Jennie notes, “Everyone thinks the future of work is about better technology, but based on my experience, research, and guts, I am convinced that the future of work is about being a better human.”
No one is better prepared to tackle the issue. Jennie’s titles include brain and behavior expert, entrepreneur, healthcare executive, coach, and psychotherapist. Jennie has lived the entrepreneur journey from conception through growth and exit. She has been on both sides of the acquisition process, and she has seen painful mistakes when healthcare investments are made without a deep understanding of the clinical model. She has worked at all levels of clinical leadership–from provider on the ground to C-suite. 
Jennie has experienced the full spectrum,  from the frontline of the hospital floor to the pinnacle of the corner office. And now, she’s using all that experience to help us figure out how to move past our post-Covid work malaise. Her stated mission is “to make work not suck!”
Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about your career and what excites you about your current stage of life.
I am both a physician and researcher by training—I focused on psychiatry and neuroscience—so I am obsessed with all things brain and behavior.
My career has taken many twists and turns but always centers around brain and behavior. I have been a practicing clinician for over fifteen years, I have “solopreneured” a business over nine years and sold it, and I have been a national C-suite healthcare executive. Currently I work as a cofounder at a startup, a consultant, a coach, and a new author.
I like to have a “work portfolio” to keep things fresh. I love to always be learning, and I have a never-ending curiosit
Jennie Byrne, MD, PhD
Tell us about a major transition period in your life (major move, career move, family, unique opportunity) and what prompted the change.
I have had several big transitions. Perhaps the biggest one was leaving NYC after living there for twelve years. My husband and I made a leap of faith to move to North Carolina, where we didn’t know a soul. 
We made this change because we knew the time was right. We were both working around the clock and, financially, we weren’t getting anywhere. We felt that if we stayed in NYC, we would be stuck in a super specialist professional role with long work hours and no finances to enjoy the city.
What are the three top tips you have for a woman trying to assert her influence and ideas?  
Figure out who you are. Hone your self-awareness, the good and the bad. 
Once you know who you are, find people and spaces that allow you to amplify your strengths.
Fight the status quo. You might not find role models or mentors who are the woman you want to be. Sometimes you have to forge your own path.
How do you help unleash leadership at all levels?
Likely due to my training as a psychiatrist, I help leaders to first understand themselves, especially where they might be making assumptions or unconscious biases.
Then I focus on curiosity and empathy. Getting out of the constricted, scarcity, judging mindset. Getting into the open, generous, and learning mindset. This is easier for some leaders than others.
Next we do “experiments” where the leaders try different skills and tactics in a very pragmatic way. I try to make it fun so the leader stops being so hard on themselves. In my experience, most leaders truly want to do the right thing for their teams.
Tell our readers about a passion project of yours, why it’s unique or special, and what attracted you to it.
My recent passion project was writing my first book. It was a big stretch and a moment where I could have said NO, but I went with my gut and said YES. It was not a rational decision! It was an intuitive decision, and I am glad I didn’t listen to all the reasons I could have turned down the opportunity.
Who inspires you today and why?
This will sound corny, but my husband is an inspiration to me. He went through so much as a child and young adult—he is the most resilient person I know. In addition to still being totally in love with him and having fun together, I have a deep respect for him as a human being.
What is a future aspiration?
I am working on book number two! And maybe book number three!

My Key Takeaways

What strikes me the most about Jennie’s life is how well-positioned she is, given her past roles and her life’s work, to guide employers as they shape the future workplace following the upheaval caused by Covid.
Jennie’s focus on leveraging brain and behavior to master the future of work is inspiring. 
Her writing highlights that leaders who hone their self-awareness, including recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, can treat people with respect, empathy, and understanding and build successful and productive teams. 
My favorite Jennie quote comes from her recent LinkedIn article, Finding Empathy in the New Office in which she gets straight to the point:
“Everything an organization does depend on people–unless your organization is run by robots.” 
Small acts of compassion in the hybrid and virtual workplace combined with empathy have significant implications for a leader’s impact on others and their ability to lead with authenticity and emotional intelligence.
In my professional experience, I often find myself in situations where I am brought in to turn around challenging situations. In such instances, it is the leaders who possess self-awareness, reflectiveness, and a commitment to their team’s success, regardless of the circumstances, who are the most effective in fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes the well-being of their employees and customers. By creating an environment that encourages individuals to contribute their best work, these leaders can establish a productive and fulfilling workplace where everyone can thrive and contribute to the overall success of the organization.
What lessons did you learn from Jennie’s interview? Have you had a chance to read her book
Let me know what inspired you by connecting with me on Instagram or LinkedIn. You can also buy my book, Turnaround: How to Change Course When Things Are Going South, and book me for speaking engagements at


Lisa Gable