From Music to Making a Difference with Gerald J. Leonard · ShiftWorkPlace

Follow Us On:

Ep108 From Music to Making a Difference with Gerald J. Leonard


Unveiling Gerald J Leonard’s journey from music to making a difference.

Bio for Gerald J. Leonard

Gerald is the CEO and Founder of the Leonard Productivity Intelligence Institute and the CEO of Turnberry Premiere, a strategic project portfolio management and IT governance firm based in Washington, DC. He attended Central State University in Ohio, receiving a bachelor’s in music and later earning a master’s in music from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

During the last 25+ years, Gerald has worked as an IT Project Management consultant and earned his PFMP, PMP, MCSE, and a Certification in Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) Coaching. He has acquired Project Management and Business Intelligence certifications from the University of California, Berkeley; Theory of Constraints Portfolio Management from the Goldratt Institute, Executive Leadership from Cornell University; and The Wharton School: Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program. In Gerald’s leisure time, he loves to play golf and travel internationally.

Episode highlight

In this episode, we seek to hear the diverse journey of Gerald J. Leonard, CEO and founder of Leonard Productivity Intelligence Institute and Turnberry Premier. Through engaging conversations and insightful anecdotes, Gerald shares his transformation from a background in music to becoming a thought leader in strategic project portfolio management and business intelligence. This episode delves into the significance of personal development, reframing negative thoughts, and embracing cultural diversity. Gerald shares insights on overcoming constraints, the power of affirmations and relationships and the importance of learning from diverse cultural groups.

Gerald has authored three books namely: “Culture is the Base,” “Workplace Jazz,” and “A Symphony of Choices,” using music as a metaphor for conveying business and leadership principles.

Listen to this episode and learn more. 



  • “Once you experience another culture, it expands your horizon. It expands your neurology. You can’t step back into the same set of shoes or same mindset.”
  • “Once you learn the complexities of things, I think you can implement it with very simple processes.”
  • “Words shape our world.”


Childhood Incidents:

Gerald is the last born in his family. He grew up in a family that always made sure that together with his siblings, they were protected from what was happening in the outside world. When Gerald was six, Martin Luther King died. There was so much going on especially in the race relationships , but his parents did their best to protect him from the negative repercussions. 

In middle school, Gerald recalls being part of junior achievement where they learnt about business. Coming from a background of entrepreneurs, he knew he had to be industrious. He had seen his father work hard to build his construction business and the mum put her best foot forward as a seamstress. Through the organisation, it was clear for Gerald that his path was entrepreneurial.

Coming from a family with six children, Gerald’s parents always made sure that they had all the basic needs met. Anything extra had to be worked for. This taught Gerald the value of money and how work relates to outcomes. 

Influential Groups 

As a child, family shaped a lot of things for Gerald.  He saw how hard his father worked to provide for them, how he was there for them and his business. The experience taught Gerald what it was like to be a family man.

When Gerald was growing up, the community was tightly knit. If he did something wrong there was always someone to report to his parents which instilled in him to do the right thing even when no one was watching. 

Groups that Gerald Chose to Belong to

Gerald grew up Methodist, but after joining college, he learnt about other religions and tried to learn from them. He got a chance to interact with people from different races and religions and used the scriptures he knew as point of reference.

Cultural Influences

Although Gerald never saw his parents meditate, he has integrated meditation into his life from Hindu and Buddhist spiritual practices. Later he took a course with Judith Glaser on conversation intelligence which taught him about the brain and energy system which he also uses in his life now.

Personality and Temperaments

Gerald believes that he values long term friendships. He has lifelong friendships and goes out of his way to ensure they remain closely knit.

In 2018 Gerald had Vertigo and lost 86% of his right inner ear capability. Although this happened only six weeks away from giving a TEDX talk, Gerald chose to heal and did everything in his power including music therapy to get better. On the date of his TEDX talk, Gerald’s resilience had paid off. He was ready and confident in his ability to deliver. 

Cultural Dissonance

Gerald once worked for a big law firm where he felt very much on the outside. The environment was Ivy League and Gerald knew he had to think differently to fit in the environment. On the positive side, the discipline of learning to fit into an uncomfortable situation gave him new skills, but on the negative side, he felt he was always walking a tightrope. 

What brings the Best in Gerald Leonard?

Gerald believes in making a difference. Gerald has a focus on spending quality time to make a difference in the lives of others. He isn’t counting the money made or time spent, rather the impact of the exchange

Soapbox Moment:

Gerald invites us to check out his books and podcast from his website. He also invites us to contribute a microloan to KIVA to help disadvantaged people get a head start on their dreams for a better life. 


As the sixth child of a working-class African American growing up in the Civil Rights movement, Gerald J Leonard was surprisingly shielded from issues of race relations. Yet he considered this shielding along with the strong example of his loving father, gifts that allowed him to enjoy his childhood, and develop his musical talents. Gerald went from a performing musician to a master’s in music which for most people would be accomplishment enough! 

However, when he started to apply music to the realm of project management, Gerald really found his groove. His books, “Culture is the Base” and “Workplace Jazz” show how musical principles apply to business management. His most recent publication, “A Symphony of Choices” demonstrates in a novel format, the actual business of managing a symphony. Through his consulting company, Gerald Leonard now helps companies manage the “symphonies” of their work processes so that workers can spend less time being frustrated with work problems and more time enjoying their families and lives. 


What I Learned About Culture From 100+ Interviews


Purpose and Cora's Restaurant