I’m Matt Poepsel, a struggling manager turned inspiring leader and talent optimization expert.
It wasn’t long ago that I lacked the confidence, know-how, and skills to lead others in an authentic and powerful way.
When I was a first-time manager, I consumed over a hundred business and technology audiobooks during my lengthy commute. I marveled at the larger-than-life CEOs and entrepreneurs who had built amazing companies.
Yet my own efforts and circumstances seemed very small by comparison. My management techniques felt forced, and I constantly second-guessed my approach.
One day, I hit rock bottom.
I welcomed a young woman into my office. It was clear that I had made a mistake when I hired her. I fired her just the way the books told me I should. She cried. Then we cried.
Driving home that night, I stopped the latest audiobook, settled into the silence, and I made myself a promise:
I won't manage the business—I will lead the people.
Fast forward past many failed experiments and painful lessons learned, and you’ll see the respected leader I am today.
One who positively impacts lives, produces results, and loves serving others more than I ever thought possible.
In short, I became the type of leader I used to only read about.
Along the way, my lovely bride and I raised three nifty kids despite a hectic work schedule and the stresses of too little time, money, and energy.
I studied the psychology of leadership and performance earning my PhD in the process. My success at work spilled over into other areas of my life where I finished an IRONMAN triathlon and became a fledgling alpinist.
I continued to rise through the corporate ranks, and I steadily expanded my influence as a leader.
Now, I want to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies that help you do the same.
If you’re an ambitious leader who’s looking to reach the next level by helping others realize their full potential, I’m glad you found me!
How can I be of service?
My Origin Story
My Call to Serve
From a very early age, I knew I wanted to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. I’m not a particularly militant chap, but I felt that I had something to prove to myself and to the world. I wanted to challenge myself by becoming a part of the toughest and most elite fighting force I knew.
I served 6 years as an Arabic Linguist and Reconnaissance Marine.
My graduation from Boot Camp in San Diego, California was the proudest day of my life.
I spent 67 weeks at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California learning the Arabic alphabet, vocabulary, grammar, and culture.
I was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas for a quick bit of cryptography training.
My fleet assignment was to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.
When I reached Camp LeJeune, I still had something to prove, so I volunteered to join a type of special forces unit called Radio Reconnaissance. Part of my tryout included humping an 80-pound rucksack over a distance of 10 miles. I completed the trial in the allotted time, and I thought my chest would burst with pride and excitement. Never mind that the bottoms of both my feet had blistered off in the process.
To prepare for future deployments, I was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia for jump school.
I was then assigned to New Brunswick, Maine for SERE school which stands for Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape. (Yes, there is training for those servicemen and servicewomen who may become Prisoners of War, and yes, Maine is beautiful even when you’re being chased across a mountain by baddies who want to capture and interrogate you.)
I was assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
I was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Inchon and headed across the Atlantic and straight to the Red Sea. Our destination was Mogadishu, Somalia.
I had earned the lifelong title of Marine, I was serving with an elite team of Recon Marines, and I was heavily armed. Mission accomplished.
Later deployments included serving aboard the U.S.S. Trenton and the U.S.S. Kearsarge as a force in readiness off the coast of Haiti and the former Yugoslavia, respectively.
After my two MEU deployments, I spent a year training other Marines who were preparing for their own tours overseas.
I loved the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt as an active duty Marine serving my country. As I neared the end of my enlistment, I had traveled the world, I had married the woman of my dreams (also a Marine, but the tough kind), and I knew it was time for a new chapter in my life.
My New Path
With just over a year of active duty service remaining, I realized that I needed to transition from bullets to books. On nights and weekends, when my mates would head out for drinks, I headed to the library. As compared to my civilian counterparts, I needed to play catch-up by completing my undergraduate degree as quickly as possible.
I used a combination of standardized tests and distance learning programs to complete my Bachelor’s degree the same month I separated from the Marines.
My first tour in civilian life was spent at Boston University where I completed my MBA and a second Master’s degree in Management Information Systems.
I took a job at a DotCom startup outside of Boston during the boom and the bust years.
I rose through the ranks of software Product Management and parlayed my military experience into leadership, strategy, and business success.
My passion for personal growth and development never left me, and I decided to enroll in a part-time program at Capella University to earn my Ph.D. in Psychology.
I wrote a series of personal development essays which I collected in the book Goals Gone Wild!.
My doctoral graduation (replete with robe and funny hat) was the second proudest day of my life.
Throughout the years full of work and studies, my lovely bride and I managed to start and raise a family. With three kids and a hectic work schedule, we’ve experienced the stresses of too little time, money, and energy. At the same time, we’ve always have had a house full of love, laughter, and stories.
It’s tough growing up when your parents are both Marines.
It’s even tougher when one is a self-improvement junkie.
I love Family Meetings.
We have a 4’ x 6’ whiteboard mounted in our kitchen in an attempt to manage our home life.
We somehow have a dog, a cat, and a horse even though I am neither a cat person nor a horse person.
One Long Day
Along my journey, I was bitten by another mammoth goal bug. When I first learned of the IRONMAN triathlon—a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run—I thought to myself that there was no way I could complete that event. That hesitation scared me. At the time, I couldn’t swim the length of a pool, I didn’t own a bike, and I was a painfully slow runner.
Fast forward four years, and after a lot of hard work and training, I finished IRONMAN Couer d'Alene in August 2017. The finish line call sounded even sweeter than I had dreamt all those years.
"You're an IRONMAN, Matt!" | Couer d'Alene, ID
My Current Work
In 2013, I landed my dream job at The Predictive Index where I served in a Product role for 7+ years. I then shifted to lead the Partner Growth team where I serve hundreds of PI Certified Partners and Associates across the globe. At PI, we sincerely believe that we can change the world by creating better working environments in organizations everywhere.
I'm also known as The Godfather of Talent Optimization. I serve as the primary architect of this new discipline that aligns people strategy with business strategy to produce optimal business results. If you're interested in learning more about talent optimization, please check out the educational resources available at talentoptimization.org.
That's my story so far. Thanks for your interest in learning more about my work and my life. I would love to return the favor!
Please consider connecting with me, telling me a bit about yourself, and letting me know if I can ever be of service to you in any way.