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Engaged Employees, Impactful Organization

AHFter Hours Podcast

March 14, 2022

24 minutes

Engaged Employees, Impactful Organization

Unique and powerful methods for keeping people at the center of everything you do.


AJ Alegria is a member of the senior management team at AHF and also serves as Vice President of Healthcare Center Operations within the Department of Medicine.


Dan McKenzie works in the marketing department, overseeing marketing operations in Los Angeles as Associate Director of Client Experience and Staff Engagement.



[1:56]How You Make them Feel

Want engagement? Start with emotions.

Creating an engaged culture can seem like a huge task but start small. Start with how people feel when they come into work. Ask, what do your staff members say about their work experience at the dinner table? How do they feel walking in every morning? Start with these emotionally focused questions and you’ll be on your way to empathetic leadership.

[3:52]Even Beyonce Wants Validation

A powerful example from Oprah

Oprah Winfrey once said that at the end of her interviews, no matter whether it’s Obama or Beyonce, their interviewee always turns to her and asks, “How did I do?” Everyone wants validation, even the most confident people in the world. It’s part of what makes us human.

[10:16]Different Kinds of Recognition

Some people want to be engaged privately

We may think that every employee wants a big, public show of recognition, but some people prefer more subtle acknowledgements of their work— whether they’re shy, humble, or simply don’t like the noisy attention. Keep in mind that what’s right for one person may not be right for another and get to know your people accordingly.

[13:03]Systemize Caring

Why a formal process leads to better engagement habits

AJ speaks of a leader who created a get-to-know-you sheet for all new hires, asking questions on topics that ranged from kids’ names to favorite candy bar. It seemed silly at the time, but this kind of formalized process for engaging with employees leads to a more thoughtful approach to getting to know your people— their interests, wants, needs, and personalities.

[17:08]About the Person, Not the Performance

Emphasize positive traits, not just results

Dan mentions that when he gives recognition, he tries to focus less on the result and more on the actual person and their positive traits. Rather than simply saying “Great job getting this task done,” try “You’re always so dependable, and your work is always thorough and high-quality.” This inspires people to want to live up to those traits within themselves.


[0:16] – AIDS Healthcare Foundation Website



The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the world’s largest HIV/AIDS service organization, operating in 45 countries globally. The mission? Providing cutting-edge medicine and advocacy for everyone, regardless of ability to pay.

The AHFter Hours podcast is an official podcast of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, in which host Lauren Hogan is joined by experts in a range of fields to educate, inform, and inspire listeners on topics that go far beyond medical information to cover leadership, creativity, and success. 

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Lauren Hogan is the Communications Manager for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and has been working in a series of roles with the Foundation since 2016. She’s passionate about increasing the public visibility of AIDS, the Foundation's critical work, and how everyday people can help join the fight to make cutting-edge medicine, treatment, and support available for anyone who needs it.


In Detroit, history was made when Barry Gordy opened Motown Records back in 1960. More than just discovering great talent, Gordy built a systematic approach to launching superstars. His rigorous processes, technology, and development methods were the secret sauce behind legendary acts such as The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, and Michael Jackson.

As a nod to the past, Detroit Podcast Studios leverages modern versions of Motown’s processes to launch today’s most compelling podcasts. What Motown was to musical artists, Detroit Podcast Studios is to podcast artists today. 

With over 75 combined years of experience in content development, audio production, music scoring, storytelling, and digital marketing, Detroit Podcast Studios provides full-service development, training, and production capabilities to take podcasts from messy ideas to finely tuned hits.

Here’s to making (podcast) history together.

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