“Mac and Woolley” Turns One

Leavey School of Business professors’ podcast on inspirational leadership is a template for other Jesuit universities.

If the intersection of spirituality and business piques your curiosity, dive into “The Mac and Woolley Show,” a weekly podcast hosted by Leavey School of Business faculty Nydia MacGregor and Jennifer Woolley, based on a popular graduate management course they co-teach on the subject.

Among the first season’s episodes—season two launches this month—is a discussion on wealth and spirituality: Is money really the root of all evil?

“Money is a way to get what you want, so wanting more money must mean you want more stuff, which implies greed and gluttony,” says MacGregor, summarizing the societal impulse to dismiss wealthy people as somehow ungodly.

Blessed are the poor, right?

Mac And Woolley Show Nydia Macgregor And Nvhlow 5n1m Wrfzb0qgfjv.1400x1400

But as Woolley explains, “We all know money doesn’t buy happiness, but we can use that money for the betterment of our lives and those in our community.”

Listeners are engaged by the duo’s informal chats on heavy topics, then invited to reflect in a brief meditation that follows each episode.

The podcast has made an impact. This spring, the International Association of Jesuit Universities awarded the professors an Inspirational Paradigm for Jesuit Business Education grant to develop course teaching notes based on their podcast for use by faculty at other Jesuit universities.

A Student’s Inspiration

Humbled by the attention, Woolley still expresses shock that “anybody wants to listen to us.” She nor MacGregor saw themselves as podcasters, until grad student Takashi Spector MBA ’20 convinced them to try out the medium last year. “Our initial reaction was, ‘You’re crazy!’” recalls Woolley. “We don’t need another podcast in the world.”

MacGregor was floored. “I think of podcasters as influencers who are popular!”

But as Spector saw it, everyone could benefit from the thoughtful lessons he and his classmates were absorbing in the professors’ management course, called Spirituality and Business Leadership.

“It dawned on me that I would love to have this class as a podcast, because it’s such fruitful information for all kinds of people, no matter where they are in their professional careers,” he recalls.

Conceived of and taught for years by Woolley’s and MacGregor’s late colleague Andre Delbecq, the course references both Eastern and Western spiritual traditions and explores how incorporating disciplines such as prayer and meditation tailored for the time-pressured life of business professionals can lead to success.

“When you’re in an MBA program, it’s always about the external—numbers, objectives, strategies,” Spector says. “This was the first time most of us in the class dove into the person, recognizing what you are, who you are, your vision, and your values.”

Spector says MacGregor and Woolley provide the “missing link” of how and why some business leaders struggle with doing the right thing. For example, he explains, it’s not capitalism that’s corrupt. “It’s the behavior of humans, what’s in their minds, that makes it corrupt,” says Spector. “This class can really make you reflect on all of that.”

The Right Fit

“The Mac and Woolley Show” gets its stamp of authenticity from the hosts’ combined broad business experience and scholarly research.

In their first season, podcasting professors Jennifer Woolley, left, and Nydia MacGregor discussed topics like compassion in the workplace, mindful leadership, and work-from-home survival strategy. Photo provided by Woolley and MacGregor.

Woolley, who has taught entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, spent 20 years practicing and learning about spirituality and its applications to business. MacGregor brought her own spiritual sensibilities along with her expertise in strategic management, organizational change and innovation. Their easy-going friendship and humorous banter during class is refreshing to students and listeners alike.

But the course and the podcast are significantly different. While the podcast draws on class themes, “it’s just one lick on the ice cream cone,” says MacGregor. “We can’t tell listeners, ‘Why don’t you experiment with meditation for a week, keep a journal about it, and come back and talk to us?’”

In between other courses they teach individually, MacGregor and Woolley generate ideas for each episode and then research classic and contemporary conversations about that week’s topic. Sometimes they bring in expert guest speakers. They record it in one take as an organic conversation.

Spector oversees all the podcast mechanics, editing the discussion into episodes that run about 20 minutes, with another eight minutes at the end for reflection exercises. He even convinced the Los Angeles-based musician who created the tune for the Michelle Obama Podcast to devise a special jingle for the show that includes the calming gong of a Tibetan singing bowl. Meanwhile, Jack Chang MBA ’20 handles their social media.

While there are a variety of podcasts specifically about mindfulness and meditation, MacGregor says, “Our emphasis is on spirituality, drawing upon everybody’s experiences, and the willingness to expand and reflect on ‘Where I am and what are the possibilities for me?’”

As the new season begins, the duo is looking forward to covering more subjects, from power to entrepreneurship. They also look forward to inviting additional experts and business leaders to chat.

Mac and Woolley can no longer deny they’re podcasters, flattered when people say they listen to them and humbled when others remark how a particular episode helped in some way.

“We had people who wanted us to share this, and felt that we were needed, and we didn’t even realize it,” Woolley says. “It not only boggles my mind, it makes me want to do more.”

First-Time Grads

Overcoming all odds due to the pandemic, the Class of ’24 finally get to experience the graduation that they have long been waiting for.

Drumroll, Please!

Santa Clara University’s renovated jazz studio gives music majors and non-majors more space to find their sound.

A Plan For Tomorrow

Santa Clara President Julie Sullivan unveils a new strategic plan, Impact 2030, with a focus on increasing access and opportunity, and, of course, SCU’s Jesuit values and Silicon Valley location.