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3 Interesting Learnings from the Florida House of Representatives

Heading into the final stretch of preparations before our TechTables Live Podcast Tour in Orlando on Saturday, March 18, 2023, we wanted to dedicate this week's 3 Interesting Learnings to one of our event guests, Mike Giallombardo, Entrepreneur and member of the Florida House of Representatives, District 79. 

Connect with Mike:

1. Verticals That Will Drive Florida's Future

Bring up Florida and images of orange groves and the Epcot center might immediately come to mind. Tourism and agriculture drive much of the state's economy. But Mike identifies a crucial third vertical that often is overshadowed by the tourism and agriculture verticals: the vertical that encompasses aerospace, defense, and aviation.

Mike is passionate about working with leaders throughout the private and public sectors in order to strengthen this vertical and help grow Florida's ability to thrive into the next 20 years and beyond.

What do you do when you see a need, and want to put legislation together to address an issue you know exists, and yet you don't have the data to fully understand the problem? Mike lays out an example:

"I think we've got to start breaking down silos and operating the state of Florida a little bit, when it comes to cyber sites, a little bit more like a business. You'll never see a CIO underneath a department or another division of a company, right? The CIO is usually right underneath the COO or the CEO. That's a direct rapport, and I think that's where we're going to need to start to shift to, and then tie in that interoperability across the state.

And just trying to figure it out, because knowing what can happen in the future, data can help through machine learning. Algorithms can help you get there. And we're not there yet. I think that we'll get there, we're moving on that. It's hard to get people to understand that. And even our Lieutenant Governor Núñez, she knows and she understands it, and that's why she heads up the cyber council, because she knows how important this is." [24:15]

Part of this shift happens when people can set aside the time to collaborate. As leaders, you know finding this time can be extremely challenging! That's why we are so excited about the upcoming TechTables Live Podcast Tour taking place in Orlando on Saturday, March 18, 2023. Taking place on the back of the announcement of a $30M cybersecurity grant program to improve local cyber stances, this event is sure to encourage both public and private sector alike, as leaders will leave the room with ideas for innovation and implementation. Call it serendipity, but we are honored to be able to bring so many together (Mike included!) to collaborate at such an important time.

See who will be in the room:

Learn more:

2. Identify the "Middle Area"


For this, let's head back to Mike's pre-legislative career life. Newly retired from active duty, his wife was a teacher, and baby was on the way. Thousands had gone before him, heading into non-military careers after returning, seemingly moving on with life. What Mike discovered was that it was not as smooth of a transition as he had assumed it would be:

"My son was born. I couldn't get on a government program. I was using VA benefits. My wife's a teacher. You add one person to her policy and that jacks up to a thousand dollars a month, and we couldn't afford that. So we were stuck in a spot where we couldn't get him insurance. We were in that middle area..." [03:22]

Mike found himself squarely in that middle area, and he discovered he was not alone.

This lived experience helped set Mike on a new path, one which would lead him to help find solutions for the needs of this middle area, eventually by serving in the 79th District for the Florida House of Representatives.

How do you best identify the "middle area" issues that your residents care about? As a leader, you know that priorities are constantly being placed on your desk to sort out. But your desk can't tell you what matters like your neighbors at the local grocery store can. Gaining perspective outside of the office and participating in the communities you serve can help you better evaluate your mission priorities from the end-user up.

Additional advice:

3. It's Your Mission to Figure it Out

A trending theme across our podcasts of late has been more departments focusing on hiring from their veterans' pool of applicants. A lot has been shared about the focused mindset and logic skill sets that are highly desirable when building out teams.

But one especially important takeaway from Joe's conversation with Mike was the challenge to understand the role identity plays in the burden of shifting from military to non-military life and career:

"When you're overseas, you're in a part of the world nobody normally gets to go in.
That most people will never get to see in their lifetime. And you're doing things most people will never do in their lifetime. You're significant, you're part of a team, you have a mission. You come back. And you don't have it, and it that- that part's hard." [06:55]

Look this up and you are like to come across the term Transition Stress, defined as "The military provides a sense of purpose, well-defined roles and hierarchy, camaraderie, honor and mission – things that can be hard to find or define in the civilian world. So when our veterans transition out of the military, it can spark a loss of identity and meaning of life."  (see article below: 5 Reasons Veterans Struggle to Transition to the Civilian Workforce)

Understanding the psychological shifts in identity that those in service undergo post-tour-of-duty, and perhaps looking for ways to incorporate systems that worked for them, can help new hires feel a sense of belonging and solidarity in the new roles they have taken up, as well as help them highlight for fellow team members their work approach and strengths that you found to be hire-worthy in the first place.

Learn More:,identity%20and%20meaning%20of%20life.

Be sure to check out the full episode:


on a personal note by joe toste:

Sindhu Menon, CIO of Harris County, made my week. She introduced me to Jeshica Shrestha, the Marketing officer for FITP (Future Information Technology Professionals) at the University of Houston, and the Business Intelligence & Analytics at Harris County.

What excites me most about clubs like FITP, is that they are the next generation. Many leaders I interact with around the country began their careers decades ago when the model of leadership was about how to maintain that position of control. It's been encouraging to see these leaders recognize the power that comes through empowering teams vs. controlling them!

Leaders today are modeling leadership through connections that span divides and through team development in order to produce the highest compounding returns.

In John Maxwell's masterpiece, "The Leader's Greatest Return: Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders," he writes that everyone wins when you develop leaders.

Spoiler alert - here are 4 things you need to know about developing leaders:

1. Developing Leaders is Going to be Difficult but Worthwhile

2. Developing Leaders is a Job That Never Comes to an End

3. Developing Leaders is the Best Way to Grow Any Organization

4. Developing Leaders is the Only Way to Create a Leadership Culture

This week's Inspired Leadership Reminder: 

Here is a story I love to share around a common mantra I've picked up from interviewing so many incredible mentors and leaders:

The CFO asks the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people, and then they leave us?”

The CEO responds: “ What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

Be a leader that invests this week. : )

2023 Live Podcast Tours

Orlando Live Podcast Tour (NCAA 1st Round)

Saturday, March 18th from 7am - 3pm EST

Learn more


Houston Live Podcast Tour (NCAA Final Four)

Wednesday, March 29th - All Day
Learn more