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Badass Women at Any Age

May 4, 2021

Inspired by space travel, Dr. Ginny Whitelaw knew she wanted to be an astronaut by the time she was in middle school. At the age of 13 she wrote a letter to NASA asking how to best prepare to reach her goal of space travel. Receiving a genuine reply, she followed every step, eventually majoring in biophysics all the while taking martial arts classes throughout her time in school. With a 5th degree blackbelt in Aikido and Ph.D in Biophysics, Dr. Whitelaw landed a job with NASA working in operations that became the turning point in her career. Her observation of the lack of mind and body focus in leadership training led her to create an entire system of training that would impact the culture of leadership.  Dr. Whitelaw spent 10 years at NASA, where she became the Deputy Manager for integrating the International Space Station Program. She led a large-scale change effort to re-align the management of the Space Station Program using cross-functional teams and was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal for her efforts.

Dr. Whitelaw is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Zen Leadership. She has more than 25 years of experience in developing global leaders combining her rich scientific background with senior leadership experience at NASA. Together with Mark Kiefaber, she developed the FEBI® to measure four mind-body patterns of personality and trains practitioners worldwide in how to apply FEBI in their work. She is a recognized expert in leadership development and executive coaching.  Dr. Whitelaw has authored 4 books, including The Zen Leader and Resonate. She has served as adjunct faculty to Columbia University’s senior executive program and worked with leaders in some of the world’s top companies, including Merck, Dell, Avon, XL Capital, Sprint, Cemex, EMC, Novartis, Hospira, Marsh, Ascension Health, T Rowe Price, and Bank of America. a Zen Master in Rinzai Zen, as well as President of Focus Leadership

What You Will Hear in This Episode

Early inspirations and aspirations leading to NASA and martial arts.

Ego driven leadership and unspoken needs.

Ginny’s observation of leadership training being about the mind and completely leaving out the body leading her to study and create Zen leadership.

Learning to be your true self and knowing yourself

Lessons in learning to cultivate energy and use it.  

The impact of Zen leadership. 

Daily practice.

Connectivity with self and others.


“Deep and enduring change involves the body.”

“When an idea resonates with us and we follow it, it can really help guide us toward work that is ours to do.”

“Listen to life and the things you naturally vibrate with, the people you naturally resonate with, will keep pulling you in the direction of where you can live your most significant life.”

“We can’t know anyone else better than we know ourselves.”

“Zen training not only shows us our ego but helps us see through it.”

“Energy is not local, energy travels long distances.”

“Your work becomes a manifestation of what you’re about.”

“Our health is sort of like a barometer of what’s going on in our life.”


Working with Resume

Institute for Zen Leadership Institute

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