Quietly Out-thinking Others - In conversation with Tonie Leatherberry

Insights from Leaders
3 min readNov 3, 2020


Today I am meeting Tonie Leatherberry in a quaint café in Georgetown, DC.

Tonie is a strategic technologist, creates equity through education, and is a passionate and invested leader. Tonie is known for her problem-solving skills and ability to work through situations, which is why I want to get her insight.

We both get seated outdoors and a waiter takes our order immediately — it’s a sunny, pleasant day in one of DC’s most beautiful neighborhoods.

Tonie, somebody once said that you quietly out-think others. Over the years, how have your problem-solving abilities allowed you to drive strategy to action — on boards or otherwise?

Tonie takes a sip of her espresso before answering…

“That’s a great question. Let me start with the ‘quietly out-thinking others’. As my mother used to say “if your mouth is open, your ears are closed”. I think maybe just growing up and the way I was raised - I was taught to always understand a problem or issue from everyone’s perspective. Often I wasn’t quick to have an opinion or voice my perspective. Over time, my progression as a senior leader has made me more vocal, but aside from that, I aim to understand others and that is where the ‘quietly out-thinks others’ comes from.

“I will never jump to a conclusion right away. I will process it, get inputs from diverse individuals, and integrate all of those ideas before pushing forward an agenda. I would say that I am very process-oriented. I always want to figure out how to get from point A to point B. What are the steps needed? I am constantly hypothesizing on that strategy and the future of a plan. I want to see it in action. What makes it tangible? Let’s get to the crunchy bits of how we drive it to reality. That’s what I am always thinking about and that is how I drive strategy to action.”

Thank you for sharing, Tonie.
Maarten Schafer- Author at CoolBrands



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