page title icon Bite-Size Learning for First-Time Leaders

Understand the changing landscape of media consumption and how leaders can be equipped through microlearning.

Media consumption preferences have changed over the past few years. People want to consume information faster on their own terms. Traditional learning programs and long-form content is being replaced with quick, bite-sized information. With the next generation of leaders on the rise, equipping and enabling first-time leaders has become a challenge.

The wisdom to lead is buried in the minds of experienced leaders. The knowledge is hidden in books and scientific papers. With first-time leaders not knowing what they need, how do you fill the gap in leadership development?

In this episode, Darja Gutnick shares what first-time leaders need to know and the mindset shift to microlearning. 

Darja Gutnick was born in Russia but moved to Germany right after the iron curtain came down and grew up in Germany on the border between the East and West. In many ways, this has impacted her, and she found herself always mediating and “translating” between different cultures. 

Growing up, she was significantly influenced by her mum’s entrepreneurial drive and self-made woman journey. Darja’s mother built up an award-winning restaurant from scratch, which has set a baseline for expectations and entrepreneurial achievement. She learned loads from her mum when it came to excellent customer service but also watched her mother struggle with the people side of things: building high-performance teams and hiring and retaining talent. As a result, Darja studied Organizational Psychology to figure out what it takes to build a winning team. 

After starting her career at BMW Group Designworks USA in California, she helped the CEO and her team design cultural rituals that lifted the 165 employees and helped them thrive. Darja moved on to become a Strategy Consultant at OC&C Strategy Consultants in Europe, where she worked with companies like Google, the Otto Group, Telefonica, and others to optimize margins and identify growth opportunities. 

Darja became a Ph.D. candidate on the topic of creative performance under pressure at the intersection with leadership, where she won an award for Best Dissertation Proposal, published her work in scientific journals, and supervised over 60 students on their path to Bachelor and Master degrees. In her last year of her Ph.D., she collected data from founders of startups (studying their approach to performing under pressure). She got the opportunity to get funding for an idea presented at a conference. She paused her Ph.D. back then to found her first startup. It’s still on pause. 

Darja experienced burnout at the end of that startup, got certified as a stress management trainer and team coach, and started her practice. She worked as a self-employed leadership coach with executives from startups that became unicorns (challenger bank N26) and established companies like the German railway. 

When she noticed the shift in the learning behaviors of professionals she was coaching, she spotted the opportunity to build a solution to make leadership education accessible to everyone, especially the new and upcoming generations of leaders. This was the start of Bunch. 

Darja and her co-founder Anthony are building Bunch to help every manager become a better leader in just 2 minutes a day. Her vision is to grow into a life-learning ecosystem that enables anyone to learn anything with little time commitment. 

Darja and her husband live in Berlin with their two cats, Darja commutes to NYC 6 months out of a year. Both of them love surfing and spending lots of time outdoors.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @darjagutnick get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“First-time leaders don’t really know what they need.” – Click to Tweet

“Bite-size learning is an interplay between doing something, getting feedback, and then reflecting on it, which is also the core model of coaching.” – Click to Tweet

“People development has moved all the way down the ladder. It is now the core, front, and center for most people and responsibility.” – Click to Tweet

“Architecting the human collaboration will still be human responsibility. It cannot be easily done through technology.” – Click to Tweet

“The preferences and the needs of people changed effectively with the media consumption preferences.” – Click to Tweet

“What we see right now is that people just really want to be met where they’re at.” – Click to Tweet

“Consumer behavior and preferences drove the agenda on the learner’s end, and the market is just catching up with it right now.” – Click to Tweet

“First-time leaders want to learn on their own terms.” – Click to Tweet

Advice for others

Understand your limitations better and team up with people that are good in those things.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Not enough time spent in learning.

Best Leadership Advice

Be self-aware about everything.

Secrets to Success / Tools


Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

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