Dr. Steve Yacovelli (“The Gay Leadership Dude”) is Owner & Principal of TopDog Learning Group, LLC, a learning and development, leadership, change management, and diversity and consulting firm based in Orlando, with affiliates across the globe. He’s worked with Fortune 500 greats like The Walt Disney Company and Bayer, not-for-profits like The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The American Library Association, large universities like The Ohio State University and The University of Central Florida, as well as small entrepreneurial rock stars like International Training & Development and GovMojo, Inc.
Since Dr. Steve lives right here in our backyard, and he has recently released the book “Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ Leader”we thought it a good time to sit down and get to know him a bit better.
Have you always been a motivator or when did that start?
I think for me motivation comes from within, and my role is to bring to life what people have already in them and see it for themselves. So yes, it’s always been part of my personality… I am really like the cheerleader on the side.
What college did you go to and what was your major? Also where and what did you get your doctorate in?
I went to three universities Millersville in Pennsylvania, and I was a speech communication public relation major. Ohio state for my Masters in Educational Policy and Leadership, and my PHD was from Nova and it is in Instructional Technology and Distance Education.
Why did you start Top Dog Learning?
A colleague of mine and I started it while we were working at Disney. In late 2007 I found myself without a job. I had this part time infrastructure and I wanted to see if I could make a go of it full time, and it’s what I have been doing ever since.
You have worked with fortune 500 companies, what is your favorite story?
I worked for the Disney cruise line and I worked shore side as an internal leadership consultant. My clients were the folks on the ship and on their island. I got to see my co-workers in swimsuits a lot. One day when I was at the crew beach, they saw my Mickey Mouse tattoo on my back, and they asked me what it was. I pretended that I got it at orientation, because Disney saw that I was on the road to an executive and then asked them who else had one. They totally fell for my joke, and it’s my favorite story.
You have recently written “Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ Leader.” What made you write this? Are you happy with outcome?
I have written 3 books, but I never went down the path of writing what I consider to be a real book. This book has been in my head for 25 years and I wanted to get it out. The book was not supposed to originally be an LGBTQ book, but then, I decided to hone in on the Gay community and do research to see if Gay leaders are different. Through my research I found out it is different for LGBTQ leaders. I am really happy with the book, but I think I made it too verbose. I was targeting 200 pages and its over 300 pages.
How did you meet your hubby, how long have you been together and what makes him the perfect man for you?
I met Richard twice. Once when I was 25 and a kid in a candy store. He had seen me out around town, and finally introduced himself at Club Firestone, and honestly I was completely drunk at the time. We talked for a few minutes and I think he thought let me talk to him more the next time I see him when he is not so drunk. What he didn’t know was that it was my going away party as I was moving to Ohio; hence the reason I was drunk. Two years letter, when I moved back, I was at Club Cactus and he re-introduced himself to me and we have been together ever since…22 years later.
Richard is perfect for me as he is the opposite of me in many ways…I am extroverted, he is introverted. I love changing jobs and he has been at the same job for 31 years, etc.
I always tell Richard “You are still my favorite,” After 22 years he is still my favorite person.
Describe yourself in three words?
Silly, passionate and focused
What do you do for fun?
I love being active: working out, yoga, paddle boarding. I love to hang with my hubby, drink wine and be with my puppies – two mini Labradoodles.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m doing a lot more public speaking about LGBTQ inclusivity and leadership. I am also launching an online training academy for our community and hopefully start hanging out with Ellen and Porsche to talk leadership and make our world a little more inclusive.
For more information on Dr. Steve, and his business, go to: Topdoglearning.biz