Season 5 : From the Rafters • November 29, 2022

Presence, Ambition, and Balance.

Shana Cosgrove talks to Frankie Velez, a respected leader within the U.S. Intelligence Community.

In this episode of The Outspoken Podcast, host Shana Cosgrove talks to Frankie Velez, a respected leader within the U.S. Intelligence Community.  Frankie tells Shana about growing up between Puerto Rico, Connecticut, and Florida, then choosing to join the Navy which led to his start in intelligence. Frankie talks about the path he took to reach his current leadership position at Praxis and discusses with Shana the shift in perspective that goes with moving up from project management—where technical proficiency is paramount—to executive roles—where critical thinking and communicating with team members become vitally important. He explains how he knew he wanted to be a company president, how he learned to seek balance and develop a ‘leadership compass’ along the way, and how it all might have turned out differently if, as a long-haired teenage surfer, he had accepted that invite to train for Pro-Am competition.


  • “I always, always, always run my decisions through my team—specifically, my immediate leaders. Because I want to make sure that I’m putting my best foot forward and I want to make sure that I’ve thought through the risk. There’s no way I can have all the answers, so I have to depend on my team.” – Frankie Velez [27:24]
  • “What makes you happy? You need to focus on that. Because your better self is never going to be what you bring forth if you’re not happy. If you’re living for somebody else, or for something else, or for some ideal that’s not what you really believe in, it doesn’t help you.” – Frankie Velez [37:29]
  • “I publish my [leadership compass] and I put myself on notice. In other words, ‘Here are my expectations, here is what I expect from you, and here is how I am going to lead you to success [ . . . ] and you are more than welcome to hold me accountable if I am not living to those expectations.’” – Frankie Velez [33:45] 


  • [00:04] Intro
  • [01:54] Meet Frankie Velez
  • [04:51] On Being Present as the President of Praxis
  • [08:39] From Boeing Intelligence to Praxis
  • [11:18] Critical Thinking and the Executive Interview
  • [14:08] Praxis as Industry Leader and Employee-Focused Entity
  • [15:50] On Being a GDIT Subsidiary: Who Do We Want to Be?
  • [18:58] Growing up in Connecticut, Puerto Rico, and Florida
  • [21:54] Choosing the Navy, Building Knowledge and Networks Post-Retirement
  • [25:30] On Stepping Stones and Ambition 
  • [29:50] Learning on and off the Job, Getting Past “Failing at Leadership”
  • [32:49] Does Your Team Know What Your Expectations Are? 
  • [36:30] To Young People: Do What Makes You Happy
  • [40:07] Pause and Make Change
  • [43:45] Holding Yourself Accountable and Doing the Right Thing
  • [48:53] Outro



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Live well, Shana

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