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Meet the Leadership Summit Speaker: Jonathan Klane

Learn more about recognizing risk perception and tailoring your leadership approach at the 2022 Leadership Summit

MaryBeth DiDonna

MaryBeth DiDonna is managing editor, events for Lab Manager. She organizes and moderates the webinars and virtual conferences for Lab Manager as well as other LMG brands, enabling industry...

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Jonathan Klane
Director of Risk Management and Safety Education, BioRAFT

As Lab Manager’s 2022 Leadership Summit draws closer, we invite you to get to know the laboratory and management professionals who will be speaking at this exciting event. 

Jonathan Klane, senior safety editor with Lab Manager, will give a talk on “Lab Safety Through the Lens of Varying Risk Perceptions.” In his session, Jonathan will discuss the varying risk perceptions possessed by different people, how a manager can recognize these different risk perceptions, and how managers can tailor their leadership approach to make sure that everyone in the lab understands what needs to be done in order to maintain a safe working environment. 

Jonathan, along with fellow Leadership Summit speakers Paula McDaniel and Scott Hanton, will also be on a special leadership panel, "Leadership Challenges and Solutions," as part of this event. This open forum welcomes attendees to bring their questions about their own management and leadership challenges. The speakers will offer helpful advice, personal experiences in leadership, and useful strategies to help lab managers run their labs like a business.

Read more about Jonathan’s lessons learned in his career, the classic movie he recommends you check out—and be sure to ask him at the Leadership Summit how on earth a beloved family heirloom could be lost in Maine but mysteriously make its way to Florida. Register today at for your chance to learn from Jonathan’s experience and insight at the 2022 Leadership Summit. 

Q: What are you most excited about in regards to your Leadership Summit talk?

A: Definitely, it’s talking about our perceptions of risk. My talk is, “Lab Safety Through the Lens of Varying Risk Perceptions.” We don’t discuss our perceptions of risk and we need to do so openly. It can lead to greater mutual understandings of how we all see our world a bit differently—including risks in the lab.

Q: What five words best describe you?

A: Creative, logical, humorous, philosophical, storyteller.

Q: Can you recall the best day of your professional career? What made it stand out?

A: I was in my office and a grad student researcher I knew came in with her cap and gown from commencement that morning. She’d been in a research lab in which there’d been a serious and lengthy conflict. I was the embedded safety professional for the college and as such, I had to investigate, mediate, and resolve it. At times I felt like Odysseus on a long voyage of unknown risks. 

She handed me a small, gift-wrapped box and a card. I unwrapped the present and discovered a lovely box of specialty chocolates—so sweet. Then I opened the card—it was a “thank you” card. She wrote inside, “Jon, If I’m ever in a situation like ours, I hope that I treat them with as much kindness and respect as you did with us.” We all need to feel that we’re making a difference in the lives of others. Her kindness touched me deeply. As I often remind myself: “Appreciation should never go unsaid.” 

Q: What is the biggest lesson learned in your professional career? 

A: How much I didn’t realize I didn’t know about risk perceptions and storytelling until I got way deep in my review of the literature and my research into both. And that is a great example of the cognitive bias, the Dunning-Kruger Effect. That’s where the less we know, the more we estimate incorrectly that we know much more. And the more we actually know, the less we estimate we do based on our knowing how broad and deep something is. I’m still learning so much about both as I work on my PhD dissertation!

Q: Tell us about a great book, movie, song, or TV show you’ve enjoyed recently. 

A: I re-watched the 1975 thriller, Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow, and John Houseman. It’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller with some good action scenes. But what grabs me and keeps me watching it again is the thinking involved. Both the protagonist and viewer are engaged in the same puzzle—what the heck is going on? 

Redford’s character is a bookish CIA analyst (code name “Condor”) who reads and analyzes publications looking for coded plans as part of a secret CIA office in NYC. Without plot spoiling, things go awry, and he alone must figure it out. He does so mostly by using critical reasoning skills. As another character says in describing Condor, “He reads everything!” 

Q: If you had to have a different work-related role, what would it be and why?

A: An author and storyteller. I’d love to be able to write my novels, screenplays, and graphic novels full-time. I have so many I’m working on part-time, I’m not sure I’ll ever finish them all! 

Q: What’s your best story to tell at a cocktail party?

A: Ah, that’s a great question! It depends on the partygoers. But I’m likely to tell the story of my dad’s ring. After my dad died of lung cancer, we found an old ring he used to wear. It fit me, and so my mom, brother, and sister said, “Jonny, wear it in the best of health”—one of my dad’s favorite sayings. 

A year later I was up on a ladder knocking the icicles of the eave of our house back in Maine. My hands were freezing and when I took off my gloves, I noticed the ring was gone! I looked everywhere and sadly gave up that I’d ever find it. 

About a month later, my jeweler nearby in Waterville, Maine called me to ask, “Jon, have you lost a piece of jewelry recently?” “Well yes, my dad’s ring, but how’d you know?” as I hadn’t told him. 

“Jon, I’m looking at it. Here’s the woman who just brought it in.” 

So, she got on the phone, asked me about it to make sure it was actually my ring. I described it, “Gothic style letter K, onyx setting, rose gold.” She was convinced it was mine. So, I asked, “Where’d you find it?” 

And what she said surprised me! “It fell out of a box of golf clubs in Orlando, Florida.” 

I’m going to stop there as the rest is long. Plus, it’s such a great example of creating interest so your story receivers (i.e., audience), feels they have to hear the rest. 

Q: What is one important skill you think that all leaders should have? 

A: Empathy and storytelling. Well, that’s two skills. If I had to choose one, it’d be storytelling, because a well crafted and told story builds empathy. So, you get two for the price of one. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A: Amor fati, which is Latin for “love fate”. It comes from the Stoics of old—Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and others. They were pretty smart guys. Their philosophy, amor fati, acknowledges that we can’t change what has happened, but we can change our attitudes to circumstances outside of our control. That is entirely within our power to do so if we wish—it’s up to us. I’ll tell you from experiences, when I’m successful at loving my fate, I am much happier or content about life. Two words, my ability, my life, for the better. 

Q: What do you like most about attending/participating in events like the Lab Manager Leadership Summit

A: Meeting and seeing people, listening and studying their stories, and sharing some of mine.