What about your work, company or role makes you most proud?
It’s always rewarding when my clients learn, grow and achieve their goals. What makes me pause and take pride, however, is when a deeper trust and connection is established such that a client or a leadership team can put their truth on the table for the betterment of themselves and the organization.
When a coaching client says, “I’ve never shared this with anyone, but …” then we’ve hit a critical inflection point. They have faith in me as a confidante and they’re ready to explore the depth of their own experiences and the impact their mindset has on their leadership.
It’s a similar experience when a team leverages our group work to confront the delta between who they are today and who they need to be as a leadership team in order to realize their vision. When they can see and commit to the “how” for achieving high performance, it’s a sign that my contribution is positively changing their trajectory.
In both cases, we’re entering territory where my clients can remove false restraints to unleash real potential. This is where my company’s purpose, Discover ~ Become ~ Achieve, comes to life. Helping people and teams find an entirely new elevation for themselves and their organizations is deeply rewarding.
On a more operational note, I take pride in the fact that, from the moment I launched my consultancy in 2010, every company and client I have ever worked with has come through a referral from another. I’ve never marketed or advertised myself or my business. Having a self-sustaining consultancy for over a decade based on word of mouth is humbling and gratifying. I’m honored that my clients recommend me to their colleagues and other business leaders.
What is your favorite binge-worthy show or podcast?
Mad Men and Billions. Intricately crafted characters, brilliant acting, unexpected storylines all add up to great entertainment!
What was your first job? What lesson did you learn that you will carry with you?
At 11 years old, I began babysitting, doing yard work and house cleaning for neighbors. The lesson I took with me was how a strong work ethic translated to self-confidence, resilience and independence. To this day, I relish hard work and the sense of accomplishment that comes with a job well done.
Who was the best boss you ever had and why?
I’m quite fortunate to have had many “best” bosses. Here are two …
Mary Walls, (retired) Human Resource Manager @ Wrigley – She was an incredible role model for how to manage and develop people. She invested herself completely in her staff, listening deeply and coaching deftly. She assigned complex challenges to stretch her team, demonstrated faith in our abilities, and was the perfect combination of head and heart. Mary was an artist at delivering tough feedback in a manner that always left one’s dignity intact and created a deep commitment to personal growth… instead of wallowing in mistakes and gaps. Knowing her meant you wanted to make her proud of you and never let her down.
Bill “Beau” Wrigley, Jr., (former) CEO @ Wrigley – I have yet to meet or work with a leader as exceptional as Beau. His depth and breadth of business intelligence was jaw dropping and he always made time to share it with me, no matter what was on his calendar. A passionate visionary with a curiosity about everything, he saw opportunities and crafted strategies that were inspiring and game changing. His modus operandi was to solicit the perspectives of those around him, then listen with intention. Every day was about discovering what’s possible. Beau’s leadership transformed the Wrigley Company and our people for the better, and was life changing for me.
While Mary and Beau had different leadership styles, they were both deeply committed to leading from their own and the company’s values, and were always focused on growth… how can we develop our people, how can we build a strong and resilient organization, how can we expand our business? They were authentic and brilliant, and also made time for fun. I’m grateful to have worked with and learned from both.
Can you share a time when you had to reinvent yourself, your product/service or your brand?
Given the work I do, my product, service and brand are me. Everything I bring to a client engagement is based on my experience, perspective, and training, as well as how my character and integrity are woven through my work. So while I regularly reflect on what works and what doesn’t to draw lessons and implement refinements, for me, it’s about meaningful evolution and application, not reinvention.
The closest place where I could make a connection to the notion of reinvention is with regard to my vision for my business and how it’s been impacted by personal experiences and life changes.
I’ve always had a clear vision for how my business would scale and how I would differentiate it with unique value for both clients and staff. Over the years, I reviewed the plan regularly and revised it as needed annually. And every year, I moved aggressively in that direction… until a serious health issue struck me and turned life inside out.
The personal, internal frustration was unlike anything I’d experienced. I wasn’t accustomed to being derailed, particularly by something entirely beyond my control. It wasn’t clear how my treatment would play out or how long it would be before I’d return to “normal.” I went through all the stages of grief… more than once… along with many questions about what this health issue was doing to me, my family, my business… all of it.
Today, I’m back to 100%… + / - since I’ve offloaded some ways of thinking and being that weren’t serving me, while gaining many psychological, emotional, social, family and life lessons that I wouldn’t have were it not for this experience.
However, the timeline of it all is key… I moved through that experience, returned to a nice stretch of normalcy and then BOOM… we’re living in the coronavirus pandemic state.
As my husband and I work from home, home school our 3rd grader, and work to establish some sense of normalcy in this totally abnormal time, I find myself in frequent reflection mode.
I’m back at the drawing board asking myself, “Is this vision still relevant, meaningful, and compelling? Do I still want it? How have my priorities shifted? Do I want something different and if so, what would that be? How would it affect our family? How would it serve my clients? If I’m generally sticking with the plan, what can be nuanced so it represents all of who I am today? What have I learned over the last two years of a roller coaster life and how can I apply that to my vision and ways of working from today forward?”
Since I’m working on the questions and developing the answers, these might be questions of confirmation or of reinvention. I’ll have to keep you posted.
What’s your best “work from home” life hack?
I’m not sure I have any! Here’s one thing that strikes me, though…
Find a set-up that generates productive energy. For me, having lots of daylight and a window to look out of are essential. When we moved homes several years ago, I went from a dark space facing a wall to a sunlit office with two windows. It was like my energy and focus quadrupled. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but my sales increased by about 50% the first year, and doubled the next.
Figure out how you can design your WFH space to align with your mental and physical flow state and see what happens with your performance.
What drew you to Chicago as a business or personal home?
Chicago is a microcosm of the world. We have a great mix of cultures, art and architecture, industry, and generations. People are friendly and “natives” want visitors to enjoy themselves here. We’re hard working and proud of it and have a rich history of resilience, as well as humor.
My parents met here and raised us in the suburbs, but with many trips to the city. The only other place I’ve called home is Los Angeles… which is the only rival for me to Chicago. I love to travel the world, but then come back to this great city.
Among the people you work with, who inspires you and why?
Any client who is serious about growing and willing to do the work to achieve their targets. It’s easy to say you want that and are committed to the process. It’s a totally different thing to actually BE that client.
In addition to her professional successes, Carol reminds us of the value and great reward in supporting the development of future leaders through mentorship. We would love to hear from you and highlight your achievements and tips in our member spotlight. To be featured or to recommend another member of The Executives’ Club to share a spotlight, please contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org