The Mid-life Mashup
He was a business leader in his mid forties. Success in life and work had come easily for him and now with college age kids about to fly the nest and as more conversations with friends turned to the subject of retirement, he knew he needed a better plan.
We coached over a period of six-months and focused on an in-depth and appreciative look at his story-so-far, visioning to determine where he saw his life going next and a thorough action planning involving his wife, financial and other advisors, to ensure he had the support and collaboration he needed.
“I can’t thank you enough for the amazing coaching experience and the clarity we now have for the next stage of our lives”
Let's Start At The Very Beginning, A Very Good Place To Start
She just turned eighteen and her birthday gift from her incredibly thoughtful and forward-thinking grandparents was some coaching to get her really grounded in who she was and where she was going.
We coached during the summer before she left for college and in that time we focused on her strengths, dreams and values, all of which would become major cornerstones as she navigated her college life and beyond.
“I just graduated from college with a 4.0 and am so excited for my new job that starts in a week. Looking back on my college I see how the work we did together really made a difference, and how much it helped me help my roommates and friends... I think everyone should have an 'off to college coach.' ☺”
She'd known something was up. At home and at work things just didn't seem right but she couldn't quite put her finger on the problems so decided to keep her head down and just keep going. Her divorce papers and lay-off letter arrived in the same week.
We coached over a year at first dealing with the enormous shock about the direction her life had turned, we found a professional therapist to help deal with her emotional and mental trauma and then set to work discovering her accomplishments, unique gifts and values, the direction she wanted her future to go and her plan to get her there.
“I don't know what to say. I really thought I was going to die the first day I spoke to you, but this whole process has helped me see that there is light and life at the end of the tunnel. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm on the way and forever grateful.”
She had successfully launched her own business fourteen months previously and by every perceivable standard, things were going well. But internally she struggled with the same loud reoccurring thoughts: Am I sure this entrepreneurship path is that one I should be on? Am I working on the right things? Is this all worth it?
The session we facilitated combined historical fact-finding with visual collaboration methodologies to let her see clearly all the thoughts running in her head, and then corralled them into a retractable timeline that spanned long-term vision, medium-term trajectory and near-term action planning.
“My session with Alison was amazing! The process she took me through allowed me to get all of the ideas out of my head and begin to put them into actionable timelines that made sense. The freedom of being able to write down all of my big picture aspirations for the company was freeing. The highlight, however, was when she ripped down the 20-year plan and we began to simply focus on the next five. The process allowed me to be grateful for what I’ve already achieved, get a clear picture of where I need to focus next and remind me why I started the journey in the first place.”
Recognizing the Recruiting Rockstars
The young recruiting team at a large private university had blown the lid off of their annual goals, taken enormous ground from their regional competitors and were riding high! Their new leader wanted a full day retreat where the team could be appropriately recognized and have the opportunity to parlay their success into creating innovative plans for the future.
Following hilarious and enormously creative kick-off skits, LEGO® Serious Play® was our tool of choice that enabled teams to work collaboratively, building innovative and impressive visions for the future that addressed the strategic challenges ahead.
“Hello! I’ve spoken with many on our team and let me say they LOVED their experience with you! Thank you! It was just what our team needed and we will regroup as a leadership team and follow-up as we don’t want to lose the momentum! It was truly a pleasure working with you.”
Settling into the C-Suite
After only a short time with the company she had been promoted not only to the C-suite but to the President role, and while having all the experience and smarts required for the role, she wanted support and advice as she took the helm of the organization.
Our consulting focused on vision for her presidency and the organization, the fit and effectiveness of her leadership team and cultural stewardship. We used a number of tools and techniques including vision boarding and coaching, large group facilitation, individual and team assessments, leadership development training, engagement surveys and social network analysis.
“Alison is wise beyond her years and became one of my most trusted advisors. Her insights helped me be a better leader and helped me and the organization to keep learning and growing. I don’t know where I or we would have been without her.”
Nailing the Road Less Traveled
As a professional with many successful and award winning years in a particular discipline, the future looked bright but when an organizational change brought about new opportunities she had a choice to make, and she chose an entirely new career direction.
We focused on life-vision, dreams and strengths. How might her life look if it didn’t follow the path she had trodden for a while now and how might a new future look different? Over the course of 6 years we built her professional tool-kit, enabling her to gain mastery of her new chosen area whilst providing valuable support and resources to a fast-changing organization and developing her own private practice.
“My work with Alison over the years was incredibly helpful in keeping me focused on what I REALLY want from life instead of what the world thinks I should be. She was endlessly supportive and encouraging in all of my new endeavors, struggles and choices. By the time I launched my own business, I felt fully equipped to realize my dreams! Best of all, she gave me permission to be the real me, which is one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive.”
Sailing the Second Wind
After a challenging but all-consuming forty-five-year career, retirement seemed like both a blessing and a curse. What would he do with his time? How would he keep out from under his wife’s feet at home? He needed a plan.
Through guided reflective exercises and future visioning we focused on rediscovering some long-held but sadly neglected interests of his youth, and over a six-month period rekindled a passion for life outside of work that had characterized his younger years
“Thank you for helping me make sense of my retirement! I am excited to get up in the morning and am finding great fulfillment in my volunteer work with the young people at the sailing club. I often wonder why it took me so long to get back on the water and am grateful for your encouragement to do so.”
911 Career Call
After deciding on a career change, she spent a year applying for multiple roles, networking and interviewing relentlessly, only to be rejected time after time. Even the part-time work she loved was under threat and as time passed, she became more hopeless and despondent.
Being inspired by a LinkedIn post she reached out and we took just 30 minutes on the phone discussing ways to clarify her big-picture goal, prioritize her various streams of activity and articulate it in a step by step process towards the type of work she really wanted to do.
“I met Alison in a workshop and was drawn to her poignant observations, knowledge and warm, embracing demeanor. She immediately responded to my 911 message and we set up a next-day call. Alison quickly pulled out key themes which became a life line up and out of the muck I was swimming in! She asked specific questions and by the end of our call I felt understood, energized, valued and excited to take a different approach. I am beyond grateful for her quick response to my 911 message, keen insights and innate ability to understand where I want to go in my life!”
The Little Co. That Could
After a tumultuous dozen years that featured start-up, massive unruly growth, going public, four CEO’s later they were teetering on the edge. ‘Just make a buck’ was the rallying cry and after a significant layoff they were still mourning the empty chairs of colleagues.
We focused on low-cost/high impact ideas that included weekly communication, facilitated collaboration, personal reflection, leadership development, personal development and communal skill building via company-wide competitions and leadership gatherings. 27 consecutive quarters of increased same store sales growth followed.
“There is no problem that can’t be addressed when you pair Alison’s approachable and positive style with her experience and incredible tool kit. And we had a BIG problem. How do we take an organization that wasn’t making money with a defeated team to win again? Alison approached the work with excitement and a belief that this absolutely could be done and she knew how to do it. She asked great questions, listened carefully and crafted a customized plan, QUICKLY. With great energy and style, she implemented and drove the work. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to work with Alison on this project and many others.”
A Path of Peace
They had been all over the local and national news. The world-renowned fine-arts organization involved in a venomous industrial dispute, which resulted a strike and a lockout. New leadership had been appointed and a collaborative new vision was in the works. Now what they needed was a way to gather each of the stakeholder groups to achieve consensus around the way forward.
The approach with this group was a short session using creative facilitation methodologies to enable the artists, 40-person board and staff members to listen to the vision, share their thoughts and collectively work to craft a way forward based on their shared values.
“Alison was able to come into a complicated political environment and immediately disarm a very diverse group of stakeholders. What could have been a very contentious discussion was quickly reoriented to the positive, and the group left with tremendous energy about their ability to work towards a common vision.”
81-18 Cultural Cultivation
The iconic 81-year-old brand had new leadership team none of whom had been in place longer than 18 months. This truly was a make or break situation and the CHRO soon realized she would need help to understand and lead this well established and embedded culture into the future.
Our consulting included 1-1 interviews with executives, historical research, facilitated listening sessions with team members from across the organization, the development of processes for synthesizing and capturing cultural insights and model development for ongoing communication.