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When I was a child, my best friend loved taking things apart, just to see how they worked. His passion was anything mechanical – cars, toy trains, woodworking. Somehow, he knew from the get-go what how he would spend his life. He became a mechanical engineer.
By comparison, I never quite knew what I wanted to be as I was growing up. I loved playing baseball (and often imagined myself as the pitcher in the ninth inning of game seven of a World Series), and a wide variety of school assignments: drawing dinosaurs for my Earth Science class, creating a bug collection for my Biology class, and getting the lead role (made famous by both Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin) in our high school production of Father of the Bride.
Off to college, where I majored in English, before switching to Speech Communications, before settling on Psychology. I discovered a passion – understanding how people tick. I graduated with a Master’s in counseling psychology with no marketable job skills. I stumbled through a few false starts in sales and advertising before my epiphany. Taking a class in “consulting skills,” I learned there were people who made their living combining psychology and business. At the time, it was the dawn of the field of Organization Development.
I hitched my wagon to an OD consultant who was kind enough to take me under his wings and show me the way. A few years later, with a new skillset, I made the decision to become an independent, free-lance management/OD consultant. That was thirty years ago, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities, great projects, and lots of variety.
I’ve been able to work with organizational leaders around North America. From a giant project with the first American super-collider project, to high-tech start-ups, from Apple in the days of System 7 to IBM as it rolled out the ThinkPad, plus a broad variety of government organizations at the city, county, state, and national level.
I’ve worked with small organizations with less than a dozen employees, family-owned businesses, cities with over 10,000 employees, manufacturing plants with 20,000 employees, major hospitals and other organizations going through reorganization, and many more.
To have had the chance to rub elbows with all kinds of leaders, from the small cross-functional team leaders to CEOs, from front-line supervisors to General Managers, from those in the public sector to those in the private sector, has been a thrill and a blessing.
Throughout it all, I was able to get “under the hood” and see what the most effective among them actually did. What made them tick. It became my passion to learn from them and teach it to others.
To date, I have consulted to over 300 organizations. I am past president of the Organization Development Network of San Diego and a former director of the Management Development Center at San Diego State University.
I launched The Leadership Almanac in 2008, a blog which explores the practical side of leadership. Today you can explore a rich collection of over 120 free articles ranging from how leaders create a compelling vision to how they sweat the small stuff, from how they make tough decisions to how they navigate a difficult conversation, from how they inspire to what makes them perspire.
Today, I specialize in coaching leaders one-to-one (from front-line supervisors to CEOs), writing highly practical books on management, and facilitating leadership seminars, workshops, and retreats (with over 40,000 participants in groups of 25-30 to date). I’ve published seven books for managers and created the immensely popular S.T.A.R.T. (Supervisors Transition & Readiness Training) program, which has helped over 1,250 participants prepare for their careers in management.
While I live in Reno, Nevada, far from my Ohio roots, I work with clients throughout the United States. In my free time, I enjoy photography, riding a recumbent trike, and making music (a keyboardist by training, I’m taking on the mountain dulcimer).