Our business—settingPace, an educational publishing services firm—started in 1991 as a side gig on my kitchen table, with me spending evenings and weekends pored over manuscripts and page proofs. My husband drummed up business, making calls and connections within the confines of his day job(s).
Before long, I was able to go part-time at my own day job as an editor of a peer-reviewed pharmacy journal, and within a year I quit the journal altogether to pursue settingPace full-time. My husband eventually joined me and for a few years, it was just the two of us, working and working and working.
After four years and on the heels of a particularly long and difficult project, I was tired. My soul was tired. I came to an inflection point. From my perspective, it was either quit and go home—oh wait, the business was in our home—or hire some help. After eighteen months of marital back and forth, we partnered with a colleague and hired Steve, our first employee. We were all-in.
And all-in we were. Over the next fifteen years, settingPace grew locally, nationally, and globally. We expanded our Cincinnati office. We added three offices around the country. We were preferred suppliers for all of the major U.S. textbook publishers—Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Pearson Prentice-Hall, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Cengage. We had over 70 employees and a great group of highly competent freelancers. We built partnerships with offshore suppliers and welcomed the e-publishing revolution. We pursued excellence.
Our learnings about community and organizational culture were captured in two books: The Search to Belong and Organic Community. My husband began traveling the country on the small group speaking circuit while I stayed home and tended the business.
We worked and worked and worked. Everybody worked and worked and worked. We worked, they worked, it worked. Until… it no longer worked.
So we closed. After nineteen years, millions earned, millions invested, millions lost, we closed. My husband and I divorced, the company dissolved, and we all went our separate ways.
What went wrong? What happened?
As you might guess, I am leaving out a tremendous amount of detail. A tremendous amount of complexity. A tremendous amount of pain. The answers were—and still are—multilayered.
But the closure of my business launched me on a quest.
Since 2010, I have been on a quest to reverse engineer my business and my marriage—to identify, understand, and get to the root cause of what happened. To identify what worked, what didn’t work, and what could have worked better.
And it’s been a fun and fascinating journey.
Some of my study has been more formal, such as becoming an International Coach Federation (ICF)-certified coach (currently at the Professional Certified Coach [PCC] level), taking focused coursework through organizations such as The Bowen Center and Navigating Systems, and participating in communities of practice such as Nexus4Change. I’m currently completing my certification as a Certified Family Business Advisor (CFBA) / Certified Family Wealth Advisor (CFWA) through the Family Firm Institute because I know my experience is only that—my experience. It doesn’t represent that of every family business and it’s wise for me to have a broader perspective.
Most of my study has been self-directed and informal via in-depth reading and ongoing one-on-one conversations, collaborations, and friendships with advanced practitioners in their respective fields. I’ve pursued my own curriculum and integrated what I’ve learned with my own experience, and I’m continually updating and refining my approach to make what I’ve learned practical and applicable for organizations of all types.
Now, through my consulting business Wide Margins, I’m having the fun of teaching, coaching, and consulting with executives, key leaders, and motivated individuals who want to learn how to see the hidden dynamics inherent in their lives and work, dynamics that, once understood, can be life-giving and soul-enriching to whatever living systems they are part of.
I’m having fun being a thinking partner to my clients, thinking with them instead of for them, as they face strategic uncertainty and complex organizational dilemmas.
I’m having fun introducing clients to systems thinking, giving them a new lens through which to view their family as well as their strategic and organizational priorities.
And I’m having fun watching people’s eyes light up as they gain more understanding into their own humanity, celebrating and better understanding the tensions inherent in being an individual while being in community.
This work is making a difference.
It’s bringing Hope. Peace. Grace.
Effectiveness. Goodness. Life.
Energy, Vitality. Direction.
What if… you could go beyond where you are now, beyond the numbers, beyond the bottom line, beyond the automatic, knee-jerk responses you and your organization are so accustomed to?
What if… your life—both personally and organizationally—could be qualitatively different?
What if… you could begin to see what you haven’t seen before, so that you can stay on the side of life, not death?
What if… there was room for the human soul at work?CONTACT