Category: Personal Growth


Core Growth Participants Learn from Leaders in the Start-Up Community


Core Growth, Core Consulting’s emerging leaders program, often features guest speakers from various walks of life who share experiences and lessons learned that participants can then reflect on and take back to their own industries. Current class members are in month 6 of the program’s third installment and recently gathered at Bad Girl Ventures to hear from Nancy Aichholz, the accelerator’s Executive Director, and UpTech’s Managing Director JB Woodruff. Participants, who have all been selected by their respective companies to be in this leadership program, focused during this particular session on the importance of alignment in propelling an organization forward. Below are some bits of advice provided by Nancy and JB about the role of alignment in their professional and personal lives.

Nancy Aichholz

Nancy’s professional journey spans from the Director of Marketing at Chiquita to the ownership and operation of her own start-up, NanBrands (whose carrot cakes were featured in Nordstrom). This past experience led to her role at Bad Girl Ventures, supporting female entrepreneurs like herself. Having taken time off to raise her children and focus on political fundraising in between careers and starting her own business, Nancy is familiar with the importance of alignment. She recently hired her 7th employee at BGV.

Her advice?

-Engage the old and embrace the new

-Focus on recruitment and on-boarding to secure the right talent for your team and integrate them into the culture of your organization

-Clearly define and communicate roles at every level to avoid confusion

-Share the highest level of information appropriate to everyone involved; though this may be intuitive, it can also be mapped out

-Stay on the same page by engaging team members (with staff retreats, for example)

JB Woodruff

Now in a leadership position at UpTech, an accelerator for data-driven start-ups, JB graduated from Penn State with a degree in Information Science and Technology. After quitting as a tech consultant in 2012, he went to Kenya for 3 months to work at a startup accelerator, then spent another 3 months in Cape Town, ZA working with the same program. After this experience, he was hooked on the start-up scene and worked on his own projects before landing his current position in 2015. JB has had to juggle aligning his corporate, personal, and non-profit endeavors.

His advice?

-Set your expectations and make sure they are known and understood; eliminate ambiguity

-Understand and appreciate the context of interactions; personally, culturally, etc.

-Respect the necessity of employees to feel valued

-Build trust through actions and over-delivery on promises

-Seek feedback

-Find advocates through dialogue and clarity

-Combat groupthink; bounce ideas off those outside your organization and industry

-Never make assumptions

-Stay vigilant in reporting and checkpoints so initial alignment becomes continued alignment

-Find mentors

Core Growth participants, in hearing success stories from these two prominent leaders in the start-up community, are able to apply the concept of alignment to their own leadership roles. Learn more about Core’s emerging leaders program here. Next cohort kicks off in September! 


New Year, New Leaders

Core Consulting spent the large majority of 2016 helping organizations build strong leaders. We do this through client-specific partnerships and an open enrollment leadership program. And 2017 will be no different! With a regional utility leadership program kicking off in Chicago, continued client-specific curriculum underway, and another installment of our open-enrollment emerging leader class, we continue to help build the people potential of our valued clients. Thus leading to greater business success.

Hats off to our most recent graduates!











We ended 2016 with the graduation of our most recent Core Growth Emerging Leaders class. Core Growth is a 9-month public/open-enrollment leadership program for Greater Cincinnati high potentials whose span of influence and impact are growing in a meaningful way. Using Wiley’s Work of Leaders model as a framework, the program boasts:

  • Small class size
  • Hands-on, engaging and blended learning environment
  • Outdoor learning opportunities
  • Individualized development plans
  • Community service
  • Ongoing touch points with senior-level sponsors at participants’ organizations
  • Professional development at just the right point in an emerging leader’s career where they are proactively building positive leadership behaviors.

Culminating last November at the Art of Entertaining in O’Bryonville, Core Growth graduates enjoyed a recognition lunch with their Company Sponsors. We are grateful for the commitment of these individuals and are excited about the positive impact they will continue to make at their workplaces. Please join us in congratulating our most recent Core Growth graduates!

  • Angela Cook, Sanitation District No. 1
  • Angela Ozar, Bad Girl Ventures
  • Erin Grone, Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing
  • John Lipps, Ohio National Financial Services
  • Margo Hess, Centennial Inc.

What’s next for Core Growth?

The current Core Growth emerging leader class is in the fifth month of their program and will be graduating in May 2017. This will be the third graduating class since its inception in 2015.

Registration for the 2017 class is now open! Program kick-off is scheduled for September. For more information, visit our website at or contact Amy Clark at

We also work one-on-one with organizations to build emerging and executive leadership programs to meet their unique needs. From leadership strategy, to competency modeling, to program facilitation, Core Consulting’s team of senior consultants will work with you to design a meaningful and impactful leadership development program that will advance your business strategy forward. Reach out today to get started!

Camargo Pharmaceutical Services: Valuing Employees from the Get-Go

At Camargo Pharmaceutical Services, Erica Forrest and Stacy Schnieber have carefully cultivated a workplace culture in which a positive employee experience drives subsequent HR goals. In this edition of Core Shines a Light, we’re sharing a rundown of Camargo’s best practices.

Nurturing relationships with new hires: “We’re here and we care”

Camargo implements a 90-day onboarding strategy to engage new employees as they transition into the company. They’ve designed this strategy with a keen focus on the following attributes:

  • Relationship-building, identifying sources of motivation and expressing appreciation
  • Optimizing their HRIS system to streamline the employee experience and avoid disjointed and confusing paperwork
  • Creating checkpoints at two-week, sixty day and ninety day intervals to gauge progress, address concerns and give feedback

Camargo team members Andrea and Erica

The first two weeks at Camargo begin with honing in on customizing the employee experience with ‘get to know’ meetings/coffee breaks and networking opportunities with members from Senior Leadership (lunches and informal chat sessions.)

At sixty days, goals are set for the following quarter, to-date challenges are discussed and competency assessments are employed in order to identify ways to leverage employee strengths and areas of opportunity. Camargo has found that this gives direction and builds personalized strategies for achieving objectives.

At ninety days new employees benefit from an extended meeting with their manager, complete an employee onboarding experience survey with suggestions strongly encouraged.

Camargo knows that the path to success doesn’t end with recruitment and onboarding. Their continued efforts to fuel an engaged and productive workforce is evident in their strategies for nurturing ongoing relationships, such as:

Fostering positivity and productivity by understanding the importance of employee satisfaction through:

  • Wellness initiatives: fresh fruit provided, lunch & learns, flu shot clinic, mini-massages
  • Employee celebration for birthdays and achievements
  • Opportunities for ongoing feedback on a quarterly basis
  • Ongoing professional training and development

Finally, Camargo follows the onboarding process with a continual commitment to engage employees via:

  • Weekly all-employee, company-provided lunches
  • Philanthropic events (community 5K, Adopt-A-Family)
  • Regular team-building events and activities at local venues (the Camargo team strives to support small businesses in their local community. They support Pipkins for weekly fruit, holiday gifts from Benchmark and facilitate team building at Houdini’s Escape Room in Montgomery

We hope you’ve been inspired with the openness and commitment to team from our friends at Camargo! Their ongoing efforts to exercise effective HR practices while reflecting company values illustrate that their team really does walk the talk by recognizing that “your people are your core.”

Keep up the great work, Camargo!

Core Shines a Light is a periodic spotlight on Human Resources best practices in the Greater Cincinnati area. Interested in sharing your workplace’s best practices? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Amy Clark at

HR Would Be Better If…

Local HR guru Steve Browne (@sbrownehr) is hosting the Carnival of HR this week and has asked HR bloggers from around the globe to write about the following theme: “HR would be better if…” All posts must be in by January 14, so here we go (1.5 hours to spare)!

20140905_192850HR would be better if . . . We all took a big, no GINORMOUS step back.

Then go for a walk outside in the cold and crisp, yet therapeutic fresh air. Clear your mind. Breathe.

When you return, clear off a large space on your desk, break out an old-school pad of paper and pen, and reflect on the following questions:

1. What am I doing?

2. Why am I doing it?

3. What is the desired result? How am I helping the business succeed?

4. Do I have to be doing it this way? Is there a different way? A better way? A more efficient way? A more engaging way? A more impactful way?

5. If so, who or what can I learn from, connect with, leverage to get us there?

6. What will success look like? When/how often will I measure? Am I open to changing course midway? Am I okay with failing? How will I respond to failure?

7. At the end of the day, what am I doing to enhance the quality of our employees’ work lives? To make it more enjoyable? More fulfilling? What am I doing to restore humanity in the workplace? #YOLO

Now you’re ready to make a big, no GINORMOUS impact.

P.S. If your boss and co-workers give you funny looks for walking around the parking lot in the middle of January, ask them to join you next time. They’ll see the light. And your organization will be better.

What is a Blogging Carnival?

Taken straight from the Carnival of HR’s website: “A blogging carnival is a social media meme in which a group of bloggers submit blog posts to a “host” who compiles the posts into one collection that they then publish on their site on the prearranged day. The posts and bloggers are generally focused on an similar area of interest, such as Human Resources, and may or may not have a theme which unites the posts on a specific question or topic.”

Rita Wanted a Vision Board


It started over a latte at Coffee Please in Madeira. I was with two other women catching up on life – work, loved ones, real estate, local happenings…the usual. As the discussion shifted over to the Cincinnati Chamber’s WE Lead program, of which one of the women is a current class member, Rita chimed in:

“I would love to go through that program. I’ve heard about the Vision Boards they create, and I’ve always wanted to make one for myself.”

I shared that I created a Vision Board about seven years ago through a leadership program. I enjoyed the experience and kept it visible at my desk for years. Mine was definitely in need of a refresh though.

“Would you do one with me?” Rita asked. “The thought of siting alone with magazines, scissors and glue sticks is very uninspiring.”

I enthusiastically responded with, “Yes, absolutely!”

Later on that day, I received an email from Rita that kicked-off the planning process. The date, time and approach were all confirmed. We had decided to each invite an eclectic and “not-previously-connected” group to what had now become a Vision Board Party.

Fast-forward 1 month. I am sitting amongst 8 other women, most of whom don’t know each other, in Rita’s family room on a Saturday morning sharing coffee, mimosas, bagels and aspirations.

Rita wanted a Vision Board, so Rita threw a Vision Board Party.

Beyond the Vision Board: Lessons Learned

As I reflect on not only that morning at Rita’s home, but the entire chain of events leading up to it, I can’t help but glean some key take-aways from the experience as a whole:

1. Be intentional – You create the life you live.

Rita went from thinking about something she’s always wanted to do, to sharing that thought with others, to turning those thoughts into action. Isn’t it amazing how we can set our own course in life and create our own outcomes?

To add parody to the situation, this aim to be more intentional is also exactly what all of us sat down to do that morning. We considered our answers to questions such as:

  • What do you want to be known for? What mark do you want to leave on the world when you’re no longer here?
  • Why type of person do you want to be?
  • Who do you admire and why?
  • What are your passions? Do you fill them through work? Play?

I had an experience the same exact week that played out completely differently. I facilitated a Critical Thinking workshop for one of my clients in West Virginia. During the workshop, I was working with a breakout of four Case Managers and trying to get them to think more critically about some of the problems they face at work.

One of them told me that this exercise wasn’t applicable to her because everything she does is dictated by policy. I poked a bit and unveiled that one of her issues is when clients don’t meet state-regulated deadlines. She said, “There’s nothing I can do. It’s mandated by the state,” with her arms fairly tightly crossed and a rather unpleasant look on her face. I asked how clients are educated about those standards. She said they are told several times during their meetings. I kept pushing though…to get her to think more creatively, to uncover the root of the problem, and identify action steps she can take to change the outcomes of this situation.

Reading over the workshop evaluations, I came across two very contrasting and interesting comments:

  • “Critical thinking is good, but when in a case manager’s position, it doesn’t really make a difference because we go by policy.”
  • “Critical thinking is a big part of being a case manager.”

Are you approaching life with the mindset of being intentional about setting your own course, or with the mindset of having to work with what life has “handed” you? I’m thinking Rita would probably get along well with the person in West Virginia who wrote the second comment.

2. When you’re stuck, reach out for help.

Rita had been working her way through the book My Life Map by Kate and David Marshall. Several of the questions I listed above came from this book, so definitely check it out if any of those strike a chord with you. She reached the point in the book where she needed to map out her future, and she found it very difficult. She’s always had a hard time thinking about what she wants her future to look like, and determining how to get there.

This process was made easier for her by reaching out and involving others. She vulnerably exposed a personal challenge to those around her. When you find yourself in a rut or stuck on something, don’t quit. Just reach out for help.

3. Take a chance and don’t be afraid of what others might think.

I certainly thought to myself (and I’m sure Rita did too), “Are people going to think I’m nuts inviting them to a Vison Board Party on a Saturday morning? I’m sure they’d all much rather spend their time in other ways.” OH WELL, we had to quickly kick that thought out of our heads. If people thought we were crazy or just weren’t interested, there was certainly no obligation to come.  So happy we didn’t stop there.

4. Your energy and commitment are contagious.

At the end of the day, Rita was not the only one being intentional about her future. Though not originally what she set out to do, eight other women were involved in the process. I, for one, am grateful that her commitment to this goal spread into my world. Know that your energy and commitments – both positive and unfortunately also negative – spread like wildfire to those around you.

VisionBoard15. It takes persistence.

We grossly underestimated the time a Vision Board would take to complete. After about 3 hours, we realized that we had only gotten so far as cutting out our clippings, and we unfortunately had to move on to other Saturday activities.

But as with all good things in life, they typically don’t come easy. It takes hard work…and persistence. I happened to finish mine later that evening next to a crackling fire with beer in hand, but it was now up to each one of us to continue to work on what we had started.  And most importantly, to turn our visions into reality!

Thank you Rita – for your vision and persistence, and that coffee date in Madeira…

It’s Time to Start Having Honest Conversations

This post strays a little bit from my normal blogging, but it’s been something on my mind lately that I need to hash out on my keyboard.

We have a problem with trust in organizations today. Nothing earth shattering about that statement.  I personally believe it’s closely connected (unfortunately) to a much larger issue of trust in today’s world. I can’t blame anyone for feeling this widespread lack of trust. Our trust has been broken…too many times in recent years…often by tragic events…leaving us feeling vulnerable, yet also determined to look out for ourselves and those we love the most.  This sometimes comes at the expense of not developing relationships with those we don’t know.

The larger issue of lack of trust in today’s world deserves its own series of blog posts (and more!) that I cannot provide, nor am I qualified to provide. What I can do though is reflect on how I’ve seen this lack of trust play out in organizational life and offer at least one suggestion for how we can start making it better.

I’ve been working in some facet of organizational development for more than 10 years, most recently running an OD consulting practice. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with organizations of all different sizes, industries and global footprints, and I can say that all of them (and they would agree) could benefit from making one thing a priority:

Developing the ability within their employees to have honest conversations with each other.


Honest conversations. They’re not easy. If they were, we wouldn’t have so many performance issues, miscommunication, ambiguous expectations and unclear definitions of success. As a consultant, I’ve seen this play out in a different light than when I was working inside organizations. I’m now hearing the honest conversations as an unbiased third party, but I’m the wrong person for them to be directed to.

One of many things we can do to increase levels of trust within our organizations is to start being honest with each other. We have to start somewhere, and I believe one place we can all make a difference is by making a personal commitment to have honest conversations with our colleagues, managers, and team members.

Try it this week. I venture to bet you’ll feel a sense of relief and will also realize more constructive outcomes than you’ve possibly had in years. What’s holding you back? Let’s work together to reframe our discussions in the workplace. Back to the basics with this one. #honesty

3 Strategies for Responding to the “Growth and Development” Plea

professional growth

A consistent theme amongst many managers I’ve been working with lately is uneasiness with and uncertainty around providing “professional development and growth opportunities” for their team members. Many are overwhelmed and some, let’s be honest, even resentful of this more and more consistent request from their employees.

If you’re in this boat – you’re not alone! Below are three strategies to help managers respond.

#1 – It Takes Two To Tango.

First thing first – the pressure should not solely fall on the manager. In today’s business landscape, managers need to serve in the roles of coach and connector…not lone soldier decision maker and approver. Get your employees engaged with their own request and have them take ownership of it.

Ask them to spend time thinking about what they want their growth at your company to look like and come back with three options to discuss with you. You might need to coach them through those options and also connect them to resources to help make it possible, but continue to have them take ownership of the actual implementation and offer quarterly check points (that they schedule) to touch base on how their action plan is coming along.

You’ll often have a greater understanding of the long-term goals of the organization, so one thing you’ll want to keep in mind as you coach them through their options is how the development plan can add value to key strategic business priorities.

#2 – There are MANY forms of development and MANY career paths to pursue.

Managers and individual contributors are both guilty of thinking that the only possible solution to this “professional growth” plea is a promotion into a management position. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Start thinking of management as a career field – just like any other field such as product development, marketing, sales, training, accounting, etc.

Management is only one career track of many that employees could pursue at your organization, but you may need to help open their eyes to that. At the end of the day, employees just don’t want to feel stagnant. They want to be challenged; they want to grow and learn new things; they want to feel like what they’re doing is adding value to something greater than them. This is a good thing – a positive shift we’ve seen in the workforce over the past several years. We just need to learn how to tap into this energy and drive in a positive and constructive way.

Below are a few examples of other paths and development opportunities outside of management that your employees might be interested in pursuing without even realizing it.

  • Specialized program and/or project management responsibilities
  • Increased client responsibility (larger accounts, new territories, etc.)
  • Subject matter expert team training specialists
  • Research and strategy-related responsibilities
  • Onboarding mentors/buddy roles for new hires
  • Departmental communication and/or marketing “champions”
  • Cross-functional team liaisons
  • Tactical team planners

#3 – Exploring alone is growth.

Once the manager and employee understand that this is a shared responsibility, and once eyes are opened to the various possibilities, then individual exploration needs to occur to determine the most appropriate path. Good news is that this exploration itself is growth! Encourage your employees to become more self-aware and answer questions such as:

  • What are my natural strengths? Am I currently leveraging them? How could I be leveraging them to a greater extent?
  • What are my professional interests and passions? What am I doing when I feel the most fulfilled at work?
  • Am I interested in job shadowing other roles as I explore future possibilities?
  • Do I have a mentor, outside of my direct supervisor, who can help me through this process of self-exploration?

Again, this plea for growth and development is a GOOD thing, so let’s reframe the way we’re approaching it.

What other strategies have you used to address this need? Please share!