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In a World of Outside Influence, Be Yourself

By Maggie Frye, Founder & Principal Consultant at Core Consulting Group 

This is the second installment of a three-part series titled “In a world of.” To read the first installment, click here.  

We live in a world not short of opinions. We are influenced by several inputs multiple times daily. How do we learn to listen to ourselves in such a noisy world?

 Know Yourself

It starts with a very intimate relationship with yourself. What are your core values? What brings you fulfillment? What are your triggers? What are your strengths? What are your physiological ebbs and flows throughout the day? What’s your spirit animal? OK – really only added that last one for laughs.

In all seriousness, your answers to these questions help you cut through the noise and just be yourself. Let me give you an example. My body requires 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If I don’t get it, I get headaches and become useless to the world. A close friend of mine functions very well on 5-6 hours with zero negative health defects. And I’m pretty certain my husband requires 10. I don’t let their routines influence me and my decisions. I prioritize my time and commitments around my need for 7-8 hours of sleep.

There’s rarely a black and white answer to life. This is where knowing yourself comes into play.

Trust Your Gut

Once you know yourself, you must make a commitment to listen to yourself. One of my all-time favorite authors and leadership gurus is Robert Greenleaf, originator of the servant leadership philosophy. In his essay, Servant as Leader, Greenleaf writes, “Intuition is a feel for patterns, the ability to generalize based on what has happened previously. Wise leaders know when to bet on these intuitive leads, but they always know that they are betting on percentages. Their hunches are not seen as eternal truths.”

Listen to yourself. What feels right? What doesn’t? And like Greenleaf said, find comfort in the fact that intuition is built by experiences and lessons learned. It’s not hocus pocus.

A very recent example of this for myself was a decision I had to make between a family commitment and a work commitment (happens all the time, right?!). In this instance, I had an outside influence persuading me somewhat heavily to choose the work commitment. But that path just didn’t feel right to me. I struggled with my decision for about 4 days until finally I realized that if I’m this torn, clearly my instincts are trying to tell me something. Once I had this “aha” moment, I made the decision and felt great about it. Zero guilt.

Bring About Necessary Endings

At the 2013 Leadercast event, Dr. Henry Cloud spoke about the key themes in his book Necessary Endings. He shared that, “The tomorrow you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things you are doing today.” Dr. Cloud equated the process of bringing about “necessary endings” to that of pruning a shrub. It’s the best buds that need the resources of the vine. These resources will be scarce if they are being spent on sick or plateaued branches.

What do you need to prune? What baggage do you carry around that came to you via way of outside influence, but that you really don’t need or want to be a part of your life? Perhaps it’s those 300 holiday cards you send. Or the 10 boards and committees you sit on. Or your pursuit of a social network that brings status versus friendships. Stop keeping up with the Jones’ and instead re-focus on your values and priorities.

Be yourself. Own and relish the uniqueness and gifts that are only yours; for that’s why you’re here.

In a World of Immediacy, Persevere

By Maggie Frye, Founder & Principal Consultant at Core Consulting Group 

I order Starbucks from my driveway and expect it to be sitting at the counter when I arrive. I click on toothpaste and expect it at my door in 24 hours. I visit my internet provider’s website and get frustrated if the Chat representative cannot solve my problem in the 3 minutes I have in between meetings.

You are reading this blog post with about 2 more seconds of attention before I’m able to hook you.

Immediacy. We expect it. We’ve fallen victim to it. However, sustainable success as a business leader is not immediate. My experience as a small business owner over the past few years has taught me this lesson, which at times has felt like nothing shy of an iron fist straight to the gut.

One thing I’ve learned is that those who rise above in a world of immediacy are those who demonstrate a relentless perseverance in their pursuits.

Perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success

So how can you practice perseverance in a world that contrastingly builds the expectation of immediate results?

  1. Have a plan and work your plan.

Results and success don’t just happen. You have to build a strategy around how to achieve what you want to achieve, and then you have to work your tail off to execute that strategy.

  1. Be flexible and contextually intelligent in an ever-changing environment. 

You will need to pivot from the original strategy, because nothing ever stays the same. Don’t throw in the towel just because Plan A isn’t working; that’s what Plans B-Z are for. Back to the white board.

(Resource Alert! I had the privilege of hearing Matthew Kutz speak about contextual intelligence this week, which is a critically important competency to build strength in as a leader. Visit Matthew’s website to learn more and to order his book:

  1. Identify and celebrate milestones.

Our ultimate destination may take some time to reach, but small wins are happening all around us every day. Don’t discount them. Fulfill your need for immediacy by identifying milestones and pausing to celebrate. But don’t pause for too long-you have more work to do!

To follow along with the “In a World of ” series, visit and subscribe to our blog.

Core Shines a Light: The Value of Purpose

Over 300 leaders in the Northern Kentucky area convened Friday, May 5 for a full day of leadership development. Leadercast, the world’s largest one-day leadership event, was simulcast to the local host-site in Erlanger where Core’s team members had the opportunity to discuss what it means to be Powered By Purpose. Nine speakers with differing backgrounds and varying levels of experience were given a platform to discuss how purpose has played a role in their professional and personal lives. Feeling inspired and empowered, our team found many valuable takeaways from the day. When asked who and what stood out from Leadercast, here is what Core’s team had to say:



“Everyone was designed with purpose in mind,” says Andy Stanley, a powerful leadership communicator and best-selling author. Purpose is the reason for which you exist and there is a human need to do work that is meaningful and driven by purpose. It is challenging to connect work with purpose because it comes with a price. What is the price for a purpose-driven life? Andy’s answer shared with the Leadercast community was simple… you need to be willing to move beyond “me.” If you want to be powered by purpose, simply start by serving others.

Whether your greatest contribution in life is something you do or someone you raise, Andy believes centering your focus around the service of others will bring more meaning to life. You can position yourself for a more purpose-driven life by doing these three things:

1. Begin looking at everything you do through the lens of means. Selfless leaders are willing to be the means to an end.

2. Pay attention to what stirs your heart.

3. Surround yourself with on-purpose people.

Thank you Andy Stanley for encouraging many to think beyond themselves and to do more for others.


5 Jobs of a Leader (as shared by Dr. Henry Cloud, best-selling author and clinical psychologist)

1.     Vision: Leaders live in the future. Get into the mindset of “what can be.”

2.     Talent: Acquire, align and develop the right talent who will bring the vision to life.

3.     Strategy: Answer – How are we going to get there? Formulate a strategic plan.

4.     Measures & Accountability: Answer – How will we know we’ve been successful? Hold people accountable to hitting those measures of success. Ensure your people have an “intimate relationship with reality” if things fall off track.

5.     Fix & Adapt: Keep eyes and ears open at all times, and with all stakeholders. Be keenly aware of the environment around you. Continuously assess how things are going and make adjustments as necessary.

As a leader, you don’t need to have strengths in all five of these areas; rather, you need to make sure all five are present and working effectively. Surround yourself with complementary strengths. Thank you Dr. Cloud for another year of sharing your expertise with the Leadercast community!


Oftentimes, I find myself getting wrapped up in day-to-day minutia: checking off to-do list entries, making plans and figuring out where I’m supposed to be the next minute, the next hour, the next day. I’m sure others can relate to the feeling of just getting by. The common denominator here is that we’re usually serving others in most everything that we do. For me, this year’s Leadercast: Powered by Purpose event served as a beautiful, empowering reminder to slow down and realize that there’s power in the minutia when a mission of serving others stays at the forefront. That’s the point of purpose!


A common theme woven throughout Leadercast was a discussion about how purpose is often overlooked and lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day. Something that everyone can surely relate to is looking back on the week and having successfully completed a number of tasks, but perhaps not giving any real thought to why. Sports agent Molly Fletcher talked about living with intention, which doesn’t always come naturally. She says that when we change WHY we do what we’re doing, it changes WHAT we do. I think there is so much value in recognizing that our schedules don’t have to dictate our lives, rather we are in control of what constitutes our schedules based on what is important and valuable to us. Here are a few other tidbits I found useful from Molly Fletcher’s session:

  • Fearlessness comes from a curiosity of what is possible in our lives; it can only be achieved by living in the present. The past says: What if I would’ve? The present says: What if I can?

  • If you are unhappy, have the courage to change your story. Start now!

  • Find out who deserves your energy and you will be able a more effective leader.

  • Broaden your focus and realize that the mosaic consists of those day-to-day’s. Little moments create BIG outcomes!

Core’s programs and services are designed around the principle of servant leadership, so it’s no surprise that our team found value in the connection between service and professional success. As we strive to be effective leaders, Core continues to be an organization that is Powered By Purpose.

Building Greater Cincinnati’s Potential, One Leader at a Time

At Core Consulting Group, we believe strongly in people’s potential and help power your organization’s success through your people via a variety of leadership, communication, strategy and team effectiveness services. We are excited to announce yet another class of local graduates from our Core Growth emerging leaders program.

Culminating on May 18 at Season’s 52 in Norwood, 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!

  • Danielle Bonkowski, Business Manager, Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing
  • Amy Clark, Operations Manager, Core Consulting Group
  • Valerie Forsyth, Communication Specialist, Sanitation District No. 1
  • Jay Hove, Scientific & Regulatory Manager, Camargo Pharmaceutical Services
  • Brett Little, Assistant Director, Ohio National Financial Services

Core Growth is a 6-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
  • A variety of guest speakers
  • 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

What’s next for Core Growth?

The 4th Core Growth class is launching in September 2017! Registration is now open, and Early Bird pricing is available through July 31. 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!


Message to Cincinnati Start-Ups: The critical importance of a people-centered growth strategy

The Queen City was in the top five metros in terms of the percentage of entrepreneurs remaining employed from 2015 to 2016 in the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. They were also ranked number 24 overall in the rate of new entrepreneurs and density of start-ups. The entrepreneurial scene that has taken hold over the last several years continues to fuel Cincinnati’s economy and shape its culture. Home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, Cincinnati’s start-up scene is an interesting collaboration of partnerships between corporations and small businesses. From sustainable start-ups to networking conferences like FounderCon and regular events centered around entrepreneurship, the city is teeming with opportunity for growth. Just search #StartupCincy if you’re not convinced.  

The city’s start-up network is bursting at the seams with resources. Incubators like HCDC’s Business Center and Bad Girl Ventures, along with accelerators such as UpTech and the Brandery provide a range of programs designed to transform ideas into small businesses, all with a slightly different niche. Funding and research is available through organizations like Cincy Tech, and most resources fall under Cintrifuse, a venture development investor that works as an umbrella under which much of Cincinnati’s start-up ecosystem falls.

The value of HR for entrepreneurs

An important task for new business owners is assembling the right team and establishing practices for engaging and retaining employees. Core Founder Maggie Frye finds that start-ups often approach human resources too narrowly; focusing on paperwork, risk management and employment law. Don’t get me wrong – these are all critical to the success of your start-up; however, equally critical is the human dynamics piece. Your employees are vital in shaping the cultural norms of your organization and will ultimately be representing your brand. As we often say around here, “Your People Are Your Core.”  It’s people who will propel your business forward – nothing more, nothing less.

Maggie is a member of the advisory board committee for Bad Girl Ventures (playfully named the Avengers), a start-up incubator that backs female entrepreneurs through a variety of programming, mentorship and access to funding. Core puts an emphasis on talent strategy and prioritizing competencies and values to help shape talent acquisition messaging and collateral to attract the right team. For example, if you put the time in up front to strategically profile a new role and cultural fit, you can use that profile to write a job description, draft interview questions, select assessments, etc. A workshop on “discovering your strengths,” led by Maggie last year for BGV’s Grow program, also echoed a more strategic and human approach to talent strategy. As does Core’s HR and talent curriculum embedded into BGV’s  Launch program.

Featured start-up with people-centered strategy: Hive

For Andrew Savitz, one of three founders of the Hive app and graduate of UpTech’s accelerator program early last year, it was important that his initial team consist of those who seek initiative. The app creates playlists for users based on the swipe of a 30-second clip; think Tinder for music lovers. Beyond providing visibility for new artists, Hive focuses on connecting musicians with record labels and updates users via their blog about the most popular trending artists. A passion for Hive’s mission and a bold attitude are crucial in looking for new employees, says Andrew. These attributes establish a culture of creative independence at Hive, where individual accountability pushes team members to their full potential without micromanaging.

“We try focusing on culture, the team being close to each other, and the mission of the company…finding passionate people who are willing to take reduced salaries to work on something they actually care about and have fun. It makes the talent pool much smaller, but when you find the right person, it really works.”

Andrew expresses gratitude for team members who go out of their way to do things without being asked and rewards behaviors where autonomy is exercised for the good of the company. Business leaders need to remember to reward the behaviors they want to see repeated; and constructively address the behaviors that they don’t (the first time!).

What’s your talent strategy?
As Cincinnati’s entrepreneurial landscape grows and changes, the necessity for acquiring and retaining the right talent for your team will remain. Ensuring the success of start-ups like Hive means being very intentional with recruitment. As the saying goes, “Hire slow. Fire fast.” Tap into the wealth of resources geared toward start-ups in the tri-state and contact Amy Clark  at Core for more information on leadership programs, consulting services, and workshops for your new business.

Persistence Pays Off

Source: Colin Tsoi (

Source: Colin Tsoi (

Do you know how long it took Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Just over four years. Four years. On one project. Wow. Good thing Michelangelo doesn’t live in an era where our average attention span is 8 seconds.

But look at what resulted. One of the most globally recognized paintings in history.

Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel randomly came to mind this weekend as I was reflecting on a project I’ve been working on for about six months now.  I needed to remind myself that achieving goals requires PERSISTENCE.


persistence 2

You can’t expect overnight success and immediate results, particularly when you’re aiming for sustainability. Think about campaigns, new programs, or change efforts for example. Right about the time you start to get sick of it, others are just starting to tune in and get curious about it.

So how can we be persistent about the goals we’ve set out to achieve? And, how can we cultivate persistence amongst others when we’re working as part of a larger team?

Keep your eye on the prize. If it’s an extensive project, you’re bound to get lost in the weeds. Pull yourself out from time to time and remind yourself of the larger end goal. Make sure your actions are always strategically directed at that end goal.

Assess the project rationally. Don’t let emotions like frustration and possibly even rejection take over. When we throw in the towel and stomp away, no one wins. Think about what changes you might need to make to your original approach and be willing to make them.

Put yourself in others’ shoes. Think about those less involved in the day-to-day details of the project; maybe even the target audience you’re trying to impact. Meet them where they are and make sure you’re addressing the needs they need fulfilled.  You will likely already be three steps ahead, which isn’t always a good thing.

Keep the project team engaged and motivated. You can do this in several ways, such as:

  • Break the larger project into smaller chunks so that a “newness” comes with each phase.
  • Recognize and celebrate milestones at various points along the way.
  • Take time off to focus on something else…even if just very temporarily. You’ll come back refreshed.

Mentally prepare yourself to deal with unforeseen roadblocks. Michelangelo didn’t want the Sistine Chapel project to take four years, and in fact, several of the reasons it took so long were beyond his control – damp weather and illness to name a few. But these things came up, and he dealt with them, and his original game plan changed. There will be detours and roadblocks that effect your project. Period. Persistence will help you get through them.

But (There’s Always A “But”)

Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance. ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo

Sometimes we give it our all and it just wasn’t the right path, for whatever reason. Trust good mentors and colleagues and be receptive to feedback to know when to let your persistence go.


70:20:10 – A Model for Organizational & Lifelong Learning


You know those handy people who can do just about anything like repair a leaky faucet or hang wall décor without it looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa? If you’ve ever asked these “chosen ones” how they learned all that random stuff, their response was probably something extremely anti-climactic like, “I don’t know…I just know how.”

Since that response is not helpful, let’s dive into a more analytical explanation for them – a theory known as the 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development (which all of you L&D folks reading this post know plenty about). Typically credited to originating from the Center for Creative Leadership and having been around for more than five decades, this familiar model for workplace learning is also useful to understanding how we learn just about anything in our lives. It states that we learn:

  • 70% of what we know through hands-on experience and practice;
  • 20% of what we know through other people (colleagues, bosses, mentors, social networks, etc.); and
  • 10% of what we know through formal learning (classroom instruction, books, etc.).

At a networking event this past week, I was taken a little off guard when someone randomly asked how I learned my trade. My first instinct was to respond with the same anti-climactic response I mentioned above, “I don’t know. I just know what I know.” After all, how often do we stop to think about how we know the things we apply in our personal and professional lives day after day?

After a brief pause though, I responded with, “Experiences and mentors.” It rolled off my tongue rather quickly, but it was so true. I’ve been fortunate to work on several diverse and dynamic projects and project teams throughout my career.  I’ve also served on volunteer boards, taught courses at universities, and contributed to community programs and events. I’ve likewise been incredibly fortunate to have been both supported and challenged by mentors all along the way. Yes, I have the undergraduate and graduate degrees, and yes I’ve had formalized training…however, it’s the experiences and relationships that have taken that foundational classroom theory and instruction and turned it into a fruitful career.

Check out the brief 4-minute video below where Charles Jennings, Managing Director of Duntroon Associates in the UK, shares some of the research and applicability of the 70:20:10 theory and what it means for organizational learning.

As you watch this video, I challenge you to think of the following:

  • In what areas do you wish to grow? What does your individualized learning plan look like? Make sure you’re thinking beyond the typical register for this training or attend this conference, to things like what experiences can I position myself to gain; what people can I surround myself with; what social networks can I connect with?
  • If you lead a team, organization, or L&D function, ask yourself…How can I align growth opportunities for my team to this 70:20:10 model? What does the environment need to look like? What resources could I share? What connections can I make? What questions can I ask?
  • If you lead trainings, workshops, and other structured learning events, ask yourself…How can I incorporate “real”, hands-on learning into the session? How can I get participants to engage with each other and learn from one another? What post-learning event experiences could help participants immediately apply the classroom instruction?

Need help designing a learning strategy for your workforce? I’d love to partner with you. Just fill out the Contact Form, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Enjoy the video and Happy Learning!

photo credit: Neil. Moralee via