Gary is famous for asking; he wrote the book on it. He probes his clients with the only kind of questions that can produce change: unexpected ones. From the client’s answers, this dedicated Minneapolis leadership coach offers not just insights but alternative courses of action.
“There always are several good roads to Rome,” he says. “The key is to identify the one that best fits both your head and heart.” He focuses on the destination–and not the possible curves in the road–for a simple reason: most obstacles are artificial, and the rest are in our heads. “Clear your head,” he believes, “and the obstacles disappear.” This may explain why Gary’s clients call him “eccentric in exactly the right way.” Gary has yet to meet a client who wants to be ordinary, and he helps them enjoy unusual success by employing unusual approaches.
CEO experience: Managing Partner and Co-founder of CO2 Partners, LLC (2004), an Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Firm. Founded ACI in 1989 with $4,000 and two employees, then grew 48 percent compounded annually for 12 years to over 2,200 employees and went public on the NASDAQ. ACI was one of Venture Magazine’s Top 10 Best Performing Businesses and Business Journal’s 25 Fastest Growing Small Public Companies, and Gary was an Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.
Board memberships: All Kinds of Minds, Harvard Alumni Club of Minnesota, IC Systems, Inc., Richfield Bank, ACI, Telecentrics,, Outward Bound National Advisory, HBS Alumni Club of Minnesota (Past President), Minnesota Zoo Foundation among others.
Author: Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions (McGraw Hill 2009); articles for Business Week, Leader to Leader, and Forbes.
Clients: Unilever, Intel, Genentech, MetLife, Thermo-Fisher, and 100-plus entrepreneur-led businesses.
Education: University of Minnesota (B.A); Harvard Business School; Covey Leadership Center; Disney Leadership Institute; and Aspen Institute Crown Fellow.
Want to know more about Gary’s approach to leadership and life? Read his blog, Elements of Leadership.
Shana Finnegan is known for guiding and engaging established and emerging leaders through an inspiring process of resetting their vision for personal and professional success, realigning their growth curve to achieve the vision, and refreshing beliefs and expectations that empower healthy behaviors and habits. While each coaching engagement is unique, there is one common outcome for all: experiencing joy and fulfillment in the process of growth in both work and life.
Shana’s approach to coaching is rooted in a belief that even the most accomplished leaders benefit from elevating their vision, levelling the ruts in the road, and expanding limiting beliefs and behaviors. Her empowering and mindful coaching style uncovers truths and revelations that play a key role in transformation and forge a path to new levels of success and happiness.
With more than two decades leading and transforming successful companies, Shana can relate to the challenges of C-level leaders. She believes that real growth – the kind that elevates people and accelerates personal and business growth – happens when we are willing to unravel and disrupt ineffective beliefs and habits, embrace curiosity and new ways of thinking, push perceived boundaries and limits, and finish what we start.
As COO and leader of several technology businesses, Shana has deep experience in business and leadership change initiatives and bringing them across the finish line successfully. Her passion is assessing, recommending, and implementing enterprise-wide initiatives that position an organization for profitable growth and foster a high-integrity culture that attracts, develops, and retains the best talent to deliver positive results.
John Sandahl is a certified team and executive coach, change-agent, and team-development speaker with 20 years of experience helping teams and their leaders around the country achieve high performance through the power of connection and coaching.
John is an expert in facilitating any experience from very large group events to one-on-one personal coaching sessions, and has yet to meet a group or individual with whom he can’t find some common ground to start the change process. He has worked with well over 175,000 people over his career to date, helping them make change both personally and organizationally.
In addition to his work in the world of business teams, John has sustained a 20-year Ultimate Frisbee career while playing all over the world: he is a four-time national, three-time world champion, and former captain of Team USA. He also coached the US National U20 women’s team three times in the junior world championships in Finland, Canada, and Germany where they medaled each time. He is passionate about helping people learn to see each other (and themselves) in a better way, and has directed team-development workshops with the national non-profit Youth Frontiers for 14 years.
John has a B.A. from St. John’s University, and he trained with both Team Coaching International and The Coaches Training Institute (the standard-bearers of coach training organizations worldwide), where he earned the CTPC and CPCC certifications.
To maximize your own capabilities and to learn more about executive coaching and business coaching, contact John online.
John specializes in entrepreneurship, sales and marketing, and expansion in consolidating markets. Prior to becoming an executive coach, John was the national marketing representative of the year for John Wyeth, a Fortune 200 consumer products company. He also operated his own retail grocery business for fifteen years, grew revenue at double digit rates, and sustained 4% operational nets (1% industry average) while doubling the workforce head count.
Having successfully built and sold his company, John now shares his in-the-trenches experience with clients. His clients range from leaders in IT companies, retail and service organizations, to manufacturing firms. John prides himself on his ability to view opportunities from an elevation, whether it’s scaling a business, supporting development of a sales and marketing process, strategically aligning stakeholders, or improving organizational culture and communication.
John has a BS in Management and Finance from the College of Business, St. Cloud State University. He is an elected official for the City of Ramsey, seated on the board of directors for Achieve Services, as well as a commissioner serving the strategic direction of Quad Cities Community Television. He is active within civic organizations as well, including Rotary International, Lions, and Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce (where he previously served as chairman of the board).
Tom Schlick has over 30 years of experience as a customer-focused business operations executive. He is known as a transformational leader, successfully leading organizations through high growth as well as difficult turnaround situations. Tom moves confidently from vision and strategy to tactical development and implementation. He also has the unique ability to build cohesive, high-performing teams that can work cross-functionally in alignment with common goals.
Tom has held COO, SVP, EVP, and VP positions with P&L responsibility at small, medium, and large corporations, both public and privately-held. These companies include Johnson & Johnson (Sterilmed, Inc.), Emerson Electric, ACCO Brands, XRS Corporation (now part of Qualcomm), and Entrust Datacard. Tom’s industry experience spans healthcare/medical devices, process control, transportation/trucking, secure ID/financial services, and office products and equipment.
In all his roles, Tom has excelled at training and developing both individuals and teams, increasing their business acumen and preparing them to drive change in the workplace. From a functional perspective, Tom is particularly adept at delivering results through operational execution, developing customer service and new revenue streams, and leading global multi-site ventures.
Delivering Results through Operational Execution
Developing Customer Service and New Revenue Streams
Leading Global Multi-Site Ventures
Tom holds an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt. Tom has been a mentor with the MENTTIUM Corporation for over 15 years, mentoring high potential executives from many companies. He currently serves on the advisory boards of The Service Council and the Society for Service Executives. He was the past President of AFSMI (Association for Service Management International). In addition, Tom has been a guest speaker and panelist at several large national professional conferences focusing on transformational change. He shares a 7-step process he has developed to achieve faster growth and higher profitability—using Service as a strategic differentiator and by driving greater company value from industry Best Practices.
Mackenzie is an executive assistant (EA) with over 17 years of experience working with C-Suite executives, presidents, and founders in the non-profit, private, and public spaces. In addition, she has over 10 years of experience hiring, training, and managing administrative assistants—both to work on her team and to support other executives.
Two years ago, Mackenzie founded a virtual assistant firm that provides professional and personal assistance to owners and CEOs remotely. Due to quick success and increasing demand, she has already hired three additional virtual assistants (VA’s). As the leader of this team, Mackenzie ensures that the same level of integrity, dedication, and care given in a face-to-face environment is also given while working remotely. A thorough and fine-tuned training regimen is the key to the company’s success.
Alongside her role as the VA of the Managing Partner of CO2, she now coaches assistants on behalf of CO2, so that they are prepared for changes in work process and more responsibilities. Her coaching aligns with CO2’s values and best practices—asking questions designed to understand stakeholders’ investments and potential consequences; promoting self-awareness and a growth mindset; and acting authentically and non-judgmentally. Mackenzie believes that assistants ought to act as strategic partners with executives—providing essential front-line feedback, perceiving potential conflicts ahead of time, and making decisions that reduce workload, frustration, and confusion. Running her own company has only made Mackenzie more aware of the value assistants provide as strategic partners and front-line voices.
When she is not assisting the CO2 team, coaching EAs, or leading her company of VAs, Mackenzie can be found running, camping, swimming in the ocean or having dance parties with her two sons.
Carmen is a new leadership coach who believes in bringing the authentic, vulnerable self to both professional and personal settings.
Carmen began her own leadership career working in highly regulated laboratories. The process-driven culture initially informed her leadership style. She relied on processes, standards, and a black-and-white mentality to “lead” people. She recalls, early in her leadership career, saying, “I don’t want to let them know too much about me because we can’t be friends.”
However, she quickly realized that her true nature was to build relationships and, in order to be successful, she needed to bring that authenticity to her leadership practices. Carmen was rewarded for bringing vulnerability and humility to her leadership style when she was selected to participate in an exclusive (top 1%), high-level leadership development program for a large non-profit organization. The goal of the program was to create the next level of top executives over a three year time-span. As a result of the program, Carmen was given the opportunity to lead groups in a variety of departments including Operations, Sales, and Project Management.
During this leadership program, Carmen realized that her true passion was for developing leaders, not necessarily for continuing into an executive leadership role herself. In her peers, she saw the divide between their work and personal selves, and felt that divide was limiting them. The divide seemed to be creating, in her opinion, the feeling of “being caught in the hamster wheel.” Not only did it seem to affect the leaders but it trickled down to all people within the organization. Leaders were guarded, protective, and often in survival mode—and so, in turn, were their employees. As soon as the leadership program ended, Carmen switched careers and moved into talent and organizational development roles.
Most recently, Carmen held a corporate position responsible for strategic talent development of an 8000+ employee company as well as refreshing the leadership culture of said company. In that role, she’s asked leaders to bring a sense of emotional safety to the workplace and coached them 1:1 to be their authentic selves as they lead.
Coaching clients comment:
“I felt I was heard and understood by Carmen. One of my difficult directors resigned from the company exposing more areas of concern. Carmen was thoughtful as I expressed my concern and disappointment about this individual. I asked for her support to help guide me in a meeting with my direct reports to address the ‘elephant’ and develop a team-building workshop to start the healing of the team…. I found our coaching sessions very beneficial and felt like I had an action plan for my business unit, but also for me as I work on my true self to be present at all times.”
“I connected with Carmen at an emotional level and felt very comfortable with her. I could feel her passion/excitement in the tone of her voice. It really helped that she made me feel ‘human’ – that it was ok to feel/be the way I was – and that there wasn’t something wrong with me, per se, but that we would work on a plan for improving the quality of my leadership.”
“Carmen was able to identify some problem areas that I was (and had been) unable to put into words which was definitely a byproduct of my sense of being heard and not judged.”
Carmen also hosted numerous team-coaching sessions that encourage the practice of being vulnerable, authentic, and transparent. These efforts have resulted in an increased level of staff engagement.
Participants from team workshops have provided the following feedback:
“This workshop is exactly what [the company] needs more of. There is still a disconnect between the culture of service and the interactions we have both in the center and with middle/upper management. Carmen was amazing, mindful, and well spoken.”
“It was a great workshop that I would recommend for each team. A true eye opener.”
“Today’s session was great! I think you are an amazing fit for the work you are doing. I’m looking forward to partnering in developing the team. I would like to bounce some ideas off of you in terms of team dynamics and how to get them functioning independent of me.”
At CO2, Carmen focuses on leaders wanting to make a shift in personal leadership style to being more vulnerable and people-centric, teams that need to make a similar change in order to be more effective, and organizations aiming to adopt a people-first culture.
Carmen holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Mary’s University and has completed the full set of coursework for development coaching from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). Outside of coaching, Carmen is passionate about fitness, the outdoors, and enjoying her small family, her son, Lukas, and husband, Brian. She enjoys participating in extreme obstacle races like the Tough Mudder (she got electrocuted the last time she participated!!), camping in northern Minnesota, and watching her son play soccer. She connects with her authentic-self through yoga practice and travel.