We’re All In This Together!
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
As a Millennial, I’m really big on connection and collaboration. Growing up, I didn’t sit in neatly-arranged rows in a classroom. Instead, my generation was part of a new initiative that arranged classrooms into pods where children learned and shared ideas cooperatively.
I learned the same way in college, and it’s how I continue to learn today. It’s not just a neat idea or a fad in learning styles—it actually works!
When I started my first career out of college in surgical equipment sales, I worked for Johnson & Johnson. I was in operating rooms with surgeons all day, every day, selling new instruments to repair people’s bodies.
Because I was very good at what I did, I was flagged after a few years as a high-potential employee and given a stretch assignment to help develop new talent within my region.
I soon discovered my favorite part of my job was mentoring new hires. Without having the words for it, I fell in love with adult development.
I soon shifted to another global healthcare company, Bayer. This time I led a team selling multi-million dollar equipment to hospitals. I was able to convince Bayer that I was the perfect fit for a sales management position, even though I had no official management experience under my belt.
Unfortunately, in less than a year, I went down in flames.
As I have since learned, what makes someone a successful sales rep does not necessarily make them a successful sales manager.
Luckily, Bayer didn’t fire me, although they certainly could have. I couldn’t hold anyone accountable for results. I wanted everyone to like me. I often found myself doing the actual tasks of my team to ensure that things got done “right.”
However, that experience opened my eyes to the area of Learning and Development. I discovered there was an entire field focused on developing others, and it had a name—coaching.
Moreover, I discovered I could have succeeded in my first manager role if only I had a way to learn from others, a vehicle for knowledge transfer. Was this failure all mine? No.
As those of you who are internal coaches know all too well, our companies have a responsibility to grow talent for the next level of their leadership.
I realized that as an ambitious—and perhaps slightly overconfident—Millennial, I needed to step out of the spotlight, stop thinking only about my individual achievement, and start looking at light in a very different way.
I needed to start seeing light as the product of a flame, because a flame burns brighter when united with others.
At that time, I needed a purposeful space to be inspired by the insights and best practices of a diverse experience pool with whom I could collaborate and learn.
Ultimately, I left Bayer to open my first group coaching company, Red Zebra Consulting, in 2003. After a few years, I was recruited by a family-owned business in the industrial space to come in-house as an internal coach to help them create their next cultural iteration.
My role was not only to support the second generation of leadership as they took the company to the next level, but also to be an in-house coach for their executives and high-potentials.
I was also responsible for designing sustainable, formal mentoring and soft skills training programs within the company. As the head of HR, I was the one in charge of hiring external coaches and evaluating leadership programs, but the programs that vendors offered at that time, in the early 2010s, seemed ineffective and outdated.
I spent seven years working there, learning more than I ever dreamed. I learned the value of transparency and maintaining a robust, honest dialogue in business. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today if it weren’t for the generosity and advocacy I experienced from the leadership.
The Genesis of The PEER Revolution
After leaving the company, I created the PEER Group Coaching Framework built on my struggles, my needs, and my stories, after having unexpectedly beta-tested it by doing pro bono work with nonprofits.
I then began using it within Fortune 100 companies to transform workplace culture, make EBRGs (Employee Business Resource Groups) actionable, and ignite their talent pipeline, because we all, at every level, crave human connection.
We all want to feel like we belong inside our company.
When I started the company EDGE Leadership in 2013, I wanted to create space for the development that so profoundly transformed me to begin to transform others. Often, what we think is an individual experience, story, or challenge is really a part of a collective.
What I am facing, others are facing or have faced—two or three states away or in a cubicle right down the hall. The PEER Group Coaching Framework I developed isn’t only a vehicle for knowledge transfer. Through sharing and vulnerability, it empowers real change and transformation.
1:1 Coaching in and of itself is no longer enough—not for my generation nor in this new hybrid world we find ourselves. A shift needs to take place to work in conjunction with the old model. Now is the time for innovative development frameworks to teach what people need to know and in a way that maximizes human potential meaningfully—through connection with peers.