Maybe it’s because I’m the middle of seven kids that I’ve always seen myself as a facilitator.
When people ask me what I do, I tell them I am a facilitator, a coach and a bridge-builder, helping groups of people find the best ways to connect their thoughts and feelings through conversation. The more contentious and complicated the ideas, the more exciting the challenge. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to helping virtual and hybrid teams collaborate. When you factor in cultural and language differences, navigating through communications challenges becomes a lot more interesting.
I jumped into the world of virtual teams and virtual meetings more than 21 years ago, on 9/11 to be specific. My biggest clients insisted that my 2-day onsite workshops suddenly had to be done virtually. Since there were very few resources to draw from back then, I became an early expert in this new field of remote work and through trial and error.
My first book, Leading Effective Virtual Teams, was published by CRC Press 10 years ago. I’ve been learning, writing and teaching about distributed teams ever since, whether they’re hybrid teams or virtual teams.
I feel lucky to love what I do. One reason is that my clients’ challenges are so varied, and we learn from each other all the time. As president of Guided Insights, I get to wear a lot of different hats: Meeting facilitator, virtual leadership coach, facilitation skills trainer, business writer, workshop designer, cross-cultural communications consultant, virtual trainer, keynote speaker, and more.
Most of the time, I work from the comfort of my home office, situated in a small town northwest of Boston, where I can look out onto my back woods while I facilitate meetings, run virtual training workshops and participate in all kinds of calls with people around the world, day and night. (And sometimes I work with clients on location, wherever they are in the world.)
When I am not working for Guided Insights, I act as a facilitator for the Communities for Restorative Justice, working with youthful offenders who struggle to make reparations and get back on track. The foodie in me likes to teach cooking (Thai and Indonesian are specialties), serve elaborate dinners, grow my own vegetables, and impart my love of good food on anyone who’s willing to listen, including (sometimes) my kids.