Hilari cited in Arizona Business Gazette

Success hangs on knowing when to seek help

Executives check egos, ask for advice

by Christia Gibbons – Sept. 11, 2008
Special for the Arizona Business Gazette

When “disastrous” was the only word Barbara Shuck could use to describe the interview her project manager just had on a proposed school building, she knew she needed help.

Shuck, marketing director for EMC2 Architects Planners in Mesa, brought in presentation coach Hilari Weinstein.

Weinstein, founder of Valley-based High Impact Communication, has been working with EMC2 for nearly two years through workshops and one-on-one coaching.
“Part of my job is to make the messenger more engaging,” Weinstein said.

The lessons took, Shuck said. Recently, the project manager who flubbed the presentation that got Shuck wondering what to do sailed through a presentation, winning the project.

“Hilari coached him to the point where he could be comfortable with an audience,” Shuck said.

To fill a gap, grow a business, take a business to the next level or change a corporate culture, some companies accept that their own assets and abilities may not be enough and turn to others.

Businesses have a large pool of consultants from which to draw. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2006, the most recent figures available, there are nearly 660,000 consultants in administrative management, general management, marketing, human resources, executive search and other management consulting services.

When Anita Lang realized her skill set didn’t equip her to grow her Fountain Hills interior-design firm, Interior Motives, aggressively enough, she turned to business strategist Catherine Marsh.

Lang has been in the interior-design business for more than 15 years and has taken her one-woman shop to 10 employees, but she sought help because she knew the company could do more. With Marsh’s advice, she not only has a second Interior Motives studio in Scottsdale, she has weathered an economic downturn that crushed others serving the housing market.

“Everyone has been given different gifts,” Lang said. “Interior design is my passion. I know people have other types of gifts, and I want to align with people with passion.”

Marsh said she takes on only about 50 percent of the people who approach her. Then, she digs into their financials.

“I find the money where I can and put it into marketing,” she said.

Alternative strategies

That’s not the only area where Arizona companies have successfully sought outside guidance, though.

HKS Inc. had been making waves in the health-facility-design business for quite some time.

But three years ago, the firm’s management decided that wasn’t enough for the international architecture firm headquartered in Dallas.

It formed an in-house advisory group composed of a former scrub nurse, a respiratory therapist and nine other health-care practitioners.

Mo Stein, principal and senior vice president heading the Phoenix office, said, “We joke about architects in scrubs, but we can only observe. Now, we have the people who have been there and done that.”

Terry Ritchey, a former chief nurse and now director of HKS Clinical Resources, said in the highly competitive field of health-care facility design, “it’s imperative to differentiate ourselves from others.”

The designers and the consulting group talk about health-care spaces, patient safety, staff workflow, noise issues, and such things as what is the best view to benefit the patient.

“(The advisory group) gets us closer to the real heart of health care: the patient,” said Stein, who is working on the Phoenix Children’s Hospital expansion.

Harmonizing demands

Corporate-culture consultant Jamie Showkeir considers the heart of a business the welfare of the employee.

“Jamie’s specialty is distribution of power,” said Kent Keith. He is the CEO of Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Indianapolis and brought in Showkeir to talk to his people. “Where you’re really good at listening to what people want and need, you can be more successful,” Keith said.

Skowkeir, of Henning-Showkeir & Associates, said, “We help harmonize demands for business results with creating an organization where there’s meaning and purpose at work.”

The author of the soon-to-be-released book Authentic Conversations, Showkeir – who has consulted for 3M, Disney and Hewlett-Packard – said, “All changes in organizations from mom-and-pop to big corporations involve change in conversation.”