What our clients are saying
“When I co-founded Hornall Anderson in 1982, we were a three-person design shop. Nearly 35 years later, we’re a fully integrated strategic, design, and interactive agency with 150+ staff throughout our Seattle, New York, and London offices. And we have established long client relationships with many Fortune 100 and 500 companies, including Starbucks, PepsiCo, Airbus, Empire State Building, and Alaska Airlines.
When I first took a meeting with Virginia Rhoads in 2001, I was operating like a machine—extremely focused on our creative product and financial results, but was a reluctant CEO who hadn’t yet embraced the role of leading an office full of people. I was instantly taken by Virginia’s presence. She’s an extremely good listener and has terrific insight. After our first one-hour meeting, she suggested there was rich material to investigate—that I owed it to myself, and my company, to make certain I was the most inspired leader I could be.
I’ve always believed in team sports, and I wanted to find a way to leverage what I intuitively knew to create a more embodying team. Virginia and I worked together, individually at first, and I immediately saw a seismic shift in how I operated in both my private and professional life. Over the past 15 years, most if not all of my executive team have frequently worked with Virginia and John.
Twice in the past six years, the full executive team has participated in a 3-day executive sailing retreat on the Adventuress. That was powerful—we broke down barriers, created a whole new group dynamic, established shared goals, and built an unconditional trust that enabled us to move through decisions faster to become a high octane team. When we returned to the office, the entire staff could see the leadership team was truly invested in each other, and that we had each other’s back. Today, we’re doing teeth-gnashing great work that people want to be part of, attracting the best talent, and sustaining lasting relationships with our clients.”
Jack Anderson, Chairman, Hornall Anderson
“Our agency business had been growing quickly, we’d brought on clients such as Staples, Costco, Kaiser Permanente and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and needed to expand the leadership team. To be honest, I was struggling to stay ahead of it, to know how, and where, to lead us next. So I asked the CEO of a large and successful creative agency, “What’s your secret sauce?” and he said: “Virginia Rhoads.” A year later, my business partner and I had gone on two Jempe Center retreats, then taken our entire top leadership team there for two more. We also have regular sessions via video-conference with Virginia and John from our offices back in L.A.
What have I learned? To find clarity and power, to simplify. Virginia and John helped me strip away “the trying” and align with what’s authentically my own. As a result, I’ve never felt more deeply and daily congruent. Leading is no longer a struggle, peppered with second-guessing or self doubt, but effortless, connected and invigorating. There’s a freedom in that. I feel it when I lead team meetings, when I’m on a call with the CEO of a brand client, or a top writer we are aiming to hire. Before, by Friday afternoon, I used to feel utter exhaustion. Now I’m eager to keep going. It’s no longer about proving myself, rather proving how Gates Foundation can change the world of education, how Staples can lift the world of small business owners. Our growth continues apace: Redbird is now listed on the Inc Magazine’s “Inc 5000”, a tally of fastest growing companies in the US.”
Susan Gates, Co-Founder/CEO, Redbird
“At a party I heard one of my friend’s wives talking about her husband, how much he had changed recently. I wanted my wife to be able to talk like that about me. My friend was being coached by Jempe Center and had made significant shifts in his life. I was intrigued. I’d done a lot of business coaching but not got the results I’d hoped.
I started working with John McConnell and he hit on something immediately. I thought I was someone who was prone to discouragement. He showed me that was a fallacy - I brought it on myself. But more than that, he gave me tools to make it stop. He got me to sit in a chair and identify where the feeling of discouragement was. He showed me that if I create that idea, I can stop it. It was empowering.
Jempe Center then had a retreat to India coming up. It was a huge opportunity to immerse myself in this work, get away from my environment, shut out the outside world - really do this - so I went. In one of the workshops we recounted our life stories. Oh, that session was a wake-up call. For some reason I felt like the moment in Aladdin where the Genie screams, “Mayday! Mayday!” When the feedback came it was swift and very direct. I was told I was addicted to giving off a perfect persona. They were right. I was totally inauthentic. But they gave me concrete tools to put my new vision into action and, vitally, accountability so I’d stick to it.
A few months later I was out hiking with the group who’d gone to India and they asked me how my plan was going (to leave the family business and start afresh). I said I had a great job offer, but thought I’d probably turn it down and stay where I was. “OK,” she said, “Well, at least you’ll know where you’re going to be in five years then.” That’s all it took. I faced my fears, talked to my father who was great about it, and took a new job, which is a perfect fit for me. Since then my income has significantly increased and I’ve enjoyed so much success. I’m where I’m meant to be. And most importantly - I’m who I want to be.
Since my work with Jempe Center my annual income has increased 10 times. In 2008 I spent around $15,000 for the program. I know it sounds impossible, but my return on investment over the past 8 years has exceeded 18,000%. While the financial rewards have been significant and really fun, the best part has been learning to truly value myself and my talents, to engage and be present with my wife and children, and to be a truly authentic friend who cherishes deep connection. Perhaps my greatest joy has been watching the difference in my children as I have the tools to help them see the opportunities of life and to empower them to believe in themselves. I’m where I’m meant to be. And most importantly - I’m who I want to be.”
Aaron Tyler, Union Bank Residential Lending, 2010-2015 President's Club Winner
“I had just reached General Manager level at Microsoft. As part of their on-going investment in leaders, my boss told me there was a budget allocation for executive coaching, and she gave me a shortlist of approved coaches. I picked John McConnell. I had my “Aha” moment nine months in. John suggested we do our next coaching session while rock-climbing. To be honest I did an inner eye-roll (but rationalized I could get my workout in at the same time). Yet I learned more on that day than I ever expected, particularly about how I’d created a tough and businesslike persona to survive the corporate world, and how exhausting it was to maintain. John worked diligently with me on physical and mental tools to thrive in high stress situations. I became strong, centered, calm and my power as a leader doubled from that time on. I had a new, invaluable, perspective on what it takes to lead - effectively. Overall, I received more results out of one year of leadership coaching with John and Virginia than I have in the last 17 years of management and leadership training combined. These conversations have changed my life. The bottom line is that I am a happier, more fulfilled, and effective leader."
Denise Rundle, General Manager & Partner, Microsoft
“Jempe Center helped me redefine my very concept of success. I went there first on a group retreat through work. I thought it would be an opportunity to upgrade my leadership abilities, build on my strengths and craft a vision for my future. I got all that, and more. But what I really received was an exceptional opportunity to gain clarity on my career so far, define where I wanted to go, become accountable and meet challenges. I can’t explain it, but, after Jempe, everything shifted. Within a year my entire life moved in the direction I had envisioned, through the work I did with Jempe."
Susan Vosper, Assistant Vice-President, Seattle University
“I was traveling in China when my (then) boss mentioned he’d been doing some great coaching and leadership training, and suggested I give it a try. I was open to it and said yes. I’d got to a certain level in my career, but I wanted more. I knew there were things that were missing, and I’d sacrificed aspects of my personal life, and my health, to get where I was. What Jempe did was enable me to become more integrated, to bring my passion, values and skills together. I had done coaching before, undergone various professional development programs, including personal counseling but what Jempe offered was a real solution. I got more out of my time with John than all that prior work combined.”
Ben Bennett, EVP North America & International, FindMyPast
“Through the work I’ve done at Jempe Center I’ve become a more authentic leader, on a more solid path. It enabled me to switch direction and go into something I’m incredibly passionate about. Virginia and John are both great individuals, doing great work. Honestly, without the conversations I had with both of them throughout the process, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”
Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft