I just got back from an incredible week of reconnecting with friends and family in the UK. England is stunning this time of year and I was able to fill my senses with the beauty of our green and pleasant land. Lying on the grass in the middle of a field full of buttercups, inhaling the distinct smell of sweet British summer meadows in the Derbyshire Dales, surrounded by birdsong and the sound of the bubbling creek nearby is where I long to be. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to reconnect with some of our HERD students and graduates too. We spent a fabulous day nerding out, practicing facilitation skills, and hanging with a wonderful herd.

Time seemed to slow down in these moments of connection: dinner with colleagues at a local pub that was straight out of Faulty Towers; an evening spa date with a dear friend; dim sum with my nephew as an early birthday treat; a quick coffee with a friend and colleague en route to an impromptu meeting with another friend whom I haven’t seen for 8 years who also happened to be in town; and family dinners that stretch into the early hours while we catch up on each other’s lives in ways that aren’t available via Zoom or Facetime. It’s in these moments that I find myself drinking in the love and laughter, greedily gulping it down with hopes of filling my cup with more, knowing that these moments will help sustain me through the inevitable homesickness that will hit me when it’s all over.

While I am deeply grateful for the life we have built in the States, and I’m more American now than British in some ways (so I’m told when I go home to the UK), that yearning for the feeling of home is always with me. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of home linger for a while before being replaced by the heat and humidity of the Floridian summer, complete with daily thunderstorms and the threats of hurricane season. There are additional risks too these days inherent in international travel. My husband just tested positive this morning for Covid-19 (again), no doubt from the 9 hour transatlantic flight. So far, I’m negative but I’ll be amazed if that lasts.

All this got me thinking about the risks that we take to build connection. It’s a vulnerable state of being when we open ourselves to others. We risk putting ourselves in harm’s way, be it from disease or the unbearable knowledge that disconnection will follow. It’s worth it though, isn’t it? To be seen and heard is terrifying sometimes, but when we are met in that space and embraced for all that we are, it can feel like coming home.

That’s the feeling that we want to cultivate in our HERD Community. Take the risk and join us in person at our conference in September. I know I’ll get the post-conference blues, but I’m so looking forward to connecting with you all!

Executive Director

Find Your Growth Opportunity Here

I’ve been on a crazy, wild ride these past 14 weeks. Last September, I applied for a scholarship to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and was accepted in the Spring Cohort. The program is like a mini-MBA, with a grueling schedule of about 20 hours a week studying, geared towards creating a “5 Year Growth Plan” to be pitched to Goldman Sachs executives and fellow scholars at the end of the process. It was a LOT. I was thrown back into the corporate world that I had intentionally left behind many moons ago, and I questioned my competence, capacity, and capability every step of the way. Not to mention my sanity for embarking on this journey voluntarily. I found myself doing a deep dive into my motivations for growing The HERD and what I really wanted to offer. Underneath it all, I discovered that the catalyst and “why” for doing what I do was all too familiar.

I’d been struggling with something that I didn’t realize many small business owners face. Despite surrounding myself with a team of trusted colleagues and creating a community of like-minded folks, running your own business can be a lonely experience. By inviting my friends to work with me, I’d introduced a new dynamic in our relationships where I need to set clear boundaries. I can no longer go to them with my struggles and frustrations in the same way, particularly if it’s related to how I’m feeling about team dynamics and/or management challenges. I’m also spending more time on the daily to-do lists of running a business rather than focusing on what sets my soul on fire in client work, teaching, and writing.

The outcome of the whole Goldman Sachs process was to produce an investor pitch that would talk about scaling my business, exploring growth opportunities to increase revenue and gross profit, and provide evidence of competitor advantage. After all, we exist in a capitalist system of scarcity that has primed us to view our peers as competitors. While I learned a lot and developed skills that I never thought I could, it also confirmed for me that my abundance mindset and collaborative spirit means that I’m not “in it to win it”. In turn, this means that my growth opportunity will look very different to the intended outcome.

For me, personal and organizational growth occurs when our personal and professional values are aligned. Arnold Beisser, a renowned Gestalt therapist, talked about the paradoxical theory of change, wherein change occurs when we become more of who are and not through attempts to become who we think we should be (I’m paraphrasing). My growth opportunities are abundantly clear: to find ways to collaborate more with leaders in the field to create more opportunities for learning for all. My hope is that we can also support each other as business owners so that we don’t feel so alone. The good news is that we are already doing this through our upcoming Sharing Space with The HERD Conference.

Industry leaders from the various training providers of equine assisted services will be joining us for panel discussions and presentations: Lynn Thomas from Arenas for Change (ARCH), Bettina Shultz-Jobe from Natural Lifemanship, Kathy Alm from PATH International, and Leif Hallberg, creator of the Embodied Awareness in Action™ program, and myself will be sharing the stage to discuss what collaboration looks like between us and what growth opportunities are available to us all. I am grateful for each of these incredible leaders and practitioners for supporting and sponsoring this conference. I am looking forward to connecting more deeply in this space.

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Join us and discover what your growth opportunities are. What are you waiting for? Register now!

Executive Director