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Catalytic Conversations

Catalytic Conversations

By Wendy Dickinson Ascend

We explore the volatility business owners face every day. During this time of economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, everyone is looking for answers. We hope to give you ideas for your recovery plan.

Catalytic Conversation offers you, the listener, the opportunity to gain insight from the experiences of others. Each guest shares with you key pivot points, “failures”, and how each navigated the many transitions of ownership.
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Consciously Profitable: Psychological Safety is a MUST

Catalytic ConversationsApr 07, 2021

Consciously Profitable: Psychological Safety is a MUST
Apr 07, 202137:18
Goldilocks & The 3 Buyers: Interview with Dan Scherotter, Filament Business Advisors

Goldilocks & The 3 Buyers: Interview with Dan Scherotter, Filament Business Advisors

Picture this - you’ve worked for years to build your business.  You hope to retire in the next five or six years.  You will use the money from that sale to buy the family a relaxing cruise, invest some for retirement and finally, do what you want to do with your time.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, for many who hold that dream dear, it doesn’t work out that way.  It happens for a lot of reasons.  Sometimes, the market conditions aren’t right.  At other times, owners get in their own way.

Today you have the chance to get the insider view of the transaction at the point of choosing the best fit buyer.  Dan Scherotter, a broker and strategy consultant with Filament Business Advisors, has a background in the restaurant industry.

Dan is a former chef and restaurant owner.  Dan has a finger on the pulse of the restaurant industry.  As a consultant and broker for Filament, Dan is going to discuss with me the unique aspects of selling a restaurant, asymmetrical buyers and how the past year has “laid the industry bare” structurally.

First, you need to sit down and define your priorities.  What do I mean?

  1. Do you know what your financial outlook is?
  2. Can you afford to take an earn out or reinvest part of the proceeds of a sale?
  3. What are the tax implications of the sale for you personally?

Many owners don’t know what they actually need to realize from the sale of their business.  Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  But, it’s true.  I recently heard of an owner who thought (no data, just thought it) that he/she needed to walk away with $3M to be comfortable in retirement.  As it turns out, $2M was the magic number and that business sold and the owner was able to take an earn out for a larger purchase price based on forecasted earnings.

Think about your other priorities:

  • You want the company to stay in your town.
  • You want the new owner to keep all of the employees for at least a year.
  • You want to continue acting as part of the business development team.
  • You want a seat on the Board.

These requests are reasonable if they are presented in a professional manner and the owner has created a strong position as a valuable company.  The likelihood of those priorities being accepted depend on the value of the company, and the timing of the ask.  This is another incident where the right advisor is critical.

Let us know what you think: Wendy Dickinson, Ascend Coaching Solutions, 804-372-7575,; Dan Scherotter, Filament Business Advisors, 804-728-1553

Apr 02, 202159:40
The Wolf On Main Street: Interview with Michael Mitchell

The Wolf On Main Street: Interview with Michael Mitchell

Today we look at the process of selling your business.  You may hear of this process referred to as The Deal or the Transaction.  Your deal, or transaction, is the culmination of your years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears.  The amount of money you walk away with is dependent on a number of variables.  I hope that your biggest takeaway for my shows this month is that preparation is your key to successfully selling your business.

Selling your business is a process.  Today, I want my guest to give you a peek at what happens behind the curtain of the deal.  I want you to be ready for the business colonoscopy.  I want you to be so prepared, so ready, that you don’t feel a thing!

We’re going to talk about the things owners do that get in their own way, that they do wrong, or how they subconsciously sabotage the entire deal!  This happens all too often.

KEY ISSUES: Problems You May Encounter:

In my experience, these are the obstacles that owners don’t prepare for, lead through, or navigate successfully, during the transaction.

1.   Owners don’t really know what their priorities are before they begin the transaction process.  It is too late to think about the well-being of your employees once the purchase agreement is signed.

2.   Owners don’t think about who their ideal buyer is or what their attributes should be.

3.   Owners don’t really know how much their business is worth.  Michael recommended the Goldilocks method - ideal price, acceptable price, minimally acceptable pricing.  It is very important to get the pricing right, to attract the interest that you want.

4.   Owners have built the entire business around the owner.

What You Need To Know - THE WHAT:

Folks, you need to know what other companies in your industry and in your geographic area are selling for – I encourage you to do some market research.

If you belong to an association, ask for the names of other owners who have successfully sold their company. Get in touch with them and find out what their experience was like and what they would do differently if they could have a redo.  I also recommend that you listen as closely to what isn’t said as to what is said in those conversations.

Next, make sure you build relationships with advisors who have had experience as part of a deal team.  That experience will be a huge source of strength during the transaction process.

Almost every deal has moments where the door opens to renegotiate the purchase price, or an accounting practice is questioned, etc.  you want your advisors to be calm, professional, and to add value to your position, not detract from the value of your company.

Here are the steps that Michael outlined for your transaction:

  1. Get your business appraised.
  2. Talk to your accountant.
  3. Determine the kind of sale you will execute.
  4. The book of information is written.
  5. Advertising.
  6. Attracting and educating the buyers about your company.  NOTE: This is the time to get those prospective buyers to submit their personal finance documents and to sign an NDA.
  7. Letters of Intent are submitted and the top prospects are chosen.
  8. Due diligence begins.
  9. Purchase and sale agreements with terms and conditions are signed.  Transaction closes.

Michael Mitchell, Business Research Group,, or 1-804-381-6667.  Visit Michael’s website here.

Mar 30, 202159:42
Prepping your Business To Sell: Interview with Mike Metzger, Murphy Business Sales

Prepping your Business To Sell: Interview with Mike Metzger, Murphy Business Sales

A lot of you plan to sell your business one day.  However, the odds of successfully selling your business are against you.

Did you know that there are ways to stack the odds of selling successfully in your favor?  Today Mike Metzger of Murphy Business Sales and I discuss the steps that you can take to prepare your business to go on the market.

We look at the things that you can do to build value in your business.  We discuss the most common mistakes that business owners make when putting their business on the market.  Mike and I want you to know what you don’t know.  What you don’t know can definitely hurt your business.  Finally, Mike and I share our recommendations for steps that you can take to prepare your business to sell, and then integrate successfully once it’s sold.

I think you’re going to want to take notes!


  • 4 out of 5 businesses that go up for sale, don’t successfully sell.
  • Of the businesses that close the deal, 80% fail to integrate successfully.
  • 73% of business owners are unhappy with the results of the sale of their businesses 1 year out from the close.
  • Over 60% of business owners are planning to use the proceeds from the sale of their business to fund their retirements.

KEY ISSUES: Problems You May Encounter:

  1. Owners don’t really know how much their business is worth.
  2. Owners have built the entire business around the owner.
  3. Owners have failed to build value within their business - value to a prospective buyer, that is.
  4. Owners fail to run the business successfully once the transaction occurs.
  5. Owners don’t get the timing right.
  6. Owners don’t have the right advisors.
  7. Owners don’t have a communication plan for their team and word leaks.

What You Need To Do - THE HOW

  1. Get a valuation by an independent source.
  2. Consult your financial planner to determine the amount you need to live comfortably in retirement.  Could you manage an earn out, or reinvest as minority owner?  If so, for how much?
  3. Develop relationships with a broker, attorney and accountant who have this kind of expertise.
  4. Take a 2 week vacation and don’t contact the shop.  Use this as a stress test. Anything that “broke” while you were gone was a weak point that needs shoring up.
  5. Find out what the steps are and what the process looks like for your business.
  6. Conduct an inventory, a cash flow analysis, account receivables over 90 days are considered a lost cause.  Collect on those ahead of time.
  7. Consider the “curb appeal”.  Clean and spruce up ahead of time.
  8. Prepare your team, and your customers, for transition.  It will cost you if your key performers/customers up and leave once the deal is closed.


  1. Mike Metzger, Murphy Business Sales,, or 1-804-617-6328.  Connect with Mike on LinkedIn here.
  2. Visit my website, to get your free downloads here

Mar 30, 202159:54
Profitability: Savings on Fixed Costs with Mick Wienholt

Profitability: Savings on Fixed Costs with Mick Wienholt

COVID19, racial reckoning, economic uncertainty, the upcoming election….

Each is a complex, impactful occurrence.  Together - the challenges keep every business owner ready to take up the fight, flight or freeze reaction in our reptilian brains.

McKinsey recently reported that some industries will take up to five years to recover.  Others were able to pivot and navigate the new government recommendations with some success.  In the messy middle are those businesses that are working through the complexity one step at a time.  The small businesses have sustained most of the economic punches of this crisis.

Each owner’s experience is different.  So, take what we talk about today with the knowledge that there is no silver bullet, or one size fits all or a magic pill.

Key Issues - ​Owner Perspective:

  1. Impactful steps to improve the balance sheet, prune away the dead costs, and overall profitability.  This is beneficial to both selling and reinventing.
  2. Improve the company's retained earnings and position those earnings for potential ability to self finance.
  3. Prioritize and then execute fixed cost operations that can be achieved with a minimal amount of disruption, and maximum savings.
  4. Visit my website at and DL my free PDF on  Four Steps to Pandemic Survival.
  5. Visit Mick Wienholt of Schooley Mitchell, at, or email Mick at

What You Need to Do

  1. The Predictive Index reported recently that 39% of CEO’s have placed strategy development as their #1 priority.  The 2nd?  Talent Strategy.  And, the 2 are intertwined.
  2. Consider a change to the method of Depreciation - is there short term gain, or not?  (Selling the Business - NO) Does this option offer long-term gain?  (Reinventing the Business - Maybe).
  3. Could a change in the method of Amortization offer a reduction in fixed costs, and an increase in profit? (1) Full amortization - loan to zero at the last payment date, (2) Partial amortization - paying less over time with a closing payment of the final date, (3) Interest only amortization  - at the end of term principal is due,(4) Negative amortization - less than interest only with a large payoff.
  4. Look at your company’s Insurance policies: what would a short-term shop with the lowest cost provider and reduce benefits to minimal levels offer for Selling the Business, and for Reinventing the Business.
  5. Collect data on compensation throughout the company.  Look at Salaries: how would choosing to top grade all positions.  Segregate and identify candidates in the bottom 10%.  Designate those positions for separation or part-time and devise a plan to execute on that decision. This would be a benefit for those of you who want to sell the business. If you plan to reinvent the business, it may also be a benefit - weigh the implications.
  6. For your equipment rentals & leases: if you have multiple leases from different manufactures (1) consolidate leases with one financing agency.  This would be a benefit for both selling and reinventing the company.
  7. Consider reducing all back end expenses by 10% - run a cost/benefit analysis, then decide.

Mar 15, 202159:52
Franchising: An Expert's View with Gus Iurillo

Franchising: An Expert's View with Gus Iurillo

Any business owner will tell you that owning your own business is a lot of work.  If you listen to stories of the how and why of different businesses, it will amaze you to hear the twists and turns that a lot of people have gone through to get to that place.

Business owners are as varied as the different types of businesses.  They have different reasons for getting into business - some are moving away from a career they didn’t like, or are moving toward the start of a great idea.  They have different experiences with work, consuming products and financial resources. They also have different levels of tolerance for risk.

But, how can you mitigate your exposure to risk?  Many believe that franchises are the way to go.

Today we look at franchises with one the most successful franchise experts in the country, Gus Iurillo of The Entrepreneur's Source.  Gus will give us tips for choosing a franchise, and what to watch out for.

Failure is possible.  Franchisees do fail.  You have the opportunity to determine what those possible failure patterns are and take steps to guard against them.  Here are just a few:

  • Inept franchisees.
  • Franchisee reluctance to follow the formula.
  • Misalignment between the franchisee and franchisor.
  • Lack of funds.
  • Poor people skills.

Gus has developed a process for his clients to follow.  He guides them through the decision making process.  Gus and his clients look for fit, adequate resources, support offered from corporate, etc.

What You Need To Do - THE HOW

  1. Do your research.
  2. Know your numbers.  Determine the amount you are comfortable with risking.
  3. Look at the market, industry, and franchise ups and downs.
  4. Learn the lingo.
  5. Research the different franchises.  Determine which are the recession proof.
  6. Begin the application process.
  7. Set up your discovery day meeting.  Bring your questions along with your growth mindset.
  8. Apply for financing.
  9. Hire a reputable business attorney (I recommend Scott Simmons.) to review the contracts.
  10. Get the training and support you need to succeed.

At this point, I have to recommend Gus Iurillo of The Entrepreneur’s Source.  Connect with Gus on LinkedIn here.  You deserve to succeed.  Set yourself up for success.


  1. Why Opening a Franchise Business Is Better Than Starting Your Own”, Harsh Pancholia, March 26, 2017,
  2. Why Franchises Fail”, Richard Gibson, April 30, 2007, WSJ.
  3. The Pros and Cons Of Buying A Franchise”, Jared Hecht, February 27, 2019,
  4. Guide To Buying A Franchise” by Marisa Sanfilippo, August 27, 2020,
  5. Work The Bugs Out: Practices To Work In, & On, Your Business, by Wendy Dickinson, Publish: TBD.  Excerpt: Free Downloadable PDFs to work through.
Mar 12, 202159:54
Next Gen Prep: Curriculum for Family Businesses

Next Gen Prep: Curriculum for Family Businesses

This episode is from the Catalytic Conversations aired on IBGR.Network every Friday at 2 pm Eastern.  This was the Season 4 opener.  Let me know if you liked it, have questions, or suggestions for other topics you'd like to hear more about.  Thanks for listening!

Creating a family legacy is hard work.  Fewer than 20% of businesses make it to the fourth generation.  Why is that?  What contributes to the failures from one generation to the next.

A favorite resource is the PWC Family Business Survey series.  Today was take a look at the challenges for those in power to prepare the next generation for leadership.  Using the PWC Global Next Generation Survey from 2019, we will start off with a few discussion points:

  • Gaining top level experience is the #1 priority for NextGens in increasing their skills.  48% would like to do more shadowing/mentoring, 43% feels the need to network more with peers, 42% would like to gain experience outside of the family biz, 41% would like to gain international exposure.
  • The “incumbent” generation is not answering the call by and large.  2018’s Survey found that only 15% have succession plans and 44% had none.
  • Here are the skill Next Gens say are most important for the business and they need the space to make mistakes and gain experience in these areas:
    • Problem solving and strategic thinking 72%
    • Leadership 71%
    • Financial Management 57%

You, and your family, have dedicated significant resources to building the minds and confidence of your Next Gens.  But, are you willing to take this a step further – actually several steps further?  By designing a succession plan?  By creating a list of company needs that you present to the Next Gen to explore fit?

It takes courage and patience to hold the space for the growth and development of the Next Gen.  Identify learning and experience goals that yourNext Gen leaders can use to fill their knowledge and experience gaps.

  1. Begin by setting next gen up to be the best version of themselves.  The relationships between family members as well as with the business itself is explored, developed, and nurtured with the idea that the business will continue into perpetuity.
  2. Next, consider how far each person could go in leadership development, and in what areas (be specific!).
  3. Create a family employment policy - explore the roles waiting to be filled by the next generation.  Identify who might fill what roles, and how well the person fits the role.
  4. Organize regular family meetings.
  5. Develop a continuity plan for the family and for the business in the face of transitions of leadership, ownership, governance, and the family assets.

You can connect with Wendy Dickinson on FB, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  Visit IBGR.Network to download the full set of show notes.

Feb 22, 202137:02
The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Mavis Tang, Co-Founder of Soundé

The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Mavis Tang, Co-Founder of Soundé

Have you forgotten what it felt like to start your business?  I’ve lost count of the number of business owners who have said, “If I had had any idea how hard it would be to get this business where it is today, I’m not sure I would’ve done it.”

Business owners usually nod their heads at this.  Yes, it was hard.  But, you learned a lot.  Many of the lessons learned at that point in the business get lost or forgotten as the company grows.

We’ve talked about innovation and disruption as well as pivots this year.  The pandemic emphasized the importance of scenario planning and contingency plans.  A number of businesses have gotten really creative and changed the way they do business.

How do mature businesses reconnect with that entrepreneurial spirit to reinvent the product, product delivery or the business model to compete in this marketplace?

My guest today is Mavis Tang of Soundé.  Mavis and her co-founders have brought a new product to an old market. I believe in their mission, vision and value proposition.  I invite you to listen to the path Soundé took, and let the possibilities for the future wash over you as you reimagine the business you lead.

This episode is from my weekly radio show on IBGR.Network.  I hope you enjoy it!

What the (O) needs to Know - Pay Attention to Alignment
  • The key Need To Know for an Innovator.
  • The things that surprised Mavis.
  • The steps Mavis took to prepare for ownership.
What the (O) Needs To Do - Aspire, Align, Accomplish
  • The people Mavis and her co-founders go to when they have questions.
  • Mavis’s strategy for dealing with conflicting priorities.  It’s all about communication.
  • The strategies Mavis and her co-founders have for dealing with conflicting opinions.  They respect and honor the vision first and foremost - agreement flows from there.
  • The advice Mavis offers to others out there who have an idea for a business.
  1. Check out Sounde here.  Soundeapp is coming.  Sign up for the newsletter so that you and your family know when Sounde will be ready to beta test.  Can’t beat the price!
  2. 5 Obvious Mistakes First-Time Founders Make That Sink Their Startups” by Megan Holstein,, Medium, Dec. 2020.
  3. Decoding Quantum Thinking: What It Feels Like To Think Free”, by Kashyap Vyas, July 20, 2019.
  4. Disaster Preparation and Recovery For Any Size Business”, by Wendy Dickinson, Ascend Coaching Solutions, 2020.
  5. Why Design Thinking Works”, by Jeanne Liedtka, HBR, October 2018.
Feb 19, 202159:57
Vince Burruano: Thinking Outside of the Box

Vince Burruano: Thinking Outside of the Box

This was a special episode from my weekly radio show, Catalytic Conversations, on IBGR.Network radio on Fridays at 2 pm Eastern.  Vince Burruano, VP of Sales for the Commercial Division of JK Moving, is a leader to learn from - you can download the full show notes at IBGR.Network.

I’m currently working with several companies dealing with sales team crises.  One company has had three hires for the sales team without any success.  Another has had a sales manager who was successful pre-COVID and finds the current business landscape so difficult, he’s no longer able to lead.

I invited Vince to give us a snapshot of his innovative approaches to building a successful sales team.  Vince is a lifelong learner who is a student of leadership.  This was a valuable hour for picking up new ideas.

You are all here to learn.  A lot of you, like my clients, learn best by first hand experience.  Is it really necessary?  Vince is here to help you learn about the importance of sales leadership in growing your business.

Today you have the chance to learn through another leader’s experiences – saving you time, money, and energy.  I’m always happy to learn from someone else’s examples, aren’t you?

Vince outlined a number of steps to consider taking when evaluating your business talent needs:

  • Perform an honest assessment of your business.  Ask a trusted associate to help ensure you are seeing the world as it really is, and not how you think it is or should be.
    • Business culture and performance overall.  How is the customer experience?  Are you able to differentiate your offering from other competitors?  Do you create a positive memorable experience for those clients that engage your business?
    • Your sales organization.  Is it an asset or a liability?
    • Skills.  How good are they at the basics?  Are they growing professionally?  Can they develop organic business, or do they rely on leads from the firm?
    • Is there a defined and written sales process that incorporates best practices?  Is it continuously evaluated and tweaked for maximum impact and results?
    • Accountability.  Are goals clearly defined, measured, and areas needing improvement addressed?  Does everyone understand their mission and how it fits into the overall business?
    • Leadership.  Would a dedicated sales manager add value?  Could they drive your business to the next level while you focus on the big picture?
    • Development and Continuous Improvement.  Is everyone getting better each day?
    • Results.  Is your sales team creating profitable revenue?  Could they do even better with the right focus and support?
  • Are you the leader you need to be?
  • Manager vs. Leader – Managers do things right while leaders focus on doing the right things well.
  • Are you inspiring others to be their best?  Is your why believable?
  • Are you developing new leaders in your company?  Leaders are always in short supply and they are the cornerstone of all future growth.
Feb 18, 202159:35
Michelle Seiler Tucker: Selling The Business Guide

Michelle Seiler Tucker: Selling The Business Guide

Many family businesses come to a place and time where the decision is made to sell the family business.  While many families would prefer to pass the business on for generations to come, sometimes that isn’t possible for unforeseen reasons.

I recommend to all business owners that they actively plan for the sale of their business - regardless of their ideal exit.  Why?  Because it is always great and empowering to have options when you are ready to exit.

For some owners, taking this seriously will allow them to reverse engineer a viable asset instead of merely a job from the business they’ve worked so hard to create.  My guest today, Michelle Seiler Tucker of Seiler Tucker Inc. and author of Exit Rich, has had 20 years of experience buying, selling and growing viable businesses.

Michelle has designed a process with tools to equip business owners to build value within their businesses.  Today, she shares the ST GPS, and the 6 Ps of value that every listener can integrate into their exit preparation.

KEY ISSUES: Problems You May Encounter:

  1. Business that is built around the OWNER, not with systems and processes that allow the business to function separately from the owner.
  2. Business owners who do not know the actual value of the business based on cash flow, profitability, and the documentation to prove it.
  3. Owners who don’t have a vision for their next chapter in life.

What You Need To Know - THE WHAT:

  1. Have to know your numbers - what you need to bring that vision for a next chapter to life, an independent valuation, and a clear view of the profitability of the business.
  2. The opportunities that exist in your industry.  IF your business is in a dying industry, selling becomes more difficult.
  3. Michelle Seiler Tucker outlines the many missed opportunities she has witnessed over her career in Exit Rich.

What You Need To Do - THE HOW:

  1. Check out the ST GPS.
    1. Determine your destination (sales price).
    2. Know your current location (the value of your company).
    3. Identify who your buyers will be.
    4. Know your time frame.
    5. Determine your WHY.
  2. The 6 Ps:
    1. People - right team?
    2. Product - niche or intellectual property
    3. Process - Is your process efficient and/or proprietary?
    4. Proprietary - IP, brand, patents, trademarks, etc.
    5. Patrons - customer concentration, etc.
    6. Profits - Are you operating at the highest profit margins for your industry?


  1. Exit Rich, by Michelle Seiler Tucker, available NOW on her website.  Check out the resources Michelle offers those who dive into Exit Rich.
  2. Work The Bugs Out: Practices To Work In, & On, Your Business, by Wendy Dickinson, Publish: TBD.  Excerpt: Free Downloadable PDFs to work through.

You can connect with Wendy Dickinson on FB, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Feb 17, 202159:44
Culture Essentials: The WHY Institute with Guest Dan Dominguez

Culture Essentials: The WHY Institute with Guest Dan Dominguez

This is interview was a part of my weekly radio show at IBGR.Network.  Catch Catalytic Conversations every Friday at 2 pm EST.

Building Culture and Teams

Culture in any organization can be difficult to define, as well as communicate.  The issue of defining and explaining culture in a family business is even more complex.  At the same time, leaders in a family business have a responsibility to not only define and explain culture, but to also equip themselves and the next generation to lead through culture changes.  It’s complicated for the family and for those in the organization outside of the family, isn’t it?

At the same time, the WHY Institute believes that knowing the WHY of the company, it’s leaders and those who make up the organization is an important part of sustaining a family business for future generations.  The WHY Institute founder, Gary Sanchez, was inspired to reach  out to Simon Sinek after his famous TED Talk to ask how a person goes about discovering the WHY.  Simon didn’t know, but supported Gary in his efforts to devise a scientifically sound way of discovering your WHY.

Today I have a conversation with Dan Dominguez of the WHY Institute.  Dan shares his experiences in working with family businesses, and the individuals within those organizations, on discovering their WHY, their how and their what.  Each leads to greater clarity and ability to communicate the mission and vision to employees as well as ideal clients/customers.

Strong Culture is linked to:

  1. Happier Employees
  2. Greater Productivity
  3. Higher Employee Engagement
  4. Higher Profits

Knowing the Why, the How, and the What of the company AND the people in an organization helps build a strong company culture.

According to the PwC, 2019 Family Business Survey, over 50% of family businesses did NOT plan to pass the business on to the next generation.  One of the reasons was a lack of interest on the parts of the younger generation.  Dan and I wonder if a lack of clarity around Why - for the company and for the next generation, contributes to that statistic.

Companies and individuals can investigate the process of Why discovery by exploring The WHY Institute’s website:


  1. Dan Dominguez, The WHY Institute, contact Dan at
  2. Work The Bugs Out: Practices To Work In, & On, Your Business, by Wendy Dickinson, Publish: TBD.  Excerpt: Free Downloadable PDFs to work through.
  3. 2019 US Family Business Survey, PWC, January 2019.
  4. 8 Reasons Why Organizational Culture is Important,
  5. The Statistical Case for Company Culture,

You can connect with Wendy Dickinson on FB, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Feb 16, 202159:32
Handley Watches: Innovation & Durability

Handley Watches: Innovation & Durability

Feb 15, 202159:46
The Right Wire For Hire – Seven Hills On How To Stay Current
Jul 28, 202032:00
Capabilities + Capacity = Strategic Responses Worth Doing

Capabilities + Capacity = Strategic Responses Worth Doing

Capacity+Capability= Strategic Responses Worth Doing

This episode of Catalytic Conversations gives you a chance to weigh the value of a strategic response versus a knee jerk reaction.

No judgment here.  This group of people have a wealth of experience, with the curated wisdom to make those words go down easier.

Jeff Miller and Randy Asbell are sales gurus.  They are business owners who help build out sales teams (Jeff) and processes (Randy).  The two also model collaborative relationships at their best!

Here’s what Debra, Karen and I took away from this conversation:

  1. Panicky, knee jerk reactions are common.
  2. COVID19 was an opportunity for many to build operational excellence.  In sales, this looks like a team with a high EQ.
  3. Operational excellence leads to an increase in capacity, & capability which results in valuable strategic responses.
  4. Resources that we all love:
    1. Grant, a documentary on Ulysses S. Grant
    2. Simon Sinek’s latest, The Infinite Game
    3. Bob Johansen’s Full Spectrum Thinking: How to Escape Boxes in a Post Categorical Future

Next month Greg and Kyle Harvey of Seven Hills Electric will be our guests.  Seven Hills is a resilient family business with the ability to pivot in response to the market on any given day.  Tune in to learn how they do it each and every time!

Reach out to Jeff Miller of Sales Recruiters of Virginia by visiting or by calling 804.263.5961.  Catch Randy Asbell of Selling Forensics at or by calling 937.831.6090.  Debra Willis, of PPG Solutions, and Karen Larsen, of HR TABS are my co-hosts.  Contact them for a benefits review, or your HR needs.

If you need a coach visit my site:

Wishing you all health & well-being,

Wendy Dickinson

Jun 18, 202041:12
Protocols & Perceptions: Norman Company Inc. Delivers Best Practices

Protocols & Perceptions: Norman Company Inc. Delivers Best Practices

Norman Company Inc is an amazing commercial construction company in central Virginia…. the model for family business at its best!

This family-owned commercial construction company provides clients in Greater Richmond and surrounding areas with general contracting: project management, pre-construction planning, estimating and scheduling; and negotiated Design/Build services.  The Normans built their business on shared values, delivery of quality products, and integrity.

In the interview, Rob (VP of Business Development) and Will (VP of Construction) Norman discuss the protocols put in place to protect employees, clients, and subcontractors from COVID19 infection.  What we didn’t expect was the level of commitment this family business brings to the job.  Listen in for a glimpse at family biz best practices at work - on the jobsite and in real time.

Two things that didn’t come out during the interview:

  1. The Normans had a policy to take everyone’s temperature when they arrived at the jobsite - and, yes, that included the President!
  2. Rob modeled one of the 3-D masks after we stopped recording.  You have got to see this!

Norman Company Inc. | Building Quality, Value and Lasting Relationships.

Reach out to Will or Rob Norman by visiting their website.  Debra Willis, of PPG Solutions, and Karen Larsen, of HR TABS are my co-hosts.  Contact them for a benefits review, or your HR needs.  If you need a coach visit my site:

Wishing you all health & well-being,

Wendy Dickinson

May 22, 202032:00
People & Profits Suffer in Pandemics

People & Profits Suffer in Pandemics

Catalytic Conversations is back!  Wendy Dickinson, Founder of Ascend Coaching Solutions is a business coach who works with owners at the intersection of life and business.

Today she talks with Debra Willis of PPG Solutions and Karen Larsen of HR TABS about the struggles of business owners coping with COVID-19.  We’ve entered the second quarter in 2020 - and it’s all about survival.

We discuss:

  1. The impacts of COVID-19 that we see in the world of business today.
  2. The question of whether or not businesses should lay off employees or keep them on.
  3. Key takeaways for business owners in this moment of disruption for every type of business.

My guests are Debra Willis of PPG Solutions and Karen Larsen of HR TABS -

Debra is a 40 year healthcare veteran. President of partners in healthcare and currently a business manager at PPG Solutions/Benefit Hackers. She now works with small businesses to reduce insurance costs and improve employee benefits. Specializing in cost analysis and device at no cost!

You can contact Debra Willis at or at 804-909-5414.

Karen Larsen is the CEO and Founder of HR-TABS LLC Consulting.  She is a certified Fractional HR Executive with over 30 years of practice expertise as a leader in HR and organizational development in multiple industries and Fortune organizations.  As a chief HR strategist, Karen’s passion is to help small businesses become “Employers of Choice”.

You can contact Karen Larsen of HR TABS at or 804-405-5003.

Listeners, you can contact Wendy at, or at 804-372-7575.  Let us know what you think!

Apr 30, 202029:36
“Third Generation Hire to Wire”
Nov 15, 201921:16
All In: Family In Business, Part Two
Oct 30, 201926:41
All In: Family In Business, Part One
Oct 29, 201935:06
No Love is Greater Than That of a Father For His Son...
Oct 03, 201941:36
SBA Tools for Family Businesses
Oct 03, 201939:28
BB Hamilton- An Extraordinary Leader of Men

BB Hamilton- An Extraordinary Leader of Men

This interview took place at BB’s place of business, The Executive Grooming Lounge.  That night was rainy, cold and yet- the shop was packed, the only space for us to have this conversation was the back room- music, members of the community and the fruits of BB’s leadership evident everywhere we looked.  Mr. BB Hamilton discusses the return on investments like leadership, mentoring, and modeling.  BB has an established apprenticeship program where aspiring barbers learn how to be ambassadors of the Executive Grooming Lounge, and the men they were created to become.  BB discusses the myth of work/life balance, personal development and building successful, profitable teams.  He recommends books that he uses with his team: Who Moved My Cheese and The Four Agreements.  There is a lot to aspire to here!

Mar 14, 201927:02
Big Business in a Small Town

Big Business in a Small Town

Meet Tommy Howard, former President and CEO of Sqwincher, based in Columbus, Mississippi. Tommy shares his experiences of assuming leadership of his family’s business, gaining a private equity partner and then, his exit from the company after selling to a strategic buyer.

Tommy had 3 priorities in the sale: legacy, the well-being of Sqwincher employees AND purchase price. In our offline conversation Tommy said that “this is a small town, it’s not like those people can just go out and get another job”. He went on to say that he feels really good about the outcome and continues to see Sqwincher grow while making a positive impact on the Columbus community.
Nov 19, 201820:13
Transparency In Action - Leadership at It's Best

Transparency In Action - Leadership at It's Best

Phil Pietrandrea, Sales Director- Infrastructure at UNITRAC Railroad Materials, Inc. / Wabtec is my guest for this interview. Phil is a veteran of mergers & acquisitions. He shares key leadership strategies for leading a team through the M&A process, with integrity and authenticity. Phil makes a strong case for ownership transparency to gain company wide buy-in. Phil utilized his team of external advisors to successfully lead UNITRAC across the finish line - and gained trusted friends along the way.
Sep 14, 201841:11
Failure Leads to Peace & Profit: How did Todd White Do It???

Failure Leads to Peace & Profit: How did Todd White Do It???

How many of you are willing to put peace of mind ahead of profit? My guest, Dry Farm Wines founder, Todd White, is one of the few. In this interview we learn about clean wine, fear based leadership, and the rewards of failure. Todd tells us about his entrepreneurial journey which started at age 17. Todd founded 2 companies that he sold successfully. Todd also defines success; his perspective may surprise you. Todd labels his 3rd company a resounding failure that brought about his greatest wealth- peace. This interview focuses on the 4th of Todd’s creations - Dry Farm Wines. White has resiliently created DFW with a growth mindset, and expanded sense of awareness. Todd looks for those ready to embrace personal responsibility, while being part of a community - a key to the DFW Peace & Profit Manifesto. Check out to the DFW site:
Aug 10, 201837:13
Wall Street Exit Led to Grand Cayman's Beaches
Jul 25, 201836:11
How Does a Climatologist Spot an Acquisition?

How Does a Climatologist Spot an Acquisition?

This episode focuses on creating value through climate optimization. Anne Waple, Vice President & Co-founder of Climate Optimize shares strategies for acquisitions. Climate Optimize, Inc “CO”, was founded on the fact that climate change presents both risk & opportunity to enterprises worldwide. Markets increasingly reward those that include climate assessment in their governance. CO takes climate assessment to the next level: Climate Optimization. Uniquely positioned to add enterprise value against a backdrop of climate change, CO will climate optimize by: ● Identifying, & acquiring, profitable companies with significant climate optimization potential. This may offer opportunities for outside capital partners. ● Assessing & advising third party clients using a CO-developed proprietary climate optimization platform to maximize enterprise value. Contact the CO team by visiting their website: . Contact Wendy Dickinson, the M&A Coach at:
Jun 01, 201830:34
Reflections On Their Sale of A Lifetime: Mike & Patricia Pauly

Reflections On Their Sale of A Lifetime: Mike & Patricia Pauly

Today's guests look back on the sale of their business. This partnership weathered each transition life had to offer. Marriage, a growing family and what became a large, profitable, organization- Mike and Patricia managed it all.
May 07, 201827:22
Connor Gillivan: An Entrepreneur's Journey From Amazon to FreeeUp

Connor Gillivan: An Entrepreneur's Journey From Amazon to FreeeUp

As an Amazon seller veteran, eCommerce expert, and outsourcing guru, Connor Gillivan is passionate about building profitable businesses that address specific customer needs within the eCommerce world. Starting out of his college dorm room, Connor spent 4 years working with his business partners to build an eCommerce business selling on With the venture, he’s sold over $25 million online, have worked with over 1,000 suppliers, and have managed over 500,000 products. After hiring and firing hundreds of remote freelancers and virtual assistants with his Amazon venture, Connor and his business partner started to address the frustrations they were facing on other marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer: (1) too much time interviewing and vetting freelancers and (2) too much turnover. FreeeUp receives hundreds of applications from freelancers each week, interviews them for skills, communication, & attitude, then only allows the top 1% into the network.
May 07, 201831:16
Libby Dishner, MLHR, ACC- An Authority on Acquisition Integration

Libby Dishner, MLHR, ACC- An Authority on Acquisition Integration

Libby Dishner, MLHR, ACC, is a Founding Partner of Cresco Coaching and Consulting. As a sought-after leadership coach, human resources strategist, and speaker she helps people find success and happiness by reaching for their full potential. Libby, a veteran navigator of acquisition integration, shares her tools for building resilience during disruption.
Apr 13, 201819:49
Startup sold in 24 Months: Courtney McBean

Startup sold in 24 Months: Courtney McBean

Many owners plan to either grow through an acquisition or, sell their company one day. But, are they ready? Have owners prepared for future disruptions? My guest, Courtney McBean and her partner, had two unexpected buyers come calling. Today, Courtney shares with us the tenets of the partnership, how it all began and the amazing results of the deal. Courtney is an entrepreneur and constant innovator looking for new ways to solve problems in clinical trials.

With over 20 years experience in clinical research, her mission is to build strategy, processes, and technology that bring clarity, focus, and efficiency to organizations enabling teams to perform and trials to succeed. Checkout Courtney’s latest work. Cascadia Global Research
Apr 06, 201836:30
Ellen McIlhenny, B2B CFO is speaker, author and the CFO who brings a wealth of M&A experience to every client she serves.

Ellen McIlhenny, B2B CFO is speaker, author and the CFO who brings a wealth of M&A experience to every client she serves.

Ellen is a B2B CFO Partner, with an interest in helping the owners of privately-held businesses reach their goals, both personal and business. For almost twenty years as a CFO in the private sector, Ellen helped to add value to a company which experienced a long period of robust growth. Ellen provides fractional CFO services on an as-needed basis. Ellen's new book, "The Big Turnaround-How Bad Management Nearly Destroyed an Exceptional Company", will be out in late March.
Feb 28, 201823:49
Martha Moore Shares Her Success At Navigating Pivot Points

Martha Moore Shares Her Success At Navigating Pivot Points

Martha Moore, Business Development Manager at LiveWire LLC, shares her experiences as a former business owner whose lessons learned provide valuable insight on turning obstacles into successes. Martha has developed her abilities to create opportunities in different industries. Her story is one of resilience and readiness.
Feb 24, 201822:35
Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin is a former Navy Seal and business owner who shares his experiences all of which led to his current position as a financial advisor and retirement planner with VA Asset Management.
Jan 17, 201819:56
Interview Christin Bonomonte

Interview Christin Bonomonte

Catalytic Conversation with Christin Bonomonte • Catalytic Conversation with Christin Bonomonte • Catalytic Conversation with Christin Bonomonte • Catalytic Conversation with Christin Bonomonte • Catalytic Conversation with Christin Bonomonte
Dec 19, 201720:40