Margaret’s Story

True Story – Our Founder

Margaret Ricci

All my life I’ve been a misfit.

In my family, among my friends, in my workplaces. Nothing I did made sense to me or to the people in every sphere of my life. True, I knew a portion of who I was and everyone else knew another portion, but making sense of it all, together? Well, that was just too hard to understand.

It took a layoff from a beloved position due to an industry event to get me to pay attention to who I was.

I was adrift at age 61.

At this point in my life, I knew no one would hire me because I was already in my 60s. But more than that – who in the heck was I? Was I a Contracts Administrator – did I want to go back to that? I’d been writing and proofing contracts, negotiating with clients and consultants, and teaching other Contract Administrators for upwards of 30 years. I was good at it, but – did it really “call” to me? Was it something I would enjoy doing for the rest of my business career? Was I a Chief Operating Officer (COO) – I’d been doing this at the company who laid me off. I enjoyed many of the facets of being a COO, but it didn’t fill me up as much as I’d hoped.

After the layoff, I needed deep healing mostly from the situation and then from myself, not because of anything else. Being laid off these days and finding a new position is definitely something I wasn’t prepared for – people got positions in completely new ways that I knew nothing about. Networking, having informational interviews, having coffee meetings,  and learning how to navigate this new environment was something I hadn’t anticipated. I kept seeing this small book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0” show up on resource tables – I’d pick it up, read a bit, and then put it down, and never look at it again during a learning session.

I started my informational interviews, and thanks to Steve Dalton, whose book, “The 2-Hour Job Search” was a game-changer for me (check the resources page for more on this), I landed 36 informationals in a two-month period.

But during the informationals I kept hearing “Oh, you should coach,” “You should consult,” “You should teach.” But in my head I’m thinking, “You’ve gotta be kidding me! I’ve never done that in my life! I’m certainly not going to start now!”

I would also have massive informational interviews, not the 20-minute kind like Marcia Ballinger teaches. But people didn’t want to hear about me leaving them after 20 minutes (I’d check!), or after 40 minutes, or after an hour, an hour and a half, two hours, and more – people just wanted me to keep talking, keep answering their questions, keep helping them find answers! I was stumped. I was TRYING to let these people get back to their work, why would they want me to stay LONGER?

After about Interview 25, I thought, “Maybe I should listen to what people are saying to me.” During this time, I finally took the  StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath to tell me how I was wired internally. It told me that WAS created to coach, consult and teach.

After I took the StrengthsFinder assessment (now called CliftonStrengths), I was floored! There I was in living technicolor. How did they know me? How could they know me when I didn’t know myself? Yet, it was all there – the teaching the coaching, and consulting. I think I felt relief first, then understanding, – and then came the crying – I wasn’t crazy or a misfit after all. Although people had been telling me I was crazy all my life, even in some unflattering terms “You’re intimidating – we purposely don’t want people to meet you!” Instead, I was wonderfully made!

Then it hit me – what if I could become a Gallup Strengths Coach to teach people about themselves and then to help teach organizations how to work WITH their employees’ innate wonderfulness instead of against them? That’s it! That’s my calling! (or, it was the BEGINNING of my calling!) 

I enjoyed the development of people around me in every company I was ever in, even though I was never in a position to truly be a “culture changer,” I did it by osmosis.

I lived and breathed development of people and organizations. Development inside Business was my calling – and it was the normal connecting of all of my Talents together that would fill me up to the brim. My two loves – Business and People – are the passions that keep me going and changing companies.

I’m ever so grateful for that small, little book – it changed my life and those of the many people and organizations I’ve had the privilege to accompany on their own life and business journeys.