Starting in junior high school I was both getting in trouble and getting praise for thinking outside the box. I was, and still am, a curious rebel spirit with an ability to communicate complex and new ideas in ways that create understanding, and occasionally invoke commitment, inspiration or mobilization.
This curiosity mindset has governed my career, beginning at 15 years old writing feature stories for a Boston newspaper, getting immersed in issues management and crisis communications out of college, moving into high tech marketing as the dot com boom starting booming, writing an award-winning book about word of mouth marketing in 2007 and soon after having the “aha” that social media was really about using social behavioral principles to transform business.
I have worked in corporations (AT&T), big agencies, and boutique consulting firms.
I am grateful to have worked with innovative clients determined to make a difference at organizations like SAP, HP, Fidelity Investments, Dunkin’ Donuts, TJ Maxx, Harvard Business School Publishing, SAS Institute, University of Massachusetts, The Conference Board, FedEx, Sapient, Communispace, and many more.
In addition to helping clients learn how to use social for business change, I facilitate strategic sessions where the stakes are high, counsel CEOs on sensitive communications issues, and diagnose what’s causing sales and marketing organizations to be “stuck.” My elevator speech is simply: I help companies communicate change, inside and outside their organizations.
The clients who hire me tend to be rebels and drivers of change, seeking a creative spirit grounded in affecting business change. I believe the best answers exist inside of companies; the consultant’s role is to help people find their own answers as those will be the best answers.
With Carmen Medina, a retired senior executive at the CIA, we are writing the book, “Rebel at Work” to empower rebels in the workplace.
I live in Rhode Island with my husband, teenage son, and mischievous chocolate Lab. During the summers I escape to a rustic lakeside cottage in New Hampshire with no running water, but plenty of loons, local characters, and solitude.
- Creating clarity from complexity. I dig to find the essence of an issue, see the real root causes, and find the simple but significant ways forward. I’ve learned time and again, the best solutions are often amazingly simple. But to get there requires playing in the messiness of complexity and asking unusual questions.
- Finding possibilities: I have a passion for helping organizations and executives see possibilities and figure out how to make them real. I’m a fire-starter helping you envision what’s possible — and how to get there with confidence, conviction and focus.
- Activating leaders: helping more people to lead, in more new ways. Doing so helps people and organizations spot ideas and opportunities early, adapt quickly, make good decisions faster, and create meaningful relationships that matter.
- Creating stories and narratives that influence, persuade, motivate and inspire. All companies have the inspiration for these stories, but few know how to find them, pull them out, and tell them in a passionate, compelling way. Marketing, workplace communications, and sales are all about telling stories. Not “messaging to” people.
The benefits I bring to you
- Getting your team unstuck by bringing people together in new ways. My belief is that the answers you need are inside your organization but it often takes new questions, formats, discussions and ways of sharing to uncover the brilliance in your own people. My approach to facilitating meaningful, juicy, provocative conversations opens up unexpected and useful insights.
- Helping to name and frame big ideas and get people on the same exciting page so that they go from “that’s a good idea” to “we have to do this.”
- Creating compelling business cases so the execs (or boards) say yes and approve the funding.
- Uncovering the one or two factors critical to succeeding — and showing you how to use those critical dimensions as a framework for making decisions, allocating resources and setting priorities. No mucking around on paths that take the long way. Nothing feels as good and motivates people as much as making progress.
- Making sure everyone on the team or in the organization is fully in the game — sharing their points of view, respectfully and earnestly debating and discussing the issues so that valuable ideas and concerns can surface and the best decisions can be made. I eliminate the “meeting after the meetings” and a lot of second guessing.
- Asking important questions that people inside the company are afraid to ask — or can’t really ask — so we can more quickly get to the real issues. This is also means I name the elephants in the room and show them out – propelling work forward with fewer obstacles.
- Developing language and communications approaches that bring ideas alive — changing perceptions, creating credibility, attracting support and commitment.
- Serving as the respected corporate strategist with executives, lending gravitas to the team’s ideas in ways that sometimes only an outside “expert” does. (Sigh)
- Helping my clients believe in themselves and learn ways to effect change. Not just for the project we’re working on, but for all the future projects they will lead. They may never want to call themselves corporate rebels, but they become the kind of “change agents’ that every organization wants on their leadership teams.
My best partners are…
- Leaders and rebel thinkers intent on making a difference in their organizations
- Organizations going through transition.
- Companies trying to sell more effectively in innovative or changing industries.
- Non-profits passionate about more effectively raising money for their causes.
Career long version
- Started as a journalist, writing obits and weddings, covering fires and local political races
- Executive in public relations agencies (some NYC boutiques you’ve never heard of and Weber Shandwick)
- Co-founder and president of early interactive marketing agency (Thunder House), acquired by McCann Erickson
- Clients: FedEx, SAP, Fidelity, Monster.com, HP, Sapient, Communispace, Harvard Business School Publishing, Dunkin’ Donuts, TJX, DST Output, The Conference Board.
- Education: University of New Hampshire, Harvard University
- Books: wrote Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word of Mouth Marketing, the gold medal recipient of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Award for best marketing/advertising/public relations book and the 2008 finalist in the Berry-American Marketing Association Book Award, and Be the Noodle: 50 Ways to be a Compassionate, Courageous, Crazy-Good Caregiver, part memoir, part how-to instruction manual, part love story about helping my mother die at home, recently named book of the month by the International Association of Hospice & Palliative Care.
- Non-profit work: officer/trustee of Trinity Rep Theater; mentor for start-up accelerator Betaspring, founding fellow, Institute of Coaching, a Harvard Medical School affiliate; motivational speaker for hospices, sharing my family’s end-of-life care journey.
- Speaking: speaking and leading workshops at global conferences have been a cornerstone of my 30-year professional career. Consistently rated “exceeded expectations,” “extraordinary,” “If you ever have a chance to see Lois Kelly in action,” do not miss it.”
- Research: have conducted numerous research studies to explore and provide clarity around emerging trends. My most recent study (2011) is on an emerging leadership issue: “Rebels at Work: Motivated to Make a Difference.”
- Specialized training: Appreciative Inquiry, Immunity to Change, Courage to Lead, Art of Hosting, World Café
What does Foghound mean?
We’re like hounds sniffing possibilities and creating clarity amid the dense organizational fog. An executive once told me that there are “fog hounds” in Amsterdam who help boats navigate the canals amid the fog, but I’ve yet to have this story confirmed. My dog is a chocolate Lab, named Maia, after the Greek goddess of spring.