Take a Look Behind the Curtain with Judy Nelson, JD, MSW, CPC, Author of Intentional Leadership
About Judy Nelson, JD, MSW, CPC:
Q. What are your previous occupations? A. From 1980-2006, I was a Chief Executive Officer of nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Before that, I enjoyed priceless legal Internships including serving as a Prosecutor in Juvenile Court and as the Aide to the Minority Whip for the Kansas State Senate. I was also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California. After 30 years as a CEO, I decided to try an Encore Careers as a Certified Professional Coach, which is my present occupation.
Q. What was your favorite job? A. Professional Coaching because I love helping leaders learn more about their strengths and weaknesses, guiding them in setting coaching goals for themselves and watching them grow into more effective leaders through greater self-awareness.
Q. What Highschool and/or College did you attend? A. Central High School in Grand Forks, North Dakota University of North Dakota, B.A. Social Work Virginia Commonwealth University, Master’s Social Work (MSW) Class of 1971 University of Kansas School of Law, Juris Doctor (JD) (Class of 1980) College of Executive Coaching, Certified Professional Coach, 2007
Q. Who is your favorite author? A. Dr. Pierce J. Howard, author of The Owner’s Manual for the Brain and creator of the Workplace Big 5 Profile.
Q. Who is your favorite recording artist or song? A. Chopin
Q. What is your favorite Movie or TV Show? A. PBS Programs
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Q. What’s your guilty pleasure? A. Going on a cruise anywhere
Q. Who is your greatest role model? A. The dean of my graduate school was an extraordinary woman and role model. She helped me reframe my thinking about what’s important through her intellect and courage coping with the challenges of communication while suffering a severe stutter. Despite the speech challenges, she gave marvelous addresses and was an inspiration to all. The plaque on her desk read, “I march to a different drummer.” Since knowing her, so do I.
Q. How do you define success? A. Success is reaching a point in your life where you know you still have a yearning to learn but have attained inner peace with who you are—foibles and all. I’m getting closer and closer to feeling successful based on that definition every day, and it’s fun!
Q. What is the secret to your success? A. Having the maturity and grace to live, lead and love intentionally with words and deeds designed to reach your goal whether that is happiness, effective leadership or sheer joy. It’s what I tried to describe in my new book, Intentional Leadership.
Q. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? A. If I could live anywhere, it would be right here, in Redondo Beach, California, with my husband, who is the love of my life. I also enjoy being able to pick roses and oranges in my yard in January. And, having grown up with temperatures that dipped to -40 during winter, I might still be thawing out my bones.
Q. What’s your kryptonite? A. My Achilles heel involves people who are absolute in their opinions and attitudes. Their inflexibility challenges my resolve to be intentional and not reactive. On the bright side, it helps me monitor my words and actions. However, if there isn’t room for discussion, then communication is stifled—or terminated. Healthy debate in a safe environment is just that, healthy, for any relationship whether professional or personal.
Q. What historical figure do you most relate to? A.
Q. What is your biggest regret? A. I regret the most my words and actions in the early stages of my career that were impulsive, non-strategic and sometimes even (unintentionally) unkind. Words can hurt deeply no matter what the “sticks and stones” rule says.
Q. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? A. I feel great professional pride that after a successful career as a CEO I then built a thriving executive coaching practice as my Encore Career. And recently I was invited to join the Forbes Coaches Council—a great accolade. Who knows? Maybe there will be more encores!
Q. What is your best advise to people whom look up to you and your success? A. As a professional coach, I rarely give advice. However, the one thing I wish I’d heard and heeded decades ago is to seek self-awareness with the understanding that even when you undertake it, you can never fully reach that goal. That’s the main reason I rely so heavily on the job-based assessment that I use with my clients, the Workplace Big 5 Profile 4.0. Taking the “Big 5” when I started my coaching practice was transformational for me. While my results weren’t shocking, the assessment opened doors in my mind that had been either closed or never fully opened and allowed me to grow dramatically.
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