What clients say...
Over the past 20+ years, I’ve had the honor of working with hundreds of senior business leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs. Here's a sampling of what my clients say about our work together.
"Ken’s coaching has been transformative in my life. His unique approach to coaching brings a balance of assertiveness and finesse, while providing a pathway to meaningful change. He’s helped me to see blind spots, to see around the corner to what lies ahead, and to make peace with the past. As a result, both my personal satisfaction with life and my organization’s results have skyrocketed. Coaching with Ken has become one of the most impactful experiences of my life. Looking back there are a few people in my life that have truly shaped me in to the leader I’ve become. Ken is at the top of that list!"
Dave Green, Former CEO, Feeding Children Everywhere
“Ken has a piercing way of seeing things; a gift to be able to see what could take a lifetime to learn otherwise.”
Kimberli Pitts Calhoun, Learning & Development Consultant
"Through my work with Ken, I’ve significantly evolved my leadership style. But even more importantly, my interactions in every part of my life have improved. The coaching literally changed my life. My manager has told me that he feels – as do others – that I’m a “completely different leader.” This coaching had an extraordinary impact on my ability to drive, not only my career but, my entire life forward.
I highly valued Ken’s empathic directness. He challenged me to do things, or consider ideas, that I would never have done on my own. He provided tangible 'to do’s' that helped me focus my development in an actionable way. He created a space of accountability and action. His questioning enabled me to come to my own conclusions and my own deep learning. His statements painted pictures in my mind that enabled me to come back to key learnings over and over again. Even months later, I find myself thinking 'What would Ken say?' on a weekly basis – true story!"
Illeana Casiano de Vazguez, Mid-Atlantic Client Success Leader, Vanguard
"The real value for me was behavior change in the areas we targeted. Behavior change is not easy especially for stubborn old farts like me. I always felt that previous coaches used a one-size-fits-all approach. What you did differently was to spend more time to accurately diagnose the areas for improvement, then develop an approach that was specific to my needs. In addition, you knew precisely when to push me out of my comfort zone and when to provide positive encouragement."
Newell McElwee, Vice President, Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Boehringer-Ingelheim
"What was unique about your coaching was that you looked at the emotional side of leadership. You emphasized the whole person, rather than simply focusing on one aspect of leadership development. The result was that we saw a much more significant change in the people you worked with."
Lesa Lardieri, former Vice President, RMRS, Pfizer
"Your coaching provided me with a foundation to think through small and large decisions. Together we worked on a mission, criteria and a personal plan, so that I had a framework to make decisions consistent with my goals (personal and professional) – whether it was deciding to attend a work dinner or take a new position. This allowed me to stop feeling that I was always pitting my personal life (family) against work.
Through our coaching I was able to view my work as part of my life, not separate – and be true to myself. Doing this, and sticking to it, has made me more confident and happier.
I like the personal mission statement we developed: "I am the Best Mom that also Works!" It's still hanging up in my office. I haven’t seen that before in others' offices!
The work we did together was foundational for me. It provided me the openness to hear, listen and learn. Every book, every session, every article then became an opportunity for me – rather than a hurdle. This has stuck with me for years, and is probably the most powerful skill/capability I have as a leader."
Janet Loesberg, Vice President, Medical
"The thing I valued most in our coaching was your direct, honest feedback. It's the reason we employ a coach, but often coaches are not able to deliver it or do so in a way that is tough to take. Your feedback was direct and your manner was sincere and sensitive.
What was unique for me, was the requirement (and the tools to help do so) to look deeper for reasons driving behavior. Looking for root causes and/or core values was what separated my experience with you from other coaching experiences."
Paul Rogers, Vice President, Product Development and Commercial Operations, Medgenics, Inc.
"Your coaching brought tremendous value to me. The biggest impact was when we sat down and analyzed the values that were most important to me, beginning a long road of self-discovery that, at that point in my life, I might have never have had the chance to undertake again. I think back on our conversations and I recall a session in which you pointed out the source of my problems was actually myself and that my problems were “knocking loudly at the door” - your knuckles knocking on the desk for emphasis. In retrospect I had heard that from many others, but with the 360 review in hand and your straightforward honesty, I had lost all pretense and rationalization for my self-destructive behavior. Though the changes that needed to occur did not happen overnight, it was the beginning of my road to recovery and for that I’m eternally grateful.
You bring a unique perspective to work/life balance. Initially I believed that the coaching experience was going to teach me how to improve my performance at work, but those issues were secondary and could not have been accomplished without fundamentally addressing perspectives on life. You taught me the value of the Socratic maxim that “an unexamined life is not worth living” and I try to use my experiences to help others while I continue to clean up my side of the street!"
Tom Redford, PharmD, Medical Consultant
"Ken allowed me an opportunity to understand what really mattered to me. He allowed me to focus on the “big picture." I was able to sort through what really needed to be accomplished and stay focused . With the vision and guidelines that we developed I have been able to effectively deal with constant change and new directions. In the past this would have been difficult but now it doesn't really impact me as I know where I am going and what really matters to me. I deal with change within the context of the ground rules that I have for my life and I continue to deliver with greater focus. Recognition at work has continued but more importantly recognition and happiness at home have not been sacrificed.
Ken is genuine. I really felt that he was interested in me and my happiness. I never really felt like he was coaching me because it was a job. I felt like he was coaching me because he really cared about me and my life. This allowed me to be entirely open and at ease. I did not feel vulnerable in admitting my distress or my concerns. Ken would work with me and not tell me what I needed to do. Instead he worked with me to discover what “I wanted to do".
My professional & my personal life (actually we always stated one life) have been very good. I have been able to deal with some pretty serious health issues in my family the past year. Ken’s coaching has allowed me to deal with even these challenges."
"To say that I’m immensely grateful for the relationship I’ve built with Ken doesn’t do justice to how impactful his coaching has been for me both professionally and personally. He helped me create clarity, alignment, and harmony across my personal, professional, and community domains. Amidst all of the transformations and competing priorities, he helped me chart a path toward a greater sense of internal peace and he helped me in not only how I show up at work… but also how I respond to work. I’m only 33 years old and the token retirement age of 65 is a long ways out; Ken helped me remove the pressure of a relentless pursuit towards perfection. He helped me realize triggers to avoid, productive habits to practice and refine, and mantras to repeat as reminders of how to carry forward the personal learning that took place during our coaching sessions.
What I also appreciated about Ken’s style is that it wasn’t always “pie in the sky” theory and feel good quotes, he challenged me to confront truth and uncomfortable realities to initiate productive change, and he helped me get back to the simple stuff that matters like “just saying no!”
John Howie, Head of Retail Inheritance Services, Vanguard
“My work with Ken Kesslin was life changing. He gave me challenging feedback that helped me refine my approach as a leader. It was not easy and involved rethinking my past. Today, I focus on never underestimating the importance of personal relationships, always take time for needed reflection and focusing most of my time helping others achieve their career best—all as a result of the work with Ken.”
Jon Leatherbury, Chief Operating Officer, Aon Talent
"I’m working to change the world - using technology and true partnerships to help farmers in east Africa grow more food. It's a big goal. Ken’s coaching has supported me along in this journey. (He's now a satellite member of the team helping to end food insecurity!) Ken also helped me navigate being a TED Senior Fellow. He helped me understand how to leverage the network and grow my leadership.
So, Ken, thank you for your unwavering support of me and the idea that our team can change the world. Thank you for working with, and supporting, me along this journey. Our coaching meant a lot and I learned even more - most importantly about myself. I feel stronger now. I'm ready! "
Laura Boykin, Computational Biologist, Senior TED Fellow https://cassavavirusactionproject.com
"Your coaching was immensely valuable to me at a critical time in my career - and related entirely to the awakening of self-awareness. Your work always felt personalized to my exact needs."
David Simmons, Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Bayer
"Throughout the past months, Ken has been such a valuable presence in my life, especially during such a challenging & unsettling time (we started working pre-COVID). I greatly appreciate his perspective, reinforcement and all his recommendations (books, stories, life experiences etc) that have led me to strengthen my core being. Working with him has been a deep, challenging, fulfilling and organic process. His presence, wisdom and eye for details has helped me unearth my potential and cultivate a great amount of courage and confidence."
An Wang, Food & Nutrition Innovator
"I'm still reflecting on our coaching conversation! My experience is that you have this ability to get inside the person you are interacting with, synthesize the essence of what they are saying and/or what they are feeling, and then seemingly select just the right words to propel the conversation forward -- or, perhaps even more powerful, to cause reflection and pause in the person you are communicating with. While I think this is a blessing, it is also something you work very hard at -- it is your craft -- and it is part of the reason why you are such an amazing coach."
Gordon Peterson, Head of Human Resources, San Francisco Symphony (former SVP, CHRO, and Board Member, Millward Brown)
"Your coaching offers me insight and perspective from a new vantage point. You have experience and vision into human behavior and leadership that I don't have - and without talking it out with you, I would not see it. Being in the midst of it, I tend to lose my perspective. You help me find it again.
What's unique are the internal - "aha" - connections that happen when I'm challenged by you to look within, at my own reactions, behaviors, and attitude as a leader. When we first began working together I was looking for someone to help me step-by-step with "actions" at work--the "how to's". But what turned out to be most helpful is the language and examples you use to help me look within myself to grow as a person and as a leader."
Amy Willcott, Executive Director, Mount Saint Vincent Home
"Ken helped me maximize my career and personal satisfaction by teaching me how to focus my energy on career activities that are professionally satisfying AND consistent with my professional mission; for example, maintaining my work as a volunteer physician at a homeless shelter clinic while working in medical affairs in the pharmaceutical industry. Ken’s coaching taught me the value of self-validation and honoring my uniqueness. He helped me understand that there are systems issues (such as big company operational stuff) and my issues; the latter I have control over, the former – learn how to adapt but forget about controlling them. This allows me to live my ideal life and make decisions about work and family, while letting go of the many things that I can’t control. In short, Ken’s coaching was invaluable.”
"I am a better manager, directly because of our coaching together. Our coaching taught me to reflect on, and identify, how my feelings about ANY situation - be it personal or professional - impact my decisions and actions. Once I realized just how much my actions were influenced by reactive feelings, I was better able to push aside the “crap” to get to the real issue and make determinations based on the reality of the situation.
We would plan what we were going to talk about, but as life would change between sessions, your ability to jump right in on something new, give perspective and get me to talk and think it through were most helpful. We were never boxed into any particular agenda.
I can’t begin to tell you how effective our sessions have been for me. I do not work the same way anymore. And when I find myself faltering, I have our sessions to recall and clear my thoughts. I now consistently lead by example and manage my team more effectively by making the hard decisions without wavering."
Renee Kelly, Telecommunications Manager
"The immediate value I received in working with Ken was the ability to clarify and focus on my goals. He guided me to an understanding of my priorities, with an eye toward my longer term goals. He did not, however, let me become distracted! Ken also offered tips and recommended reading that complemented our individual sessions. The result of the sessions was a change in direction that has brought me tremendous joy and satisfaction.
I did not realize how much of an impact Ken made until recently, when my position was eliminated. I was struggling with a decision over whether to stay or to take the severance package and walk away. I went back over my notes from Ken, now over 3 year old, and the things we discussed and highlighted helped to bring the same focus to my career and life that it did back then…. now that’s value!
There is no one quite like Ken. His calming and reassuring nature, his integrity, and his professionalism make him truly unique as a coach. I always felt that I had Ken’s total and undivided attention, both during the sessions and in each of his follow-ups."