A career-changing moment or experience
We met in a small meeting room at a library in Tampa, Fla. There we openly shared our hopes and dreams, and our
strengths and weaknesses. We barely
knew each other, but were about to
embark on one of our greatest
In a career that spans more than a
decade, there have been many turning
points. Mistakes have been made,
speeches have bombed, lessons have
been learned, and my comfort zone has
definitely been stretched a few times.
Yet, when asked to consider a decision
that has had the most profound impact
on my professional career, there was no
question in my mind. It was the decision to start a mastermind group.
It began as a conversation with
speaker and master coach, Marlene
Panet-Raymond. We agreed to form a
team of five NSA speakers who met one
or both of the following criteria:
Pictured: Dave Timmons, Donna Cutting, Joan Brannick,
Sandy Geroux and David Glickman.
• They had to be further along in
their careers than we were, (and/or)
• They needed to be as committed to
reaching their goals as we were.
Calloway’s “Let It Go” speech, which
was another turning point).
For years, our mastermind met
weekly by phone to hold one another
accountable to commitments we’d
made the previous week. We met every
six weeks to go deeper into specific
challenges, topics or inspired ideas.
A few months after that first meeting,
Marlene embarked on her greatest adventure of all when she became
pregnant with twins! She left the
group and we invited David Glickman,
CSP, to join us.
This group has had an incredible
impact on me professionally and personally. Here are just a few career
highlights I can tie directly back to the
encouragement, prodding and knowledge that came from David, Sandy,
Joan, Dave and Marlene.
A few weeks later, Marlene, Sandy
Geroux, Joan Brannick, PhD, Dave
Timmons and I met at the library. It was
2002. At the time, I had given enough
presentations to join NSA, but was also
waiting tables, temping, and working
as David Glickman’s assistant to make
ends meet. I had a small side business
presenting Interactive Theatre Shows
for children in libraries and schools
(a business I closed after hearing Joe
The personal growth you experience when you find your partners
surpasses the professional. We’ve
been through aging parents, parental
deaths, divorces and marriages, and
we’ve laughed, cried, fought and made
up. Through it all, we’ve remained a
tribe – 100 percent committed to one
Our group is at its own turning
point. We’ve become so busy in
our careers we can’t find the time
to meet on the same schedule.
Regardless of how we proceed, this
much we know: The ordinary choice
to join forces was a defining moment
that produced life-long friendships
and extraordinary results.
Writing and getting my book
Finding my voice as a speaker
Hiring my first assistant
Exceeding revenue goals
Earning my CSP
Donna Cutting, CSP, is the founder and CEO of Red- Carpet Learning Systems, a firm that helps leaders engage their team to improve the
customer experience, and the author of The
Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to
Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service.