“Brad is singularly focused on setting you up to be successful, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”~ Jenna Silver, Training Director, CCR
For more than 40 years, the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) has provided free mediation services to the public. In addition to mediating conflicts, they offer a huge range of trainings, including customizable conflict management workshops. In the past five years alone, CCR mediated over 10,000 cases and provided conflict management training to thousands of people in Chicago and nationwide.
Tell me a little bit about your career path. How did you get into mediation?
I was a middle school teacher for several years before attending law school. I started law school thinking that when I graduated, I wanted to do disability rights and special education advocacy. But halfway through school, I took a mock trial course and decided, “Oh, this isn’t for me.”
Shortly after that, I learned about alternative dispute resolution and mediation, which led me straight to CCR. I got involved as an extern, then an intern, a volunteer mediator, a coach, and a trainer. When a full-time position on staff opened up, I was immediately interested.
How did you first learn about Anchor Advisors?
When I started at CCR, I was interested in professional coaching on leadership development. As it turned out, Brad and his colleague Stacy French Reynolds had worked closely with CCR for several years, supporting their strategic and succession planning efforts. After I had settled into my new position, I interviewed four or five different leadership coaches, including Brad.
The thing that really struck me about Brad was that he offered his expertise, his time, and his attention to me before he was even getting paid to do so. He spent 2-hours with me, asking really thoughtful questions and trying to understand what kind of support I was seeking. I knew right away that I wanted to work with him.
What were the initial goals of your work with Brad?
During our first meeting, I told Brad I was struggling with imposter syndrome. The person who preceded me in my role is known nationally, even internationally, as a thought leader. And, I was like, “I’m not a thought leader; I can’t do this.” Brad said, “You’re not a thought leader, and you deserve to be here. You got this job for a reason and you’re going to do it your way.” It felt really good to hear that; it felt right.
While I’d had leadership positions in the past, this was a different kind of leadership role. I’d never supervised full-time staff before, so that was new. And I didn’t have much experience interfacing with board members or donors. I was eager to develop a leadership style that felt authentic, but also more efficient and direct than I might naturally be.
What were the mechanics of your work with Anchor Advisors?
After our initial meeting, we met bi-weekly for about 3-months, with homework in between.
Because I was still learning the cadence of my role, a few times we decided to reschedule a meeting to make sure that I could get the most out of our time together. Brad also offered support and feedback in between meetings. He is really invested in coaching well. It was clear from the start that he didn’t want to simply clock in and clock out of each of our sessions; he made sure that our pace allowed me to get the guidance and support I needed, which was phenomenal.
Any major takeaways from your work with Anchor Advisors?
So many. If you were in my home office, you’d see this phrase on my whiteboard: “I need more time to think about that. Do you need an answer now, or can I get back to you?” I can’t tell you how often I’ve been in a meeting and used that phrasing. It’s made me a better leader.
Through our work together, I’ve learned I have pretty good instincts; the challenge is trusting them. Brad has given me some really practical tools to navigate that tension.
What’s your favorite thing about working with Anchor Advisors?
Brad is so easy to talk to. I never had to work hard to feel heard or seen or understood, and I was immediately comfortable being vulnerable with him.
At some point during the three or so months we were working together, I was designing a three-day training for the Los Angeles Fire Department – a group that was new to CCR. The training involved building new content, learning about a unique workplace culture, and coordinating many different moving parts. During one of my sessions with Brad, I shared that I was struggling to come up with an activity for a specific part of the training and he offered to introduce me to his colleague Stacy. I met briefly with Stacy, who then custom-designed a brilliant activity that we have since adapted and used in several other trainings.
I share that story because it’s a perfect example of the level of support you get when working with Anchor Advisors. Brad is singularly focused on setting you up to be successful, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
If you had to describe Anchor Advisors in just three words, what would you say?
Truly-invested, easy-to-work-with, and enthusiastic. That’s three-ish words, right?