Hi <<First Name>>,

Many of you know I pick an annual theme to anchor myself into. 2014 is my Year of the Viking Queen: Conquering New Territories. One of my expeditions has taken me deep into the digital realm. Result:  a new web site and this Newsletter.

In this issue, I share reflections around difficult personal challenges leading to a breakthrough experience. I also explore resources around executive presence and leadership. Plus a good deal more.

Browse, enjoy and let me know what you think!

Suzanne Elshult, Your Executive Coach
In This Issue:

What's Crackin Yak

What’s crackin? 2014 is off to an amazing start. A lot of work in the Fall to give my business a facelift is culminating in both a brand new web site (check it out: ) and this Newsletter: Executive Yak News. The objective is to build community, provide meaningful insights, share useful resources, make a difference for you personally and to promote engagement. 

A lot is happening. My peer executive coaching groups are having profound conversations around internal branding, and managing or being controlled by our careers. Marketing execs have an interesting session coming up in the next few weeks where engagement with millennials will be put under the microscope (and yes, several millennials will be joining us). Also on the horizon will be opportunities for marketing, finance and HR executives  to explore their relationships and find new synergy together.

On March 27 four top HR executives with global responsibilities are joining me as panel members at the
7th Annual Seattle Global Business Conference.
  I will be moderating a conversation around how we develop leadership bench strength: Coaching Globally and Virtually. 

Most interesting for me personally right now, is my new
virtual group coaching initiative for executives.
Featured Yak Post  Stepping Into My Own Fear: Observing my friend's gruesome death changed my life forever...
"Burned into my memory are the images of him, on that slick rock, grasping for something, anything, to hold on to, as he slid slowly but inevitably toward the edge. Worst of all is the memory of him looking back at me, desperate and helpless,  as he soundlessly disappeared. That moment is forever etched into my memory. The replay is always the same, always in slow motion, and always includes searching for him – it seemed like forever – and finally noticing that one of the side pools  at the bottom of the falls was colored red". 

Most folks who know me are aware that beyond my work as an executive coach, I am also a K9 handler with two search dogs (Bosse and Keb) and an active member of Mountain Rescue. Over the past decade I have spent literally thousands of hours searching for lost individuals and helping to save lives in the mountains and communities of western Washington.  The work is often physically challenging and not infrequently involves life and death situations. It is how I have chosen to give back to my community.

Fifteen years ago, there is no way I would have been willing to even consider such an undertaking. The reason was simple: to do so would have required me to deal with my worst possible FEAR – one that arose decades earlier as result of a jarring and tragic event that played out in the mountains of California's Sierra Nevadas.

One day in  1976, the year I arrived in the United States from Sweden, forever changed my life. It was the day I witnessed the traumatic death of a Swedish friend  visiting  me and my then boyfriend – now husband- Scott at his parents property just outside Yosemite National Park. Staffan, was an amazing young man  practicing as a psychologist in Lund, Sweden. He had a sense of adventure and was excited that morning to be hiking and scrambling with us in the awe-inspiring nature surrounding Yosemite. Scott’s parents’ property had several water falls along Gertrude and Whiskey Creeks, one of them was 5 or 6 stories tall with an expansive, sloping glacial polished rock shelf on top and a large pool below. On that hot summer day while we were reclining against a boulder Falls Staffan got up and walked about 30 feet or so onto the shelf and laid down in a trickle of water to cool himself. I remember telling him "be careful, the rock over there is much slicker than it looks." And I remember a few moments later, hearing a wet thud and glancing over to see that in his attempt to get up and move, he had slipped and fallen on the slime under the thin sheen of water where he had been sitting, and was now, sliding, as if in slow motion, towards the edge some 30 feet away. The slope of the rock was not steep, but the angle was just enough to keep him sliding, and the moist expanse was wide enough and slippery enough to prevent him from maneuvering out of harm's way. Burned into my memory are the images of him, on that slick rock, grasping for something, anything, to hold on to, as he slid slowly but inevitably toward the edge. Worst of all is the memory of him looking back at me, desperate and helpless, as he soundlessly disappeared. That moment is forever etched into my memory. The replay is always the same, always in slow motion, and always includes searching for him – it seemed like forever – and finally noticing that one of the side pools  at the bottom of the falls was colored red.

Recent Blog Posts:

Over the past several weeks I have been engaging with about fifty executives on the topic of how they manage…
In a recent conversation with my marketing executive peer group we explored internal branding and the importance of effective marketing/HR relationships...


Is it All on Our Butts?

I confess to feeling a bit "humdrum" about planning our December HR executive peer group meeting.  The agenda was titled...


Finding Employee Engagement – Moving to Siberia? HR Execs Discuss by Suzanne Elshult, Executive Coach, HRNow | November 22, 2013

“Our most engaged workgroup is in a remote community in Siberia” said one of my clients at a recent HR…

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Top Yak Pick Articles

Leadership, Coaching, People Strategies, and Marketing. Follow this link to these great reads:
  • Why leadership development programs fail by Pierre Gurdjian, Thomas Halbeisen, and Kevin Lane
  • The Year of the Employee: Predictions for Talent, Leadership and HR Technology in 2014 from Bersin 2014 Predictions Report
  • The Moneyballing of the CMO by Auren Hoffman
 Interested in my Magazines with more trending articles and blog posts on Leadership, Coaching, People Strategies or Marketing? Go to Suzanne’s Yak Magazines 
Yak Happenings

2/7/14 HR Executive Forum: Internal Branding/Effective HR/Marketing Relationships

2/13/14 After-Work Wine Social HR Executive Forum and Friends

2/20/14 Marketing Executive Roundtable: What We Must Know about Marketing to Millennials

3/14/14 HR Executive Forum: HR Executives and CFO’s. Creating Synergy!

3/27/14 7th Annual Seattle Global Business Conference: I will be moderating an interactive panel of HR Executive Forum senior leaders on The Changing Coaching Game: Global, Virtual, Groups!

4/11/14 HR Executive Forum: The Talent Management War

4/16/14 FREE INTRO. HR Executive Game Changer: Virtual Group Coaching Program 

 4/24/14 Marketing Executive Roundtable: CFO’s and HR Executives. Creating Synergy!

Resource HUB

This issue shares highlights from a module on “Executive Presence,” in the upcoming HR Executive Game Changer: Virtual Group Coaching Program

Module 4: Executive presence.  Do you have it? If you are asking the question it's likely you have some reflections around your ability to project gravitas, command a room, exude confidence, show poise under pressure  and get people to stop and listen when you speak. According to a study by the Center for Talent Invention, being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership positions.
In this module of the HR Executive Game Changer program we take a magnifying glass to what exactly it is we are or are not doing – the specific behaviors we engage in - to exude the “wow factor’ often connected with executive presence. Are you making eye contact, standing tall, speaking clearly and authoritatively. What about  attire and general appearance?

Together we explore challenges, give and get feedback,  laser coach each other,  and learn from the mistakes and successes of others who have found their executive voice. You walk away with new skills and  strategies to fill out your executive shoes.



Executive Presence: Special Yak Magazine February 2014: (make the link be the Title)

Ø  So we leaned in…now what? Sheryl Sandberg (TedTalks):
Ø  The Science of Influence: The Three Dimensions of Executive Presence. Suzanne Bates (Bates communications Newsletter)
Ø  7 Traits of Executive Presence,The Key to Winning People Over: Jun Medalla (Business Insider)
Ø  Do You Have ’Executive Presence’? Jenna Goudreau (Forbes)
Ø  Career Coach: Do You Have Executive Presence, Ken White (The Washington Post)


Ø  The Power of Presence, Kristie Hedges
Ø  The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO, Harrison Monarth


Powerful Questions and Inquiries:

1. Do you have it? How do you know? How will you know when you have it? What would be different?
2. Who do you know that has great “executive presence?” What is that person doing? What mindset are they projecting? Who do you want to show up as?
3. Do you want more of it? How would getting more of it make you feel?
4. If nothing changes, what will that cost you? What do you want to do with this?
5. Is “executive presence important to you?” What assumptions are you making? Or, what are the underlying assumptions you are making about yourself?
6. What do you need to believe about yourself that will support you?
7. Does your perception of yourself reflect what those around you think about your executive presence? Do you know?
8. What does executive presence mean in your company? What is unique to your company and culture?
9. Does the state of evolution of your organization impact what “executive presence means ‘right now.” How might it be different in a high growth vs a stable and mature company?
10. What “activities” or tasks do you engage in that detract from/reinforce executive presence?
11. What steps are  you going to take now to strengthen your executive presence? What is the biggest change you would like to make?   What could we work on that would make the biggest difference to you?
12. Who will you be  when you achieve the executive presence you want? What will be possible?
Suzanne's Yak Space

While December was a relatively quiet month, my K9 group was called out on several missions in January, a search for a missing man with Alzheimers and a mutual aid request to help find a missing person in the San Juan Islands. My mountain rescue group was also involved in several missions in our mountains, sadly, one with a tragic outcome. For more, go to my Mountain Rescue ( ) and K9 SAR Yak Magazines (

This is the fourth year I am doing Snow/Avalanche training with my young labrador retriever Keb. She is a sassy, high drive little girl certified as an Airscent/Wilderness search dog. Unfortunately the lack of snow in the Cascade mountain range resulted in cancellation of our three-day avalanche workshop in February. Keb and I used this sudden gift of time to dial up our skijoring efforts. And,  we are preparing for three days in British Columbia at the end of February for a Disaster Training Workshop.

Brag this month: Keb and I had a very successful K9 agility weekend  - qualified and got First in a Novice Standard event. Bosse (my 12 ½ year old lab) and his agility handler June also acquired another agility title. Goes to show that living an active life –Bosse has done search work with me since he was 8 weeks old-pays off for K9s as well as humans. 
New adventures? Yes, my husband Scott and I are hoping to join our daughter in Nicaragua 
where she is doing a practicum as part of her third year Orthopeadic Surgeon residency.  That is coming up later this Spring. Any suggestions for adventures in that part of the world? Drop me a note!

What I am grateful for today! Great news from Sweden: My 90-year old dad and mom can continue to live in their home in  as they are getting increasingly frail. It is humbling to see how well my folks are being cared for. Thumbs Up for Sweden and an older brother who is available and willing to navigate the Swedish healthcare and eldercare systems. See my blog  post from 2009: My own Heartwrenching Encounter with Eldercare 

A Special Valentines to my sweetie Scott celebrating many years of adventures together: from hitchhiking all over Europe, boating in the Gulf Islands, jet skiing in the Mediterranean, backpacking the Cirque of the Towers, climbing Kilimanjaro, Nevado DeToluca, Aconcagua (Scott), fourteeners, local peaks, diving/boating in the Carribbean and more. Adventures are what we do best. Thumbs up to creating more EPICS together. Go

Favorite Quote: CEO to HR Executive: "We don't have a culture! If I hear that word again you won't have a job!" HR Executive: "Therein lies our culture."

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