Hi <<First Name>>,

I hope you all are enjoying Summer. We finally have sunshine here in Seattle. Nothing beats being here when the weather cooperates.
In the first edition of Executive Yak News I shared my 2014 personal theme: “Year of the Viking Queen: Conquering New Territories.” Little did I know at that time that the new territory to be conquered this year would involve one of the largest natural disasters in the history of Washington. At 10:37 am on Saturday March 22, 2014, there was a catastrophic failure of the hillside above the small community just east of OSO in Snohomish County. My involvement, as a first responder, in this tragedy has been life-changing and nearly all-consuming for several months. My heart goes out to all the families left behind. I can only hope the effort of our Snohomish K9 teams along with about 80 K9 SAR volunteer teams from seven different states has been able to bring a small measure of resolution for those left behind.
In this issue, I will share reflections around the involvement of myself and my search and rescue dog Keb as a first responder to the OSO landslide.
Enjoy a continued Summer full of adventures and relaxation. Above all: Stay Safe!!!
PS. MER/HREF members and Friends, join us at our After-Work Social on July 17. Scroll to the Yak Happenings below for a link to RSVP.

Suzanne Elshult, Your Executive Coach
In This Issue:

What's Crackin Yak

Against the backdrop of the OSO landslide tragedy, my business has provided a measure of stability. The HR and Marketing Executive peer coaching groups have had a stellar year and my coaching practice working individually with senior executives continues to grow and thrive.
In March I moderated a great panel on “Upping the Coaching for Your High-Performing Leaders: Coaching Globally and Virtually” at the 7th Global Business Conference in Seattle. Several of our HR Executive Forum executive leaders participated in this interactive discussion: Britt Provost, VP Global Service Lines with Avanade, Mindy Geisser, VP Global Human Resources with Colliers International, Judy Burke, VP of Human Resources with Pacific Market International, and Anne Hatcher, VP of Human Resources with Getty Images.

We had several great After-Work  Socials for peer group members and our extended community to counter-act the grey, dreary weather in March. The Black Bottle Postern in Bellevue turned out to be a perfect venue allowing us to mingle and connect with each other. Special thanks to my good friends and colleagues at CFO Selections, Mark Tranter and Alex DeSoto for hosting and treating us to some good wine. Mark, Alex and I also brainstormed and executed on the idea of having Chief Financial Officers visit with both the HR and Marketing executive peer groups to explore the development of more synergistic relationships together. These sessions were truly unique opportunities to listen, learn and understand the pain-points of our peers and see where some interesting opportunities lie.

The HR peer group also discussed talent management, internal branding, 360 feedback strategies, we manage our own careers in today’s environment. Perhaps the most popular session revolved around “Blowin’ Up the Performance Appraisal.”
Marketing Executives tackled a number of additional topic, some more technical on “Segmentation.” At one of the more popular sessions we invited several “millennials” to come explore how we can more effectively engage with this generation of employees in the workplace and as our customers.
The peer coaching sessions have evolved over time to be focused on interaction exploring “powerful questions.’ We continue to “ban” powerpoints and focus our interactions on our growth and development as leaders and sharing authentically around challenges and opportunities we have a senior executives in organizations from a wide variety of industries and sizes.
It is amazing to think that my peer groups have been around 18 years and several members from the very beginning. Two of the pioneering members with the HR Executive Forum retired this Spring and have started new adventures. We wish both Donna Schneider (formerly with CellNetix) and Rochelle Crollard (formerly with The Everett Clinic) the best of luck. Both of them have been formidable and active members of the HR community both locally and nationally. We already miss you!
As always in the Summer the per coaching groups take a break allowing me to plan and scheme for Fall. We already have some amazing sessions lined up starting in early September with discussions for both HR and Marketing executives around “What is Your Story?”
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Featured Yak Post  Why I am in Awe of My K9 Search and Rescue Team: Reflections in the Aftermath of the OSO Landslide

Why I am proud of my K9 Search and Rescue Team: Reflections in the Aftermath of the OSO Landslide by Suzanne Elshult/Executive Coach As I looked out over the debris field I had a sense of how heart wrenching the whole experience was, yet I found the scene one of inspiration and hope. There were literally hundreds of people working in unison with one purpose in mind, to save lives and bring closure for all the families and friends of OSO. It was in some strange way a tranquil image and I had the sense that “now I know why I have been doing K9 search and rescue for the last 13 years, this is what I was supposed to do all along .”
On March 22, 2014 a catastrophic failure of the hillside above the small community just east of OSO in my home county of Snohomish caused almost 10 million cubic yards of dirt to plunge down and across the Stillaguamish river. A fast-moving wave of mud and trees ended up taking 43 precious lives and became a life-changing event for me, my search and rescue dog Keb and many of my K9 colleagues. Over the last several months 80 plus volunteer SAR K9 teams from seven different states have deployed as volunteer first responders. This event was and still is a tragedy of epic proportions and our hearts go out to the families that have been left behind. We can only hope that our participation has contributed a small measure of comfort. This is how one of my K9 colleagues summarized our team experience: - See more 
Yak Happenings

6/5/14 Marketing Executive Roundtable: Is Segmentation Outdated? 

6/20/14 HR Executive Forum: 360 Feedback: Trends and Integration with HR Strategy 

7/17/14 HREF/MER and Friends After-Work Social 

9/11/14 Marketing Executive Roundtable: What Is Your Story? 

9/12/14 HR Executive Forum: What Is Your Story? 
Suzanne's Yak Space

A personal win for me this Spring was the achievement of a national certification in Human Remains Detection through the National Search Dog Alliance with my search dog Keb. We had been working hard to achieve this landmark and are now dually certified in Airscent and Human Remains.
The Summer so far has been filled with the normal slough of search and rescue missions. My husband and I were able to spend some time hiking East of the mountains with our fourleggeds and a friend immediately prior to the 4th of July. In fact we returned home the evening of the 4th just in time to take in over twenty different fireworks displays from our deck. The clear winner was Kingston, but Whidbey Island and Edmonds also had an unusual amount of fireworks activity this year.
In a few weeks I will be heading to Sweden with my husband. This will be a particularly exciting trip for me. Not only will I have a chance to visit with my aging parents, family and friends, but I am also FOR THE FIRST TIME bringing my dog Keb along. It has been quite the ordeal to get all the paperwork in order, the right size crate approved for air travel and more in order, but I  think all is set in place now. Keb and I will have a unique opportunity to train with search and rescue teams in Sweden while we are there. It will be very interesting to compare notes.
I will be staying in touch virtually with my clients while in Europe and already look forward to returning in mid-August to ramp up for an event-packed Fall. 

Please follow the links below:

1. This article was just published in the Mountaineers Magazine and features several members (including myself and Keb) on our Mountain Rescue and K9 Teams. See page 28: Faces Behind the Rescue

2. I started publishing this Flipboard Magazine last year and it already has a large following. You will find a variety of articles pertaining primarily to K9 Search and Rescue and most recently all articles I have been able to find describing the K9 effort on the OSO/HW 530 Slide (including the cover article which features my own K9 team) I also established Magazines to Marketing Human Resources and Coaching - a valuable contribution to my Peer Coaching Groups.  Check them out!

If you (and your dog) would like to find out more about how to get involved in K9 search and rescue, send an e-mail to To donate, send a check to SCVSAR, Attn: K9 Team, 5506 Machias Rd, Snohomish, WA 98290. Or click on the Paypal link at and specify that you want your donations to go to the K9 team.

- See more 

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