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Speaking of Success Stories

Speaking of Success Stories
One renowned speaker found early audiences and ongoing insight through her Vistage group.

Living with her husband on a mountaintop in Evergreen, Colorado, at 8,200 feet, amid elk, bears and mountain lions, research psychologist Eve Grodnitzky has the perfect vantage point to ponder her life’s work: helping people get “unstuck” and accelerating their path to “blinding moments of clarity.”

A frequent speaker at the leadership training and executive coaching group Vistage, Grodnitzky was named its 2016 Speaker of the Year. She has achieved rave reviews from Vistage members for her presentations on how to get to “aha” moments. In her talks, she shows them how to apply the findings of Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Dweck has concluded that people are more successful when they have a “growth mindset,” where they believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, as opposed to a “fixed mindset,” in which they think that talent and intelligence are static, and talent alone begets success.

“One of the greatest gifts we can give another human being is the opportunity to live the rest of their life with a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset,” Grodnitzky says.

After obtaining her Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of Michigan, Grodnitzky spent more than a decade working for several leading research and consulting firms, focusing on issues such as leadership development, performance management, employee engagement and the attraction and retention of high-potential employees. While working at CEB (now part of Gartner), an organization for innovative senior executives, she addressed large organizations, from Dell Computer to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2009, she became an independent speaker. Her husband, whom she was dating at the time, recommended that she speak at Vistage because he was enjoying doing so himself. “ He had glowing reviews of the organization, the Chairs and the members,” she recalls.

Grodnitzky applied and soon began addressing Vistage groups on the topics of leadership and engagement. Whenever she discussed Dweck’s teachings about how to get unstuck and why we become stuck in the first place, she found “no one wanted to talk about anything else.” Realizing she had struck a chord, she soon shifted her focus to that topic—and found it was very personally rewarding.

“I have no idea who in that room needs that message that day, but someone does,” says Grodnitzky. “Sometimes there’s an organizational issue they’re working on. Often, it’s a personal issue. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and said, ‘I have two kids— fixed mindset and growth mindset—what do I do about the fixed mindset one?’” She helps them see how the culture of the environment they have created and factors such as unwritten rules help foster one mindset or the other.

In 2014, Grodnitzky put her ideas in a book, CLICK: The Art + Science of Getting from Impasse to Insight. To help leaders enhance their workplace culture, she is now developing a mindset assessment tool. She has also partnered with Vistage sponsor organization TalenTrust, helping the executive search firm’s founder and CEO Kathleen Quinn Votaw “mindset-ize” its recruitment process. “There are so many different organizations and industries in Vistage,” says Grodnitzky. “You never know where interesting partnership opportunities might arise.”

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