Destiny or Intention? The making of The PEAK Fleet

I am a futurist. It’s with hesitation I say that, because I feel like an imposter in that field. I think however, I’m ready to make claim to that title.

In the summer of 2016, I was faced with a career transition. My 19-year career at Intel had come to a conclusion, and I had the opportunity to take some time and figure out what to do next. There were some obvious avenues: I still have my CPA certificate, Project Management Certification, and a wealth of experience in Information Technology. For several years prior, however, my passion had really centered around leadership and organizational development, and the employee experience of the future. I felt compelled to do something in that arena.

Ten years prior, I met Brian Stinson at Intel when we were reorganized onto the same team after a downsizing. We were both going through similar life events at the time, and bonded quickly over that and a common perspective on developing teams. Both Brian and I had a desire to find our purposes in life too, somewhat fueled by these work and life events.

Over the 10 years that followed, both Brian and I sought out that purpose in our own ways. Two things we shared in that journey were living with strong intention and always being open to possibility. Brian’s favorite phrase is “Ask why not?”   I like to say, “all my channels are open”.

So, back to the summer of 2016, as I talked with all of my trusted friends and loved ones about what I wanted to do next, Brian came to Portland to visit family, and proposed having coffee.

Coffee turned to lunch.

Lunch turned to happy hour.

I had been thinking about going into business for myself, as a consultant. Brian was considering leaving Intel too at the time. We kicked around the idea of going into business together. We talked about this, sitting at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) as his kids explored exhibits. Was this really a wise idea? He’s a single dad responsible for two kids and a mortgage!

The next day, Brian texted me:

As he tells it, he felt an extreme sense of calm about the whole decision. Even with the risks and responsibilities he felt.

With that, The PEAK Fleet was conceived…a little seedling of a company in our minds. Over the next month, we texted and talked about names for the company, ideas about our products and services, and talked about our common values for the company.  That was, in fact, how PEAK came about…Persistence, Empathy, Authenticity, and Kindness are our cornerstone values, and we felt strongly enough about them to include them in our name.

We also feel that these are critical values for business success in the future. The Future of Work includes freedom, choice, and a shift of power. As trends in freelancing and worker mobility increase, employees will no longer feel trapped to stay at a company or work environment where they are unfulfilled, uninspired or disengaged. Success of companies will no longer just be about “the numbers”….it will be about people and culture. We’re already seeing disruptors lead with experience and we expect that to continue and that it will emanate directly from the alignment of employees, their values, and the purpose of the organization to which they belong.

During the fall of 2016 we did all the things you need to do to start a small business, and the list is long. One thing we both agreed upon though, is that we weren’t officially a legit business, and we couldn’t really put ourselves out there until we had a website launched. We set our goal to have that done by November 1st, 2016. As technology launches always do, though, that date slipped, and our new goal was 11/21, right before the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US.

With the help of a wonderful friend (Kent Giard), we beat that deadline and went live the evening of 11/18. And I have to say, getting that done was largely a feat by Brian and Kent. It wouldn’t have happened then without them kicking ass to get it done. I remember, I was sitting in front of a friend’s fire pit having a warm drink when we exchanged these messages:

(You may have noticed we like to express love and gratitude here at The PEAK Fleet. We don’t shy away from those emotions.)

So, our official launch date was one year ago, 11/18/16. Today we celebrate our 1 year anniversary, and why we wanted to share the story of our journey today.

Throughout those months from inception of The PEAK Fleet idea, we socialized the idea with many people, and several of them shared the passion and vision enough with us that they have become part of our tribe of fellow travelers. Some have formally become part of the Fleet.

We further built the company and ideas at a retreat with the Fleet in December 2016, and started networking to find potential customers as well.

The story of our journey and all of the things we’ve learned along the way could fill a book (we’re working on it). As I look back, I’m amazed at the fact we were able to build what we have so far from the ground up. We now offer a robust set of services that span Workshops, Leadership Retreat Facilitation, Keynote Speeches, Event Delivery, and Consulting. We even have a great product available. A few I’d like to highlight:

Message in a bottle: The Future of Work Begins with People. What does the future have in store? How should you prepare? What if you could not only spend a day working in the future but also get to send your present-day self three focus areas for the next 10 years? We have so much fun facilitating our Future of Work workshop because the participants get to do exactly that. OK, we can’t actually predict the future, but everybody walks away educated and enlightened about the future of work with a customized action plan.

Organizational Development through the Arts (ODTTA): One of our “Why Not?” moments of our business development has been in creating what we call Organizational Development through the Arts. Working with musicians, performing artist, and visual artists, we have developed a series of workshops & keynote speeches that take lessons from these highly creative and innovative people and apply them to a business context. Brian noted: “if you would have told me that six months after leaving Intel I’d be meeting with a marketing agency in New York City pitching the idea of building a Diversity & Inclusion education experience around a Tony winning play, I would have said you were crazy.”

Mel Brown

We now have on offer “Leadership Lessons from the Jazz Ensemble”, featuring Portland’s Jazz Legend Mel Brown and his Septet. While I know I’m biased, it’s an amazing event that will make a huge impression on your teams. We’re excited about this and other ODTTA offerings we have in the works.

PEAK Values™ ~ Defining & Using Core Values. One of our favorite moments of the year came in July when we took our PEAK Values™ card sort deck from idea to the first production run in less than 30 days. We regularly offer both workshops and consulting engagements to help organizations define their Core Values and behaviors to support making those values a reality in organizational culture. After helping groups clarify their organizational values, it felt natural to create a product to help individuals do the exact same thing. Click here if you’re interested in the cards for organizational or personal use.

Some key lessons that we have learned through this journey:

The PEAK Values™ resonate with people and in business (so much so that we decided to trademark the brand). If you use these values, your life and work relationships will improve.

  • Living the values doesn’t just happen.
  • Finding your purpose doesn’t just happen.
  • They both have to be done with intention.
  • You have to own that intention and sense of purpose.
  • You have to actively practice your values, or they don’t mean anything.
  • Your life’s journey is yours to be guided and directed by you. Your purpose is your destination, and your values are the vehicles to get you there.

Back to why I’m a futurist. Truly, substantially, I have a passion and interest in the far-off future, and making predictions especially in the areas of human interaction in order to guide strategies today. I create products and services for The PEAK Fleet on the subject and am informed by these ideas.

However, I claim futurist for another reason. Back in 2010, I sent Brian this email, which I had totally forgotten about, and he found accidentally doing a search for emails from me the week following our website launch:

I’ll just leave that right there.

I will end with this:

Inspiration can come from anywhere, maybe even a memory of a dream sitting in your subconscious.

The perspiration has to come from YOU. You’re the protagonist in your own story.

Happy PEAK Fleet Anniversary!

Jen Coyne

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