By Margaret Hansen
I recently interviewed one of our writers, Diane Dunton, owner of Potential Released, a human resource and management consulting firm. Diane shared some of her business background, what brought her to where she is today and some important advice for companies in today's economy.
Tell me about your business.
Diane Dunton: I have a human resource and business consulting firm, working across all industries, educational settings and with non-profits. I provide coaching to senior-level management, strategic planning, and leadership programs. I also provide outplacement and individual career transition services. I am a motivational speaker and a workshop and retreat facilitator.
What have you loved most about your career?
DD: I worked in a corporate setting in operations and then in human resources for 20 years and since 1996, I have owned and operated my own business. I loved the foundation I received in a corporate Fortune 500 company, but running my own company gives me a lot of interesting and diverse challenges. I never know who will be contacting me next or what the need will be, which makes it fun.
What made you decide to choose this field?
DD: I started my undergraduate work in social work but changed my major to business. In 2000, I received a master's in counseling. This work integrates the business with the personal and professional needs of individuals and businesses. Iam an organizational development professional. When I started my career, I had no idea this field existed. I couldn't be happier that this is where my career has taken me.
How did you get to where you are today?
DD: Again, being in a Fortune 500 company gave me a solid foundation. I knew years ago that I wanted to own my own business. In 1996, I turned that dream into a reality. I am a continuous learner and have had numerous trainings over the years. Some of the trainings have been specific to my field and others have been to challenge my way of thinking. A year ago, I attended a conference on innovation where I learned what companies are doing to inspire creativity. I think it's important to keep learning in whatever aspects work for you.
Which of your strengths makes your business successful?
DD: Listening (first and foremost), then strategic thinking, creative problem-solving and strong facilitation and communication skills.
What's a top struggle that companies face today?
DD: Companies do not have the time to develop employees and incorporate development as part of the culture - not just in performance reviews. Companies are operating lean and it's a challenge to give employees opportunities beyond their regular job responsibilities. Working on projects and committees or volunteering can all be part of development and gives employees a sense of meaning and professional growth.
Is there something small businesses can't afford NOT to do?
DD: Develop their employees and give them time to attend events. Often, small business owners do not even give themselves time to attend seminars or take advantage of opportunities to grow professionally. I have seen Chambers of Commerce offer wonderful events, and even though small businesses say they need and want them, they can't find the time to attend. Professional development is important to keep skills fresh and to connect with other business professionals. Continuous learning needs to be part of every growing business.
You've inspired your audiences by sharing stories of painful events. How can difficult times help us?
When we are in our darkest time, we often experience both joy and pain. It begins a time of true personal growth even in the midst of difficulty. It gives perspective and we are faced with choices that are not easy to make. Through the adversity, we come out recognizing our strengths.