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SCORE one for business persona

Laura Gmeinder speaks at a Unite Way of Dane County event.

Laura Gmeinder speaks at a Unite Way of Dane County event.

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Admittedly, Laura Gmeinder isn’t good about asking for help, but she does have an outgoing personal nature. So when she decided to self-advocate by seeking advice from the Madison Chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, little did she know that she would encounter a business counselor who looks for personal characteristics, as well as business acumen, when advising entrepreneurs.

That’s essentially how Gmeinder, owner of Laura Gmeinder Coaching & Consulting LLC, began the transition from business consultant to motivational speaker. At the suggestion of SCORE counselor Steve Stone, she began to spread her wings into public speaking while running a consulting business focused on individual and team leadership development.

Steve Stone

In reaching out to SCORE, part of Gmeinder’s motivation was to separate her business from the sea of consulting services in the market. Before even focusing her energies on speaking and networking, she was community focused, especially on the professional development of women. She is a past president of the Junior League of Madison and has become active in United Way of Dane County’s Business Volunteer Network, Leadership Greater Madison, Women of Purpose, and more recently the Doyenne Group.

SCORE arranged for her to speak before the philanthropic group PEO International, which stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization. It’s an organization that promotes the advancement of women, and it was perfectly synergistic with Gmeinder’s involvement in the aforementioned groups.

“It was about building on the network and the relationships I already had started to establish when I was in the corporate world, using my outgoing personality and connecting with people,” she says. “I was taking a chance on putting myself out there.”

Given what has transpired it was a smart bet. For Gmeinder, the tipping point was her first presentation at DreamBank titled, “What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up? – Secrets to Finding the Job of Your Dreams.” She had never presented in a forum like that, and at first they were hesitant to book her. By the end of that first meeting they not only booked her, they also gave her a highly coveted “Dreamer of the Month” slot.

To help her analyze her topic, approach, and demeanor in front of a group, Stone has attended a couple of her energetic presentations before DreamBank and come away very impressed. “Boy, you should see it,” he states with no small measure of pride. “The last time I went to DreamBank to watch her, there were a couple of people there who were quite assertive in their line of questioning to her, and she fielded that just beautifully.

“I was actually sitting there wondering how she would respond. They just would not let go of the points they wanted to make as audience members and she handled it perfectly. She’s matured so much in her presentations and in her interactions with people.”

Just a few years ago, Gmeinder was going through what she describes as a “quarter-life” career crisis. Following her graduation from UW–Madison, Gmeinder worked in corporate human resources for 14 years but wasn’t fulfilled. “I had a more traditional view of success,” she explains. “My internship turned into a job right away and then as my career advanced I was getting promotions, raises, and all the things you’re supposed to have to be considered successful, but at the same time I felt there was something missing and that I was called to have a bigger impact.”

Gmeinder’s consulting niche is focused on the intersection of business strategy and human resources consulting. That’s where successful strategies are predicated on a holistic view that takes into account policies, processes, personnel, and culture. She’s seen her share of business strategies fail because not enough thought is put into these components, which requires insightful leadership. That explains why she concentrates on leadership development with a focus on developing the potential of women, and after moving past the inertia of her HR career she’s determined to help others who feel stuck in their careers.


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