Interview for Vision Coaching

By Dave Veale
This article was originally published by Vision Coaching here.

‘Is the work I am doing making a difference?’

Danae Johnson was running hard as an HR executive in a company with a workforce of more than 15,000 when a session with a leadership coach changed her life.

It was a moment of revelation.

“I was being coached on the challenges of the day and then the coach asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks: ‘If you could do anything you wanted today what would it be?’ … I remember letting that question in, and I remember where I was sitting, in an office on the 14th floor, and asking myself ‘How did I get here?’” she recalls.

“Within a year, I made a change and had started at Royal Roads studying executive coaching. I had loved working at Intrawest and the incredible people I had met but I wanted to learn more about coaching and conversations that could have such a profound impact.”

Today, Danae is among our top-flight leadership coaches on the Vision Coaching roster, having the same kind of profound conversations with clients.

I first met Danae in 2005. She was one of my classmates at Royal Roads, where we were both intent on becoming leadership coaches. She is both a long-time colleague and a friend.

Power for change

She recalls how the revelation came amid a successful career with Intrawest Corp., both with its ski resorts and in its real estate arm. As a vice-president of people development, she led the human resources function for the real estate division of the company.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, she was involved in a pilot for leadership coaching at Intrawest. As part of that, she was coached and found those sessions transformational.

“I would come out of these sessions feeling reenergized, better equipped, more courageous, clearer. I was coming out of them feeling more capable. I always felt I was in over my head to some extent, and these sessions reduced that feeling. I knew I wanted to find out more about executive coaching and its power for change.”

After completing Royal Roads in 2005 and securing her accreditation as a leadership coach, she has gone on to coach more than 400 professionals in both the public and private sectors. She has created customized workshops that produce quantifiable results for organizations to improve performance and grow leadership capacity.

Search for meaningful connections

“My work focuses on one-on-one leadership development through coaching and whole system culture change work, helping organizations navigate culture by learning how to measure and ultimately transform it.”

As part of her own climb down from the hectic and high-flying corporate life, Danae went on a pilgrimage of sorts, a journey that included a 10-day silent retreat and a stint building homes for Habitat for Humanity in Paraguay.

Like all of us, she is searching for the key to meaningful connections in our rapidly changing work environment. She believes the world needs coaching now more than ever.

“We are all evolving, changing and trying to navigate these complex times. Leadership coaching is one of the best resources available to us.”

Danae says she has really enjoyed coaching people in health care in particular over this last year along with professionals who are increasingly seeking out leadership training. And she finds that, more than ever, people are seeking deeper meaning from work.

“They are asking, ‘Is the work I’m doing making a difference?’ People are looking for that and questioning and challenging it at the same time.”

To learn more about Vision Coaching, visit

Translating the Rapid Transformation of Our Values into Possibilities

For individuals, leaders and organizations, so much is shifting and evolving today. Coupled with acute challenges to global health, racial inequalities and economic disparities, it can seem overwhelming. As uncomfortable as this may be, it also presents an opportunity to re-design or refine ourselves and our organizations.

There’s no better time to reflect, recalibrate and redefine that as we start a new year.

Values underpin everything we do, from our thinking and behaviours to organizational strategy and purpose. They shine a light on what matters most and illuminate possibilities for new ways of working together with increased alignment, engagement, levels of personal happiness, productivity, and meaningful contribution in both better days and times of chaos. 

Global values survey

A recent global values survey during the COVID-19 pandemic conducted by the Barrett Values Centre reveals how our values and cultures are changing at an unprecedented pace – what would have taken potentially two to three years previously is happening in the span of three to four months. Some examples of this shift include:

  • Well-being has lifted to the 5th most important personally from #26
  • among organizational values, Results Orientation has moved down to #25 from the second-most important
  • Agility and Digital Connectivity have both moved up, to 8th from #43 for Agility and, for Connectivity, to 2nd from #50
values during Covid

There has also been a shift from performance to people focus, in terms of organizational culture, with values such as Employee Health moving up to 5th place from #61 and Caring lifting to 4th from #25. Cultures are similarly healthier with potentially limiting values such as Bureaucracy moving down to 52 from 3rd as an organizational value.

organizational culture

In terms of our personal values and what is important to people now, the top values emerging are:  

  • Making a Difference
  • Adaptability
  • Well-being
  • Caring

These values reveal the importance of both caring for ourselves and others during these difficult times and a profound sense of wanting to do work that matters in new or more flexible ways.

cultural impact of Covid

What does this mean in practical terms for individuals, leadership teams and whole organizations? How do we discover, align and adapt our values now and forge forward in the future to create even healthier cultures with greater engagement?

Discovering what matters most to you

As individuals, an understanding of our own personal values is fundamental. This may seem obvious, yet many of us haven’t consciously defined our values, explored what they mean or how we honour them in our lives and our work.

A Personal Values Assessment is a free online survey tool that reveals an individual’s personal values and provides insight about why we do what we do, how we show up personally and professionally, what triggers us and what underlies our decisions. Combined with one-on-one coaching, the results of a personal values assessment can be amplified to increase self-awareness and uncover new insights that can be turned into actions that align with our core values, helping us to move forward with greater confidence even during periods of uncertainty.

How organizations can respond

Values are also at the heart of organizational culture, consciously or unconsciously. There is a powerful invitation right now for organizations to respond to the evolving needs and values of employees, clients and all stakeholders, by building a culture to navigate challenges and thrive going forward.

Organizational culture can be measured in many ways. For the past decade we’ve used an approach, including tools from the Barrett Values Centre, that has proven to be highly effective at identifying and analyzing workplace culture and values, uncovering alignment and gaps, and creating roadmaps for future success.

Once an organization has a solid understanding of what motivates and matters most, it can design action plans based on its specific current situation and desired future state. This, in turn, creates higher levels of engagement and alignment, and drives increased performance and results.

In a recent article, Bruce McLeod, General Manager of Coaching at Vision Coaching, suggests that most organizations end up with a culture by default, not one created deliberately.

“The full-scale disruption brought on by the pandemic, while turbulent and tragic, presents a golden opportunity for today’s leaders to cultivate a culture of design – to guide their teams through the storm, establish new norms and shape an organization that is performing like it never has before.”

Organizational culture an important factor

There are also indications from research and surveys of the millennial generation that organizational culture is becoming one of the most important factors in the fiercely competitive talent market.

More than nicely wordsmithed words hanging on the wall or website, organizational values help to:

  • cope with changing environments and staying connected meaningfully
  • build greater sustainability through internal cohesion
  • ensure strategy execution through employee empowerment
  • continuously build employee loyalty through trust and experiences

Research has shown that organizations with a distinctive healthy culture are:

  • 2x as likely to quickly translate important decisions into action
  • 1.9x more likely to grow revenue faster than competitors
  • 1.7x more profitable than their industry peers

Understanding and assessing your values and culture provides leaders, teams and whole organizations with powerful tools to navigate the rapid changes we are all facing. It helps to create and adapt environments that promote positive change, well-being and high levels of engagement and productivity as well as deeper alignment of purpose to create a culture that will support a shared future.

“Culture and values provide the foundation upon which everything else is built. They are arguably our most important competitive advantage, and something that has grown to define us. It’s one thing to change the world. It’s another to do it in our own unique way.”

Jeff Weiner, Executive Chairman and Former CEO of LinkedIn

These are trying times to say the least, and yet in this moment, ask yourself, what is the shift or possibility for yourself, your team or organization? As you consider this, feel free to reach out if we can assist in designing an evolving roadmap or if you’d like to explore this further.

This article was originally published here.

World Values Day 2020

World Values Day 2020 was held on October 15th and along with my colleagues in the Canadian Values Community we took to social media to share how we’re putting values more at the heart of everything we do and bringing them to life.

Posts were viewed, shared and liked thousands of times, with the UK Values Alliance social media campaign on Twitter reaching the timelines of 72 million people around the world! The day helped people everywhere remember what matters most and how to put that into action.

World Values Day 2020

Here are a few of our favourite Thinking Partners Inc. posts for World Values Day 2020:

October 9th:
We co-hosted the very first Canadian Values Conversations, Vancouver (2018), as part of a national initiative to discover what matters most to Canadians. Here are some of the top values selected.

What value most resonates with you right now (from the list or another)? How have you lived or seen this value-in-action? Share a note, photo or image and tell us!

Top Canadian Values

October 13th:
Counting down to World Values Day on October 15th!!
We shared a post by our colleague Phil Clothier, from the Barrett Values Centre, with this fun video about World Values Day.

October 15th:
Today is World Values Day! A lot matters to me these days but these 2 things: Family & Nature matter most. I can get through anything when I’m connected to these. For #WVD 2020 what matters most to you and how are you living it?

#worldvaluesday #CDN_Values #CanadianValuesConversations

Global COVID-19 Culture Assessment

The Global COVID-19 Culture Assessment recently conducted by Barrett Values Centre revealed how our values and cultures are changing and evolving during the pandemic.

BVC COVID-19 culture assessment

Research not only shows how values are shifting, but provides key elements needed on the path to recover and thrive.

On the results landing page you can find tools to dig deeper into the data and meaning for organizations, including a recording of a recent webinar.

For leaders and organizations looking to navigate the impact of COVID-19 and designing the ‘next normal,’ feel free to get in touch with us.  For over 15 years we have assisted leaders and organizations to create cultures that help their organizations thrive.

Core Gift Podcast with Monica Adair

The Core Gift Institute recently launched a series of podcasts featuring intriguing people who are living their core gifts to the fullest, and as a result, building strong community. Check out the conversation between Bruce Anderson and Monica Adair, Founding Partner of Acre Architects, a boutique New Brunswick-based firm that specializes in a collaborative practice of Storied Architecture.

Listen to the podcast on the Core Gift website.

Monica Adair of Acre Architects

World Values Day 2019

At Thinking Partners we talk a lot about values and strive to live them vibrantly. Working with our clients, we help them identify and connect with their core values, to bring them more to life for greater fulfillment and impact.

World Values Day 2019
A walk in the forest (pics from last weekend in Stanley Park) always feeds my wellbeing.

This year’s World Values Day theme on October 17th is “Values and Wellbeing.”

“When we are not aligned with our values, our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others will suffer.” A first step to increasing your own wellbeing is to identify your core values, and this handy “Take a Values Break Guide,” prepared by the organizers of World Values Day, can help you identify those values that are important to you while you drink your morning coffee.

Coach Danae Johnson celebrating World Values Day 2019

Once you’ve identified your values, it’s important to act on them. That could mean going for a walk in nature, turning your cellphone off for an entire weekend, learning a new language (might take more than a weekend!) volunteering with a local organization, calling a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. It’s the action that propels you towards a feeling of increased wellbeing and happiness. The more often you take actions that help you to live your values, the greater the sense of wellbeing!

Here are some ways to get involved:

 Happy World Values day!

How Does Coaching Actually Help Leaders?

Have you ever wondered how exactly coaching helps leaders? Or maybe you’re curious about the leadership coaching process itself. In a detailed and informative article in Forbes, writer and coach Carley Sime walks the reader through the top benefits coaching clients cite when asked about their coaching experiences. From increased self-awareness and confidence to an improved family life, recent research suggests that coaching has significant positive impacts, especially for female leaders.

benefits of coaching for leaders
Coaching benefits leaders in measurable ways.

Read the full article in Forbes

What is your experience of the benefits of coaching? Are there others you would add to Sime’s list?

Report on Canadian Values Conversations

On May 1st 2018 we co-hosted the very first Canadian Values Conversations – Vancouver, part of a national initiative to understand more about the values Canadians want to see more fully lived in their families, communities and across the country. Our colleagues, and national organizers, David Jamieson, Sharon McIntyre and Marilyn Taylor, created a report explaining the results of the Values Conversations and how they connect to the overall goal of “to make talking about our values a habit”.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the Vancouver conversations, and we hope you find the report enlightening and informative. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the results and/or ways in which you’re talking about or living your values – please share in the comments section below.

Danae & Charles, Canadian Values Conversations – Vancouver co-hosts

5 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Community

In May, with our colleagues at CE Holmes Consulting Inc., we co-hosted the Vancouver edition of the Canadian Values Conversations, and had the privilege of hearing from some Vancouver BC residents about what matters most to them.

One of the key questions we all walked away with was, “How can we bring our values more to life in our communities?” In this blog we’re exploring 5 simple ways you can use your own values to make a real difference in your community – whether that’s your family, group of friends, team at work, associations you’re part of or more broadly.

1. Identify what matters most to you

leadership coaching

It’s easier to take action when you are clear about your passions. What do you value most? As values can change, it’s a good idea to do a check-in with yourself every few years to discover – or re-affirm – what matters most to you. You can do this in a few different ways.

  • The DIY route – reflect and note down 3 times over the past year that you’ve felt most happy or fulfilled. Think about: what you were doing, who you were with, what did you feel connected to? Draw your values out from these experiences.
  • The assessment route – the Barrett Values Centre offers a free, online values assessment that will help you to identify your core values:
  • The coaching route – partnering with a coach is an effective way to uncover the values that are most important to you, especially if you are looking to bring those values more to life personally and professionally.

2. Connect with others

monarch butterfly

Now you know what your values are, a next step can be to connect, either with those who share similar values or by exploring values that are different to yours. If you are looking to connect with people who share some of the same values and find your community or “tribe”, check out your local newspaper, Facebook groups or ask friends and colleagues. If a group or organization does not yet exist in your passion or interest area, consider starting one by reaching out to people you feel might share similar values.

3. Listen


You know what matters to you, and perhaps you’ve found others who share these values, so what next? Listening is a powerful tool when you want to make a difference. Listen to understand others’ needs and dreams; don’t offer solutions or even ideas for now, just really listen to what they’re saying. Once you feel you have understood what those around you need, you can move on to taking action.

4. Take Action

take action

Whether you’ve gone through steps 1 to 3 or found another route that works well for you, taking action will likely be your next move. What “action” looks like will depend on many factors. For some, it could be updating language used on a website or newsletter so it better reflects an organization’s core purpose; for others, it could be sending off funding applications, starting a coffee morning for new Canadians, reflecting on 3 things you are grateful for every day, or making a new habit to connect with people you don’t know well – actions can be small or big. What matters most is to do something that you feel brings your values more to life…

5. Inspire others

danae johnson thinking partners

Positivity is contagious! Celebrate and share what you, others and/or your community are doing to inspire others either to join you or take action in a way that fits their values. Use social media, email signatures, word of mouth, letters or articles in local papers, community centre notice boards, and so on. Use the hashtag #WorldValuesDay to share your efforts and be inspired by others who are taking values-based action to make positive changes around the globe. World Values Day happens once a year, but the positive impacts it inspires happen every day!!

community involvement