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Susan Clarke

Entrepreneur Profile

CrisMarie Campbell’s bio provides plenty of evidence that she has the drive to achieve incredible goals.  An athletic career as a U.S. Olympic Rower segued to a professional role as a fight test engineer for Boeing’s 777 airplane.  When she decided to make the transition from engineering to business she earned her M.B.A., and secured a management position with global financial powerhouse Arthur Andersen. 

 There’s an incredible level of access and a lack of stress here that frees up mind space and time to do great work…we made the right choice when we chose Montana.

It was in her role with Arthur Andersen that CrisMarie gained a strong understanding of the value of clear communication in business; as well as, realized the impact of her own lack of confidence speaking up to senior level executives when she disagreed with their decisions.  As she recalls, “I was always told to be respectful - and most importantly polite - in all situations, including business…even if it meant ‘stuffing’ what I knew could be a better solution or decision.”

In 1999, CrisMarie took a trip to The Haven Institute on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, to seek holistic treatment for a back injury.  While there she met Susan Clarke.  At the time, Susan was leading one of the Institute’s Communication workshops, and her expertise made an instant impression on CrisMarie:

“I saw this woman with a very strong presence able to successfully navigate some pretty big egos through conflict…I instantly knew I wanted to work with her.”

CrisMarie convinced Susan to partner with her on an Arthur Andersen client, who had a major internal conflict. CrisMarie and Susan worked with the client over a three-month period to get them beyond a critical conflict, get clear on their business strategy, and figure out how they were going to work together going forward. Recognizing the tremendous need for these team strengthening services in businesses across the country, CrisMarie and Susan founded their own business coaching and consulting firm, thrive! Inc. in 2002.

In 2008, CrisMarie and Susan came to Whitefish, Montana for a seminar and met another consultant who worked with national clients and called the Flathead Valley home. While waiting for their return flight at Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, CrisMarie remembers the conversation as a game-changer for them:

“At that point we had been flying all over the country to meet with clients, and we realized we could be traveling from Whitefish as easily as we were traveling from Seattle…while living in a place that gave us far more opportunity to pursue our personal interests.”

With Whitefish as their home base, CrisMarie and Susan have brought thrive!, Inc’s unique consulting and coaching services to clients like Microsoft and Nationwide Insurance. Their primary business service starts with a team quick start two-day off-site where they focus on both the smart and healthy side of business. On the healthy side, their high-powered business clients learn to develop trust in each other, clear up past differences, and learn communication tools that allow for a healthier team, as well as, company culture.

On the smart side, they focus on getting the team on the same page strategically, from the big picture of why the team exists, how the team will be successful, down to the tactical side of what’s most important right now, and who does what.

As CrisMarie is quick to point out, “we make sure it’s not too touch-feely; we focus on business results…we give our clients the skills to clear things up and make real progress instead of defaulting to the most comfortable idea that will lead to a mediocre result. We find that when people are clear with each other, and feel comfortable saying what they really think, the team’s innovation skyrockets.” She follows up by explaining that “innovation is about people really staying in an uncomfortable conversation until new ideas emerge. The mentality of just wanting to get through the day stifles meaningful change in a business or organization.”

In order to help a wider audience of business owners and leaders benefit from their years of experience cultivating stronger company cultures, CrisMarie and Susan offer speaking engagements on custom-tailored topics ranging from team effectiveness, leadership skills to conflict management. Their audiences for these speaking engagements have ranged from local Montana businesses to a division of global conglomerate Johnson & Johnson.

Without a doubt, the last several years have been tremendously successful for thrive, Inc; and CrisMarie believes their decision to relocate to Whitefish has played a key role in that success:

“There’s an incredible level of access and a lack of stress here that frees up mind space and time to do great work…we made the right choice when we chose Montana.”


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