Meet Karen

An Interview with Karen Switzer-Howse,


1. How long have you been doing what you do and how did you become a
catalyst for ThriveSynergy?

Actually the seeds that grew into what I do to-day were planted a long
time ago when I was growing up.  I loved being outside and enjoyed
learning all I could about the complex inter-relationships in the natural
world and as a result wanted to be an ecologist or an environmental
biologist  However at the time the only courses in environmental
biology or ecology centered on the use of insects to control other pests –
not my idea of an ‘environmental job’.  I wanted something more
holistic, and was lucky enough to discover that I could create my own
course at Guelph, as long as I could convince my supervisor that there was
a reason for taking the courses I wanted.

This was my introduction into the practical side of communication,
persuasion and inter-personal dynamics!  My interest in how people
interacted, made decisions and the role played by communication was
further piqued by two courses i took, one in psychology and one in
extension education – a course on how to communicate complex ideas to a
general audience to achieve a change in behaviour.  The groundwork
was laid for my interest in how to help people with different perspectives
work together to achieve success.

During my career I soon saw how important communication was in
achieving success – especially as I was definitely working in a
non-traditional job, and not always welcomed with open arms by my male
colleagues, who weren’t sure that women belonged in science.

I  also soon saw that the ability to really enjoy your job and
achieve great success depended more on your ability to deal effectively
with others and get your point across, even when there was little common
ground to start with.

I also saw that when projects failed, or people were left out of the
loop, it was very rarely because of technical reasons.  Inevitably it
was because of ‘people’ issues – inability to get along, lack of
understanding, an inability to see other perspectives, ineffective
communication of ideas, a disconnect between what the person wanted and
the project goal and/or a natural inclination to rub people the wrong way.

The ultimate result was that often poorer solutions were chosen or a
less effective person was promoted, because of interpersonal issues, not
technical competence.  And people are notoriously bad at speaking up
for themselves (in an appropriate way) and knowing how to create a
satisfying personal and professional life.

As time went on this bothered me more and more.

And I was especially bothered when a person took the position that they
didn’t have the time to spend ‘reflecting’ on what was really important to
them and weren’t interested in trying to ‘do the people’ thing because
they were too logical and analytical to succeed at the touchy feely stuff
needed to be successful with people, so why waste time on it.

What I have since found to be true is that it’s not that they can’t
do it, it’s just that they’ve never been given the appropriate tools and
processes and shown how to use them with their strengths to help them
succeed both in their own life and with people.

So what I’ve dedicated my life to is finding the appropriate tools and
processes and working with these people to help them create the personal
and professional synergy needed so they they could really thrive, living
their life fully and without regrets.

2.  Who do you work with exactly?

I tend to work a lot with people in the sciences and related fields,
especially those in leadership roles or moving into leadership roles.
These are the people who have reached a point in their career when the
‘lone wolf’ style of work isn’t going to cut it any more and they are
becoming dissatisfied and frustrated that other people appear to be
obstacles rather than helpful in moving to a more rewarding position.
They feel marginalized and de- valued because they can’t seem to get
others to appreciate what they have to offer.  They have tried
working harder and longer hours, however that has only led to increased
stress and overwhelm.   They, or their boss, realize that to
succeed, they need to have better communication and leadership skills, and
the dissatisfaction has gotten so great that they are ready to admit their
way isn’t working and try something different.

I also have worked with people in  non-traditional jobs who feel
isolated and left out and need to find a way of being heard.  Again
it comes down to enhancing their communication and leadership skills.

3.  What are the top 3 challenges these people self-identify as
having the highest priority to work on  ?

# 1 is people – all the issues that arise in working with others.

Secondly, they aren’t getting the results they want – results that are
really important to them, to their career, and to their business.

# 3, life isn’t fun anymore! They’re frustrated,
overwhelmed and feel under incredible stress every day.  And they
don’t know what to do about it, or where to start to make it different.

4. How are you different from other regular business consultants,
communications advisors or career coaches?

To start with, I’ve been there, I’ve worked in science based
organizations and have worked in business development, at the intersect
between science and the rest of the world.  I’ve been in situations
were decisions were made based on someone’s ability to charm the
client/boss, as opposed to selecting the best solution.

Additionally, having worked with so many strong analytical, results
based colleagues, I have a greater understanding of the issues and
challenges than most.  I’ve also seen first hand what’s worked and
what hasn’t worked for them.  And being a researcher by nature,
knowing that a new approach is needed, I’m able to identify the key
elements needed for success and than go and find the tools and processes
that are appropriate for the situation in question.  I don’t propose
a cookie cutter solution, or a single event based activity that I know
from past experience won’t produce the changes needed for ultimate

5.  What type of personality do you work best with and what is
expected of me if I were to work with you?

So, what about you?

Is your productivity increasing, stagnant, or dropping? Are you losing
money through lost time or less than optimal decisions? Have you seen any
evidence that you (or some of your people) may be stuck or losing ground
because you’re …….

Frustrated –
because you can’t get people to do what you want?

Overwhelmed –
by the never ending 24/7 demands you face?

Discouraged –
in the bottom line results?

– from other people and no longer passionate about your work?

Stressed out
– to the point that it’s affecting your productivity and burn-out is now a
niggling worry in the back of your mind?

What are they looking for? They want the freedom of knowing they

    • Communicate with confidence and ease with anyone, anytime.
  • Handle any situation, self-assured and effortlessly each and every
  • Make the right decision and take the right action, no matter what.
  • have fun again, living
    their life fully, confidently, with no regrets!

Bottom line? People who work with Karen ……

  Discover their “Authentic Power” and how to live their lives fully, confidently,
without regrets.

  Make the “vital connections” necessary for getting unstuck and creating more
meaningful success in their personal and professional lives.

  Align who they are with what they know so they can be the person, and the leader,
they want to be.

  Re-ignite their passion for their work and their life.

  Spend more time in “flow”, effortlessly accomplishing what’s really important to

  Re-vitalize their workplaces and re-energize their people by re-connecting
them to what’s important.

  Develop more successful, productive, collaborative working relationships, and…

  Have way more fun, fire and freedom in their lives than they ever thought possible!

How does working with Karen accomplish all this?

People who chose to work with Karen are inspired to believe in
themselves because Karen believes in them. She enables them to uncover
their unique strengths and gifts, then guides them through a process to
create a path that allows them to connect what they value most with what
they want to accomplish. Her enthusiasm and open, non-judgmental support,
plus her ability to establish rapport and build trust, allows people to
evolve their own directions and create step by step plans that are easily
actionable for them.

These results have been achieved by Professionals and Small Business
Owners who want to live life fully, handling anything, anytime, with
confidence and ease, no regrets and Executives who want their
organizations to thrive.

But does she really understand the world I work in daily?

People and organizations who work with Karen can draw on her 25 plus
years experience “in the trenches”, the Executive Suite and the Board

Originally an environmental biologist, her communication and
interpersonal skills helped her evolve through many multi-faceted career
opportunities, working in England, Canada and the U.S.. She’s worked in
the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, in research, adult
education, public advocacy, policy development, facilitation, fundraising,
organizational and Board development, public relations, seminar and
workshop development and presentations, as well as business and alliance
development and marketing.

As Executive Director of a national not-for-profit, she worked with
senior executives and government leaders and understands how business and
government work. Her expertise in developing working alliances and
collaborations was further augmented by her tenure as a “Business
Development Specialist” in the Federal government where she was
instrumental in the development of research collaborations between
government labs, private industry and others.

In 1998 she founded Quest’Ar Pathways, working with business owners and
senior professionals on how to improve their bottom line by creating great
work environments. She has coached senior professionals in successfully
transitioning to leadership roles and professionals and business owners on
creating highly productive workplaces.


The paper trail….

Karen is an Alumnus of the University of Guelph, Coaching and
Leadership International Inc., The Coaching Clinic™ and B\Coach Systems
L.L.C.. She is a member of CoachVille and the International Coach
Federation. She is a trained facilitator and is certified as a national
seminar leader (specializing in stress and conflict management,
interpersonal skills and communication).

She has served on the Boards of the Ottawa Chapters of both the
Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and the International
Society for Performance Improvement and has taught interpersonal skills at
Algonquin College.

A believer in life-long learning, after completing the B\Coach Coach2
Program, she went on to graduate from the Master Business Coach Program
and the Performance Leadership Program. A founding Member of Leadership
University (LeadU), she is also the Director, Mentor Program, B\Coach
Systems LLC.


A sampling of what others have said….


“I had never imagined that the ISIS {Integrated Strategic Intention
System} coaching process you used with us could be that powerful in
bringing about such a transformation with the team … never have dreamt
of doing without the full support of my “new” team and the further support
we got from our Board as they gained confidence from experiencing the
leadership we demonstrated as a team.”

J.-Y.L., Canadian Co-operatives Association

“Because of Ms. Switzer-Howse’s extra effort in preparing her
materials, she delivered a custom-fit presentation, which exceeded the
expectations of everyone in our organization.”

A.C., South Nation Conservation

” I was amazed by both your compassion and your high energy.
You made the workshop not only educational but entertaining, and your tips
and tricks for self-coaching really hit the mark.  They were exactly
what I was looking for.  thank you so much.”

J., Workshop participant, Ottawa

Some Organizations Who Have Worked with Karen include…

Canadian Co-operatives Association

South Nation Conservation

Canadian Association of Exposition Managers

Health Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Maimonides Geriatrics Hospital

North Grenville Chamber of Commerce

Grower’s Chemical Corporation

Mountain Moldings Ltd.

Women’s Educational Business Breakfast

Merrickville Chamber of Commerce

Toastmaster’s Leadership Training

So…does it make sense to work with Karen to get what’s really
important to you, so you can live life fully, with no regrets?

If so, contact Karen and explore the possibilities.  See if this
is the support you’ve been missing to take that next big step forward and
start living your life more fully to-day, with no regrets!

You can reach Karen at:

Phone:   (613) 774 – 4142

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