Meet Skillful Means Clients

Learn more about Skillful Means clients, including some brief case studies.
You may see yourself in their challenges and triumphs.

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Duluth LISC (Local  Initiatives Support Corp.)

Pam Kramer ED Duluth LISC 2013

I hired Teri Beckman and Skillful Means Training to help me develop a more cohesive team by solidifying a unified vision for our work and clarifying roles and responsibilities to carry-out a very ambitious and valuable strategic plan.  We had grown quite quickly in staff size and in the work we were undertaking.  It was important to make the time to build our capacity to work as a team.Teri was attentive to our needs and used Skillful Means methods to help us dissolve unnecessary conflict and improve inter-office communication.  She helped us develop skills to listen better, and to clarify our own requests to others.   Skillful Means strengthened our ability to build, recognize, encourage and engage others to contribute to the overall mission of our organization (including board members and volunteers).
As an Executive Director, I feel that I am much clearer on my strengths and how to develop them further. I’m learning how to build a team that understands and embraces their key roles in our work. I am also breathing more deeply and pausing when I am handling too many decisions at once. Stress overall has been reduced and when it appears, it is easier to handle.

As a team we are more clearly focused on achieving our mission and goals. We are able to better clarify this with our Board and community partners. As a leader I am laser focused on outcomes and our value-added. Teri was there for us through challenges and triumphs and we are now working towards a sustainable management structure that will lead to even greater results. I am very happy with our Skillful Means engagement; it was well worth the resources and effort expended.

Pam Kramer, Executive Director
Duluth LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corp.)
Duluth, MN

Read More of Pam's story...

NC Minority Support Center

I engaged Skillful Means was when I was in transition, leaving one job and unsure what my next move would be. Working with Teri as a Skillful Means coach, it was very helpful to focus on what I was most passionate about, what was most important to me on a deep level, and connect it to a career path. When I got the opportunity to serve as the CEO and Executive Director of the NC Minority Support Center it was an opportunity develop the capacity of community development credit unions across North Carolina, who were helping disadvantaged individuals reach financial sustainability. I was very excited to work in a position that matched by passion and interests so well. It was also opportunity to be a force for positive change within an organization that had experienced many recent difficulties related to historic changes in the credit union and banking industries.
Once CEO, I engaged in Skillful Means to help me develop a bold vision that included seeing the Support Center itself, its member credit unions and its customers all become financially self-sufficient and thrive. Working with Skillful Means, we then developed action steps and a structure to reach goals supporting the vision. Teri coached me as I worked through obstacles to get desired results, build a team and implement my plan. I was very happy with the results which included developing a whole financial sustainability structure for the Support Center, for Generations Community Credit Union and the credit union members (customers). In my 2 years at the Center we made significant progress toward these goals and manifesting the vision.

Perhaps the most important outcome of my work with Skillful Means is that it deepened my commitment to taking advantage of the opportunity of being at the Support Center and getting meaningful results, even when it was really hard. I learned deepening my commitment helped me to accomplish more than I thought possible. It also helped immeasurably as we overcame many different obstacles, both in the environment and in my own mind.

Paula McCoy,
Presdient, McCoy Enterprises,
former CEO NC Minority Support Center

Read More of Paula's story...

See Full Case Study for NC Minority Support Center

The case study below outlines goals, obstacles and results in more detail from this engagement:

The Support Center is a statewide non-profit financial intermediary based in Raleigh, NC that partners with Community Development Credit Unions to build their capacity in providing small business and mortgage loans and create economic opportunity in under-served markets.

Paula McCoy was a new Executive Director taking this leadership role after a period of intense change and challenges for many financial institutions including the Support Center. Her challenge was to establish herself quickly as a leader and develop a vision she could use to move the Center forward and thrive.Goal: Develop, adopt and implement a strategic action plan to make the Support Center and its members financially sustainable within 5 years (measured by increased income and consistent positive cash flow).

  • Obstacle: There was resistance on many levels to this as it required real change and a new approach to our work. This included resistance within the board and staff that had been doing business in a particular way for the last 10 years.
  • Results: We developed a plan and eventually it was unanimously adopted by the board. Staff was re-organized in a way to be able to best implement the plan. We developed a committee to begin to bring this plan to our credit union partners. Within a year, all parties were moving in the right direction, with losses declining as income and business began to increase.

Subgoal: Get the staff on board to implement these changes.

  • Obstacle: Existing staff had had little professional supervision for many years and had fallen into negative patterns of working that were difficult to change.
  • Results: Skillful Means training helped me navigate this very difficult process. It helped me see the obstacles in an objective way and not to take them personally. I learned to relax my own emotional reactions to the negative patterns of behavior I witnessed and to work with them in a direct open manner. Skillful Means training helped me make critical distinctions in terms of how I communicated with staff. I became more aware of developing healthy structures for meetings, as well as timing in communication. I began to evaluate staff regularly and encouraged open ongoing communication about how to makes things better.

SubGoal: Be recognized by and influence State General Assembly leaders to support the Center financially in a way that it could implement the sustainability vision for itself and its credit union partners.

  • Obstacles: 1) I had no experience or relationship working with these individuals. 2) We were in an environment where the state budget was being deeply cut to address deficits.
  • Results: Working with Skillful Means methods, we received the largest allocation from the General Assembly in the history of the Center. Leaders there became sold on our new strategic action plan and wanted to support getting the results.

SubGoal: Develop the sustainability of individual credit unions, beginning with Generations Community Credit Union.

  • Obstacles: The credit union had 8 branches across the eastern North Carolina with varied levels of staffing, operational capacity and profitability. The managers were acting as managers, mostly putting on fires in the branches. To expand opportunities to increase income and therefore sustainability of the credit union, the mindset of the managers had to shift to become leaders in their communities.
  • Results: All 8 branches improved their financial performance within the year. We developed Skillful Means structures for creating a mindset leadership among managers that generated new lending and deposit opportunities. They exceeded their stated goals of creating new strategic business partnership by over 300% creating over 144 new business relationships or strategic alliances across the 8 communities. Of these 144 new relationships the managers could measure 2/3 of these relationships generating new income for the branches within a 5 month period. Clearly the managers had learned to reach out and communicate more effectively with their surrounding communities. Their ability to successfully lead their own branches and customers toward financial sustainability increased markedly as each quarter the financial results of the credit union improved.

Ratna Ling Retreat Center

Tara and Chelsea are responsible for operating a 40 bed retreat center in northern California.  Skillful Means training, specifically working with Teri, enabled them bring their operations to a whole new level.  Using Skillful Means structures they developed the capacity to reach out to whole new market segments in order to become financially self-sufficient.   In 6 months, they reached this important goal.

Here is what they have to say about the work.

“Skillful Means was a way to clear out things that I was scared of – to help me move forward with essentially a start up business.  It helped keep me focus on what was most important while keeping the broader perspective of our vision.  Skillful Means starts with the results up front – to really see what you are creating before you start moving.  It helped us to stop wasting time & energy.”

Chelsea Rappel – Director of Public Relations & Marketing,
Ratna Ling Retreat Center,

“Skillful Means helps with focus.  It helped us cultivate positive thoughts and plans.  One thing I ran up against is how hard it is to stay present and create a plan to follow to get you going without being too controlling.  We found a way to create a momentum in work to carry us instead of forcing things.Skillful Means helped us learn how to sustain ourselves in the reality of daily work.   We are learning how to sustain 1) ourselves as individuals, 2) our guests, 3) the environment and 4) the organization.  We see how what we do each day affects these things.  We are learning how to integrate. If we are not working on each of these levels, something will collapse – they feed each other.  Learning to work this way we are learning to make this business truly sustainable.  Thanks Teri and Skillful Means!Skillful Means is a great way to be honest about what you are doing and see what is actually happening.”

Tara Ritsau Director of Operations,
Ratna Ling Retreat Center,

See Full Case Study for Ratna Ling Retreat Center

The case study below outlines goals, obstacles and results in more detail from this engagement:

Background:  Ratna Ling is a 40 unit residential retreat center in northern California.

Challenge:   Recently having lost a major donor, Ratna Ling was forced to become financially self sufficient very quickly through self-generated revenue.   It became necessary  to reach out to a whole new market in order to become financially self-sufficient.

Goal:   Develop and embody a vision and a plan which would carry the staff forward in implementing actions to create financial sustainability quickly.

  • Obstacle:  Operating the last few years, heavily subsidized by a generous donor, the staff had never developed a coherent vision or operational plan that would support financial self-sufficiency.
  • Results:  Working primarily with the day to day to managers, a coherent vision and implementation plan was developed to sustain the morale on a day to day basis and begin to reach out to the general public to market the retreat center.  Within 6 months the Ranta Ling was financially self sufficient.  Within 2 years they donating $5,000 per month to charitable causes.

The Hodges Education Foundation

The Hodges Education Foundation (“Foundation”) funds and directs a leadership/personal development program available to all high school-aged youth in Pamlico County.  In 2012, we assisted over 350 youth, 600 youth in the County, with the goal to ultimately benefit them all.

An important part of our program is a weekend leadership retreat that teaches youth about teamwork, explores their leadership skills, and invites bonding benefiting them at school.   We hold the retreat at a local youth camp and the counselors go a great job of providing the team building activities.  However, it became evident that we needed to improve the curriculum offered that was more appropriate for high school students and that professional assistance would be a great benefit.

I received a recommendation about Teri Beckman and the Center for Skillful Means.  The online information about the Center was helpful as it confirmed that their approach to teamwork was consistent with our desires.  Teri was contacted to assist us in developing the upcoming retreat curriculum and to assist in leading the retreat.

Teri interviewed several key members of the Foundation along with students to assist in developing a strong curriculum.  She was always available to discuss the details including logistical issues.  We also used her skills in yoga and meditation as part of the retreat curriculum to teach students how to control or manage stress, an area that most adults are not aware of and that many students struggle with.

Teri worked with the many camp counselors and other instructors to lead a very successful leadership retreat.  It became evident to us that having a professional involved added real value to the program and its success.  Students reported increased levels of confidence, communication skills and problem solving after the 1.5 day retreat.  I would recommend Teri Beckman without hesitation for any organization trying to achieve improved results.

Richard Hodges, Co-Founder and Treasurer
Hodges Education Foundation

Learn more about the actual Skillful Means engagement with the Hodges Foundation by clicking here.

Read More of Richard's story...

Grundy Housing Authority

“When burnout, strong personalities, and competing visions threatened to derail the important goals of our small public housing authority we called Teri Beckman for help.  Teri’s careful listening and skillful coaching gave us the tools to better understand each other, re-align to our mission, and become a stronger, more cohesive organization.  Today, because of Teri’s guidance and our dedication to her methods, we are thriving in a constantly shifting, ever challenging financial and regulatory environment.  Our team is grateful to Teri; we recommend her work highly, without qualification.”

Dr. T. Brent Newman, CEO
Grundy County Housing Authority

See Full Case Study for Grundy Housing Authority

The case study below outlines goals, obstacles and results in more detail from this engagement:

Background:             The Grundy Housing Authority is a non-profit public housing authority based in rural Illinois, south of Chicago. 

Challenge:      The Executive Director was concerned about staff turnover at the Authority and general stress among the staff in an environment of continuing budget cuts.   He desired a more stable work environment where staff could meet their goals.

Goal:   Develop a structure where stress could be transformed, staff turnover is reduced and individuals can contribute fully to meeting the goals of the Authority.  

  • Analysis:  The small staff had become divided, not working under a unified vision, resulting in unhealthy communication and insufficient cooperation.  The Authority was having trouble executing on its performance requirements for its real estate development projects.
  • Results:  It became clear that the Executive Director had not sufficiently shared his vision with the staff and why it was important in keeping the Authority financially healthy.  Skillful Means gave him a platform and structure to share his vision to broaden the work of the Authority as well as develop a plan of action to lease up a new elderly apartment building in 2 months during the winter.  This project gave the staff a way to practice improved communication and increased cooperation.   The Authority met the deadline for leasing up the building and was able to earn a $150,000 fee as developer of the project, a fee that would have otherwise been forfeited.   Staff turn-over and threats of quitting among staff declined significantly after the training.  New structures for effective staff meetings were implemented and ways of working together helped the authority take on new challenges.

Skillful Means Training – Students

Laurel Fereljohn

Teri is all heart and all practical empowerment. The Skillful Means workshop on developing a vision for work offers life-enhancing experiential learning to further a dream and bring it to reality. In my case, I became focused not only on what I want but on who I am in the process of realizing my dream—and I created specific goals that will be key to my success.

Laurel Fereljohn,
Professional author and copy writer,

Javier Rockwell

JavierI signed up to train with Teri in a Skillful Means Communication class to revive a more balanced and authentic quality in my working life. Teri’s instruction comes out of a deeply rooted tradition, but is thoroughly adapted to the issues of the modern workplace. Over and over again, she gently and effectively helps me recognize how my perceptions of situations tend to flatten into conceptual, opinionated caricatures of a far more complex and richly-textured reality. Through a combination of experiential exercises and a down to earth theoretical framework, Teri’s guidance points me to a fully embodied, felt sense of what is actually at play in the challenges I experience. Although her instruction is gentle and experiential, it is also precise and focused on meaningful accomplishment: “Start and end on time; communicate facts; keep the mission in mind; and rely on an even breath to find balance in challenging situations AS they arise.” Teri practices what she preaches, and I unequivocally recommend her classes and her work to anyone looking for a way to train in and sustain a deep, vital balance in the workplace and in life!

Javier Rockwell

Dean Kuhnlein


I believe one seeks a business coach for one of two reasons; they may feel stuck in time, or they are overwhelmed with the growing amount of change around their work. I found that Teri and the Powering Your Results Program has helped me move from a stagnate place operating a seemingly reactive video production company to a more proactive business and life focus.

The discipline and clarity I have gained through the course work, and specifically, the video and coaching, have been invaluable. Through regularly scheduled discussions Teri would discover the obstacles, then assist me in identifying methods to redirect my perspective on those ‘hold backs.’

Her keen sense and easy dialogue/manor freed me to recognize my positive qualities and leverage them to my advantage. I continue to weave new found confidence into all of my business dealings.

I am thankful that through my partnership with Teri/Skillful Means I was able to secure a contract with a long sought new client and I continue to see rewards both in my business and personal life. Whether it’s a sense of being ‘stuck,’ or being overwhelmed, Teri will help you realize your talents to build positive momentum.

Dean Kuhnlein, Owner
Pass Left Productions
Durham, NC

Michael W. Nix


Working with Teri and the Powering Your Results Program provided a structure for me to create a clear vision for my emerging work. I had lots of ideas, but working together through the Powering Your Results process, I created a vision that evolved into a passionate expression of my ideas and a real business structure.

The process also helped me manage time by becoming much more aware of how I spend my time. The experience of working together was very informative. The coaching structure itself helped me be more prepared to take my business seriously. It helped me create meaning, value and structure out of assorted ideas and inspirations.

I am very pleased with the end result. If I look at where I started, with just an idea, this process gave me the courage and a structure to create a business aligned with my passion and innate natural abilities. I have a regular deliberate productive schedule and I am creating art I never thought possible and exploring new creative marketing channels. Teri’s support gave me more confidence in my own abilities to pursue my vision and be able to meld that, not only into a viable business, but a creative lifestyle. Teri’s Skillful Means approach and ongoing support is a large part of both my business and personal life that both would be lessor if not for her part and for that I am thankful.

Always I remain,

Michael W. Nix
Metal Sculpture Artist
Upcycle Art and Sculpture
Raleigh, NC

HoneyGirl Meadery

Through the Skillful Means visioning workshop I was able to get very clear on the essence of my business concept, and the workshop gave me the structure and support to expand it. This Skillful Means body of work really helped me get centered and the vision just flowed out after that.

Diane Currier, Entrepreneur and CEO
HoneyGirl Meadery