March is Women’s History Month, a time when our nation spotlights women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. My daughter-in-law recently wondered why, when they make up half the population, we are still talking about women as if they are a different species from men. I see her point, but I look at Women’s History Month as an opportunity to honor the amazing women who have contributed to the success of our company.
Women make up nearly 64 percent of our workforce at The Ken Blanchard Companies. Without question, these women were the driving force behind the strongest financial performance in our history last year.
Women have always been integral to Blanchard’s success. Three of the eight founding associates of The Ken Blanchard Companies are brilliant women: Margie Blanchard, Pat Zigarmi, and Eunice Parisi-Carew.
I have already paid tribute to my wife, Margie, in another blog, so now I’ll introduce you to Pat and Eunice.
Pat Zigarmi entered our lives as a new graduate student at the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts in 1970, fresh from an Outward Bound survival experience in the woods of New England, which was part of the experimental curriculum at UMass in those days. Right away, my wife Margie and I were struck by Pat’s adventuresome spirit, intense focus, and million-dollar smile.
Pat has been a huge contributor to our company over many years. She was our sales leader and key member of the leadership team from 1987 to 1997, when Blanchard grew from $6 to $30 million in sales. An expert on SLII®, Pat is the coauthor with Drea Zigarmi and me on Leadership and the One Minute Manager.
Pat has always known the importance of balancing work and family, so when her daughter was born, she pioneered our company’s Infant at Work program. This revolutionary program allows new parents to bring their babies to work for the first six months of the child’s life. It’s one of our company’s best loved institutions, because people find that having a baby around puts life in perspective and provides stress relief.
Pat learned to challenge norms in graduate school, when she shadowed the great Warren Bennis, the country’s leading organizational change theorist, as he implemented a change program at the University of Cincinnati. Pat continued to study change in Austin, Texas and brought her findings into Blanchard’s Leading People Through Change offering. She is the coauthor with John Britt and me of Who Killed Change? a parable about implementing organizational change.
We celebrate Pat not only for her many contributions to our colleagues and clients, but also for showing us what joy and purpose look like in both work and play!
Like Pat, I first met Eunice Parisi-Carew in 1970 when I was a professor at the University of Massachusetts. A serious but fun-loving doctoral student, Eunice—who was already a licensed psychologist—had been attracted to the university’s innovative School of Education.
Eunice played a key role in helping Margie and me start our company. In the 1980s she relocated to Escondido and signed on as a full-time associate. Eunice was a valuable advisor when we were creating SLII®, and helped us bring the model into alignment with her research on groups and teams.
Along with Don Carew and me, Eunice coauthored The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams. She is also the coauthor, with Don Carew, Sheldon Bowles, and me, of High Five! The Magic of Working Together. Her most recent book, coauthored with Jane Ripley and me, is Collaboration Begins with You.
For many years, Eunice headed up our consulting partner group and then worked with my wife, Margie, in our innovative Office of the Future, a department that looked at future trends. A compassionate and gifted mediator, Eunice was often called on to help internal Blanchard teams with chartering and other issues. At the same time, she was a sought-after consultant, trainer, problem solver, and resource to our clients, consulting partners, and salespeople.
We celebrate Eunice for her many decades of pioneering work: empowering women in the workplace, creating high performing teams, and serving our colleagues and clients with the most innovative tools available.
There is no doubt in my mind that without the contributions of Margie, Pat, Eunice, and hundreds of other phenomenal Blanchard women, our company never would have achieved all that it has. It’s a joy to honor them—not just during Women’s History Month, but every day of the year.