Voyage Denver Magazine Feature on Kari Granger
Founder of The Granger Network, Kari Granger, was recently featured in Voyage Denver Magazine. as a part of their Trailblazer Series. The interview covered a broad range of topics but highlighted how Kari got to where she is today and what has been most important to her along that journey.
Kari, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was an Air Force Officer, deployed to Iraq for the first time. When I experienced a mortar attack, I realized in an instant that all the leadership training and degrees I had accumulated up until that point made no difference if I could not cultivate courage. This dramatic insight resulted years later in my obsession with bridging the gap between knowing about leadership and actually being a leader. As I quickly learned, this kind of development required a mastery of transformation itself – the transformation of oneself, relationships, situations, organizations, and even industries.
I taught transformative leadership at the US Air Force Academy, supported service members in transition, and more. I eventually left the Air Force and brought the same work to the world of business outside of the military. Working with a few masters in the field, I led transformative leadership programs around the world with simultaneous translations in various languages.
At 34, I had my daughter and reinvented myself once more. I had to find a path that incorporated being a mom with being a global leader – something I was finding very challenging. So, doing my own work on myself, I stepped into “Being a Mother with a Voice in the World.” I created a business that combined these two fundamental cares of mine.
Can you tell us a little bit about this business?
The Granger Network, is an executive development firm that exists to bring human heart, connection, deep responsibility, and creation to organizations – accessing and demonstrating these aspects of the human experience as nutrients for thriving businesses and successful endeavors.
We have grown from 1 person to 13 and counting. Our raison d’etre for growth is to intervene in the global drift of “more for more sake – more money, more material, more land, more control, more, more, etc.” In other words, the hazardous focus on shareholder profit at the expense of the remaining stakeholder interests. Our work is about causing extraordinary results through stakeholder performance. Stakeholder performance includes shareholders, but not to the detriment of communities, environments, employees, relationships, and most importantly as a mom, future generations.
We support leaders in being the real deal – ensuring all stakeholders thrive while profits rise.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been a journey. I have had to consistently look inward to what I care about and what kind of life I want to lead. It is easy to get swept away into any one of our cultural drifts about what it means to be a successful woman. I have had to bring a whole new level of discipline, resisting the urge to allow others to define success for me.
I have had to learn how to be a mom, a wife, and a business owner. If we get too busy, life will pass us by. This is probably the most difficult thing to remember daily.
This road has also been full of not so fun learning experiences – betrayals, naivete, mistakes, regrets and more. Because my work is about transformation and leadership, I have taken each of these to allow me to continuously evolve, grow, and reinvent. I often wonder to myself, “what lesson will I learn from this so as to be able to share with others?” That actually helps me to bring my best self to whatever challenging event I am dealing with.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Granger Network – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We work with leaders and their teams so they can make the difference they dream of making. Our practical work takes several forms – executive and leadership coaching, leadership development work, strategic and cultural alignment, and more. We deliver 1-1 and group engagements both live and online. We are known for our work in performance, accountability and trust (check out Kari’s podcast addressing these topics: “Leadership Impact”).
We have many things that set us apart – but it all begins with a partnership with our clients. We are co-creators and we actually do not provide all the answers. We like to partner with our clients over the long term as we accomplish the impossible together.
We do our homework, we stay informed of current events, and are able to support our clients who must navigate the different political, economic, social, and environmental waves. We learn rapidly and grow with the times – we don’t get stuck on anything. We are nimble and can give up our frameworks when a new evolution is necessary.
I also think we are unique in that we are always in service first, even if that means losing the client. We are steadfast in our authenticity, which often requires a level of bravery to bring things up that are easier left ignored.
Who have you been inspired by?
My mother is #1! : ) She was a professional woman and an incredible mom – owning several accounting firms throughout her career. She was known throughout our community as I was growing up (and still is). She also ALWAYS answered the phone when we called. We were never told to wait as she finished with a client – she was a mom always.
The thing that inspires me most about my mom today is that she continues to grow and develop herself. She has recently retired, sold her business, and started a new career as a coach!
As a “YES!” to life and a masterful listener, she is someone you always want to be around.
I am also inspired today by Angela Merkel. Regardless of politics, I am inspired by her as someone who takes her role as a global leader very seriously.
Speaking of people who take their role very seriously – Barbara Lee – the only member of either chamber of Congress to vote against the unilateral, unchecked “anything necessary” authorization of the use of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks. While I was in the military and supported my commander in chief, I am inspired by her foresight, courage and principled stand. It wasn’t about going to war, it was about the president’s ability to use force unchecked with no time limit that we are still feeling the impacts of today. She got a lot of heat for it, and I am inspired by her ethics.