FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Jenn Lofgren
January 2, 2018
What should be the first image I put in a reader's mind? Accomplished, successful, driven, coach, smart, funny? Or should I start with homeless, poor, technology-wiz, HR pro, someone to fix your car?
We are all a composite of our experiences – and Jenn Lofgren is no exception. She’s far more than a product of the street … she’s been strengthened by her experiences.
Born in Ottawa, 2nd born of two daughters. Parents divorced. Mom is a retired Avon lady/office worker/school administrator, dad is a locksmith. Jenn came to Calgary in 1979, left in ’84 and returned in ’89. She was a really good student until 15, in 10th grade, when she was expelled from her mother’s home. Homeless for four months, helped by a shelter and programs to get her ‘on her feet’ living independently she stayed in school and became a mechanic in the military reserves. She graduated from Western Canada High, studied Psychology at University of Calgary for two years – worked in tech, returned to school to get her HR diploma at Mount Royal University.
Jenn’s world of work began in I.T. – she was nerdy and good at it – as a way to fund her schooling; her path was A&B Sound, Shaw, networking, AT&T, consulting after the dot-com bust, Nexen, was a VOIP pioneer, loved tech. But she loved people issues more – then back to school for more focus on team building and leadership. Following MRU, Longview Systems, H.R. generalist, problem resolver …
Along the way she found a husband (he’s a geologist) and they have a nine-year-old daughter. While on mat-leave, she founded INCITO (pronounced IN-SITE-OH) in 2009, during a downturn, to focus on education, coaching/training, International Coach Federation – and, as she described it, “there was no plan”. Her business development focus was her H.R. association, networking, volunteering, “coffee with people”. She got some contracts, some of which are still going strong. She mentioned a couple – Canoe Financial, the Mayor of High River – but stopped there, “most of my clients are confidential and wouldn’t want me disclosing who they are”. Her team, her shop: Jenn, five consultants/contractors, four consulting advisors.
Why are you successful? “Because I’m resilient. I’m NEVER a victim. I get to make choice in my life. Being blessed by my husband and daughter – to be ‘present’ with them.”
What has held you back? “Sometimes it’s been worrying about what other people will think – that gets in the way. Sometimes I’ve taken on too much.”
How do you see your business – executive coaching and leadership development – going forward over the next quarter?
… my business has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two years. A lot of coaches are leaving this work which will benefit us even more.
And over the next five years?
… this is going to continue to be an expanding field. It’s a relatively young industry. There is an increase in awareness – a need for rigor and quality.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… I’m about quality – not quantity. I believe in buy local, hire local. Quality of life works best for everyone, and I look for that in others …
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Jenn Lofgren, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… because I’m focused on what I do. I do leadership and executive development – and nothing else. A lot of coaching is experience-couched, but that’s not me. I focus on the mindset of leaders – on having those hard conversations.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… in a lot of ways I’m very hands-off. I have guiding principles, values – I expect people to get behind them. I serve as a centre – a formal structure. I lead with an ‘accountability based’ approach. Courtesy is very important …
… some times of the year – yes. Right now, NO .. it’s crazy!
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… what is happening with our governments – their approach to business.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… being tossed out of my home at 15. Meeting my husband – seeing his joy for the work that he did – got me looking hard at my career. Rex Rainsforth – an automotive instructor at Western, helped me through a very tough time (and yes, I can fix cars!). Steve Morris – someone to talk to, he was my ‘work dad’.
… skiing (downhill), golf (I don’t keep score), family time, things nine-year-olds like to do. I’m a board member at the Calgary Youth Justice Society, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and CPHR Alberta. And I’m involved in Women’s Executive Network, Haskayne School and coaching industry groups …
What do you read?
… books on leadership, I like stories with an impact. Memoirs of a Geisha was one. Currently I’m re-reading C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Series with my daughter …
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