Sandy’s New Work Life


Time flies when you're having fun.
And when you're a little busy.

This morning Garrett asked me when I last wrote a blog.

"It's been a while" was my answer. Upon further review, it's almost been over a month.

I've had no reason for the delay, other than the combination of being busy and knowing the content of which I wanted to write warranted more time and thought than my more typical whimsical stories told. Although I have had an arsenal of stories that I have wanted to write about over the last month, I knew that this one needed to top my list.

A common question asked of me is in regards to my work life is "Sandy, what exactly are you doing these days?"

This is a valid question since I have been very open in sharing my work journey over the years through my blog. And I've had a career that has gone from very conventional to unconventional. It's much easier to say "I work for XYZ Company and my job title is Chief Do-Something-Specific Officer" than to explain my various consulting roles and how much I enjoy my very nonconventional life.

I am a big believer in having self-awareness and gaining clear perspective as we trek through our days. Too often we get comfortable on the hamster wheel without ever knowing we really haven't gone anywhere. And too often this perspective kicks in too late. Stepping off the hamster wheel at end of life or after lost opportunities is a stark reminder that time cannot be reversed.

This why I write. My motive is simple. If sharing stories of my life experiences (blunders, victories, and pain) can create self-reflection for someone else, and positively impact them in their own life choices or opportunities they would not have otherwise seen, I have succeeded.

Humor me in allowing this blog to be a reflection exercise as I explain what I have been up to in my work life.

I often see my life in chapters. My working career to date fits in three main chapters, although years of service do not have a direct correlation to length of pages for each chapter. Not even close. And the book would read something like this....

Sandy's Work Life

Prologue: I have grown up working. Since walking beans from the age of five, I have waitressed, babysat, worked retail, cleaned hotel rooms, wrote for a newspaper, cooked, and about any other job that paid money in a small town. My college degree was in accounting and my first real job was with Peter Kiewit in Omaha as a staff accountant. My beginning salary was $18,200 per year. I was thrilled. Although my early work years covered a lot of different industries and skill sets, the main lessons I learned were with people. How to work with them, for them, and serve them. These lessons have proved invaluable to me over the years.

Chapter 1: Lutz & Company. I worked my way up the corporate ladder in this small-grows-to-large public accounting firm, over the course of 22 years. These years were spent primarily developing my right brain with a focus on finance and the healthcare sector. I grew up in the firm with many people who are still some of my dearest friends. We went through tax season after tax season and had baby after baby. These were my young adult growing-up years. And I loved them. I learned a ton about business and had wonderful clients. But then life threw me some curve balls and my perspective changed. I saw myself on a hampster wheel that I hadn't seen before and had new a view outside the cage that I hadn't noticed before.

Link to my past blog on leaving Lutz

Chapter 2: Think Whole Person Healthcare. Through an engagement I was leading at Lutz, I met an Irishman who asked me to be his business partner. Over a handshake at Jam's restaurant, we solidified our joint endeavor long before legal paperwork. We set off to change the world of healthcare for the better in a big way. For the next three + years, I was a founding member and the CFO of this large healthcare start-up. And it was like taking a ride on the bus in the movie, Speed.

Although the dream did not come to fruition for me, I did gain a mythical MBA in the world of business and a hard-earned pseudo Ph.D. in human behavior. The experiences and knowledge gained over these few years take up four times the number of pages in comparison to Chapter One.

My biggest learning was that my intent to positively change people's lives in a big way could not be achieved by grouping people in masses. Mother Teresa is the one who got it right. She so humbly described how she impacted so many people over her years and advice to others wanting to do the same; help one person at a time and start with the person next to you.

Big systems and big buildings aren't the change agents. People impacting people bring about positive change. Caring doctors, nurses, and staff accomplish this each day as they care for their patients at an individual level.

I left Think abruptly on a sunny winter Monday. And then I took time off. Five months to be exact. Something I have never done before. It was a glorious journey.

Link to my past blog on my time off

Chapter 3: Sandy A Lane Consulting. The hardest thing about deciding what to do next was narrowing it down. Having my own consulting company allows me the independence to pick the projects I want to work on and people with whom I want to collaborate. This chapter is all about wanting to positively use my experience, talents, and skill set to help people and organizations reach their ideals and potential.

What I have found is the opportunities in front of me are endless. I have turned down countless offers in comparison to the number I have taken. The continuing challenge for me is leaving enough available time for ventures outside of finance and business. This is my typical struggle; keeping my plate from running over.

This is where people get confused as I explain my work to them. It all sounds great, but what does it all mean? My blanket explanation of my work doesn't answer the specific question of "Sandy, what exactly are you doing these days?"

A lot has happened since my May launch into consulting independence last year. I have turned down many Chief Do-Something-Specific Officer roles in corporate America. The idea of getting into that cage felt suffocating to me. My biggest issue with these types of roles is that the bigger the company, the more difficult it is for me to influence positive change (my ultimate goal). In healthcare, it's like trying to navigate a tanker ship to turn abruptly and without overturning or causing injury. Almost impossible.

While mapping out my work opportunities in the early months and acknowledging the current state of American healthcare, I made the decision to stay away from healthcare endeavors for the short-term. The tanker visual was plaguing me.

A nice surprise from Skutt

My first project was with Skutt Catholic High School. It was to be a six-week project to serve as their interim VP of Finance and help re-engineer areas of the position to create operational efficiencies. Although this six-week project turned into a six-month project, I loved it. I worked side-by-side with some wonderful people whom I will have lifelong relationships. With my youngest son a junior there, I enjoyed the closeness of being a part of his daily life that is typically unexposed to me.

There are memories and moments in time that he and I shared that I will always cherish. And I feel I made a positive impact for the school during my time there. I will continue as a member of Skutt's Finance Committee, helping to keep positive forward movement in an advisory capacity.

Link to my past blog on my work at Skutt

And then completely against my vow to temporarily avoid healthcare, I began working with Kugler Vision. With some overlap with my Skutt work , I have been working with the KV team now for seven months. I went to my initial meeting with Dr. Kugler expecting a casual, professional conversation that would likely lead to my 'No' list. Instead, I found the conservation refreshing and energizing. Something I hadn't felt in the business of healthcare for some time.

Vision is such a wonderful gift. I once heard the quote that 80% of what we experience in our life comes from our eyes. Giving people the gift of perfect or near-perfect sight without restriction is an awesome thing. Working in a business model that goes directly from patient to doctor without the roadblocks and restrictions imposed by big insurance and government made it an opportunity to initiate positive change.

At Kugler Vision, I oversee all of their business operations from marketing and sales to financial reporting. I work with great managers and people who run the day-to-day business with passion, integrity, and a high work ethic. Refractive surgery is constantly evolving with even greater options available to help people gain their best vision. I really love the people and the work we do there.

Link to my past blog on KV

My time commitment to KV takes up about half of my work hours. My goal is to keep on-going projects at about a 50% time commitment. This allows availability in my schedule to take on the smaller one-time projects with other businesses and gives me the opportunity to work on projects and passions outside of business consulting. And this time definitely fills up.

Since May I have been involved in facilitating retreats, speaking engagements, small business consulting, operational re-engineering projects, and am just now kicking off my individual coaching endeavors. I am collaborating with two other coaches in a Design a Life You Love series of workshops which focuses on helping people reach their ideals. One person at a time.

I'm not sure how the next chapter will read or how long this one will last. I just know I very much enjoy my days. I wake up knowing that each day is an opportunity for me to make a difference. I am energized by the work I do and the great people I have met along the way.

Every day is a new canvas full of goals and a fresh perspective. I'm loving my new chapter. Now I just need to carve out more time for writing....

Sandy Lane