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You’re listening to Jackie Kelm’s Sirius Satellite XM radio interview on the “Fully Alive” Show with Dr. Greg & Lisa Popcak
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My career began as a development engineer for General Motors with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. During this time I wrote and presented a few technical papers on automotive air conditioning topics such as thermodynamic balance and heat transfer considerations. Luckily I don’t have to defend those papers today 🙂
I then explored being an entrepreneur and started a custom carpet business. Working with interior designers, we designed and made one-of-a-kind area rugs and carpet inserts. I also volunteered for SCORE during this time, providing business consulting to other start-ups.
Three years later, I sold the business and returned to school full time. All my life I had been fascinated with individual behavior and group dynamics, and when I discovered there was a field devoted to this–called Organization Behavior, I dove in headfirst.
In 1996, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Business with a concentration in Organization Behavior from Case Western Reserve University. During this time I happened to take several classes from David Cooperrider on Appreciative Inquiry (AI), and was enamored with the concept. I became passionate about learning and applying AI from that time forward, and have been committed to it ever since.
While still finishing graduate school, I began working with Ernst & Young LLP as a senior consultant in the Leadership and Organization Change group. I was able to use AI in several initiatives and also got some great experience in leadership development, change management, and education and training. I left as a manager when I had my daughter in 1999.
Being a full-time mother was a whole different kind of learning experience. I did a few part-time activities on the side, like participating in the start-up and founding of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting (AIC). I was also engaged in personal and spiritual exploration during this period, as I had struggled with depression all my life. I began to apply AI to my daily activities and everything changed.
My life began to transform as I practiced AI in my personal life, and in September of 2005 it culminated in the publication of my first book on Appreciative Living.
Speaking engagements and workshops followed the first book, along with a national joy study in 2007. I published my second book in 2009 with Tarcher/Penguin, and developed additional CD’s, products and training to support the expanding work.
Corporate consulting slowly entered back into the picture as I worked with organizations to help apply the appreciative principles with employees. This led to a brand extension I call Appreciative Engagement, which helps organizations use the appreciative principles to get employees more energized, engaged and successful on the job.
I was happier than ever in 2013 and thought I had the world by the tail, and then my life fell apart. Wile being hospitalized for a serious infection I was given large does of antibiotics around the clock, and they caused me to develop anhedonia, which is a physical inability to feel positive emotion. I literally could not feel joy, love, happiness, or any positive feeling.
The anhedonia drove me back into depression and to depths of despair I had not known in years. I used Appreciative Living in combination with neuroscience to pull myself out once again, and am more of a believer in the appreciative approach than ever. I created a new website devoted to helping people overcome anhedonia at www.GetJoyBack.com
I am more passionate now than ever about sharing this work with others as it has saved my life twice! And watching organziations benefit from this work is equally exhilarating. I am working on a third book on Appreciative Engagement, looking at conversations as a catalyst for change.
On the home front I have a teenage boy and girl, and a husband of 26 years. Life is an exhilarating journey, and I am grateful every day for having found my calling–something that is so deeply meaningful and fulfilling. My greatest joy comes in seeing others take these ideas and make positive changes in their lives, and I am committed to doing all I can to make that happen!
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