Client Testimonials


"Carlson Group has learned a lot about us, our people, our strengths, challenges, and our needs. As our companies continue to work together, that partnership offers us a key resource in executing our strategic plan. It's one thing to develop a plan. That's the easy part. It's quite another to effectively carry it out. Having Carlson Group at the table, involved in our leadership development, is incredibly valuable to our organization because of their deep knowledge of our company. From executive search to consulting, their partnership is integral to successfully implementing our strategic plan."
Jim Plagge, Chief Executive Officer, Bank Iowa



"I never realized how important my own self-awareness was to my role. Carlson Group's leadership series, "Building Your Leadership Effectiveness," helped me understand my own natural tendencies, shortcomings and blind spots a little better, and how important that knowledge can be in how I approach my role as coach, mentor, manager, communicator and team member. I also understand how important it is that it be an on-going process, and that it can only be effective if I apply it. These leadership sessions definitely presented something new and meaningful. Thinking about the barriers and mistakes outlined in each of the sections causes more self-reflection and invokes more internal thought. Have I done that? Why did I do that? Was it the right thing to do under the circumstances?


"This series also reminded me that I can't be the best leader I can be on auto-pilot.  I get so caught up with project work that sometimes I do what is the easiest. I need to put more thought and effort into coaching, developing others and driving performance. The sessions we held concerning performance discussions were also extremely beneficial.  In my experience, these conversations tend to be few and far between. The exercises that we did helped outline a consistent approach to these hard conversations. The sessions concerning driving and managing performance and developing others were also helpful.  We discussed ways to more actively engage employees in their own development plans and goal setting, which could have a positive impact on how employees approach their goals as well as on their overall performance."

IT leader, NCMIC

As a trainer myself, I can be very analytical of other trainers, but I would rate Gary Walljasper's abilities as very impressive. Our organization definitely made the right decision to bring Carlson Group on board to facilitate the Building Your Leadership Effectiveness series.  I noticed several aspects of his facilitation that made him strong, including his utilization of Adult Learning methodologies and his willingness to share his experiences to connect the dots, even when those experiences weren't always his brightest moments. The audience related well to him, found him approachable, easy to trust, and highly credible.  

Training Manager, Midwest Financial Services Organization

If you are seeking to take your leadership team to the next level and provide them the skills and techniques necessary to transform from managers into effective leaders, I highly recommend Carlson Group's "Building Your Leadership Effectiveness" program.  One of the best aspects of this program is that its content is relevant and valuable whether you have just a few years or decades of management experience.  Gary Walljasper led our twenty-member leadership team through the program's eight modules.  Beginning with the first module, "Managing and Leading Through Self Awareness," Gary fostered an environment in which it was "safe" to examine, share, and confront our beliefs about a number of subjects, including relationships, communication, and staff development.  Gary's sharing of his own successes and failures was an open invitation for us to do the same without fear of judgment or ridicule by our peers.  As we progressed through the series, participants relaxed, dropped their guard, and engaged in open and honest dialogue not only with Gary but also with each other.  The increased self-awareness, trust, and openness helped our team realize the full benefit of each module and has lived beyond the conclusion of the series.  We entered this series seeking to be more effective leaders within our organization.  We exited not only as more effective leaders but also as a stronger and more cohesive leadership team.  It is these additional "value-add" components that differentiates Carlson Group from similar firms."

Vice President, Information Technology, Midwest Financial Services Organization

I took the Building Your Leadership Effectiveness series shortly after taking on supervisory responsibilities at work.  Although I'd had many years of leadership experience through project management, "leadership with authority" was going to be a newer experience for me.  I was able to gain a lot of awareness about myself; characteristics and natural tendencies I wasn't previously actively aware of. Gaining that awareness has caused me to alter how I think about leadership, coaching vs. mentoring, and the development of others, and to approach things in a different way. This awareness has even had an impact at home!  I can honestly say that there wasn't a specific class that had the most value--all of the classes worked together to be a valuable learning experience. I would highly recommend this series for anyone who's beginning their leadership experience, for those who are looking to reinvent how they lead their teams, or even for those who are trying to prepare themselves for a leadership role in the future. I have already implemented several of the concepts within my own team and look forward to incorporating more of them!

Project Manager, Midwest Financial Services Organization

I've had the opportunity to work with Gary Walljasper and Carlson Group over the past year and have had a wonderful experience.  Gary has been a truly valuable partner as we've collaborated on our Leadership Development curriculum.  He's brought new and innovative ideas to our curriculum, and his flexibility in partnering with me and a colleague in another location has been greatly appreciated. Gary's expertise in Executive Leadership and Human Resources adds credibility to his content and facilitation. He does a fabulous job connecting with participants and offering additional resources when needed. Thank you for the valuable partnership! 

HR Consultant, Training and Organization Development, Midwest Financial Services Organization

If anyone is considering looking at Carlson Group's Building Your Leadership Effectiveness, it is a must-take leadership series.  You start out taking an evaluation, and then you receive reports back, showing the areas of your personal strengths and weaknesses; the results of this assessment are spot on. And, when you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, you are aware of how to become a better leader and employee. Useful reference materials are distributed in each class, which you can then use in everyday situations. This course is a definitely a worthwhile, productive use of your time and effort. I give it five stars!

Community Banker, Central Iowa Banking Organization

"This year, I had the opportunity to take advantage of leadership training offered through Carlson Group. I greatly enjoyed the experience and was encouraged by the team's participation.  Gary Walljasper also provided invaluable one-on-one training to enhance my skills to become a better leader for my team. The training and tools I learned have already impacted how I approach and direct my team in our day to day activities.  I look forward to continuing this training so I can reach my full potential."  

Plant Manager, Manufacturing Organization

Attending Carlson Group's Building Your Leadership Effectiveness series has had a profound impact on my career.  Working through various scenarios in the class, I was able to identify positive traits that I could leverage to assist me in my dealings with others. In addition, I learned where some weaknesses were and what I needed to do to improve on these.  Most importantly, I learned to understand the present and apply that understanding to myself and others in my daily interactions. I would strongly recommend this series to anyone seeking to improve their professional and personal communication."

Vice President, Banking Industry

I highly recommend Carlson Group's Building Your Leadership Effectiveness series.  This leadership series revealed some things about myself that I was not aware of, and that will help me to become a better manager and mentor to my team.  Gary Walljasper is a seasoned, articulate, and highly effective moderator.  

Vice President, Central Iowa Banking Organization


"Gary led several 2013 strategic planning initiatives for our companies.  The experience and results were outstanding, and much of the success can be attributed to Gary's leadership and facilitation skills.  His efforts to build relationships prior to the sessions, assign the right "homework" in advance to assure we were productive in each session, and provide thoughts to create a mutually-agreed upon agenda helped us to stay focused on the right things.  As our facilitator, he established an atmosphere that was positive, he worked diligently (and effectively) to keep us on task, and appropriately held us accountable for results, not only during the discussions, but also during the execution phase of our planning efforts.  As an outside expert, he respectfully challenged our thinking and asked questions which forced us to leave our comfort zone.  Gary's leadership allowed us to be successful as a team."

Steve Sikkink, CEO, Alliance Technologies, Inc.

"In the midst of a multitude of organizational integration initiatives associated with the impact of diversification, we were compelled to seek assistance with meeting facilitation and strategic planning development for our annual planning. Multiple organizations, divergent business models, cultural differences, and newer executive team relationships needed to come together to produce cohesive, yet business unit specific plans. We contracted with Gary Walljasper to manage the process. Outside of being precise in his pre-work, sincere in his approach, and flawless in meeting deadlines, Gary has a unique manner of facilitating discussion that allows a perfect blend of patience for divergent views and communication styles yet remaining laser focused on moving the discussion to clear outcomes and alignment with defined goals. Our planning process was, and our planning documents are, more valuable due to Gary's involvement. I have no reservation giving an unqualified recommendation for Gary's facilitation and strategic planning consulting."

Joel D. Duncan, CEO, MERIT Resources, Inc.


"Gary is an outstanding coach! I had the opportunity to work with Gary at a time when the division was going through a transformational change. His coaching helped me maintain the clarity, focus, and passion required to lead others through the dynamic and rapid change taking place, and in a manner that delivered extraordinary results. Gary has a no nonsense approach, keen listening skills, and a wealth of business knowledge that he brings to every session that is energizing! Gary helped me to focus not only on what was good for the organization, but also on what was important to me personally. As a result, both the company and I benefited from the engagement! Gary made a difference during a very challenging time in my professional career. Working with Gary was both rewarding and inspiring, and I will use the new insights and skills acquired throughout my career!"

Business Executive, Health Industry

"During the time we spent together, Gary was an outstanding sounding board and listener who easily built trust and confidence. He knew when to push, and was interested in doing the best for me as an individual first, which in turn helped me to focus on me as an employee of the organization. Gary was always able to pick out the key theme or issue in our conversations. He didn't stop a conversation from heading off on a tangent, but when necessary, always re-directed it back to the root issue. He blended our personal catch-ups and our professional discussions seamlessly. It never felt as if I was being analyzed or judged; it was just a conversation between friends or colleagues.

Gary is a trusted advisor, mentor and coach. He relates well to people and quickly connects with others. He is straightforward and honest, and his assessments are accurate and fair. He believes strongly in personal development, and holds those he coaches accountable for personal and professional growth. He will accept whoever you are, but will insist that you are committed to becoming better than what you are today, or that you are better positioned to handle the challenges you face today by working on your own skills and behaviors.

He is quick to share his own experiences or helpful words and tips when needed, and is always asking the right questions. He has a great sense of humor and a passion for excellence."

Senior Leader, Principal Financial Group

"I had Gary Walljasper for my internal coaching program at PFG. I was COO Greater China based in Hong Kong, facing the challenges of tough market competition and staff turnover. Gary was very good at listening to my problems, helping me sort through the issues, and coming up with suggested action items. I regarded Gary as a trusted coach, and his suggestions were practical and helpful in addressing many of the weaknesses in my management style. The monthly conference calls were definitely time well spent."

Executive, Principal Financial Group

"Gary Walljasper was my leadership coach for roughly a year, and coincidentally through a very difficult year in my 20+ year career. Gary was very organized and professional through our initial discussions. He made the conversation about me and what I wanted to accomplish and provided prompt and comprehensive notes of our discussions to validate that he fully understood my objectives. Gary was careful to listen to what I had to say and quickly process and separate the facts from emotions of my inputs leading to the pertinent questions to be resolved. I look back at my professional relationship with Gary as a privilege. Gary is an excellent coach, mentor, and trustworthy colleague."

Senior Leader, Financial Services Industry


"The single biggest advantage of working with Carlson Group is that it has been a true strategic partnership. They are really an extension of our senior management team, moving from strategic planning into action, and getting the right talent and leadership to implement those action plans. It goes beyond understanding the assignment, to knowing the business and the culture, and then finding candidates who fit. Carlson Group really took the time to understand specifically what we were looking for; as a result, we've hired some great leaders that we're truly lucky to have. Carlson Group remains an invaluable resource for our organization."            

Greg Hilding, Group President, Bremer Bank

"This was the first time ever that we had gone outside the company to recruit a new CEO, and I was determined to find just the right person to lead ILC during this next critical time frame in the company's history. I had heard very good things about Gregg Carlson and Carlson Group, and after meeting him I was convinced he was the right resource for this important search. Carlson Group was indeed the right choice." 

Carl Lamberti, retired CEO/President, ILC Resources

"I found Gregg Carlson to be an excellent consultant to work with. His approach and style helped us immensely as we worked through all the various phases of executive recruitment. His insights on each candidate and recommendations were very helpful in guiding the board throughout the search process. Gregg Carlson did a terrific job!" 

Bank President and CEO, Chairman of Holding Company

"At every stage of this search Gregg has exceeded our expectations. He brought an extensive initial slate of great candidates for us to consider. Gregg also played a key role in the negotiation process and closing on our selected candidate. I have been very impressed with how he approaches his business and the skills that he brings to the table. He is a polished communicator and straight shooter who met every deadline and perceptively analyzed our company's needs, the candidate marketplace, and the backgrounds and skill-sets of the candidates." 

Director, Member of CEO Search Committee, Publicly Traded Company

"When working with a search group, the most important things to us are results, credibility, integrity, responsiveness, and a strong customer service focus. Carlson Group scores high in all five categories. Gregg's careful attention to our needs has helped his firm successfully interview and place candidates time after time. His firm is truly an extension of our company. They abide by time constraints, know our business inside and out, and are entirely reliable." 

Executive Vice President for Human Resources, FirstMerit Bank

"Our experience with the Carlson Group was highlighted by their exceptional professionalism. They established excellent credibility with the hiring executive, were very knowledgeable within their industry sector, and provided timely, quality feedback throughout the duration of the search. The search was a great success and reinforced the confidence I have in Gregg, his firm, his credentials and work ethic." 

Director of Staffing and Associate Relations, Jackson National Life Insurance Company