Quarter of a Century and Still Going Strong!

Fulcrum Associates - Leadership Training and Development, Team Building

It was in September 1988, in a suburb of Toronto called Mississauga, that we incorporated Fulcrum. My wife Linda and I became–and remain–the co-principals of the firm. Gradually we have linked up with seven associates, all seasoned professionals in areas related to our core and whom we can bring in on contract to meet our clients wider needs.

We chose the name “Fulcrum” because the spirit of our work is helping our clients gain leverage on their investment in their managers and their teams. For a fuller explanation, please click here.

When we started out we presented on just about everything, from communications to customer service to stress management to leadership…oh yes, and time management, of course. (Just about every trainer has presented this topic at one time or another.) Then, around 2000, we dropped most of our offerings (boy, was that painful!) in order to focus deeply on two areas: Leadership Development and Team Building Facilitation.

Scanning our Facebook timeline, I am reminded what a terrific ride it has been so far. Here are just a few of the highlights for me, in no particular order, in the course of our serving over 250 clients:

  • Becoming certified to work with the deep, insight-generating, 360º assessment profile and culture survey instruments developed by The Leadership Circle
  • Moving to the US in 1998, enabling us (with two passports) to easily cross the border and serve our clients in both countries
  • A decade of active involvement with the community organization, Leadership Fairfax
  • Publication last year of my first book, Would They Call You Their Best Boss Ever?
  • My own professional development: NLP, Gestalt, Group Dynamics, Emotional Intelligence, Executive Coaching, MBTI, Open Space facilitation
  • Partnering with Eagle’s Flight to deliver some of their experiential learning programs to a wide range of clients
  • Earning my Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association
  • Creation of our team-based tool, the Teamwork Palette™
  • Delivering programs in Korea, Vietnam, Austria, and the Caribbean
  • Launching my leadership blog, Build Best Bosses
  • Delivering 80 sessions of our management program to 1800 participants, from Assistant Deputy Minister down to Director, across the entire Government of Ontario

I have met phenomenal individuals in our client organizations. I have learnt and been stretched from working with a variety of people in different industries and types of enterprises. I have felt the buzz of not knowing exactly where our next business will come from and what kind of assignment it will be. I have been able to attend and speak at professional conferences, read and research interesting professional topics, travel, and control my own calendar. In addition…(drum role please) for the past 25 years I have enjoyed the convenience of a 20-second commute to my office!

At the same time, running an independent, small business in what many label the “soft skills” space has been a challenge. First, of course, you must offer expertise that clients see as adding value to business side of their enterprise. Then you must deal with computers & peripherals, social media, business accounting, financial planning (for the slow periods), sales and marketing, and professional presentation design for slides and workbooks. You need to develop an engaging writing style and skills around presentations, program design (for adult learning), new technology platforms, and the list goes on.

So, looking back over the quarter century, has it been worth the hard work and financial risk? Oh yeah!

That’s why, for me and Linda, our 25-year journey continues. Thank you for being a part of it.


Ian CookBest wishes,

Ian Cook


The Righteous Mind What I’m Reading

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haight

This is a fascinating exploration of moral values that drive people into vastly different camps of beliefs: Think religion. Think politics. While it is a somewhat US-centric treatment of the subject, Haight’s extensive international research has come up with six modules of values around with different groups of like-minded people cluster:

Care/Harm Loyalty/Betrayal
Liberty/Oppression Authority/Subversion
Fairness/Cheating Sanctity/Degradation

He offers the best explanation I have ever read for the polarization that is wrenching the body politic in the United States. His formulation, however, has great application in culture wars brewing or raging in nations all across the globe.

It is not a light read but I’m glad I stayed with it to the end.