Mark Nicolson

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Mark Nicolson, founder of the Nicolson Group, and co-founder of Ventana Group, has coached thousands of organizations, teams, and individuals to achieve peak performance. He has been consulting and teaching for over 20 years on transformative leadership and in September 2012,  delivered a TEDx talk on How Leaders Learn.  His clients include such companies as IDEO, Sony Computer Entertainment, BALLE, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Desmond Tutu and his family foundation. He has also taught frequently in Executive Education at Harvard and at Stanford.  With a passion for transgressing taboos, he has a special affinity for working with social change visionaries and leaders who are committed to building values-driven organizations.  Growing up, Mark wrestled with a very privileged yet rigid and repressive educational environment. As a result, he is committed to supporting leaders in transforming their self-sabotage into creativity; and to exploring the hidden parts of themselves, so they tap into their innate genius and be of even greater service to others.  Mark's passion for continuous learning led him to get an MBA from Stanford and two other MAs: one in Classical Literature from Oxford, and one in Psychology from Meridian University.  

Earlier in his career, Mark worked in investment banking in the UK and Hong Kong; before becoming a partner in Alexander, the UK pioneer in executive coaching in corporations in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s and which served clients such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Goldman Sachs.  There Mark facilitated hundreds of leadership development programs, officer group retreats, and coaching skills workshops in the US, Europe and elsewhere. He designed and led the team integration process after the merger of Glaxo and Wellcome, which created Britain’s then largest company: for four years, he worked with the whole UK organization up to Board level to develop team effectiveness and support individual leadership during times of change and stress.

In the late 90s, exhausted and depressed from his life in London, he took a sabbatical to discover the secrets of a life of balance, play, joy and contribution. He spent 2 years managing the garden at Esalen Institute and this experience inspired his life and work philosophy: that our reactions to everyday experience (like fear and anger) can be transformed into leadership capacities (like courage and fierceness) through special forms of support and challenge.