Cy Wakeman

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Clients Rave About Cy Wakeman & Reality-Based Leadership!

Rave Reviews for Our Reality-Based Speakers

For Cy Wakeman


“Cy Wakeman is a dynamic speaker with an uncanny ability to communicate a message to an audience. Cy understands human behavior and has the ability to get to the heart of the subject in such a way that everyone in the audience relates to her. I see audiences highly charged for action when Cy has completed her presentation.”

—  Carol Schneider, County Extension Education Director


“Cy Wakeman came highly recommended as a keynote speaker and she didn’t disappoint. Our luncheon event sold out and we had people on a waiting list looking for an open spot to hear Cy speak— and nobody cancelled! What our audience enjoyed was how candid she was and people could relate to that. She didn’t talk down or over our heads— it was like she was kicking our backside with some solid leadership skills that we could really use in both our business world and everyday life. Cy received high marks from our post-survey results and members want her back for more!”

—  Jackie Wilson, Vice President


Cy has made such a powerful impact on our company. Engaging a group of construction workers, office workers and the management team in the same setting is certainly a challenge. Cy’s energy filled program and presentation set everyone at ease and started the process of an open dialogue, a common language, an appreciation of each groups challenges and truly made everyone understand we were one team with many needed roles. Cy really connected with our entire company. By the end of our initial training everyone was still very energized and relished the new knowledge we had just acquired. We have seen both immediate and long-term results in attitude, retention, production and profitability. Cy has truly provided us a ‘company life-changing experience’. This experience has been so profound that Cy is now a regular resource for our company.”

—  Joe Balus, Chief Financial Officer


Cy ‘WOWED’ everyone in attendance! Cy Wakeman has been one piece of a significant investment over the last five years in developing our organization’s leaders. One very important piece! Cy is dynamic, engaging, on point, and does a great job getting at the proverbial ‘elephants in the middle of the table!'”

—  James G. FitzPatrick, CHE, President and CEO


“Cy Wakeman is a top notch presenter. When Cy first spoke at the State Conference in 2004, her speaker ratings were the highest, with an almost perfect overall score. Her packed break-out sessions were a tribute to Cy’s success. In fact, we consider Cy’s name on the agenda as one of the enticements that bring professionals to the conference. Her name on the program means an outstanding session.

—  Ruth M. Jones, Director


Cy is awesome—a very captivating speaker. Cy is one of the most sought after speakers in the Midwest. Her presentations ‘Leading Successful Change—The Competency of Competitive Advantage’ and ‘Coaching Leaders to Lead Successful Change Efforts’ were extremely well received with 96% of attendees rating the lunch session Excellent-Good and 98% of the tech session attendees rating it Excellent-Good.”

—  Laurie S. Pieper, Director, Human Resources, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce /


“Cy has a tremendous ability to understand her audience on a personal level and thereby structure a program that is nonthreatening and right to the point. Over a course of time and through a variety of fun and engaging learning and listening techniques, she was able to take our management team through a process that allowed us to work and think as a unified and effective team. Today that team is providing the leadership necessary to take our organization to levels they never thought imaginable before. I have listened to and worked with quite a number of motivational and developmental speakers and consultants, and without a doubt, Cy is in the top of the class!”

—  Rhea Geary, President & CEO


“Cy Wakeman has been a great help to Wayne State College in strategic planning and as a human resources consultant. Her intelligence, experience, insight and humor are appreciated by the officers and employees with whom she has worked.” ­

—  Sheila Stearns, President


“Your discussion and presentation on ‘Reality-Based Leadership’ topic led our group through a fun-filled ride of excitement and knowledge based learning that everyone is still talking about in the chapter.

The meeting, while accredited for one continuing education unit for our HRCI recertification, sparked a commitment by our group to be more involved this year and by comparison to other speakers in the past, the education unit of recertification we received was surpassed by the engagement that you created with our group in a short hour.

Thanks Cy for a dynamite presentation that was real-time education and for helping set the tone for what we believe will our best year in programs and education.”

—  Robin J. Bullock PHR


“Whether it’s enhancing professional development through the ‘Leadership Lessons of Lewis & Clark’, or instituting organizational change by ‘Succeeding in Spite of the Facts’, Cy’s explicit energy, compelling anecdotes, and creative facilitation style provided Iowa State University and University Extension Staff with the tools to affect positive change. Post-conference conversation was buzzing with plans to implement Cy’s strategies within and across colleges and departments.”

—  Carol A. Heaverlo, M.S. Outreach Coordinator Program for Women in Science and Engineering


“Cy commits energy and valuable content to her presentations. She provides practical solutions to problems burdening businesses in the face of change. Her motto, ‘Helping organizations thrive in challenging times!’ mirrors what she provides to attendees. I highly recommend attendance at these engaging seminars.”

—  Charlene M. Schou, Human Resource Manager & Safety Director


“Cy has provided clear direction and substance to the changes required for Burgess to become a truly great company. Cy has the ability to lead an organization through a brutally honest assessment of current status, the development of desired state, the development of an aggressive action plan, and to lead the leadership through the implementation of the action plan. I believe Cy’s greatest strength comes from her ability present educational material to leadership in such a way that challenges current beliefs resulting in open and honest discussion of current status of an organization and the definition of the desired state. Cy combines real life experiences, knowledge, and her sense of humor to present organizational, human resource, and leadership theory in manner which resonates with both new and experienced leaders.

I would and have recommended Cy to other organizations which are seeking a energetic, humorous, knowledgeable, and engaging speaker in the areas of organizational development, human resources, and leadership. She is the best I have had the pleasure to hear in these areas.”

—  Fran Tramp, President


“We are a company that holds customer service to the highest level possible and expect the same from those we work with. Cy exceeded our training expectations. We were so impressed that we’ve had Cy provide training for two of our subsidiaries. Our management team desires training that provides them with real-life tools they can use immediately on the job. They got just that from Cy and much more valuable information as well. Cy has a way of telling stories that grabs your interest and that people talk about well after the training has ended. Employees and managers quote Cy even 1-2 years after the training took place. Cy can be distinguished from other trainers in that participants have enjoyed her presentations, applied the training to their job, and asked for her to present again.

In the 23 years I have been in Human Resource management I have seen trainers from across the country. I value the time we have employees and managers devote to training and make sure our trainers are top notch. Cy is on top of my list of exceptional trainers. She is professional, yet personal and more importantly provides training that is sustained.”

—  Nancy Conway, Sr. Human Resources Manager


“Cy Wakeman’s presentation was a great success. Cy’s explanation of change management made a lasting impression with everyone. She has the unique ability to ‘teach’ complex issues in a fun environment. Her sense of humor was extremely engaging and her use of real-life examples kept everyone focused. To this day, employees continue to use the concepts discussed at the meeting. Cy Wakeman’s enthusiasm and excitement only added to the success of our event!”

—  Lisa Roskens, President, Chief Executive Officer


“Cy Wakeman amazes and dazzles audiences with her sincerity, authenticity, frankness, and humor. Whether serving as a keynote presenter or an emcee, Cy has been a tremendous asset to ICAN’s programming. If you are looking for a bright, talented speaker who can move an audience to action, I would give Cy Wakeman ‘two thumbs up.’

—  Sherry L. Helmke, Executive Director


“Cy’s sessions are enlightening, thought-provoking, and practical. We’ve made great changes in our organization over the last three years, and often I’ll hear people long after her programs say, ‘Well, as Cy said…'”

—  James L. Mounce, President


“Cy Wakeman’s presentations to the Burlington Capital Group have been honest, engaging, and relevant. Her humor and straight-forward style make immediate connections with her audience while her knowledge and experience bring credibility and respect. We have received consistent positive feedback, from seasoned associates to new hires and from entry level associates to our executives, on how applicable and enjoyable her presentations are. One person commented that ‘Cy says what you’re thinking and are too afraid to say out loud.’ In a business climate of constant change, Cy has equipped members of our organization with the information and skills necessary to manage change and help manage people who must manage change.

—  Kevin Hensel, M.A., Director, Communications & Marketing and Employee Relations & Development


“Cy’s facilitation skills are amazing. She quickly builds rapport with her audience and produces results beyond what we imagined possible in the short time provided and limited resources available. I recommend her often to business and associations wanting to truly recreate themselves.”

—  Nancy Nogg Rahauser, Assistant Dean


“To say that she is effective in getting a group excited and involved in thinking about their past, present and future is an understatement. Cy’s ability to challenge our thinking, make us laugh and get us to be a part of a solution is amazing, consistent and a joy to be a part of. She is a catalyst to any organization that needs motivation and help with strengthening teamwork and getting a job done!”

—  Cristina Thomas, Vice President, Chief Information Officer


“Cy was able to manage this diverse group of strong personalities to achieve the stated meeting objectives AND she did so within the time and budget allowed for this event. Cy has a unique ability to challenge individuals’ thought processes in a non-threatening and friendly way—and she easily interacts with employees on all levels. Cy is a high energy, motivational, thought-provoking and results-oriented speaker.

—  Scott Focht, VP Strategic Planning


“Cynthia clearly understood our goals going into the session and with her thought-provoking and energetic style. She managed to create a stimulating flow of ideas. She was masterful in keeping participants attentive and involved. Board members left the sessions feeling good about the process and energized with new ideas.”

—  Debi Durham, President


“Cy brings a high level of energy and insight into challenges organizations are facing today. Our participants enjoy her humorous approach to serious problems, her energy, and the real-life examples used to illustrate the points she is making. Cynthia can break problems down in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way and then provide the tools and solutions needed to accomplish goals.”

—  Mary E. Foley, Director Leadership Training


What was gained was beyond what I could have imagined. I found myself, as well as my staff, growing in a variety of ways. I get so excited when I think of where ‘we’ were, how far ‘we’ have come, and where ‘we’ can be.”

—  Karen Vlach, Administrator


“Cy’s engaging, energizing and motivating keynote address with the WIN Nevada group earlier this year really hit the mark. She had a strong message and an entertaining delivery style that made all of us think twice about the lessons she delivered. It was great to see the audience stay after the meeting to talk and share stories that aligned with her message. I believe they learned and enjoyed— a home run with this organization!”

—  Chris Cox, WIN Board Member, Owner and Chief Learning Officer


“Cy Wakeman understands her audience! Cy did a wonderful job of recognizing our team members for their above and beyond performance. What was so great; however, was that she really got to the core of what it takes to perform in the job to continue to excel and be considered a role model, etc. Our team members in the audience— and their guests—took something away that evening above and beyond feeling recognized. They thought about how their actions can drive results in the workplace and take them to the next level in their career. They were recognized, they learned and they were motivated! This is exactly what we wanted our team members to take away from the evening.

Following each dinner, several of our guests stopped Cy and wanted to talk with her one-on-one. She gave each person who asked her undivided attention and spent as much time with them as they needed. Many of our guests came up to me and told me how much they appreciated what she had to say. Cy is the epitome of a dynamic speaker who understands her audience and will do what it takes to give the client what they need.”

—  Carrie Wolter, Communications Consultant


“We thoroughly enjoyed Cy at our annual conference. Her original insights on reality-based leadership were right on target, and were presented in a light, witty tone that was truly inspiring and relevant to employees at all levels in the company. She was a breath of fresh air in the dreaded ‘after lunch’ slot, keeping the audience fully engaged while leaving us with insightful tools that we can apply in both our personal and professional lives.”

—  Linda A. Brandi, Vice President

For Alex Dorr


“Alex presented the Hardwiring Accountability program with around 300 of our leaders and supervisors in May of 2017. Attendees were engaged from start to finish and the table exercises and activity at the end did a fantastic job of tying together the content to sustain the learning. There were a few attendees that came up afterward asking for more sessions like the one he presented and that they couldn’t wait to put the new Reality-Based tools to use in their day-to-day. In the feedback survey the week following our session, several leaders commented that they were able to immediately put into place new practices to help them deal with workplace issues. As a presenter, Alex was able to integrate audience participation and interaction as he presented to keep the content light yet impactful. “

—  Jared Ledoux, Director of Leadership Development, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center


“Alex worked with our executive team around the Reality-Based Leadership philosophy for a full day. His presentation was compelling, engaging and got our entire staff participating! Many of the executives mentioned that not only was the content eye-opening on the cost of drama in the workplace, but they were excited about the practical tools they now had to be able to recapture energy that is about to be lost to drama and, in the moment, redirect that energy into adding value to the situation. Not only was this training helpful at work, it really opened my eyes up to ways the Reality-Based philosophy could be used in settings other than the workplace.

—  Beverly Sanders, Director of Human Resources - Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago


“What has been most exciting about the time that has passed since Alex’s session is how the language of Reality-Based Leadership has entered our work culture. Quite often I hear people say, ‘don’t argue reality’ when discussing a complicated issue. In my own practice, I find that it has led to quicker decision making, innovation of process, and a swifter path to a solution. In many ways, the concepts are quite freeing and have allowed people to move on to what will be rather than what has been. We are certainly not yet transformed, but language is powerful and you can see the pockets of the team that have accepted the ideas and work to ingrain them in their thinking. The activities from Alex’s session seem to be particularly memorable and they come up as examples for how to focus on our reality.”

—  Rob McMonagle, Senior Director of Human Resources, Asbury Communities


“Alex actually had our leaders on their feet by the end of his Reality-Based Leadership presentation! His examples really resonated with our directors on how ditching the drama with team members could naturally open up opportunities for more collaboration, innovation and solutions-based problem-solving. Not only did he provide some eye-opening insights throughout the presentation, he was sure to leave our leaders with specific tools they could use the very NEXT DAY to start redirecting the time and energy lost to venting and drama with their staff and put it towards better results for our customers. His presentation was engaging and spot-on for today’s rapidly changing workplace.

—  Jocelyn Blandford-Naita, Manager, Entertainment Operations at Carnival Cruise Lines


“Alex’s Reality-Based Leadership had our entire audience engaged from the start! Not only was he able to relate to our diverse range of HR professionals in the audience, but his stories and examples were extremely relevant to the challenges we are facing in our industries today. Attendees left with practical tools they were already talking about implementing with their teams the moment they returned to the workplace that would help them change the energy in their interactions away from drama into conversations about what they wanted to create and how could they get there. Alex did an incredible job of interacting with the audience throughout the day through Q&A, table exercises and a final activity that had the entire crowd of 90 people interacting and participating. I highly recommend Alex for any conference you are planning in the future!”

—  Whitney Kennedy, 2018 President, Lubbock SHRM


“Alex presented with our organization of credit professionals and we couldn’t have been happier with the presentation. He was really able to hit the right notes for people and had everyone intensely interested in each concept and story presented. The group was already discussing how many takeaways they were eager to implement the very next day.”

—  Ken Young, Former Chairman of the National Credit & Financial Executives Forum


“Alex presented a half-day Reality-Based Leadership course with 23 of our directors. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The tools Alex gave us new energy and taught us new ways of problem-solving. The concepts and activities of his presentation are powerful and Alex presents them in a specific way that helps the training stick.

—  Deb Tomek, Director, Human Resources at Clarkson College


“Alex was my teammate for 2 years on a championship team and a silver medal team in national league and also on a university team that also won gold. Alex helped build a great culture through his contagious and relentless positivity. In those 2 years, Alex taught me a lot about leadership, being Reality-Based and how to cultivate accountability in teams and clubs. He was, and still is, one of my biggest influences and through his guidance I have started my own business, captained and coached championship winning teams and impacted so many young people to ditch the drama and have a growth mindset. I owe so much of my success to Alex and couldn’t recommend him more. His positive nature, motivation and resilience have made him a great leader and speaker everyone should have the pleasure of a conversation with or see present.”

—  Dan Watts, Head Basketball Coach - University of Derby (England), Founder - Watts Training


“Alex was a great presenter. He was very engaging with the students in getting his positive and drama-free message across. He was very interactive and had students working with each other to demonstrate some of the key points to his message. I would not hesitate to have him talk to my student body again!

—  Eric Dockstader, Principal, Belmond-Klemme Jr./Sr. High School


“Alex has spoken to our group on 2 separate occasions. Each time he presented us with material that we have been able to utilize in our preparations for games each week. Learned helplessness has been a key term to our growth as a program.”

—  Paul Patterson, Norwalk IA High School Football Coach

For Ana Dorr


“Ana presented an interactive session of Reality-Based Leadership at our luncheon and left the group with tools and techniques they could use immediately to start chipping away at drama with their teams and redirecting it towards results. Her presentation style and the way she mixed in humor kept the audience engaged and looking forward to each slide. I found the content extremely relevant and fresh for the modern workplace.”

—  Tonya Mathison, Managing Director at Principal Financial Group


“Ana spoke with our group around ditching the drama and Reality-Based Leadership and the content really shined light on many of the challenges that we struggle with each day at work. She opened our eyes to the cost of drama and how much it hinders workplace productivity and happiness. She also gave us practical tools and techniques that we could put to use the very next day with our teams to get better results. The content was extremely relevant for today’s challenging work environments.”

—  Mindy Kidney, Membership Chair of Heartland Women's Network

For Kelli Hinshaw


“Kelli was awesome I have learned another way to look at open communication. Thank you!”

—  Medical Group Clinic Senior Leader (Madison, WI)


“Implementing our new system was easy. Leading change was the hard part. [Everyone] needs to call Kelli to have them come to their organization to help change mindsets.”

—  Director of Nursing, Inpatient Nursing (Kansas City, KS)


“Excellent Facilitator. Kelli really gave me some good ideas to use with my Segment leaders.”

—  Long-Term Care Organization Executive Leader (Louisville, KY)


“This presentation provided me with many new ways to approach my team, coworkers, and even life.”

—  Inpatient Nursing Functional Leader (Madison, WI)


“Kelli did a knock-out job with The Red Door team.  She was so easy to work with and really listened to our pre-conference prep with her.  The team loved what she had to offer, and most importantly, found her credible and understanding of our industry (which is critically important and often missed).  Comments that evening and the following day were all positive, including how anxious our operators were to get back to work and use the tools.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!”

—  Deborah Venuti, Vice President, Human Resources, The Red Door

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