Since his retirement from The Change Companies, founder and former CEO Don Kuhl has started to connect with customers and others in a fashion unlike what he experienced when he ran the company. His “Mindful Midweek” columns that are e-mailed every Wednesday have become thought-provoking reading for the field—sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, always intensely personal and with a message.
“I had never put my name or a personal stamp on what we did at The Change Companies,” says Kuhl, who retired in September after 22 years at the helm. “I was encouraged to do this by our younger staff. The feedback has been amazing.”
The Change Companies has become a trusted source of evidence-based materials to assist addiction treatment centers, hospitals, government agencies and other entities in promoting change in their customers, but Kuhl always has stressed that the organization is about more than its product line. The weekly columns that he launched this year allow for a broader messaging effort around the company’s core themes.
Topics range from the lighthearted to the deeply emotional. In an August column about forgiveness, Kuhl humorously recalled his nervousness as a sixth-grade parochial school student attending mandatory confession. “I get on a roll spewing sins suitable for kids in the 1950s: disobeying my parents, lying, taking the Lord’s name in vain, anything to draw Father G’s attention away from what I’m sure are my mortal sins.”
Last week, Kuhl spoke indirectly to the headlines surrounding the sexual abuse accusations against Penn State University’s former assistant football coach, relating a similar act of evil against him by a youth football coach in the 1950s. The gripping account ended with a note of hope and redemption: “In my life, I was blessed with caring individuals, both personal and professional, who guided me to a place of self-love and responsibility.”
“That was the first time I’ve taken that kind of risk,” Kuhl says of last week’s column. Many of the more than two dozen readers who contacted him after reading the column shared their own personal stories, he says.
Several staff members at The Change Companies offer Kuhl feedback during the writing process, always looking to highlight the core message in each column. Kuhl says he is finding the weekly exercise to be an ideal vehicle for connecting with the company’s clients and others. “This personally has been very freeing for me,” he adds.
For more information about The Change Companies’ Mindful Midweek, visit www.changecompanies.net.