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While the solution may be inside of us, what we often lack is perspective– the kind of perspective that enables us to make distinctions between our authentic inner voice and our inner sense of security.

Coaching brings that perspective into focus by way of reflection. When we are able to hear our inner workings reflected back to us, our perspective broadens and deepens. Our choices expand and more solutions become recognizable to us.

Almost all of us have had a coach or mentor at some point since we were children – a parent, a trusted adult, a sports coach, a teacher, a mentor, or a boss. Coaching is building upon a familiar relationship. As we take on more responsibility in our organizations, we don’t always offset the added stress with the kind of healthy reflection and dialed in perspective that coaching can bring.

This is why, at Growing Edge, we believe coaching can be a meaningful tool for many organizations, teams, and individuals.

“At the heart of coaching is a belief that – along with our problems and challenges –  our own solutions are already inside of us.”

our story

Founded by Patrick O’Brien, Growing Edge began in 1998 as a coaching resource, primarily for those in the hospitality industries. Over the years, our team has been comprised of coaches hailing from different industries, backgrounds, and experiences. Currently, Growing Edge works with two primary coaches: Carl Blanz and Michelle Nordhougen. 

Carl Blanz

I have a passion for working with leaders, managers and teams. Most of my 35-year career in the hospitality industry career was in “command and control” management positions. That style of management worked on me when I was young, but over time, I could see that it was less and less effective, it also left people feeling detached from the vision and from the organization’s leaders. I’ve been consistently fascinated with becoming a more effective leader myself, over time, as I’ve studied and formed my own interpretation of facilitative leadership, I’ve come to see that everyone has leadership potential, and everyone wants to contribute and realize their highest impact. As a coach, facilitator and the owner of Growing Edge, my purpose is to provide effective tools, processes and guidance to leaders who want to realize their highest contribution and impact in life. 

michelle nordhougen

With years of experience working in people-focused cultures and environments, I bring a sense of exploration and possibility to my role as a Coach and collaborator at Growing Edge Facilitation. For decades, I have worked in hospitality and human service roles supervising teams, and facilitating development of organizational systems and leadership.  These professional opportunities, as well as parenting, and owning restaurants and a small business has provided me the understanding that I can never have all of the answers, and more importantly, that progress and success require building trust, working together, and an openness to learning. As a coach, my purpose is to cultivate passion, possibility, and joy through careful observation, thoughtful challenges, and active appreciation.

our mission + vision + values

Vision: That all who accept the responsibility of leading have access to greater knowledge and tools for development. Purpose: To support all who accept the responsibility to lead by offering the tools needed for leading effectively, and guiding the practices for personal development. Values: How we want to be in it, together. Pay attention to what has heart and meaning. Be open to possibilities, and not be attached to one outcome. Speak the truth without blame or judgment. Show up physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Conflict is a source of creativity. Virtues: Support us living into our values of gratitude, compassion, and persistence. Gratitude: an intentional state of wonderment and appreciation for what we want. Compassion: for self and others. Persistence: willingness to stay in it, even when it’s hard.

About our founder

Growing Edge was founded to support organizations, partnerships, and individuals to create and live out of their purpose and to improve joy and organizational effectiveness through relationships. 

Each individual who joins the work of Growing Edge is invited to learn, create, grow, and contribute to the world's joy and happiness by using your heart as a guide. 

I had been gifted 40+ years ago with the understanding of my purpose, and how to use it as a compass.  My purpose: To help create joy, harmony, and beauty through relationship.


I spent the next 20 years pursuing the question of how to live into that purpose. Great learning, creativity and growth have been gifted to me along the way as a result of my choice to become a facilitator of change, and eventually I become an owner in a highly collaborative company called Productive Design. Brilliant guides showed up, providing the tools and encouragement to support others in building a life with purpose as their compass, and, to live into my own purpose.


On the journey, I discovered a kind of power guiding me whenever I listened to my heart which (despite the barrage of signals from the outside world) was always right. I learned to trust it. In relationships with clients and collaborators, this power has provided me with a profound sense of joy. Today I find myself in a support role at Growing Edge, enjoying my semi-retirement and all of the bounty of a lifetime living out of my heart. 

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