Finding yourself in the Galapagos ...

Diane Berthel, co-founder and Principal at Berthel Schutter LLC, recently participated in the Prouty Project’s annual Stretch Expedition, held in the Galapagos Islands, to remind herself “what she is made of to the core.” The Galapagos Stretch Expedition was an environmental service trip to work alongside local Ecuadorians engaged in habitat restoration.
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By Grayce Belvedere Young, President

Diane Berthel, co-founder and Principal at Berthel Schutter LLC, recently participated in the Prouty Project’s annual Stretch Expedition, held in the Galapagos Islands, to remind herself “what she is made of to the core.” The Galapagos Stretch Expedition was an environmental service trip to work alongside local Ecuadorians engaged in habitat restoration.

Why did you decide to go on the Galapagos STRETCH Expedition?

I am an adventure junkie and love spending time in developing countries working alongside locals. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for both. At my company, we often talk about seeing things as they can be not as they are and this is where the local Ecuadorian conservationists are. They have dedicated their careers to returning the Galapagos back to its native plant habitat. The Prouty Stretch Expedition reminds us of what we are made of to our core, what we value, and the immense satisfaction of accepting a small role in an important mission. This journey also reminded me of the principal that my parents taught me – you have the right to walk away from something only when you have given it your all. In so many ways, the Stretch Expedition pushed us to the “all” level where real self-learning occurs. Like my fellow-Stretchers, I feel grateful that I did not know the challenge of this stretch for I might not have accepted it and missed the opportunity.

What have you learned as a leader / professional that will help you in your business from the Stretch Expedition?

How important a small contribution can be. Sometimes you lose sight of that when you are strategic and always focused on the value being in the outcome. We had to step away from the service work not knowing what the outcome will be and yet, believing in our small way that we made a contribution. It really underscores how important it is to value the role of every team member’s contribution. We may never know if the Galapagos can recover from the environmental damage humans have brought there, yet we value everyone’s small steps. Similarly, in business, we work on long term engagements without always knowing the final outcome. Ensuring that we acknowledge everyone’s contribution is a must in the sea of unknowns.

What did you learn as a person that will help you in your life from the Stretch Expedition?

That hard physical work and living in rustic conditions with critters (4-inch, flying cockroaches, the “one” mouse that we saw everywhere, the constant bug bites) that normally would scare me silly – feeds my soul! I realized I can challenge myself to “dig in” and do what I could. If you did give it your all, you could step out and beyond and there is much satisfaction in this. And we had lots of laughs in the process.

Describe your business – including what you love about your work.

Berthel Schutter LLC is an independent, investment consultant group for institutions. We are a team of professionals who are passionate about retirement security and being advocates for plan participants. Because we are small team with lots of experience and are aligned only with our clients’ interest, we can help institutions craft custom solutions rather than simply take retirement products from the shelf. For example, we know that retirement security is deeply intertwined with one’s health status. I love helping people think broadly about all aspects of retirement security for a more comprehensive view.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer to the next generation leaders?

Get excited about seeing things as they can be, not as they are. This kind of innovative thinking and problem solving are valued and makes work more fun.

Anything else you’d like to share? 

The team on the Galapagos Stretch Expedition was amazing. We often find ourselves in like-minded groups. But this was a team of people who were like-hearted. So what was the purpose of our brief interlude? We made a small contribution to an important environmental mission but stole off with a new understanding of how we belong to this world. Like fine wine, the longer we hold this important experience the more it will affect our character and our work.

Grayce Belvedere Young leads the Organization Development practice area at the Prouty Project. She bringstwenty years of strategic planning and organization development expertise in numerousindustries as well as the nonprofit world. Grayce partners with leaders to set strategy,drive alignment and execution, and develop talent.

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