“If you said five years ago that I was going to be in front of a room with a microphone in front of a large group of people, I would have said you were out of your mind,” says Debbie Peterson.
But that’s just where she finds herself these days. Through her Cape Coral–based company, Getting to Clarity, she provides corporate training and does public speaking engagements aimed at midlife, midcareer professional women.
“I’m … helping her figure out what her next chapter is,” says Peterson.
A self-proclaimed “behind-thescenes kind of gal,” Peterson had worked in a variety of positions in business administration and investor relations. A job at a startup forced her to think differently about her career and value in the workplace, and attending training in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) resulted in even more of a shakeup.
Peterson found herself inspired by NLP, which looks at people’s behavioral patterns and helps change those that are unproductive. After successfully applying it to her own life, she wanted to share the tools she’d learned with others and started thinking about ways to do that in 2013.
“One night in the middle of the night, I woke up and ‘getting to clarity’ was on my mind,” she says. “So I went on GoDaddy.com and the URL was available, and that was the beginning of it.”
Peterson started out offering coaching services. But she transitioned to focus more on corporate training and public speaking. “I needed to take a step in order to be able to see what was next,” she says. “In 2015, the lightbulb kind of came on that I wanted to do this in a bigger way.”
She spent 2015 networking to spread the word about her company and learn what kinds of career training and guidance local female professionals need. That investment of time is paying off, and Getting to Clarity is landing clients like accounting firms, universities, and corporations willing to shell out around $3,200 for a full day of training. “It’s now getting to the point where people know who I am and they’re seeking me out, instead of the other way around,” says Peterson.
Working out of her home gives her flexibility, especially because her husband is retired. She plans to spend time in her native Pennsylvania during the summer, which brings a few challenges. “Maintaining that funnel [of clients] when I’m going back and forth between two places requires some extra effort,” she says.
Peterson plans to beef up the amount of corporate training she does, which now averages about once a month. “I’m looking to do some contract training, and that will definitely pick it up,” she says. “I’m still in that growth mode.”
She also hopes to build on the public speaking work she’s already done and her involvement with organizations like Toastmasters and Women Speakers Association. “When I get up in front of a group and share what I’ve learned, I connect with them,” she says. “They know they’re not alone and that other people go through the same things.”