Since its founding in 1994, Fieldstone Consulting, Inc. has received many unsolicited comments from presidents, heads of school, executive directors, board and committee chairs, and others.
"Our retreat gave testimony to the University's best. The thoughtful, intense and deeply respectful conversations evinced our spirit of community and will yield the inspiring document that we all agree we need. Thank you for spending these days with us. Thank you for your insights. Thank you for playing a role the University's future."
"Thank you for all you did to help us this summer at the board retreat. I knew when I walked away from the meetings we had accomplished much, but I did not fully appreciate it all until time has passed. As I think about the year ahead and talk with other trustees, it becomes apparent what a profound effect it has had on all of us. We face many challenges, but also have the tools to address them and the ability to talk amongst ourselves to come to resolutions."
"I think the workshop with the Board and also all the work with the campus have been invaluable, and I'm sure as we move forward we will put this information to very good use. It was an enlightening process for me in which I learned a lot about the college, Board, and faculty. It's pretty amazing - and testimony to your good work - that I can say that considering I have been here for 27 years!"
"Your ears must have about burnt off by now. You have frequently been given credit for turning the tide in the college – seriously. People so value the work you did here, and that comes up often."
"Thanks so much for all you brought to this endeavor. It is a significant moment in our history, Bill, as I know you understand. Your work with us has brought value and insight in our movement forward. Your fresh eyes and broad vision and understanding of higher education were great assets in widening our lens. The all day workshop in January engaged the entire campus in an exciting and productive way. I believe that we're all committed and have bought into this direction... Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and know that you and your work will always in ours."
"A quick note to tell you how impressed I was with how yesterday's meeting went. I thought Bill did a great job facilitating the meeting, as well as keeping to the point, the agenda, and the time frame. It never turned into one voice or even several strong voices, but seemed to really catch the spirit of the Community. I have been involved in several strategic planning groups—never with a school—but this was by far the one that was most productive and positive. By the time the day was over, I really felt a significant amount had been accomplished and felt good about the direction things seem to be headed."
"I have been remiss in not writing you about the off-site you led for our school. Brilliant, positively brilliant! You did a great job. It had energy, good interaction. You really kept them working and moving. Everyone certainly had to have felt heard! Hoped for/expected outcomes–hooray! Your feedback (and reminder) of how far they've come since the last retreat was exceptional."
"I see your fingerprints all over these [planning] documents. Without you, we could not claim such an inclusive process. I regularly boast about all who were involved. I tell anyone who asks that there is no one better at getting a community to ask the right generative questions of itself. Without you, this school would not have so readily faced topics like: faculty and staff evaluation, academic support, globalization, mission, admissions/demographics, or financial sustainability. Of course we ducked some of the curveballs and knuckle balls you pitched! ... It's always been an education for me to spend time with you. I look forward to the next shared adventure."
"Many, many thanks for a spectacular retreat! Let me share with you that all of the comments about the retreat mirror my sentiments. Informative, instructive, thought provoking, and interesting are the most common descriptors I've heard. 'You done good,' as usual."
"From the naps, to the wicked sense of humor, to the never ending candor and awesome insight — you are one amazing man! I don't know where you hide your magic wand, but its ability to pull together the 'pigs on ice' into a marching band should not be underestimated! I am sure you've heard it before: We could not have done it without you!"
"Even having read past participants' comments on your web site before coming in for the retreat, I couldn't figure out how you could bring our board around, particularly with some of the recommendations. But you did. And by making us arrive at the conclusions ourselves. Very smooth."
"Your way of moving small groups into productive conversation and deliberation is remarkable. It is like a magician at work: Every time I am carefully watching what you are doing, but I can't quite figure out how you get that live rabbit out of there, something that we could not have expected or predicted. Congratulations, and thanks again. We could not have done it without you."
"Thanks so much, Bill. I've had a long time to think about what you have said, and I really appreciate the straightforward approach and response you provided. I took your thinking to heart and found it a motivating force! I cannot stop thinking about each and every observation and suggestion. I hope that you will keep the strong points that you made and incorporate these into the report. Thanks again. I appreciate the honest work."
"You may recall talking to me almost two years ago, shortly after my arrival. While cleaning my files, I came across a report you prepared following consultation with our board. I have found the report enormously helpful and my sense is that our board operations have improved markedly as a result."
"Thank you so much – for everything, but especially for the retreat and for finding the time to join us Saturday night. Your words as you were leaving meant the world to me. I am very excited about the future of our school, even though we all recognize the substantial obstacles we face, particularly with this economy."
"As I told you at the retreat, I'm leaving the board as my boys move on to high school. I want to express my appreciation for all you have done – and continue to do – for the school. I have seen the positive effects of your advice on my children, and I am confident of their ability to excel as they move on. Thank you! The school is in good hands."
"I want to express my personal thanks as rabbi for the phenomenal work you did with our congregation. The report you gave is refocusing the leadership as well as energizing it."
"We just ended a GREAT school year. I give you so much of the credit. Your guidance proved invaluable. Wish you could have seen our graduation ... What a sight! The trustees gave a standing ovation to the faculty. Absolutely fabulous!"
"Thank you for all the hard work you have done to create our strategic planning process and product. I admit I was having difficulty imagining how in the world you could pull off what you were describing. It is still unbelievable to me that you could hear, see, and inhale so much information, sort, enhance it, compile, it order it in time, price it, present it, and flash a smile that looks like you had fun doing it. You scared us to death that we were being left in the dust by our competitors, then you turned around to point out our impressive strengths and treasured traditions...You made us believe we have huge mountains to climb, but gave us the assurance that we have the leadership, means, skills and power to do so. You have given us a great gift, and I think the steering committee is inspired and ready to comb through the draft and make it our own."
"A thousand thank-you's for your work with our community this past week. I suspect that Friday and Saturday were among the most effective 'retreat' experiences most of us have had in our professional lives. As inexperienced at 'the headship' as I am, and as someone who is very much an 'outsider' in an 'insider'-oriented culture, I am eager to participate in the process as it continues and appreciate your experience and counsel more than I can possibly express."
"Rarely am I at a complete loss for words, but I'm there as it relates to the absolutely superb work you deliver across the boardin content, analysis, and style. Once again, thank you."
"Finally, I'll just mention that the enthusiasm that was triggered by the day you led in early February has been fantastic. People left that day energized and determined to make the school an even better place, and given the incredibly high level of satisfaction that exists now, that was quite an accomplishment. Thanks so much for your efforts to help us."
"As always, you push us to focus clearly on the important next steps, while supporting us to do our very best. Your work with us last week really helped to set up the conversations we need to have to order our priorities and move ahead with the greatest possibility of consensus. Thank you, Bill, for your continual support. As I said the other night, just knowing you are at the other end of the phone and will actually listen and sort through the latest "challenge" keeps me going and gives me confidence to do what I must."
"I just wanted to thank you again for an outstanding effort over your several days here. I could not have been happier with the outcome, and your guidance and feedback, from all participants, especially the Board, has been extremely positive. I have a feeling that your impact on our organization will be around for some time."
"I walked out of the meeting that Wednesday night as high as a cloudoverwhelmed by the solidarity exhibited by the board membersafter such a long struggle. Since then I have been gradually floating back down to the ground as the reality of September 11 sank inphysically, emotionally, and financially. Nevertheless, I believe your shot worked...We are on a good track and have the right people in place...I don't know why just a couple of hours with you makes me feel like we can move mountains, but it does, and I can't tell you how great that is, and how grateful I am for it."
"In the last two weeks, I've experienced two life-changing events: My son's wedding and another session with you! You bring out the best in us and help us see what we can and must do with such authority and grace. Thank you again for another shot in the arm."
"You have also provided me with an extraordinary example of an educator and consultantsomeone who is both idealist and grounded in reality, encouraging vision and aspiration while providing a crucial balance of structure and focus on responsibility. I admire profoundly the way you see the whole and all the essential bits and pieces of the puzzle, the elegance and precision with which you speak and write, how you care and encourage, and the boldness and honesty with which you express your observations and opinions. But above all, I admire your intelligence and clarity of thought. Oh, and then there is a rather irreverent, sometimes wicked, sense of humor. Working with you, especially during the first long range plan and the search that found Ed, was one of the most energizing, eye-opening, exciting things I've done. Working with you, having you as a friend and colleague has changed my life. So, thanks, many thanks. It is long overdue."
"In reflecting over the peaks and valleys of the current academic year, I find your work with our Board one of the highlights of the year. Again and again, your name and the insights gained at last fall's workshop come up in discussions among Board and administration members. The "refresher course" delivered by telephone at our winter meeting helped to reinforce the important lessons of the fall meeting. We are farperhaps depressingly farfrom where we need to be in Board practices, but, for the first time in a terribly long while, the Board is acknowledging its responsibility to reform its affairs and to pay attention to patterns and lessons from the wider world of higher education management. You began a process and stimulated fresh thinkingand our Board (thank heavens!) will never be the same. I hope that all is well with you in your incredibly busy lifeand I hope that we will have the opportunity to meet again in the months ahead."
"The wind is wild, the power is out, and the hum of computers silent. But there are rave reviews for your presentation and workshop last night. The similarity in tone to the comments from the October meeting is striking. I had such a good timea good party with a good purpose. What could be better? Thank you so much for all of your most excellent work here. It has set us off in a good direction on a high note, in spite of all the issues of time and money, and given us some new ideas well as confidence to pursue some that have been waiting to gel."
"Belated words of thanks for your wonderful consultation with our board and for your letter. There was universal enthusiasm for the workshop. It met our needs head-on. We are still referencing the Saturday we spent with you and attempting to implement the profound lessons of the day. If the current mood of reform and renewal persists, there is a good prospect of a significantly refocused and revitalized board."
"I cannot think of anything that could have been done to make the foundation retreat more successful. It was informative, artfully organized, and, most importantly, you brought the entire board together to address the challenges before us. Thank you so very, very much."
"On behalf of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association, and in particular, the participants in the recent Biennial Conference for Lay and Professional Leadership, we want to thank you for our outstanding Keynote and Sessions on Sunday, December 10, 2000. We are very excited about the enormous success of this year's conference, and delight in your participation. It was a wonderful opportunity for our leadership to network and learn from you. Bill, you certainly must know you've won our hearts. You are officially a member of the Schechter family. I look forward to your ongoing consulting with our schools. Again, many thanks from all the planners and a very special round of applause from me."
"I am a bit late in sending a huge thank you to you for a superbly run retreat. As you could tell, the faculty listened to you and to each other. Many teachers, especially those who do not hang out regularly in the faculty workroom, were glad to hear from their collegagues. You had real credibility with the faculty because your remarks were grounded in research and analysis and because you spoke honestly."
"We're nearly two years down the road from our November 1998 retreat, and it is increasingly clear that those days were three of the most important days in the history of the organization. We still talk of that retreat often in various committee and board meetings."
"The enthusiastic accolades we received about you did not even come close to describing the job you did for us last Thursday. Your grasp of this very complicated, highly political, and somewhat confused organization, your exposé of root problems and suggestions for cures, and your careful crafting of the session to ensure positive and plausible outcomesall were truly extraordinary. The experience was almost like watching a magician at workespecially in light of how much we were able to accomplish in only eight hours. Thanks to your work, our new adminstrative year will begin with enthusiastic, focused, and clear support. Again, Bill, thank you for a remarkable job."
"I just wanted to take a moment to say 'thank you' for your assistance to our committee. It does not overstate the case to say that we simply could not have ben able to do the work we did without your help and guidance. Your ability to quickly capture the unique nuances of our campus culture was outstanding. And your willingness to go the 'extra mile' to gather the necessary input to solidify the integrity of our work was especially noteworthy. Your wealth of experience and your ability to find the balance between affirmation and focus on areas of improvement gave us real guidance in our work with the president."
"What an incredible achievement! Who would have thought that eighty-five sticks of dynamite could have collaborated for seven long hours and not a single one explode! It was a remarkable day, full of positive energy and enthusiasm, a tremendous start to the planning process. Your presentation was masterful and gives every hope that we can produce a plan commanding the support of all the association's many constituencies."
"It's cool to see the machine working! It's like going through a funnel, and coming out in some weird extruded form."
"Thanks again for your very thoughtful, patient, insightful guidance and for shifting your weight so expertly every time we needed it. There is no way I could have brought this to the point it is without your experience and savvy."