About Donna Carlson

Photo credit: Wendy Pearce Nelson 


I grew up without a blueprint. Even before my mother left, I was orphaned by alcohol. Both parents addicted because of things that happened to them earlier in life. When they were gone, I found the resources I needed to map a course to college and start a career, but I had no guide to inner leadership. I’ve had a spectacular multitude of experiences in hotel management, high-tech PR, broadband research, and non-profit communications, but it wasn’t until I sat in my millionth meeting wondering how great it would be if everyone would act like a grownup…that I discovered a career in coaching people to lead. 

In the middle of  a master’s degree in holistic leadership development, I moved to what I like to call the “candy store of leadership learning” — The Center for Creative Leadership — and launched my coaching business and Life Strategy Design in 2017, focused on helping women develop the compass I never had and create strategies to harmonize work and life 360 degrees — spirt, soul and body — leading at work and at home from the inside.

“I believe to have great impact in work and life, you must bring 100% of yourself to the game.” 

Men need inner leadership as well. I’ve coached teams and men with great success. The reason why I focus my research and programs on women is because there has never been a better time in history for us to grab the seat with our name on it. Some of us are stepping up. Have you seen the rise in female CEOs lately? But some of us are still waiting to be invited. This is the reason I’ve created Life Strategy Retreats. I work in partnership with a team of coaches to create an environment where you can get clear on our calling and develop the mental maps and resiliency to grab what’s already yours. I’m working right now with several organizations of women to design education for inner leadership that will not only change your paradigm, it will change your life!

If certifications are important to you, I have those too, which really mean that I sat in a classroom, did a little coaching and took a test. This is not a barometer of innate coaching talent, but people feel better about my “credentials” to hear that I’m a member of the John Maxwell Team and have DISC, EQ and CCL Benchmarks 360 certifications that we can using in your coaching or team workshop. I also think the enneagram is an amazing tool for deep self-insight, which as Tasha Eurich would say, is the meta-skill of the century. When we invest this self-awareness in being a better citizen of the community, everyone wins.

And I mean everyone. I have a PhD. in “not enough” and I can tell you, “You are!” I have proof that when you’re better at work, you’re better at home. My husband Jeff and I just rounded 25 years of marriage, producing three really awesome nearly-grown daughters and a hard-wired determination to equip the female leaders of our future.

I’m doing this as a connector and catalyst with tribes like eWomen, The Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber, EllevatePolka Dot Powerhouse and 4Word Women.