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Our StoryIn the words of our founder

“Ultra-achievers are individual leaders who have the ambition, drive, creativity, and guts to use their talents to create new products, services, and initiatives that positively impact the business, economic, civic, and charitable communities in which we all live.”

– Karan Ferrell-Rhodes


I started Shockingly Different Leadership in 2008 when I realized that the survivorship of ultra-achievers in the workforce was in jeopardy. I knew the plight of ultra-achievers because I have been part of this community my entire life . . . . throughout both my educational and professional career.


Immediately prior to launching the firm, I had 13+ years of success as a corporate High Potential Leadership Development Executive, whose global team was responsible for developing the top-ranked leadership talent at a Fortune 50 technology company.


As I networked to curate and benchmark HiPo development and retention best practices with my peers around the world, I discovered that two facts were universal:

  1. The intricacies of workplace dynamics makes it hard for even the brightest employee talent to “dream big & get things done” within their organizations.
  2. Executive leaders struggle to gain deep visibility into the true leadership capability and readiness of the employees identified on their organization’s succession plans.

And as a result, HiPos frequently consider leaving their employers sooner than desired due to disenchantment with the status quo.


It was at that moment that I realized the value of sharing my unique expertise with talent-focused employers on how to build leadership development environments which mined the untapped potential of star employees in a way that also increased the chances of retaining them.


I have been blessed throughout my career as an organizational psychologist and leadership/HR strategist, to have had the rare opportunity to cut my teeth on numerous audacious transformation initiatives. I have the even rarer experience of having done so while being a member of 4 different facets of the high potential leader community throughout my career:

  • As a high potetial employee, who was identified as “top leadership talent” and was placed on company succession plans for higher level positions
  • As an company leader, who mentored and developed my own global organization, and had to identify, develop, and retain my own high potential employee talent
  • As a human resources executive, who advised the C-suite on the identification, development, and retention strategies for their organizational-wide top leadership talent
  • As a high potential leadership development executive, who created cutting-edge programs that prepared up-and-coming leadership talent for challenges on the horizon


My “fire in the belly” was to build a consultancy that helped high potential talent become ready to “take the reigns”, be a part of something big and lead incredible initiatives. I wanted them to use their innate gifts and talents to both realize their intentions and enchant their organizations.


And I hand-picked other development experts, who had the same conviction, to join the firm  – and thus Shockingly Different Leadership was born.

Founder + Chief Executive Officer

We have partnered with clients across the globe to build their own internal army of ultra-achieving leaders.

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