Creating ‘aha!’ moments

Bridget DiCello.

When Bridget DiCello, MBA ’05, was 8 years old, she ran carnivals in her backyard and made a profit. That entrepreneurial spirit has stayed with her ever since. These days, the Buffalo native juggles many roles as a business coach, leadership trainer, speaker and published author.

“My whole job is to facilitate ‘aha!’ moments,” says DiCello, who works one-on-one with business owners, both in person and by telephone, to coach them through obstacles and identify solutions. “I’m there to ask the right questions and put pieces together. It’s worth it when something clicks in their head that didn’t before, and they can take their business forward at 90 mph.”

In 1995, she received a dual bachelor’s degree in business administration and health planning and management from Alfred University and soon after obtained nursing home administrator licenses for New York and California. A decade later, amid launching a new business and moving across the country, she earned her MBA from the UB School of Management.

“An MBA covers a lot of ground. In the negotiation, marketing, leadership and human resources classes I took, there were so many foundational concepts that I find myself going back to as a base for working with my clients today,” she says.

In her professional career, DiCello first entered the nursing home field as assistant administrator for Lakewood Health Care Center in Hamburg, New York. During that time, she also met her future husband, a Navy man named Vince.

In 1999, he was transferred to San Diego, and DiCello took a post there as executive director of Rancho Vista Retirement Community, a seven-acre campus with five levels of nursing care. When her husband was relocated again in 2003, she decided the time was right to launch her own business.

“I had seen a big lack of ability to lead,” she says. “Our charge nurses were trained to become great nurses, but they were not trained to become managers. I watched them struggle to lead groups of people because leadership isn’t natural for everybody.”

Once settled in her new city of New Orleans, the entrepreneur developed her marketing plan and started networking, a skill she says is invaluable for recent graduates and seasoned executives.

“Recent graduates must be able to get into a conversation, have an intelligent conversation and create a path for follow-up,” she says.

“At the beginning of my business, I spent about 120 hours a month networking,” she continues. “Networking was, and continues to be, the main way I build my business."

She started with customized group leadership training, but quickly recognized a need for one-on-one coaching, which today makes up the bulk of her work. In addition, DiCello has spoken nationwide on topics like time management, difficult conversations and strategy execution, and published two books about communication. The first discusses what she calls the “Opportunity Space”—a pause during which one should determine how to best respond in a conversation. Her second title, “How, not if, to Navigate Difficult Conversations,” is a series of short articles that cover hiring, conflict resolution, employee feedback and other topics.

Today, DiCello is working on a third book and, with her husband retired, has her roots firmly planted in Memphis, Tennessee, where they moved in 2005 and raise three energetic children.

Written by Matthew Biddle