The Making it in Big Sky series is sponsored by the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.
By Mira Brody CONTENT PRODUCTION DIRECTOR
BIG SKY—Lori Addicks’ favorite wildflower is the Mountain Larkspur, a resilient, high altitude flora that grows abundantly along Big Sky’s mountainsides. It feels fitting then, that Addicks’ business, Larkspur Group, shares its name, and was founded after one career ended and she felt the inspiration to strike out on her own, leaping into a new business venture aimed toward helping others develop strong leadership skills.
While her clients span across the globe, many still reside right here in Big Sky, developing leaders and teams to reach their full potential. When she’s not working however, Addicks loves the region’s great outdoors, including skiing in winter, hiking in summer, and traveling with her husband, Rich, to watch their daughter compete as a professional golfer on the LPGA’s Epson Tour.
Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, when did you come to Big Sky and what brought you here?
Lori Addicks: Skiing and the tram brought our family to Big Sky in 1996. Like so many others, we fell in love on our first visit. Two years later we had built a home, knowing one day we would live here full time. In 2013, my husband and I began calling Big Sky home. Having grown up in Oregon, we are happy to be back West, after years of living and working in the South.
EBS: How did Larkspur Group start? Was it inspired by a need you observed?
LA: In 2008 when the recession hit, I lost my job as vice president of learning and development for a national residential property management company. Before that I worked 13 years for the Coca-Cola Company in leadership development. For a long time, I had wanted to strike out on my own, leveraging my years of experience and the relationships I had made. So out of need and want, I formed the Larkspur Group. (Mountain Larkspur being my favorite wildflower). I had no idea where that leap would lead me, but I knew it would be to a place where I could help others with my years of experience. Helping others inspires me.
My work focuses primarily on developing leaders and teams to be more effective and productive as they work toward continuous improvement. The greatest need I have found, working with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, is developing the next generation of leaders.
EBS: What is the best part about your job?
LA: The variety. I’m lucky to work with so many different organizations and people. In a typical week I might be facilitating a virtual learning session, conducting leadership coaching, consulting with managers and leaders, leading a strategic planning process, or in-person teaching.
I design and develop all the leadership sessions I deliver, so that is another aspect that provides variety to my work. Because my clients are based not only in Montana, but spread across the country and around the world, travel is a part of my work that I enjoy as well. As a consultant, I have had the good fortune to travel internationally to Brazil, Kenya, Dubai, Iceland and Turkey.
Some of my local clients include Gallatin River Task Force, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Big Sky Chamber, Big Sky Resort Tax, Big Sky Arts Council, Big Sky Discovery Academy, Morningstar Learning Center, Wellness in Action, Big Sky Resort, East Slope Outdoors, Highline Partners and NorthWestern Energy.
Some of my national and international clients include Boys and Girls Club of America, Equality Now, The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, Red Butte Garden, People’s Health Clinic, Aetna, McKesson, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta Botanical Garden, CARE.
“The greatest need I have found, working with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, is developing the next generation of leaders.”
– Lori Addicks, owner and founder, Larkspur Group
EBS: In your experience working with businesses, teams, and leaders, what is one element you’ve seen that is underutilized?
LA: I would say the most underdeveloped skills are what many refer to as “soft skills.” They are not soft at all and are better referred to as “essential skills.” Everyone in the workplace needs these skills to be effective. Examples of essential skills include communicating effectively both written and conversationally, thinking critically, solving problems, building trusting relationships, collaborating with colleagues, expressing empathy, engaging in disagreement productively, showing vulnerability, and adapting to name a few. Essential skills are crucial for long-term success both individually and as part of teams and organizations. This is where the greatest opportunity for growth and continual improvement exists.
EBS: It seems you have clients across the country and around the world. Do you find that there are unique issues specifically in Big Sky or the surrounding area that you need to address with your local clients?
LA: People are people, really. No matter where, they all need the same types of skills as leaders. Leadership doesn’t have a zip code.
EBS: You’ve been in the area for some time and have seen a lot of change—has your business been affected in any way and if so, how has it adapted?
LA: The biggest change affecting what I do has come about because of the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the majority of my work was done in-person, which is always the best way to teach and learn. But the pandemic required me to adapt. In 2020, I spent several months converting my curriculum over to virtual sessions, and before I knew it, I was back in business doing the same thing, just virtually. In no time at all, I was busier than ever.
EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
LA: Never stop learning and growing. It’s important to stay current, relevant and ready for whatever might come next. It’s rare these days for anyone to remain in one career path or with one company for their entire career. Being able to learn, grow and adapt enables us to take advantage of opportunities that continue to present themselves as the world of work evolves.