About Nicole

Nicole M. Young, MSW Owner/Principal Consultant

Plan. Act. Learn. Grow. This is the mantra that led me to a job I love.

It all started 20+ years ago when I decided I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. This lofty goal inspired me to accept my first job at a nonprofit agency the week after I graduated from high school (well, that and I needed to earn money for college).

Over the next 15 years, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work, and I immersed myself in the world of nonprofit and public organizations as a volunteer, line staff, administrator and Board member. I got satisfaction from knowing I was contributing to the common good, but often found myself wondering, “Does it really need to be this hard?”

In all of my years of work and school, I was surrounded by like-minded people who also wanted to make a difference. But I started noticing some patterns that, when left unaddressed, prevented people from being effective. The things I noticed were:

  • Change is hard.
  • Change is inevitable. And still hard.
  • Unhappy employees are counterproductive.
  • It’s easier to train someone to develop a new skill than it is to train someone to develop a new attitude.
  • Leaders aren’t really leaders if no one wants to follow them.
  • People and organizations stay stuck in crisis mode unless there’s a shared commitment to do the hard work that’s needed to get out of crisis mode.
  • The above challenges are universal and timeless.

Being a solution-oriented person by nature, I couldn’t pretend these things weren’t happening. So my response to challenging situations became:

  1. Decide what to do about it (Plan).
  2. Take incremental steps to change the situation (Act).
  3. Enhance my own knowledge and skills so I could help others handle challenging situations (Learn).
  4. Repeat this process until the incremental steps added up to significant results (Grow).

Over time, I started using this process when training new managers, facilitating meetings, supervising staff, developing new programs and building collaborative partnerships. I realized that I loved making a difference, not just for the clients we were serving, but also for the people who were serving those clients.

Then one day, I asked myself, “What would happen if I took my knowledge and experience with planning, facilitation, training, supervision and management…and tried to help MORE organizations increase their effectiveness and achieve better results?”

It turned out to be the best question I ever asked myself. I took a leap of (financial) faith in 2003, left my full-time salaried job and started my own management consulting firm. Now, as the owner/principal of Optimal Solutions Consulting, I’ve turned my mantra of “Plan, Act, Learn, Grow” into a mission to increase the effectiveness and impact of nonprofit and public organizations.

I love what I do. I get to work with a wide variety of organizations that provide social services, health care, education, counseling, legal services, child development, parent education and many other services that support people in the communities I care about. These organizations exist to make a difference in people’s lives, and I help them be more effective by providing training, facilitation, planning, project management and consultations. It’s my way of fulfilling my goal of making a difference in people’s lives.

To learn more about my solutions-oriented approach to handling everyday challenges in nonprofit and public agencies, subscribe to my Mission Matters Blog, become a fan of Optimal Solutions Consulting on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

If you want to learn more about the organizations I’ve worked with, visit Our Work and read about past clients, projects and case studies. To find out how your organization can make a greater impact, contact me to discuss your needs.

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