Posts Tagged ‘turning points’

Turning Points, Take Two

May 22, 2011

Ten years ago, I wrote an article for Twin Cities Business magazine called Turning Points. I asked prominent Twin Cities businesspeople to tell me the behind-the-scenes story of a pivotal moment that led directly to their success. Click here to read excerpts from that story. I was happy to be asked to produce another edition of Turning Points for the May 2011 issue. I hope you enjoy the stories!


At any moment, life can uproot and redirect us. A chance conversation, a pivotal meeting or an unexpected hardship can rearrange priorities, divert careers and lead to uncommon accomplishments.

The dozen business and political leaders profiled here share the personal, and often poignant, turning points in their own lives. R. T. Rybak transmuted the fear and anxiety of unemployment into a long-dreamed-of political career. Don Helgeson established Gold’n Plump Poultry by sticking his own neck on the chopping block. Manny Villafana climbed out of a swimming pool and into an idea for a multibillion-dollar company. Expecting a life of farm labor, Margaret Anderson Kelliher ended up representing the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.

Here are their stories.

CEO of Plymouth-based Clearfield, Inc., a provider of the tools that telephone and cable TV companies need to deliver fiber connectivity. Beranek is one of four women who cracked the top 100 highest-paid executives of public Minnesota companies, according to a list compiled by the Star Tribune in 2009.

Cheri Beranek

I was working in the marketing department of a $50 million tech firm in the late ’80s. After my boss left to lead a division in another city, I was the most senior member of the marketing staff. I was essentially running the operation without the title. Soon after, I was walking down the hall past the president’s office and heard him say to the COO, “A woman will never run marketing in my company.” I was shocked. I knew he was talking about me. I took a deep breath and (more…)

Turning Points

November 30, 2009

I love hearing life-changing stories. I wrote this article about people’s defining moments in business for Twin CIties Business magazine eight years ago. It’s fun to learn the behind-the-scenes details of how a company or person took a giant leap toward success. Not all of the companies represented are still in business but that doesn’t change the fact that these are very cool stories!


It’s a day like any other. You’re minding your own business when suddenly, unexpectedly, there it is: a fork in the road. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that’s dropped in your lap, a dramatic moment of expanded insight and clarity, or a challenge that yanks the rug right out from under your life. You may only have a moment or two to act or you may have a few months to sort things out. You may curse the gods or sink to your knees in gratitude. The circumstances vary but two things are certain. One, your life is about to change. And two, it’s a day you will not soon forget.


Ed Klemz, the Mac Maestro

Klemz co-founded Central Coast Solutions, a full-service business technology consulting company whose core markets reply on Apple Macintosh computers.


I had been working as an electrical engineer for five years for Tecnetics, an industrial control company in New Brighton. For a couple years, I had been helping family members and friends with their computer issues and, through word of mouth, that slowly evolved into a small side business. When that started to pay well, I decided that Tecnetics wasn’t paying me enough to