Title and Organization: President & CEO, Pyramid Resource Group
Family: Husband Barry, of 26 years; daughter Jessica, 24; son Hank, 20
Early jobs: Tobacco fields for $1 per week; taught baton twirling; columnist for The Lexington Dispatch at age 15
Hometown: Welcome, N.C.
Accolades & involvements include: 2013 PharmaVoice Top 100 Influential Leaders; Board chair, Dress for Success
Goal: “I want to write a book that a lotta, lotta, lotta people read and love!”
Fun fact: Given name is Precious Darelyn, namesake of her grandmother
Life is a gift, and you can accomplish anything.
So says DJ Mitsch, co-founder of international leadership development and corporate coaching firm, Pyramid Resource Group.
“We did it around the way we wanted to raise our family,” said Mitsch of her collaboration with husband Barry, which they founded as a home-based business in 1994.
Pyramid Resource Group came about after years of Mitsch living the corporate life as an award-winning broadcast industry executive, managing senior-level staffs and even launching what would become CNN Headline News for the Southeast region. She was on maternity leave when “her” station was sold.
“I cried for three days, and then looked up,” she said, with an epiphany. “I had worked 70- to 80-hour weeks in broadcast management, attended every client dinner and event. My coworkers jokingly called me the Dragon Lady. It was time for my own life transition, to find that still point or center within me, and now we help others find theirs. It’s great!”
Enrolled as student No. 68 in virtual coaching school, she became one of the first 25 coaches to earn Master Coach designation from the International Coach Federation. She would later become the ICF’s sixth president; its members now number 60,000 worldwide.
“Flying to my first ICF conference in Switzerland in 2001, I met an 85-year-old woman on the plane who told me she was still learning. She reframed my role when she said, ‘Coaching is too harsh a word for what you do … what you do is guide people to their inner wisdom before they are 85 years old!’” Mitsch said.
“People are becoming more conscious and need the wake-up; coaching has the unique ability to be a common language in companies and across cultures,” she said. “I’ve learned that I’m best at building teams and coaching people to do things they didn’t think they could do. The companies we work with have launched new drugs, built sales teams, and seen dramatic results.
“One thing I know: When we’re fully present and fully alive, we can do anything.”
Mitsch credits her ongoing studies in “Earth school” for her accomplishments.
“Not having an advanced degree would be a regret, but I’ve been a serial entrepreneur from an early age and tend to run around with my hair on fire, so even without a résumé I’ve always had offers on the table, the result of referrals and doing good work. Maybe the hard work and not having more advanced ‘book learning’ keeps me humble — otherwise I might have been a real diva!” she joked, with a twist of her pearls.
Pyramid Resource Group today employs a team of ICF-certified coaches serving thousands of executive clients via custom programs. This year the company opened Pyramid’s Healthcare Coaching Institute, a coach certification program designed specifically for leaders in healthcare organizations.
“Leadership is about being great with people. It’s more than just title and position; it’s something you do wherever you are, every day,” Mitsch said. “It’s paying attention to the people you serve and modeling the behaviors you expect from employees. The goal is to improve communication, self-awareness and people engagement, and to focus on more than the bottom line.”
Generous with her hugs and humor, Mitsch wants for others the outlook she’s found for herself.
“Life is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, and we’re never whole unless we’re paying attention to all those dimensions,” she said. “The things that stop us are always us, that little voice that says ‘can’t.’
“We are individuals, and need to heed the call to say, ‘This is what I want.’ Women wait for permission. But in the original Latin, the word means ‘on purpose.’ We always and only give ourselves permission.”
She has served for five years on the board of Dress for Success of the Triangle, which fosters economic independence for women.
“Some of these women come from the same background as I do, and I’m so inspired by them,” she said, “and by my family, clients, the community. I’m inspired by fabulous human beings who take risks to do great things, and you find them everywhere.”
The author of a half-dozen books including Mystic Grits: A Southern Girl’s Journey to Wisdom, Mitsch will soon release Revolution: How Coaching Changes the Game of Work, and the woman-focused Spunk Works.
Downtime for Mitsch is best enjoyed outdoors, hiking near the family’s cabin in Boone, walking Abe the boxer or on tandem bike rides with Barry. Girl time includes Sh’Bam dance fitness classes.
“Girlfriends are my biggest hobby. We call ourselves the Gal Pals, and we get together monthly, often in service to our communities through a charity event that one of us is engaged in. It’s the biggest freedom, knowing the power of having a network that’s always there for you,” she said.
“I don’t want to miss a drop of the experience of being human, the gift it is to be alive on this planet. Show up for school, Earth school! You’ll find something juicy and wonderful in every day.”