Christine Duvivier, MBA ’82, founder of Positive Leaders LLC
Unleashing Hidden Talents
Founder of Positive Leaders LLC, Duvivier’s mission is to help students, educators and parents understand how to unleash students’ hidden talents. Duvivier also seeks to help businesses find and cultivate the kind of skilled talent they are looking to hire.
Though her current work is all about bringing positive change to her clients, Duvivier’s desire to start the company stemmed from a tragedy. In 2007, Duvivier learned that a close family friend committed suicide because he was struggling in school, and realized that she had to do something.
“I knew other teenagers just like him — kids who have tremendous promise, but who don’t excel in school,” Duvivier says. Following the tragedy, Duvivier, who was already working as a consultant for various clients, “threw out” her research on reaching the highest levels of motivation in business and started over.
Duvivier redirected her work and effort towards the field of education, and discovered what she calls “The Myths of Education,” — three myths that harm students and prevent them from succeeding. “My work led me to identify hidden gifts in students,” she says, “and to challenge the notion that those who aren’t top performers have something wrong with them and are not positioned for success in life.”
Getting the support and funding needed to get her organization on its way was not an easy feat, but Duvivier realized early on that having a clear focus and goal for her organization would make a major difference. “When I’ve gotten clear on what resources or support I want, it has usually come easily, but when I’ve been vague in my own mind about what I’m looking for or why, it’s often not worked out well,” she explains.
Today, Duvivier works with many clients ranging from students and parents, to educators and business executives, and relies on a variety of techniques from large, lecture-style seminars to one-on-one sessions. Though all clients have different needs, Duvivier says that identifying and understanding them isn’t as difficult as it would seem.
“I have consulted and mentored with business executives for years, so that comes naturally at this point,” she says. “Meanwhile, I was a parent and was involved in the community, so those are groups I naturally relate to as well. It’s all evolved over time and once you understand the culture of a particular group, it’s not hard to adapt your work to help them achieve the results they want,” she adds.
In the future, Duvivier hopes to bring the work that Positive Leaders LLC does to other countries. “I have been using technology like the Web and video to supplement and expand my ability to connect with people, and people in seemingly very different cultures — like Tokyo, Sydney, and Geneva — have been asking for and responding well to my work,” she says. “I want to continue sharing my messages and approaches with anyone who wants them.”
Though Duviver graduated from Johnson in 1982, she still thinks back to her time at the school with fond memories. “The thing I remember most about Johnson is having fun,” Duvivier recalls. “I picked the school because the students seemed fun when I visited, and fell in love with the view from the top of libe slope. The fun factor at Johnson turned out to be important, because I went on to seek out organizations and jobs that I thought would be more fun than the alternatives at that moment.”
Duvivier also met her husband, David Olaksen, MBA ’82, at Johnson, and credits him with being a huge support when she was just getting her business up and running and “started reducing one stream of income before I had another fully going.”
An avid basketball, tennis, and hockey player, Duviver is glad she was able to pass on her passion for ice skating to at least one of her children. “My kids were not very interested in skating, so you can imagine my delight when my daughter, Katherine Olaksen, MBA ’13, joined the hockey team at Johnson this year,” Duvivier says. “She has even learned to do a hockey stop, something I never could do,” she jokes.
Maria Minsker ’13 is an intern in Marketing and Communications at Johnson.