If you’re looking for my professional bio, click here. Otherwise, here’s my life story.
I’m Marianne, although a lot of people call me “mc”. By trade, I am a corporate trainer, though I haven’t always been. In fact, it seems now that there’s hardly a profession I haven’t dabbled in. That’s a bit of a stretch, but I really have had a string of interesting – and varied – professions. I had the usual string of jobs in my younger years – paperboy (yes, that’s what we called them back in the day), waitress, retail clerk, and the like, and then I met Don Carlson, got married, and started a family. I also worked as a real estate agent, a camera salesperson, and I ran my own stained glass studio.
Don worked as a civilian employee of the US Defense Department, and we’ve spent most of our lives moving. From Indiana to Ohio, to Italy, to Belgium, to Vermont, to Germany, to New York, and finally to Florida. It’s been a fascinating and exciting life, but I really hate moving. And now that he’s retired, I’ve sworn I will never move again!
I promised Don that when the last kid started school, I’d go to work, but until that time, I was determined to stay home with my babies. But when the last one started school, we were living in Belgium, and there was no work for me. But I did have an opportunity to go back to school and finish my degree, so that’s what I did.
I graduated Summa cum Laude in 1997 from the University of Maryland (European Division) with a BS in Information Systems Management. Since then, I’ve managed a diverse career in IT, Training and Leadership Development.
I served as the Computer Support and Training Coordinator for the Vermont Judiciary, and I could have died happy there. But Don’s job moved us to Wiesbaden, Germany, so I was back to looking for work. I took a job on base, working for the US Army, fixing computers and running a helpdesk. It wasn’t fun or glamorous, but it was a job, and it was helping me keep my skills current until I could get back to America and get a real job. Or so I thought.
A few months after I accepted that position, war broke out, and I got deployed to Iraq. I spent six long months away from my family, in the middle of the Sunni Triangle. It was the hardest, most horrible, frightening, disgusting, humiliating, heartbreaking, physically demanding, mentally exhausting thing I’d ever imagined. And it was the most wonderful experience of my life. I have often said, in total sincerity, that it was my honor and my privilege to have served my country and the US Military in Iraq - if not necessarily my pleasure. This blog will give me a chance to tell you more about my experiences there, and to honor the men and women who are still serving in harm’s way. I hope you’ll stay tuned for that.
When I came home from the war, I told my husband, “I’ve learned two important lessons about myself”. (You tend to do that when you experience that sort of thing.)
- I am too damned old to be doing something I hate for a living. I’m not a geek, just trained to do a geek’s job. And there’s not a job in IT that I would ever aspire to. I don’t love computers, and I really don’t love working with geeks. I need to get out of IT.
- I am completely in love with the United States Military. For six months, I had lived and worked alongside men and women for whom “Duty, Honor, and Country” are not just words. I simply had never known a more honorable group of people. If there was a way for me to stay working for the Army, I would happily try.
So in 2004, we returned to the States, and bought a house in Wallkill, NY. That was about 90 minutes north of New York City, and roughly an hour’s commute from the US Military Academy at West Point. I applied for every job they had. I figured I’d do just about anything for a foot in that door – anything except fix computers. I needed a foot in the door, but it had to be a different door this time.
I took a clerical job that paid about a third of my previous salary, and waited for something good to happen. And then it did.
The Chief of Staff of the Army – the highest ranking officer in the the Army – had envisioned an online “Leadership Development Tool”, that soldiers of any rank could use to help themselves improve their leadership skills. He pointed to the Department of Behavioral Science & Leadership at West Point, and recognizing them as the leadership experts for the Army, asked them to make that vision a reality. They hired me, sent me to some web design training, and put me to work building web pages. Two years later, my husband retired and we moved to Florida. But before I left, I was able to deliver a website with hundreds of interlinked and interrelated pages which had already begun serving as the US Army’s Online Leadership Development Tool. Now, I certainly didn’t do it alone. There was a talented team of professionals in both the leadership and IT fields that worked to make the General’s vision a reality. But the web pages themselves were all mine (except the homepage itself). In the two years I worked on the project, I developed the content and design of hundreds of pages of content, and in the process learned a great deal about website design.
In 2007, we moved to Florida, and in 2008 we launched my company, Emcie Media. I started in Wed Design and Internet Marketing, but eventually realized I wanted to get back to speaking and training. It has taken me over 50 years and a trip to hell (aka Iraq) to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But now I’m there, and it’s awesome. My business – like my entire life – revolves around Change, a topic I’ve come to understand and embrace as few people do. And I get to help other business leaders find success and satisfaction in their own dreams. How cool is that?