The Contrarian Mindset

by Stephen Quirk

Your mindset, or your attitude, determines – no, predetermines – how you respond to and interpret situations.

Throughout my life, I have truly taken the road less traveled and it has made a difference.

My classmates (in a college of almost 70,000) all strangely conformed to a mob mentality. They were happy to stick to the status quo. Many of my previous co-workers were happy with this approach as well.

This ‘do-as-others-do’ mindset is something I’ve never been able to understand.

I prefer the Contrarian Mindset.

It’s a different kind of 1% club. And yes, membership is required. You must make conscience choices to be a part of this club. You must be aware enough to see what everyone else is doing and consciously choose to do something different. To find a better way.

Is it worth it? I believe it is because this is the kind of 1% club that can separate you from the pack. Think about it – if everyone is doing the same thing, there are multiple other unexplored options that will put you ahead of the 99%.

It’s a difference maker and the edge I’m always looking for.

It’s also the edge AMEND seeks for all its clients, which is what made AMEND a perfect place for me. Their desire to break away from the pack and offer unique, unparalleled services aligned with my attitude and fit my brand. They really do ‘zig while others zag’ and that has allowed them to attract amazing talent and excel as a firm.


Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.” – Peter Thiel


If every moment only happens once, then doing what everyone else does will only help you achieve what everyone else achieves. It will not help you break away. It will not help you leap over your competitors. It will not help you create what’s next. It will not help you be great.

My goal, as well as AMEND’s, is not to copy that of a Bill Gates or a Mark Zuckerberg or a McKinsey or aBoston Consulting Group. Our goal is much more simple – to forge our own paths that change lives and transform businesses. It might be impossible but it’s a mission I, as a contrarian, am happy to accept.


Why I Live Every Day The ‘Steve Jobs Way’

I had made up my mind. I knew exactly what I wanted to do after graduation. I was going to start my full-time career in Texas with a company I had co-oped with previously.

Then. One quote changed everything,

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today. Whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  – Steve Jobs

After reading the article about Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford Graduation Address, featuring this quote, I started to reflect on my past work experiences to see if I could relate. After some soul searching, one theme kept coming to me – I was never given the opportunity to be me.

There were a lot of restrictions that hindered my ability to be creative.

This all got me thinking – if you can’t be yourself for at least 40 hours a week, are you really doing what you want to do?


Enter AMEND.

I met with Paul Delaney, AMEND’s Chief People Officer, and Matt Murphy, an all-star analytics specialist. What they shared about AMEND blew me away.

AMEND is growing, loaded with opportunities, and united in delivering way more than consulting services – they’re changing lives, strengthening communities, and transforming businesses.

Right then and there I knew AMEND was where I needed to be. I made my pitch to Paul…landed an interview…and, ultimately, my dream job!

Now I live every day the “Steve Jobs Way.” I no longer have to down five cups of coffee to make it through the day. I never say, “I don’t want to go into work tomorrow.” I love the work I’m doing and the impact I’m making. It’s addicting in many ways.

“Whatever you want to do, do it. There are only so many tomorrows.”  – Michael Landon

How about you? Are you living every day the “Steve Jobs Way?” Are you excited to dive into each day or has it all become a bore and a chore? If you’re stuck in ho-hum land, now’s the time to start making new choices! Start right now – today – this minute. Begin to reconnect with the things that ignite you. Take one step, then another, then another. We only get to live this life in one direction – FORWARD!



Change Your Mind To Change Your Results

Change is hard. Change is something most of us avoid. But accepting and embracing change – learning to use it to your advantage – can be incredibly rewarding.

Our lives are filled with many points of change. The many firsts we achieve as babies. All the additional changes that follow as we grow up and mature.

The transition from high school to college seems to be one point of change that causes many to struggle. It certainly was a struggle for me.

It was easy to get distracted by things that really didn’t matter – getting caught up in the college atmosphere for example. These distractions and poor choices often led to students finding themselves in tough spots later on. For me, this tough spot was after my freshman year. It was a time where my morale was low, my sense of purpose and direction was lost, and, overall, I just wasn’t happy.

I wanted to make a change but didn’t know where to start.

Want Different Results? Do Something Different!

I began a period of reflection in the fall of 2005. A time where I immersed myself by listening to Ted Talks, reading books, attending leadership conferences, and seeking out mentors. It was during this time I came across a transformational idea – you are the average of the five closest people to you.

Bam! This was the change in thinking I needed. Now I knew exactly what to do…I found friends and mentors who had similar priorities, values, and ambitions, or who had taken similar journeys. I also found ways to challenge myself and my truths. Some of my inspiration came from Kobe Bryant. He once shared how he would sharpen his skills by playing against mates that were four or five year older than him. I also drew inspiration from ‘Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.’ His wisdom about not wasting your short time here living someone else’s life hit me hard. It inspired me to lead my life even if it takes me off the well-worn path.

I came across much insight and wisdom during my journey, all of which helped me grow. Ultimately, I kept coming back to this idea of being the average of the five closest people to you…it became my new center.

Enter AMEND.

I came to know of AMEND as most come to know of it – through the endlessly positive, (almost) unbelievable things my roommate, Jacob Whyle would share with me every day. He just could not shut up about the amazing work he was doing. Then, in talking to several other friends, AMEND, popped up again – still nothing but great things.

I was blown away. I had to learn more.

My first meeting was with Paul Delaney, AMEND’s Chief People Officer. Talk about refreshing! It wasn’t about my resume – it was about me – who I am, my background, values, dreams, and ambitions. He took a genuine interest in my story.

Then I talked to some of the other partners and employees and grew more impressed. They had a highly talented core team and an even more powerful network. Whether they decided to hire me or not, I knew AMEND was special. They lived out their purpose of changing lives and transforming businesses.

AMEND + The Average of 5 = A WIN FOR ME!

I looked at the AMEND team. I thought about how they are a team of A-players. Any combination of five would bring out the best in me. I had no doubt.

And I work everyday to do the same for them. I am excited to share my passion and drive with AMEND’s clients and my teammates. I hope to challenge them just as they are challenging me.

The Power of Average

Coming across the idea that you are the average of the five closest people to you has been truly transformational for me. I guess you could say, in this rare case, average has been exceptional.

Using this principle to guide my decisions, both personally and professionally, has brought overwhelmingly positive change to my life. Much of my current success and happiness is directly connected to my decision to live through this truth.

What new ideas can you bring into your life? What new truths might drive change and transformation for you? Maybe it’s the average of the five closest people. Maybe it’s trying to do something you didn’t think possible. Maybe it’s saying yes when you normally say no.

No matter what new choice the ‘power of five’ inspires, any new choice is a choice for change!


Go BIG or Go Home!

I have always been under the impression that in order to be successful, you must work for the biggest company, earn the biggest salary, and lead the biggest team. It took me having some big experiences to discover that ‘big’ has many different dimensions.

Big Is Am’big’uous

About halfway through my rotation at GE Aviation it hit me – there are lots of ways to define ‘big.’

A company can be geographically big, like GE. Their reputation can be big, like GE. Their headcount can be big, like GE.

It never occurred to me to think about all the different types of big in the world. It didn’t really matter until I started chasing it.

Discovering The ‘Big’gest Thing That Mattered To Me

Despite having an amazing team and plenty of opportunities at my fingertips, GE was just too ‘big’ for me.

A company like GE didn’t become a market-dominating-billion-dollar-behemoth overnight. It has built up layers of its identity over time and, consequently, it has developed a strong internal structure that gives it the support it needs to sustain its global operations. As an entry-level employee, I often found it hard to see how my day-to- day tasks were impacting the company given the countless levels of people working above me in the ranks.

For most of my life, I have come to know success through outcomes and results. From grades to sports, my understanding of success and impact has always been a tangible end-result on which I can look back and think—wow, I did that. GE wasn’t like that for me, and while it would be easy for me to look at my experience with frustration, I instead choose to look at it with gratitude because I gained invaluable understanding about myself and my professional aspirations that has led me to where I am now: AMEND.

Maybe instead of bigger teams, smaller teams filled with passionate people are more my style. Maybe instead of being a small fish in a big pond, having a greater influence over my work and the outcomes I’m generating would be more meaningful. Maybe BIG doesn’t have to be defined in exclusively quantitative terms.

PASSION, HEART, and DRIVE Can All Be Big. They Can Also Be Powerful.

It doesn’t necessarily matter how big the company is, or how many employees work there. What truly matters is the passion each employee has for the company, their work, and the difference they are making.

I realized I could find a smaller team that is still home to big PASSION, HEART, and DRIVE.

With passion comes BIG goals. With BIG drive comes BIG achievement. With BIG goals comes BIG successes. These were the types of BIG that would work for me!

AMEND Was The Different Kind of BIG I Was Looking For

I found “BIG” in a different way at AMEND.

I walk through the office and I know people are counting on me. There is an unspoken mutual trust amongst us. I’m a valued member of the team who is making a difference every day.

AMEND is loaded with opportunities, including the opportunity to fail AND learn from those failures. I have no doubt I will experience real-world failures that will push me to work even harder for the big successes. This team is loaded with PASSION. This passion is evident through all our decisions – wanting not only what is best for AMEND, but also what is best for our clients. This passion drives us to succeed and forces us to step outside our comfort zones. It’s the perfect kind of  ‘GO BIG’ for me.

I chose AMEND because I came to the realization that I still need to go big or go home. Except this time, going big doesn’t mean choosing a big company. This time, going big means choosing a smaller company that is still home to big goals and big expectations.

I am ready to face the obstacles and work towards the best solutions. I will push both myself and others to ignite the passion that drives
us. This kind of big – stepping outside of my comfort zone, risking it all and leaving it all on the court – this is the kind of big that works for me. I’m all in – because otherwise, I wouldn’t go at all.


Own Your Change – Be The Captain Of Your Ship!

I am a planner. I have my schedule mapped out digitally as well as in my paper planner. I have an Excel document that contains my plans for past/future classes and study abroad experiences. I track all of my financials and am budgeted out until the end of 2018. The point is, I love to plan! I am aware that plans can change and do not fear that but I was not prepared for what happened to my plans after taking one…simple…class…

Where I Was Headed

I was down in Jacksonville, Florida with a large manufacturing corporation. It was my second rotation and I figured I would go back in the Spring of 2018 without considering anywhere else. I was comfortable and familiar with the way the company worked and enjoyed my time with them, so it made sense to stay on for the rest of my rotations. Why change what’s working?

During the Fall Semester of my fourth year at the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, however, one class changed everything.

I was taking a course called Field Studies in Operations Management. The entire idea behind this course is to go out into the real world and visit various companies to see what an Operations Management degree looks like in the scope of these different industries.

I thought it would be a simple, relaxing, yet intriguing course to take with some of my friends. It turned out to be so much more. This class was how I first came to know of AMEND Consulting.

How AMEND Changed Everything

I walked in to friendly faces – recognizing a few from UC. I was greeted and shown around the office then taken to a large conference area for a presentation.

This visit, from the start, was different.

Other stops on our tour took us to factories that made automobile parts or shops where clothes were being cleaned. We even visited a casket manufacturer! These were all full of machinery and process that the class could follow. It was clear why we were there.

AMEND didn’t have any of this and we were all worried because it seemed we were in for two hours of…presentation – yuck.

Time for my first change – a change of perspective.

Matt Murphy and Paul Delaney began to talk about the AMEND team and the work they do. I was captivated.

AMEND’s approach was impressive. (I had worked with a large consulting firm in the summer who did not put the effort and care into their work like AMEND.) They talked about the various industries and types of people and problems they deal with. Their passion was inspiring. I was amazed.

I left the presentation with goosebumps. It was then I knew – I HAD to work at AMEND!

Owning My Change – Stepping Off The Edge… – *GULP*

That evening, I went home to craft my thank you letter and to let Matt know I was interested in AMEND. It was a Friday night, so I contained my excitement and waited until Monday morning to send the thank you. He answered with an invitation to breakfast to talk about AMEND and my work experience.

As we sat down for breakfast a week later, I felt my interest in AMEND grow stronger as Matt talked about the culture and ambience within the company. The fact that I could talk to anyone freely, including Craig or David (the founding owners), was further proof that this was an amazing company that provided valuable work experience and mentors to aid in becoming the best version of oneself.

After this meeting was a meeting with Paul. His passion and love for AMEND Consulting was evident with every word he spoke. His belief in AMEND and its purpose was electrifying. I was hooked.

I was willing to move my school schedule around and flex my plans to make this change happen! I knew working for AMEND was worth the course change!!

Creating My New Future – Captaining My Ship!

Receiving my offer to join the AMEND Consulting family was thrilling. I could not remember the last time I had been so excited to jump into something new, especially when I had not prepared for it.

I thought I had the rest of my college career planned out when I started in that Field Studies in Operations Management course. Little did I know how much that one class would change my life’s course.

As much as I love a good plan, sometimes, the best things happen without a plan. I thought I was taking a simple class to fulfill my credit requirements and learn about different industries I could work in. I never thought I would find such amazing opportunities that would make me question my plans.

AMEND threw me for a loop and challenged my plans, which is why I am more than pleased to join the team and start this next chapter in a direction I never thought I would take.

Explore, Discover, Transform

This past Christmas, I was met with the typical holiday-time questions:

“How’s school going?” Oh, it’s going well, Aunt Susie.

“When do you finish the semester?” Two weeks ago, Aunt Marge.

“What’ve you been up to lately?” Just the usual, Aunt Kathleen.

As always, grandma came in with the question about the most exciting change that would be coming in my life over the next few months: “What are you doing next?”

Excellent question! (Truth is, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I was returning to AMEND Consulting to further develop my skills and help their clients transform their businesses.)

She wanted to know more, “Oh wow. How are you feeling about working there?”


I worked at AMEND for a bit last spring. I was able to experience the culture, gain an understanding of the services they offer, and meet the team. I worked in the office then, developing pitch decks and helping with future strategy by creating a list of potential centers of influence.

Working there helped me develop an appreciation for the people and the culture, which is important to me. I believe where you work and the people you surround yourself with become part of your identity. A place that values hugs over handshakes will surely help me further define myself.

Previously, I interned at Kroger Technology and Kroger Supply Chain, which were both amazing experiences. They helped me learn how a large company functions and taught me soft and hard skills related to their fields. But after working part-time with AMEND earlier in the year, I’ve been intrigued by what it would be like to work with a smaller, tighter group.

This time around, I’ll be involved in more direct client work – helping mid-sized companies become more competitive by strengthening their people, optimizing their processes, and super-charging their thinking.

AMEND gives me exactly what I’m looking for…a place to explore what’s out there, discover the possibilities, and transform myself and others all while doing meaningful and impactful work.

I know I will be met with real-world business problems and challenges in an environment that will push me and help me grow. The opportunity to be a part of a high-performing team that is dedicated to changing lives and transforming businesses is one I couldn’t pass up. It’s why I chose AMEND.

I’m Glad I Chose ‘Different’

I have been blessed with countless opportunities and surrounded with good people throughout my life. However, those opportunities don’t arise out of thin air. In fact, opportunities come about from a constant state of sense of self-awareness.

Understanding where you are and where you want to be is critical but knowing how to make that happen isn’t. Stay focused, work hard, and always be self-aware.

Stay The Course Or Go A New Direction?

After a multitude of experiences with Fortune 500 companies, I still felt that something was missing. I understood that the current path wasn’t headed in the direction I ultimately wanted to end up.

I had to make a decision.

Stay on the path to a corporate job at a large company or chase what I was looking for. Find a place that I felt challenged to be more, to be the best version of myself.

Thankfully I chose the latter.

Did I Choose Wisely?

I chose AMEND because I knew it was going to be different. I understood the time spent with AMEND would fall outside my comfort zone, it wasn’t going to be easy, and I knew I was going to learn a lot. I saw an opportunity to grow professionally, and I took it.

The reason I came, however, isn’t necessarily the reason I continue to stay.

I came for the challenge, I stay for the people.

I DID Choose Wisely – and I’m Better For It!

What I didn’t expect is that AMEND provides so much more than the opportunity for professional growth. With leaders who prioritize their people first , AMEND fosters a culture of personal development that I have never experienced before.

The bottom line is that the AMEND team cares about each other. Along with transforming the lives of our clients, the team transforms the lives of each other. From the top down, each member of the team genuinely acts in your best interest and pushes you to be a better brother, a better friend, a better son, and so much more.

I continue to love my time with AMEND because while I show up to work every day to “change lives and transform businesses,” my life, in fact is being changed and transformed – for the better.

The Many Sides of AMEND

I’m often asked, WHY AMEND? What’s AMEND all about? Or, WHY the hell would someone choose AMEND over the likes of P&G, Google, GE, McKinsey, IBM, Goldman, Toyota, the NBA, Deloitte, SAP, General Mills, Accenture, Blue Chip Ventures, Disney, or Apple?

I can’t answer for the dozens of other people who have made this choice… (You can see their answers here.) I can only share my thoughts around what AMEND is and what it means to me.

AMEND is technically an acronym, a noun, and a verb.

The Acronym

AMEND is more than a word around here. It stands for something that goes well beyond a company name or any symbol we could create. AMEND stands for Alex, Madi, Emily, Nick, and David Eli. These are the children of our founders and the true inspiration fueling our mission – changing lives and transforming businesses.

The Noun

AMEND is the leading mid-market management consulting and business improvement firm in the midwest. Reporters for Forbes Magazine recently tried to find another firm similar and came up empty.

Our proven approach – People + Process + Metrics = Transformation has been tested and proven for more than a decade. Our unstoppable team of A++ talent has worked with hundreds of companies and guarantees results on every project.

The Verb

To AMEND – “to make better; improve”

It’s no coincidence our acronym is synonymous with better business outcomes. We build unbeatable businesses with endless competitive advantages.

Our sales are 95% referral based and most business owners simply say – “you need AMEND.”

We take that responsibility seriously and customize our approach to make sure we always deliver. With over 150 tools in our arsenal, the only thing that is the same over each project is our values – honest, direct, passionate, leadership with a results oriented mindset.

Look. At the end of the day we’re a bunch of engineers, problem solvers, and analytical thinkers who choose to do the best possible work we can serving the most important and underserved market in the country.

AMEND is more than an acronym…more than a company…more than an improvement. For some, we’re a rallying cry. For others, we’re a bold call to action. For a rare few, we’re a door that opens to a whole new world of possible.

No matter how the t’s get crossed and the i’s get dotted, one thing is constant – we are the most dedicated, the most passionate, the most find-a-way-or-make-a-way group you’ll likely ever meet.

The BEST Connection I Ever Made

I never thought I would end up working for a company like AMEND.

I had drunk the corporate kool-aid (like so many other college students).

I was ready to go work for an organization that had a worldwide brand. I figured that a company was large, so it must be successful, and that means it has successful, hard-working individuals within it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is true. I am the child of a 30 + year employee of one of the largest corporations in the world. I have met those hard working, driven, “14-hour work day” corporate types. Even after growing up in that environment, I still questioned what else was out there, and who else was in the working world.

I discovered quickly throughout sports and academia that you are going to have to like the people you are working with IN ADDITION to like what you are doing. You could have the best job in the world, but if you hate the guy next to you, you’re never going to be happy. The culture of a company can make or break your experience. This aspect of a business was incredibly important to me. So, I took this curiosity, and this knowledge of the importance of people to the recruiting cycle.

I was set on doing consulting, but never found that big company that shared the passion and vision of helping others. They said it, and they threw it up on posters, but I never truly felt it. I knew of AMEND through conversations, but I didn’t know what they were about, or what they truly did. And then I heard the story of their name. I can vividly remember my thought process when I heard the story behind the name of AMEND. I thought, “Wow, this sounds like a company I want to work for. They value family, hard work, and changing other people’s lives. I share those same values.”

The story of AMEND’s name told me everything I wanted to know about the company. Family is the most important thing to me, and I knew they viewed life through the same lens. I knew they would be about their career supporting their life and not the other way around. I knew that they would be as concerned about professional growth as they were about personal growth. I knew this was a company where I would be happy.

And then – it got even better!

The reason I went into consulting is because I wanted to help other people by helping their businesses. To me, this would, in-turn, help the community because there would be better suited people to serve and drive community growth. This was why I wanted to do what I have been doing the past 4 months. I wanted to serve others.

During my interview with AMEND, Paul sat there and said the reason why he does what he does is, and I quote: “Our work helps the community. If I help someone save money and time at their company, then they have more time and money to spend. Maybe they are able to go to a Red’s game which then helps that organization. It is a chain reaction effect.” I called my Mom on the way home from the interview and told her that it was so cool to hear that they shared the identical values I did.

I knew AMEND was for me.

I still battled with going through the process of the corporate giants, however I had this gut feeling that AMEND was my home. Throughout it all, those values, and the reasoning behind AMEND stuck with me. That vision, and that foundation of the company is why I chose AMEND.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

I had never worked a stereotypical “40 hours a week” job. I didn’t know what one looked like, what was expected – it was all new…and exciting.

Before AMEND, my only real-life work experience consisted of working at a snack bar for a local swimming pool and working as a valet parker. Each gave me invaluable life experience in their own way but absolutely nothing compared to what AMEND Consulting has given me.

Consultants Are….Well…We All Know What Consultants Are!

I never imagined myself as a consultant.

My idea of consulting companies stemmed from stereotypes that are seen in the media: wearing a suit and tie every day, walking into different companies with a narcissistic demeanor because ‘you’re the big bad consultant who can fix any problem you are tasked with.’ This role didn’t seem like one I could (or would want to) fill.

I admit, I was hesitant when given the chance to visit AMEND. But, I decided to take a chance on them just as they were taking a chance on me. I committed to giving them the benefit of the doubt, to not rush to judgement.

I put on a suit and tie – made myself look exactly how I envisioned a consultant “should” look – and drove to the office. When I got there, I was shocked to discover I was the only one wearing a suit. Everyone in the office was wearing jeans and a polo with steel-toed boots. That was the first indicator to me that AMEND was not your run-of- the-mill consulting company.

AMEND: The Anti-Consultants

I was right. AMEND isn’t your run-of-the-mill consulting company. In fact, they aren’t your run of the mill anything.

They care deeply about the success of all their clients. They get in there, side-by-side with their clients, and don’t stop until there’s a solution. They don’t walk in and say ‘I know it all.’ They walk in and say ‘I know we’ll find a way together.’

During my time at AMEND, I have learned more about consulting and manufacturing and have gained more real world experience than I ever thought was possible. I’ve also learned a lot about myself along the way. I’ve discovered things like who I work best with and how I can best leverage my skills in a professional setting.

And Here’s The Best Part

The best part about AMEND is not the jeans and polo attire or the office ping pong table. It’s the people you get to work closely with every day.

On day one I was thrown into the fire and tasked with action items that most analysts would never receive in the entirety of their rotation. A lot of responsibility was put on my plate to drive value for the clients and with that came a lot of trust and resources. The entire AMEND team pushed me to put my best foot forward and was always extremely eager and excited to help whenever necessary.

I’m Glad I Said Yes!

AMEND is not a traditional work environment in any sense of the word, mainly because of the close-knit relationships you are able build within the organization, which I know will last throughout my lifetime. I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to work and grow with AMEND. I have been challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone but I have done it knowing I have the support of an entire family behind me.

I am extremely excited to see how this experience helps to shape the rest of my professional career, as I know AMEND has played an extremely important role, and will continue to play that role in the future.