Course Participants’ Comments

“Dear M and D –

Thank you for giving me the gift of a lifetime and sending me to Heart of Leadership. While I was excited and grateful before I left, I really had NO idea how changed I would feel after only three days.


There’s so much to say. I’m excited to share more with you in person Saturday, but I didn’t want to wait to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I walked away with a completely new set of eyes and a heart that’s bursting with compassion and excitement for the future.

There were so many takeaways for me, but I’ll list some below.

1. I had no idea how much I was judging people. I never thought of myself as a “judgmental” person, but, well… I was wrong about that. I judged everyone in our class the minute I walked in the room. I scanned for people that looked similar to me—the smiley blonde over there, or the young person flicking through their phone—and assumed they would be only friends in the class. I assigned everyone else a narrow headline description, and figured that was that. Of course I would be KIND to everyone, but be friends with them? Appreciate them? Admire them? Connect with them emotionally? No way I thought that would happen.

But of course, as you both know, it did. Ten fold. I was amazed at how my heart just burst for every person in the room by the end of three days. I am genuinely interested and excited for each of their futures, and my mind is just blown by this 180. I was so moved by everyone that I cried just about every time I spoke in the class. The tears didn’t stem from nerves or fears, but genuine heartfelt emotion and wonder for these people.

It makes me sad for all the connections I’ve probably missed in the past 27 years. All the people I assigned to certain roles. All the lessons I missed. My prayer the first two nights was to “forgive myself for what I did not know,” and I’m doing that. But wow. How meaningful will my life be if I approach every person I meet like they are a member of that course with me? I’ve been actively trying to do this since I’ve been home. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. And I’m already seeing changes.

2. Welp, headline is in and it reads: “Woman Survives 27 Years Listening to Only 15% of What’s Said to Her.” Yeah… I had no idea how much I was NOT listening. I thought listening was closing your mouth and nodding warmly while figuring out your next nugget of wisdom to share. HA. That was wrong. The concept of actually remaining present with someone—and still—is absolutely life changing for me. It’s also really, really hard. I’ve been working on not interrupting people, and that alone is a HUGE change for me. I have to swallow my ego when it pops up in my throat and says, “but that thought is so witty,” and realize it’s okay not to voice every single opinion I have. Letting people finish their thoughts means I can actually LEARN from them instead of swimming circles in my own mind.

What a gift. A forever gift. My mom has opened up to me in new ways. Kyle is shocked to have so much room in the conversation to speak (oops). My friends feel appreciated. This is the skill I never knew I wanted but now am committed to working on. Thank you.

3. I’m fired up to work on the projects that matter to me in my heart of hearts. This means focusing on my own writing and investing time in myself everyday as if I am one of my clients. I realized a lot of my stagnant feelings about my current workload aren’t stemming from my laziness, but from a lack of integrity. Integrity is such a beige word. I didn’t think that section of the conversation would matter to me at all, but WOW I was w-r-o-n-g again. This is a theme, hah.

I learned that integrity is about having your deepest values and actions match up, and the way I am structuring my days right now does not reflect what I really want to do: write my own blog, write a book, get MY own voice out there.

This is something that’s been floating around in me for the past couple of years, but after taking a stand I am committed to writing for myself every single day. One of my stands was a commitment to creation, not perfection. Not everything I write for myself will be gold, but it will all be authentic, which matters more to me.

4. I am SO, SO grateful for the relationships I’ve formed with Tessa and Kelly. While I already appreciated both of them, I have a WHOLE new understanding, love and admiration for them. Kelly and I had gotten to spend a lot of time together, but I really needed this time with Tessa. I have such a clearer vision of who she is and we had MAJOR breakthroughs in our love for each other on the third day. I’m wowed by the stellar women these two are, and I know that this special, insanely close relationship we created will benefit a lifetime. I know that our ability to consider each other confidantes and true down-to-the-soul friends is HUGE for us, the family, our relationships with Kyle and Justin, and beyond. I’ve never had a sister before but I know how it feels now. My heart just bursts with love for each of them and I can’t wait to see the changes they make going forward. I think we each had some really meaningful, different, takeaways.

Thank you from the deepest part of my big sappy heart. I am grateful beyond words that you have invested in my development. I didn’t realize I was so malleable. Now I have a lifetime of work to do. I thank God that you are such a big part of my journey.



Jessica Hagy

“I want to share with you both the profundity of this week for each of you as well as for our company along with my own personal experience in the work I have participated in with Amba over the years. It comes from the heart.

As you know, it was several years ago, (2012 I think) that we first began our work with Amba. Since that time, countless members of our team have experienced the Heart of Leadership and more. In addition, because I feel so passionately about the work and the powerful potential it holds for our lives, I have sent many members of my family including my husband and all of my children and their spouses to the course watching relationships healed and transformed through this work. I say this to you because we are at a very critical time in our company and each of you hold a powerful role in our success going forward. Heart of Leadership has the power to forward you both personally and as influential leaders within Stonefire Grill.

The work you are about to do is like nothing else you have ever experienced. I promise you. Embracing it and allowing yourself to be open to what it can mean for you personally is the intention I hold for each of you. In doing so, you will open new doors in your leadership, your relationships and your impact on all of those around you. Your willingness to be open and listen is key.

For me personally, Heart of Leadership was the beginning of a journey of transformation that I never, ever imagined I would find myself on. To be clear, I am still on that journey as the work is never done but I am filled with gratitude every day for the powerful shift it created in my thinking, my communicating and my leadership. It created openings for deeper and more meaningful relationships in all areas of my life and the tools I have acquired and developed have been game changers, life changers, to be more accurate. Watching those around me, the people I love most in the world and all those I love within Stonefire have the same powerful experience has been magical. It is truly a gift.

At Stonefire as you know, we have a very purposeful and intentional culture that intertwines our values with our operational day to day. We do not and cannot separate them or compromise them. I know this to be a critical key to our success for the past 19 years and it will always be a critical, continuing component of our success going forward. HOL provided the missing links to how we as a company speak, act and live our values every day. It opened a whole new world of communication that has forwarded us as leaders, as mentors and as a team working together in support of one another as we operate and continue to build a company. It provided the tools to not just speak our values, but to allow them to live in our actions.

With all of this being said, I am so excited you are about to experience it! I stand for each of you to open your minds and hearts, to have fun, to laugh, to discern and to be surprised in the next three days and I stand in full support of your roles as leaders in our company and the uncovering of the gifts that each of you bring to us in your own unique yet equally powerful beings. It’s all right in front of you waiting to be seen anew.

The added bonus of this week is that you will make new relationships that will both surprise and delight you as individuals from all walks of life come together and discover their one, same humanity. It is a beautiful bonus.


Amba is a big powerful kick in the pants…and Ruth is LOVE. My feelings for them run profoundly deep. Know that I am thinking of you each day routing you on as you forward your lives in a fantastically beautiful way.

With love,


Mary Harrigan

“A brief history: My sister-in-law and I stopped speaking to each other about 3 years ago when I (over)reacted badly to the last in a string of social offenses (oh the folders that had to be shredded!). At that point, she refused to come to any family gatherings if I was going to be in attendance, cutting off the rest of my family for my inappropriate behavior. My brother and I continued to talk, but less and less as time went on, to the point that I had only seen him a couple times at holidays in the last year or so. I told him I would apologize to his wife, but she refused to speak to me, so we were at an impasse. I had always considered sending her a letter, but could never quite get past my anger and hurt feelings long enough to sit down and find the words.

Within the first few hours of Heart of Leadership, I knew I needed to make another attempt at mending this rift, and by the end of the 1st session, I decided it would be my project, complete with an accountabilibuddy holding my feet to the fire.

Even though I hadn’t been able to write an apology for 3 years, I was surprised at how difficult it was to sit down and say “I’m sorry”, with no strings attached. No “when you did this, it made me feel like that”; no nuanced subtext calling out her part in the story. Just an apology with hope of forgiveness. I finally made a pretty floral card and wrote 3 simple lines. I drove to a florist where they live, and asked for my card to be delivered with a basket of live flowering plants (I’d planned to send a bright bouquet of flowers, but something that was going to die in a week felt like the wrong message), and then I waited.

When we returned to Heart of Leadership, it had been a week since my apology had been delivered, and I’d heard nothing. I was surprised at the level of my disappointment. Through the years, I had convinced myself that I was better off not having to spend time with her. I’d wrapped her up with all her faults and put her on a shelf in the closet to someday be tossed out with worn out shoes and handbags. It hadn’t occurred to me I might actually miss her. My relationship with my brother, oh yes, I missed that, but not her! When my brother finally called the weekend after the last two days of HoL, I was thrilled. He asked if I had time for lunch the next day, but it was clear it was just with him. That’s ok – at least he finally reached out without the excuse of a holiday! We met and the first 30 minutes were agonizing. He was wound up and angry about every subject that came up. Finally he told me his wife had received the flowers and had no intention of forgiving me. I calmly told him that was fine. It was her prerogative. I just wanted her to know the door is open. He settled down after that, and we had a nice lunch together for the next couple hours. I realized much later that telling me she wasn’t going to forgive me must have completely stressed him out. No doubt he expected me to be bullish about it, and I think my calm response helped him realize my intentions were sincere.

Three weeks later I received a text: We would like to have you over for dinner next Friday.

So last Friday I went to my brother’s for dinner. We had a wonderful time. My sister-in-law was warm and welcoming, and anyone seeing us would have been surprised to learn we hadn’t spoken in years. Finally my brother left the room to get something, and she said “He’s really missed you. It’s been so hard on him.” I stood up and gave her a hug and told her how sorry I was and how thankful that she was taking this step toward forgiveness. She said “It’s a clean slate. It’s all a clean slate.”

Thank you all for the energy and care you put into our time together at Heart of Leadership. It is one of those experiences that will carry me the rest of my life!”

– Lynette Elliott, Executive Assistant to Jason Parks, President of Multicare’s Pulse Heart Institute

“I have been fortunate enough in my life to have accomplished many things. I have four beautiful children and one grandson that are all healthy and doing well. I have worked on many interesting and rewarding projects in my professional career, and have worked for a fantastic company the last 11.5 years where I have made many good friends along the way! Since your course, I have found a greater appreciation of those things in my Life that make me who I am. Including the importance of interactions with the people in our personal and professional lives and the way that we listen and communicate affect each and every one of us. Everyone in that room for those five days helped me find that greater appreciation. Thank you! Since being at your course I have found better and more exciting ways to deal with situations in life, and with the tools and methods and a much different look at life that I found in your course, I’m sure this journey we call “life“ will be more enriching and exciting for me! I will not live an unlived life!”

– Robert Hodges, Project Engineer, Abbott Construction

“Now I know that the first three days we were emptying the cup and the last two days we filled it back up again, with a new way of being. The last two days, everything came together, all the puzzle pieces fit. I learned how to communicate in a simple, powerful and positive manner. Being a pragmatic person, I love the practical nature of the Heart of Leadership course. It is information that I use every day in everything I do.

When I returned from the Heart of Leadership, people noticed something different about me. What I have is a more clear communication style and a clear idea of what I stand for, which has a profound impact on my life and my relationships.”

– Angela Aliabadi, South Tacoma Auto Sales

“As a graduate of almost every one of Gale Leadership Development courses, I am intimately familiar with the power of working with Amba to both develop and reinvent myself throughout time. When crossing the threshold of leaving corporate life to start my own business, I partnered with Amba, investing in her individual coaching process.

Now, almost a decade after our work together, I can say without a doubt that my work with Amba was completely foundational for the success of my business, and my professional fulfillment. I would even say that my business was birthed out of our work together – from the name of the firm, to the clarity of the value proposition to our clients, to the business being an extension of myself, rather than separate from myself. My work with Amba enabled me to know what I stood for to my clients and what I didn’t and therefore would say “no” to.

No matter what your circumstance in life, if you are looking for a breakthrough, looking to gain velocity, looking to take yourself or an initiative to another level or realm, I would wholeheartedly endorse Amba’s coaching. The rigor of Amba’s process and her “at-stakeness” for your breakthrough is almost certain to generate an ROI well beyond what you can imagine.

To this day, I continue to engage Amba individually and through her coursework.”

– James Bailey, Owner, Perspective Wealth Partners

“Since the heart of leadership training, I have noticed beneficial changes. I sense better engagement from my colleagues. We seem to be moving forward in developing a shared mission and vision for our program. More importantly, the process of trying to engage others is no longer a source of frustration for me… well maybe not completely resolved but it is much better. I seem to have developed a little more patience for the process to work. Listening deeply training has been particularly helpful although I’m certainly in a early catch and correct stage- this skill will take time. Another benefit has been to transition my focus in patient care more towards their functional goals, rather than the medical diagnosis, and this has made clinic much more rewarding.”

– Dr. Ryan Barnes, Pysiatrist, Multicare Neuroscience Institute, Physican Leader, Spokane, Washington

“My clear heart has wonderful news to share. My first day at work practicing removing the veil of judgment (of others, myself and my circumstances) before convincing myself of a negative story, wasspent observing and being glad I’ve shown up for my own development. I left Bainbridge Island knowing my life would be different. Now. So far, a mere 60 hours since your soulful poem and our deep connecting, I am hearing birds instead of my own negative self-talk. I am drinking a glass of essential fluid direct from The Source instead of mere water. I sit at the computer to express my deep gratitude, instead of recapping an old story of someone doing something to me that causes me suffering.

Your carefully designed training, facilitated with precision to a willing community, is appreciated. I am seeing how each of the 5 days of learnings fits snuggly into each other – how they build and support the previous work.”

– Diane Lachel, Click! Network

“Amba has a gift that is rare in my experience though I have taken many courses, seminars, workshops and conferences – especially during my Human Resources years when I was seeking things for my company as well as for my own personal development. She is able to take a body of information that, while not necessarily a brand new topic to you, is presented in such a way that you have a whole new level of listening, ownership, and genuine learning that truly inspires you to design action plans to make positive changes in your own life. It is equally applicable to personal life and professional life, and people define their own purpose in taking the course in advance and are free to work in the area where they will find the most benefit. For me that area changed after I opened up to the new pathways for deeply exploring my own personal inventory, but that was an unexpected surprise that I continue to be grateful for.”

– Susan Keith, Owner, Defining Directions, LLC

“I was skeptical about the forewarning of going back into the real world. ‘How bad could it be?’ I wondered. But the pace of life and the amount of unexpected stuff that is thrown at you can be overwhelming. To use a baseball analogy, facing a barrage of fastballs, curveballs, sliders and knuckleheads, ah knuckleballs is a nightmare, particularly for an ill-equipped hitter. And without the tutelage of a professional hitting instructor the career of a position player is over. I realized that I had been going through life swinging haphazardly at life’s pitches without the skills and understanding of the universe’s all-star pitcher’s stuff! And good stuff he has! It’s exciting to have new tools to enjoy playing in the big game.

As a result of attending and participating in HOL I feel more confident in my interactions at work and at home. It saddens me to think of a lifetime of conversations where I was not fully engaged. And I have a greater appreciation for the conversations had when I was totally immersed in listening. Memories of those times are sweet and rich and uplifting.”

– DW Green, Founder and President of DW Green Company

“The Heart of Leadership was a privilege to be a part of. You are an extraordinary teacher, learner, and human being. Thank you for committing so wholeheartedly to the work that you do and the people you develop. I appreciated how you created a space in which I could be inspired and empowered by others, and fully appreciative of my own unique contributions. You have created a new standard that I am so excited to live by. Thank you for honoring your many gifts so that others may honor theirs.”

– Erica Hutchinson, Director of Communications, DW Green Company


I wanted to reach out to you and simply say, Thank you. During this recent pandemic it has flipped our world upside down, but I can honestly say that going through the Heart of Leadership allowed our Y Leadership Team to navigate the challenges as a unified team. We were able to provide the leadership that our branch teams and the association needed and I know it would have been met with more struggles if we had not invested our time, focus, finances, and commitment to the HOL.”

– Erik Bullock, Executive Director, Caldwell YMCA



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