Vickie Wenzel, Director of Learning and Development, provides team members at Atmosphere with customized education, personal coaching, and mentorship throughout our AZ, IL, MN, and WI locations. Her focus is to collectively develop our industry skills, business acumen and of course, the best possible client experience.

Over her nearly 40-year career, Vickie has seen business and commercial interiors trends rise and fall. She’s witnessed the rise of cubicles, computers and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as well as the fall of fax machines … and cubicles.

How does she keep pace?  A good book. Lots of good books. Vickie is as dedicated a reader as she is a teacher.  She always has new books at arm’s length and has an uncanny ability to recommend the perfect title for you.  And the curriculum she designs for our team members is always bursting with current and relevant business concepts.

We asked her to share some of her recently-read or re-read favorites, and why they were meaningful to her.

Seeing the Big Picture, Kevin Cope
Seeing the Big Picture

Kevin Cope

“This easy-read nets out how important it is for everyone to understand how financial systems work inside a business;  I provided copies of the book for many of our managers.  Reading it led to the genesis of an idea for how to teach ‘Cash Flow’ in Finance 101.”

LinkedIn Success
The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success

Wayne Breitbarth

“The book unlocked a key concept for me:  the value of transitioning my deeply honed in-person networking skills over to technological networking.  Plus, it has helped me develop and teach LinkedIn 101 and 102.”

First, Break all the Rules
First Break All the Rules

Buckingham and Coffman

“This is base level, clear and to the point Management 101.  It articulates the value of understanding each team members’ unique talents and how to help them find the right ‘fit’ at work.  It also provides a framework to Atmosphere’s management methodology, and leads to the structure of our Team Member Survey questions.  I have post it notes coming out of this book in all directions!  All our managers have read this book.”

The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell

“The Madison business community had regularly referred to me as a ‘Connector’,  framed by the context of this book. So I bought it, and there I was!  The first two-thirds of this book is a quick read, including stories on Paul Revere and Hush Puppy shoes.  It helped me articulate the benefits of ‘the three agents of change’ in Business Development.”

A Whole New Mind
A Whole New Mind
A Free Agent Nation

Daniel Pink

“Daniel Pink is my favorite business writer of all time.  I am re-reading A Whole New Mind. I haven’t read To Sell is Human yet … can’t wait.”

Made to Stick
Made to Stick

The Heath Brothers

Made To Stick is another pull-you-in read and is a fantastic overview of why we need to tell stories if we want people to retain what we are saying or writing. Steelcase recommended the book in 2012, and it is still relevant today. I’ve reread it three times. I can hardly close the book because of all the jammed slips of notes stuck inside.”

Vickie Wenzel, Talent Development, Atmosphere Commercial Interiors
Director, Learning and Development
Atmosphere Commercial Interiors

I have been characterized as the ‘Connector’ in The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, a talent that has defined my career. Fortunately, I chose an industry that embraces creativity, change and connections.

I believe I make a contribution when a connection is made. For instance, I love to help clients discover how their facility really does relate to their business objectives. It is almost magical when they “get it” and see new ways to leverage their business as well as their workplace.

I work for a progressive place that allows me to embrace my love of change, and morph into new roles. Today, that means I facilitate the connection of best practices and really great colleagues. Considering that I took post-college GREs and taught evening design courses at UW long ago, you could say that my life goals connected.

Connect with me if I can help you with business development, sales, marketing, facility planning, office furniture, corporate education and training, or Predictive Index.

You may also be interested in:

Change Management Seminar (Transcript)

Atmosphere hosted a Change Management Seminar with guest speaker Rick Mohr, Advanced Solutions Team, Steelcase North America. Rick is responsible for engaging strategically with large organizations in North America around issues specific to people, space, technology, and brand. Vickie facilitated a panel discussion with local facilities experts.

  1. I read Seeing the Big Picture, and there are about 15 Post-It notes sticking out at all angles. There are some very helpful charts and visuals, and there is one continuous business example throughout the book which serves as a real-life model of each concept. And, each chapter ends with an Insights section that summarizes the key points. One of the most helpful [Big Picture] charts for me is on page 96, the Division of Labor / Unity of Purpose, that illustrates each organizational function (Sales, Finance, Customer Service, etc) and matches it with a Primary Focus (People, Profit, Growth, etc).


  2. First Break All the Rules is a book that really resonated with me and one that I wish I would have read earlier in my career. Here are a few of my favorite quotes (and key learnings) from the book:
    “… select for talent, define the right outcomes, focus on strengths, and then, as each person grows, encourage him or her to find the right fit.”
    “Define the right outcomes and then let each person find their own route towards these outcomes.”
    “… go back and ‘rehire’ your best people – that is, go back and tell them why they are so good. Tell them why they are one of the cornerstones of the team’s success.”
    “No manager can make an employee productive. Managers are catalysts.”
    “Don’t use average to estimate the limits of excellence. You will drastically underestimate what is possible.”
    I’ve read the book twice, and repeatedly refer back to key points. I’ve recommended the book to people inside and outside of Atmosphere, whether they are a manager or not.


  3. Vicki, thanks for the “Seeing the Big Picture” reco. Looks like a good one to provide for my team (and my working adult kids). Have read the others on your list and value them all!


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