DID YOU KNOW that human IQ scores have been steadily increasing over the past 50 years?
Peter loves his work--helping people and companies grow and succeed. He is particularly excited by the discoveries in neuroscience and emotional intelligence over the last 15 years and their importance to improving human and business performance and he knows that if you hire clever, resilient people who really want to work together, the sky is the limit.

Even from an early age Peter was fascinated by how the mind works and what motivates behavior. He graduated with honors in psychology from the University of Michigan then completed doctoral studies at Texas Tech and a residency at Northwestern University Medical School, Institute of Psychiatry.

Peter’s professional career began as a clinical and forensic psychologist before he launched his work in 1982 as a management and organizational psychologist with national firms in Minneapolis. He subsequently joined the Hay Group, an international HR consulting firm, as a senior consultant.

In 1989, Peter opened his own consulting practice with his wife and business partner, Sarah Vander Zanden. He loves fishing, practices yoga, is a classically trained pianist and a student of politics and history. He lives in Minneapolis with Sarah, two Weimaraners and keeps the revolving door unlocked for their three college-age children.

Sarah Vander Zanden

Sarah Vander ZandenSarah dedicates herself to deeply understanding every client’s strengths and goals, so that their best contributions are magnified as they solve problems, push distractions to the background, and immerse themselves in exploring new learning. Her voracious appetite for keeping informed of the thought-leadership in many diverse areas of inquiry helps us bring a first-mind to every client engagement, and keep the coaching immediately relevant. Sarah’s proudest claim is that our clients refer their colleagues, and have done so for the life of the company’s existence, now celebrating our 25th year.

Sarah is a self-avowed news junkie, loves creative design in any field, takes cookbooks to bed, won’t bait her own hook on family fishing trips, and gets her best ideas when eating dark chocolate. Sarah and Peter live in Minneapolis with their three children.


Richard Olson, PhD LP, Olson Consulting Group

As President of Olson Consulting Group, Dick Olson and Peter Marston partner on large projects involving selection testing development and organizational change. Dick shares Peter’s passion for leveraging people's strengths in conjunction with addressing people's limitations.

Dick earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in statistics and psychological measurement. He applies this expertise to help develop and revise approaches to performance feedback as well as selection testing. His board experience includes Camp Unistar and Association for Psychological Type.

Dick enjoys running, swimming, mountain climbing, minor house maintenance, and is an avid collector of antique and collector automobiles. His latest addition is his first motorcycle.


Cliff Allen, Beyond Due Diligence

Cliff consults to business owners to improve the value of their companies, often demonstrated with closely held companies as leadership transitions where he partners with Peter on organizational effectiveness and talent assessment.

His experience spans every phase of business – concept, start-up, growth, mature, declining and turnaround. Cliff is highly skilled at identifying problems, establishing priorities, and developing and implementing solutions, and is seasoned in working with variety of business types, sizes, industries, operating climates and cultures.

Cliff earned his MBA and undergraduate marketing degree from Northern Illinois University, and has spent the past 35 years in roles spanning COO, CEO and Owner of Atlantic Richfield Company, A.M. International, and other Fortune 500 companies.

Cliff and his wife live in Woodbury. They have two grown children.

Heidi Westlind

Heidi WestlindHeidi loves getting new things started. Her role and personal drive is to continue to strengthen our firm’s influence with individuals and companies we serve now and those we hope to work with in the future. Heidi watches the market to know what’s changing, and keeps us flexible and current in offering what our clients value most. Heidi’s business guidance is equally disciplined and steady, allowing Sarah and Peter to concentrate on what they do best - our client work. Truth is, Heidi loves finishing things, too, making sure we exceed expectations at every turn.

Prior to joining Vander Zanden in 2003, she demonstrated her leadership and grounded thinking for 15 years in sales, operations, and marketing for a top software company. Heidi earned their Chief Marketing Officer role by building successful new operations in Europe and South East Asia. Heidi is married, has four young children, loves being outside, and counts non-profit volunteering as one of her priorities in a wild, work-life whirlwind.


Cyndie Sikorski

Cyndie SikorskiCyndie reminds us that even though we love what we do, the numbers have to work! She makes sure they do, minding the details and keeping us from spending every spare dollar on more books. With a professional history dedicated to small business throughout her career, Cyndie makes it her mission to keep us profitable but also find ways for us to continually invest in our own learning and growth. Cyndie helps us stay on top of current and new practices for running professional firms well, and keeps scolding us for putting the house down as collateral.

Having just had firsthand experience managing her family’s move to a newer, greener house, she reminds us of all the ways we could still get greener.


All-time Favorites
  1. Getting Things Done, David Allen (2001)
  2. Why Leaders Can’t Lead, Warren Bennis (1989)
  3. Managing Assertively, Madelyn Burley-Allen (1995)
  4. Good to Great, James Collins, Jerry Porras (2001)
  5. Leading Change, John Connor (1996)
  6. Flow, Csikszentmihalyi (1990)
  7. The Practice of Management, Peter Drucker (1954)
  8. The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker (1985)
  9. Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman (1995)
  10. Leader Effectiveness Training, Dr. Thomas Gordon (2001)
  11. Servant Leadership, Robert K. Greenleaf (1977, 2002)
  12. The Situational Leader, Dr. Paul Hersey (1984)
  13. Full Catastrophie Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. (1990)
  14. Executive, Harry Levinson (1968)
  15. The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz (2003)
  16. True Professionalism, David H. Maister (1997)
  17. Confidence, Rosabeth Moss Kantor (2004)
  18. Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman, Ph.D. (2002)
  19. Personal and Organizational Transformations, Torbert and Fisher (1995)
  20. Getting Past No, William Ury (1991)
  21. The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter Senge (2006)

Recent Favorites

  1. Snakes in Suits, Paul Babiak, Ph.D. and Robert Hare, Ph.D. (2006)
  2. Go Put Your Strengths To Work, Marcus Buckingham (2007)
  3. Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty, Ram Charan, (2008)
  4. The UltraMind Solution, Mary Hayman, M.D. (2009)
  5. Spark, John Ratey M.D (2008)
  6. Connecting, Sarah Vander Zanden (2007)
Did you know that human IQ scores have been steadily increasing over the past 50 years?

This is especially noticeable in areas dealing with the abstract and in handling patterns, path-finding, and categorizing ambiguity. These individuals are also adding brain ‘memory’ to store all the data they are required to know. I’m acutely interested ‘the whys’, and read as much newly published material as I can find, therefore I can factor in the latest neuroscience research into my assessments.