Hearing the Music: The Don Murray Story
"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician."
Albert Einstein

Even when no one else can hear the music, Don Murray can. From his early days in his father’s music store, to an illustrious career as trusted advisor to some of the best business minds of the era, he has always been able to hear what others cannot.

Solid Gold Experience. Over the past 30 years Don has stayed extremely busy with a steady stream of rewarding projects. To wit: He worked with the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic volleyball team, was an integral confidante to the Nike executive team during its meteoric rise to prominence, and has invented numerous leadership development tools that work.

“I’ve always had this gift,” he admits with a disarming combination of candor and humility, “to walk into a room and accurately size up the group dynamics. That’s a very helpful thing, especially if you don’t have an agenda.”

It has indeed served him well. But, how does he do it? His clients would answer: with an almost uncanny ability to listen like few others. He’s not sure when he developed it. Maybe he was born with it.

From Music to Management. Perhaps it began in his teen years as he worked in his dad’s Great Falls Montana music store. He became an accomplished musician himself, and taught the subject for awhile after acquiring his bachelor’s degree. But somewhere along the way Don began to hear other melodies?the sweet strains of entrepreneurism, the harmonies of building a great workplace, the lilt of leadership development.

Education and Training. After graduating college, he attended a weekend retreat that focused entirely on building a great workplace. “As soon as I experienced leadership challenges and methods, I knew right then and there,” he says “that this was something I wanted to know more


about.” He applied to the University of Oregon where, after three years of work, he received a Masters and Ph.D. in Organizational Development.

On the Road Again. Following his graduation he began his consulting business with a bang. “My second client was U.S. Steel,” he says. “That helped a lot, and we did great work that we all felt had a huge impact.” From there his reputation grew; eventually he was asked to do team building with the US Olympic volleyball team. Don was in Los Angeles when the team sealed the victory, winning the gold in 1984, and he deems it one of the great highlights of his professional life.

Nike Adventure. Continuing the sports theme, Don became a trusted advisor to Phil Knight, CEO of Nike. In fact, in the book, “Just Do It” by Donald Katz, Mr. Knight is quoted as saying that he has three individuals in his professional life that he calls to counsel with him on big initiatives. One of those three is Don Murray.

Mission Statement. Don’s mission is simple: Creating competitive advantage through designed leadership experiences. He embraces the world of new possibilities with this caveat: learning tools cannot be an end in themselves, only the means to an end.

And what matters most to Don Murray are the end results. He strives to make his work have a lasting impact in every organization with whom he is privileged to work.

He’s still listening, and his clients are better because of it. His business motto sums it up: “Every organization pays for a development program . . . whether it has one or not!”

Don is married to Colleen and has three children and five grandchildren.

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