Amy Florian is the CEO of Corgenius, and she combines the best of neuroscience and psychology with a good dose of humor in training professionals to build strong relationships with clients through all the losses and transitions of life.
An acclaimed speaker and expert, she is author of over 150 articles and the books “No Longer Awkward: Communicating with Clients through the Toughest Times of Life” winner of a C-Suite Book Award, and “A Friend Indeed: Help Someone You Love When They Grieve,” which won a 2017 International Book Award. She was recently honored with several other awards for her ground-breaking work including:
Amy is a regular contributor in the trade press and appeared in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes, MSN Money, Barron’s, On Wall Street, the Journal of Financial Planning, Investment News, Wealth Management, Financial Advisor, and many others.
Amy holds a Master’s Degree and is a Fellow in Thanatology (the highest level of certification in the field of grief studies).
She taught a graduate class at Loyola University of Chicago for almost 10 years, she has worked with over 2,000 grieving people, and she consults with firms, corporations, and individuals across the country and the globe.
How My Company Came To Be
An icy road. A no-fault death. The driver of the other car wondering what, if anything, he could have done to avoid the accident. In the blink of an eye I was a 25-year old widow. I was surrounded by dozens, even hundreds, of well-intentioned people who had absolutely no idea what to say or how to act around me. John’s death was devastating. We loved as deeply as two young people could. We’d already survived two miscarriages and had just purchased our first home.
I did not know it at the time, John’s death began my lifelong mission of helping people heal from life’s crushing losses. The journey took me first down the path of facing the rest of my life without John. Even now, 30 years later, that phrase sometimes brings forth a heartfelt sigh as I remember the joy of my life with John and the deep sorrow I experienced when he died.
I did not want to spend the rest of my life feeling the searing pain of grief. There were few resources in my tiny town of Dyersville, Iowa, so I did what seemed right – I read everything I could find. I kept a journal. I wrote about my experiences. I relied on my faith. I actively remembered. I made repeated "trips" through the years of my love for John. These “trips” included physically revisiting the places that we loved to go, cooking the same meals we had both enjoyed, and continuing to engage alone in what had been shared pastimes. One of the most painful and yet most healing activities was continuing to deliver the marriage preparation class that John and I once gave together.
Years passed. The "trips" lost their power to bring deep sadness. Healing came slowly but come it did, and I got joyfully re-married to Ken. Not long after Ken and I were married, I began giving workshops on grief and published articles based on my experience.
In the next major part of the trip I became the long-time leader of a widowed support group. It was during this time that I began to refine my support skills as I listened to the life stories of hundreds of people whose spouse had died. I taught them what I had learned, I cried with them, and I encouraged them. I was fortunate to be a companion on the path with so many good people who wanted what all people want when a loved one dies…to remember faithfully and happily…to grieve fully…and eventually to be joyful again.
Though my bookshelf was already sagging under the weight of every manner of book on grief and bereavement, I hungered for more knowledge. I earned a Masters Degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University of Chicago and a Fellow in Thanatology certification from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. “Thanatology”. Unusual word, I know. It means the study of death and dying. I continued to publish, and was increasingly asked to give both training sessions and faith-based reflection days. My work expanded into teaching when I was hired as an adjunct professor at several universities in the Chicago area.
The newest chapter of my journey was the launch of my training company Corgenius in 2008. Our tag-line is “adding heart to the brains of business”. As you've seen on the rest of the site, Corgenius specializes in teaching people how to support and interact with a person who is grieving a life-changing loss.
When John died, I needed to trust many service providers. Some mumbled platitudes and handed me a tissue before quickly moving to the comfort zone of business. Others ignored the death altogether. In almost every case, their awkwardness around me was excruciating for both of us, and I came away feeling like little more than a number in their contact list. If they'd known how to behave then, would I be a loyal customer these 25 years later? Yes. One service provider did retain my business. His uncommon insight and straightforward empathy, earned my trust and he's earned fair profit from me ever since.
Corgenius focuses on training people in the healthcare to financial services professions. The company’s training modules range from two hour to full-day sessions and take a secular, “grief happens to everyone” approach. I know how difficult these topics are for everyone so I incorporate healthy humor. I’ve been told by my students that the atmosphere is “refreshing and non-threatening”. That’s an especially gratifying statement when facing a complex and emotional subject.
With this knowledge, no one needs to intentionally let a call from a grieving person go to voicemail. No one needs to avoid wakes or be reluctant to ask a grieving person "How are you?" for fear they will actually tell. No one needs to wonder what to say a month or six months or a year after the death. As one financial broker-dealer said, "I can't think of any business where this knowledge doesn't apply."
I am idealistic. Painful loss happens to everyone’s clients or patients. When it does, professionals who know how to respond will distinguish themselves and their firm. At the same time, they learn something that helps them in their personal and family lives. It is my greatest hope that everyone in our society learns how to deal with grief, illness, and death, and Corgenius is one way to help make that happen.
Attend one of my public training sessions or hire me to give a keynote address or private workshop to your company. Other than your own uncomfortableness, what have you got to lose?