Diane Hanson

My day jobs are owner of Thinking in Sync and founder of United Madison

Thinking in Sync provides a variety of services: training, business development, marketing and more. My earlier experiences in client services helped me understand the breadth of assistance the typical company needed. When I started Thinking in Sync, it just made sense to be able to deliver this range.

When I start to work with a client, I do a ton of homework to understand their industry, their competition and the organization itself, inside and out. I provide what I call their “business development report card” and look at every element of their organization. Who answers the phone? If that person is rude, it can make an impact on their business. What’s the morale like? Are business development and operations working together as a team?

Sometimes the insights I gather from that first round of homework is enough to provide recommendations the client can implement right away. Other times I’ll recommend digging deeper in a certain area. Or I might even refer them to another company I’ve worked with closely that’s a better fit.

I made a decision a long time ago that integrity is everything and I’ll walk away from business if that’s what’s necessary to do what’s best for the client. That’s how I train people and that’s how I know if a prospective client is a good fit: We need to share this perspective.

My other job is United Madison, which I launched in 2016. I’d always wanted to do something more for the good of the community as a whole. This is the culmination of my skill set and background. I use these to bring people together and help non-profits.

I’m a firm believer in the premise that it’s hard to hate someone when you take the time to hear their story. There are so many things that divide us and people are battling all the time. It’s just exhausting. Sit down, listen and try to understand why people feel the way they do. I try to be that middle ground. To help people get past categorizing groups of people. We need to look at every human being as an individual.

The impetus for starting  United Madison was after the Tony Robinson shooting. Our vision is to unite the community to understand and learn from each other. I know that sounds Pollyanna, but I thought I could leverage my background to help in two ways.

One is through our positive public service announcements (PSAs). I know the power of the media for good and bad and use these PSAs to get info out to the masses. They are paid for by community partners and the value of their investment is matched by our media partners. Our most recent campaign, which is about addiction, started in May, 2020.

The second is by serving as a liaison between needs and gifts—i.e.,  non-profits and the people and organizations that might be able to help with volunteers or a donation. Non-profits know they can come to us when they are looking for help and that we’ll reach out to partners to find it. The companies who are providing resources trust that we’ve vetted the non-profits.

We’ve helped One City Schools find Chrome books and gotten donations from Lands’ End so the Beacon could provide their guests with clothing to wear to job interviews. When Porchlight needed a new fridge, we reached out to Subzero.

Other organizations we’ve helped include Madison Reading Project, Operation Fresh Start, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Healing House and Lighthouse Christian School.

We’re so appreciative of the support we’ve had from local organizations, including National Guardian Life, Bella Domicile, Fearings Audio Video Security, Associated Physicians and Catholic Charities.

Since starting United Madison, I have been amazed by people who work tirelessly to help their community and would give the shirt off their back.

When I first started this, I sometimes felt people thought, “Who the heck are you, lady? Why are you doing this?”

I feel God led me to be this person and I hope when people meet me, they’ll see I’m the real deal and it’s in my heart.

My most memorable caffeine is every cup of coffee I share with someone in the community. Meeting for coffee feels different than meeting someone at their office—it’s more intimate and you can be more human. To me, that cup of coffee is what brings us together and starts to create a relationship.

My current caffeine of choice is black coffee with peppermint mocha creamer.

My favorite place for caffeine is Yola’s Café. It’s my office away from my home office. I know the owners and love the spirit. It’s comfortable and feels like your home. They bake awesome waffles and there’s a lot of community.

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are my late grandma and Donald Trump.

My grandma is someone I was very close to. I always felt like I had a soul older than my years. She died when I was just 19 and I’d love to sit down with her again. I believe she’s the person who introduced me to coffee in the first place.

Donald Trump is because I love a challenge! If you’re going to get real with someone, you have to have their ear. You can’t influence someone unless you have that opportunity to sit down, show them respect and attempt to also understand where they’re coming from.

My whole career, I’ve been that person who talked to the client or the person everyone else was afraid to deal with. Donald Trump would be a big one.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: A unified community. I believe in building relationships one cup of coffee at a time. As we navigate everything that’s happening because of COVID-19, your personal experiences will determine where you stand. If you lost someone you loved to COVID, that’s where you stand. If you lost your job, that’s the priority. We need to sit down, hear each other, collaborate and build those relationships.