Patricia Bagsby

Take a lifelong learning perspective and be open to how that learning comes to you. That means engaging in networking (formally or informally) so you can learn what people are doing, as well as staying aware of what’s coming out of colleges and research.


Patricia Bagsby, Ph.D. is Vice President of Organizational Consulting at Psychological Associates, a management consulting firm in St. Louis, MO. With 10 years of experience in both internal and external consulting, Dr. Bagsby helps leaders optimize their individual and team strengths; develop and integrate new systems and processes; and grow as individuals.

Her integrated approach combines behavioral sciences, change management, and process improvement principles. As an educator, she stays current with research on best practices and benchmarks for organizational development objectives.

With extensive applied experience in leadership development; facilitation; and training and program development, Patricia specializes in career transitions. She has developed training programs and coaching methodology about the non-financial components of pre-retirement planning.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

Psychological Associates was founded in 1958 by Drs. Lefton and Buzzotta. Originally, it was a clinical practice, but they quickly shifted their focus to businesses and leadership development. For most of our 60-year history, Psychological Associates has helped organizations select, develop and retain their best talent. When I joined the team in 2018, we added a new retirement workshop into the mix. This is something I’ve been working toward ever since I discovered my passion for Industrial/Organizational Psychology in college. I worked my butt off getting into SLU’s graduate program, so I could work with Dr. David Munz and change the world of stress research, only to learn 2 months into working with him that he’d be retiring in five years. I was at a loss for what to do, but then my mom said: “well, if he’s going to be thinking about retirement for the next five years maybe you should, too.” I thought she might be onto something, so I started doing research into retirement, and there was next to nothing from an Industrial Psychology perspective. At the time, retirement was considered lifecycle psychology, and everything came down to, “at a certain point you stop working, and then we don’t talk about these concepts that you’ve been building on for the last several decades of your life. You turn 65 and then you just golf.” When we were doing research and submitting papers, we had to constantly fight the perception that this wasn’t relevant to our field, but, in the end, we developed a unique, well-received model that helps people assess how they’re doing in the non-financial components of retirement.
When I started at Psychological Associates last year, we began focusing on why companies, not just individuals, should care about preparing for retirement. Our goal is to help people while they’re in the pre-retirement phase remain optimally invested in their work role while planning for that next phase, because we know planning helps people achieve a better wellbeing post-retirement.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My days are varied, which is great for me because I like to change things up a lot. Usually, there’s some kind of meeting with a client, and I always have some part of my day devoted to development. That’s time I spend looking at industry trends, benchmarks, or tips and tricks to make what I do better. It’s really this strategic thinking time that makes me more productive. It might happen in the car or between meetings, but every little bit helps.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am a visual person, so I usually start by sketching out the rough outline of what I’m working toward – the antecedents, the purpose, etc. And once I can identify the outcomes, I work backward to make sure I’m keeping the end goal in mind.

What’s one trend that excites you?

There’s a lot of really cool things going on with technology (there usually are), but I’m really interested in how virtual reality will affect coaching and training. As we try to help as many people as possible and spread across geographic regions, virtual reality could help bring what we do closer to people more effectively and more frequently. And I think it could help make coaching more accessible to people who aren’t comfortable reaching out for help. The potential that you could be virtually in somebody’s office with them before they have to go to a big meeting or make a big presentation is so exciting.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Taking a lifelong learning perspective and being open to how that learning comes to you. That means engaging in networking (formally or informally) so you can learn what people are doing, as well as staying aware of what’s coming out of colleges and research. I adjunct at a couple of universities locally, and I think that helps me stay in touch with what’s happening in my field. Not to mention, students today will be managers and leaders in the next few years.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’ve always been a “have to do it, have to do it all, have to do it now” sort of person. And it has to be the best. While I can’t ever see a time when I’d let my expectations for quality slip, I’d like to tell my younger self that there’s many ways to get where you want to go, and there’s no one right way to do nearly anything. Slow down, calm down, take it all in.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I’m an introvert! No one believes me because I do often find myself in people-facing roles, but it’s all very exhausting. When I go home, I have to recharge my batteries by myself.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Check in with yourself. I got in the habit in the last few years of trying to take my own coaching advice. I check in and make sure I’m motivated to be on the path that I’m on, and I’m not doing it just because I’ve gotten so far down the road that I don’t think I should turn back. If I’m no longer motivated, I try to figure out why, and what I can do about it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

It’s people. It’s connecting with people, stepping out of my comfort zone to engage people I haven’t met or reengage people I haven’t talked to in a while. So much of it is just people. And as an introvert, it’s being aware of my own limits and building in time for myself, too.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

As someone with a psychology background, I feel like there are no failures, you just restructure. If something didn’t work out and I feel like I can’t let it go, then I just go at it a different way. If it didn’t work out and I find that I’m more irritated that it didn’t work out than that I didn’t get what I wanted, then I say, “OK, maybe that’s not so important after all,” and I let it go.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Somebody should figure out the technology to do virtual coaching. And I don’t mean just Zoom or Skype, I mean true virtual reality.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

It’s a little more than $100, but I got a Roomba and it changed my life! I’m in love with it. My family named it Rosie, like the Jetsons. It’s the little things that are so valuable, because the truth is, something has to give. You can’t do all the chores AND be there for the kids AND do the career thing AND be there for your significant other. So, for me, if I can have someone or something else do the things I don’t care to do, it’s so worth it.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I love this countdown app on my phone. You put in whatever date is coming up and every day it tells you how many days are left until that thing. It just helps me focus. If I see something on a calendar I go, “oh, there’s x number of weeks left” and in my mind, that’s a lot. But if I see “you’ve got 42 days” I go, “oh, shoot! Between now and then I have 100 things to do!” This app helps me put things in perspective.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Everyone should read Leadership Through People Skills, by Drs Lefton and Buzzotta because no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you need good people skills to do it.

What is your favorite quote?

Out of context it sounds terrible, but my favorite quote is, “not my circus, not my monkeys.” It’s my mantra, because I have a tendency to go in and over function and try to solve problems that aren’t mine. I have to ask if this is really my problem to tackle, is it my circus or my monkeys.

Key Learnings:

• Retirement is not an end point and should not be treated as such by pre-retirees or employers. Helping employees prepare for retirement is beneficial to all involved.
• Self-awareness and a desire for continuous learning are necessary for ongoing success in your career.
• Check in with yourself regularly to make sure you’re still motivated in your work and your goals.
• There is no such thing as failure, there’s only cognitive restructuring.