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Game Changers, presented by

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For most people, “What do you do?” is an easy question to answer. For Janyne Peek Emsick, however, it’s not so simple. She co-founded Emsick Architects with her husband in 2012. She pursued her education to the Ph.D. level and as adjunct faculty teaches leadership classes for several educational institutions. She’s co-founder of Young Professional-Executive Dialogues (YP-ED) and a co-founder and presenter for Professional Women Connect. And last, but not least, she’s the CEO and an executive coach for Your Executive Coach (

“I say I have two businesses. The first is one I’ve had for 30 years, an executive coaching and consulting practice…People always say, ‘What is it that you do?’

And I’m finally wrapping my head around a handful of words that say’ I help executives that are stuck and tried to get unstuck on their own but it wasn’t working,’” Peek Emsick explained. Her teaching and nonprofit work center around leadership development and relate to her primary company. “I believe we’re all integrated, and my business and my service and my personal life are all very integrated.”

Peek Emsick, at heart, is an optimist.

“Everybody has righteous intentions for what they’re doing, even when they’re being difficult,” she said. “I think that is why I’m invited into hard places, because I’m hopeful and I’m able to create a picture of reality using data, and then create a path forward to an ideal future and provide consulting and coaching toward that future.”

Her “we can get through this and be better on the other side” mindset has helped drive her personal success along with ethical practices, loyalty and honesty.

“There are really smart people whose businesses don’t succeed and there are people who work really hard and their businesses do or don’t. It’s interesting. I think one of the reasons I continue to succeed is that I’m very committed to being trustworthy and truthful and my clients believe I have their back in hard, complex situations. People know that I authentically care,” she said. “I also think I’ve been willing to re-invent…I have chosen to continue to pursue doing what I love and trust that, in the long haul, everything will be okay.”

Big city roots

Peek Emsick was born in Brooklyn and lived in New York City until the age of 10—she remembers when the World Trade Center was under construction in the late 1960s and early ‘70s—and spent her formative years in suburban Chicago.

“I consider Barrington, Illinois, my hometown,” she said. “I’m a diehard Chicago Bears fan. It taught me how to have commitment through really hard seasons.”

People are often surprised to find out that Peek Emsick’s undergraduate degree, from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is in theater arts. She’s always been musically inclined, Peek Emsick explained (“I was one of those kids who could pick up any instrument and play it”) but after injuring her hand using a table saw, a future in instrumental music was nixed. She’s maintained a connection to the arts over time, however. “Serving and being a part of music has been part of my life since early on,” she said. “That’s been a real vibrant part of my story.”


One of my favorite quotes is ‘To know and not do is to not yet know.’ If you know something, it should result in a change of behavior.

~ Janyne Peek Emsick


Her transition from theater aspirations to a job in corporate recruiting was a practical choice after Peek Emsick returned home to take care of her mother as she recovered from cancer treatment and surgery. Peek Emsick discovered that not only did she have natural aptitude for recruiting, it was also nicely suited to her theater education and skill set.

“To me it was like casting a play,” she said. “It was finding the right person and the right cultural fit.”

She felt she still needed to find the right fit for herself, however.

“Probably the first career highlight was as a twentysomething, making the decision to leave corporate America and start my own consulting business,” Peek Emsick explained. “It changed the trajectory for everything else; it gave me the flexibility to do some global service that was important to me and teaching and to kind of grow into my own service model.”

Now that you know

Soon after launching Your Executive Coach, Peek Emsick began post-graduate studies. In 1997, she earned a Ph.D. from Trinity International University (Illinois) with research in adult learning and transformational leadership pertinent to her business.

“The big question I have that I seek to answer is ‘Now that you know, what do you do?’ I’m not a fan of what I call ‘New Year’s resolution’ training, which is where you invest time and money and go learn something—and a couple of weeks later you go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before, the same way that you did it. I believe when we invest time and resources into learning, that means the learning model has to support actual behavior change, it has to support something different,” she explained. “One of my favorite quotes is ‘To know and not do is to not yet know.’ If you know something, it should result in a change of behavior.”

Peek Emsick served as adjunct faculty for Trinity for five years and in the early 2000s also spent time teaching in graduate programs in Burma and the Philippines. In 2002, she helped found the Christian and nonprofit organization Congo Initiative, launching a university in the Democratic Republic of Congo after that country’s civil war. More recently, she has served the Tyndale University College & Seminary (Toronto) Doctor of Ministry program and since 2014 has been teaching a “Leading Change” course for Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

Peek Emsick said she is still open to being on the learning side of things, like recent education in negotiating difficult conversations through a Harvard Law School executive program.

“It was fascinating going back into that environment,” she said. “It was a really powerful learning experience last summer.”

Little office in Omaha

The world traveler came to Omaha because of love. Peek Emsick was nearly 50 when she married for the first time, and she and husband Michael Emsick are still going strong almost 11 years later.

“It’s Janyne Peek Emsick, three names, because I had a full career as Janyne Peek and my husband is traditional,” she said. “He’s one of more than 100 Emsicks around town. I can’t tell you the number of times people have said, ‘Are you related to so and so?’ It’s been interesting taking on his name because it’s such an intimate community and there are so many Emsicks around.”

Bringing Your Executive Coach to Omaha was a smooth transition since Peek Emsick was an early adopter of the virtual workplace concept.

“I’ve had a digital model for 30 years. Although I have always worked from home, the difference now is it’s with a team and we have other people coming into our home as well,” she said. The difference and the team she’s referring to is Emsick Architecture, which was launched in 2012 in her husband’s family home with the first floor converted to workspaces. “Some people work at home. We like to say, ‘we live where we work.’”

A lot is happening from that “little office in Omaha,” Peek Emsick said. In a recent videocall to launch an executive development program for a global organization, she addressed participants from Russia, Pakistan, Netherlands, France and England as well as Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

“It was a fun ‘first’ to mark. It’s really humbling to be invited into that space, to help leaders make a difference,” she said. “It’s really exciting, too, to have that kind of conversation and that kind of outreach.”

Pursuing balance

Peek Emsick has found a niche in Omaha leadership organizations and nonprofits. Young Professional-Executive Dialogues even capitalizes on her theater background with her “Executive Life Lessons Interviews” inspired by the Bravo television network’s Inside the Actors Studio program. Professional Women Connect is celebrating 10 years and when its March event was converted to a virtual platform because of COVID-19, Peek Emsick turned lemon into lemonades by embracing new channels, and she’s now implementing regular online webinars.

And there’s more.

“Over the last year I have been involved with a new nonprofit called Omaha Leaders. It is a group of business and faith leaders who are committed to Omaha and who invest in developing leaders and leaders’ influence,” she said, explaining that a partnership between Creighton University, Omaha Leaders, and Global Leadership Network (an international faith-based organization) is culminating in a pilot for an eight-month certificate in executive leadership program. “This in an opportunity for us to serve other city movements that are happening in not just the country but around the world.”

Somehow she always finds room.

“I started what I called a simplification process maybe four years ago where I’m whittling off things that don’t feel completely aligned with what’s most important to me and then creating more space for what my priorities actually are,” she said. “That process of simplification is kind of a lifelong process. I don’t know that you ever arrive. You continue to pursue balance.”

There may be a book to write in her future, and Peek Emsick hopes for a vacation “somewhere near palm trees” soon. For now, “My favorite Alexa command is, ‘Alexa, play happy music from the ‘70s,’ she said. “It always works.”



This special feature is sponsored by planitinc.

planitinc. is dedicated to honoring women whose influence not only impacts the boardroom but the community. 

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Janine Peek Emsick: Integrated