Jan Smith

Founder, Coach, and Course Leader

Jan Smith founded the Center For Authentic Leadership in 1985, serving an international community of leaders interested in living purposeful lives.

About Jan Smith

Growing up in Ethiopia to missionary parents, Jan learned from an early age how to communicate beyond spoken words. She tunes into gesture, inflection, posture, expression,  and so much more to get at the core of any issue which is often buried deep beneath the surface. Jan’s unique gift and true calling, to help others feel safe, seen, and to belong, comes from this early experience.

Jan has parlayed this ability to listen beneath the words into a practice that has helped hundreds of people, teams, and leaders transform their habitual ways of relating and acting into powerful, healthy, and fulfilling practices for over thirty-five years.

Jan credits three specific role models who helped her define her unique approach:

  • Internationally-known business consultant, Fernando Flores, Ph.D., for whom she generated the Competitive Edge Sales Workshop, and;
  • Ken Anbender, Ph.D., owner of Contegrity, Inc., who trained Jan in his Commando Course and other communication courses. It was through Dr. Anbender that Jan began to study quantum physics. These experiences formed the foundation for Jan’s continued research in the domain of communication and authentic leadership.
  • Werner Erhard, an American author and lecturer who created tranformation models for individuals and spent his life in empowering people to take responsibility for their lives and the world.

My Core Beliefs


The paradox of human nature and true nature is filled with tension. Our human nature wants to see our desires fulfilled in the easiest way possible. Our true nature wants to fulfill those desires in authentic, healthy ways that make us better people and the world a better place. By being fully present to both our human and true natures, without suppressing either, we can authentically author a life more in line with our core essence.

Language Invents a World

Language brings forth the world that you live in. If you want to change, observe how you language yourself into being and in your relationships.

Language is more than the words you speak. Non-verbal language (facial expression, body language) can often speak louder than words. Language is also comprised of listening and keen observation. Do you know how you listen? Do you listen to confirm your point of view or do you listen with an open-minded curiosity, which allows you to learn and connect with others?

Language has the power to create trust and improve all relationships.

Second Order Learning

Our mindsets and assessments shape and color how we view the world and how others appear for us. Whether it is gender, race, economic standing, or ingrained cultural values, we view the world through a specific lens that determines our experience. Learning to open your mind, indentify your blindspots, and stand in another person’s reality can create a radical shift in how you see the world and your place in it.

Unique Gifts

We are all already whole and complete, endowed with unique gifts. Once identified, we can continue to explore our own depths and expand our own uniqueness. This attracts increasingly transformative capabilities. All of our best thinking, decision-making, innovations, achievements, and results can now be entirely focused on expanding who we’ve already become. 

“The first thing that stands out is the safe environment Jan creates where you can dig deeply into the behaviors you’ve grown accustomed to using in life. Within that space, you can examine what you’re trying to accomplish and what might be limiting your progress. Second, being in development with her group of people over a sustained period brings perspective and help from different viewpoints to lift you out of your old patterns into new possibilities. Change is hard. It takes time to recognize what needs to change and even more time to implement.”

Dr. Ernie Wu


“In my work as an organizational consultant working with Fortune 500 companies for 25 years, I had the privilege of meeting and working with many stellar consultants and executive coaches. Jan is a coach’s coach, called upon by other leaders in the industry who name her as the person who made the greatest difference in their life work.

Like the best surgeons, Jan is gifted. She reads prolifically, talks to many scientists and neurologists to understand the brain. She brings many disciplines together. She is highly intuitive. She is street smart, and people smart. She has worked with literally thousands and, to her unique credit, many marriages have been put back together with her help.”

Vail Macbeth

President, Personal Life Matters, LLC

My Approach

Jan Smith leading Future Thinking Community

Are you willing to try on new ideas until something shifts internally and becomes your new “second-nature”?  Working with me requires courage. The courage to get real, to reveal, to open your mind, to listen, and to try something new. You need to be prepared to be SEEN (without the mask), to be HEARD, and to be open to transformation. Deep listening and creating a safe space of belonging are key components of my essential gift.  More than words, we communicate with what we leave unsaid, with our facial expression, body posture, inflection, and other body mannerisms. Where do we look when we talk, what do we do with our hands, how is our body shaped and positioned? What is our predetermined mindset? What is the internal story and emotion that lies deep and unconscious beneath the conversation? Until you can release all the predetermining habits, beliefs, and embodied, unconscious stories, transformative change cannot occur.

I take an ontological approach in my coaching and work with clients with a foundational commitment to guide them in discovering their true gifts, their unique way of being, and their path to design a truly fulfilling life. By listening to what my clients are saying, beyond the words they choose, I help them gain clarity about what it is they truly want to create, how to get there, and how to avoid falling back into old habits and behaviors. Sometimes, they do not know what is missing. Dealing with these areas of blindness is at the core of ontological coaching.

If you want to create lasting changes that stand the test of time, the Center for Authentic Leadership’s development programs may be right for you.

“I first found out about the work that Jan Smith does through the Center for Authentic Leadership when my father went through the Future Thinking program when I was a teenager. I witnessed his transformation, going from being very short-tempered to centered and curious, and it made an incredibly positive impact on our personal relationship, as well as his business. When I was presented with the opportunity to join a leadership development program myself, I immediately thought of Center for Authentic Leadership.

The first conversation I had with Jan I knew my life was going to change forever. It was the first time I ever felt truly listened to and understood. Eight years later and I can honestly say that my life has transformed.

Prior to Future Thinking I went through life feeling like a victim, at the will of life’s circumstances, feeling generally unfulfilled. I had lost some meaningful relationships as a result of breakdowns and I couldn’t figure out why life wasn’t working out quite like I had hoped. Since that time, I’ve developed communication distinctions that have given me power over my own life and how it occurs to me. I feel much more connected to myself and others and have found my own unique, authentic self-expression.

Through my continued practice, I was able to navigate the challenging transition from being viewed as “the owner’s daughter” to being viewed as a highly competent CEO. I also have countless examples of transforming business relationships in the face of breakdowns. I can honestly say that I now have the confidence to go into any difficult conversation, knowing that my genuine care for the other person and commitment to stay in the conversation and truly listen will give the space for solutions to emerge.

I joined Future Thinking to “fix what was wrong” with me so I could get better results. Instead, I uncovered a life of fulfillment, joy, and also success like I’ve never experienced before. Working with Jan has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I’m truly grateful to have her in my life.”

Brianna Goodwin
President and CEO, Ver-Tex Construction

Is This Your Time?

If you are like most people, you would rather rake wet leaves than spend time reflecting on your habits of communication, especially the so called “bad ones.” In fact, most people don’t get into development until something is breaking down – a marriage, a business relationship – some pattern is showing its ugly head, creating disruption.

Or, perhaps, there is a transition at hand and you are ready for something new to emerge. Whatever the case, think of Jan as your personal trainer, giving you exercises to strengthen muscles that are weak or nonexistent in your communications.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, Jan’s programs can put you on the journey to self-awareness and help you be your most effective self at home and at work.

  • Do you wish to be an inspirational leader who is a powerful influence in the lives of others?
  • Do you want to create a different, more fulfilling future rather than relive your past patterns over and over?
  • Do you have a passionate desire to make a difference in the world? Do you want a life that is congruent with that desire?
  • Are you tired of confronting the same frustrations about the way others work or communicate?
  • Are you sick of a destructive pattern that you see always popping up in your relationships?
  • Are you in transition with your career or relationships and want to create more fulfilling possibilities for growth?
  • Are you experiencing pain or frustration in a relationship and want to find an alternative way of resolving it with love, compassion, and mutual satisfaction?

Come deepen your knowledge about your greatest asset — yourself.

Don’t Wait Any Longer.
Let’s Get Started Today!

Schedule a FREE Consultation with me.

I look forward to talking with you.

“raw, funny, engaged, and engaging”

“Jan’s unafraid to go where she needs to go with her client to get to the root of their development issue and helps them find freedom from it. She’s completely transparent, unassuming, authentic, and real. She doesn’t work out of a template or a coaching ‘cookbook.’ She loves her clients unconditionally, and in a way that helps them go where they might not have otherwise gone. She takes seriously what they say they are committed to and stands by their side till their commitment happens.

She’s a blast to be with – raw, funny, engaged, and engaging, with a wicked sense of humor. I consider her to be one of my best friends, even though we rarely see each other or talk. She has an amazing gift to zero in on what is really going on with someone, to name it in a way they can understand, and to help them reframe it in a way that ‘sticks’.”

Mark Shunk

Senior Partner, O'Brien Group