About Jim Gernetzke
I grew up in a small town of 600 people in rural Wisconsin. My mother is Catholic. My father was Lutheran. I have two brothers and a sister, and all of us were raised Catholic. We were fortunate to have a Catholic church in town, but the priests assigned to our parish were men at the end of their careers who were not able to manage a large parish any longer. They said Mass on weekends and funerals during the week. There was no Catholic school and catechesis was rather minimal.
After earning my degree from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, I moved to Milwaukee where I started my career and met my wife. As a non-Catholic, she was full of questions – appropriate questions about Catholicism – but questions I found myself ill-equipped to answer.
I had been Catholic all my life, yet I knew very little. That was the “kick in the pants” that set me on my journey. But the more answers I sought, the more questions I had. That’s the way of discovery.
Shortly after my first son was born in 1980 (I have 4 children, all boys), my wife came into the Church and I was encouraged to get involved with Cursillo. Cursillo is a Catholic lay movement. Participation begins with a gender-specific weekend retreat. Following that very powerful experience you join a small group that meets weekly. There were 4 guys in my group and we met every Friday morning at a local McDonald’s.
It is in that regular small group meeting – with the same guys – that you are challenged and grow together in piety, study and action. It was awesome – powerful, encouraging, action-oriented, and included an element of accountability. We were all working to better know and live our Catholic faith.
THE CORPORATE YEARS
My career evolved and after 7 years with Kohl’s Department Stores where I had been the Director of Executive Recruiting we moved to Columbus, Ohio where I became the Director of Executive Recruiting for the Express division of The Limited.
Consequently, I traded my involvement with Cursillo for an active parish life and the Knights of Columbus. Ohh, and did I mention raising 4 boys?
THE SELF-EMPLOYED YEARS
After a challenging two years at Express, I left Corporate America, took my extensive recruiting experience, and went out on my own.
Ten years on my own as a traditional “head hunter” led to the founding of a recruitment research firm that grew to 23 people. We were enjoying success, growing and having a lot of fun. But that all changed with the economic collapse of 2008-2009 and the recession that followed. I had gone from a solo-practitioner working out of my house, to the owner of a successful 23-person recruiting firm, and back to being a solo-practitioner working out of my house.
Last summer, while sitting quietly reading, I was inspired to “tie them all together”. “Tie all what together?”, I asked. The answer came back: (1) leadership development, (2) the power of small groups, and (3) professional business networking, while (4) “spending more time with my Catholic friends”.
That is Nos Lumine:
ENGAGED: “Spending more time with our Catholic friends” who know, instinctively, that to better know and live our Catholicity is the right thing to do – for us, our relationships, our careers, and our businesses.
EQUIPPED: With enhanced leadership skills.
EMPOWERED: Through the power of mentoring in our small groups.
ENLARGED: Growing our businesses and our circles of influence through networking – “spending more time with our Catholic friends.”