We focus on the day-to-day small choices and highlight the impact of unconscious bias, social conditioning and cultural beliefs on our judgment. Our integrated approach is informed by research from Systems Thinking, Neuroscience, Behavioral Economics and Social Psychology.



Humans seem to pay more attention when it comes to decision-making about
the big, highly salient decisions. six boxes, half of them checked What we don’t realize is that it’s really our
day-to-day small choices that cause the problem.

Sure, pick the right person to marry. But marital happiness depends on daily choices. Sure, pick a good place to live. But again, it’s the daily tactical decisions that we make while living there that determine whether we are happy or not. Sure, pick a good career. But again, it’s the daily choices that we make that determine whether we are happy with our current job situation. Even when it comes to wealth, it’s not how much we make, it’s how we spend and invest our savings that counts. Within all of these contexts, we can make the one big decision that gets us moving down a path. But the devil is in the daily choices once we start that journey.

checkit While we tend to acknowledge that good judgment and making wise choices are extremely important, we are yet to recognize them as skills that we can learn and master through study, reflection and practice.

It would be preposterous to claim that we can create a formula or a step by step program that can teach you how to exercise sound judgment and make better choices. We, therefore, offer a reflection based approach to generate individual insights that can be put into immediate action using a personal MAP—My Action Plan™ and improving your Judgment Quotient®or JQ® over time.

more checkboxes, all of them checked

We are, however, confident that once you grasp the principles shared in our workshops and learn to become aware of your own drivers, you can establish your values and goals from a place of clarity. You can then monitor what gets in the way of aligning your choices with your values and reflect to improve the quality of your choices. Many people know what to do, but tend to make the wrong choice mainly due to yielding to their tangible immediate desires as opposed to a more abstract longer-term goal.

The Team

We have assembled a great team of professionals who have a deep understanding of the context in each of the environments where we offer our specialized programs.

Krishna Pendyala

Systems Entrepreneur, Author, Inventor and Adviser — someone who really cares about improving the quality of life of those around him.

Krishna Pendyala is an unconventional adviser, systems entrepreneur and social change agent who uses a playful approach to empower people to make mindful choices in life. What inspires Krishna to devote his attention to helping people make wiser choices is his belief that every person has the potential to thrive in all aspects of their lives.

Krishna has been blessed with a major gift, a fifth lease on life. He takes this opportunity very seriously and feels that it is his moral obligation and duty to share his many poor choices from his personal experiences so that others could learn from them. From this source comes a level of authenticity, genuine empathy and compassion for others. While many seem to focus on IQ and EQ, Krishna believes that Judgment Quotient, or JQ, is the most reliable factor which determines one’s overall success and quality of life.

He is founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of the ChoiceLadder Institute whose mission is to illuminate our many blind spots and reclaiming the power of choice back in our hands. In 2013, he co-founded the Mindful Nation Foundation, a brainchild of Congressman Tim Ryan, whose vision is to help people overcome stress and lead more fulfilling lives. From 2004 to 2012, under his leadership as the COO and Coach at Waldron Wealth Management, the firm grew over 500 percent through the Great Recession, while improving the quality of life for both employees and clients.

For over twenty five years, he has impacted individuals, small business owners, and teams at Boeing, Carnegie Mellon, the Pittsburgh Steelers, UNESCO and UBS using his simple, yet practical, framework distilled from his varied career experiences. His transformational approach has been featured on TEDx, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Thrive Global, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Inc. magazine among others.

Krishna is an accomplished software entrepreneur, award-winning multimedia producer, inventor and sought-after business growth and personal adviser. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed book Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness and blogs at In October 2014, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana State University for his contributions to the world of business, his community and his country.

Krishna received his B.S. in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, his M.S. in educational foundations and media technology from Indiana State University, and has attended executive management programs at Carnegie Mellon and Harvard universities. He is also a graduate of Landmark Education’s Curriculum for Living. Krishna lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two children and enjoys playing golf, RVing and kayaking.

Dr. Ken Fujita

"I conduct basic research on motivation, social cognition, and judgment and decision-making. I am interested in the psychological processes that underlie successful self-regulation and goal pursuit."

Kentaro Fujita received his A.B. summa cum laude in psychology from Harvard College in 2000, and his Ph.D. in psychology from New York University in 2006. His research interests focus on why despite possessing remarkable intelligence and reasoning capacity people often make decisions and behave in ways that undermine their valued goals and objectives. For example, why do smokers continue to smoke when they know the health risks? Why do consumers spend more money than they can afford? Why are dieters so tempted by indulgent foods? To understand these self-control failures, Dr. Fujita’s research draws from a number of areas in psychology, including motivation, cognition, self-regulation, and judgment & decision-making.

More information about his research interests, publications, and teaching can be found on his Kentaro Fujita.

Amy Hartzell

Sunshine seeker. Kindness provider. Stranger Engager.

Amy often says, “Growing up on a farm, I learned three important things: how to throw a softball like a girl (4-year varsity letterman), the whispering boughs of pine trees made the perfect roof for my fort in the woods, and the stars are our limit – in their infinity – anything is possible.”

She is also the Executive Director of both TiE Pittsburgh, a global network for entrepreneurs and the MIT Enterprise Forum. Upon meeting Krishna at a TiE event and learning more about his vision for the ChoiceLadder Institute, she instantly recognized its critical role in impacting the success of professionals and corporations and eagerly joined the team. Amy’s experience of raising a son as a single mother, her previous marriage with an Army soldier & Iraq war veteran, and living as a cancer survivor lends to her unique perspective on parenting and choice-making.

Amy won the part-time Executive Director award of the year for TiE Global in 2015 among 51 chapters around the world. She is a marketing and sales automation expert and consults for wealth management and physicians practices. Additionally, Amy is an adjunct faculty for Strayer University where she teaches English. For over ten years, Amy worked as a program management executive developing benchmarking analytics, training clients on technology platforms and identifying large organizational challenges in decision-making and basic judgment in the workplace.

Amy received a B.S.B.A. with a concentration in Sports Management in 1997 from Robert Morris University. Because of her affinity for technology and public speaking, she then returned and earned a M.S. in Communications and Information Systems in 2008.

Jeff Penn

Jeff believes in having a solid company or organization that can withstand any challenges, grow beyond any expectations set before them and create a thirst for greatness.

Jeff Penn is a trailblazer with a proven track record as a results-oriented professional leader. His extensive wide-range of experience in directing and managing global first-class marketing solutions and brand imaging, operations management, creating and developing strategic training programs, exhilarating mentoring and coaching all management levels has effectively placed him in the position to lead Fortune 500 car companies and dealerships to higher levels of success.

With his unique expertise in leadership he has not only been the Dealer Principal and Owner for Mercedes-Benz of Annapolis, he has served as the National Director of Corporate Partnerships for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; Executive Director, Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC; Customer Experience Movement Field Mentor/Coach, XPERIENCE Communication Ford Motor Company and Regional Marketing Planner and Distribution Analyst for Nissan Motor Corporation.

Being a strong effective exhilarating leader and mentor, Jeff continues to take companies visions to new levels of accomplishments exceeding their expectations. He has been the Field Mentor to 13 US Coaches and conducted coaching training for South America and Bangkok coaches within the Ford CEM Movement. While with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, he increased corporate investment by 50% and negotiated the largest corporate investment of $10,000,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

When he directed and managed all aspects of internal departments within the Mercedes Benz of Annapolis dealership and external partner companies including but not limited to brand imaging, marketing development, training structure, operational policies and procedures, this strategy resulted in a 25% increase in exceeding operational objectives at the dealership. He also created, implemented, and managed a nationwide training plan for 800 Toyota franchises for the launch of Scion resulting in sales exceeding that of company’s major competitor in its very first year.

Jeff’s way to help the various areas of the country with housing challenges, he provided leadership skills training to 300 supervisors and managers at District of Columbia Housing Authority, Housing Authority of Baltimore City and Housing Authority City of Houston as well as conducted performance coaching sessions for the executive staff. In his continued focus to the community, he successfully raised over $2,000,000 in donations each year towards marketing and school activities for Archbishop Carroll High School by developing relationships with corporate partner companies and donor organizations to secure funds.

Scott Chesney

Students and Business Professionals - paraplegic motivational speaker to over 1 million people in over 38 countries

Scott Chesney, a two-time world traveler and a navigator of life with paralysis for over two decades, has presented to over one million people in 38 countries. After awakening to paralysis at the age of 15 from a sudden spinal stroke, Scott has amassed a resume of transformational experiences, powerful insights, and inspiring stories that cut to the core of the human spirit. He has become a nationally and internationally recognized workshop and keynote presenter, and his positive and inspiring messages have changed countless lives. His insights have been coveted and applauded by Fortune 500 corporations, hospitals/rehab centers, associations, sports’ teams, audiences at The United Nations, The Pentagon and the FBI, colleges and universities, and K-12 schools.

In addition to keeping a busy speaking and coaching schedule, Scott became President of Raise Hope Foundation in 2014 that trains, mentors, and places people with disabilities and veterans for competitive careers in financial services. He is also an Ambassador for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, an Ambassador for Kessler Foundation, a member of the Seton Hall University Leadership Advisory Council, a member of the Board of Trustees for The Knowles Foundation and a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA). He has also served on the Board of Trustees for Children’s Specialized Hospital. Scott graduated from Seton Hall University in 1992 with a B.A. degree in Communications.

Scott is married, has two children, and resides in New Jersey.

Wendy Smiles

An adventurer looking for change, a curious observer and natural implementer

From an early age in her native Australia, Wendy Smiles has always been interested in how and why people make decisions, who they make them with and where, and how they put them into action. This natural curiosity has led her to live and work in four continents and become a practical problem-solver. Wendy’s journey has seen her constantly transition through change – personally as she adapts globally to new ways of thinking and professionally across the healthcare, insurance, consulting and non-profit sectors in Australia, England, Asia and the United States.

Her interest in people and leadership is built on an education in health sciences along with 25 years in the health sector working as an Occupational Therapist with children with disabilities and their families, in management roles, as well as lecturing and coaching. As a Project and Change Management consultant, she leads strategic implementations to help people develop new ways of working in complex organizations that are constantly challenged to change and succeed.

A researcher, creator, implementer and communicator, Wendy was born and educated in Australia, completing a Bachelor of Applied Science from La Trobe University and Masters of Health Science from Sydney University in Occupational Therapy. She has also received a post graduate diploma in project management at the Australian Institute of Management and is Prosci certified in Change Management in the United States. As a member of the A.K.Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems, she explores how to become more aware and effective when making decisions within the role of authority and leadership. Through this study, greater insights emerge individually and collectively in an organization, both consciously and unconsciously so that new ways of thinking and behaving are developed.

Wendy currently co-heads her global family with her two children and two step-children located in Pittsburgh, USA and Melbourne, Australia. She lives to create a balance between work and home life for optimum performance, health and well-being.

Advisory Board

James Dias

CEO - Wellbe.Me

Ned Renzi

Partner - Birchmere Ventures

Janice Marturano

Founder - Institute for Mindful Leadership

Tim Ryan

Congressman & Author - A Mindful Nation

Sharon Eakes

Cofounder - Hope Unlimited

David Malone

CEO - Gateway Financial

Dr. Joshua Powers

VP Student Success - Indiana State University

Atul Bansal

CEO - TimeSys