A Life of Helping Others
Landmark Education graduate and former seminar leader Gail Tyrrell was recently featured in the prominent Daily Record newspaper of Northern New jersey. The article focused on Tyrrell’s life journey and the difference she has made in people’s lives along the way, both as a seminar leader and the founder of her own Wise Woman Institute.
Denville woman helps others reinvent their lives
“If someone were to take a look at my resume,” says Gail Tyrrell, founder of the Wise Woman Institute in Morristown, “they’d wonder how the heck I got (here).”
The 58-year-old Denville resident is probably right.
Tyrrell spent more than 20 years of her professional life in the trenches of corporate America. But ultimately, she translated her skills into something more holistic: Tyrrell practices acupressure, coaches people on identifying their passions and fulfilling their dreams and oversees a community of support, inspiration and education for women experiencing the second half of their lives.
“I’m an implementer, and the Wise Woman Institute allows me to combine my business acumen with my spiritual side,” Tyrrell says.
Though she studied to become a psychologist, Tyrrell jumped at the chance to travel to South America after college to shoot an international swimming and diving event with her boyfriend, Elliott (now her husband of 35 years), who was a television director for CBS Sports.
“One day the entire crew got food poisoning, so Elliott said to me, “You’re going to go to work,’ ” Tyrrell says. “It was both the most terrifying and exciting moment of my life, and (afterward) I thought, “I can sit in a dark room and listen to people talk for the next 30 years, or I can do something like this.’ “
Tyrrell learned the fine art of technical direction and went on to work as a producer and associate director for Network Sports Television. She and her husband lived on the road and, for years, “never had to make a bed or cook a meal,” she says.
Tyrrell quickly became fascinated by the way coaches trained their Olympic athletes to deliver breakthrough performances and results.
“I saw that the difference between (these athletes) being great and staying that way were their coaches, who could really see what was missing or standing in their way,” she says.
Trained by these top coaches, Tyrrell picked up a few tricks of her own and applied the same principles to corporations, entrepreneurs and individuals, transforming her experience into a 20-year career as a business consultant for Fortune 500 senior executives and their teams.
She worked with global corporations throughout the United States, Asia and Europe on team building, leadership, strategic design, organizational transformation and breakthrough performance. Her husband, for a time, stayed home to help raise their three children.
“The downside was that corporations would produce these great results, and people would get all juiced up, and then they’d have to dismantle the team or downsize,” Tyrrell says.
She also served as a seminar leader for Landmark Education. For 10 years she led more than 10,000 participants and their families through their own personal transformations.
It was right around the time Tyrrell was celebrating her 50th birthday that she began to turn her attention to the women around her.
“Instead of having deep, satisfying conversations with my friends, suddenly all they wanted to talk about was Botox and face lifts and how to look younger,” she says. “These women are dealing with aging, their kids going to college, divorce, their companies being downsized. And I noticed they were just completely disconnected from themselves.”
Then in 2001, Tyrrell was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a four-year healing process, she once again was inspired to do what she did best: Tyrrell combined her consulting, coaching and healing skills into a holistic approach to personal transformation for women.
She instituted a series of workshops, products and services for what would become the Wise Woman Institute, named for “Wise Women” by Joyce Tenneson, a photo-essay book of famous and “ordinary” women ages 65 to 100.
“When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I was really angry. People kept telling me, “You’re going to get lots of blessings out of this and learn new things,’ and I kept wondering why I couldn’t just go learn tai chi or ballroom dancing. I didn’t want this,” Tyrrell says. “But after two bouts of cancer and a broken foot that didn’t heal for months, I finally got the message that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing — continuing to work with people and helping them to reinvent their lives in all ways.”
Today, the institute offers fellow survivors “Reinventing Your Life After Cancer” workshops. Tyrrell, who holds an advanced degree in IGM therapeutic acupressure, donates her time to Morristown Memorial Hospital to perform therapeutic acupressure with cancer patients.
Earlier this year, she founded the Ruby Heals Foundation to further meet the needs of the post-treatment cancer community, including survivors, families, friends and caregivers.
The institute also sponsors an annual villa vacation to Positano, Italy, which Tyrrell says “separates women from their reality” as they take in the breathtaking sights, enjoy meaningful conversations and participate in workshops to rejuvenate their minds, bodies and spirits.
“The reason I started doing all of this was I wanted to find a way to end the conversations about aging, as well as a way to empower women,” Tyrrell says. “Because when women are empowered, the world works.”