Mary Kurek Consulting



The most recent client of mine is a two-time best-selling author, consults with some of the top brands in the nation, and was recently named by Forbes as one of fourteen power women to follow on Twitter. She’s now my client because I listened to something she said.

I’m naturally curious about people, so I’m fairly good at listening. Turns out curiosity isn't a bad trait to have. In December of 2014, Marianne Stenger, education writer with Open Colleges, published an article for entitled "Why Curiosity Enhances Learning." In that article, she shares results from a research study provided by the University of California, Davis. Writes Stenger, “The researchers found that, once the subjects' curiosity had been piqued by the right question, they were better at learning and remembering completely unrelated information. One of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Matthias Gruber, explains that this is because curiosity puts the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it.”

Recently, I walked into a coffee shop to meet a friend. While we both stirred creamer into our brew, I noticed the shop had been renovated, so I turned to the new face behind the counter and asked if they were under new management. He responded “yes, the shop was bought by the owners of the restaurant on the waterfront.” Without even the first sip of caffeine to aid retention, I mustered a mental note. Moments later, as I sat chatting with my friend, who owns a legal services business, we began to brainstorm ideas on acquiring new clients for her business. It was at that point that the mental note turned into an idea for my friend. I said, “here’s a perfect opportunity for you to contact the new owners of the coffee shop, who have now expanded their employees, facilities, and risk.” She agreed that it was a good idea and said she didn’t even hear the guy mention new ownership earlier.

Being alert and hearing information in a different way is key to turning newsy bits and mentions from non-networking conversations into real opportunities, solid ideas, and doable actions. Think back to when you heard someone say that they were opening or closing a business, adding services, moving to a new location, changing vendors, creating a partnership, looking for help, writing a book, starting a new project, heading to a conference, having trouble with tech, changing careers, or taking on new professional or political roles. All would have been good opportunities to engage in networking with plenty of benefit to go round.

Over the course of a dozen days, I connected with ten professionals that crossed several industries and made fifteen introductions and referrals to help them with client, talent, marketing, and investor needs. (This doesn't count the business it brought to me.) As referenced in the first paragraph, one of the contacts was an author and consultant who works with major brands on issues of social concern. I connected her with a New York Times bestselling author who is a TED speaker, and was named one of ten most powerful women to watch by Forbes last year. Both women operate from missions of greater good for humankind, and I felt strongly that they should meet. They thought so, too. What prompted the introduction was a comment by the consultant that she was looking to connect with more influencers and thought leaders. It gave me reason to find one for her. That effort took me only a few minutes and cost me nothing. Now, I’m connected to both of these amazing ladies and one of them is a new client.

As a professional networker, I do attract a certain amount of networking attention, but, there’s no magic to reaching out to contacts to swap updates. Most often, just like at the coffee shop, it’s in these casual settings and through seemingly insignificant conversations where the gaps of opportunity surface.

Here’s what to listen for:

● Gaps of need: Looking for a social media manager. Help with PR. Need a Speaker.
● Opportunistic Changes: Under new management. Change in client focus.
● News: Getting ready to launch a new event. Invented something. Got some funding.

What to do:

● Get people to be specific. When talking with someone who shares interesting information, ask more open-ended questions to get clear on the gap. You are looking for key words and enough of them for you to envision an action to take. My son, trained as a police detective, tells me that listening for clues is about building rapport, trusting intuition, and re-stating a question differently to get solid information.

● Filter the information and make the connection immediately. If you feel you have the business to service them, say so right then, and create a follow up plan before you leave the conversation. If you think you can make a referral, let them know you’ll make a call or send an email to help them connect. If you email an introduction, ask everyone to keep you in the email string when they make contact so you know the connection has happened.

● Put together your networking puzzle. From the pool of contacts you come across in a week just conducting business as usual, there are likely multiple connections that could be made. I introduced three contacts from this past week to one resource. If you were to lay out the names on pieces of paper with the networking opportunity listed under their names, you’d probably see where matches could be made within that very pool. You should be in the mix, too, and if you and someone else in the pool can help in different ways, you might just have a new collaborator.

I’m sure you are wondering why you would want to network for others. The easy answer is that it’s the right thing to do, but, developing a grateful network means doors open for the one making the network happy. My networking results over the past week and half not only sent several valuable leads for business and resources to my contacts, but, I ended up with a new client, a pending contract, and requests from three to work on special projects. Can’t argue with doing the right thing.


Composer/Lead Orchestrator (Games, Film, Television)

Penka lead-orchestrated "Elysium" - Sony's $120M sci-fi action feature directed by Neill Blomkamp ("District 9") -- first time a woman was a lead orchestrator/score producer on a studio film with such a budget. She worked with Steve Jablonsky on "Ender's Game."

Penka also contributed her considerable talents to DreamWorks "Need for Speed."

She released her first album entitled "A Warrior's Odyssey" Oct. 2012. It won three awards and nominations. A cut from this album, "MINOTAUR BATTLE," Click to listen has been submitted for Grammy nomination. Her second album is is due for launch 2015.

Penka has contributed her lead orchestration talents to a big horror Japanese game for release soon by Sony on PS4. Other orchestration work focused on the TV show, Revenge and WoW.

Consultant, Fuller Game Production, LLC
Author of Beyond Critical, Improving Leadership in Game Development
Beyond Critical on

Keith was a featured speaker for the IGDA’s Leadership Track at SIEGE 2013. Recent work with Deep Silver, developer of widely acclaimed Saint's Row IV, resulted in the following comment from their leadership: “Keith was able to present a high-level road-map and risk analysis which turned out to be very relevant for us and has helped us navigate an evolution of our culture.”

Keith is collaborating with another Mary Kurek client, Mike Acton of Insomniac Games, on a service designed to provide game studios with improved productivity and leadership, morale, employee retention, and ability to compare employee engagement to industry benchmarks. The service is called Fulcrum

KEVIN POWE Voice Artist, Games
Visit Kevin Powe

Kevin voiced the key antagonist for AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS by transmedia maven Christy Dena, who was recently awarded Australia's first Digital Writing Residency.

After being introduced by Mary Kurek, Kevin collaborated with sound/music games veteran, George Hufnagl, to create "Balmodar" Click to check out Balmodar, a DOTA 2 announcer, receiving great community feedback. George reports a great working relationship that is sure to produce more collaborations.

Kevin can now be heard as the virtual secretary in the announcement trailer for Fractured Skyline by Preliminal Games (video) and has just finished recording three great adventures for Brisbane's 2014 Street Reads. He's currently beavering away on ALTERED, which you can find out more about here

Urban Games Designer - Specialty in Raw Food Tourism

Visit Krister Gustafsson

Krister's background includes industrial design work for the largest museum in Australia, called the Powerhouse Museum. He is taking his design skills and experience in games and sim development and moving it to the mainstream in the exciting world of culinary tourism. Krister's unique events will connect fan crowds and regionally themed events to keep "flow" and provide a higher level of experience than one normally finds in a festival environment. Krister and Mary Kurek mapped out an intensive business trip to Europe and the US over the summer of 2014 where he interviewed chefs, food media, tourism professionals, and major food festival organizers. Now, back in Australia, Krister is designing his launch event to take place late 2014.

Inquiries to Krister are managed by


Composer - Producer - Orchestrator
Visit Spencer

Spencer has worked in film/TV and games with credits that also extend into the commercial field. The Legend of Fat Ninja with Zephyr Games is of note, as well as Nickelodeon Halloween TV spots, for which Spencer was nominated for an Emmy.