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Our History

We didn’t become the leader in conative assessment overnight.

Our Founder, Kathy Kolbe, grew up watching her father, Eldon Wonderlic, research and develop the first cognitive assessment used extensively by business and government. She was driven to more fully understand what drives human performance and began her own research and development of the first conative assessment. For the past 40+ years, we’ve been working to bring insight and understanding that helps people and organizations achieve their goals.

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Company History

In 1975, Kathy Kolbe started her enterprise with a passionate commitment to helping elementary and high-school students of all ability levels navigate the educational system, learn more, and achieve their personal goals. In fulfilling that mission, she founded Resources for the Gifted, whose team of educators, academics, and artists created over 100 books, games, and interactive activity kits. These award-winning products became the basis – and the gold standard – for a new genre in educational publishing. Teachers and parents have been using Kolbe products, methods, and techniques for decades with extraordinary success. Their extremely positive feedback tells us that many have been excited and amazed to discover how the Kolbe approach to learning helps children thrive, develop outstanding problem-solving skills, and embrace each of their individual, unique, and exceptional capabilities.

Hundreds of children experienced the Summer Program for Individual Explorations (SPIES) that Kathy Kolbe designed to be part intellectual adventure camp, part school, and part product–development lab. Kolbe founded a non-profit organization named The Center for Critical and Creative Thinking. Its original work was to research and clarify the creative process. Kathy’s blend of close observation, quick response to student needs, commitment to making learning fun, and analytical rigor made this program a rich, rewarding experience for both learners and educators. The result of her close work with so many children honed her philosophy into the ground-breaking educational perspective that characterizes the work of Kolbe Corp. This work was so influential that in 1985, Time Magazine profiled Kathy Kolbe as one of seven Americans “who exemplify the spirit that inspires the choice for Man of the Year.”

After years of focusing on children, the company expanded its focus to include adults and was renamed Kolbe Corp. Building on the wealth of information and expertise they’d drawn from their success in child education, Kathy and her team dedicated themselves to helping adult learners and problem-solvers overcome barriers and maximize their success. Kathy developed an instrument – the first-ever devised – to measure the instinctive action and problem-solving styles of individuals. This dimension of the mind, called “conation,” determines the way in which each individual might feel most comfortable and perform best in undertaking any action. She also wrote the best-seller, Conative Connection.

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The company also developed a systematic approach to use the information it generates to improve business’ bottom line. The system has been used by organizations such as Intel, Volkswagen, Honeywell, and other companies from the very small to the very large. The results have been impressive enough to garner attention from media outlets across the nation, including The Wall Street JournalABC Nightly News, USA Today, and CNN.

Kathy became a keynote speaker at hundreds of major conferences and conventions, and every member of the senior Kolbe team became sought after as executive coaches and business consultants. As hands-on managers of their own growing enterprise and confidants of leaders in business, government, and academia, the Kolbe team stayed abreast of everything from technology advances to teenagers’ slang. Kathy summarized much of the knowledge they were acquiring in two additional books, Pure Instinct and Powered by Instinct.

In 1997, Kolbe Corp launched its website and expanded its mission once more, beyond the limits of changing organizations. The company has set its sights on helping individuals of all ages overcome personal obstacles and achieve success in virtually any area of their lives. This interactive website gives individual consumers access to the same insights and strategies that have helped educators and businesses transform their operations. The expanding technology of the 21st century enables us to make this detailed and powerful material available to you, the individual consumer, on such a personal basis.

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Kolbe has advised Fortune 500 companies, business executives, government leaders, Chief Justices, universities, professional sports teams, nonprofits, management consultants, bestselling authors, surgeons, monastery priests, four-star generals, and job holders to maximize performance and increase productivity through identifying, understanding, and using conative talents.

Kolbe Corp’s non-profit affiliate evolved into The Center for Conative Abilities. The Center conducts research and furthers Kolbe’s work in healthcare and education, continuously expanding the knowledge and reach of the Kolbe Concept®.

Kolbe Corp transitioned its leadership from Kathy to David Kolbe as CEO and Amy Bruske as President. Under their leadership, the company has continued its emphasis on developing leading edge technology to deliver services. It has also launched applications to improve relationships ( and give parents customized advice on how to help children develop their potential.

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