© 2019 by THE VARSITY PROJECT, LLC.

WE MAKE PEOPLE BETTER

We take on meaningful challenges with a fun-spirited approach. We like to think of it as party planning for life!

 
 

WHAT WE DO

The firm develops simple solutions to solve big problems. We specialize in working with high-stakes, high-risk industries, including aviation, healthcare, education, construction, banking, tech firms, and startups. Our goal is to improve performance, mitigate risk, and empower leaders. See more of what we do...

 
 

Lee Gutkind

Founder & Editor

"I’ve worked with Michael for the last eight years on evermore complex projects.  An analytical thinker, he is a consummate professional who can manage complicated budgets and, simultaneously, plan and execute innovative and multifaceted events.  Whatever I have asked him to do—no matter how challenging—Michael always made it happen.”

Naketa Ross

Founder/Executive Director

"I entered a competition for small non-profits that required a three-minute pitch on stage at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in front of nearly 800 ticket-holders. I had no prior public speaking experience and I was nervous. As my coach, Michael helped me enhance and perfect my performance. We worked so well as a team that I won a top prize! Michael is an excellent communication coach and I highly recommend him."

Geoff Young, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief of Head & Neck Cancer Surgery

"Dr. Z's enjoyable and interactive seminar helped myself and my colleagues understand how to present complex medical information in a clear, concise, impactful manner.”

Miki Garcia

Director & Professor

"What an amazing day. I really was impressed by Dr. Z’s facilitation! I loved that he included research, met our staff where they were, and modeled great speaking. We all learned a lot. Dr. Z has helped set us on a course for better public presentations…"

Patricia A. Teske, RN, MHA

Implementation Officer

"If you are looking for a knowledgeable, timely, kind and patient communications consultant, look no further.  As a nurse working in the field of patient safety for several decades I needed help when I was given the opportunity to compile a book codifying best practices for designing and running healthcare improvement collaboratives. Michael was a terrific resource to me and our team.  Our book, All In: Using Healthcare Collaboratives to Save Lives and Improve Care, greatly benefited from his guidance. He was a delightful partner whom I would not hesitate to work with again."

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

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COMMUNICATION AUDITS
COACHING SERVICES
CUSTOM COURSE DESIGN
SPEAKING
SPECIAL ADVISOR SERVICES
WORKSHOPS
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CONTACT

Stephen Sparks

Director of Fund Development

"Michael  has a natural talent for communication and coaching.  I was fortunate to have been matched with Michael as my mentor for the Social Venture Partner's Fast Pitch event in 2018.  Michael helped me develop and hone a 3 minute public speaking idea pitch that won the top Innovation Award prize.  Michael knows how to asks insightful questions and gives constructive feedback.  He was engaged and supportive, even sending me a text with key points to remember and words of encouragement the night of the public speaking event.  I fully endorse Michael and his expertise in public speaking and communication coaching.  I can honestly say that his support has made a positive impact on my professional success."

Stephanie Nowack

CEO (retired)

"I observed first hand , and benefited from,  Michael’s skills as a  coach, communicator , and teacher.  Michael was generous with his time, always willing to listen, to provide positive feedback on how to handle student challenges, to offer creative ideas on how to improve my class, and to  share his own impressive teaching skills...  Michael is charismatic, confident, and compassionate.  If you have a chance to work with him, take it!!!”

This Is All About You!

Success

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Ben Mills

Assistant Director

“Dr. Zirulnik is personable, relatable, and has great energy! He is humble and wonderful with diversity groups of people. He presented to our Arizona State University Downtown campus Committee on Campus Inclusion in 2016 to a room full of college students and faculty, and had us all deeply engaged and on the edge of our seats.” – Ben Mills, CCI Co-Chair ASU Downtown

Workshop Participants

Central Arizona Project (CAP)

"Exercises and information were 'outside the box' ideas."

"Dr. Z was great, well spoken, thank you for having him instruct" "He is enthusiastic, intelligent, and I really enjoyed myself..."