At Surgo Consulting Training & Development, our mission is to transform the corporate workplace,
and to help bridge the gap between our formal education and the workplace.

_CLM4649bStephen Blair Venable, J.D.

Principal & Founder

Stephen Blair Venable is a management consultant, corporate/business attorney, author, speaker, award-winning entrepreneur, former nonprofit executive, and respected community stakeholder.

Stephen began his professional career as a corporate/business attorney more than twenty years ago after earning his law degree at the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to practicing law at prominent Minnesota law firms such as Dorsey & Whitney and Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi, Stephen served as corporate counsel at Jostens, Inc. in Minneapolis, and then as chief in-house counsel at Jostens Learning Corporation (a software company) in San Diego, California.

Stephen later moved on to become an accomplished entrepreneur, successfully owning and operating a $23 million automotive business in the Twin Cities. He won a 2005 Minority Business Award from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in connection with this endeavor .

Though Stephen first opened Surgo in 2007, he devoted one year of his time since then to running the Midwest Minority Supplier Development Council (“MMSDC”) – representing some 300 minority-owned businesses in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and western Iowa. During his one-year stint as president, Stephen increased revenues; grew the corporate member base; grew the membership base of certified minority-owned businesses; increased the organization’s visibility; and significantly bolstered its standing among major corporate entities and other community stakeholders.

In March of 2010, at the invitation of Congressman Keith Ellison, Stephen joined a Congressional Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the trade mission was to develop a bi-lateral trade relationship between Minnesota and Saudi Arabia.

In addition to Stephen’s professional achievements, he is also deeply committed to the health and well-being of his local community. Stephen currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the People’s Center Health Services (formerly Cedar Riverside People’s Center), a well-established nonprofit community health center that provides exceptional, affordable medical services to countless members of underserved communities – regardless of ability to pay.

Stephen is a member of the editorial advisory board of St. Paul Magazine.

Stephen has also served as both a volunteer English tutor and a volunteer mock interviewer for Twin Cities Rise – a local nonprofit organization that specializes in training under-employed and/or unemployed people of color (often with histories of poverty and/or addiction) for long-term employment that allows them to earn a living wage of at least $20,000 annually.

Stephen holds a B.A. degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan, and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Stephen has also participated in the Executive Education Program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business – ranked by the Economist Magazine in 2011 as the #1 business school in the world.

In July of 2013, Stephen’s ground-breaking book, The Commencement Odyssey, was published . The second edition of the book was released on January 1, 2015.

Stephen has been featured on MPR’s “The Daily Circuit” with Kerri Miller; on “Access to Democracy” with Alan Miller, on KARE 11 News with Diana Pierce; on the KMSP FOX 9 Morning Show with Alix Kendall and Keith Marler; on WCCO Radio’s “The Chad Hartman Show;” and on WCCO Radio’s “The Jordana Green Show.”

Stephen lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife, Lisa.


MaryByersMary M. Byers

Executive Editor – Surgo Books™

Mary is the former Managing Editor of the University of Minnesota Press. She has more than twenty-five years’ experience in all phases of editing and preparing texts for publication: developmental and substantive editing; copyediting; proof review and management; coordinating with designers, typesetters, and indexers; fact checking; editing translations; and editing indexes.

Mary has a B.A. in History from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Karl Mülle, M.A.C.P.


Karl Mülle graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and holds an M.A. degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity International University in Chicago.  He has over 25 years of experience as an adult educator, and he has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa as a speaker and trainer.

Karl has presented to tens of thousands of business professionals, university professors, and even high schools students.  He has developed and presented training programs and motivational keynote presentations in the areas of developing leaders; building healthy relationships; emotional intelligence in the workplace; managing stress; developing conflict negotiation skills; understanding gender differences in the workplace; developing interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills; building team unity; embracing change and innovation for future growth; and countless other substantive topics.

Karl is known for his ability to combine psychological insight with humor and practical application to deliver inspiring messages on human effectiveness.  His warm and friendly presentation style and in-depth knowledge of his topics facilitate the learning process.

Karl has conducted seminars for the following organizations:

  • 3M
  • Accenture
  • Aitkin County Health & Human Services
  • Alcon Labs
  • Alliance American Insurance
  • American Association of University Women
  • American Express Financial
  • American Society of Women Executives
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Anoka County Human Resources
  • Arrowhead Equal Opportunity Association
  • Association of Minnesota Family Child Care Licensors
  • Berkley Administrators
  • Best Buy
  • Bethel University
  • Beverly Enterprises
  • Big Brother/Big Sister of Minnesota
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Brown County Family Services
  • Carver-Scott Education
  • Century College
  • Ceridian
  • Chevron Corporation
  • Child Care Choices, Inc.
  • Citi Bank
  • City of Anoka
  • City of Coon Rapids
  • City of Eden Prairie
  • City of Orono
  • City of St. Louis Park
  • City of West St. Paul
  • Cornell University
  • D’Amico & Sons
  • Dain Bosworth
  • Data Card
  • Delta Dental
  • Discover
  • Ecolab
  • Ethicon
  • Evercare
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Fortis
  • Fourth Shift International
  • General Dynamics
  • General Electric
  • General Mills
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hennepin County
  • Hennepin Parks
  • Honeywell
  • Hospitality Minnesota
  • Hyatt Regency
  • IBM
  • Jackpot Junction Casino & Hotel
  • Johnson and Johnson
  • Jostens
  • Kraft General Foods
  • Lake Superior Minnesota Safety Council
  • Land O’ Lakes
  • Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association
  • Lucent
  • Manketo State University
  • Mentium 2000
  • Michaud, Cooley and Erickson
  • Midwest Assistance Program
  • Minnesota Association of County Social Service Administrators
  • Minnesota City Management Association
  • Minnesota Continuing Legal Education
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Minnesota Education Association
  • Minnesota Emergency Managers Association
  • Minnesota Food Processors Association
  • Minnesota Fraud Investigators Association
  • Minnesota GIS/LIS
  • Minnesota Mutual
  • Minnesota Polution Control Agency
  • Minnesota Power
  • Minnesota Recreation and Park Association
  • Minnesota Resort Association
  • Minnesota State Retirement System
  • Minnesota Supreme Court
  • Minnesota West Community & Technical College
  • Minnesota Youth Forum
  • Mounds View City Council
  • Multicare Associates of the Twin Cities
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • National Association of Elevator Contractors
  • National Car Rental
  • Net Perceptions
  • Normandale Community College
  • North Memorial Employee Resource Council
  • Northwest Airlines
  • Norwest Bank
  • NW Minnesota Initiative Fund
  • Ohio Emergency Management Agency
  • Park Nicollet
  • Pearson Technologies
  • Pentair Inc.
  • Pillsbury
  • Principal Financial
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Professional Secretaries International
  • Provider’s Choice
  • Prudential
  • Radisson Plaza Hotels
  • Ramsey County Human Resources
  • Ramsey County Human Services
  • Ramsey County League of Local Governments
  • Renville County Human Services
  • Rogers Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Saint Paul Foundation
  • Scott County Government Center
  • Seagate
  • Securian Financial Group
  • Shorts Travel
  • Society of Gastroenterology Nurses
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • Southwest Junior High School
  • St. Paul Companies
  • St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance
  • St. Paul Public Schools
  • St. Thomas Academy
  • Summit County Emergency Management Agency
  • Superior Chapter of Xplor
  • Supervalu
  • The Knoll Group
  • The Mall of America
  • TSI Incorporated
  • Unipac
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of St. Thomas
  • Upsher Smith Laboratories
  • US Bank
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • West Group
  • WHAM Net!
  • Winona County Department of Human Services
  • Working Family Resource Center