DES MOINES — Not sure if you should sign that contract? Hesitating over hiring a new sales manager? Can't make a decision on a major expansion?
Dixie Lee Bardwell says you should call her.
"If you're a business person, there are many ways I can help you save time and save money," she says.
Bardwell is a consultant, but not the kind most businesses look to for advice.
She describes herself as a psychic, and the brochure she hands out says she can provide glimpses into the future of business trends, financial outlooks, working relationships and employee behavior and performance.
"For example, when people are considering a contract, I don't know much about legal things, but I can hold it in my hand and give an opinion on whether it's a good thing to sign or not," she says.
Most of her clients come from central Iowa, and she relies on word of mouth and the brochure for advertising. The businesses who come to her generally are small companies, rather than big corporations.
Much of her business consulting work now involves personnel. Clients give Bardwell the names of present or prospective employees, and she assesses their potential job attitudes and performance.
"I can help put the right people in the right jobs," she says.
Her personality profiles have impressed at least some of her customers, according to Hale Starr. Starr operates an agency that helps attorneys nationwide with jury selection, and has an office upstairs from the cubicle Bardwell leases in a suburban Des Moines building.
"We had a client, an attorney who wanted background investigations on some prospective jurors, but the list came in so fast they didn't have time to do them," Starr said. "So we referred them to Dixie."
Bardwell spent two hours with the 50 names and dictated brief sketches on each person.
"The attorneys were very impressed with the accuracy she had on the facts we could later verify," Starr said. "And they felt the personality profiles she gave were highly accurate."
Starr, co-author of a legal textbook on jury selection, describes herself as a lifelong skeptic. "I believe in facts brought in by research and will tell my clients that intuition is not as interesting as the facts we can find from doing actual research," she said.
All the same, she often casually asks Bardwell for a reading on the name of an attorney she plans to approach with a sales presentation.
"So far, based on my behavioral training and my background in nonverbal communication, we agree highly," Starr said. "I work with these people for several hours and her prediction of the description of the personality of the person has been in keeping with what I conclude at the end of that time."
Bardwell has no beaded curtains or crystal balls in her business office, which looks like any other room in the two-story building where she commutes from her rural Winterset home, about 30 miles southwest of Des Moines.
Dressed in a conventional skirt and blouse, she gives her readings seated at a desk. Readings are taped by a recorder on the desk in front of her so the client can have a record of the proceedings.
As some consultants go, her fees are low--$35 for a personal reading and $50 for a business reading.
She sees two or three clients daily and also gives lectures and workshops for people interested in sharpening their own powers of intuition and prediction.
"I'm an ordinary woman," she insists. "I really believe that anybody can do what I do. But most people block it out or ignore it."
Bardwell has had premonitions since she was a child and had given readings to friends and neighbors at her home for many years. Traffic through her kitchen grew so heavy that she finally began charging fees. She moved into the office and expanded into business consulting two years ago.
Most of her clients still are individuals who ask for her impressions on their health, financial affairs, family problems and love lives.
Although she is convinced that she could make a fortune on her own in investments or gambling, Bardwell says she feels strongly that her talents aren't intended to be used that way.
"It's like it's a tool to use to help other people," she says. "But I don't want anyone to use me for a get-rich person. It's to help you with your personal problems, your business problems, whatever will help you to cope with your life and make it better."