featuring ABVE Diplomate
John Berg


What have you found to be the most rewarding experience through ABVE?

The ABVE seminars, over the years, are often in the most beautiful and interesting areas of the US, some out of country.  No other professional association offers that.  I like travel.   Second, ABVE members tend to be long term tenured professionals. They offer a wealth of information to learn from no matter whom, what type of practice or where they practice.  I enjoyed writing a publication in the Journal of Forensic Vocational Analysis with Eugene Van de Bittner in 2003 that assisted my publication in PTD claims in workers compensation systems.  I recommend that members hook up with a person having publishing interests and work as a team. Last, I honor the friendships and connections with interesting and colorful personalities like David Stein, Bruce Growick, Billy McCroskey, Cynthia Grimley, and many others.

How has the ABVE credential assisted you in your practice?

All medical doctors have access to become “Board Certified”.  ABVE is the only entity, which speaks this similar vocabulary to our customer base, mostly attorneys. This is not ascribed status, but an achievement demonstrated by specific education, testing, peer reviewed work products, and continued education.  I consult with attorneys to make sure the credential is properly explained in testimony on all depositions and trials. ABVE sets the stage for being admitted as a trial expert with the highest profile requirements of any other credentialing body.  ABVE credentialing is also a good marketing tool. ABVE is a credential having full reciprocity in the US. Licensed states normally have no reciprocity.

Who were the important mentors you have had and how did they impact your career?

We all had some beginning point. Bob Lancaster, former President of “Cascade Rehabilitation Counseling”.  He hired me, trusted me, and mentored me to become a Director of Counseling & Marketing Manager of CRC back in 1981-85 before starting my company April 1985.  While Bob

was not a vocational expert, he produced knowledge on how to run a company.   Most of us

have no business background, and without training, mentorship, or experience, you can fail or be

mediocre in your consulting practice without business skills. I have had influence of experts who

are excellent teachers, this partial lists includes David Toppino (Dec’d), Roger Weed, Bart Hultine, Lyndette Mayer and Michael Graham who has frequent seminars on expert testimony skills.


What do you consider your biggest accomplishments and why?

Completing graduate school, as without specific graduate level education, no other professional level accomplishments could be accessed.

  1. Getting married and having three kids.  Marriage can instill a sense of mission and meaning like no other life event.  Kids offer a perspective of the value of time passing, a measuring stick, and feedback we often need outside of work.
  2. Buying multiple real-estate investments. This is the only tangible and time-honored method of creating some financial stability in one’s life.
  3. Starting my own company in 1985 and once developing the firm into three offices and twenty-three staff and contracts with State, Federal and insurance firms. Just a goal, however, not something that fun to operate or manage.

What advice would you give to a young person graduating from college this spring?

Use the old principle of “delayed gratification”; study more than you think you should, hold off on some recreation, travel and diversions, which can be done after college. Enter a field based on your passion, not other person’s desire and not economic value alone.

How do you achieve a balance between your professional and your personal life?

That has been one of the more difficult for me until 2002. I turned 50 and seemed to have a mid-life crisis with reconciliation.  When you start earning more than you expected and getting more business than you can handle, it is difficult to say NO.  I now balance work, travel, educational seminars, listening to music, and playing the guitar.  An occasional motorcycle ride.  I attend more seminars than credit requirements dictate. They offer new perspectives, a chance to see peers in the field and conform to the tax codes for operating a small business.

When you were growing up what did you want to be?

I mostly found out about what I did not want to be. I learn the most by negative experience. Negative experiences give the most feedback and incubate your thoughts and feelings. I worked in grocery stores, mowing yards, washing cars and working in a lumber mill.  In fact, I paid for both undergraduate and graduate school working pulling green chain, operating forklifts, doing dirty work in a lumber mill in Idaho.  I came out of college debt free.  A volunteer crisis intervention opportunity turned the tables, focused my interests on human services, career planning, testing, etc. Most men do not start to grow up until about 25 to 30.

What are your favorite hobbies and why?

Playing guitar and music in general. I started playing trumpet in third grade and have a collection of many instruments. I did not start the guitar until age 21 and played in college weekends informally with my “music major losers”.  My home has trumpets, cornets, alto and tenor saxophones, trombone, clarinet, drums, bongos, African instruments, two acoustic guitars, a 12-string, one electric and a classical.  Music is a personal extension of your human spirit, a new way of discovery of self and expression to others both non-verbal and poetic. We read and write all day at work.

What are some things about you that most people may not know?   

I have a 17-year-old daughter in high school, an 18-year-old son in the Marine Corps and a 20-year-old son in Santa Barbara in college.  I spend more hours inside my boathouse on Lake Washington than in my home minus sleep. The boathouse is over the lake, has a music room, speakers, PA system, leather couch, bar, a 60-pound King Salmon over a Montana River rock fireplace, and is called the “Man Cave”.  The floor is African Ironwood with a vapor barrier under the floor and doors accessible to a powerboat in a separate garage over the water on hydraulic lifts and door opener.  I have ridden motorcycles and raced them in my youth winning trophies, which were some highest points of my life.  I am competitive.  I ride a K1200GT BMW on tours and have a dual sport BMW in my La Paz, Baja Mexico condominium.  Last year, I lived three months in Baja, Mexico.

Contact Information:

John F. Berg, M.Ed, CDMS, CRC, ABVE-Diplomate
Vocational Consulting, Inc.
7222 East Mercer Way
Mercer Island, Washington  98040
206-933-8870 (office)
206-852-6559 (cell)

John strumming along in his boathouse on Lake Washington.