Before we jump into the interview, please tell our readers how you became a coach?
It was a natural progression for me. Over the last 40 years or so, I have led a great life focused on business entrepreneurship. I’ve began as a serial entrepreneur. I’ve done 14 successful start-up businesses and soon to be 15. Most of these have been pure “boot-strap” start-ups starting from ground zero and then growing them. I’ve also been a part of over 400 business turnaround challenges. Through all of this I have learned a lot about what to do and not to do in business. I have made mistakes and had huge successes. It is a fact that over 90% of all businesses started today will be broke in under two years. The main reason for this disturbing reality is that most business people are not prepared for the rigors of the reality of business. They always underestimate the amount of time, money and energy required. It became important to me to help. I wanted to take my “real-world” business experience and help other entrepreneurs, business owners and executives be more successful than they ever would be on their own. Since making that decision I have logged over 14,000 hours of coaching and training and have won the Brian Tracy Award of Sales Excellence six times, representing his international Business Coach of the year.
A lot of people talk about a career of either a business coach or a life coach. What is your opinion, can one coach help clients get superb results in their professional and personal life?
Great question. One of the ongoing problems with the “coaching” industry is that it seems that anyone can call themselves a coach. Whether they are qualified or not; whether they have been trained or not, everyone seems to be calling themselves a coach. And, I think this is very dangerous. So, anyone wanting a coach must ask the qualifying questions based on the need. Questions like;
• What kind of coach are you?
• What did you have to do to become a coach?
• How much training was required and how much additional training do you invest in yourself every year?
• Do you have a proven system?
• What content do you use? And so on
In my opinion, coaching is a very specific industry, just like any professional services niche. Why would a business owner put the fate of their business in the hands of someone who is untrained in the rigors of business let alone who has never owned a business themselves? I liken it to a medical example. If you’re in need of heart surgery to stay alive, do you want the best cardiovascular surgeon available, or do you want a veterinarian? They’re both doctors, right? No, you want the cardiovascular surgeon because he’s a specialist and you have the best chance of survival with him versus a non-specialist.
That’s a long way to answer the question. But I believe that some top business coaches can deal with personal growth issues as long as they pertain to the client’s business and career. While, not as many Life coaches can help a client with business issues because of the traditional background of many life coaches. Just ask the questions and you’ll know what and who’s right for you.
You coach different business people, CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs. What is your preferred niche and why?
I love to work with motivated entrepreneurs that are coachable and have a vision. However, I’ve been very successful working with CEO’s and Managers as well. I pride myself in being a world class listener. This is a key ingredient in any world class coach. I strive to understand the client’s needs from their point of view. Then and only then can I create a customized Business Coaching program for them to address their specific needs. I never do a “boxed” solution. Every business person that I work with defines success very differently. I need to understand what that is before I can help them achieve it. That’s important. I want to become very passionate about my Coaching partners success. In turn, if they become less passionate about their success than I am about their success, then frankly I don’t want to work with them.
Have you ever tried to measure the efficiency of coaching regarding company growth?
Absolutely, with EVERY coaching client, no matter how small or large they are. And, I’ll add this. If you are a business person who is interviewing a coach or currently has a coach, if they don’t have a plan to measure efficiency then I would kick them out of the office. It’s that important. Metrics are absolutely necessary in order to gauge success however it is defined. Keep in mind that in any business coaching engagement that it is always a two-way street. The coach will coach, train, instruct, advise and just help the client get clarity and make better decisions. But, the coach, in most cases won’t do the work for the client. If he does, the coach is not a coach, they’re a consultant. So, metrics are essential to measure achievement of goals and progress on the clear goals and vision that the coach and client establish. How else can you celebrate success, if you don’t know if you’ve been successful?
How can coaching help to validate a business startup idea?
A qualified Business coach is essential here. It doesn’t really matter if friends and family think you have a great idea. It must be validated. Lots of questions need to be asked before you risk your money or someone else’s money. The coaches purpose is to ask the right questions for the “entrepreneur” to get the pure clarity necessary to make a good and logical decision. A purely emotional decision will inevitably lose money. Again, as I said earlier, most entrepreneurs will always underestimate the amount of time, money and effort required to be successful. A knowledgeable business coach will always, drastically reduce the client’s risk of failure and improve the odds of success.
What would be the main difference between team coaching and individual coaching?
Team Coaching usually features a coaching plan based on improving the skills of the group, while one-on-one business coaching has a plan that is custom designed for the specific needs of the individual being coach.
Could you share with us one situation where you were the proudest of yourself?
Yes. I worked with a client in the construction industry. Through a number of bad business practices their family owned business was about to go broke. They met me after I gave a brief presentation at their monthly industry meeting. They had nearly 100 employees and four family members working for them, with over 100 vendors that they worked with. Business was down to an all time low of around $2.8 million. I evaluated the situation and working with the owners, implemented a strict clarity process. We got VERY honest about what was going on and why. Their foundational business practices were flawed. The owners were tough, hard working people and were reluctant and challenged with any kind of change. But through very focused and direct business coaching practices we took the company from that $2.8 million to a business of over $42 million in under four years. I literally helped them change their family tree, protecting and preserving their legacy for their family, their employees and all their dependents and all of their vendors.
For the end of this interview, please finish this sentence:
Coaching is … “Business coaching is about listening and understanding and then helping people to do what they need to do, when they need to do it, whether they want to or not. The job of a business coach is not to help a client to become a better financial planner; carpenter or dentist. That’s the job of their industry. Business Coaching is about helping them learn how to be better business people, better managers and leaders; and, how to be more profitable doing so.”