The worst thing you can do is go out and set up a coaching relationship to impress your friends or go to the country club, “Hey, I’ve got a coach,” because, really, the coach’s job is to get you where you want to go, and you have to do the work. I can help you see a different vision. I can help you lay out a strategic path. I can help you talk about some bottlenecks that you have with your execution, but I’m not at your business every day. I can’t come and do that work. That level of authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability from the CEO to the coach and then back into the organization, I think, is where I see the most transformative change.
Where it typically doesn’t work is when the CEO is thinking, “Well, I’m going to hire a coach to help me solve this problem,” but really they want the coach to come in and solve the problem or change out team members or put a different direction in. There is no silver bullet with any business I’ve ever seen. It requires the level of commitment, dedication, and the willingness to be uncomfortable.
One of the things that I find works really well and when with a leadership team is I always make sure the CEO agrees to speak last. Most of the CEOs that I know, we’re usually the smartest kids in the room, or we think we’re the smartest kids in the room. Sometimes the best ideas are squashed by the CEO and their personality because the team, like children, want to please the CEO. The team want that person, the person who signs their check, to be satisfied and happy. Well, but they may not always have the best answer, so if the emperor has no clothes, it’s the team’s job to go around the table to figure out, well, what works and what doesn’t, and what’s the best idea?
That’s why I always say to the CEO, “All you have to do is say, ‘I really like George’s idea,’ or, ‘I really like Sue’s idea.’ It could have been your idea, but maybe it wasn’t as good as your idea, but you’ll never have to own that. Just let the best idea win in the room,” because, at the end of the day, there’s the owner, the leadership team, but also there’s that third entity, which is the business. The business is like a child. It needs tender, loving care. It needs structure. It needs discipline. It’s the responsibility of the leader and the leadership team to drive those things, and if the best ideas aren’t shared and the best ideas aren’t heard, then that third party, that business, doesn’t get the tender, loving care it needs.
Yeah. It’s funny. As you’re describing that, I’m thinking back in my own experience, especially when I was young. I became CEO of my first business at 28, and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Thinking back to how I would operate and run meetings was awful. It was terrible. I was doing all the things you just described.
The thing that jumped out to me in what you just said was the idea that a business owner may bring in a coach and want kind of the coach to do it. I’ve always viewed it, and I … Believe me, I drink the Kool-Aid. I’ve got four coaches right now for different areas of my life, from fitness all the way through the business and other things, because those are strategic areas that I want to improve. I always look at the role of a coach in two dimensions. Number one, it’s to really provide an outside perspective and some outside thinking on the problems that you’re facing every day. Number two, it’s to hold you accountable.
One of my coaches, which I saw this morning, is a fitness coach, a personal trainer. Okay? She can see things that I can’t see. She knows what exercises I should be doing based on me telling her what my goals were, right? She sure as hell holds me accountable, in fact, probably more so than I’d really like some days. What I love about the fitness analogy is that allows you to break it down to something pretty simple that everybody can understand, and that’s the way … If you’re going out to work with a business coach, I think that’s the approach, as a business owner, you ought to take is, “I’m bringing somebody in because they’ve got fresh eyes, and they see a lot more businesses than I see, and they’re going to have some unique approaches and, once we decide on a plan, they’re going to keep me to it.”
Right. That’s a great comparison. If you think about a fitness program, if you want to drop 20 pounds, you’re not going to lose 20 pounds in a week. If you lose 2 pounds a week for 10 weeks, it’s a successful program. A lot of times, when businesses are in crises or they’ve reached that glass ceiling, they want instant change, an instant quick fix. I always say to my clients, “If you can change your business 1% per week over a 52-week period, you’ve made a 50% turnover in your organization, whether it’s with strategy, execution. If you’ve got cash problems, how do we get more cash in the door? How do we improve your margins?” That stuff’s not going to occur over night. No different than if you want to get into, like you said, a fitness program. You want to be able to lift … go from benching 200 pounds to benching 300 pounds. It’s not going to happen in a week, but those little, small, incremental steps need to occur.
I think, as leaders, one of the best areas of opportunity that we have during that iterative process is to celebrate the victories with the team because so many entrepreneurs don’t do it. They’re all focused on the end goal. Those little steps along the way, you’d be surprised what kind of loyalty and what kind of team environment you can build when you celebrate those small victories.
Yeah, I can imagine, and particularly when you’re trying to transition through challenges, even if they’re not like 2006-to-2008-type challenges, but even just the little stuff that comes up. It’s so easy for us, as entrepreneurs, to focus on the negative, the bad stuff. We rarely pay enough attention to the successes. I know I’m guilty of that. In fact, I try and be really proactive now of writing that stuff down. Otherwise, I forget about it.
You work with a lot of different types of business. Who’s kind of in your sweet spot? If somebody’s listening to this and they go, “Yeah, I really … I need to get a coach to get to that next level,” who’s sort of the perfect person for your firm?
Well, for me, the perfect person is an entrepreneur who has that lifelong learner mindset, the entrepreneur who recognizes, “I know I don’t know everything. I don’t know, necessarily, where I need to go, but I recognize that I need help.” So many entrepreneurs are very ego-driven. I was ego-driven. Sometimes I’m still ego-driven. It’s just part of the deal. It’s part of who we are. You can have a strong sense of self, but pride and ego don’t care about anything else. So it’s clear, confidence is good, having too much ego typically doesn’t work.
I use a vetting tool to find out if I’m going to be a good fit because hiring a coach is an acquired taste. My style is not going to work for someone as well as someone else’s style might work, so it’s a very individual choice, but first and foremost is are you coachable? Are you willing to make change, and are you willing to roll up your sleeves? Because my style is very different than a lot of coaches.
One, most coaches have never owned a business, by and large. Two, we have attained a nice track record of success, so that means I’m about being accountable. You just got to be that way. If you’re not accountable, it’s not going to work really well. Three, I want to walk the path with my clients. I have a very strict program. I do four quarterly meetings, but I do twice-a-month calls with either the CEO or the CEO and their leadership team to check the pulse. Where are we? Are we on track, or are we off track? Are we hitting our KPIs?
A lot of coaches just kind of fly in, fly out on a quarterly basis. I think there’s so much that can be accomplished with quicker touch points, shorter durations between connections, and that’s, for me … I just absolutely get jazzed. I had a call with a client this morning. The movement they’ve had in three weeks is phenomenal. One, I’m so proud of the entrepreneur because he’s sticking to what he said he was going to do even though he’s had tough times. Two, his team now believes in him, where maybe they had some doubts before. Just to hear this group of people try to go in the same direction, on the same path, even with some stumbles along the way … One person’s off track, the team’s now bringing that person back on track with his rocks. It’s so incredibly rewarding.
If someone wants to do the same as it ever was, to just kind of just slowly bump along and really wants to be not goal-focused and not willing to be vulnerable and transparent about why they’re not hitting things, then I am definitely not a good fit for them.
Yeah. I could imagine they wouldn’t last very long with your approach to things.
Where is the best place for people to go and find out more about what you’re doing and your approach to working with entrepreneurs?
Yeah. The best place to find out more about us would be at extraordinaryadvisors.com. We’ve got a lot of our information up there. I do keynote speeches. I’ll come in and do a workshop if that’s required or, certainly, the CEO and executive-level coaching. In fact, what I’d like to offer to your audience today, Steve, is anybody who mentions, on the website, that they want to meet with me or talk with me, and they mention that they heard me on your podcast, I’d be happy to give them an hour of my time for free.
To me, that’s really an opportunity to pay it back to the people who have paid it forward through me. So many people, whether it’s been the people in my EO chapter or just great conversations with other entrepreneurs around the country who have just given me their time, this is the least I can do to help pay it forward, that mentality that an entrepreneur alone is an entrepreneur at risk. Let’s not have that. Even if it’s just somebody I talk to one time, you just never know. That one message from one person could change the course of things, and that … so I’m happy to offer that to your audience today.
Oh, thank you. That’s really, really generous, and I appreciate that. I know there will be some folks that will want to take you up on that. Where will they go? Where should they go on your website to take advantage of that?
Just go to the Contact Us page of extraordinaryadvisors.com. My assistant, Kelly, will get you put onto my calendar, and we can have a conversation.
Very good. Well, that’s a really generous offer. Thank you for sharing that with our audience. Todd, it’s been fantastic talking with you. We could go on and on for hours, but I know time is precious. It’s just been a blast getting to know you a little bit and talking about your approach today on the interview.
Thank you for being a guest.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on the show. I really enjoyed the conversation.