I’ve been in organizations my entire life. Got to the office on time and often left late, had bosses who set deadlines, had customers who set deadlines, even set some deadlines for myself.  But the one thing I ALWAYS had was structure.

Sound familiar?  Even if you haven’t worked in an organization, you’ve certainly been in at least one.  Remember school?  Remember homework – tests – schedules?  Did you ever play sports?  Remember practices – rules – games?  What most of us are brought up to value is structure – usually imposed by someone other than ourselves.

So when I started my own consulting practice over 8 years ago, even though I’m self-motivated, energetic, intelligent, experienced, focused, and knowledgeable, what I started to realize I’m NOT is very well disciplined.   Someone else had usually had the disciplinary control over me.

So what did I do?  I hired a business coach.  That’s right – I’m a business coach who has a business coach. I needed to have someone who would help me stay accountable to myself – the goals I set, the actions I needed to complete to reach those goals, and the measurement of the success of those actions.

It took me a while to find the right coach.  I looked at coaching programs that lasted 6 months – 12 months –  to infinity.  I decided those programs weren’t for me because they were usually highly structured and forced me into following a program that included things I didn’t need but still had to pay for.  That’s not to suggest that a structured program isn’t valuable – it is for the right person.  I just wasn’t that right person.

Because I’m a CLIENT-centered coach, I wanted one of those, too.  I’m a grown-up and pretty clear about what I want.  I needed a coach who understood my goals, understood at least a little of my business, asked probing questions, challenged me to look at things differently, and offered an objective perspective.  So why didn’t I just talk to my friends?  Well, I don’t PAY my friends … they don’t have any skin in the game and neither would I.  But if I’m spending MONEY for something, I’m pretty sure I’ll follow through – kind of like your gym membership.

So how do you go about finding the right coach for you?  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my business challenges?
  • What specific area of my business do I want to work on?
  • What’s working in my business and what’s not?  Is there something I should be doing that I’m not?

Once you get some clarity on what you’d like to improve, you can ask successful people you know for referrals to business coaches.  Pick a few (usually no more than 3) and interview them.  Here’s what to look for:

  • Do they ask good questions?
  • Are they good listeners?
  • How comfortable are you with them?
  • Are they focused on you and your challenges?

The right coach can help YOU reach the finish line.  I assure you – once you start working with the right coach and start seeing results, you’ll be a cheerleader, too!


Mea culpa, mea culpa …

Okay, I confess I’m NOT a nun by any stretch of the imagination -just ask people who know me personally! But I couldn’t believe that I haven’t posted a blog since AUGUST! What I’ve been doing is way too long to list here, but I also realize that I was getting a bit burned out by trying to write a blog every single week. So I’ll be posting a little less frequently this year – either every other week or every month. Please accept my apology for being invisible for so long.

But I think it’s a good time to remind everyone that we all need to reflect, now and then, about what worked for us last year, what we could have done better, and what we didn’t need to do at all. NOW is a good time to do that. Read more


Two of the biggest challenges I have with professional service firms are structure and compensation plans. Most, if not all, are partnerships and the billable hour structure in and of itself can be unwieldy, hamper innovation, create incredible competition, and stifle incentive. But surely the biggest challenge is compensation programs. Many (if not most) of these firms hold out the carrot of “equity partnerships” for those deserving, overworked few who can bring in business. But their compensation programs and lack of support for non-partner employees has exactly the opposite effect. There are certainly exceptions to this in some big firms, but if you’re not a member of one of those, you might want to keep reading. Read more


As you’re reading this you may be lolling on the foredeck of your 70-ft. Hinckley sailing yacht as your captain and first mate smoothly navigate you through the crystal waters off the British Virgin Islands; you may be lounging on your deck overlooking the Long Island Sound behind your Hamptons’ summer estate; you may be waiting to tee off on the 8th hole at Pebble Beach; you may be heading out of your cabin at Ruby Springs Lodge to start your day of some of the best fly-fishing anywhere; you may be sitting at a cafe gazing at the Eiffel Tower while sipping an aperitif . Or, if you’re a junior person in your firm, you may be sitting at your desk, staring out the window, and dreaming of the day YOU can do any of these things. Summer’s half-way gone … what are you doing with it? Read more


Some people have said I network like a woman possessed. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I do attend a LOT of business functions. My goal is to meet at least one or two people at each event with whom I’ll follow up to schedule a meeting so I can test the viability of building a mutually beneficial relationship. I’m really good at following up, but I’m starting to see a gap in what many people I meet say and what they do (or don’t do). Read more


One of my coaching clients was complaining recently about a networking event she attended. “It was pretty bad,” she said, “I left after only talking to four people – none of whom had any potential for me.” We’d already worked on an area of focus she liked – construction law – and she had developed her “perfect client profile” for that area. She and her assistant had identified several association events she could attend and this was the first one. It was geared to construction and seemed like the right choice. So far, so good! I asked her who, exactly, she had met. “An out-of-work project manager, an HVAC vendor, an interior designer, and someone else I can’t even remember because it wasn’t even worth asking for his card. The whole thing was a bust!” Was it, really? Read more


I didn’t post a blog last week because i was catching up on my e-mail. I try to stay on top of it, but the truth is it starts to just get away from me. This week was no different. After all, most of my work isn’t about e-mail, it’s about actually talking to people, either in workshop groups I facilitate or in one-on-one coaching conversations. What’s YOUR work? If you don’t get paid just to send and respond to e-mails, it might be the right time to get a handle on dealing with them. Read more


We all know the routine in networking events, professional association meetings, conferences, and anywhere else we meet people we don’t know. It might start with a little small talk, but very quickly one person will ask the other, “So tell me a little bit about yourself,” or “So, what do you do?” The response I get most often can be summed up in one word: B O R I N G.  If you want  me (or anyone else you meet) as a potential client or referral source, is that the impression you want me to walk away with? Read more


One of the biggest challenges my coaching clients have is learning to speak their clients’ language. Whether the program is Strategic Networking or Presentation Skills, the first place it becomes apparent is when we start to work on building a mission statement. Sometimes it feels like I’m pulling teeth to get my clients to tell me what they do and sometimes they tell me in a language I don’t understand. Read more


I attended a conference last weekend at which Dr. Wayne Dyer was the keynote speaker. I’ll admit I’ve never been a big fan of “self-help” gurus and I’m not even sure if Wayne Dyer fits that description. But some of the things he talked about sent me into an admittedly rare period of introspection. When’s the last time you engaged in some self-reflection? Read more