A Note to My Former Self

We often see articles about employees leaving their position because of the influence of management. It would be naive not to acknowledge that management does have an influence, and trust me they are not off the hook yet. Those who lead us definitely have an impact on us, we learn from them, become inspired by them, experience challenges from them, and even lose our passion because of them. However, as much as they have an impact on our lives, our careers and our work, they are not the ones I want to speak to today.

Today, I want to speak to everyone who is an employee. There is an important factor that we need to acknowledge within the span of our careers, which is the responsibility employees have to take on their own accountability for their own choices and eventual results.

Fellow employees we need to be accountable for our work experience, work culture, and the actions and attitudes we bring forward to our work environment. For the purpose of this discussion I want to share the 3 rules that I wish I had learned earlier in my career, that I now carry forward with both positive and negative issues within the workplace. However, I would like to state that these 3 rules did develop from the adversity that I faced and are inspired by my development. First let me start off by saying that we all have a choice, we have a choice to take initiative, to be honest, and to not let challenges/issues snowball into great big problems that can contribute to a toxic environment. We have a choice to acknowledge our courage, happiness and to stay true to our ambitions that led is us to that position in the first place. As employees we are the glue that supports the success of any company. Therefore, we have a responsibility to truly give our best, and when challenges come before us, I do not believe that we always take on the responsibilities associated with this task.

  1. Rule 1: Be accountable and take ownership.When issues arise be honest about the situation at hand and how it is has impacted you. However, do not stop there, there is always a take away from every situation that we encounter. It is important to acknowledge what we brought to the table and the steps we could have taken to ensure a stronger resolution. Through the majority of situations there is an opportunity for an employee to take initiative or be a leader and to work towards finding the solution. Taking the steps to keep us accountable to ourselves, and establish a strong working foundation.
  2. Rule 2: Do not forget your ambition.As employees we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge our pride in the work that we do. Every position that we endure is one that grants us the opportunity to grow further, and therefore we must ensure that we take every step to give our best for that position. In times of adversity, we must take it upon ourselves to ignite that ambition in ourselves and our team to come together. Rather than inflicting silos and creating environments for humility.
  3. Rule 3: Never forget, you are not alone.As an employee what you go through and the challenges you face are never something you will endure alone. It is something that impacts everyone, a chain reaction. It is your responsibility to remain honest about the situation at hand. Yes, you may be facing a challenging situation and it’s okay to acknowledge. Internally you will have acknowledged way more for yourself, but now you have created a level of interaction that allows you to be honest and to speak about your situation without carrying out a discussion too far, or creating unnecessary drama.

I choose to incorporate these rules in my daily life because they were once some of my biggest mistakes and I think many people can relate to these concepts as well. The point I am striving to make is that too often we employees do not own our position in the situation before us, and we forget to look beyond the issue and towards a solution.  Just as management impacts us, we impact the company as a whole and we need to remember the pride we take in what we do. As it is that pride that we have, that we need to change to confidence as we apply it to being stronger employees. Those Individuals who take ownership and accountability in challenging situations are the ones who will be able to continuously rise in their development. They will also do justice to their team, to the workplace and most importantly to their growth.

Swing For The Fences!

Swing for the fences

In business, just like baseball, most people strike out far more often than they hit a home run. In fact, outfielder Ty Cobb has the highest career batting average (.366 over his 24 year career). In other words, the man who most efficient at hitting the ball struck out or fouled out more than 63% of the time.

As a business coach, a lot of our entrepreneurial clients are hoping for a ‘silver bullet’ solution that will double their business and lead to ‘happily ever after’ results. While we have had clients more than double their business in a year (even after their initial high growth start up years), this is rare.

In short, . Failure, or more accurately, adversity, remains possibly the single best teaching mechanism in business. Now this can have a significant effect on the mental health, and self-confidence and self-efficacy of any entrepreneur. Because self-efficacy is so intricately tied to entrepreneurship, I wanted to dispel a few myths en route to encouraging more entrepreneurs to keep fighting the good fight, as well as encourage more potential founders to take the plunge and enjoy the journey.

Myth # 1: You might fail

This is no myth unfortunately, it’s very true, and something every entrepreneur must find a way to wrap their head around. That being said, failing in business is not always as dramatic as needing to lay off your entire team or having to shut down your business. Cliche as it might sound, failure (of your sales strategy or marketing campaign or talent recruitment initiative) leads to learning, which leads to success. In short, truly great entrepreneurs should be diving headfirst into a litany of small failures to learn faster and improve their chances of success.

Myth # 2: There are tons of experts who have figured it out even though you haven’t

This one is a major contention point for me, and it is a myth that rarely, if ever proves to be true. Please realize there a an endless array of bullshitters who would try and manipulate you into thinking they are massive successes so they can charge you money to ‘show you how’. Envious some ‘influencer’ posted a video from a private jet? There are companies who will rent you time on a private jet for $300 so you can film your “I made it” post – without ever leaving the tarmac.

En route to growing our business by over 1000% in the last 3 years, I have experienced;

  • more than one panic attack
  • a broken back
  • having all forms of credit maxed and not being able to access a dime
  • being rejected countless times for interviews, sales, you name it

One of my favorite expressions regarding being an entrepreneur is that running a business is the great equalizer; no one gets to take the escalator, everyone must take the stairs. This means every successful entrepreneur does have to figure it out the hard way – there are no short cuts. Even if a few of those who profess to offer their advice (including myself and our coaches) must be keenly aware that personal success does not lend itself to ‘magic pill’ solutions that will work for everyone. As a coach, I am always careful, if I give advice, to phrase it as “this is what has worked for me” – however our clients must disseminate any wisdom from our experience and apply it to their own challenges to learn, grow, and thrive or else we become a crutch. In this case, we don’t help our clients become better entrepreneurs which means we’d be doing them a disservice.

Myth # 3: You’ll hear “no” a lot

You probably guessed it – no myth here!

In our experience, most businesses are limited by not hearing ‘no’ enough. How can that possibly be? Two reasons. First, all things being equal – the more no’s you hear is correlated to the more opportunities you have. Being a numbers game (without compromising quality or integrity for volume), the more shots you take the more often you score.

Second, no’s (mini-failures) lead to learning. Great leaders reflect at times of failure. Did I hear no because of price, or was it my presentation? Did I ask my prospect enough questions to properly understand and qualify them? Personal reflection, combined with tracking everything and keeping solid business metrics – leads to better learning outcomes and greater chances of future success.

In short, ironically the best cure for ‘no’ is more ‘no’!

Myth # 4: My reputation will suffer if I fail (especially publicly)

This almost always proves to be a myth. I’m convinced that the only reason I’ve been hired to be a keynote speaker for different conferences, is because I once gave a speech to 3 people. I felt like a joke, but I gave the best speech I could to those 3 people, they each received a copy of my latest book, and by the end, the attendees all commented how everyone who didn’t show missed out. It’s been said before that the difference between the novice and the master is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried, and I agree!

While this article started talking about home runs, and how they are rare, it is still essential to step up to the plate on a regular basis for entrepreneurs. I firmly believe that the best way to build a solid business is brick-by-brick through consistent execution of solid business fundamentals. That being said, as you’re methodically growing organically, take a few potentially game-changing home run swings every now and then. I call this out S.T.A.W. metric (Shit Thrown Against the Wall). My philosophy is, if I take at least 1 S.T.A.W. attempt every week, and my ‘home run’ percentage is only 1%, then every 2 years I will experience at least one “how on Earth did you do that” success.

With our S.T.A.W. mentality, I have been shot down by the Dalai Lama, John Maxwell, and several of the top CEO’s in business for book interviews, and I have heard no or nothing at all from at least 40 conferences for speaking engagements when I was building my speaking career. A quick review of HubSpot revealed that we lost out on at least 24 potential clients in the last 2 years, one a month. I could go on, and the failures greatly outnumber the wins, although through S.T.A.W. I’ve also managed to be published in Entrepreneur magazine, Bizztor online, guest blogs, and I’ve appeared on 15 podcasts as a guest expert on topics ranging from leadership to sales to entrepreneurship. The discipline to accept, even pursue ‘no’ has given me more yeses than luck, talent, or skill has.

To you, brave entrepreneur, I implore that you accept yourself as human, incapable of perfection and prone to making mistakes, but also unique. May ‘no’ be your teacher, and may you find the bravery to step up to the plate for often. Fans may boo or get bored with all of the strike-outs headed your way, but only those brave enough to strike out can hit a home run, and if (WHEN) you hit your home runs, everybody forgets the strike-outs. That’s one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur – sales cures all. Hitting a home run helps you instantly recover from the last 20 (or 100) strike-outs.

May you swing for the fences, and enjoy the journey friends!

Value Prop Design

Your Value Proposition is Not About You!

Today few business concepts are as topical and ‘buzzwordy’ as that of an organizations’ value proposition. The subject of constant debate and conjecture, a value proposition can be defined as a “positioning statement that explains what benefit you provide for who and how you do it uniquely well”.

Here’s the thing: most people don’t care. That is, most people spend their days in a busy, if not hurried state, focused on their own problems and priorities. Adding to the marketers’ challenge is that the average American will see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. While the traditional advertising approach is fighting for a potential customers’ attention, that customers’ subconscious mind is actively blocking out the noise so that they focus the finite amount of mental processing we have available to us. Because concentrated mental tasks deplete a major brain function known as executive function, our subconscious mind helps us to limit the number of stimuli we focus on to preserve our higher cognitive function for our more important decisions. We simply lack the time and mental capacity to actively pay attention to 4,000 – 10,000 inputs a day in addition to all of the other tasks our day demands of us.

Understanding the ‘sea of noise’ challenge, we have two choices as business leaders;
1. Be mental distraction # 10,001 and try to compete for limited, waning attention; or
2. Focus where your customers focus

If we choose the latter path (which this author recommends), there is a fluid, three-step process to crafting an effective positioning statement to highlight your value proposition. Before you start, get yourself some Post-it® Notes.

Step One: Identify your Ideal Customer Avatar

If your business is in the B2C space, you are reverse engineering a person. If you’re a B2B player, you are crafting an ideal business to sell to. The parameters change, though the process is identical.
Using one trait per Post-It® note, list off all of the demographic information you have (or hypothesize) about your ideal customer. Examples would be as follows;


B2C example

  • Location Residential community
  • Income Household income (example $75K – $99K)
  • Industry Occupation (ie dentist)
  • Age 35 – 65 years of age

B2B example

  • Neighborhood, City, or State/ Province
  • Annual revenue ($2M – $5M)
  • Industry, including any niche (example railway construction)
  • Business cycle (start up, scale up, etc)

Once you’ve brainstormed (or listed, if you have the available data) the key demographic typifiers of your ideal customer, it’s time to repeat the exercise for their psychographics. More important than where they live and work – is how they think; how and why they make their purchase decisions.

Important psychographic considerations for an individual might include their goals, their values, their career objectives, and even their relationship with their boss (and spouse). Psychographic considerations for a business might include when they need to submit a budget, whether or not a potential vendor aligns with their organizational values, and who they are competing against (and how that drives their competitive spirit and strategy).

You will know your work is complete through this first step when you have a crystal clear picture of the individual you are looking to sell to, or you can imagine yourself walking the halls (or through the warehouse as the case may be) of the business you’re trying to supply to or service.

Step Two: Understand their pain, goals, and needs

Once you have that clear picture in mind, the next Post-it® exercise is to brainstorm all of the perceived (or known) pain points your ideal customer faces. Start with their pain points, because according to research, 70% of all purchase decisions are to ease pain, only 30% to gain something or seek out pleasure. Keep in mind their pain is not just associated with your product or service. They also may be kept up at night by competition, dwindling profits (or losing money), imposter syndrome, leading a team, or their children’s hectic school and sports schedule. Focus on the likely pain points your ideal customer would be facing, tied to their position, industry, and any other information you know about them.

Pain points listed, shift your focus to their goals, both personally and professionally; as well as individually and organizationally.
Finally, narrow the focus on your scope of services, and what your ideal customer needs you for. What does success in your transaction or working relationship look like to them? If you don’t know, this is where customer interviews or focus groups can be particularly effective.
By this point you’ll have an ideal customer avatar covering both demographics and psychographics; as well as goals and challenges (pain points). See an example here.

Step Three: Now it’s your turn

Once you’ve spent this much time in your customer’s shoes – you can finally craft your positioning statement. In order to do so, the third Post-it® exercise is to list off your skills, experience, and product and service features that are the perfect match to your customers’ pain points and goals.

When businesses and leaders go through the process in this order, the findings are quite profound. Instead of innovating your product or service in a vacuum, the light bulbs go off when companies realize exactly how they provide value to their customers.
Put simply, instead of going to market as “this is who I am, now who needs that?” businesses can go to market as “we know this is who you are, and what you need/ struggle with, and so this is why we (make/sell) X.”. As Dr. Marilyn Taylor, professor of leadership studies at Royal Roads University puts it, “don’t be an answer looking for a question”.

Once you’ve completed your brainstorming, a priority sequence is given to your product & service features, and company competitive attributes, according to the urgency & importance of the problems they solve for your ideal customers. For instance, an accountant would miss many an opportunity by leading with “providing timely and accurate financial statements” if they were also able to provide “insight into latent profit potential” for their customers.

In the above example, the positioning statement at the heart of their value proposition says nothing of the accountants’ experience, training, or credentials. Their value proposition speaks only to the value realized by their customers. If this was your accountant, would you really care what software they used, or where they went to school? As long as they help you stay tax-compliant in ethical ways, what you really care about is finding out where your business is leaving money on the table.

In closing, your value proposition is not about you. Value is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder is your ideal customer avatar. Since they’re the ones paying the bills, they get to determine what value means. Put your customers in charge of your marketing, and your sales team will be forever thankful!

Values Based Leader Interview: Stephanie Jackman

Aristotle gave us the great maxim, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. This maxim has lent itself to teamwork in sports, business, community building, probably any scenario in which individuals must come together and combine their efforts for the good of the collective.

The same could be said for the career of a leader, and how year by year their legacy compounds rather than adds from one year to the next. Stephanie Jackman, founder of REAP Business Association, is such a leader.

Passionate about sustainability and creating a social impact through businesses that are “forces for good”, Stephanie takes a long term view in terms of the kind of business and collective that she’d like to create. In her words, “an individual business trying to balance profit and social impact has a lot going on. A collective takes a long term view in that greater impact can be achieved if many businesses are telling the story, not just one.”

This view makes sense. One ‘conscious capitalist’ may have to choose between profit or social impact on some decisions, which could threaten the business or lessen its ability to affect positive change. The association Jackman launched in 2008 has over 150 businesses that share a commitment to Respect the Earth and All People (which is what REAP stands for). With a critical mass of values aligned businesses networking and referring to one another, profits don’t suffer and the impact is multiplied rather than compromised.

As far as the size of that impact, here are just a few statistics on the impact REAP businesses have in their local economy and environment each year;
• $21 billion in annual revenue;
• 8,300 Calgary area jobs;
• $5 million in local charitable donations;
• 93,000 employee volunteer hours;
• 11,000 tonnes of CO2 diverted from the atmosphere through green power purchasing; and,
• 9.5 million kgs of waste diverted from Calgary landfills.

As impressive as this may be, getting more than 150 business owners to buy into an idea that’s become a movement takes time. 10 years and counting, to be exact; but all great causes start with a visionary and a bold (perhaps even crazy) idea. For Stephanie Jackman, the inspiration for what would later become REAP came from friend and mentor Lynne Twist, author of “The Soul of Money”. After hosting one of Twist’s Soul of Money workshops, Stephanie found herself making a public declaration to “hospice out the old era of business based on trade-offs to midwife in a new era of ethical business”.

In addition to Twist, Jackman was inspired by Margaret Bourke-White — the first American female war journalist (who also was on the cover of the first issue of Life magazine), and the first foreign photographer to take pictures of the Soviet ‘five year plan’, implemented in a war-threatened Soviet Union between 1928 and 1932. Jackman admired Bourke-White’s courage to enter such hostile environments, to be a trailblazer and defy gender stereotypes.

Jackman’s other mentors and heroes lived closer to home. From her mom, she learned the importance of unconditional love and having a supportive community. Her father taught her discipline and innovation. Having these lessons and their support, she felt the confidence as an entrepreneur to go, try, risk and even fail. What wonderful lessons for all of us parents who want to see our children go and live their dreams later in life!

Thinking back to when she started REAP, Stephanie recalls that the initial challenge was to build something that business leaders would find valuable, something unique that they would pay for, then finding those businesses that shared the values of REAP. If the first decade was about building the business case for REAP, the next decade will be about scaling the impact that a value-based network has on its members, the community, and local economy.

As REAP continues to grow, larger collaborations are occurring. (For example, at the time of publication REAP has been asked to host a gathering of triple bottom line businesses to provide feedback on the impact of environmental policy to the Minister of Environment and Parks.) Stephanie sees this as crucial for continued growth and advancement of a ‘business as a force for good’ mentality.

Jackman is excited about the prospects REAP and other values-based leaders face today. She sees the coming together of profit and social purpose as accelerating, with a foreseeable future wherein this will be the only way. The way Jackman sees it, we define life balance from a holistic point of view, taking into account the whole person, so why should we look at business any other way?

It’s not hard when speaking with Stephanie to pick up on her passion and enthusiasm for leadership with a purpose. In fact, she defines leadership as, “inspiring people to get engaged. A great leader can help people see the gifts they have to bring to the [idea/challenge/initiative] so that there is more engagement and impact.”

Despite her impressive career, numerous awards and accomplishments, Jackman remains humble. She wouldn’t profess to advise others on how to run their businesses, but when asked what advice she might give her younger self, it’s all about faith. “Don’t worry so much, follow your heart, believe in your vision, you’ve got this.”

When asked if she would do anything differently if given the chance, Jackman replies “yes”, but concedes that the decisions that got her here, right or wrong, led to learning and so therefore are not a source of regret. Her biggest early mistake, she admits, is thinking she’d get it right the first time. It now gives her great fulfillment to meet with REAP members or other leaders embarking on their journeys to share her experiences, lessons, and even mistakes. She sees it as a great leadership opportunity to pay it forward.

Given the impact Stephanie has had on business in Calgary and Alberta, I’m excited on behalf of all Albertans to see what the next 10 years brings!


Personal Awareness (the 360)

We’ve all heard the old adage in business, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

This is often very true, as networking is key and decision makers (be it a potential client, a potential supplier, a potential employer) often prefer to deal with who they already know. Before we spend any time on the topic of networking though (if you are keen to learn from the best when it comes to networking, I recommend reaching out to Catherine Brownlee), it is imperative to start at home.

In the mirror.

With you.

How well do you know YOU?

Do you really know your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Do you know what your greatest people skills are? Have you ever thought about what your most consistent contribution to a group project or team dynamic might be? If you are truly committed to personal and professional growth, and you have the guts – wouldn’t you like to know what your ‘blind spots’ are? Do you wish you knew what people wanted to see more or less of from you?

There are numerous sources [like here and here for starters] citing the correlation between personal awareness and leadership effectiveness. From the above scholarly articles to the ancient Greek aphorism, “know thyself”, the concept of self-awareness or knowledge of self has been documented, and thus, studied – for millennia.

Whether you are an employee looking to create more opportunity for yourself, a leader looking to climb the corporate ranks and join the C-suite, a manager looking to drive employee engagement and buy-in, or a sales professional seeking to ‘show up’ as your best and most likable self- the link is clear. High levels of self-awareness correlate to high levels of performance and effectiveness in groups and with others.

So the million dollar question becomes – “how do I gain such insights?”

The short, bad news, hard-to-sell answer is years of personal and professional development, reflection, exercises, conversations, mistakes, courses, and experience (both good and bad).

The good news is we can shorten that time dramatically and reduce the associated pain through a powerful tool known as the 360 degree leadership peer review. On average at InSite we take 1 leader a month through this process, and the results never cease to impress – if not amaze. When well designed and executed, the tool has the power to uncover:

• Your leadership ‘brand’ – what it is those led by your experience through your leadership
• Your greatest professional contribution assets; and from there – what sorts of jobs or environments you are most likely to thrive in
• How others perceive your values
• What others want to see more and less of from you
• What you need to improve on if you want to see better results
• What you are really good – if not great at, and how this could be the key to an amazing career path
Before I build this tool up too much, see an example of what we provide for our clients as an example;

Values your peers would like to see you exhibit more often
1. Self-discipline & patience (5 responses each)
2. Trust (4)
3. Perseverance, commitment, decisiveness, and well-being (all with 3)
4. Mission focus, community involvement, positive attitude, vision, listening, and conflict resolution (all with 2).
[Your answers Self-discipline, accountability, well-being; highly correlated]

Trends from above:
A. See it through A-Z; stay focused & disciplined every step of the way
B. May have a blind spot around engaging, involving, getting the best from others

Leadership Style
1. Visionary (23 pts)
2. Connector (21 pts)
3. Subject matter expert (19)
4. Authoritarian (15)
5. Coach (13)
6. Delegator (10)
7. Evangelical (7)
8. Servant leader (6)

While this is of course a brief snippet, you can see just 2 paragraphs of what is typically a 7 – 10 page report. Although this report takes a lot of back end work to generate, and a skilled & experienced coach to debrief, it’s remarkably simple to understand – and all users have a vested interest in the content, because it’s about them!

As stated earlier, the 360 is but one of many tools that can bring about personal and professional development through greater personal awareness; but it is one of the most widely used and widely trusted tools in use today.

If you’d like more information on how to go about scheduling your 360 degree review, please contact me at stan@insiteperformancecoaching.com and I’d be happy to discuss setting up your secret weapon to personal mastery and success!

“I am Not an Entrepreneur”

hate my job“But I’m just not an entrepreneur”.

You’d be surprised how often I hear that phrase as a business coach. You might not be surprised, as a coach, how many people I meet, and you might not be surprised how many of those people I meet that are unhappy.

I meet a lot of people who are unhappy in their work, unhappy with their pay, unhappy with the level of meaning in their lives, and unhappy with the number of options that seem to be available to them to make a change.

As of January 2017 there are still a great number of laid off or unemployed Albertans (300,000+ according to many best estimates). As such, there are a great, seemingly equal number of Albertans who feel lucky to have a job, even though they dislike (and maybe even hate) their jobs. It’s an interesting paradox. Your neighbour has been laid off, so you feel guilty complaining about hating your job, but every day you feel your soul dying a little bit more.

Admit it, if you haven’t been there, you know someone who is there right now!

Getting back to the point of this article, many disillusioned workers feel more disheartened when they consider the notion of working for themselves if they haven’t done so before, thinking it’s not in their skill set, or even in their DNA. Why is this?

I propose we have an unrealistic idea of what entrepreneurship is, and also – what it isn’t. When I lost passion for my previous career, I delayed starting a business, as the notion of a coaching practice took a year to plan. It wasn’t until I did a 360 degree review that coaching as a passion and career hit me in the face. At first, my mind went straight to starting a business – any business, and I felt lost because I didn’t have any great ideas.

This is where a great many of us (based on my research, experiences, and many conversations, at least) have a less-than-accurate view of what it means to be an entrepreneur. My experience (personally and in working with those considering starting a business) is that many would-be entrepreneurs never venture down that path because they think they need to invent the next big thing, or because they’ve never run a business previously, so they don’t know how (true) and think they won’t be good at it (could be totally false).

The latter argument sounds a lot like that vicious cycle facing recent graduates, “I can’t get a job because I have no experience, I have no experience because I can’t get a job”. The fact is, most of us just start (with a solid idea, solid plan, and at least some financing, mind you).

One of the truest maxims of becoming an entrepreneur is that you jump first, and develop your wings on the way down.
This may sound like the secret is to throw caution to the wind, and I am warning very strongly that is not the case. You have to do your homework, you have to know your market, know your product or service, you have to know your customer’s needs (and problem you can solve), and you need to work your ass off. All things considered, however, starting a business is much like getting married or having a child – if you wait “until you’re ready” – you’ll never do it.

Surrounding yourself with great mentors and an executive or leadership coach (or better yet, those who do both) can improve your chances, but there are zero guarantees in business and many ‘sure things’ have closed their doors. This is not to discourage anyone, quite the opposite, it’s to bring to attention the realities so that you walk in prepared.

The last notion to explore and explode is the limiting assumption that many yet-to-be-entrepreneurs tell themselves. They often hear someone utter the phrase ‘self-employed’ or “I run my own business”, and they assume that A) that other person is successful, and that ipso facto B) that other person is different than them.

Just like the neighbour with the nicer house & faster car may not be happier, so it is with business. We know nothing about that other person’s skill, tenure, business model, or balance sheet, so do yourself a favor and don’t assume that they are a success and by comparison you are a failure.

By that same logic, don’t rule yourself out as an entrepreneur either, unless you;
• Are highly risk adverse
• Crave security
• Perform at your best specializing in a compartmentalized role rather than wearing many hats.

No different than horseback riding, surfing, painting, or any other skill – you might just be a natural as an entrepreneur if only you give yourself the chance to develop wings on the way down!

Happy to grab a coffee and discuss whether there’s merit to your business idea and help you increase your chance of success by the way!


Turn off Autopilot to Take off in 2017!

take off

With a New Year right around the corner, it’s only natural for most of us to reflect on the year that was, take stock of our goals and our lives, and set our hopes for different and better outcomes for the next 365 days.

While this is natural, a learned behaviour, and a healthy practice, most people end up doing much the same thing year over year which doesn’t do much to produce different results. Our friend Einstein famously quoted, “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity”.

Insanity may be a bit harsh, but let’s agree that if we have our own operating system set to ‘autopilot’, we’re probably not navigating new flight paths. That’s exactly what a lot of us end up doing as we go through our annual evaluation & reset, only to face our share of disappointment and unachieved goals; only to get down on ourselves for our lack of effort, and then repeat the cycle next December/ January.

To avoid this unwanted hamster wheel, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite tips around planning, goal setting, and productivity for this time of year (or any time).

  1. Start with your goals. Your goals are your compass in life; they position your choices, your actions, and often your priorities. Either we are being stretched by our goals, or we are easily lured into the trap of sleep, eat, work, TV, repeat. Start with goals for next year, but go bigger! Have your written your bucket list? Does it have personal and professional goals? Goals around what you’d like to experience, where you’d like to travel, family goals, and goals about giving back? They’re your goals – don’t be stingy, take a few hours and write down all the great stuff you’d love to do over the next few decades
  2. A year is a long time, but the older we get the faster they seem to fly by. Be realistic with what you can achieve in a year, but don’t “sandbag” your goals to make their attainment too easy, either.
  3. Use a structure for planning your year that includes all of the elements that are important to you. Set goals for 2017 for business and personal (which you wish to further subdivide to family/ relationships/ health/ wealth/ interests). Failure to plan on the personal side leads to an inevitable lack of balance, and that’s not your boss or your business’s fault.
  4. Break the big goals into ‘bite-sized chunks’. For instance, if your goal is to save $10,000 towards a home purchase for the year, you would need to put away $2,500 each quarter. If your goal was to run a marathon by October, and in January you’re only running 5k at a time, you should be comfortable running 10 K’s by April, and ½ marathon distance by July at least so that you set yourself up for your big goal by October.
  5. Once the big goals are broken down into smaller goals or steps, they can be broken down from quarterly milestones into weekly action items.
  6. Once your big goals are extrapolated into weekly to-do’s, they should be in your planner/ calendar/ whatever system you use to stay organized.
  7. Once you are placing your to do list in your weekly calendar (along with appointments for both business and personal), we recommend planning each week the week before, on Thursday afternoons. By Thursday afternoon the current week is far enough along that you start to know what has to show up on next week’s schedule, but it’s not Friday when we’re already one foot out the door and we often rush our last few items to pick up kids, meet friends, or get dinner started.
  8. Review each day – take 10 minutes to reflect on what got done, and adjust tomorrow’s plan based on what didn’t get done.
  9. Prioritize your daily tasks based on urgency and importance, and alignment to your top overarching objectives. In business we never move forward towards our goals if we’re always putting out fires, and in our personal lives it’s hard to move towards deep fulfillment when we’re always occupied by cleaning, getting groceries, taking our kids to soccer, or catching up on our favorite shows. At least some of our time has to be spent on moving forward with long term objectives, no matter how busy we think we are.
  10. Share your plan with your inner circle (and even those who you may influence). Your friends and family will get awful tired of hearing how busy you are, unless you let them know what you are busy doing. Instead of frustrated or alienated, they may be inspired and ask to join you on some of your adventures. Beyond sharing your plan with your inner circle, be sure to include the most important members – your family and those friends who feel like family – in the planning process. Shouldn’t your spouse have a say in the family goals for the year, or where you travel?

Those are our favorite 10 tips for setting ourselves and our clients up for success. For more tips on staying on top of your personal and professional game, and maximizing your chance of success for your 2017 goals, email stan@insiteperformancecoaching.com and let’s make 2017 more like flying an F-14 through the Grand Canyon and less like autopilot over the same stretch of real estate we always navigate.

Cheers to the best of the season and a great year ahead folks!

Your Greatest Untapped Resource


“This changes everything!”

“I can’t wait to get back to work!”

“When can we get started?!”

As a business and performance coach, I LOVE the energy and newfound enthusiasm that clients find after a transformative session, after they are reminded and re-energized with what is truly possible instead of being focused on what they may have been experiencing in the moment.

But what leads to these powerful moments, and as importantly, what prevents them from happening more often?
In most cases, my friends, the answer lies hidden between the leaders ears.

As Aarush Kashyap put it, “One can perceive me only with his limited vision. A droplet can’t perceive the extent of the ocean”. And so it is that our perception becomes our reality, and our reality determines our beliefs of what is possible, what is impossible, what is likely (and therefore a worthwhile measure) and what is unlikely (and therefore a gamble or unnecessary risk).

One of our clients has a cousin who refurbishes antique furniture for a living. He takes his time and does a painstakingly great job at bringing antiques back to life and in most cases, making them look better than they ever have. After many unsuccessful trade shows, one in which he sold zero products, he decided to ask people why they weren’t buying, and was shocked to learn that everyone felt his prices were too low. He was anxious at the average price tag of $3000 per rustic masterpiece, and thought no one was buying because his prices were too high. His reality had been “there is no market here, I create masterpieces no one can afford”, whereas his customer’s reality had been, “this can’t be a masterpiece if it’s only $3000”. He raised his prices to $5000 and sold out!

It would be wonderful if that was the mistake all of us were making in business – undervaluing our time, talent, and product or service. The truth is, that does happen a lot, but it’s oversimplifying and perhaps altogether missing the lesson.

The lesson is that there could be another possibility. There could be another price to set your products or services. There could be a different (read: better) market for your business. There could be a different strategy to take to meet your objectives. There could be a different way to motivate your team, or a different person to deliver the message to your team so that it is better received.

In short, there could be a way to reach your objectives, even when all you might be experiencing is failure, marginal results, and poor returns. Our experiences (our understanding) tell us one thing, which repetition may have validated; however our understanding may be limited away from unique and innovative approaches that simply don’t match our style of thinking.

This is really the value of feedback. Having a team that you put in place to make you better, not tell you what you want to hear. This is why companies assemble a board of directors, why great leaders seek out mentors, and why firms like ours exist in the first place.

Although you may not have met your most creative, innovative, or resourceful self, the great news is – that resourcefulness isn’t too far away and a great coach can help you access that untapped potential fairly quickly.

What goldmine might you be hiding?

Help on Hiring

I write this post both as a resource for my business coaching clients looking to expand their teams, but also to the 2 different laid off workers support groups I help, so that the candidates (real people with mortgages, bills, children, and dreams) might ‘show up’ more as I see them and less as a number on an application form – good luck to you both!

Help on Hiring

So you’re about to expand you team – congrats! Whether this is your first hire or your 500th, it’s always good to have a few tips, reminders, and tools to ensure you start your next great team member off the best way possible. In our experience, the following strategies help improve the likelihood of hiring “A Players” or “right fits”.

Know What You Need Going In

No matter how well your business is doing, and how back-logged you might be with orders, you don’t just need ‘a heartbeat’ when it comes to your next team member. The demands of the job, the nature of your industry, and the wants and needs of your customers all play a part in what type of team member (employee or contractor regardless) you need the most. If your brand promise demands that orders go out with minimal turnaround time, efficiency and work capacity will be high on your list of skills needed in a candidate. If trust-based relationships are what you promise your customers, perhaps sales numbers from their past job aren’t the best benchmark for you to hire them, but instead look at how highly tuned their listening skills are and whether or not they truly care about their customers.

Assess Cultural Fit

“John just didn’t fit here” – have you ever said or felt that about a past colleague? That doesn’t make John a bad person, but a well-defined culture knows what it is, and knows what it isn’t. If ‘team’ is one of your core values, hiring the next Wall Street shooting star might be disastrous. If ‘innovation’ is a top value of the organization, leaders have to be careful not to hire A-type managerial personalities, especially in roles requiring facilitative efforts that pull the intelligence of the group, not just one smart person. If the team you have thrives in an anti-corporate environment, embrace that and look for hard-working rebels who might not have fit in under more traditional systems. The values of an organization are more than just 4 buzz words on a plaque in the boardroom; they are litmus tests for deciding who does and doesn’t fit on your team. After all, no team is perfect for everybody, and it is okay (sometimes it’s better) to appear highly undesirable to certain types of employees.

Disseminate Work History Trends

One question I always ask is “why did you leave your last job?”.

If you are hiring someone with more than beginner work experience, try asking them why they left their last 3 – 5 jobs, and see what kind of trends emerge.
 “My boss and I didn’t see eye to eye”
 “The culture there was a real pain”
 “I hated my coworkers”

The above might be an extreme example, but maybe instead of everybody else – maybe, just maybe – they were the problem!
Trend-establishing questions are great when relating to themes like ‘proudest accomplishments’ or ‘rate your old boss’ or ‘if you could change one thing about your last company’. You start to learn about the candidates priorities, and about ways in which they be hard-wired (good or bad) that you’re unlikely to change as their new employer.

Find Creative Ways to Observe ‘Raw Skills’.

“Raw skills” are what’s left when you take away a professionals ability to prepare, plan in advance, or provide a scripted answer. Two examples that illustrate what I mean;

As a Fitness Director I used to ask potential candidates, for their 3rd and final interviews, to take me through an exercise regime. 5 minutes before we were about to start, I would let them know my goals and injuries. If they wrote down a plan, I’d always ask if I could see it and then promptly throw it in the garbage. If they could deliver under those challenging circumstances, they were a real pro and they were hired.

As a General Manager for a large corporate health and retail giant, I needed to hire a community outreach professional. Someone who would spend 60 – 75% of their time outside the office generating leads and partnerships (as well as goodwill) in the community. I took 2 candidates to lunch (1 at a time). Behind-the-scenes, I set up a mock interview with the owner of the restaurant. Both of the candidates already worked for us, as this was an internal posting. After some small talk, the owner of the restaurant would come by and say something like, “thank you for meeting me, Stan tells me you have some creative ways our businesses can work together” and then he would sit down beside them. Brutal, I know, and I likely wouldn’t go this far again, but wow did it ever work to flush out the right candidate!

Get Relevant Input

A mentor of mine once told me he always tried to find a mutual reference, one not listed on their resume. After all, why would you put someone on your resume who was going to say negative things about your performance? Any time I was ever able to use this technique, either because I knew their old boss or someone who worked at the candidates last company – the results were always astounding! Either you’d get instant conformation that the candidate was a rock star, or, in a few cases, I found out that they should have been in jail!

It is important to note that there are laws in place for good reason to protect employees’ privacy and those need to be obeyed and respected. I simply mean if you own a company or are in a position to hire other people, then by now you probably have a decent professional network, and asking a few questions of your peers can go a long way.

“Cash or Coaching”


InSite Performance Coaching Referral Program

At InSite Performance Coaching, we believe that the greatest compliment anyone can give in business is to refer their friends, family members, and others whose trust they’ve earned – to a provider they trust. It is with this gratitude, and appreciation of what it takes to make a trusted referral – that we created our client referral program.

“Cash or Coaching” is both an incentive and an appreciation program, and it’s very simple. For every client you refer to InSite Performance Coaching, you will receive 10% of the value of their initial purchase as cash, or 20% of that initial package in coaching. If you refer someone who spends $1500 on their initial package, you’ll get to choose between $150 in cash, or $300 worth of coaching – it’s that simple!

It gets better from there – you don’t even have to be an existing client of InSite Performance Coaching to benefit from “Cash or Coaching”! Refer us a client who does sign up, and we’ll pay you or you can become a client with your 20% of the value of your friends package credited to you for free coaching!

Our services are outlined on our website and all referrals can be directed to stan@insiteperformancecoaching.com – thank you for considering us and trusting InSite with your network!