My Educational Journey
I met my first wife on the first day of orientation at a liberal arts college in Southwest Michigan. We both felt completely out of place, so we decided to get medically excused from school with fake medical excuses from a local clinic. We got refunds on our paid tuition (hey, it was my money, not my parents!) and a week into college life, I had dropped out! With my girlfriend of one week in the middle seat of a pickup truck, my Dad picked us up from school, and we drove home in deafening silence. A block from our home, he asked one question: “Have you thought of your next step?” Of course, I had not.
Two days later, my girlfriend and I drove my Grandpa’s old 1971 AMC Hornet to Palo Alto, California, where she grew up.
Four years later, I graduated from Georgetown University, having talked my way into the incoming class, piecing together full scholarship money, semester by semester. My daughter was 4 when I graduated at 22 years old, one of two married students in our graduating class. Getting into Georgetown was the first episode of what I now call “Genius Talent”. It showcased mine at its finest. After driving 2700 miles across country with no back up, I simply had to succeed.
How I Ended Up Working as a COO
Even as a kid, I did not gravitate towards working a “real” job. It seemed silly to give up an entire Saturday to scoop ice cream or flip burgers for minimum wage, when I could cut three lawns and make much more money in half the time. I did not hold many jobs, and always opted for self-employment instead. Nine companies and one private foundation later, it’s been a terrific ride. Big successes and just as colossal failures have each taught invaluable lessons, which I now incorporate in transformational business coaching—partnering with clients to discover their best selves. It’s all fun, and the perfect fit for my natural talent.
Why I Love My Job
Every day, I get to live out my Genius Talent: creating seemingly impossible outcomes, that address multiple, diverse agendas. This is not something that is quantifiable on an assessment test. It is individually specific and customized. One in 7.6 billion people on the planet specific. Using my personal Genius Talent, I have talked my way into a top tier university, successfully negotiated a safe hostage situation that the FBI could not, and raised $1M for a charity in one week. As long as the task appears to the world as “impossible”, it interests me and that interest kicks my Genius Talent into high gear.
I also love helping others evoke their unique Genius Talent and create their own seemingly impossible outcomes! I do it all day, most days, which makes life pretty fun. Whether they want to double their sales in one year (clearly impossible, right?), get into the best shape of their life after the age of 50, turn their failing company into an award winning culture, or simply redesign their marriage to a version they once knew. It’s all “seemingly impossible” and very fulfilling for clients when they achieve it.
My Advice to COOs
For C-Suite leaders, I always encourage them to think in terms of verifiable ROI. It’s great to have an award winning culture, be innovative, and devoted to quality customer service, but if there is no return on investment, you’re missing a huge bottom line. In my coaching practice, both peer-to-peer and 1:1, we focus on this same principle. Do you know what you’re playing for, and what financial value that will create? If so, investing in coaching either makes great sense or very little. Play for something big, and then make the investment of time, money, and energy, and you will make tremendous progress.
Why I Think Peer Groups Are Important
I have always enjoyed peer-to-peer coaching groups, especially with a diverse industry group. The more diverse, the better. When a general contractor and a software developer end up in a discussion with a financial planner and a defense contractor, the discussion always seems to turn up unexpectedly rich opportunities and learning that could not have occurred if all of the participants played in the same field. Diversity of industry brings diversity of thought and diversity of creativity. That is a group worth participating in.
- Proud author of The Motivation Trap, with a second due in 2019, on Genius Talent, and how to find yours.
- Founded the first and only legal non-profit in Russia in 2000, sponsoring orphans who “graduated” at age 16, into a life of education and skills’ training.
- Developed a 2 hour methodology to tease out an individual’s and team’s singular gift of Genius Talent. That Genius Discovery Process has now been done over 8,000 times.
- Fourth grade spelling bee champion at St. Bede Elementary.
My Favorite Movie – And Why
Rabbit Proof Fence, an Australian movie about the government policy to take mixed race children away from their families and teach them to become domestic servants, as a “benefit” to the children. The policy held all the way until 1970! Great film, and very moving, as it tells the story of two sisters and their cousin, who run away from the camp, and follow the rabbit-proof fence 1,200 miles to see their Mom again. It’s a true story, and the actual children, now grandmothers, are shown in the film.
Interesting (Non-Business) Facts About Me
I love to cook, especially for dinner parties. I love to entertain, and my wife and I have a reputation for holding very creative parties. Some of the most notable are “What Ever Happened to the 8th Dwarf?” where each guest has to show up as the mythical 8th dwarf from Snow White. One rule only: your name has to end with the sound “y”. We have also held “Venus Versus Mars: An Intergalactic Battle of the Sexes” which included competitive events, trash talking, and much humor between men and women.
- My favorite food is feijoada, a Brazilian traditional dish that I like to make….even though my ancestors ate mostly potatoes….when there was no famine.
- My favorite color is purple. Purple is royalty. Purple is peace…and it looks good on me too.
- The best non-fiction book I’ve read lately is Uncensored, by Zachary Wood, a 22 year old who has announced his intention to become president of the US. Good read.
If you want to get better, if you want to lead a great life, you will need to get more comfortable at doing that which is uncomfortable. Join us for the best learning and coaching group you will ever know. You’ll grow in ways you could never imagine, and you will do so while getting a tremendous return on your investment in time, money, creativity, and focus.