How I Became a Leadership and Mentoring Coach, Speaker, And Trainer
In 2018, I was putting the finishing touches on my book The Art of Mentoring Workbook which describes my long-standing involvement with mentoring based on my own experience as the Chair of the Disability Mentoring Day program in New York City and being mentored growing up with a physical disability. I was also preparing to go to Orlando to receive my professional certification as a John Maxwell speaker, trainer and coach. Once I completed my certification, I would be able to begin a speaking business based on the Maxwell teaching on leadership. This was a career change. I was going through a divorce and I also made the decision that after 20 years of service to the disability community, I had done all I could and needed something new and different that also matched my enjoyment and ability to speak and coach.
What Happened in Orlando?
The Maxwell convention was a 5 day event. In order to complete the certification process, one of the requirements was to give a “table speech” to my peers at the table I was assigned to. The rules were: choose a topic and give a speech in five minutes and twenty five seconds. You could be within thirty seconds either way of the time limit to pass. As it turned out, I was the last person to give the speech at my table… and I hit the 5:25 time limit exactly. That was luck. I could give that same speech a thousand times and never have that happen again. The fact that it happened and the fact that my peers voted me the best speaker at the table and the best potential coach brought me to the attention of the Maxwell faculty… The faculty offered me a chance at further and more sophisticated training within their organization and an opportunity to potentially join their faculty. It would mean postponing my launch for a couple of extra months while I received the training. The main reason for this was they wanted to make an introduction for me to go to meet with renowned speaker and author Brian Tracy and attend his speaking academy. It would be at my own expense but the opportunity was mine if I wanted it.
From Orlando to San Diego
It didn’t thrill me to postpone my launch and the speaking academy was expensive. Ultimately the opportunity was too good to pass on. Besides, I had read several of Brian Tracy’s books over the years and was anxious to meet him. So rather than launch as planned, I went to San Diego to attend Brian’s event. It was three days of intense learning and speaking from a man who was at the top of his profession. A true master. Brian was a taskmaster but he and I hit it off. He was going through some physical issues of his own and I think that made him curious about me. At the end of the academy (and the certification as a graduate of the Brian Tracy Speaking Academy) he pulled me aside and said the following to me. “You are as good as 97% of the speakers that are out there. You are ready to launch your company. But if you really want to become one of the best, you have some work to do. It’s the extra 3% that can make the difference between good and great.”
Brian gave me a lot to think about. Not the least of which was, “Am I content just being good?” Maybe even very good, or do I want to go the extra mile and do the work to become a top of the line speaker with the ability to coach leadership for John Maxwell? The decision was hard for two reasons. The first of which was financial. It would mean another postponement of my launch. Given that the holiday season was coming, it would take me six months past my original timetable and the money was going out but not coming in. The second part was, “Am I really capable of becoming that much better or was Brian Tracy just being kind?” This is the kind of decision that only an individual can make. No business school in the country can teach it. You either do it or you don’t. I decided to do it. As a now graduate of the Brian Tracy Speaking Academy, I had access to his vast library of information and teaching which allowed me to continue adding to my knowledge base and it gave me the ability to work with one of his private coaches. I quickly realized that to become a top notch speaker and coach, I needed to learn more than I knew and working with a coach seemed like a good idea. I decided to kick the can down the road to early June of 2019 in order to do this the right way. That made three postponements and a now nine month delay of the original launch. I began working with my coach. We seemed to hit it off well and as I explained my idea of getting high end speaking engagements to teach the Maxwell material, she began asking very probing questions about my goals and interests. After working together for six weeks or so, she asked me the following question. “Why are you content with teaching someone else’s material when you have the ability to teach your own or at least mix in some of your original ideas to enhance it?”
The Equation Changes (So Does The Business Model)
What my coach was suggesting was a complete game changer for me. I had not thought of it. It had some appeal to me particularly due to the fact that I could develop material using some of Brian Tracy’s leadership material and business development theories along with some leadership material I might also use from examples of Presidential history which is a subject I love and have always wanted to teach. It allowed me to expand my horizons. I was excited but skeptical because it meant yet another launch postponement. Before I could get too worried about dates and times, another shoe was about to drop.
Enter Jack Canfield
As it turned out, Brian Tracy and Jack Canfield had an affiliation within their coaching businesses. That turned out to be a stroke of luck for me. Through my participation at the Speaking Academy, I was invited to receive another training and certification from Jack Canfield. This particular certification involved teaching his Success Principles. It was very hard work over several weeks and months, more so because at the request of the Canfield Organization, I was asked to do a crash study program as they needed speakers and coaches. I had literally eight hours to finish and pass the final exam for certification. There was no penalty for refusing their request or failing the exam. But if I would honor their request it would benefit me… I did it! My knowledge base had now increased about five times beyond what I knew when I attended the Maxwell conference in Orlando. Additionally, Jack Canfield offered me the opportunity to receive “further coach training” — another twist and turn was coming fast.
The Speaker Who Coaches Becomes a Coach Who Speaks
I was contacted by the International Coach Federation and asked to join their membership and take a course to certify as a professional coach. Along with that, I was invited to receive an extremely rare certification to teach the great coach John Wooden’s amazing leadership and mentoring material through his world famous Pyramid of Success. All of this amazing training from the top coaches and teachers of leadership, mentoring and success gave me the opportunity to completely change my business model and teach all of the above along with my own original material from the perspective and knowledge of a Professionally Certified Coach.
An Amazing Journey
The last year has been quite an experience, and as I prepare for my new launch, well over a year later than I originally planned, my original vision for my new company has been shattered. It’s now a better scenario than I ever could have imagined…
- I was flexible enough to take advantage of the opportunities presented to me at the Maxwell conference and went to the Brian Tracy Speaking Academy.
- I kept my launch dates flexible in order to keep learning and adding to my knowledge.
- I was flexible enough to allow for additional opportunities like Jack Canfield and John Wooden.
- With each opportunity I adapted my initial plan to include the new teaching and material.
- At key points, I adapted my thought process — specifically the idea of teaching my own material and then to the idea that I could be that much more effective as a professional coach.
- I was also flexible enough to make hard calls. This included deciding to not pursue the initial opportunity to work within the John Maxwell Organization
- Most importantly, I was flexible enough to LISTEN to the people who were teaching and coaching me. Take their advice to heart and adapt my planning and strategy accordingly.
Looking back, it wasn’t always easy to be flexible or adaptable. The extra year made things financially difficult and included a lot of lost time that in turn lost money. The upside, of course, is that by being flexible and adaptable, I was able to build a business with more potential, more professional resources and potential revenue streams than I ever could have imagined and also had the opportunity to work directly with and learn from people at the very top of my new profession. My advice to any business owner is being flexible and adaptable can only enhance your opportunity to achieve maximum success. I’m living proof.