Category: Blog

Buy A Couple Nets (Please . . . )

I wanted to pass along a great opportunity to get a neat Kindle (or paperback) book and help save lives in Africa.

A few days ago I received an e-mail from Seth Godin about the Malaria No More project: I buy a Kindle book — with neat/cool/provocative/juicy/thought-provoking/useful/inspiring contributions from 61 authors — for $20 and $20 goes to the MNM project.

I bought my book, click here to buy yours.


Cognitive and Physical Knowledge

There’s a difference between cognitive knowledge (facts, ideas, etc., in your brain) and physical knowledge (being able to perform certain actions to achieve a result). And both are important.

To know something cognitively is to study it in-depth: to read books from experts, consult with people who have experience and understand the component parts of a process. To gain command of subject, intellectually.

Physical knowledge (generally) proceeds from cognitive knowledge. When we want to do something new we learn a bit about how to do it, usually by asking someone who knows how to do it already and then giving it a try. Generally our first attempts are awkward and halting, sometimes we “fail,” but whatever we stick with we develop physical knowledge (of).

My point here is that to know something cognitively is necessary, but incomplete (often woefully so). And to know something just physically often means that you’re operating at a lower level. It’s when we bring excellence to both aspects of knowledge that we really know something.

I thought of an example that might illustrate my point. Imagine you study all there is know about about how a curve ball works in baseball. You study game film, talk to pitching coaches, interview great curve-ball pitchers and study the academic literature on pitching and curve balls (trust me, I’m sure there’s plenty). Eventually, you’ll be an “expert” on the curve ball. But if you tried to throw one, I can virtually guarantee that it won’t curve and, if you try to throw it at anything approaching Major League speed, you would hurt your arm somehow.

The physical knowledge required to throw a Major League curve ball begins in Little League, or perhaps earlier. It takes years of practice and playing, experimentation and learning and a lot of throwing balls that don’t actually curve, and only hang — and often get hit very hard by the batter.

To be sure, there’s cognitive knowledge in being able to throw the curve ball. It takes someone to carefully explain how to hold, and how to throw, the ball — both what to do with the arm and the wrist. And the budding curve ball pitcher, if dedicated to developing a curve-ball-that-drops-like-a-stone, spends time reading books on pitching and curve balls, watching instructional DVDs and watching the best curve ball pitchers on TV whenever possible looking for any clues to their greatness.

It’s when cognitive and physical knowledge is combined that true mastery is possible. Pitchers like Sandy Koufax, Bert Blyleven and Barry Zito (in his prime) would throw a ball towards home plate that would appear to be inside (or outside) and high only to drop just before crossing the plate, with most batters swinging at pitch that simply wasn’t “there.”

Are there areas where you have just cognitive or physical knowledge? Especially just cognitive? Know that you have to take (physical) action to acquire physical knowledge. Doing so honors your cognitive knowledge. Without implementation and the ability to achieve real results, cognitive knowledge is as fallow as an un-tilled/planted field. Conversely, there are often things to learn about what you (physically) know how to do that will enhance your results, and possibly improve your experience. Look for both.

Does Coaching Work? Yes.

“Coaching is hot.” “Coaching is in.” “Coaching is how smart people achieve goals faster.” “Coaching is how people find meaning and purpose in their lives.” “Coaching is how people make successful career transitions.” “Coaching is how people at the top-of-their-game get better.” These are just some of the things I’ve read or heard about coaching, from clients and journalists. And they’re all true, but I wanted to assemble some evidence:

If there’s a quote that coaches like to use to demonstrate the value of coaching, it’s: “I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum potential.” – Bob Nardelli (former CEO of Home Depot). Now regardless of what you think of Bob Nardelli’s tenure at Home Depot, or of him in general, he’s right.

Here are some more quotes related to the value and effectiveness of coaching:

“Many of the world’s most admired corporations, from GE to Goldman Sachs, invest in coaching. Annual spending on coaching in the U.S. Is estimated at roughly $1 billion.” – Harvard Business Review

“Recent studies show business coaching and executive coaching to be the most effective means for achieving sustainable growth, change and development in the individual, group and organization.” – HR Monthly

“A study featured in Public Personnel Management Journal reports that managers (31) that underwent a managerial training program showed an increased productivity of 22.4%. However, a second group was provided coaching following the training process and their productivity increased by 88%. Research does demonstrate that one-on-one executive coaching is of value.” – F. Turner, Ph.D CEO Refresher

“Business coaching is attracting America’s top CEOs because, put simply, business coaching works. In fact, when asked for a conservative estimate of monetary payoff from the coaching they got… managers described an average return of more than $100,000, or about six times what the coaching had cost their companies.” – FORTUNE Magazine

“I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.” – John Russell, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson Europe Ltd.

“Employers are shocked at how high their ROI numbers are for coaching.” – Alastair Robertson (Manager of Worldwide Leadership Development for Accenture)

“Once used to bolster troubled staffers, coaching now is part of the standard leadership development training for elite executives and talented up-and-comers at IBM, Motorola, J.P. Morgan, Chase, and Hewlett Packard. These companies are discreetly giving their best prospects what star athletes have long had: a trusted adviser to help reach their goals.” –

“According to a July 2011 American Management Association survey, almost half of participating companies use coaching to prepare individuals for a promotion or new role. While half of companies provide coaches to midlevel or senior staff only, 38% make them available to anyone. ” – FORTUNE/

A 2008 survey conducted by the International Coach Federation found that “82% of clients reported they were very satisfied with their coaching results” and “96% of clients say they would repeat their coaching experience.” Few products or services inspire 96 out of a 100 customers to repeat their experience — high praise indeed.

And according to the 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client Study, companies that use or have used professional coaching for business reasons have seen a median return on investment of seven times their initial investment. Individual clients reported a median return on investment of 3.44 times their investment.  Where else can you get a minimum of 344% return on your investment?

Sherpa Executive Coaching has been doing a survey on executive coaching for five years now and one relevant finding from their 2010 survey was that “87% of HR professionals and coaching clients see the value of executive coaching as ‘somewhat high’ or ‘very high’.”

Harvard Business Review’s recent industry survey found that the popularity and acceptance of leadership coaching continues to rise even in the current tight business environment. The survey concluded that clients keep coming back because “coaching works.” The report also found that: over 48% of companies now use coaching to develop the leadership capabilities of high-potential performers; the median hourly rate of coaching is $500 (from a low of $200 to a high of $3,500) and the typical coaching assignment is from seven to 12 months.

Allow me to share a couple testimonials from some of my past clients.

From a high potential rising executive:

Working with Matt has been a big help. I was going through a tough period — brand new job, buying a new home, preparing to move as well as being a new Dad — needless to say, I had a lot on my plate. Matt helped me focus on and handle all these new stresses in a productive and pro-active manner. He helped me focus on the positives in my life and provided me with realistic goals that I could accomplish on a weekly basis. His candor and pragmatic approach will definitely be an asset to anyone looking to improve their quality of life.


And from a small-business-person, working through a personal challenge:

Matt helped me to isolate and work through a problem that was gnawing at me for some time. [He] listened with genuine interest and care; asked pertinent questions that went right to the heart of the matter which helped to clarify my needs. [His] caring responses allowed me to explore a solution that honored my integrity. This is in great contrast to my old pattern of avoiding a confrontation for fear of causing someone harm. I am so grateful for [Matt’s] honesty and insight. This experience has taught me that there is always a way to work things out without sacrificing my or anyone’s personal pride. Thank you.


Jim Bolt writing on the web-site Fast Company recounts some results from a coaching survey he was involved with:

  • 43% of CEOs and 71% of the senior executive team report having worked with a coach
  • 63% of organizations say they plan to increase their use of coaching over the next five years
  • 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again

Susan Battley has compiled more examples of the impressive Return on Investment (ROI) of coaching:

  • A Manchester Consulting Group study of Fortune 100 executives found that coaching resulted in an ROI of almost six times the program cost.
  • An International Personnel Management Association survey found that productivity increased by 88 percent when coaching was combined with training (compared to a 22 percent increase with training alone).
  • A study of a Fortune 500 telecommunications company by MetrixGlobal found that executive coaching resulted in a 529 percent ROI.
  • Metropolitan Life Insurance Company [MetLife] found that productivity among salespeople who had participated in an intensive coaching program rose by an average of 35 percent.
  • In the case of MetLife, the company invested about $620,000 in a coaching program, and realized $3.2 million in measurable gains.

But you don’t have to take the word of any of these folks (although I think they make a pretty good case . . . ). You can 1) get a sample of coaching and have your questions answered, for free, during the initial consultation I offer prospective clients and 2) you can begin coaching with me, risk-free, for the first month because I offer an unconditional, money-back guarantee for the first 30 days of coaching.

Click here to learn more.

You Have Problems? I Have Solutions

Problems and issues. We all got ’em, we don’t always know what to do about ’em.

I tell prospective clients that a coaching engagement with me begins with problem solving and issue resolution and moves to designing and creating one’s Ideal Life. I really and truly believe that one can design and create their Ideal Life, not all at once mind you, but over time.

Before moving to design and creation though, any pain the client is feeling needs to be addressed. Just like one can hardly walk — let alone run — with a pebble in his/her shoe, the coach must help the client identify those areas where there is pain (problems), or stuck-ness (issues) and help develop and implement strategies to solve problems and resolve issues. And, ideally, to do so in a permanent way.

The problems we have today are not unlike the problems of yesterday. And most of the problems people have are not novel or unique to today’s day and age. That means that someone, somewhere has experienced something akin to what we are going through today, and has solved it. But if that was all there was to it — read a book or something similar, do what they say and the problem is solved — things would be easy (but they’re not . . . ).

We need help in finding the right strategy, customizing it to our personality and situation and consistently taking action while learning and adapting. Everyone needs a expert versed in these things, and better still if we can trust them to support us, hold us accountable and not judge us. That person, that unique skill-set and agenda is a (success/business/executive/life) coach. What is more, a coach can see things about ourselves that we either can’t, or won’t.

But what kinds of actual problems do coaches help people solve? Great question (I’m glad you asked . . . ). I help my clients with the following learning and growing opportunities — ahem! — I mean problems and issues:

Obstacles, Frustrations, Annoyances . . .

I written about this more extensively here, but suffice it to say, whenever you have a problem, issue or frustration with something, or someone, it is because of your approach to it and/or the story you tell yourself about it. Someone once said: “when you change how you look at things, the things you look at change” and it’s absolutely true.

There some key distinctions here: do you have a fixed or a growth mindset (meaning: do you believe that the talent and capability you have is fixed, or can be increased through hard work and diligence)? (See Carol Dweck’s work for more on this.)

Do you approach things with as a Learner or Judger? Meaning, do you seek the lesson in things and look to take responsibility for your situation and examine (possibly faulty) assumptions (and ultimately learn and grow) or do you blame and find fault with others and yourself (and end up feeling like a failure and that others can’t be relied on or trusted)? (See Marilee Adams’ work for more on this.)

And finally, on mindset, do you know about the 3Gs (Global, Good and Grit)? Do you think about the world and how what is happening “out there” affects you and your prospects; do you routinely evaluate your behavior and choices against a filter of ethics and morality and do you have Grit (do you have the courage and sense-of-purpose to persevere when things get tough)? (See Reed and Stoltz’s work for more on this.)

I think in reading that paragraph you can come up with a number of mindset items we could work on together. But wait, there’s more!

Time Management, Lack-of-Energy, Exhaustion . . .

If there’s one term I would eliminate from our consciousness, it’s time management. It’s such a misnomer it’s ridiculous. Time cannot be managed. Time just is. It’s merely a construct developed by humans. We do ourselves a huge disservice when we portray time as something that can be managed. Because once we think we can manage something that is unmanageable, we become failures by definition. Okay, “time management” rant over.

What we can manage is our energy — and we can create more of it, at a higher quality.  We can also manage our priorities.

First, energy. I subscribe to the notion that there are four types of personal energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And that the quantity and quality of energy in those four areas is dependent on the habits we have in each of those areas.

I guarantee you that if you identify one non-resourceful habit in each area, stop doing it and replace it with a positive, resourceful habit, your life will transform for the better. And, if you do such for 90 days, it will be a part of who you are — for the rest of your life.

Managing priorities is how you steer the ship of your life, and determine whether you hop from wonderful port to wonderful port (and enjoy the journey in-between), or are some form of miserable until you eventually run aground. (This is why I help my clients identify their values, vision and goals and develop a comprehensive plan for their lives.)

I challenge my clients to both look at their habits and the quality and level of their energy, but I ask them to decide what they want in life. One of the most courageous things you can do is to say “Yes, I thought carefully about this, and I am willing to hard and adapt as necessary, and I want _______.”

Lack of Trust, Deceit, Duplicitous-ness . . .

With a section headline like that you might think I am talking about dealing with people who lie and cheat. But I’m not. I’m talking about you (and me . . . ). I’m talking about how you can’t trust yourself, and you don’t even know it (you might suspect it, but dare not consider the notion . . . ).

I know that’s hard to read and likely you disagree. But I believe I’m right. The reason being is that we are not careful with and don’t keep our word to ourselves. Or at least not enough. Case-in-point is New Year’s Resolutions. The vast majority of resolutions are not kept, and few more than a week. We tell ourselves that we “need” to do something, or stop something, and we do, for a very short time, then we revert to our old ways — and joke with our friends about how New Year’s Resolutions never work. (They don’t work because we don’t.)

But the more salient point here is that when we say want something, or are going to start or stop something, and we don’t, we begin to lose faith in ourselves. We believe less and less, over time, that we will do what we say we will. And when we don’t trust ourselves, we 1) stop asking for big things from ourselves (because we have no reason to believe we’ll follow through) and 2) we like ourselves less (because, let’s face it, who likes a liar?).

Fixing this takes time. Whenever trust is lost is takes a long time to earn it back. The environment of coaching is a wonderful place to re-build trust with yourself. Because you have help in making good decisions about what to do about what you want. You have someone dedicated — solely — to helping to develop authentically and someone who will help you keep your promises. (Of course, you still need to do the work and keep-your-word, but you’ll find doing so with a coach is unlike anything you’ve tried before.)

But What About . . . ?

You have probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned a lot of specific situations or problems people have. And you’re right (and very observant!). I haven’t talked about a lot of the things that people see in the “How Solving These Problems Will Change Your Life” or “The X Problems You Need To Solve Now” articles that predominate on various web-sites and blogs. Why not? Because it’s not that easy. And the solution to “those” problems are different for everyone.

What’s more, it’s not valuable to anyone to just solve a problem. Much better to grow beyond having the problem. That way, it likely never shows up again. When we understand how a problem arose, the role we played in its creation and sustaining and what needs to change (internally and externally) to grow beyond the problem, we have something of true value.

The themes of success are consistent: having an accurate and resourceful mindset; having the energy and inspiration you need to thrive (and not just survive); knowing what you want, why and having a good plan to get it and being the sort of person who is valued and respected (by others and yourself) are the keys to solving problems. And better yet, the key to having better problems. Because problems never go away, they either get better or worse.

I invite you to join me in the pursuit of better problems, greater challenges and real living. Click here to learn about my free initial consultation.