We all run out of gas from time to time both literally and figuratively, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a little left to give. Just as a car can keep going when it hits E (for empty), so can you.

The challenge lies in what we believe we can provide and of course what we “assume” others expect from us.

Often times we freeze at the thought of giving someone something because it’s attached to a dollar amount or price tag. Since we all have money hang ups the size of Godzilla, it’s easy to see why we aren’t always quick to think of other solutions. Sometimes the answers aren’t as complex as we believe and don’t require a penny. In fact, a little insight matched with intent maybe all you need.

The insight is around the other person’s needs, while the intent is about you acting on it. It’s easy to have grand ideas – especially ones about giving to others but the follow through can be muddied by one’s own personal interest and ego. By putting the other persons needs at the forefront, especially when you feel you have nothing to give, is a sign of selflessness.

When you’re being selfless, you’re thinking of other people before yourself. If you give time, money, or things to other people without expecting something in return, that’s selfless.
Here are seven ways you can brighten someone’s day without spending a dime.

Give Appreciation. Expressing gratitude to someone for the things that they do for you can make them feel appreciated and validated. This single act can restore someone’s belief system that they are welcomed and needed while potentially building strong relationships and a greater sense of trust.

Give A Smile. A genuine smile has a sincere way of both conveying and promoting kindness, happiness, and trustworthiness. These qualities may be what the other person needs in order to open up and share something with you. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress.

Give Laughter. Making someone laugh causes people to disarm their emotions (albeit temporarily) and relax. Laughing instantly reduces the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine, and increases the production of serotonin and endorphins which reduce effects of stress.

Give Your Presence. Most people listen to reply instead of understanding leaving a chasm of confusion and mistrust. Being fully present with another person is invaluable and provides something money could never buy…respect. When people feel respected, they are more likely to be open and transparent.

Give Encouragement. When you provide support, confidence or hope – you may just be giving someone that little extra push they need to get by or accomplish some objective. Consider it’s a spark that can motivate someone to take just one small step which in return maybe the biggest step of their life.

Give Your Time. Often times we need the help of others but are too afraid to ask for it. Instead of watching someone struggle or wait to be asked, simply offer up your time in service of someone else’s needs. They say time is money, well if that’s true – giving someone yours would be worth its weight in gold.

Give Them Space. Not passing on judgement on another person is almost (if not) impossible simply due to how our brains are hardwired. Science aside, not vocalizing what could only be construed as an insult and instead opting for silence, sympathy or even empathy as an alternative. Watching someone struggle or in pain is never easy but often times it’s needed so the person can begin both the healing and learning process.

Final thoughts: Happiness begets happiness. Numerous studies have shown that people who are happier tend be healthier, less stressed and more physical. It doesn’t take much to pay it forward. Making someone else happy simply boils down to authentically choosing to put someone else’s needs as a priority regardless of expecting anything in return or how you may look in the process.

The floor is yours: Have you ever given, without expecting anything in return – what happened?

With Leadership, Joshua / www.JoshHMiller.com

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I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. 
– Earnest Hemingway

It could lead you to engage with someone whose only goal is to start a conflict. When someone baits you into an unwinnable verbal duel, it’s probably because it affords them some type of gratification of acting out their argumentative predilections. If you get into the ring, it’s virtually guaranteed that a TKO will ensue— that is, stooping to their level is already a defeat. As Mark Twain said, “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” If someone has already prodded you into responding to them, and is pushing for a second round, it’s wise to cut your losses and call it quits, recognizing that they’re only goading you to partake in an ongoing exercise in futility—or foolishness. Such tactics are best ignored, especially if they’re only indulging in mudslinging to feed illusions of being stronger or superior to others.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. – Epictetus

It would make you seem defensive or closed-minded. If someone is offering you constructive criticism, it may be important to put your ego aside and conscientiously evaluate the legitimacy of their viewpoint. In such cases, it’s much better to remain silent, listen attentively, and only then give a response (if at all). Whether, in the end, you agree with their unfavorable appraisal or not, it’s still in your best interest to open-mindedly assess its validity. For while you may be reluctant to hear it, what they have to say might still potentially be beneficial. If you can’t resist the immediate impulse to defend yourself, you may miss out on a valuable opportunity to learn something important about yourself.

A closed mouth catches no flies. – Miguel de Cervantes

It would only further intensify someone’s anger. When someone is far too fired up to listen rationally to anything you might say, it’s worse than useless to respond to them. Any response will probably be premature and serve only to make matters worse because it’s likely to be experienced as an interruption, as though you’re not really listening or taking the person seriously. In such cases—if there’s to be any hope of ultimately resolving the situation—it’s essential to devote all your attention to hearing someone out and giving them every chance to fully air their grievances. Only then might they be open to hearing your contrasting viewpoint, or interpretation.

One’s eyes are what one is, one’s mouth is what one becomes. – John Galsworthy

It would only intensify your own anger. Following your impulse to attack a person who just upset you is only likely to exacerbate things. Emotions are best kept at moderate levels. When they start to become really pronounced, your better judgment may be seriously compromised and you can react in ways you’ll later regret. Better to hold your tongue and do whatever you can to remove yourself from that situation. Remember, “never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings”

Two monologues do not make a dialogue. – Jeff Daly

It would likely offend someone, without having any realistic possibility either of resolving the situation or improving the relationship. If you truly care about the other individual then there is no good reason to put them on the defense – especially a coworker or loved one. If you believe that this would fall under “feedback” then I would have you ask yourself, “what am I looking to communicate about this persons performance and how can I construct this feedback based on their tasks/skills and not emotions or personality?” The reality is that everyone is different and some people are kind, loyal, and supportive, but also quick to take offense and highly reactive to criticism. Other people’s rigidity makes it virtually impossible for them to appreciate a differing viewpoint. If an individual says or does something that bothers you, it’s generally best to overlook it and, find a way to resolve your immediate frustrations with them rather than confronting them directly.

It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. – Mark Twain



Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.

I want to preface that this article will not be touching on the industry itself, what makes an excellent coach, who can actually call themselves coaches or the effectiveness of working with a coach. Although these are all valid and important topics, I decided with this piece to keep it directly around the application of coaching and key principles all managers and people leaders should understand and be able to demonstrate when looking to develop someone on their team. In order to do that, I believe it’s important to first understand what coaching is and what coaching is not.

Coaching differs from other types of counseling methods. Even though it can be sometimes confused with therapy, training or mentoring – coaching is a unique proposition which can very often combine: a career counseling, management counseling, mentoring, psychology, positive thinking, leadership training program, consulting and other similar trainings. It takes ideas and inspiration from these areas and implies them to help people in reaching for their excellence and achieving their visions.

Coaching is not Training
While training and coaching both promote learning, they do so in different ways:

  • Training is about teaching specific skills or knowledge – Coaching is about facilitating someone else’s thinking and helping them learn on
    the job.
  • Training usually takes place off-site or in dedicated classes – Coaching takes place in the office and (when carried out by a manager) can be integrated into day-to-day workplace conversations or over the phone.
  • Training is more typically carried out in groups – Coaching is usually a one-to-one process, tailored to the individual’s needs.
  • Training is usually delivered by an external consultant or dedicated internal trainer – Coaching can be delivered by an external consultant or by a manager.

Coaching is not Mentoring:
In comparison to a coach a mentor is typically a master or SME within the field of their knowledge. 

  • Mentor advises, basing their advice on a gained personal experience, while a coach does not necessarily have to reach for their experience in the specific field in order to effectively support the client in achieving their goals.
  • Mentoring allows the learner to own both the goals and the process and model their behaviors on given examples and experience of his mentor. In coaching, the learner has primary ownership of the goal but the coach has primary ownership of the process.

Coaching is not Therapy:
A lot of people associate (life) coaching with therapy but the truth is, coaching is not targeted to help people with their psychological problems and in fact, trained coaches whom have gone through an accredited certified coaching program will have been taught how to spot this. For most people whom haven’t had this type of training, some of the signs could be (fill in). 

  • Therapy focuses primarilty on the past and can be rooted in managing and coping where coaching is focused  to improve the development path of the person taking the current situation as an initial point. It’s forward based and rooted in empowerment, exploration and possibile specific solutions.
  • Therapy raises the question why? While coaching focuses on the present and builds the future, asking mrore what? and how? questions. It focuses on solutions and actions by which a client seeks to achieve results, rather than looking for causes of his failures.

So what is Coaching?

  • Coaching a useful way of developing people’s skills and abilities, and of boosting performance. It can also help deal with issues and challenges before they become major problems. A coaching session will typically take place as a conversation between the coach and the coachee (person being coached), and it focuses on helping that individual discover answers for themselves regarding a current or future challenge or goal. The fact is, people are much more likely to engage with solutions that they have come up with themselves, rather than those that are forced upon them by their manager or leader.
  • In some organizations, coaching is still seen as a corrective tool, used only when things have gone wrong. But in many companies, coaching is considered to be a positive and proven approach for helping others explore their goals and ambitions, and then achieve them. Managers and leaders in todays organizations are being asked to do more coaching but the data points to the fact that most managers and people leaders are simply not equipped with the skills necessary to effectively coach and support their people. Typically, managers meet their coaching obligations by giving performance reviews, holding occasional meetings and offering advice (which you now now is not coaching).

A manager can be just as effective as externally hired coaches. Managers don’t have to be trained formally as coaches as long as they stay within the scope of their skill set, and maintain a structured approach, they can add value, and help develop their people’s skills and abilities as long as they understand what they are creating.

Follow these 14 core principles to ensure you are effectively laying the groundwork to coach your people successfully.

  • Future State Thinking
    Be clear in your own mind about what you want the other person to accomplish. If you are their manager, this will typically be an easier process. . Focus on what the end result should look like more than how you think they “might” be able to get there. Think about the big picture and how their success will impact both the broader companies objectives as well as their personal developmental goals and/or desires. When you are clear, you’re more likely to get buy-in.
  • Build Trust
    The foundation of every relationship, regardless of its nature is trust. It’s critical that you are able to establish an atmosphere of open communication and mutual respect. A coaches ability to be successful is predicated on how much and how quickly they can build this foundation. The foundation of any coaching relationship is rooted in the manager’s day-to-day relationship with the employee. Without some degree of trust, conducting an effective coaching meeting is impossible. Your employees need to develop trust that you are here to help them succeed and not gather information that can be used against them.
  • Powerful Listening
    One of the greatest skills a coach/manager must practice is active listening. Fully deploy listening skills with an open mind in order to ask more effective questions of the employee/individual, and get to the heart of an issue to assist them in finding a solution.
  • Getting Agreement
    As a manager, getting your employees to agree that there is a performance issue can sometimes be an uphill battle. Overlooking or avoiding the performance issue because you assume the employee understands its significance is a typical mistake of managers. To get an employee to acknowledge a performance issue exists, you must be able to define the nature of the issue and get the employee to recognize the consequences of not changing their behavior. To do this, you must specify the behavior and clarify the consequences. Be careful not to assume that your understanding of the situation is the right one. A coaching session is a two-way communication process. You should encourage your employees to explain how they interpret the behaviors and agree on the nature of the issue.
  • Be Curious
    Rather than just jumping in to problem-solving mode and rescuing every person in site, first get curious about what may be causing the problem. This helps define the problem more clearly. Some questions to ask the person you are coaching:- What do you think is really causing this situation?
    – What’s holding you back from the goal?
    – What is it about this situation that is keeping you up at night?
    – In what ways are you not being the person you’d like to be now?To have successful coaching relationships with anyone (especially your employees), you really need to get to know them on at least some personal level. Let me stress, this is not about being friends or socializing outside of the office. Knowing a little bit about the person you are supporting can offer you valuable insight into the “why” they do what they do. Thinking about thinking is an important part of the coaching process so remember to ask open-ended questions.
  • Be Flexible 
    Remember that each person has different motivators and communication styles. Recognize and understand that each person may have a different style of learning and respond differently to how you communicate. If someone is slower to speak and respond, for example, allow them time to think and process rather than interrupting with ‘helpful’ suggestions. Effective coaching adapts to the unique style and needs of the person being coached. This is typically a learning gap for the coach who wants to jump in, create results for their employee and get back some valuable time in their day – especially when they see the issue (hopefully) from a distance with no bias or judgement. Flexible doesn’t mean being a push over or getting someone to like you. It simply means you are being and doing what’s needed with this individual to ensure they are moving closer to their goals while maintaining the proper level of trust, commitment, action and integrity required to move the coaching partnership forward.
  • Have and Set Goals
    Discuss what you want to accomplish and be clear about your expectations. Consider giving your employees a model of what their end goal looks like or set specific criteria for what the output should include. Coaching is focused and grounded in a future state of what’s possible however this is only achievable with a clear timeline. Setting milestones that build toward the end goal with prescheduled “check-in meetings” will allow you to get together along the way in order to evaluate how things are going. Talk about a deadline and indicate how important the timing may (or may not) be to the success of the project or performance gap. Personally using the S.M.A.R.T Goal framework is a great starting point for both the conversation as well as to ensure it’s achievable.
  • Provide Feedback
    As your employees work toward accomplishing the goal you set together, be sure to attend your check-in meetings at the agreed upon times. This applies to both the process but equally important is when they reach their milestones and ultimately their end goal. Allow them to ask questions. Acknowledge them for what’s going right with the project and make suggestions if you feel they need more direction. Remember to Be Curious, Be Present and Listen and Revisit the agreed upon End Goals.
  • Alignment With Your Company’s Core Values
    When possible, your coaching should be based on your organization’s core values (or the employee/individual you are coaching). This becomes the “why” behind your support and coaching actions. As a result, your coaching becomes less about what you think and reinforces the culture that you want in your organization. And when you and your employees are looking at the bigger picture together, it should help them be more receptive to you, understand how this impacts both the broader organization and ultimately their individual goals and aspirations. Managers who know the business case for coaching and developing others typically value the process and use it more effectively.
  • Collaboration Is Key
    No matter the situation, coaching conversations should flow both ways with ample opportunity for mutual feedback and discussion. This way, you’re not removing your employees’ responsibility in the matter or doing the work for them. When you establish great coaching relationships with your employees, it can improve every interaction you have with them and makes management far easier. Remember, a coach is not the expert but rather a sounding board who can and should reflect back to their people what they see and hear (but not “feel”) regarding their performance as it relates to that important end goal.
  • Explore All Possibile Solutions
    With the help of your employee, brainstorm alternative solutions and possibilities to the issue. Your role is to ensure that your employees come up with specific alternatives to the existing challenges and not create broad or vague solutions. The reason is that you need to hold them accountable to the solutions and clearly define what your expectations of the performance are. Your focus is to help them set goals (i.e.: SMART) and support them in coming up with specific alternatives to create the highest possibility of success for reaching them.You can provide your own ideas, but be aware that they will carry more weight simply because it’s coming from you.
  • Commitment To Act
    Different then getting agreement, the commitment here is around taking action and ensuring that they see what’s possible in it for them by taking action. It does not matter how great of a solution or roadmap to get you their is. If your employee doesn’t see it, get it or possibly feel it – then you should pause and recalibrate. You don’t want a false start. This also works for you the coach. Outlining what they (your employee or individual) can expect from you in terms of showing up, supporting them, keeping and scheduling meeting times and most importantly ask them if there is anything specific they need from you – will demonstrate the level of integrity you are seeking them to model as well.
  • Handle excuses 
    Employees may use excuses to lower your expectations of their performance or simply shy away from what they don’t know or feel is outside their comfort zone. You should acknowledge them without giving them agreement while focusing on the solutions and the SMART Goal. There may be situational factors that may affect the outcome of their performance and as a coach, you need to take them into consideration so by all means keep an open mind. Remember to get curious and do some detective work around both the content and context to what they are sharing. The content will be the story and where the excuses come from but the context (i.e.: emotional state) is where a coach can pick up the subtle cues and clues as to why they are hesitant to move forward or commit.
  • Accountability
    Probably the most important aspect of both what coaching provides as well as what is needed to ensure a successful coaching experience for everyone involved. Your job is to ensure that your employee understand what you should do if they do not follow through on their commitments. You could ask, “How would you like me to follow up if I don’t hear back from you?” or “If you don’t follow through, how should I help you get back on track?” And then, be sure that you follow through. If you don’t model accountability, it sends the wrong message and jeopardizes future coaching solutions as well as taints your employee’s listening of you which will prevent further engagement on their end. I am putting Time Management under this section as it pertains to being, staying and holding others to being accountable. Remember that coaching can happen in different ways with different needs and circumstances. There may be times where spot coaching sessions are needed or a session may run require more time than allotted. Plan your coaching times, know when they are and ensure that your employee / individual also knows. Send calendar invites as well as follow ups if needed. In the event you cannot make a session, immediately reach out to that employee, communicate the need to reschedule and find a new time as quickly as possible. This will again model both being accountable as well as being in integrity with your words, actions and ultimately the support you have for that person.This is not a model nor a specific framework outlined in order. The best way to use this information is to apply it during any coaching engagement as a personal checklist both preflight and during. The reason is quite simple: many trained coaches and/or managers will complete some type of training program and learn to apply that methodology with their people and within their practice, function and company. In addition, there are hundreds of other coaching models that currently exist. Some are more radical and effective while others are redundant. Your goal is to discover what works best for you AND your people and apply it so that THEY improve. There is no one single coaching model that will work with everyone – everytime but you should explore what’s out there. In fact, I would invite you to use these principles in conjunction of your own personality, style and of course any learnings or models you feel works for you, your people and most importantly your companies culture.Final Thoughts:A manager who sees people’s potential is far better at coaching them towards it. A manager that judges people based on past and current performance, or believes that people are inherently limited, will not make a strong effort to engage staff for optimal performance. An engaged, well-coached employee will out-perform one who is being mismanaged by a weak boss.

    If you manage people, you should understand the importance of effective coaching. How someone is managed can have an enormous impact on their effectiveness and productivity, and thus impact the productivity of the entire team.



Lets face it, we all know or have worked with someone – who at some point in time was..shall we say less then accountable or productive. It may have been at work or possibly in your personal life. Professionally we come across all kinds of team members and as managers or people leaders, you want employees who are seeking to contribute to both to the immediate successes as well as the broader organizational initiatives. Some are excellent and require less attention and support while others may need some work. That is why it’s important to know what to look for.

Below are 10 common characteristics to watch out for when seeking someone who you can count on.

No Urgency
Ineffective people don’t take work or their job responsibilities seriously, in fact many things show up as a joke or unimportant. This manifests in being tardy to both meetings as well as work. They are known to cancel things at the last minute or simply not communicate their potential absence at all.  Their apparent lack of time management and respect of leadership is an obvious developmental gap that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Analysis Paralysis
Ineffective people spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. They may worry about what others think of them or look for evidence to support their hypothesis. This can show up during a brainstorming session, project or program management or after receiving feedback. Instead of taking time to plan and prepare,  ineffective people tend to work harder versus smarter.

Everything Is Code Red
Ineffective people don’t properly prioritize their to-do lists; if they even have one. They are usually focusing on things that aren’t mission critical or time sensitive or allow small tasks to take up the majority of their time. As a result, they miss deadlines and can potentially spin their wheels in the process (see #2 above).

Lack Empathy
Ineffective people “sometimes” lack empathy. This isn’t always the case but it’s be shown that if someone can’t put themselves in another person’s shoes and see things from a different perspective, they may not be able to understand others effectively. Although this is not a key indicator of direct effectiveness, it is an important trait (and indicator) of successful leadership.

Fearing Change
Ineffective people are challenged with how to embrace change. They typically can be found drumming up the water cooler talk about things they either have no evidence to support or simply find comfort in gossiping and drama.

The Glass Is Always Half Full
Ineffective people tend to look for the downside in things while overlooking the good and potential possibilities that are present. They dwell in the past and focus on what’s wrong or didn’t work with a project or assignment while slowing down both themselves and their team.

Thanks, But I Got This
Ineffective people refuse to accept advice from those who care about them and have their best interest at heart, like their managers. They often think that what works for others won’t work for them because their situation is as unique as they are. Some may see this as entitlement while others view at immaturity.

Wasting Time Unknowingly
Ineffective people often have no concept of time (see #3 above). Their relationship to time is weak and they can be found spending a lot of time on meaningless tasks, starting and stopping projects prematurely, or engaging in gossip (see #6 above). Ineffective people are more likely to spend  endless hours surfing the web, take longer lunch breaks, and get less accomplished.

Throw In The Towel
Ineffective people often give up easily when the going gets tough. They take the approach of saying, “See, I told you that wouldn’t work,” when something goes wrong. Instead of focusing on problem-solving strategies to overcome obstacles, they often view barriers as impossible hurdles to overcome and look to enroll others in their story.

The Bail Out
Ineffective people either don’t ask for help or don’t know how to ask. They do, however, expect that others should just drop everything they’re doing and help them at all costs when they do finally ask. This can show up as either arrogant or entitled or sometimes both. They can be short tempered and childlike if they don’t get their way and this emotional burst can also waste valuable time (see #3,#4 & #8).
Final Thought:

Being ineffective is not a medical condition nor has it been scientifically proven (by my records) to be genetic or irreversible. If you are a people leader and think you may have someone who is ineffective, fear not – there are actions you can take such as addressing these behaviors with the individual. Many times people are simply unaware of how they show up in (both their personal and professional) life. That is why we have measures such as providing “effective” feedback, learning and leadership development and last but not least performance management. If you are unsure how to address these behaviors within your organization, don’t be afraid to seek out help from within your HR Team, People Operations Department or a Mentor or Colleague.



How can one determine if an individual has what it takes to be a leader? There are a myriad of diagnostic tests, profiles, evaluations, and assessments that offer insights into leadership ability, or a lack thereof. The challenge with many of these tools is that are overly analytical, very theoretical, and subject to bias as they put people in colors, codes, boxes, dimensions or simply tagged. The draw to these avenues is quite clear; they are fast and relatively inexpensive. Personally I have nothing against this tactic and have used many of the assessments that exist as well have been color-coded, boxed and tagged myself. The easier method to determining if someone is capable of leading is actually quite simple: give him or her some responsibility and see what he or she does with it.

Individuals who are people leaders or leaders of a project will ultimately produce results. One can only hope that the results are positive ones but even so, the key here is learning as to what the individual is or isn’t capable of accomplishing.

Just because someone is in a leadership position, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be. More times than not, organizations place people in leadership level roles but sadly the individual is either not skilled for the job or has skills from within another company or culture that doesn’t transfer to the new role/company. Simply put, not all leaders are created equal. The key is to spot the ineffective leaders so you can course correct as soon as possible. Here are 8 things to take notice.

  1. Lacks Character: A leader who lacks character or integrity will not last over time. It doesn’t matter how intelligent, persuasive, or charismatic a person is, if they are prone to rationalizing unethical behavior or looking the other way, they will eventually fall prey to their own undoing. Modeling this behavior is toxic.
  2. Lacks Performance: Nobody is perfect, but leaders (in any context) are held to certain measures which they are expected to fulfill. While past performance is not always a certain indicator of future events, but is something that should not be overlooked. Someone who has consistently experienced success in leadership roles has a much better chance of success than someone who has not. It’s important to remember unproven leaders come with a high risk premium but that doesn’t mean they should be counted out. In fact, it may mean they will require more resources in supporting their development.
  3. Lacks Communication Skills: Look at any leader who was a poor communicator and chances are their position was short lived. Great leaders can communicate effectively across mediums, constituencies, and environments. They are active listeners, fluid thinkers, and know when to dial it up, down, or off. It’s important to remember that this IS a skill that can be honed and developed over time. In fact, many of the most memorable speeches by key leaders had many hours of practice and many people supporting the delivery of their presentation.
  4. Lacks Humility: A selfless leader is a powerful leader and one who empowers their team and people around them. There is no room for arrogance of an inflated sense of self. If a leader doesn’t understand the concept of “service above self” they will not build the trust, confidence, and loyalty of those they lead. Simply put; if a leader receives a vote of non-confidence from their people…game over. Situational Leadership is an excellent model to support leaders who are seeking growth and development in this area.
  5. Lacks Flexibility: Great leaders are fluid and flexible in their approach. They recognize that leading is not a “one size fits all” approach and that to be successful, they must recognize both the temperature of their people as well as the norms of the culture in which they work. “My way or the highway” leadership styles don’t play well in today’s world, and typically produced the opposite results intended.
  6. Lacks Vision: No vision equals no leadership. Leaders are typically tasked with designing the vision. They are looked at and up to with providing the direction for others. The best leaders are focused on leading change and innovation to keep their organizations relevant and thriving while empowering their people and gaining their votes. Bottom line – leaders who cannot provide this type of direction can usually be spotted quickly both by their inability to communicate their vision as well as the immediate team of supporters they associate with. Unlike the communication which is a skill that can be worked on over time, the vision is something to be set forth and should be conceptualized by the leader in charge. It doesn’t have to be 100% dialed in but clear enough to ensure a healthy conversation can be had to further crystalize the message.
  7. Lacks Commitment: Leaders should be fully committed to investing in those they lead. This looks likes supporting their team, mentoring and coaching their team, and they truly care for their team which is visible by their people. A leader not fully invested in their team won’t have a team and will find themselves leading an army of one…themselves.
  8. Lacks Accountability: Real leaders are accountable both in their actions and non-actions. They don’t blame others, don’t claim credit for the success of their team, and always accept responsibility for failures that occur on their watch. There isn’t too much grey area here. Successful leaders are accountable to their team. Bottom line – leaders not accountable to their people will eventually be held accountable by their people.

Finding, grooming, electing or choosing leaders or people for leadership roles is not an exact science and even with all the tools that exist – sometimes it comes down to more basic observation than online assessment. You want to make sure that your leaders are honest, have a demonstrated track record of success, well spoken, committed to serving those they lead, be fluid in approach, possess focus, and have won the trust of the people they are leading.



Editor Note: This article is designed for all coaches who either have a personal practice or looking to create and/or expand their current practice. Many of the topics I discuss can be used outside of the context of coaching or building a coaching practice. I don’t believe I  am sharing anything groundbreaking nor am I sharing my own personal secret sauce recipe – rather a general overview of what it takes to lay a solid foundation and framework for a successful coaching practice.

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

I am often asked about my coaching practice – specifically around how I have managed to build, grow and scale my coaching practice over the past 15 years. Many coaches (including myself) have struggled at one time or another on how to attract new clients, retain existing ones and earn the income they want while figuring out who they are as a coach and who their target audience will be.

Personally and professionally, I’ve only read one book specifically on this topic which was C.J. Hayden’s “Get Clients Now!” and that was a game changer for me within the first six months of starting my practice. I can now say without any hesitation – that it was well worth the read. Her book, amongst other books, people and support systems allowed me the catalyst I needed to grow my practice from day one.

In complete transparency – what has worked for me, may not work for others andI don’t believe there is one complete or full system that will work for everyone. I realize by saying this, I am going to make some people mad but there shouldn’t be any hard feelings. What works for some may not work for others and visa versa. I am not here to pitch some proprietary system I created but rather share certain principles I’ve adopted over the years (from practice, people, books and mentors) that I constantly tinker with to ensure I am hitting my personal and professional goals while maintaining the health and integrity of my coaching practice.

The landscape of the coaching industry is rapidly evolving every day and there is always room for more passionate and committed coaches in the world. However, to succeed in this field—whether as an internal or external coach — you need to make sure you:

  1. Know Your Worth (Time/Money)
  2. Know Your Craft (Skills/Tools)
  3. Know Your Audience (People/Market)
  4. Know Your Field (Business/Focus)

Incorporating the above (in no particular order) can provide you the greatest possibility in building a thriving coaching practice.

1) Know You’re Worth

Probably one of the most challenging aspects when it comes to establishing oneself as a business professional and brand. I have seen everything under the sun and nothing these days shocks me but then again it’s entirely subjective and there are no kernel rules or laws written on this topic. For example, Marshall Goldsmith – considered one of the most powerful, influential and sought after executive coaches around, doesn’t charge his clients (for 12-16months) until a measurable behavioral shift is achieved. Granted, he and his team have specific and clear measurements to track this but this is a great example of one way to go about getting paid for your services.

In an Harvard Business Review article “What Can Coaches Do For You?” – their research determined that the hourly pay scale for coaches starts at $200/hr. (on the low end) and $3,500/hr. (on the high end); leaving the medium per their data at $500/hr. This article was published in 2009 when the economy was in a much different place but according to my unconfirmed and completely unscientific studies – this isn’t too far off to where we are in 2015. Remember, your rate should be a reflection of your own self-worth and value that you believe you are bringing to the table and your clients – not what someone else tells you. Use the research and speak to colleagues who are at or near your experience level to gauge the landscape.

Rates will always be a sliding scale based on numerous factors:

  • Who is your client (Individual, Team or Company?)?
  • Where is your client (Will you be client facing and traveling?)
  • Scale and scope of your assignment (How long will it be / what is the overall complexity?)

These are just a few factors to consider as there are a few more but I believe these are the foundational ones most coaches should not only recognize but value when it comes to their time and self-worth. The saying goes, “Time is money” so let’s figure out just what that could look like.

The three basic ways coaches typically charge for their services:

  • By the session
    Typically a session is 60mins, but I have seen 30mins twice a month and varying other options. When I first started, I tried a variety of formats and times but ultimately stuck with what was proposed by the larger coaching organization which is/was 60mins.
  • By the month
    If you use the standard rule of thumb, you’re looking at four sessions a month; calculating each session at 60mins per session. This could of course change depending the third option below which is the totality of what you are being asked to perform.
  • By the package / engagement
    There is no right or wrong way to go here. It’s entirely up to you and what you are looking to achieve but I can’t stress enough the importance of doing your own research on what the trends and going rates are per level of experience. Just make sure you are able to back up what you are offering. The coaching industry is small in nature and it’s predicated on word of mouth and referrals so do what you can to ensure you are always representing yourself (and the large industry) in the best light possible.


2) Know Your Craft 

There are hundreds if not thousands of coaching programs currently in existence around the world. It goes without saying that you should do your homework when researching what school or program you wish to take on in terms of training. If you are already coach this could still apply to any on going training or learning you are thinking about down the road. The key is finding a training program, school or organization that is accredited (ACTP) by the ICF or other reputable institution.

Now that we have that piece covered and assuming you are already an accredited coach, lets get into what exactly you are practicing. There are countless models, theories, formulas and assessments on the market and some are quite valuable and effective while others are what I would consider a waste of time. The key is to find what works for you and use it until you find it’s no longer serving you and/or your clients. There is nothing wrong with utilizing whatever tools your coaching program provided and taught you; in fact it would only make sense to gain proficiency in what you learned before venturing off and experimenting with too many different modalities. There is no one or right way to achieve success as a coach and for your clients. In fact, I pull from a variety of backgrounds I have studied across different platforms, models and theories ranging from Neuroscience, Neuroleadership, NLP, Ontology, Psychology and Emotional Intelligence to name a few. I do believe it’s easy to fall prey to believing you know it all or know what’s best. To avoid this trap, remember the following:

  • Join some groups on LinkedIn, as there are many to choose from. They don’t necessarily have to be in the field of coaching either; in fact I would encourage you to expand your view (and network) by looking at parallel fields.

3) Know Your Audience

This piece typically frustrates newer coaches who are looking to jump into the field and evokes either a shotgun mentality where they focus on everyone and everything or the opposite which involves finding something too specific that may limit their ability to expand their services and reach whatever goal(s) they have set forth for themselves.

                       The first thing you want to be asking yourself is:

What am I most passionate about?

Start here because wherever your passion lies, success won’t be too far behind. People who are truly successful in life and as coaches possess an innate passion about what they do. By looking at what lights you up, it’s easy to look for the logical and sometimes illogical connections to what profession and/or field you wish to target. Whatever audience you are looking to target, make sure you do your research. Success in any field hinges largely on the audience and what if any need exists for your services. When you are thinking about who you are looking to market yourself and services towards, think about the following:

  • Who are they and where do they reside?
  • Can you identify a need and/or trend as a way to position yourself and your services?
  • What is the average salary range of this population? (This dials back to the cost and if they can afford you)
  • What is the current and future state of this industry?
  • Is coaching currently taking place within this field/profession and if so, who, where and how long?
  • Who do you know currently in your network (i.e.: LinkedIn) that you can either reach out to or ask for introductions to people in this field or company?

I would start here and if you can’t answer the above questions then take a break and come back to it. When I first started, I leveraged every person, resource and network I had to ensure I had the widest reach and net casted to get my name out there. Don’t rush or push yourself. This takes time and you want to set yourself up for success not frustration.

4) Know Your Field 

Similar to your audience, this is all about understanding the larger business landscape of the coaching industry and what’s happening in and around you. You should have a pulse on what’s trending in your respective filed and of course targeted audience. If you are focusing on executives and executive level coaching then spend time researching what the Harvard Business Review and countless other journals are writing about. This will not only aid you in staying current in practice but also in conversation with others. Showing up as a resource to others (both coaches and potential clients) is critical for your own success and the success of your brand and practice.

The second and highly important aspect around knowing your field is to understand how to proactively and effectively run your practice. I thought this may deserve it’s own post but I promise to pair it down to the key essentials. Whether you are a tenured coach or someone starting out on your own, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you are running a healthy and productive practice versus a hobby in your spare time. Here are the basics:

  • Does your company have a name, a logo? What does your brand say about yourself and is it the message you want to convey? Tip: Ask people who know the best to begin to gauge who you are and how you show up at your best with others. This can provide some valuable information you may not get otherwise by picking a random name out of thin air.
  • Are you set up to receive payments from others (both individuals and companies alike?)? Tip: Take a look at paypal.com as well aswww.quicken.com to name a few, as this will start you on the right path for financial health, security and stability.
  • Do you have a marketing plan or some way for others to know you exist? Nowadays you don’t need to necessarily hire a marketing firm to get your message out there but you do need to make sure people know you are out there. If you can’t afford a website right now, don’t worry as there are other quicker and easier ways to get noticed. Tip: Create a LinkedIn (linkedin.com) account and get active on the site from posting articles, connecting with others and commenting on other people’s posts. This will enable others to view you and your profile. Once you have that down, consider getting awww.twitter.com account and connect that to your LinkedIn account (for easier management) and this way you can push your articles, comments and likes across different mediums with ease.

As I have mentioned numerous times already, there is no one clear or right way to go about your business but there are certain key aspects you should have thought out and an action plan in place to ensure your practice is current, relevant and prosperous.

Final Thoughts:

In addition to the above 4 criteria I want to add (and stress) the importance of the “Hustle and Grind” or said in a more conservative fashion – “Commitment” to your craft. Anyone can learn a tool, read a book, go to school but in the end it’s all about what you do with that knowledge and learning. Those who know me well know I am a constant learner and extremely passionate about what I love to do and as a result I am always looking to be better than I was yesterday. That can look like a lot of different things to different people.

My professional credo around commitment and my practice is quite simple: “You are only as good as your last coaching call”. For me, this is a motivator and reminder to never get to high (or low) on myself, remain humble and grateful that I have people who are trusting me with their lives and allowing me into the conversations they are having about their own performance that they may not readily share with others including their significant others.

As coaches, we have one of the most magical roles possible when it comes to supporting others and it’s important to also create that same magic in your own business and brand. Start today by taking a systems check of your practice utilizing the four principles above and see where you can make some alterations so that your practice may grow to be more successful.

Thank you for taking the time to read what I believe is one of the longer articles I have written but there was no easy way to shorten the content without diluting the main messages. There are numerous articles on the internet that delve deeper into the different areas of the topics I mentioned here and I encourage you to research as many as possible and find what works best for you.

As always, I would love to hear from my peers, colleagues and other entrepreneurs as well as coaches as to what’s worked for you, not worked so well or something you are practicing now and seeing success in your practice.

Yours in coaching,




Life is not always easy, fair or a walk in the park as someone once noted. The reality is that life is filled with numerous challenges as well as opportunities for growth and possibility. So how can you level the playing field and create more ease, fairness and turn that walk in the park one you will look forward to?

Let’s start with the obvious common denominator which is you.

We don’t want to always look inward as to what’s not working but with all the unknowns that surprise us every day – take solace in knowing you can do something about it.

Instead of blaming external circumstances – lets look at how we sabotage our own success and happiness. Here are 5 of the most common ways we derail our own lives.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”
– Theodore Roosevelt

I wrote about this in a previous article. Comparing ourselves to others is a slippery slope – especially when we usually know less than the full story of facts. Comparison always includes judging. If the result turns out unfavorable for us, it’s easy to think of ourselves as a failure. Society has us constantly measuring ourselves to what we see on tv or online – a vision of the unreal. Aspiring to follow a trend or measure our self and worth against something fake is a lose-lose.

Instead try this: Take stock on who you are and what strengths you have that has brought you this far. Create a list of all your accomplishment and don’t stop until you feel you have exhausted all avenues. If you get stuck, ask five friends or colleagues – the key is to collect new and empowering evidence of who you and how great you are.


“Self-confidence is not taught or learned; it is earned by surpassing your own self-limitations”
– John Raynolds

Self-doubt can be one of the most powerful drivers in life – unfortunately many times it’s force is to strong to control and we are overtaken with our insecurities and beliefs about how we aren’t able to measure up in times of need. Embracing potential failure is part of the road to success (look at my article “Leadership Lessons: 20 Famous People Who Failed At First) but giving up is unacceptable. It’s okay to pause and reflect as a stepping stone to move forward. Just make sure your pause doesn’t become permanent.

Instead try this: Don’t think about why you can’t, but how, and what you need in order to succeed. What’s one action you could take right now? – no matter how small. Direct your energy towards learning to accept yourself, and appreciate what you have accomplished already. List your achievements and name everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem.


“Holding on to the past means you can never be open to having a future” – Laurann Dohner

Holding on to the past
I love the expression, “when the past calls, let it go to voicemail as it has nothing new to say” – this is so true. The past is the past and although there are times we love to remember the good ol’ days – there are many days that may not have been so good and our brains aren’t the best at filtering out our highlights from our lowlights. No matter what we do, we can’t change it. Everyone has emotional baggage to carry, but the crucial factor is what we do with it: Are we willing to learn and move on, or are we going to dwell on it and consider being unhappy our fate? The choice is truly yours.

Instead try this: Don’t regard the past as a burden or a happy time gone forever, instead look to it as a motivation to make things better and a stepping stone towards something bigger and better. And, above all, forgive yourself for past mistakes. Forgiveness is necessary for self-healing.


“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.
– Unknown

Fear of the unknown
Life is full of surprises and that’s what makes life…um…life. People are always seeking for the meaning of life while others are busy living it. Change is a constant and only possible if you’re not afraid of what might be coming your way. You always have a choice if you “choose” to see and take it. Life is trial and error.

Instead try this: Embrace the unknown and find solace in that no one knows everything or what’s coming their way. Your brain will try to protect you while your heart can ignite you. Ignite your passion and emotions around what’s possible in the state of unknown.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
– Thomas Edison

Fear of failure
If you believe you can’t do something, you will always prove yourself right. Winning at a losing pace is not sustainable for success or happiness. Failure is always a possibility when taking on a new venture. With each try, you can learn how to improve as well as a new skill. Eventually, if you keep at it – you are going to succeed. If you’re willing to embrace failure as a valuable experience to learn from, you will come out a winner every time.

Instead try this: Be gentle with yourself and recognize you may be taking on something you have never done before. Set yourself up for success but doing your homework on the task at hand and make sure you have a support system in place sufficient to achieve your goals.


“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence” – Vine Lombardi

A mentor of mine once told me to strive for excellence and skip perfection as that is one target that will always be moving. I never understood what she meant until later in life. Perfection has a way of seducing you into lining your ducks up in a row before taking action when in fact – once you do that (if you can at all) the time has come and gone to take the necessary action. There will always be room for edits, revisions, rewrites and iterations – it will never be perfect. At some point, though, you have to stop and trust that it’s good enough.

Instead try this: Before going down the rabbit hole of version 2.0+, get the input of some trusted advisors. Soliciting feedback can be scary but it can also be the necessary step needed to move yourself and your task closer to completion and dare I say “perfection.”



There is no denying the power, prowess and presence that Bruce Lee bestowed upon the millions of fans and followers during his short time on this planet. He was a Hollywood superstar and martial artist extraordinaire. He was also a notable philosopher whose untimely and tragic death brought his life’s work to light for world to read, understand and hopefully apply.

Here are 7 core beliefs that he believed in and you can follow:
1. What are you really thinking about today?

“As you think, so shall you become.”

Perhaps the most basic statement of how we work. Think about what you are thinking today. What do those thoughts say about you? About your life? And how well do they really match your plans for your life and your image of yourself?

It’s easy to forget about this simple statement in everyday life. It’s easy to be quite incongruent with what you think on an ordinary day compared to how you view yourself and your goals. A simple extra reminder such as a post-it with this quote can be helpful to keep you and your thoughts on the right track.


2. Simplify.

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

If you want to improve your life then it’s tempting to want to add more. One problem with this may be that you don’t really have the time or energy to do more though. And so your efforts to improve become short-lived.

Adding more and more just creates more stress and anxiety. Removing clutter and activities, tasks and thoughts that are not so important frees up time and energy for you to do more of what you really want to do. And as the clutter in your outer world decreases the clutter in your inner world also has a tendency to decrease. This has the added benefit of making it easier to actually enjoy whatever you are doing even more while you are doing it.

Adding more thoughts and thinking things over for the 111:th time may create a sense of security. It’s also a good way to procrastinate and to avoid taking that leap you know you should take. And the more you think, the harder it gets to act. Perhaps because you want to keep that comforting sense of security and avoid the risk of wrecking that feeling.

Thinking has its place. It can help you plan a somewhat realistic route to your goal and help you avoid future pitfalls. Overthinking is however just a habit that will help you waste a lot of time.


3. Learn about yourself in interactions.

“To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”

The one person that is the hardest to get to really know may be yourself. Studying yourself while you are alone may result in some insights. But it’s also likely to produce a lot of made up thought loops and doubts in your mind. A good way to really learn more about yourself is study yourself interacting with others. How people react and act in these interaction can over time teach you a lot. And what you think and how you react can perhaps teach you even more.

What you see, feel and hear in other people may be a reflection of you. The things you learn by thinking this way may not always be pleasant, but they can be enlightening. They help you to see yourself and also how you may be fooling yourself. And these powerful insights can be very valuable for your personal growth. So, in interactions with others, try asking yourself: what is reflected?


4. Do not divide.

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

This is a very useful and powerful thought. It is also one that obviously is hard to live by. Why? I believe it’s because the ego loves to divide and find ways to “add more” to itself. It want’s to feel better than someone else. Or more clever. Or prettier. Or cooler. Or wiser.

How can you overcome this way of thinking and feeling?

To me it seems to boil down to not identifying so much with your thoughts or feelings. That doesn’t mean that you stop thinking or feeling. It just means that you realize – and remember in your everyday life – that the thoughts and emotions are just things flowing through you.

You are not them though. You are the consciousness observing them.

When you realize and remember this it enables you to control the thoughts and feelings instead of the other way around. It also enables you to not take your thoughts too seriously and actually laugh at them or ignore them when you feel that your ego is acting out. When you are not being so identified these things you become more inclined to include things, thoughts and people instead of excluding them. This creates a lot of inner freedom and stillness. Instead of fear, a need to divide your world and a search for conflicts.


5. Avoid a dependency on validation from others.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

The ego wants to add because it thinks it’s not enough. One way of doing that is by craving validation from others. We want to feel smart, pretty, successful and so on. And the validation makes you feel good for a while. But soon you need a new fix. And the problem with being dependent on validation from other people is that you let other people control how you feel. This creates a rollercoaster of emotion in your life.

To find more emotional stability and to take control of how you feel you need to get your validation from to a more consistent source. Yourself. You can replace the expectations and validation of others by setting your own expectations and by validating yourself.

And so you validate yourself by thinking about how awesome you are. You don’t sell yourself short. You appreciate how far you have come and the positive things you have done. You appreciate your own value in the world. You set goals and you achieve those goals. This builds confidence in yourself and in your abilities. These things will help you to build a habit of inner validation.

Now, showing off. Why do we do that? To get validation from others. However, this need for validation often shines through and that is why a thing like bragging seldom works. Instead of seeing the cool and successful person you are trying to project people just see the insecure and needy person looking for validation. And your bragging falls flat.


6. Be proactive.

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

It’s easy to get locked into a reactive mindset. You just follow along with whatever is happening. You do what the people around you do. You react to whatever is going on. And so you get lost in your circumstances. This way of thinking doesn’t feel too good. You tend to feel powerless and like you are just drifting along.

A more useful and pleasurable way of living is to be proactive.  As Bruce says: to create opportunities despite the circumstances around you. This feels better and provides better results. But on the other hand it’s also more difficult. It’s easier to just drift along in the reactive stream of life. And if you want to be proactive then you may have to take the lead quite often. And that can be scary.

Still, living proactively is so much more rewarding and exciting.


7. Be you.

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Being yourself is a hard thing to do. You may do it sometimes. And other times you may forget or fall back into old thought patterns. Or you may imitate someone else. And that comes through too. And it may work.

But I believe that being real will always look better. Because there the genuine you is shining through. Without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness. It’s you to 100%. It’s you with not only your words but you with your voice tonality and body language – which some say is over 90% of communication – on the same wavelength as your words. It’s you coming through on all channels of communication.

So I’m not saying: “you should just be yourself because it’s the right thing to do etc.” I’m saying that I think being your authentic self – the one where you do little dividing, the one that needs little validation from others, the one where your ego is not running the show and trying to get something from someone – will give you better results and more satisfaction in your day to day life because you are in alignment with yourself. And because people really respect genuine and authentic people.



One of the most popular and frequently overused phrases around time management is ‘Work smarter not harder’. The reality is that we all have the same 24 hours in the day and the truth is, it’s your relationship to those 24 hours that will dictate the level and list of your daily accomplishments especially in the workplace. The good news is that being more productive at work will allow you more time for others aspects of your life so you can live a balanced and happy life. Here are 25 #ProductivityHacks to start working towards that balance.

  1. Touch inbox items only once.– This one is difficult for most people, but it really makes a difference. For new email or other communications, look over it and decide what to do with it right away: archive, respond, flag for follow-up, etc. Regardless of how you process communications, just make sure you deal with them once rather than wasting time by looking at them without taking decisive action.
  2. Hire someone.– Sometimes it makes more sense to hire someone to do something (if applicable), especially if your time is worth more money than you’re paying that person.  Anything where doing it yourself isn’t cost-effective, consider an assistant or intern for additional support.
  3. Write things down.– Nobody’s memory is perfect.  If you don’t take notes and setup to-do lists for yourself you will end up wasting several minutes of time every day trying to remember things that would have taken you seconds to write down. These minutes add up fast.
  4. Stop mindlessly browsing online.– Web browsing is one of the immense black holes in time spending.  Before you realize it, you may have spent hours browsing while generating very little value. Limit your online adventures to your lunch time when and/if applicable.
  5. Ask more questions.– The trial and error process can be a huge waste of time.  Often people view asking questions and relying on others as a weakness, but they are sadly mistaken.  Asking legitimate questions will bring you closer to the people around you and likely save you a huge chunk of time.  A Win-win.
  6. Handle 2-minute tasks immediately.– “The 2 Minute Rule” is a common and great concept (cited in the book “Getting Things Done”).  If you roughly estimate that a task is going to take you less than two minutes to accomplish, do it right now.  It’s a waste of time and energy to keep small tasks like this on your to-do list and renting space in the back of your mind.
  7. Productively use waiting time.– Waiting time does not have to be wasted time.  When you are waiting for a meeting to start either on the phone or in person, think about what simple tasks could you complete while you wait?  How about sorting through and replying to emails or reviewing/edit your to-do lists, etc.
  8. Organize your space.– How much time do you think the average person wastefully spends searching for items they’ve misplaced? The answer is a lot. Keeping both your living and working spaces organized will undoubtedly allow you to get thing done more efficiently and effectively.
  9. Plan ahead and start early.– 10 minutes of dedicated time planning each evening will save you from 30 minutes of ad-hoc preparation each morning.  Likewise, starting your morning on purpose 30 minutes early will likely inject at least 60 additional productive minutes into your day.  Think about it and practice it.
  10. Eliminate all distractions for a set time.– Distractions are everywhere.  They arrive via email, cell phone, coworker inquiry, etc. Cutting out all distractions for a set time is one of the most effective ways to get things done in less time.  Find a quiet place to retreat to when you know your workload and deadlines are time sensitive.
  11. Pay attention and get it right the first time.– The better listener you are, the more you will learn.  The more you learn now, the fewer questions you will have later, and the less time you will spend searching for answers.
  12. Use technology to automate tasks.– From creating email filters to automatically backing-up your hard drive.  The more you automate, the more you can get done without with the same level of effort.  Just remember to ensure that what you automate has some form of checklist involved to avoid only having a human go back and have to redo the original task.
  13. Pick-up the phone.– We’ve become so accustomed to communicating digitally, sending emails, IM’s and texts, etc. that we forget we can get some tasks accomplished in a fraction of the time with one or two quick phone calls.
  14. Create and refer to a TO-DON’T list.– A to-don’t is a list of things not to do.  It might sound funny, but it’s useful for keeping track of unproductive habits, like playing online games, checking Facebook, etc.
  15. Focus on high impact tasks.– Figure out what will have the greatest impact today, and make sure you address the most important stuff first.  Don’t get caught up in odd jobs, even those that seem urgent, unless they are also important.
  16. Do what you don’t want to do first.– If you handle the toughest tasks first when your mind is fresh, you’ll get done quicker and make the rest of the day more enjoyable.
  17. Group similar tasks back-to-back.– Switching gears between different types of tasks can be tough.  It takes most people several minutes to get into a productive mental groove geared for a specific type of task.  Therefore, it makes sense to group similar tasks in an effort to minimize the number of rough patches, and thus wasted time, between task orders.
  18. Make better usage of commute times.– Listen to audio books, make calls, do some proactive time planning, etc.  There are many programs out there to capture tons of ideas and thoughts while commuting and traveling to the office and walking around the office.
  19. Exercise daily.– I know it sounds counter-intuitive.  You have to spend time exercising.  But exercise boosts cognitive function, creativity, problem solving and productivity.  In fact a NASA study showed employees who exercised daily worked at 100% efficiency after seven hours, while those who didn’t saw a 50% drop, meaning it took them twice as long to accomplish the same thing.
  20. Just say NO!– While saying yes can take us down some wonderful roads, there’s also a ton of value in saying “no.”  We’re only given a certain amount of hours in our lives; do you really want to give yours away so easily?  If you don’t have to time to commit to a new project, complete a favor, or sit in on another meeting, it’s a good idea to just say “no.” Start with “no, not now but…” and then make a counter offer. The goal is to create some space and boundaries for you while not alienating others.
  21. Use time multipliers.– Effective delegation of lower priority tasks is a time multiplier.  Eliminating time wasting activities is a time multiplier.  Screening phone calls is a time multiplier.  By practicing creative procrastination on anything that doesn’t propel you toward your goals can multiply the amount of time you have to achieve those goals.
  22. Focus your attention on one thing at a time.– Sounds obvious but we all suffer from the shiny object syndrome. Cutting out multitasking leaves you to focus more intently on one task and finish it to completion, rather than having many tasks started and nothing finished.
  23. Create productivity triggers for yourself.– You need to create triggers to help you out.  A simple example would be packing your gym bag the night before to keep you from having an excuse not to go to the gym.  Or put the books you need to take back to the office in front of the door, so you can’t leave the house without seeing them and remembering they need to be returned.
  24. Avoid meetings.– Not all meetings are a waste of time, but some can be.  If you frequently spend time in meetings, but would rather be doing your actual work instead of listening to other people talk about things they could have sent you in an email, see if your attendance is mandatory for those meetings.  Just make sure you use that time wisely if you get a pass.
  25. Practice the 80/20 rule.– Generally speaking, the 80/20 Rule states that 80% of our results come from 20% our actual work, and conversely, that we spend most of our energy doing things that aren’t important.  Figure out what that 20% is comprised of and focus as much of your energy as you can on it.

Final Thought: 

Don’t confuse being busy with being productive. – Stop and ask yourself if what you’re working on is worth the effort.  Is it bringing you in the same direction as your goals?  I am aware that there are hundreds of tips and hacks to becoming more productive in the workplace but the above twenty five hit upon all the topics needed to win back your day and hopefully win over your boss.



Let’s face it, the concept of emotional intelligence has become not just a popular topic in the field of psychological research as it pertains to leadership development and the way in which todays workforce interacts but also a critical component for ones physical and mental wellbeing. In the end, developing your EI is important if you want to have a successful career. Many experts now believe that a person’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) may be more important than their IQ and is certainly a better predictor of success, quality of relationships, and overall happiness. According to a report from the Robert H. Smith School of Business from the University of Maryland:

“71% of hiring managers said having EQ is more important the IQ and 51% of them said that they would NOT hire someone with a high IQ but a low EQ”

So What is Emotional Intelligence?

Let’s break it down so it’s easy to understand. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of those around you. It is generally said to include these 5 dimensions:

  1. Self-Awareness: Recognize and understand our emotions and reactions
  2. Self-Management: Manage, control, and adapt our emotions, mood, reactions, and responses
  3. Motivation: Harness our emotions to motivate ourselves to take appropriate action, commit, follow-through, and work toward the achievement of our goals
  4. Empathy: Discern the feelings of others, understand their emotions, and utilize that understanding to relate to others more effectively
  5. Social Skills: Build relationships, relate to others in social situations, lead, negotiate conflict, and work as part of a team

Critical areas Emotional Intelligence can support you:

  • Physical Health – The ability to take care of our bodies and especially to manage our stress, which has an incredible impact on our overall wellness, is heavily tied to our emotional intelligence.
  • Conflict Resolution – When we can discern people’s emotions and empathize with their perspective, it’s much easier to resolve conflicts or possibly avoid them before they start. We are also better at negotiation due to the very nature of our ability to understand the needs and desires of others. It’s easier to give people what they want if we can perceive what it is.
  • Mental Well-Being – EI affects our attitude and outlook on life. It can also help to alleviate anxiety and avoid depression and mood swings. A high level of emotional intelligence directly correlates to a positive and more happier outlook on life.
  • Relationships – By better understanding and managing our emotions, we are better able to communicate our feelings in a more constructive way. We are also better able to understand and relate to those with whom we are in relationships. Understanding the needs, feelings, and responses of those we care about leads to stronger and more fulfilling relationships.
  • Success – Higher emotional intelligence helps us to be stronger internal motivators, which can reduce procrastination, increase self-confidence, and improve our ability to focus on a goal. It also allows us to create better support systems, overcome setbacks and persevere with a more resilient outlook.
  • Leadership – The ability to understand what motivates others, relate in a positive manner, and to build stronger bonds with others in the workplace inevitably makes those with higher emotional intelligence better leaders. An effective leader can recognize what the needs of his people are, so that those needs can be met in a way that encourages higher performance.


Lastly, here are 9 signs your manager may lack emotional intelligence:

  1. Unable to control their emotions. 
    Emotionally intelligent people are able to regulate and control their emotions. If your manager is prone to lashing out in anger—or gets over-the-top giddy for no reason—he or she likely lacks this core element of EQ.
  2. Clueless about your feelings.
    The ability to read others’ nonverbal emotional cues, such as facial expressions, is a critical component of EQ. If your manager can’t read your obvious displeasure, or thinks that your happiness is really contempt, there could be problems making emotional connections.
  3. Can’t maintain friendships.
    High-EQ individuals have strong networks of friends and acquaintances. If your manager is unable to make or maintain good relationships with friends and colleagues, this is an indicator of low EQ.
  4. Always has a “poker face.”
    While reading others’ emotions is important for EQ, so is the ability toexpress your own. If you can never tell how or what your manager is really feeling, it’s likely that they are missing this key element of emotional intelligence.
  5. Is emotionally inappropriate.
    Making bad or inappropriate jokes; getting angry over nothing; not realizing that he/she is angering someone—these are signs that your manager doesn’t understand the social workings of emotions and emotional expression, which is another important aspect of EQ.
  6. Can’t cope with sadness.
    An inability to manage others’ emotions indicates a lack of emotional intelligence.  Low-EQ individuals have particular difficulty in reacting to others’ negative emotions.
  7. Is emotionally “tone deaf.”
    A great deal of emotion is communicated through tone of voice. If your manager can’t sense your irritation or joy, it may be an indicator of a deficit in detecting emotions in voice tone.
  8. Can’t really be sympathetic.
    Empathy and sympathy involve recognizing others’ emotional states and reflecting back appropriate emotional concern. This is a complex skill that suggests high levels of emotional intelligence.
  9. Has no volume control.
    Of course, we’re talking about emotional volume here. Too-loud emotional reactions, whether positive or negative, suggest difficulty in controlling emotions.

Final Thoughts:
Emotional intelligence is still not completely understood and is being researched even as I write this article. However, what we do know is that emotions play a very critical role in the overall quality of our personal and professional lives, more critical even than our actual measure of brain intelligence. While tools and technology can help us to learn and master information, nothing can replace our ability to learn, manage, and master our emotions and the emotions of those around us.

If you are now wondering how your EI level stacks up, there are a few places online to take a free emotional intelligence assessment.

With leadership,


Not-your-typical Personal and Executive Master Certified Coach. 
Joshua Miller is a creative and impactful leader. His career experience has spanned both the advertising world and the world of leadership and organizational development. In advertising, he was responsible in delivering campaign strategies for Fortune 100 companies. Now he innovates and delivers results when supporting executive talent development and change management for the same clients.