Book Review: Coaching for Breakthrough Success

by Jack Canfield and Dr. Peter Chee

by Jack Canfield and Dr. Peter Chee

There is a tendency among some executive readers to file certain subjects under the label of “soft skills.” Quietly, however, these alleged soft skills drive everything from sales to customer relationships to brand identity. They also drive book sales, as Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul™ series can attest. After achieving sales of more than 125 million copies, one may wonder what else Canfield can offer readers. The answer comes in his team-up with executive mentor and coach Dr. Peter Chee. The pair wrote Coaching for Breakthrough Success to provide leaders with a repeatable set of principles to fire the three cylinders of coaching success: heart, mind and energy. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Canfield and Chee divide their work into three parts. The first part provides leaders with a set of 30 coaching principles. The principles cover a variety of aspects of the role and skillset of a coach, including bolstering your coaching spirit, establishing and maintaining relationships and trust, and using accountability to drive accomplishments. All of the principles are meant to build the solid foundation the authors refer to as “the heart of a coach.”

The second part provides readers with the “mind” that accompanies the heart of a coach: the Situational Coaching Model. This section builds a critical level of flexibility that is absent from other “one-size-fits-all” methods of coaching. The authors describe six paradigms that can be applied to a variety of situations. The third part of the book focuses on the “energy” of a coach in the form of the Achievers Coaching Techniques. Readers should view the techniques as a self-assessment and roadmap to keep your coaching efforts on a steady, measurable path.

The sum total of Coaching for Breakthrough Success is a more focused method that executives can easily apply to business. Don’t short sell soft skills. They may make the difference in your next step on your career path.

What You Need to Know to Cash In on Your Inspiration


Anyone Can Be an Inventor

One day, Patricia Nolan-Brown was driving in downtown Boston with her young child in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat, as required by law. On arriving home, she complained to her mother about the frustration of not being able to see the child as she was driving to make sure that she was okay. In her book, Idea to Invention, Nolan-Brown describes how she told her mother that “Somebody should invent some kind of a special mirror so you could see your kid in the stupid rear-facing car seat.” To which her mother replied, “Why don’t you invent one?”

Nolan-Brown did just that and transformed that one day of frustration into a lucrative career as an inventor and entrepreneur who would sell millions of her products. In Idea to Invention, she emphasizes that you don’t have to have a business degree from Harvard or trust-fund seed money to invent and sell products. “The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m an ordinary person,” she writes, and her book is clearly designed for readers who are looking for the basic steps for turning their dreams into reality.

What It Takes

Successful people, according to Nolan-Brown, display the following characteristics:

They are inquisitive. “An inventor’s best friend,” she writes, “is curiosity.” They have the nerve. Many people have great ideas but don’t have the self-confidence to make it happen.They have a strong voice. They communicate passion and truth. They have energy. They keep their bodies healthy and their minds sharp.They nourish their dreams. If their passion or commitment begins to fade, they find inspiration and courage in workshops or seminars, biographies and autobiographies, mentors and networking, and a variety of other sources. They are tenacious. They believe in what they are doing and refuse to give up.

Not coincidentally, the first letter of these six success personality traits form the acronym INVENT.

Once Nolan-Brown has explored the six personality traits, she offers readers her six steps to invention.

Think it. It all starts with an idea. Start with what you know; then think outside the box.

Cook it. Is your idea marketable? Will it sell? What does a prototype look like? These are the questions that need to be answered to start moving the idea from just an intellectual concept.

Protect it. Nolan-Brown guides potential entrepreneurs through what they have to do — and they might not have to do — to protect their idea.

Pitch it. Entrepreneurs must know how to generate excitement around their idea, which might involve social media, trade shows and more.

Make it. Should you license the idea and have others put it together, assemble the product, or outsource it to an overseas manufacturer?

Bedazzle it. This is the bells and whistle phase, making sure the product attracts buyers for years to come.

Every chapter in Idea to Invention is filled with concise, practical advice. In the “Make It” chapter, for example, she explains the advantages and disadvantages of licensing. She warns that online submission companies are paid to do what you could probably do just as easily. She explains some of the basics of starting a business, describes the challenge of outsourcing manufacturing, and offers the essential steps for at-home DIY assembly.

Nolan-Brown ends the book with an inspirational chapter called “You Can Make It Happen.” But perhaps the true inspiration is found through the clear and practical information she conveys, which reinforces that anyone can follow in the footsteps of this “ordinary” person.

What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything


To Survive, Prepare for What Can Go Wrong

Chris Hadfield remembers as a boy of 9 going to a neighbor’s home — the only home on the Canadian island where he lived that had a television — and watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. He decided that very day to become an astronaut, which seemed like an impossible dream for one very good reason: Canada did not have astronauts. Eventually, Hadfield would become one of the world’s most accomplished astronauts, most recently serving as commander of the International Space Station. He was previously chief of International Space Station Operations and also served as capsule communicator — the conduit between the astronauts and mission control — for 25 shuttle missions.

In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Hadfield recounts his improbable journey from remote Canadian farm boy to outer space. His book, however, is not meant to be a memoir. As he indicates in the subtitle, What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything, Hadfield is interested in personal development rather than autobiography, and once again, he succeeds brilliantly. An Astronaut’s Guide not only offers the thrilling story of Hadfield’s career as an astronaut but also presents a series of compelling lessons on how to succeed in life… on earth.

Enjoy the Journey

One important lesson of the book is to enjoy the journey even if you never reach the destination. While such advice may seem like a pithy aphorism, it is this attitude of dedicating yourself to the journey that pushed and sustained Hadfield every day since that fateful day of Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind.” While perhaps most small boys watching the black-and-white television that day might have declared their intentions of becoming astronauts, Hadfield set out immediately to make the dream come true. He joined the Air Cadets (“a cross between Boy Scouts and the Air Force,” he writes), got his glider license at 15, started flying planes at 16, went to military college, became a fighter pilot, graduated first from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School — an incredible accomplishment — and was eventually selected by the Canadian Space Agency to join the now-growing ranks of Canadian astronauts.

A Question of Attitude

Even as an astronaut, the chance of going to space is minimal — there are a large number of variables that keep astronauts on land, from changes in health, to changes in technology (the current space vehicles are too small for some astronauts, which means their chance of going into space is zero), to changes in governmental policy. Hadfield dedicated himself to becoming an astronaut, but he insists that even if he had never become an astronaut or never had the chance to fly into space, he would have been happy.

“I never felt I’d be a failure in life if I didn’t get to space,” he writes. “My attitude was more, ‘It’s probably not going to happen, but I should do things that keep me moving in the right direction, just in case — and I should be sure those things interest me, so that whatever happens, I’m happy.”

It’s a question of attitude, he writes, and that means doing everything to ensure success and enjoy the journey. It also means preparing in every way to avoid disaster. Hadfield believes strongly in the power of negative thinking. He believes that it’s important to imagine every possible thing that could go wrong and fully preparing for that eventuality. Of course, accidents still happen — Hadfield talks movingly of losing seven friends in the Columbia Shuttle disaster and losing one of his closest friends in a flight test accident — but fighter pilots and astronauts make every effort to prepare for all contingencies.

You do not “visualize the best outcome,” Hadfield writes, despite what some motivational speakers will tell you. That itself leads to the worst outcome: a disaster for which you are not prepared. It’s also absolutely vital to sweat the small stuff. Hadfield describes how he became blinded during a space walk. The problem: He had poorly cleaned his visor, and some detergent had gotten into his eyes.

As Hadfield notes, what he does is rocket science, but through the compelling stories and important lessons in his book, he makes his readers believe that they can also be rocket scientists or whatever they wish to be — as long as they do more, much more, than wish.

The New Sales Conversation

By the time you present your product or solution to the decision makers of a company, they have already done extensive research on the web, and compared your solution and that of your competitors to their internal checklists. They are already more than half way through the decision-making process before you even get a chance to say a word.

Wouldn’t it be great to know ahead of time what is on those checklists so that you could align your solution to their business priorities? This is what Linda Richardson promises to teach sales people in our upcoming Soundview live webinar, Changing the Sales Conversation.

To engage clients today you must demonstrate that you know their world and that you are prepared with insights and ideas to add to what they already know. Richardson gives you five clear strategies and tools to help you do just that. You will create and shape opportunities, prepare and probe in an entirely new way, gain client consensus, and use sales process and tools to guide and accelerate closing.

Richardson will talk about:

  • Futuring – to prepare for and anticipate customer needs.
  • Heat-mapping – to use insights to focus and engage customers.
  • Value-tracking – to connect your solutions to business outcomes and ROI.
  • Phasing – to use sales process to forecast accurately and close.
  • Linking – to reassert heart and trust into your sales conversations.

Linda Richardson is the Founder and Executive Chairwoman of Richardson, a global sales training business. As a recognized leader in the industry, she has won the coveted Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence for 2006 and in 2007 she was identified by Training Industry, Inc. as one of the “Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals.”

Linda is credited with the movement to Consultative Selling, which is the cornerstone of Richardson’s methodology. Other innovations Linda has spearheaded in the sales training industry are: development of a comprehensive, integrated curriculum dedicated exclusively to sales, commitment to customization vs. generic training, and development of an interactive coaching-type training methodology. Her innovation in eLearning earned Richardson the Best Soft Skills Award from Elearning! magazine and Product of the Year for Richardson SkillGauge™ diagnostics from Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

Invite your whole sales team to this webinar. The price is the same whether you’re sitting alone at your desk, or in a conference room with your team. And for subscribers, this and all Soundview Live webinars are free.

Is Your Board Creating Value?


When to Take Charge, When
to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way

In Boards That Lead, authors Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem argue that boards today have a duty to lead — to take a more active role in making decisions that were once perhaps the sole prerogative of the executive. The reason for the increased active leadership role of boards is the growing complexity and information overload of today’s business environment “across every facet of doing business,” the authors write. They stress, however, that their new model of board leadership is based on a collaborative partnership in which the boards know “when to lead, when to partner, and when to stay out of the way.”

Knowing When to Do What

Perhaps the most important leadership responsibility of the board is to develop the central idea of the company — the practical, guiding core concept of the company that “references why the company exists, whom it serves, how it should be nurtured, why it will flourish, how it will make money and manage risk, and where it must be going if it is to sustain a competitive presence and achieve its broader purpose,” the authors write. “The central idea is the bedrock on which the enterprise is raised and how its resources are spent.”

Boards should also take a leadership role in selecting the CEO; ensuring the board’s competence, architecture and modus operandi; ensuring the ethics and integrity of the company; and defining the company’s compensation.

Boards should partner with the company’s executive on strategy, capital allocation and execution; defining the company’s financial goals; managing risk; allocating resources; developing talent; and developing what the authors call a “culture of decisiveness.”

Finally, according to the authors, boards should stay out of the way for issues of execution and operations as well as non-strategic decisions.

The Apple Example

The productive collaboration between Steve Jobs and the chairman of the Apple Board Edgar S. Woolard, Jr., according to the authors, perfectly exemplifies the meaning of knowing when to lead, partner and stay out of the way. To begin with, it was Woolard who convinced the board to bring Jobs, forced from Apple in 1985, back to the company in 1997 (one of the authors, Ram Charan, was an advisor to Woolard during this period). Jobs agreed on the condition that Woolard replace the entire board, although eventually one other board member was allowed to stay.

With a new board in place and Jobs committed to reviving the fast-declining company, Jobs and Woolard, according to the authors, began a back-and-forth process in which Jobs would come to Woolard with an idea, which Woolard and the board would either approve or disapprove. Jobs, Woolard would say, was always respectful, making a passionate pitch for his ideas but accepting defeat if it came. In many cases, however, Jobs was able to sell Woolard on his ideas. For example, after taking his new leadership position, the authors write, Jobs convinced Woolard to let him stop the Mac clones (an expensive proposition since the clone makers were under contract), fire many of the firm’s engineers, divide the survivors into six teams with whom Jobs would meet once a week, and perhaps most memorably, create an Apple store. Woolard resisted the Apple store, knowing that other computer manufacturers had tried and failed to succeed in retail. He finally acquiesced to only four stores, which the board approved.

Boards That Lead is an owner’s manual, clearly laying out how boards are supposed to operate. The book begins with defining the central idea and recruiting the right board members, then moves to several chapters on managing CEO succession (including identifying failing CEOS and recruiting successful replacements), and finally covers managing risk and avoiding micro-management. All chapters end with a detailed “director’s checklist” to help achieve the responsibilities outlined in the chapter.

In an early chapter, the authors write that board leadership “does not mean wandering into the weeds — micromanagement is decidedly not the point — but laissez-faire is no longer an acceptable posture at many boards either.” This clearly organized and authoritative book will help boards of directors stay as actively involved as they need to be — and no more.