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Who needs a coach?

I spent the last three days in the U.C. Davis Agribusiness Executive Conference, where about 100 agricultural executives gathered to study other Ag businesses and have deep business discussions. It was held in Newport Beach, California.

As I left the conference, I couldn’t help but think about how important it is in business and in life, to continue to be curious and to not feel like you need to make the journey alone.  I traded book recommendations with other attendees and exchanged business cards.  We talked about how brave you have to be to ask for help and support and share your fears and questions with others.

Based on the Harvard University Socratic Case study method, I applaud the companies who open their businesses to the case writers who help identify business challenges, interview company employees and leaders, and then present the case to the attendees.  We receive about 6-8 separate cases to read in advance and then participate in small group breakout sessions, prior to meeting with the company executives, to ask questions, and ponder what we would do if it was our company.

Discussing the issues are always top of mind, but what I enjoy most are meeting and talking with people. Even though this seminar is focused on California agriculture, we have attendees from around the world.  I met a gentleman from Spain, from Ireland, from Morocco, plus growers and businesspeople from Canada and Mexico.

Since I sold my family business, Frieda’s Specialty Produce about 14 months ago, this was the first time my name badge listed me as “Karen Caplan, Executive Coach & Growth Catalyst”.  Several months ago, I commenced my executive coaching business, so this was the first time I introduced myself as a coach.

Person after person had the same reaction to my new business:  Most everyone I spoke with has worked with a business coach!  Whether they are multinational companies (who utilize the same coach for many of their company executives), or family-owned businesses, almost to a person, they all extol the virtues of having access to an outsider, with an independent perspective.

One second generation business owner was there with his father and having seen them both at every conference for the last 10 years, I noticed a huge change in their roles. The son had significantly more self-confidence than when I first met him, and he told me the difference was being a part of a CEO group plus having a business coach. The CEO group of 8-10 non-competing companies functioned like an outside board of advisors.  The business coach helped him hone his management skills, plus provided a more individualized approach to growing as a leader.

I have worked as a business coach for the last 7 years and been part of a CEO group for more than 20 years.  The input and support of these outside resources was invaluable to my personal and professional success.  If you know of a business leader who wants to improve either their company and/or professional performance, let them know that it is not a sign of weakness to work with a coach.

A bit of self-promotion: I have one or two spots available in my client portfolio and have many other coaches in my network to provide referrals to.

The job of CEO is one of the loneliest positions, as who do you really have to talk to?  That’s why a coach is such a valuable resource.

Onward and upward,

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