COACH'd featuring Ron Harvey
I’ve been truly inspired to start these series, and after several months of thoughtful deliberation and mindful contemplation, it finally feels that the time has come to share some of the experiences I have recently been blessed with - the laser coaching sessions generously provided to me by Columbia’s BRIGHTEST, SHARPEST mentors who absolutely dominate their fields of expertise.
My story with Ron Harvey began several years ago, while I was attending Soda City Startup week held by the University in collaboration with a multitude of participating local businesses. In a keynote during the closing ceremony, Ron conducted a presentation that had a tremendous impact on me… It changed me in many ways - mainly, it brought me to the painful realization that as a startup owner (then only a few months into running my marketing company), I had absolutely ZERO sense of self-discipline, and knew of practically NONE of the ways to keep myself accountable to the goals I set.
The realization was so uncomfortable that despite feeling a bit nervous to approach Ron after the presentation, I went for it and introduced myself. I knew I had to make a BIG, scary step towards conquering my inner demons - I had to admit to having them. So right after the introduction, I took the leap. It sounded something like: “Mr. Harvey, your presentation made me realize that as a small business owner I have no sense of self-discipline and no way to keep myself accountable. I end up setting goals I never reach, planning tasks I never complete, and feeling like the vision I have for my business is impossible because of all this. I just wanted to tell you the truth. What would you recommend?”
Ron Harvey was silent for a moment, attentively studying me. After the pause, looking straight into my eyes, he said: “I appreciate your honesty. Awareness is the first step. What you need is an accountability partner, someone that will hold you to your word. You’ve probably had managers and bosses do this in the past, when you were an employee. As a business owner, it is important to realize that you can’t do it all on your own. Find someone you can trust. Someone you respect enough to honestly report on your progress. Then let me know how it goes for you.”
We shook hands, and shaking from the intensity of this brief interaction (mostly, from the shock of admitting so blatantly to something I was so ashamed of) I walked away with his business card, going straight home - as it was the end of the finale banquet - and journaling for hours to put my own thoughts about all this into perspective.
A few months later, I interviewed Ron for my emerging community-centric initiative, #InfluenceColumbia - and you can still watch our interview HERE. I was so impressed with Ron’s keynote that I wanted to get to know more about the origins of his depths of wisdom. We talked about his career in the service, his leadership, management and coaching experience. Ron shared priceless pearls of advice: among them, how to stay on track, how to build resilience, and how to grow your business when facing adversity and challenges. This account of his career and experience was so impactful that it took me days to really “ingest”.
After the interview, Ron told me to call on him if I ever need his input or perspective on a problem. I decided to “save” that generous offer for a time I would really need it. Now, almost two years following our initial meeting, I called in the favor and scheduled a 30-minute get-together with him at Panera Bread in the Vista. What followed were 50 minutes of intense, focused coaching. I am thankful for taking notes - our meeting with Ron Harvey ended up being PACKED with perhaps the most valuable business tips that I have ever been exposed to. It is now time for me to return the favor - to both Ron and this incredible community that I am so honored to be part of (i.e. YOU GUYS).
Here are the highlights of my laser coaching session with Ron Harvey:
Sales comprise about 60% of time & focus for a new (1 or 2 year old) business.
Once again, I told Ron the harsh truth about my business - after nearly two years of owning my company, I felt like I have not progressed even 25% as much as I envisioned in the very beginning. He told me to forget that I’ve been in business for two years and think of my company as if I am just NOW starting it. He told me to focus 60% of all my work time, efforts, goals setting, thoughts, and activities on SALES - all stages of the sales process. If something that I would like to do or work on doesn’t fall into the “sales” category, he advised, I would wait-list it until I have some free time. After a year or two of this sales-driven operation, he said, if what I do is any good, the clients will begin requesting my services, and business expansion should then become more of a priority.
Who is in the room? Building intentionally productive relationships.
Second, Ron advised that I review my behavior in networking & social event settings. It logically follows that if sales were to become my predominant focus in all business activities, I should also make sure I am spending my time wisely (and productively) when I’m out and about, attending community events and meeting new people. Ron is a family man and believes that enjoying dinner and having a good time with his wife or friends is something that should be reserved for the time spent off work. Otherwise, while attending professional events, he wastes no time on eating, drinking, mindless chatter or staring out the window. He is strategic in his approach and makes sure he walks away with either (a) strategic alliances, (b) potential new client connections, or (better yet) both.
Learning from informational interviews about the needs of the community.
I had a chance to bring up my #InfluenceColumbia initiative (which Ron participated in about a year ago). As creating community-centric content is deeply engrained into the vision I have for my company, Ron suggested that I find some time to interview members of the community to find out what they want. He said it is crucial to get the input from the audience, to learn about their needs, and to find means to retain that valuable information. It’s easy to get carried away with your own visions at times, he explained, to the point that you become disconnected from the “WHY?” of doing it so much so that you end up wasting a lot of time and missing the audience you intended to serve completely.
Solution can be found by LISTENING!
Ron’s strategy in consulting is all about listening. His company, Global Core Strategies & Consulting, specializes in coaching business owners and entire businesses through transformation, expansion, and change. He explained that often a client will present a problem that he or she thinks their company faces; after active and engaged listening, however, the REAL problem might emerge. The effectiveness of Ron Harvey’s work depends on the quality of his listening to uncover not only the problem, but the solution to it as well. He emphasized that good listening skills are unmatched if one wants to be successful in business.
Do NOT limit your Vision!!!
When I began describing the vision I had for my interview initiative and my company, Ron advised me to stop limiting myself and my dreams. He warned me against thinking too small and focusing on what’s currently in front of me, seen as “reality”. He said that doing so will only serve to keep me where I am, and will not at all be helpful if I want to grow - as a business owner and as a person. He said that it’s good to have a clear, specific vision, but at the same time detrimental to put a cap on your potential growth or limit your dreams. Instead, he suggested practicing visualization of what would my business “look like at the very best I can currently imagine” - and reverse engineering the strategy that can get me there, while staying open to (and prepared for!) the possibility that the growth will exceed my highest expectations.
How to achieve what you’ve never done before?
Expanding on the previous suggestions, Ron talked about the all-too-well known problem: how does one get to achieve what they have not done or experienced before? Here, visualization comes in handy. However, he suggested that I stay vigilant in observing and constantly pushing the limits of my comfort zone. He said that staying within one’s comfort zone is a sure recipe for stagnation and depletion of self worth. Overcoming your fears, even if it’s just one at a time, instead builds confidence and helps you tackle bigger challenges because of the snowball effect of developing a habit of constantly stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Look for opportunities to HELP.
Finally, Ron talked to me about the importance of helping. Helping people, businesses, organizations, the entire community does not only help them, but helps YOU to see yourself as a solution, as someone who is WORTHY of other people’s trust. That’s just how human beings are wired - we are happiest when we help those around us and accept help from others as well. Ron said that I’m far from being the only “newbie” business owner who struggles with issues of self worth, and asking others to pay me for my work. He suggested that the best way to overcome those issues was constant collaboration with others - helping, accepting help, and building happiness within (myself) and without (in the community).
At the very end, as we shook hands before we parted, Ron told me that he believes in me. As I wrap up this article, I want to do the same - for YOU.
I believe in you. I really do. Let’s make our community even better than it already is - by believing in each other, by helping each other, and by sharing our experiences with each other!
Let’s do this TOGETHER, y’all.