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Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

Couching Coaching

A column in the current edition of the Insurance Journal brings up the issue of coaching, albeit within the parameters of insurance versus investment advising. 

The author is a long-time coach, author, and keynote speaker, outgrowth of a highly successful career as an insurance advisor and executive manager.  His view is that coaching advice for insurance agents and insurance-based financial advisors needs to differ from that offered to investment advisors.  In practice, many of the former group are exposed to coaching designed for the latter. 

The ‘homogenization’ of financial advisor coaching links to the tenet that “a financial advisor is a financial advisor”.  However, there are key differences in the needs of the two advisor categories.

The ongoing ‘client maintenance demand’ is lower for life insurance agents, due to fewer policy reviews as opposed to portfolio reviews each year.  As a consequence, agents can handle, and require for income, far more clients and client families.  Life agents have ‘a much greater prospecting urgency’ than investment advisors (especially established ones), in order to grow their business to any comparable extent.   These realities need to be addressed in the coaching focus that insurance professionals receive.

Naturally, on a wider sociological scale, not to mention an economic one, coaching means a disparate category of necessary qualifications.   The simple fact of some activities not directly relating to paychecks makes professional grade coaching non-universal.

Take one of the highest profile sub-groups, sports and athletes.  Here, the levels of coaching needed correspond to fairly well-defined factors, including professional vs. amateur, experienced vs. novice, young vs. adult vs. older adult.  In the lower echelons, there’s the issue of paid vs. unpaid – and insofar as the latter, what degree of voluntary effort is reasonable to expect. 

In all cases, there is question about the degree of expertise and capacity to apply while relating to different human ‘pressure points’.  How much should be harnessed from within (the coach) as opposed to without (the one being coached)? 

A tangential issue is how much the mentality, and so approach, of coaching is influenced by the affluence of so many professional athletes, especially the top tiers.

Outside the public arena, one suspects that the preponderance, and omnipresence, of social media means that the practice of being a school teacher means being increasingly confronted with opinionated (therefore, somewhat self-coached) students at earlier stages than in the past.  The reality of student ‘pressure points’ shifting, the adaptability of teaching and the teacher are challenged.  

Back in the business perspective, as my own past experience attests, the manner and effectiveness of presenters providing coaching messages in meetings can be all over the map.  To some extent, impactful circumstances include those beyond a presenter’s control, such as time of day, ambient distractions, and how effective was one’s lead-in.  This is where a clear and adhered-to agenda can be a big help: if attendees are unable or unwilling to focus equally on all parts of a meeting, at least they will be in a position to have their energies maximized for those segments perceived to be of greatest personal value. 

When one combines this physical and mental reality of people, with the inevitable competing attention-grabbers, such as deadlines or commitments awaiting them, not to mention the ripple effects of home life, one can understand the challenge to coaching distracted targets.

Finally, consider the significance of ‘common’ versus ‘uncommon’ counselling.

Common coaching attempts to cover more than one discipline, assuming their similarities are sufficient for transferrable-level advice to be effective.  Often, as in the example of insurance and investment advisors, this may not equate.

Uncommon coaching relates directly to one’s business or activity; its inherent greater efficiency is an engine to greater achievement by the one coached.

‘One size fits all’ is a limited business and social mode of operation.  The same translation is apropos for coaching.

When le Mot Juste Collides with KISS

Recently I received negative feedback from a close relative concerning my alleged tendency to use elaborate, perhaps obscure, words where simpler words would do. 

I was taken aback: I have long felt the richness of the English language is greatly underutilized.  Indeed, many writers, such as detective story master Ellery Queen, have often dropped in uncommon diction.  I have deemed this as opportunity to expand my vocabulary. (more…)

Writing Blogs vs. Writing Books

I’ve written quite a wide number of blogs.

I’ve also recently finished the last draft of my first book.  (I did craft a full length screenplay years ago.  Perhaps deservedly, it’s sitting in a file drawer; a worthy effort, but some re-work from exhibiting film-worthy credentials.)

While it is probably obvious that there are meaningful differences in the approach and execution of the short, to-the-point, blog versus the wide, hopefully well-structured arc, of the full-length story, these are not all necessarily obvious. (more…)

The Write Way

I have finally finished the last draft chronicling my career in the financial services industry.  I have committed to this being the final revision: sooner or later you have to pronounce it so.  (Unless it were to become a screenplay, which would mean no end to potential changes.)  In addition to the months needed to sort through my files and records, it only took me almost five years to complete this project. (more…)

TOP 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2019

The last year of the second decade of the new millennium is upon us; goals both new and refined remain to be clarified & charged up…

  • Lose weight by carrying fewer heavy memories and hefty resolutions
  • Cut and paste pictures of yourself on scenes of faraway places to reduce the size and expense of your bucket list
  • Resolve not to worry about stock market volatility by focusing instead on using more coupons
  • Promise yourself that the next time a fork in the road appears, you’ll take the tines necessary to consider what lies ahead
  • Establish a time capsule business for multi-generational inheritances
  • Discover a new species and become its trusted advisor in multilateral negotiations
  • Memorize the first and last lines of classic books so you sound like you are well read
  • Develop a new social networking site which functions to pass judgement on other social networking sites
  • Start up a Fisherman’s almanac with multiple choice weather predictions allowing the reader to act like a paid forecaster
  • Take a study at home course on how to interact more proactively with others

Objectives like these should set the stage for a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Toast Time

A mini presentation that the vast majority of us likely have to make at one time or another is the Toast.

Whether it’s at a family gathering, or at a send-off for a friend or co-worker, this mini-speech is one where we want to make the best impression possible: on the person or group being saluted with the Toast, and on attendees who depend on us to elevate the occasion with our words and gusto. (more…)

Reaction Times


Anyone able to reflect on this, based on years of personal experience or through research, knows that one of the biggest evolutions since the latter half of the twentieth century has been the speed of communications. Technology has become an indelible, intrusive catalyst of delivery; combined with more recent omnipresence of the internet and social media, has meant being part of a revolution in daily life around the world. (more…)