Would A Business Coach Have Helped BCW?

Would A Business Coach Have Helped BCW?

Tackling business – and how to achieve goals, set priorities and improve skills – is often helped with a great cup of coffee (or tea or juice). As a business/career coach, I sometimes treat clients and colleagues, as I advise them on many career and management issues.

And one place I sometimes went was a local longtime coffee-deli-restaurant-bakery place I’ll call BCW (and now closed and replaced by a new business). What happened to the aromatic BCW – and would the benefits of a business coach have helped it?

Though it was a social venue, it often was, like many cafes, a meeting place – if not for high-level business meetings, at least some good exchanges. Its very location was a kind of ‘how to succeed’ geographically. Right on a main street, smack at an intersection and lights, right where the streetcar and bus stop. It was spacious yet intimate, with a summer patio. And the internet, through Reddit, Yelp and other post-it places, has no shortage of opinions and experiences as to why it’s good riddance.

Amidst the raves for certain food items, there were dozens of comments and complaints about the service, the food, the size of the place, and dealing with difficult people – like the owner of the place. (Maybe she was overwhelmed at work.) Many ‘posters’ recommended nearby Starbucks as the better way to go. Amongst the complaints, I began to get the picture of what *might* have been done with this place. ‘What not to do’ morphed into ‘how to manage well, reduce stress at work, meet and exceed goals with great service’ – and overall ‘how to succeed’ in a business.

Good decisions, bad decisions – sometimes it helps to have an outside-inside professional, like a Career Management and Business Coach, to help you manage the myriad issues in your working day. I generally work with corporate upper-management people, but doing business day-to-day involves people from all disciplines. There are some things big executive business can learn from small business, and vice versa.

As for what you can do when you’re at the mercy of the internet, and people dumping on you just because they can? Not much, because the web is all about democracy. That BCW owner will no doubt be coming to grips with the fact that the business she’s closed up just won’t let her alone.

When (and if) you should defend your reputation online is something I’ll address in another post.  For now, try envisioning your business as a kind of main-street cafe. Where everything you do/don’t do is immediately seen – to contribute towards success or disaster. Where the world has a front window on how you prep and implement throughout the day. Where your workplace ambiance has to be pretty darn good for people. And that it’s a kind of meeting-place that succeeds with customers and clients.

Would you like to talk about your business issues over coffee (or alternative)? I offer a free 30-minute consultation. Consider it a great comp appetizer before the ‘entree’ into complete career and business coaching! Brian Epstein, the Success Coach: https://www.epsteinsuccesscoach.ca/

Dragons’ Den Interview With Brian Epstein

Dragons’ Den Interview With Brian Epstein

I was recently interviewed by Dragons’ Den for my expertise on working with friends. Here is the article they published.

Working with a friend seems like a logical and fun proposition. A friendship at work (a “workship,” if you will) can come in many forms — hiring a friend, working for a friend or becoming partners. Having someone in the workplace that you already trust and like can give you a morale boost and an impetus to get some good work done. However, for all its benefits, turning a friendship into a workship can have its risks. Any business association can get complicated or strained, but when it’s with someone you’re already friends with, it can quickly test both ends of the relationship. That’s why it’s crucial to know what qualities to look for in a potential friend-turned-colleague, how to set boundaries and the best ways to manage any conflicts so the partnership can thrive. Here’s how.


Likability is key for a friendship, but it’s merely the tip of the iceberg when working with friends. Whether you’re a friend/boss or a friend/employee, it’s important that you both share core values. Career management and leadership coach Brian Epstein believes the most crucial values in a business relationship between friends (and any business relationship) are integrity, commitment, emotional intelligence, passion, trust and reliability. Beyond this, you should both be able to roll with the punches. A word of warning; if you seriously doubt some of these key values in your friend, it may be best not to work with them.

Is your sibling also your best friend? Epstein also warns that it’s perhaps “a good idea not to bring family members into the business fold,” since familial relationships often have less flexibility than normal friendships.


Establishing clear responsibilities and expectations from the start can prevent a lot of the more common conflicts that arise from working with friends. Epstein even suggests putting together a sort of “prenuptial agreement,” with a “complete understanding of the skills, experience and strengths that each person brings.” This agreement should detail the workload both topically (what each person is responsible for) and time-wise (monthly, weekly, daily), as well as preferred working styles (eg. your friend/boss prefers to have scheduled meetings rather than an open door policy). Be as transparent as possible by outlining your weaknesses, concerns and future ambitions (e.g., determine whether the friend you hired is planning on making this a temporary stepping stone or a long-term position). Remember, this is not an exact science and this agreement can always be subject to review and revision. If possible, you may even want to begin your new partnership with a trial period where you both get to test drive the arrangement and establish clear guidelines from there.

And as your new workplace relationship takes off, you should anticipate a change in your old dynamic. You can’t always be buddy/buddy in a boardroom and you may pull back on the social time you spend together outside of the office because the work time has increased — and that’s okay. Being flexible while adapting to this new relationship will do a lot to ease growing pains.


Any workplace friendship is bound to have its rough patches, and that’s where your guidelines come in handy. For example, if you’re being overworked by your friend/boss or if you feel like your friend/employee is not pulling their weight, referring to the terms in your initial agreement can keep the discussion from becoming too personal, and that is key.

“Conflicts should be about the business,” says Epstein, “no personal attacks should ever happen.” When working toward a solution, Epstein hopes each individual will be willing to talk and listen to the other person’s perspective in a diplomatic manner while using “I” statements to express their concerns. He believes other colleagues can also play a helpful role in tough situations like this, so it may be best to “invite outside opinions and judgements where possible to keep work scenarios unbiased.”

But a friendship-turned-workship is not all doom and gloom because, even in conflict, working with a friend can have its advantages. Don’t overlook the fact that since you started out as friends, you’re already comfortable with each other and you know how to communicate, even when it means tackling tricky situations.

It’s elements like this that can make a workship worth it — but only if the aforementioned values, clarity and adaptability are firmly in place.

Originally published on the CBC’s Dragons’ Den

Need Help With Leadership Skills? Is It The E.I.?

Need Help With Leadership Skills? Is It The E.I.?

Developing your leadership skills has to do with many things – including E.I.

It’s no mystery. Emotional Intelligence is a powerful tool and behaviour to help you achieve business goals and improve the skills of being a leader.

Forbes Magazine calls E.I. ‘the ultimate soft skill.’
(https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2018/09/18/how-to-increase-emotional-intelligence-on-your-team/#142622011fa1) . (more…)

Help Achieve Goals With Identity

Help Achieve Goals With Identity

As a business coach, it’s one of the many things I discuss with clients: how to achieve your goals in the framework of your company name and identity.

For myself, I often have to get it out of the way first – that, yes, my given name is the same as the famous manager of the Beatles from the 1960s. But I don’t work in music.

My business definition as ‘Success Coach’ should make it clearer. I’m here to help companies succeed. As a business coach, I can help guide you towards that success in many ways.

Your corporate identity, brand image and name can stand tall or fall from your company’s actions and reputation.

Consider Wells Fargo, longtime multinational financial-services company. It’s now also known for the scandal of creation of over 2 million fake bank accounts by WF employees. The firm has had to work uphill to return respectability to its name.

This is definitely getting into damage control, and we’ll talk more about that in another blog or few.

General advice about company names include tips like: Watch synonyms and mashups. It shouldn’t need a mini-manual. People should get it right away. And most of all, the name should *stand for something* strong and good.

Apple is a ‘rule-breaker’ because the name doesn’t actually tell you what the company does. It’s all about brand position. People get it right away. It’s as famous as the Beatles ever were, and more people use it, everyday. And a name that big has to be very accountable, and keep on excelling.

Whatever industry you’re in, your name and identity have to stand up for who, what and how successful you are. What do you and your company represent? What are the most important goals you’re working to achieve? What do (business)people think of when they hear your name?

A strong identity built on a strong foundation can be very powerful. And a business coach who works regularly with CEOs and managers of medium- and large-sized companies, can bring you the outside-inside perspective:

  • Help with corporate and business goals.
  • And help in assuring that the identity and reputation you’ve worked so hard to build can be best, if not better.
October Says: Inside Those Insights!

October Says: Inside Those Insights!

As I see the stores piled up with costumes and masks for that frighteningly obvious night October is known for, I reflect that we often go through life not knowing what’s under a disguise. It’s more than having our hands in the no-sugar-added candy pail, and thinking “Gee, if I knew for sure that’s Jim’s kid, I’d give doubles.”

Did you know October is also known for being Gain the Inside Advantage Month’? For someone wanting to pull a heist, they’d have the inside as well as outside advantage at this time. Halloween is good for their business.

In the corporate business world, we spend a lot of time trying to reach and define the inner core of the key to business success – many times each day. Often we have to peel back layers of disguise, denial assumption, or simply corporate red tape to get to the crux of the matter, the advantage that’s concealed.

This is where the insight advantage comes in. Often what’s inside is so deep it can benefit from an outside professional helping to bring it out. That pro can help give you the insight you need, or can help you recognize what you already have.

Just as the so-named book by Robert H Bloom and Dave Conti indicates, The Inside Advantage is the strategy that unlocks hidden growth – and will help you capture, e.g., that magic moment when customers will select your product or service over those of your competitors.

And if you’ve got a great colleague, coach or mentor who can help give you the insight you need (as you may not have time to read this great book), you’ve already got an advantage. Interested in a 30-minute free consultation?…

It’s A Match!

It’s A Match!

The other day I was reading about the Recent Power of 4 Event, in Pointe Claire, QC, run by motivational sales analyst Marcie Balaban of http://letsgetgoing.ca/

She brings together entrepreneurs and upper management of companies, but with no random cocktail-party approach. In elegant surroundings, she carves out a directed meeting between the two, in areas from electronics to real estate, with a common purpose – finding trading partners and referral sources.

It got me thinking about some of the clients I work well with, and how well they work with other people. Let’s face it, we match-make every day and throughout lives, even if we don’t call it that. Will this new employee fit well with our company culture? Will this caterer provide well for our upcoming event that has at least three vegans? Will my upcoming date-night have the potential of providing me with a permanent partner or a gym buddy?

Matchmaking reality shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank also show us each time that there’s a definite process and growing connection going on between potential partners, that has as much to do with the heart as with the head and finances. This eager entrepreneur and that venture capitalist are a match! Sometimes they even hug, and there’s the occasional glint of tears on both sides.

There are some dragon/shark differences. In a Financial Post Magazine article, panelist Kevin O’Leary said, “As a shark I get a pre-pack of where they came from, history, what school they went to. I know more about them as individuals.” And, as follow-up shows show, the matches can pay off big time.

The common purpose is key here. Both parties in a biz deal want it to succeed. They’re coming at it from different places, with different levels of action, experience and contribution. They each have expertise and particular money concerns. Information is exchanged. A connection is made, grows, ignites. And that joining has all the potential to knock your Argyle socks off, with two impassioned experts at their best.

Need some input and coaching on how to make the best matches in your company? Looking for a business coach to help you scale your business or secure a new partner – and who’s a great biz partner for you?

There’s a great way to find out if you and I are a match. That’s my free 30-minute consultation