Coaching Can Put You on the Path to Success by Paul Riecks

Some years ago, a member of a business owner peer group responded to a roundtable question about what he planned to do to get ready for the coming year. His answer surprised a number of people who were expecting the usual strategies of goal setting, customer research, talking with the bank to raise money. What he said was, “I first try to think about what my path to success should be to reach my goals and the goals of the business.“ He said that everyone has a different idea of their path but not many actually sit down and think it through in actionable detail.

 The next question was how do you do that? His answer was, “I talk with all my “coaches” and they help me mark out the path. Those of you around this table are on my list of coaches. So are people I have met along the way whose opinions I respect and who have the courage to ask me the tough questions I need to answer whether I like some of those questions or not.”

He added that he also had a 1:1 coach that he hired several years before with whom he talks once a month. “At the end of each of our talks, we agree on tasks I want and need to complete and goals I want me and the business to meet. We start the next week with me reporting the results to the coach. The toughest part of that conversation is talking about why some of the tasks were not completed and goals that were not met. “

Several people in the meeting looked shocked at all the effort he was putting into actually reporting to people who were outside his company and they asked why he did all that. His answer was very interesting. “I believe that accountability is the main driver of accomplishment. All of us in this room lead an organization. Unless we are publicly traded, we do not have a board of directors looking over our shoulder. Maybe some of us have our businesses to avoid the scrutiny and roadblocks we may have faced elsewhere as employees. But at some point, we come to realize that we need something and some people who want us to succeed and help us get out of our own way on the path to the success we seek. They probably don’t tell us what to do. They help with questions and conversations that help us ourselves get clear and specific about what we need to do.”

So, it you are wondering if you need to see if coaching can help you have a more successful path, look up certified business coaches and business leader peer group firms and find resources and people that are a good fit with you and get on that path.


Paul Riecks is a Principal at INSIGHT.  At INSIGHT, we believe that every business has the opportunity and the potential to be as successful as its owners want it to be and deserves the chance to reach that potential. One of the best resources available to business owners and CEOs for help in reaching their company's potential is the deep pool of knowledge shared with other business owners and CEOs. So, what we do is form INSIGHT Groups-each with 10-15 owners and CEOs- and facilitate their monthly meetings where they advise each other, share ideas and experiences and gain the clarity they need to achieve the success they seek.


Friday, January 4 - Maryland Bankers Association - 12 Annual “First Friday” Economic Outlook Forum - 10:0am - 2:30pm - Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel

WHY?  This event tends to sell out.  Local economic experts will discuss both current events and and the future of the region’s economy.  Great crowd of influential business owners, ceo’s and executives.

Wednesday, January 9 - The Daily Record - Annapolis Summit 2019 - 7:30am - 9:30am - The Governor Calvert House

WHY?  If you’re curious about what the Governor, Senate President & House Speaker have to say about the upcoming session than I’d recommend you attend.  Networking is good with attendance historically around 100.

Also, if you’re looking for another legislative event check out the GBC’s 2019 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Forum.

Wednesday, January 9, Howard County Chamber of Commerce - Young Professionals Networking Mixer - 7:00pm - 9:00pm - The Soundry

WHY?  I haven’t attended one of these yet but I’ve heard good things.  It’s inexpensive and I’ve heard it’s a great place to meet up-and-coming leaders.

Thursday, January 10 - MEDA - 2019 MEDA Winter Conference - 8:00am - 1:00pm - Governor Calvert House

WHY? Public and private-sector leaders discuss the economic development-related legislation that will be considered for the 2019 session.  Two great panels plus keynote by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford

Thursday, January 17 - ACG - MD Deal Market Update - 7:30am - 9:30am - The Maryland Club

WHY? Great place to meet professional services firms, investors, M&A professionals and the region’s top dealmakers.

Thursday, January 17 - Anchor Ventures - Passion to Profit - A Quick-Fire Showcase of Inspired Innovation - 4:00pm - 7:00pm - Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures

WHY? Learn about upcoming tech companies and the entrepreneurs behind them.  I’ve been to a couple of these and they’ve never disappointed.

Tuesday, January 22 - Bisnow - Baltimore Opportunity Zones - 7:30am - 10:30am - Venue TBA

WHY?  Great panel to discuss the new law on Opportunity Zones and tax incentives for developers. There are 42 tracts designated as Opportunity Zones in Baltimore.  Learn how you can take advantage. Expect great crowd of developers, investors, entrepreneurs.


Tuesday, December 4

The Future of Downtown Baltimore

7:30am - 10:30am
Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor
WHY?  Great topic and speakers.  There will be discussion around investing in the CBD, the national Opportunity Zone program and the future of the urban core.

Wednesday, December 5

Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce
Digital Marketing Workshop

9:00am - 12:00pm
Sheraton Baltimore North
WHY?  I haven't been to this before but the topic and guest speakers seem interesting.  Google and Constant Contact will be presenting.

Wednesday, December 5

Building Congress & Exchange
Holiday Party & Annual Meeting

5:00pm - 7:00pm
WHY?  Great opportunity to meet leadership of BCE and mingle with other executives in the construction, real estate and development community.   

Wednesday, December 12

Maryland Nonprofits
2018 Holiday Party

5:00pm - 7:00pm
Howard County Conservancy
WHY?  I attended last year and if you're looking to meet nonprofit professionals and professional services executives this is a good event.  It's also a great opportunity to meet with the MD Nonprofit staff to learn more about how this organization is supporting our nonprofit community.

Tuesday, December 18

Greater Baltimore Committee
Newsmaker Breakfast: Meet Baltimore’s New Faces in Annapolis

7:30am - 9:30am
GBC Offices
WHY?  I like these events because they are typically small and you have the opportunity to meet some good people in a very casual environment.  The programs are usually good too and the topic is timely.

Tuesday, December 18

Baltimore Business Journal
Digital Marketing Seminar Series - Refresh for 2019

8:00am - 11:00am
Media Star Promotions
WHY?  If you're looking to engage with small business owners and take in some great information from local experts this is a good event.  The topic will focus on brand and brand experience.



Saturday, November 17

Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic
Charm City Celebration of Wishes

7:00pm - 11:30pm
Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor

WHY?  Celebrating their 35th anniversary to support local wishes and enjoy a taste of Maryland

Wednesday, December 5

Greater Baltimore Committee
Mayor's Business Recognition Awards Luncheon

11:30am - 1:30pm
Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

WHY?  This annual event draws a great crowd of distinguished executives and honorees.  The sponsorship list is impressive too  

Friday, December 14

BWI Business Partnership
December Signature Breakfast

7:30am - 9:30am
The Westin BWI Airport

WHY?  Keynote by Comptroller, Peter Franchot about recent changes to federal tax law and how they will affect individuals and businesses.  Expect a great networking crowd.

Monday, December 17

The Daily Record
ICON Honors

4:30pm - 7:30pm
The Center Club

WHY? The Daily Record's annual event honoring Maryland business leaders over the age of 60.  Great opportunity to meet some of the regions most prolific movers and shakers.


Thursday, November 1

Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce
Breakfast with the Mayor
 7:30am - 10am
Horseshoe Casino

WHY? Should be an interesting opportunity to hear what the Mayor has to say about what's happening in the city.  The BCCC has a great group of sponsors and I suspect they will have a great crowd of decision makers

Thursday, November 1

Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce
2018 Business Hall of Fame & Award Dinner

6:00pm - 9:00pm
The Ballroom @ LIVE! Casino & Hotel

WHY?  Impressive Hall of Fame & Business Awards honorees.  Expect a great crowd of local business owners & executives.

Monday, November 5

The Daily Record
Most Admired CEO's

5:15pm - 9:00pm
Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel

WHY?  This is one of The Daily Record's signature events that supports a great group of sponsors and doesn't disappoint on the selection of CEO's & business owner

Wednesday, November 7


Renaissance Fine Arts

WHY?  Sounds like a fun and interesting take on networking events. David Gertler of Treble will keynote the night

Friday, November 9

Futurefy Work
Design Lab 1

8:00am - 4:00pm
Axis Research & Technologies

WHY? For small business owners & HR professionals.  Workshop dedicated to the future state of work.  Intimate educational event to help you create a roadmap for your organization's employee experience

Wednesday, November 14

Greater Baltimore Committee
Bridging the Gap Achievement Awards

5:30pm - 8:30pm
Horseshoe Casino

WHY? Celebrate exceptional minority and women-owned businesses and majority businesses and executives who nurture the development of minority business in Baltimore.  Always a great crowd and sponsors

Thursday, November 15

Baltimore Business Journal
40 Under 40

5:30pm - 7:30pm
Hard Rock Cafe

WHY? One of my favorite events of the year.  Exciting, fun night of meeting the Baltimore regions top young talent.  As always, there's an impressive list of diverse executives and business owners

Thursday, November 29

Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland
Champions of Maryland Manufacturing Gala

6:00pm to 9:00pm
Martin's West

WHY?  RMI's annual gala celebrates the best of manufacturing in Maryland with multiple awards categories including this year's Grand Champion of MD Manufacturing, Aris Melissaratos.  Come and join multiple sponsors and executives from all over the state.


When you’ve finally made the decision to hire a business development professional, you envision a jump in prospective customers, an increase in sales, and a significant bump in profits. As the owner, you’ve been making it happen for quite a while and are now ready to turn it over to someone so that you can focus on new markets, new products or new services.

But that’s not what happens. In fact nothing happens, other than the fact that that you are now paying for someone who you had hoped would justify their salary quickly. So you wait. When things don’t improve, you restate the goals. You ask how they are spending their time. You may even do some of their job because it’s easier and faster to do it yourself rather than create a structure, train and goal set, and then provide performance management, feedback, and coaching.

It’s annoying. You finally realize that you don’t have the patience or time to provide the support they need to produce results. And what is more frustrating than being a manager who has to call in help to deal with someone in business development who is failing? Being a consultant who learns that a manager has waited too long to get support for dealing with that failing employee.

It’s understandable. Most of us defer difficult conversations. We hope things will get better on their own (they won’t). We don’t like conflict or friction (who does?). We don’t have time to think about the best way to have the conversation (but developing talent is really the heart of a manager’s job).

While the discomfort may not be able to be completely extracted from this conversation, here are some ideas about how to step in firmly to this critical situation:

Don’t kick the can down the road: Procrastination is not helpful. There is a good chance the employee already has some idea that they are not being successful.  Dealing with problems when they are small is not only easier than when they are larger, but the manager isn’t as frustrated with the employees’ performance (which can come off as angry rather than supportive).

Look in the mirror: Have you done everything you can to make sure your employee can be successful? Have you provided the training, information, coaching, tools, and feedback? If not, some of their lack of success may lie with you.

Don’t bury the lead: People often try to obscure hard conversations by starting with casual chatter (the weather, the recent football game, a family member’s accomplishment). Be respectful and get to the point. Acknowledge that it’s a serious conversation about performance.

Be specific: Give examples of where the employee fell short, what they did or didn’t do, how that impacted the result, and ultimately what you expected. If there are templates or samples of what you were hoping to see, provide them. Can you state clearly who your target demographic is? If not, the employee may be spinning their wheels running don’t leads nad prospects that are not a good fit for your firm.

Focus on results: The goal is not to blame the employee but to discover how they ended up with sub-standard results. Ask open-ended questions that illuminate their thought process (Can you walk me through your thinking on this?) Be upbeat about your desire to see them succeed and ask if there is a role you can play in insuring that.

Stop talking and listen: Giving direction to employees who are not providing you with outcomes you expected may not be about misunderstanding the goal but problems with the process they are using to attain the goal. Give them a chance to talk and tell you how they approached the work. They may be able to provide clues as to why the output didn’t match your expectations. Are they clear about the unique aspects of your industry and the business?

Post-Mortem Sessions: Is there a clear understanding of what when wrong? Understanding why a proposal was rejected is the first and best step to improving the outcome next time. Help the employee have a conversation about what a prospect wanted to see and didn’t – to get feedback.

Write it down: Be clear about what you want to talk about and what you want the employee to walk away with. It’s easy to misremember what is said and you want to insure there is no misunderstanding about expectations and next steps.  Do you use a CRM? There should be a vehicle to organize, track, follow up and follow through with the sales cycle. Use it together.

Smile and follow through: If you ask a failing employee to come to you for help, don’t be annoyed when they do exactly that. You want to stay in the loop MORE not less, until they have the skill and the confidence to be successful. In fact, modeling follow up is critical for an employee; it helps them see how critical a continuation of important conversations are. Building a relationship is as important as the transaction.  

Every manager has been in a situation where an employee is not producing the results they had hoped to see. This is a part of the job that is not as much fun as applauding great results. It requires thought, planning, and practice.

Rather than think about these conversations as an uncomfortable part of the job, try thinking of them instead as a great way to improve your relationship, further both your professional life and that of your employee’s and advance the happiness of everyone. Focusing on getting better at these kinds of conversations rather than avoiding makes it better for everyone. Have them sooner.

by Joni Daniels, Principal & Founder, Daniels & Associates

Let Your Competition Put You In Your Place by Ann Quinn

Every organization has competition, and those competitors will always have attributes and capabilities that make them shine. While it’s tough to admit your competition might be stronger than you – even beating you in the marketplace – those organizations are actually doing yours a big favor.

They’re giving you the chance to see where you stand and then learn exactly how to beat them.

That’s because understanding each of your competitor’s advantage is the first step in figuring out how to overcome it. In fact, smart organizations continually examine and learn from their competition in order to determine where the opportunities and pitfalls are, as well as what story to tell and how to tell it in a more compelling way.


Construct a competitive matrix that will help you monitor and navigate the competitive landscape. Include both stronger and weaker competitors in your analysis and make sure your matrix has space for data on offerings, pricing, partners and go-to-market strategies.

This will help you understand two things:

  • How you rank against all competitors

  • How to reorient the playing field to highlight your own advantage

Additionally, if you have a friendly relationship with a competitor who is doing something better than you, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. There is room in the marketplace for able competitors and plenty of leaders enjoy mentoring others in their industry – even if they’re competing in the same geographic market. In fact, you might be surprised by how open most organizational leaders are.

Finally, use all the information you collect to improve everything from offerings and pricing to partnerships and your go-to-market strategy.

Building a Competitive BD Strategy

Early in my career, I learned the valuable lesson of building a competitive advantage and using business development strategy to do so.  In the mid-90’s I was the advertising and marketing director for a small daily newspaper in Troy, NY. If you've ever been to the Capital District of Upstate New York, you'll know that Troy is the smallest of the three major cities in the region which also include Schenectady and Albany.  Because of the competitive nature of the market I learned that being different, being determined and understanding niche markets was a great way for me to compete.

Dealing with the competition isn’t the same for everyone of course however being different, being determined and understanding potential niche markets can prove to be an excellent strategy.  In that market, all three organizations competed for the same business. We all tried to undercut one another on rate. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Overall it was difficult for me because the circulation of our daily was considerably lower than my competition and there was nothing I could do about that so instead getting into a rate war I decided to go another route.  I created a niche product division to target specific revenue markets that the other newspapers weren’t targeting but had significant revenue potential. I developed a business development plan to identify those markets, understand the revenue potential, the cost to entry and a timeline to success.

That basic plan included:

  • Staff reallocation and hiring

  • Developing processes and procedures

  • Setting goals on revenue and activity

  • Developing KPI’s (key performance indicators)

  • Developing multiple tactics to reach prospects & partners

  • Setting Accountability measures to ensure success

I hired a sales person to specifically target those niche markets outside our regular products so they could brand themselves as the expert in those areas.  I trained them how to prospect, sell, close and build relationships with the right prospects, partner organizations and associations. We were determined to make it work and after 9 months and following the plan we produced 3 new niche publications that brought in over $100,000 in new business.

As I mentioned, everyone is different when looking at their competition and how they should proceed with a plan, the point is you should have a plan, you should think differently, you should be determined and have an understanding of niche markets that can move the needle in your organization.


Wednesday, October 3

Business Opportunity Network/Catholic Business Network of Baltimore
Guinness Brewery Tour Networking Event

5:00pm - 8:00pm
Guinness Brewery

WHY?  It's at the Guinness Brewery!  I recently joined a BON group and have found it very helpful.  This event will bring out a lot of business owners, c-suite individuals
For Details, Click Here

Thursday, October 4

Beta City

3:00pm - 11:45pm
City Garage

WHY?  This is one of my favorite events of the year.  I love the Venture Capital Pitch Competition, there are tons for great sponsors and a crowd of heavy-weight tech entrepreneurs.
For Details, Click Here

Wednesday, October 17th

Linkedin Local Baltimore
Meetup Networking Event

6pm - 9:00pm
Spirit Cruises

WHY? Hiring strategist, CEO & Founder of Jeffrey Agency and University Recruiters, Jeff Martin will keynote.  Good networking and very relevant topic
For Details, Click Here

Tuesday, October 30th

Executive Alliance
Women of Excellence - Celebrating 25 Years: The Power of Change

5:30pm - 9:00pm
Martin's West

WHY? Beth Comstock, author and former Vice Chair of General Electric will be the keynote.  Expect a great crowd of women business owners and entrepreneurs
For Details, Click Here

Performance, Attitude & Development Drive Sales by Alan Dobzinski, Founder, Accountability Experts, Inc

Business development is activities driven. Seems simple. The more emails, calls, and meetings you set equal a higher probability of closing a sale. Although as business leaders today know, there’s more to it than that. To truly measure a successful business development person, we use a rating scale called P.A.D. P is for Performance, A is for Attitude, and D is Development.

P is for Performance. Performance is about the employee. The first question to ask yourself about each of the BD people that you manage is, on a scale from 1 to 10, how well are they performing? The average we hear is a 6. Let's break that down into dollars and cents. If you answer 6 out of 10 then you’re getting $0.60 on every dollar that you spend. If you’re paying them $100,000 a year, $40,000 is being washed down the drain. Maybe you say that seems high, well cut it in half. That’s still $20,000.

A is for Attitude. Attitude is about the employee. Have you ever had a top performer that was less than pleasurable to work with? How would you rate their attitude on a scale from 1 to 10? They complain all the time, create problems, and drag other employees into their drama. Attitude is just as important to your bottom line as performance is. The key is to have a hungry salesperson who needs development over a top performer with a bad attitude.

D is for Development. Development is about you, the leader, asking your employees what you can do for them to help them be successful. Right now, how well are you developing your employees on a scale from 1 to 10? The best way to develop your employees is through regularly-scheduled accountability meetings. More often than not, business leaders fall short on developing their employees and then wonder why their performance is lacking. They tell them what they’re not doing right but don’t ask how they can help. Employees, especially sales people, are thrown out there and expected to succeed. When leaders spend time developing their employees the number on the scale is guaranteed to go up and that’s when you see the results fall straight to your bottom line.

You can’t change someone's attitude but you can ensure success by helping them develop areas that need improvement by asking open-ended questions about how you can help them. An example that comes to mind is an employee who had a great attitude, they came to work energized and ready to go. Although they just couldn’t quite close the number of sales they needed to hit quota. After asking some open-ended questions in a regularly-scheduled accountability meeting, this business leader discovered that they really didn’t understand one of the product lines being offered. Therefore, they didn’t feel comfortable selling it. The solution was simple, and they received some additional training and shadowed another salesperson in a few meetings.

If that business leader hadn’t asked the employee how they can help, they probably would have ended up firing them and hiring another, which inevitably would cycle through the same process and fail. That employee is now a top performer, has a great attitude and is a role model for the rest of the sales team! When you hold your employees accountable for their activities, hire for attitude, and invest time developing them, success is inevitable.