Martin Brossman – About going into business for myself

Martin Brossman
Martin Brossman

I think my passion for small business really started with my father. One of the greatest joys of his career was the feeling of independence he experienced while working as a management consultant. His rate of pay was a hundred dollars per day, which was a big deal at the time. Another benefit to his independent job was that we got to spend time together. I was able to help him perform one of his job duties by assembling manuals, which is where I observed his passion for independent work. He enjoyed the feeling of being in charge of his own fate, even though he was responsible for everything associated with his business.

Even though these early experiences with my father planted the seeds of independent work in my mind, I realized I needed to get some work experience under my belt before that route would become feasible. During a period of time working as a manager of Radio Shack, I found myself wanting more out of life than that position could offer. As I wondered where to go next, it didn’t take long for me to zero in on IBM, because it seemed like the premier company to work for at the time. I soon discovered that my target position was laden with prerequisite work.

From the time I set my sights on IBM, it took me over four years to reach my goal. I attended classes at Wake Technical Community College and got accepted into a co-op program with IBM field service. By this point, my enthusiasm was running high, so I contacted IBM’s field service manager, Don Cate, repeatedly. I gave him updates about what I was learning and experiencing about every six months or so, saying “Hi, Don, I want you to know I’ve learned these skills since we last spoke, so when you hire me, I’ll be ready for you.”

Don finally answered my call one day, saying, “Martin, I’m either going to have to hire you or call the police. There’s just no other way about it!” I was understandably upset to hear that response, so I said, “Don, I really want to work there, but I don’t mean to be a burden to you, I only want to keep you updated.” He surprised me by chuckling, “no, I’m really calling you to give you a job. I want to bring you in on the project. I know we’re going to find a place for you after the project is over because I’ve never known anyone to pursue a job at IBM so relentlessly.”

Well, after seven years, I discovered that the corporate world was not right for me. IBM’s Human Resources offered to administer personality tests, so I took one of their Myers-Briggs type tests. The person who interpreted my results pointed out that for all the indicators of 90% of the IBM MERS, I did not overlap any of the points. These test results confirmed my feeling that I didn’t fit in that environment. I realized I had been suppressing my natural predilection toward independent thinking by working at IBM.

With this newfound clarity, I began studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming. While I was helping the teacher demonstrate techniques, one of my classmates noticed that I had a gift for coaching. She said that I seemed to have a talent for guiding people and helping them get what they want, and others in the room agreed with her. What a novel idea, I thought. In 1990-1991, when I began pursuing the idea, there were no certification programs devoted to personal or business coaching that I could find. However, my interest was piqued, so I started looking for people who were making a living as a coach.

I found some personal coaches and business coaches, and I hired them to teach me the ropes. I also remembered that my customers at IBM had often commented that the best part about working with me wasn’t my helping them with their computer problems, it was the advice I gave them about their lives. These customers’ comments gave me the validation I needed to see value in following this new path. It dawned on me that I have a good ear for hearing what people need to do next in order to move forward in their lives and I have a real passion for helping people live their dreams.

If you’re going to live your dreams, you have to make a good living to support those dreams. That’s what drove me to becoming a success coach. In 1995, I left IBM to start out on my own, using my side PC business to keep me afloat until I felt confident enough to sell it to a gentleman who maintained it for many years before he retired, having raised several children on its income.

Once I sold my side business, I devoted myself to building my business life coaching practice, which I call “success coaching.” My approach is based on the idea that real success comes from having integrity in both your personal life and your business life. I focused first on small business owners because they are closest to my heart and my practice grew from there. Here’s why I love working with small business owners: often in a large corporation, people can get lost in their efforts to manage the perception of some perceived indicators versus actually serving the customer who’s currently in front of them. The process of having to create real value for your individual small business customers creates a clear level of integrity. For example, if you own an ice cream shop, you’ve got to deliver a consistent quality of ice cream and service to keep customers happy enough that they’ll want to keep coming back and buy it from you again.

What’s so appealing to me about small and micro businesses is the intrinsic integrity involved in the enterprise. To illustrate what I mean, let’s pretend you have a coffee shop. No matter what kind of person you are, if you don’t deliver an honest cup of coffee and follow through with the integrity of taking care of your customers, you’ll go out of business. This is a grounding type of phenomenon that doesn’t occur as easily in the corporate world, only in micro or small businesses. I innately understand the dynamics and integrity of the small business world much better than how to manage a corporation’s stockholders’ short-term perceptions.

What’s more important than actually delivering a great product? What is best for the customer and then charging a fair rate that matches the value. So it’s a win-win for them, a win-win for me, in the sense of, I’ve got to make enough profit to keep going, getting involved in my clients’ businesses, working for many years on my practice. Then around 2006, I realized how much I love training.

Around this time, my friend David Williams was teaching around the state in the small business centers, and I started joining him on his trips. We had a great time together and I really enjoyed myself. At the end of one of the classes, I told him that I loved taking care of the participants and teaching them, and I could tell that he loved it, too. I remarked that I’d like to become more involved, so when he moved on to do other things, he let me take over the business of teaching and training. It felt like a gift to me, to be able to teach all over the state at the small business centers. I realized how critical it is to serve these small communities; we start from the ground up.

I’ve been teaching and training since 2008, and I’ve learned so much about what a wonderful state I live in. In keynote addresses all around the United States, I’ve spoken about what I’ve learned from my experiences teaching in North Carolina. I’ve seen many solutions arise from people falling in love with their communities, finding what’s great about them, and encouraging folks to buy from local small businesses instead of big corporations. My core mission became clear after doing a lot of personal development work, looking at what I wanted to commit my life to. Because being on this planet, focused on my needs alone, just being here to serve my own self-interests, didn’t seem meaningful enough to keep me interested.

It just didn’t. It’s like, “okay, then I get more toys, then they get things, is that it?” Not that I don’t enjoy technology and toys, of course I do, but that’s not enough. After I realized I needed more, I crafted the mission that oversees all of my life, which is to help people live lives that they love so much that on their own deathbed, when they reflect back over their entire life, they’re literally moved to tears by the life they live. The quality of their life was so exceptional, outstanding, beautiful, and fulfilling that they’re moved to tears by the life they lived. That only happens by giving to others. It doesn’t happen by just serving yourself. That’s the core mission of my life. I implement this through helping individuals, helping towns, helping businesses, helping communities, and having the gift of being part of their world.

Hear the full story in this

Going Beyond Conflict Resolution is Embracing Conflict as a Doorway to New Opportunities

Conflict ResolutonThe bottom-line cost to avoiding conflict is tremendous, but few people are taught how to be effective with conflict. My introduction to the subject surfaced just out of college when I discovered I did not have sufficient tools to deal with conflict on the job.   Promoted to manager of a retail store with one of the highest levels of shoplifting in the city, I decided I’d better learn about conflict pronto.

That was the start of my training in the martial art of Aikido, which views physical conflict as a state of imbalance. It teaches that we become stronger in the process of transforming conflict. In Aikido, instead of trying to be stronger than your attacker, you come from a centered place and then meet them, blend with them and ultimately lead them to a place that does little or no harm to the attacker. You are responsible for your own well-being and that of the attacker. When I mapped these principles on to the conflicts that occurred in my retail store, I discovered that I not only resolved the conflicts but also developed more loyal customers and trusted friends.

Later when I joined IBM, I had become so adept at handling conflict that a manager from upstate New York flew in to meet the customer service rep—me– who “liked having people yell at him and could save large contracts.”

So what are the core principles I discovered?

1. Understand their upset.

Treating conflict with calm controlled behavior is like putting gasoline on a fire. If you have ever been really upset and someone kept telling you to calm down, what did it do? Yes, you need to come from a centered, grounded place, but you need to move into their world to understand that their concern is real for them. The quicker you can validate it in an authentic way, the quicker you can move them to a more harmonious win-win solution.

2. Get clear on your commitment.

Are you committed to looking good? Being right? To winning? If so, you are almost guaranteed to lose. More productive commitments might be enhancing the relationship, giving the best service, or finding the gem of value in every criticism. Of course when you’re upset or rattled by a conflict it’s hard to remember what you are committed to. I recommend the Aikido technique of breathing deeply, becoming centered by putting your attention on your center of balance (about 2 inches below the navel).

3. Enter their world.

Next blend with your opponent to see through their eyes and allow yourself to become concerned to approach their concern. You truly validate their issue by understanding it, not justifying or giving “good reasons.” From there, with a clear commitment, work with them to create a new solution that aligns with your commitment and addresses their concern.

4. Assume positive intention.

Stay engaged with them until it is resolved. This requires you to develop the ability to be with other people’s upset and not lose your own commitment.   At IBM there was a client who was so hard to deal with that they passed her on to me. She was a small, aggressive woman with great influence in many departments. When I came in she would meet me part way and start yelling about the current problem. “How can you work for a company that builds junk like this!” I would simply start listening, but really listening like I wanted to be part of the story. One observer said that when she yelled at me she would be shaking up and down and it almost looked like I was doing the same while listening to her. As she continued complaining I would ask if there was anything else–and there always was. Then, surprisingly, after a few minutes of this she would suddenly get quiet, turn her head to the side, and ask cheerfully, “Do you want a Coke?” I would say yes, adding that while she was getting it for me I would start working on the machine. The account was saved and I managed it for several years.

By avoiding dealing with conflict we miss building character. We miss the chance to transform an adversary into a loyal customer. And we miss the deepened relationships that can be found on the other side of a conflict when we choose to do more than manage conflict and actually embrace it. Don’t miss those opportunities!

c2014 –Martin Brossman – (919) 847-4757 – Martin offers professional development training on this and other topics that can be found by going here.

Life Coaching: How to Find and Live your Mission  

Steps along a PathIntroduction

To become fully productive and thoroughly enjoy what you are doing, it is important to pursue your purpose in life or your mission.  This applies to both men and women.  A mission is not a stage of development but a continuing set of activities with a common theme, enabling the expression of yourself in your work.  Finding a mission in life is elusive, typically difficult, and also highly individualistic. Yet, finding and pursuing your mission is rewarding beyond belief.

 Purpose, Meaning and Mission
By Martin Brossman

Finding your purpose in life is often thought of as something that will become clear at some point in the near future–like a delivery person coming to your door saying, “Sorry I am late, but here is your clear purpose in life–go live it.” In my years of working with people on this it has almost always been more like catching a glimpse of a shadow in the corner of your eye then working to remember that image and sculpt it into stone.

Years ago I told a good friend and mentor that I was afraid I might pick the wrong purpose in life.  He replied. “Only a prince can dream of a castle.” He was so right, but it took years with many moments of insecurity and doubt to realize this was true. Finding your purpose is more an act of trial and error, noticing which actions truly light you up and then allowing life to move you or touch you enough to even know when you are lit up. It is also more about noticing when you are on your path and when you are off of it. I often use the tool of my imaginary scenario of passing over and being asked by God, “What did you do with the beautiful gift of life that I gave you?” Because the answer for many would be: “Well, I kept busy.” A humorous wake up to the profound loss we would feel with that response.

Instead of frantically searching for meaning, it seems more practical and elegant to simply select a mission and live from it for a while, and then evaluate how it needs to be changed or adjusted. It is a dynamic process, not an end point. Many of us are so driven that we can’t hear what we are called to do. You have to become conscious of your own “driven pattern,” and slow it down or step out-side of it long enough to find out what is calling you.

To get clarity on your mission here are two questions to ask yourself: “When you leave this world what do you want to be remembered for? And ” Are you truly in action on making that happen or do you have a lot of good excuses about how you are almost living your mission?.

If your mission is evading you, it could be that the image you have of yourself is not sufficient for the mission of your life. It is almost like you need to NOT be yourself– the person you think you are—but to be your true self. The identity is built for survival, not for living a fulfilled or fully expressed life. A human being just surviving is not a pretty sight.

A favorite example of mine is a female scientist who wanted to retire early and live in the mountains with her dogs. I asked her to “look back” at what she would like to have done with her life, and rather reluctantly she explored it. She discovered that she would have liked to have worked on creating sustainable food sources for third world countries, a mission essentially unrelated to her current position. I asked her to do some research on the new-found idea, while we simultaneously worked on her retirement plan. To her amazement she found someone virtually down the hall from her office working on a solution for crop destruction in third world countries, and made arrangements to work with them.  She has now happily set aside retirement, enjoying her new fulfilling path—and met her new husband through the work!

Another big obstacle to uncovering our true mission can be our desire to: “fit in;” “be reasonable;” and “not make any waves.”  We worry about “looking good” and “waiting for the right time.”  Yet when you take into account the amount of unnecessary suffering and real suffering on this planet, there is NOTHING REASONABLE about truly creating a life that you love.   Creating and living a meaningful mission today can be considered UNREASONABLE, in the good sense of the word. George Bernard Shaw  expressed it (and forgive him for his use of the male pronoun): “The reasonable man  adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world  to himself.  Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  I invite you to be positively unreasonable!

Another favorite example is a woman, who after a devastating divorce and some health challenges that wiped out the rest of her money, was discouraged and working at a coffee shop. She had no confidence and felt she had no idea what her purpose or path next was.  I discovered that some of the highlights of her career were when she taught modern dance and danced professionally for a while, but for health reasons she felt she could no longer do that. When describing either coordinating dance or dancing she became a different person, one with clarity and focus. She even stood up to demonstrate something as though she were compelled and could not help herself. Then she said “I would love to have that clarity now”. I suggested a new viewpoint, and in a remarkable turnabout, she reinvented herself by designing the world as a stage. Thus she gained the clarity and action to see what was next. I even got her to see the coffee shop as a stage and the younger people that were not so nice to her as great actors playing their part. Something then crystallized or clarified, and the new clarity was that she could teach yoga and now owns her own studio. She is loving what she is doing.  Her life is now about beauty and strength in motion – an evolution from the dancing that she could no longer pursue.

The Elusive Mission
By Bruce Oberhardt

 How does a person find a life-long mission or purpose?  Is a mission truly a life-long pursuit?  Does it unfold either rapidly or slowly from something else? When does it begin? When does one find it or recognize it?

 I am a problem solver, and I have solved many important problems in the development of biomedical technology and in business, as well as in areas entirely outside of science and work.  However, I believe my problem solving skill set is not directly applicable to finding a mission in one’s life. Perhaps this is because a mission in life is about one’s life, and life is not a problem to be solved but a series of realities to be experienced. Hopefully, as one moves through life, there will be many meaningful experiences, including interactions with other people, that will provide a path consisting of work or service that makes one happy and fulfilled – a joyful path.

This joyful path is the path that you will follow when you find your mission. You will be traveling down a new, yet familiar, road – one with a purpose. You may be very close to this road right now but not know it; or you may already be on it and not know that you are. Eventually you will feel the mission experience that is unique to yourself and that could evolve as your experiences evolve. It is like a connection of the dots that will provide fulfillment and joy in a way that perhaps nothing else can.

 But once you have found it, how long will the mission last? That most likely depends upon you. It can also evolve in new directions, again depending on you and your experiences. You can try different things in the hope of finding your mission or transforming it. Perhaps it is best to not directly seek a mission or to change it when it appears but rather to let it evolve and/or just come upon you.

Sometimes the realization that you are on a mission will hit you like a sledgehammer.  Sometimes, others will tell you what they observe. In the end, you will know.

We would love to hear your views in the comments below.

 By Martin Brossman and Bruce Oberhardt

Lean more about Bruce Oberhardt at  and all of Martin Brossman websites online:

Life Coaching: Martin Luther King and how Petey Green effected the burning of Washington.

Martin Luther KingThis is an article I wrote many years ago on Martin Luther King Jr. day and thought it would be good to re-post it here on Martin Luther King Day. The photo was one that I remember seeing on many friends wall growing up and is on my wall of hero’s in my office. Also if you have never seen the movie “Talk to Me” I recommend it about “Petey” Green. I remember how “Petey” Greene speaking on the radio changed the course of riots in Washington DC over Kings death. How a “nobody” re-spoke Kings message and changed history.

Martin Luther King & the burning of Washington

While at the friends meeting the day before the Martin Luther King Jr’s holiday I remembered my experience as a youth when King was shot. This was a time before I had become truly committed to non-violence. My skin is white and I was raised in Washington DC, where almost all of my school mates skin was black. I remember the day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot as if it was yesterday. One of my class mates stood up and said in rage how angry he was about the white man killing their peaceful leader and that all white men were rotten. I was as angry as he was and agreed (not remembering the color of my own skin). He then turned to me and corrected himself and said not all white people are bad.

They let us out of school early that day (in downtown Washington DC) and I was walking to the bus stop. A gang of boys, coming down the street towards me, said, “look a Honkey, lets get him”, I looked at the gang like a stunned deer. My friends seeing me, standing alone across the street, ran over to me and said, “lets go”. We ran as fast as we could to my bus stop and I got safely on the bus. When I arrived home my mother met me at the door, I could tell she was very scared. She had bags packed as the door and said “Washington is being burned, we may have to leave.” She then stated in a very serious voice, “I want you to understand something that this is not what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for and black people are not violent they are just very scared and upset.” She was very supportive of Martin Luther King Jr. and did not want me make a generalization about the riots toward all African Americans. Of course this was funny, in a way, because I was as angry about the death as those rioting. What I did not realize then was I had become racist against white people.

There was another hero of this time period that not many people know of, Pete Green, an African American. He got on the radio and started talking to the people who were burning the city. Openly admitting, in what was called jive, that he had spent time in prison, Pete spoke to the people stating that their action did not honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr. He stayed on the radio repeating the same basic message for hours. The burning ended, this man had single handily stopped the violence & burning in Washington through non-violent means. He was applying the words of our hero and leader, proving that Martin Luther King Jr’s message was still alive even though he wasn’t. This had a profound effect on me that I did not truly realize until later in life.

Look out for the ordinary people making an extraordinary difference in your life and community! Take the time to thank them.
Love to hear your stories in the comments below.
Martin Brossman (919) 847-4757

Connect with me on: Google+

Business Coaching: You need mud and guts to build a log cabin

Log Cabin - Martin Brossman

Photo by Anora McGaha

Moving from salaried to self-employment often takes some core behavioral changes.

In my business coaching practice over the years I noticed a pattern with very smart salaried professionals who left the corporate world and went into business for themselves.  They generally would not know where they had to have their work close to an exact fit and where they could fill in later, having a plan for refining that area when needed.

Carrying over corporate workplace “rules”

My observation was that there is a sort of unconscious legacy from the employer-employee brand of productivity. When you are an employee on a fixed salary, your employer does not mind if you work 40 hours on a project or 80 hours on it since it costs them the same. But when you are the business you can’t run a business that way and succeed.

Part two of this corporate carry-over is not realizing how much time in a “day job” is spent avoiding the possibility of criticism. I was working with a newly self-employed client who got their first very bad review on-line and was devastated by it. I told them this was the best thing that could happen to them because learning how to respond and learning how to stay centered in the presence of real criticism occurs to help us develop the muscle of recovering faster the next time.

These two examples are common challenges of someone transferring from working for someone else to working for oneself. Your time really is MONEY and if you want to have it all together you will miss the market. A mentor said to me once when I was reviewing my own shortcomings,” What do you have when you have your stuff all together? Tightly packed stuff ready to blow.” Look at history, the more you study famous people that made a real difference, the more you will find some aspect of their life that was just not all together. And chances are if they had it all together they may have never had the time to make the difference they did.

If you build it you’ll need mud

To build a log cabin in the 1800’s you had to use clay or mud to fill in the cracks, and you were always at risk of the elements destroying it. It took courage to build something like this that could be taken away quickly with a big enough storm. If you wanted the wood to fit perfectly without the need of mud it would take an infinite amount of time to find the perfect logs. Not to mention the rock foundation needed to make sure the logs were kept off the ground to keep them from rotting (very bad at the bottom of your log cabin).

Now I am not encouraging you to just be quick and sloppy; I simply want you to choose what level of precision is needed to move fast enough in your business to not lose all the competitive advantage of getting your offering or product out. One of the points that Bill Davis of Team Nimbus always promotes is that the biggest competitive advantage of a small business is speed of execution. If you want to change how you greet people on the phone, for example, you just do it. But if McDonalds wants to change their greeting it will take some time at a global level.

The secret recipe for guts

Many ex-corporate people damage their competitive advantage because they don’t understand how their corporate jobs may have taught them skills that are counter-productive to being self-employed.  Also, maneuvering through the new transparent social media-driven marketplace, they can be derailed by public criticism on the Web. This is where guts or courage will grow if you let it. Courage is developed in healthy people by taking thousands of micro risks, not just big reckless ones. You almost need to get some real criticism where you get knocked off your horse enough so you can develop the muscle to see what occurred, learn fast from it and get back on track.

Changing your vocabulary for success

So where are you trying to “get it just right” instead of getting it good enough so you can focus on the few key items that need to be very accurate?  Instead of saying I can never be “that expert”, ask yourself what smaller part of your field you can claim some expert knowledge in. (This does not mean I am encouraging more self-proclaimed experts, we seem to have plenty of them.)

Here are two questions to help recharge your goals. Where can you contribute a useful perspective from your own experience that may be of value to someone else instead of trying to be an all-knowing expert? Are you taking enough risk that someone might criticize you? if not, you are probably not playing big enough to make a business successful.

I’ve heard that people at the end of life do not say, ” I wish I did not do X. They say, ” I wish I had at least tried and even failed X, Y and Z”. My friend, Pat Howlett, has a gem of advice for new businesses:  fail fast and fail often. To that I’ll add, don’t be reckless, but alter your relationship to the word failure. This will make you more powerful than those who try to “admit failure”. Saying “ I failed” is different than ” I am a failure”. The former can be said with power: “I failed, what can I learn, let’s move on.”


by Martin Brossman – Success Coach – Call for your coaching session (919) 847-4757


Life Coaching and Training – Be careful with justifying “tough love” in training and coaching

Success and Life Coach Martin Brossman giving a Keynote addressWhen I teach or coach. I love having just enough edge to keep people engaged. But I have discovered that if you go too far you can injure, or drive people away.  As Pat Howlett says, I have made every mistake in the book at least once and sometimes seem to have to repeat it a few times before I learn from it. One time I made a very mild joking comment to a guy in a class I was teaching and then, after the break, noticed he had left. I had a gut sense something was off and called the woman in charge. She checked with him and found out that he thought I was making fun of him in front of the class.  From my perspective, I had actually made a comment with the intention to validate him, but my intention did not matter. Communication is based on the response you get, not what YOU think you communicated. Not attending to this is not teaching, it is broadcasting, poorly. I got permission to talk to him and said, I notice that you left and am concerned I may have said something to offend you. He said no (which did not match what I knew) and I said, in a different way, the validating statement I made to him. He then said that someone “might” have misunderstood that and I thanked him for pointing that out. I was driving back home at the time and we talked for about 30 min. He then told me what he was doing and I made my best effort to give him real added value for the time, followed by making sure he could get access to the content he missed.

This experience helped tune me in to recognize what seems to be a trend in justifying a type of “tough love,” even from presenters and coaches. For example, asking questions in front of the room like, “Who STILL does not have a Facebook page?” in a tone that is showing those who raise their hands as stupid, like that presenter has the right to embarrass someone in front of the room.  If you are going to be tough you have to have earned enough trust to do it .And if it is in the room you have to make sure you leave them highly empowered. I truly have made this mistake before but now I watch that edge very carefully.  It is the line between being evocative and provocative.

For a coaching example, I remember one day where I had two very different clients (the details have been changed some to protect confidentiality).  The one in morning was a former line backer. Very big and tall, an intimidating guy and really smart. We were not making progress and I don’t take money from people I cannot make progress with. Most of the time I just come to an agreement to take a break and sometimes I see it is valuable for them to take a break to integrate what we have done, so they know they can do it on their own. Half way through our session in his office I just laid into him about the fact that I was going to fire him if his BS of manipulation did not stop right now. I then described in great detail the strategy I had figured out about how he manipulated people. He was almost pinned up against the wall with me letting him have it. He agreed to work, and I will never forget two things: the look in his secretary’s eyes when I left, and his walking me to my car with tears in his eyes when he said “Thanks, I really did not realize how I intimidate and manipulate to get my way, and how much life I have missed doing that.” Then that afternoon I worked with a women who said, “To figure out what I need to do next in my life I would have to bring a bunch of stuff to your office and show it to you.  We both sat on the floor with the things around us, and I had her take her time to explain each item and how it moved her. I asked questions and made sure I understood each item. Then I really came up with the core purpose of her life and how it tied to what she needed to do to feed herself. Clearly the same “tough love” approach I had used earlier with the linebacker would have been true violence to this gentle client.

Using the right level of engagement is what is required. My commitment in teaching and in coaching is to do my best to see through the eyes of every person in front of me and speak to that, even if it is 500 people. Listen to what really is needed, not simply applying one technique or another. If a little toughness is needed I make sure I have earned the right to use that by demonstrating compassion first. If I make a mistake, I also make the effort to clean it up–not try to justify it by making something wrong with them.  My commitment is to come from compassion and to be willing to do what it takes to make my clients’ and students’ goals a reality. Sometimes I do a great job with that and sometimes I need to learn something new.  At times advisers wanted me to move away from being a “coach” since almost every one calls themselves a coach today and  it really is not a profession like lawyer or doctor. To me coaching is what I do…being in the trenches with my clients as though it is my life at stake…not being a tough drill sergeant on the sidelines or just a cheerleader.

I welcome your honest views on this and if you would like to discuss coaching or training with you contact me.
Martin Brossman
Success coach, Trainer, Author
Be well,
Martin Brossman
Raleigh NC (919) 847-4757 – Washington DC (202) 362-3166




Life Coaching – I Coach People to Be Unreasonable

A conversation with Martin Brossman about the concept of the life and business coach, the importance of discovering your purpose or calling in life, and the urgency of following your dream.

To get things rolling, briefly, what is coaching?

It’s a tool to gain clarity and results in our business goals or in our personal life and to move forward faster than on our own. Coaching helps us to enjoy both the journey and the arrival.

How does coaching differ from therapy?

Therapy often deals with the past, resolving painful issues from childhood or youth. Coaching does not address these deep emotional traumas, but as client’s experience some of the life changes that coaching can cause, it is sometimes seen that many issues may drop away. Coaching is focused on finding tools and skills for creating a better future, reaching the goals you set. It is not by any means a replacement for therapy. Some clients work with coaching in conjunction with therapy. Some who seek coaching may actually need therapy, and a good coach should recognize this within a couple of sessions.

Likewise, some of the people who seek therapy may actually need coaching. In some cases the ideal sequence is for coaching to come after therapy, because a client has the emotional static out of the way and can really focus, which is vital in coaching. Also, whereas therapy sometimes needs to be open-ended, in coaching the client sets the priorities and the boundaries.

What would you say is the value of coaching, then?

The client says, “This is what I want to accomplish. This is where I would like to go, but I’m held back in some way.” If a client is not sure what goals or dreams s/he wants to pursue, which is a problem for a lot of people, then coaching helps come up with a clear and definite goal, a personal mission statement. Then the client is coached on a range of ways to take action on his or her mission. Without taking action, you see, the dream remains a dream, a fantasy, a wish. When we begin to take action on our dreams, then there is movement. It’s no longer a wish. There may be trial and error as part of that movement, but it’s a well-calculated risk. The coach’s job is to help the client take risks wisely. A champion athlete does not get the gold by taking one big risk but by a series of small ones. That’s what a good coach helps you do. Like the sports coach, a coach in the game of life gets behind the client a hundred percent, supporting him/her in achieving that dream, rooting all the way, bringing objective, constructive feedback geared to improve performance. It’s all geared to make you a winner in your life.

Okay, I’m a cynical guy who says, “Only losers need a coach.” What’s your response to that?

Well, if we stick to the sports coach analogy, the fact is that all winners have a coach, and those coaches are paid very, very well for their services. All the top league teams have coaches. I grant you there may be one or two top performers, like Federer, who may go far without a coach, but who’s to say that he couldn’t improve his with the help of an expert coach? Anyway, the exceptions prove the rule. Winners and would-be winners have coaches.  A life coach serves a similar function for us in the game of life.

Life is complex. We all lose direction from time to time. So this is not about being a “loser” but about getting your focus, amid all the stuff that life is throwing up at you. Before you know it, it’s all over, you’re on your deathbed full of regret. I want that the deathbed scenario is more like, “Well, I knocked a few good ones outta the park.” I deeply believe we are all entitled to that in the end.

It’s a good point. Let me add, that in life, as in love, it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. . .. I read somewhere that the coaching profession can be seen as an opportunity for regular citizens to take advantage of what has long been available to celebrities in sports, movies and politics. So it’s really not such a new thing.

Yes. Coaching has been around for a long time, under different names. We called them mentors or friends or advisors. Watson, the founder of IBM, made sure to keep advisors around that would “give it to him straight” versus “yes men.” These people served a very similar function to a life coach. Today coaching is a more formalized role. Having a good coach is a way of making sure I don’t settle for mediocrity or become a loser. Rather, I have someone on my side ready to push me to my fullest potential. We all can use that. As with the sports coach, it is worth paying good money for. Good coaching can be priceless.

The comparison to the sports coach really makes your point. What would you say is another value for the client?

The client is taught to draw on his or her environment in a way that supports the goal. By this I mean the client does not rely on the coach forever and ever. A coach does not coach us in dependency. A good coach’s aim is to develop the client to the point where the coach is not needed anymore.

Seems to me that if a person gets dynamic help to raise the bar in their life, they may find a coach such an asset that they want to keep it working with one, albeit for different goals.

Yes, some people will think it unwise to stop a good thing, but it is important to know that from the coach’s standpoint, it’s not about dragging out the relationship. It’s about giving value and getting results. If a client opts to stay on, it’s because of getting results, not coming under the spell of the coach’s personality.

Anyway, besides reaching set goals through the coaching experience, the client also learns to draw support from the environment in an ongoing way, long after coaching is over. Clients develop a greater awareness of their inner compass and learn to keep themselves motivated and proactive about their dreams. They learn to get the needed support from friends and family; they learn to avoid or minimize the company of those who don’t give them solid support; they learn to become attuned to the places and activities that give them the energy and support for attaining their dreams. As they learn to become single-minded about their dreams whatever is not supporting their dream naturally falls away from their lives,.  [Read more…]

Life Coaching – Putting Yourself Out There

Martin Brossman

Martin Brossman

Have you recently stepped onto a new life path or been drawn to what you feel is your calling? Have you taken on an entrepreneurial venture or made a transition from corporate employment to self-employment?     If you answered yes to any of these, you might be experiencing a condition that is hardly ever discussed and usually completely understood.  It’s something I have discovered in coaching, especially with clients in the process of changing from working for someone else to working for themselves.  This mysterious ‘something’ is an unexpected resistance to putting yourself out there, to really stepping fully into your new role and letting the world know you are completely capable and ready for business.

Observing resistance
How do you know if you are affected by the resistance factor?  It basically exists if the level of motivation you would expect is not present. As a recent client said, “ I had no problem blowing the doors off my sales objective when I worked for someone else, but now that I’m selling my own product, going for what I really want, I have challenges staying as motivated.”. Now this doesn’t mean that he is on the wrong path. What it does mean is that he hadn’t realized how he had hidden out from truly putting himself out there in the past behind the shield of the other company that was not his own.

It seems that nothing brings up long-ignored life issues like going out on your own in business.  Any unresolved issues are forced up to your consciousness to be worked out, resulting in  feelings like, ‘maybe I’m not in the right field, maybe I’m not supposed to be doing this’…Of course it does not occur at the same level for everyone, and the solution is unique for each person.

Remember, this is not a fake-it-til-you-make-it method. It is the art of recreating yourself into your next role, a process I designed that takes you through the following four steps:

1.   Creating a new role
Define your new direction. For example, say to yourself, “ I am taking full responsibility for my life; I am here and of value; who I am can make a difference”. Step into who you are meant to be instead of who you think you are. Remember only a prince or princess can dream of a castle.

2.  Stepping into and living out of the role
This is a chance to develop a fortitude you may not have developed in your former work life.  If other people speak more powerfully or enthusiastically about your business than you are able to do, that’s a sign that you have work to do to get to the level of speaking powerfully about the gifts you have to offer.  There will be both an element of fear and excitement present, as well as some anxiety as you move to the next level.
3. Collecting evidence of progress in the role
Keep an accomplishment journal to record your successes.  Record customer testimonials to apply in your promotional materials and to re-read when you need a boost!

4. Designing the environment to call you forward in the role
Get clarity on what motivates you and have a system to help you remember it. Realize        how unstructured time many affect you, and create a new time structure that will keep you in action, with sufficient down time for effectiveness. Set up support that keeps you on track with who you say you are and what you are up to.

Building your own mentor
A client attempting to start a fashion accessory business was facing negative family members who told her she was foolish to go for what she wanted.  I saw that support wasn’t going to come from her immediate environment, so I worked with her to create an imaginary mentor, created from a combination of super heroes and Oprah, to advise her in difficult times.  Her turning point came when she stood up to her overbearing older sister, telling her, “This is who I am now, and if you want to keep talking to me, you have to accept that.”  After that she started standing up for other things that were important—like herself—and built up her business one satisfied customer at a time.

Generating motivation
Another client who had previously done well with a large real estate group was not doing as well in the new agency he had started with a desire to offer greater customer service. We worked to build a mission for him and his partner and tightened up his work schedule. Since he was going to his office but wasn’t being productive there, I had him show up at his favorite coffee shop first thing in the morning for work. But his best motivation came from envisioning sitting down with his grown kids in the future, giving them advice on exploring their own business by telling them how he worked through his fears. Just one year later I gave a presentation to his team of employees in their new expanded office space.
Leaning into progress
People who have made progress on this describe moving from a state of mentally leaning back and occasionally moving forward to an experience that feels like steadily leaning forward into what they have to sell or offer, while realizing that if they don’t get it out there, either someone else will or the value that they have to offer people will be lost. They move from a state of diffused focus to clear focus, from disharmony to harmony.

What are you doing to lean into your goals? To create a sense of urgency?

When you put yourself out there, you will see the adventure as exhilaration.

So deeply engaged that you’re energized, you’ll feel confident that you’re absolutely in the right place.

A Few Words on Following Your Dreams by Martin Brossman

MoonAs a personal coach, I continually examine the subject of following your dreams. Often, when we talk about following our dreams, we assume that the path to our dreams is evident. However, for most of us, our dreaming muscle has atrophied. A more appropriate question is, what is required to awaken our ability to dream? What allows us to explore the possibilities in our lives without our critical inner voices suppressing this exploration?

Following our dreams is an ongoing and dynamic process, one we can restart at any age. A few of us know exactly what we want, but many of us don’t. Honestly admitting we don’t know is a powerful beginning. I remember being terrified at 33 that someone was going to find out I did not have a clue what I wanted to do. Although I had collected a long list of what I did NOT want to do, I did not realize that making peace with “not having a clue” was, in fact, part of the process. I was an artist who did not realize he had a blank canvas right in front of him, and all he needed to do was start painting.

Next I want to discuss several assumptions that stop us from developing our dreams:

If I am sure I am on the “right path,” I will be ready to take action. I will know the outcome ahead of time.

From my experience, it works like this: when you take the first steps in exploring your dreams, the path reveals a little of itself. You take more steps and more of the path appears.
I did a lot of high-quality personal suffering trying to figure out what the “Right Path” was for me. I knew if I could be sure of the right path, I would be motivated and take action. I was never able to get enough assurance to start. I gave up looking for just the “right path,” and I started taking action by exploring different things.

Working with my own personal coach, I started noticing what attracted me. At the time, I was servicing computers for a large corporation, and I felt completely in the wrong place. I noticed that I was more interested in my customers’ dreams than in their computers. I started talking to the co-op students working with me, and asking them what their dreams were. One of them wanted to own a radio station “one day.” I asked how he planned to get from this job to owning a radio station and he had no idea. So I convinced him to meet with me for lunch once a week, and we began exploring what was possible. The entire time I had conversations in my head like, “Who are you to try this?” and “This will never lead to a ‘real’ job,” and “Get real! You have a well-paying job in a ‘good field.’ ”

My coach kept me going, encouraging me to do my job and to continue to meet the co-op for lunch. As a result, he realized that he did not really want a radio station; instead, he wanted to be an expert in a field he enjoyed. He now has his own internet security company.

If I hope and wish hard enough, or have the right attitude, my dreams will come true.

Sometimes we wish, desire, and hope instead of pursuing our dream. I once attended a Feng Shui workshop. An attendee went into a long explanation of how she had done all the “right” Feng Shui things in her garage, but dark oily stuff still kept dripping from the car. The presenter paused for a moment and responded, “Have you considered a mechanic?” Replace wishing and hoping with anticipating, discovering, and creating. Dreams come true for those of us who are receptive and who actively pursue possibilities.

I am unrealistic, wrong, or selfish to want to follow my own dreams.

It is not unrealistic, not wrong, and not selfish to follow your dreams. If you really want to honor your family and yourself, pursue a life you love, filled with many actualized dreams.

I will have to give up everything that is important to me in my current life to follow my dreams.

The all or nothing, black and white mentality that to pursue your dreams you will have to give everything up is a very narrow and noncreative perspective. Although sometimes we do seem to lose everything, that can be a great catalyst to get us into action. In 1994, I belonged to a business support group. At one weekly meeting, I announced that in the previous 6 months I had lost my wife, my cat, my house, my car, and resigned from my job, and I was starting to feel a lot better. Someone with a big smile replied, “Martin has been busy busy!” You can pursue your dreams, and keep what’s important to you.

If I don’t know what I want by now, then I will never know.

It’s never too late to determine what you want out of life. It is only too late to pursue your dream if you think so. In strengthening your ability to dream and create new possibilities, consider some of the following questions:

What environment has best supported you in creating and dreaming?
What context keeps you in action on your dreams?
What would it take to create more of that environment now?
Are you around people who support you in exploring new possibilities in your life?
Do you provide an environment for your friends to pursue their dreams?
Be an advocate of others’ dreams. Remember, friends don’t let friends lead ordinary lives!