Coaching Careers for CEOs & the C Suite - Testing the Waters


From CXO to Executive Coach

    Executives with C- suite experience  have the type of background Bridges seeks. Distaff applicants are encouraged1 but do not think strategy coaching in the C-suites is easy. This section's three subpages, beginning with the one about Hypatia and Emmy Noether, are addressed to you.

    Part A, The Concept discusses a dozen points: (1) The Vision (lofty), (2) The Business Model (compelling, we trust),  (3) Preferred Background (elite), (4) Certification Requirements (none), (5) Participation Fees (0), (6) In or Out (in 12 months), (7) The Market Opportunity (significant, but with tough competition), (8) Earnings Potential (interesting), (9) Revenue Allocation (80/20), (10) Action Steps (immediate), (11) Initial Contact (easy), (12) Two Role Models (impressive) plus one to avoid and (13) A A Cautionary Tale (ominous).

    Part B treats Goodness of Fit.



 Testing the waters, with prudence. . .*




1) The Vision

    The vision that drives Bridges, that determines its customer relationships, as stated on the Vision, Mission and Ethic page is: "Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?" George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). This vision can be restated as:

Bridge the Gap

between what is - and what could be

Measuring the gap for a client is one of the coaching challenges. 

    But how does this vision apply to Bridges itself? How does it drive the firm? What gap does it seek to close? The internal application of this vision, the raison d´etre for founding the firm, is derived from the underlined phrases in the quotation given below from a Research Report in Harvard Business Review: “What Can Coaches Do for You?” by Diane Coutu and Carol Kaufman, January, 2009. The article includes a contribution from Ram Charan, a well-known executive coach to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and the author of 14 books. He states:

            “The coaching industry will remain fragmented until a few partnerships build a brand, collect stellar people, weed out those who are not so good, and create a reputation for outstanding work. Some coaching groups are evolving in this direction, but most are still boutique firms specializing in, for example, . . . 360-degree evaluations. To get beyond this level, the industry badly needs a leader who can define the profession and create a serious firm in the way Marvin Bower did when he invented the modern professional management consultancy in the form of McKinsey & Company.”

Our vision for Bridges is to become the leader -- and set the standard -- for strategy coaching. Its realization will entail promulgating its "driven by results" business model.


2) The Business Model

    The model, as introduced on the homepage, is based on results based fees and one client per industry. It is elaborated upon in the subpages of "About Bridges" and "Services."


3) Preferred Background

    The Bridges model entails being selective about clients: "one client per industry." The corollary perforce is that joining Bridges is a viable option only for an equally select few. A coach who makes a poor choice of client will have shut the door for any other coaches to acquire another client in that industry. Some other company or entrepreneur might have been at the very brink of "star" status. In dismal contrast, the poorly chosen, hastily accepted client turns out to be a "diseased cash cow” inexorably on its way to “dying dog." Therefore excellent business judgment is a must for a Bridges coach.

    If you are, or have been, a C-level officer or consulting/accounting partner whose career includes line management experience (beyond that in the advisory industry), you may well be a good fit for Bridges. The financial independence you have already achieved enables you to wait for the right client and to be comfortable with coaching on a performance basis.

    Bridges is not an equal opportunity employer. We are prejudiced in favor of athletic, non-smoking over-achievers with degrees from elite universities who temper their tremendous drive with tolerance and a sense of humor. We are prejudiced against over-weight, chain-smoking fundamentalists of all creeds whose attitude is that "received wisdom" is written in stone and never to be questioned.


4) Coaching Certification

    Deemed irrelevant: worldwide there are a good 200 firms and institutions offering Coach Training Programs, at the end of which one presumably receives some kind of certificate. In the UK alone there are almost 50 different organizations issuing coaching certificates, cf. the subpage "FAQs", question 8 on this subject. Consultants and partners at firms such as McKinsey & Company are not required to have a consulting certificate either, although there are organizations offering them. However the SWIFT certified coaches at Bridges -- completely voluntary -- are among the first to be awarded this distinction on the continent, cf. the "SWIFT Coach Certification" subpage at FAQ.


5) Participation Fee

    There is no participation or franchise fee. There is, however, a commitment fee. It is not paid to Bridges, but to a leading business school, as explained below.

    An integral part of Bridges marketing is for its coaches to attend Executive Education seminars at Business Schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and INSEAD. Harvard Business School  as an example offers over 50 workshops and seminars. The cost generally ranges from $4,000 to $10,000+. (The more expensive $50,000 executive programs are modular ones over a period of several months.)

    Bridges expects an executive coach to attend -- or co-train -- one such seminar during the first 12 months after joining Bridges -- at the school and for the subject of his choice. Attendance serves a triple purpose. First, one makes contacts for Bridges. Second, one learns. Third, sharing the course insights with other Bridges offices builds a Bridges esprit de corps and helps keep Bridges “at the cutting edge.”

    Bridges considers the significant cost of the seminar or workshop to be a first year commitment fee, a re-investment of a portion of one’s coaching earnings. (Note that this investment may very well qualify to be written off from one’s taxable income as a non-reimbursed business expense.) This is a one-time requirement only. Naturally, we always encourage coaches learning. One of the best ways to learn more about a subject is to teach it. Therefore we support Bridges coaches serving as adjunct faculty or guest lecturers.



6) In or Out

    After 6 to 12 months Bridges and the executive coach will have been able to determine if there is a good fit for both parties. In that case, the next step is taken.

    A Bridges subsidiary will be formed where the coach resides, e.g. BridgeS E C - Barcelona, Inc., BridgeS E C - Mumbai, Inc., BridgeS E C - New York, Inc., BridgeS E C - Singapore, Inc., etc. Besides having an equity stake in that subsidiary the coach would be its Managing Director, form an Advisory Board (should one chose to do so) and run that practice. Note that in the U.S. the equity stake can be funded with a self-directed retirement rollover, as is frequently done with franchises.*

* "You start by forming a corporation. That corporation issues stock and sets up a retirement plan. Then the corporation hires you. As a new employee, you roll all or part of your retirement funds into your new employer´s retirement plan and instruct the retirement plan to purchase stock in the corporation.  At this point, the business is now funded with private equity and the stock in the business is legally owned by your retirement plan. Best of all, you are investing pre tax dollars. . . (This area of law, known as ERISA) is complex and it is important. . . to ensure the IRS is comfortable. There are organizations that specialize in this type of funding vehicle and they are listed in the resource section of the book by Rick Bisio with Mike Kohler, The Educated Franchisee, Bascom Hill, 2008, p. 162 f.


7) The Market Opportunity, in full acknowledgment of the competition

    "Hard" coaching, the Bridges focus, refers to that for business issues, above all strategy, with line management experience as a coaching prerequisite. "Soft" coaching, not the province of Bridges, entails behavioral issues, with psychological training as a desirable prerequisite. The major firms in this area are presented on the subpage "The Four Lords of Coaching - and Coaching R&D" at FAQ. One should familiarize oneself with them for two reasons. First, "soft" psychology based executive coaching is more prominent than its "hard" strategy counterpart. Second, there is considerable overlap, as many of the executive coaches practicing "soft" coaching do, in fact, have a business background.

    Management consulting is the predecessor and major competitor of "hard" executive coaching. Five of the largest management consultancies are Accenture, Deloitte, Capgemini, IBM´s Business Consulting Services unit (of Global Services) and Altran. Accenture, now headquartered in Ireland, spun off in 1989 from the accounting firm Arthur Anderson.  It employs 186,000 people in 52 countries, has 96 of the Fortune 100 companies as its clients and in 2008 had revenues of $23 billion. Deloitte Touche Tohamtsu, with 170,000 employees, focuses on financial services and reported 2010 revenues of $26.6 billion. Capgemini is a French professional services and management consulting firm with a staff of 91,000 in 36 countries and 2007 revenues of 8.7 billion €. In 2002 IBM´s Business Consulting Services increased its staff (doubling it) by 30,000 in 52 countries through the acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Altran, smaller than these giants, has 17,000 consultants and had $2 billion of revenues in 2009.

   The major firms focusing on strategy consulting are almost all of U.S. origin. They include (2010): Bain & Co. (4,800 staff, 41 offices in 27 countries, estimated revenues 2005 of $1.1 billion - which seems low, as one would expect at the least the same as BCG, over twice as high, albeit later); Booz & Company (the 2008 spin off from Booze Allen & Hamilton - 3300 staff, 55 offices worldwide, estimated revenues 2008 of $1 billion); Boston Consulting Group (BCG) (4,400 staff, 60 offices worldwide, estimated revenues 2009 of $2.75 billion); McKinsey & Co. (9,000 staff, 99 offices in 56 countries, estimated revenues 2009 of $6.6 billion - clearly the leader in per person fees at ca. $733,000); and the Monitor Group (co-founded by Harvard Professor Michael Porter, 1500 staff in 30 countries).

    Giant IBM is also a major player in strategy consulting. Of the firm´s total employees of ca. 400,000 (2011), 190,000 are in Global Services, of whom some 60,000 are in one kind or another of management advisory (as opposed to pure IT) services. Of these, 3,500 specialize as strategy professionals, based worldwide. Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, a German firm, is a major non-U.S. player, with a staff of 2,100, and 35 offices in 26 countries. The combined annual revenue of the firms focusing on strategy may be guessestimated at some 14 billion or 15 billion dollars, of which at most 15% is likely to be for pure strategy work.

    This figure, large as it is, constitutes only a fraction of the market for consulting overall. Taking Germany alone as a one country example, the estimate has been made for 2010 of 19 billion € consulting revenues. This estimate is based on a sample of 500 consultancies conducted by BDU, Bundesverband Deutscher Unternehmungsberater. Interestingly, the BDU study notes an increased demand for strategy consulting. This point is contradicted by Walter Kiechell III in his observations below. The contradiction probably stems from  BDU including small and medium consultancies, versus Kiechel´s focus on the giants.

    Walter Kiechel III, the former Managing Editor of Forbes, wrote the landmark book The Lords of Strategy, Harvard Business Press, 2010. It treats the rise of the consultancies specializing in corporate strategy. In a Harvard Business Review blog of March 2nd and 15th, 2011 he mentions having spent several months globetrotting, interviewing senior executives and consultants. He makes the interesting observation: "There is not much of a market for stand-alone strategy studies any more."

    He continues that the $2 million strategy engagement is no longer interesting. The emphasis rather is on winning $20 million "whale" engagements, such as ones for post-merger integrations. Hence Michael Porter´s Monitor Group is facing daunting competition. Its chief rivals, Bain, BCG and McKinsey, as well as other top consultancies, still need to proclaim strategy expertise to maintain their branding as premier firms. However Monitor´s rivals have been broadening their services at an increasing rate in their pursuit of major engagements.

    Walter Kiechel also observes: "At real live companies, strategy isn´t dead; it´s embedded in other initiatives." These would include M&A, as mentioned above, market entries and exits, product introductions, innovation, etc. Bridges believes that the declining demand for stand-alone strategic studies, regardless of whether it extends to SMBs, may very well benefit its own business model of co-achieving strategic shifts for select clients.  

    The partner leading a "whale" engagement may well be inclined to view a strategy executive coach, whether from Bridges or elsewhere, as complementary. Regardless, given the vast resources at his command, he is unlikely to be apprehensive about an individual coach´s presence, whom he may view as a mere blip on his radar screen. In contrast his counterpart at a small consultancy for a "minnow" engagement may be much more inclined to view the executive coach as direct competition, and as a significant threat.

    These small consulting firms include myriad sole proprietorships, which are often excellent. Two outstanding examples were the consulting of Professor Peter F. Drucker (corporate strategy) and W. Edwards Deming (the quality expert who so strongly influenced Japanese business practices). Both these deceased intellectual giants were highly productive into their late 80s.

    Advisory services appear to thrive in good times and bad. However the category of global management consulting, or global strategy consulting for that matter, is too broad to contrast with an executive coaching endeavor. Statistics on the "global food and eating business" are not very helpful to someone wanting to start a sandwich kiosk in his hometown -- even if he intends later to franchise it internationally. To define the executive coaching opportunity realistically, one may begin with the market for management advisory services in the region (city) one wishes to serve. Further discussion is at (10) Action Steps.


8) Earnings Potential

    We intend to co-achieve significant financial results for our clients. Results based billing will lead to corresponding earnings for Bridges coaches. The more powerful the coaches are who join Bridges, the more significant the results will be for both their clients and themselves. 

    An example of a rapid start by a world-renowned statesman is Henry Kissinger´s firm. He started it in 1982 in New York with a large loan from Goldman Sachs as the lead in a consortium of four banks. He asked a few select individuals to join the firm at its inception: Lord Carrington, Secretary-General of NATO, William D. Rogers, Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs under Nixon and Peter G. Gyllenhammar, Chairman of Volvo. In only two years the firm had paid off the loan in full.  Eric Roll, Chairman of S.G. Warburg & Co, and William E. Simon, Secretary of the Treasury under Nixon, soon joined. A year later the firm was earning $5,000,000 p.a. (roughly equivalent to a million a month in current terms).

    For further discussion of this topic, go to FAQs, the last question: "What are the usual fees for executive coaching?" In the Harvard Business Review Research Report repeatedly cited at FAQs, 140 coaches were surveyed (almost half of whom were women). The median hourly fee was $500, with a high of $3,500 -- regardless of outcome! The discussion includes a brief comparison with management consulting fees. For a team from an elite firm, fees can be $150,000 a week. As Bridges remuneration is results based, for major successes to be associated with "Kissinger/McKinsey" type fees is clearly conceivable.


9) Revenue Allocation

    Bridges initially contemplates an 80/20 model. Eighty percent of earnings would accrue directly to the coach, and twenty percent would be allocated to Bridges headquarters. The ownership of the different Bridges offices would be shared between Bridges headquarters and the coach, who would be the managing director of that subsidiary. In that capacity the Bridges coach would also determine how a significant portion of the 20% would be used. 


10) Action Steps 


Immediate steps, secondary research:

    10.1) Internet Research:  On this very website, take a look at the introduction to FAQs, which discusses the origins and potential growth of executive coaching. Refresh your memory of the quality and depth of the websites of management consultancies, large and small. Compare and contrast them to those for executive coaching firms. Specifically, we suggest including two strategy boutiques and two coaching franchises. The boutiques are The Parthenon Group a Bain spin-off in the U.S. and Droege & Comp. GmbH, a German firm.

The franchises are The Growth Coach out of the U.S. and The Action Coach out of Australia. Both franchises offer business coaching as opposed to executive coaching and are aimed at SMBs. The distinction is that executive coaching is for senior managers who frequently have a formal business education, such as an MBA and/or a quantitative (engineering) background. Business coaching is often at a more "nuts and bolts" level. Of course there is extensive overlap. Strategy and CRM are universally important issues.  


    10.2) Bricks & Mortar Research

    Go to the "yellow pages" of your city’s telephone directory. Begin by seeing how many management consultancy firms are listed. Then see how many executive coaching firms are listed.

    The Munich example: In the 2009 Munich yellow pages consultants are listed on pages 891-901, over 2000 firms in all. In contrast, on page 257 of the telephone book just twelve executive coaching firms appear, all psychologically oriented. In 2011 about 1975 consultancies appear. Given the tendency to rely on websites and even omit a yellow page listing, the number of consultancies may be assumed to be essentially constant. Notable, however, is that the yellow pages list 127 coaching firms - a tenfold increase in only two years!

    Among the coaching newcomers are business oriented ones, although none of them emphasize strategy consulting per se.  In short, the ratio of "hard" executive coaches to management consultants has shifted, in just two years, from over 2000 to 1 to perhaps 100 to 1. In Munich to stand out as the only executive coaching firm specializing in strategy, emphasizing the USP of results based fees, among 127 coaching firms is significantly easier than standing out in the forest of some 2000 consulting "trees." Not only do most of these trees have a strategy branch, or at least a twig, several of them are "strategy Giant Redwoods."

    See what relationship applies to your city or region.


Immediate steps, primary research:

    10.3) Information Interviews

    Conduct some with your key connections. 


11) Initial Contact

    After having read the Goodness of Fit below, just write an E-Mail with some sentences about your background, preferably with a specific suggestion for improving Bridges. Should preliminary conversations prove fruitful, than a more intense formal session will be scheduled, which will include an "in-box" test.2  Before a contract is signed, degrees will be verified with the granting institutions and references and one’s credit history will be checked (just as a bank does, before granting a mortgage).

    Most C-level officers have had to surmount more daunting obstacles than a background check and intense employment interviews. Therefore we do not anticipate that this process be particularly burdensome for the quality of individual sought.


12) Role Models:3 Are you familiar with Bobbi Gibb and Kathrine Switzer?

    As women are entering coaching more rapidly than they are the C-suites ("the glass ceiling"), presenting two women as role models seems appropriate. Everyone has their own business (corporate or entrepreneurial) favorites, from Harvard Baker Scholar Orit Gadiesh of Israel, the Chairman of Bain, to the U.S. TV personality Oprah Winfrey, virtually an industry all by herself (annual income (2010) $275 million, net worth $2.7 billion). To avoid the inevitable second-guessing, the roll models here were deliberately selected not from the world of business, but rather from that of sports, specifically, the marathon.

    Building a viable business, let alone a market leader, is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Not all that long ago, there were hardly any women entrepreneurs or CEOs. There were not any women marathon runners either.

    12.1 Bobbi Gibb

     In the U.S. women were not allowed to run the Boston Marathon, the country’s oldest marathon, begun in 1897. Women were not capable of running long distances. Roberta (Bobbi) Gibb was not convinced. The daughter of a chemistry professor, she loved to run, commuting eight miles to school by jogging. Meeting a long distance runner (who later became her husband) at the age of 19 in 1962, she eventually decided in 1964 to start training for the Boston Marathon. The Marathon is 26.2 miles. She trained for it for two years, with runs of up to 40 miles. In 1966 she felt she was ready. 

    To continue with a quote from Wikipedia (2011): "On writing for an application in February 1966, she received a letter from the race director, Will Cloney, informing her that women were not physiologically capable of running marathon distances and that under the rules that governed amateur sports set out by the AAU, women were not allowed to run more than a mile and a half competitively.  She realized . . . that her run would have a social significance far beyond just her own personal challenge.

. . . Wearing . . . a hooded sweatshirt, she hid in the bushes near the starting pen. After the starting gun fired, she waited until about half the pack had started and then jumped into the race. The men soon realized that she was a woman. Encouraged by their friendliness and support, she removed her sweatshirt. To her delight and relief, the crowds cheered to see a woman running. The press began to report on her progress, history in the making. She finished 126th, ahead of two thirds of the men. . . By the time Gibb had reached the finish line in Boston, the governor of Massachusetts, John Volpe, was there to shake her hand."

    Bobbi Gibb continued her education with a B.Sc. from the University of California, later followed by a law degree in Massachusetts. After working many years as an attorney in Massachusetts (intellectual property rights and patent law) she made a career change to join the Cecil B. Day Neuromuscular Laboratory in Boston. There she works on neurodegenerative diseases (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). She divides her time between Boston and San Diego, California. 

    12.2 Kathrine Switzer

     In 1967, the very next year after Bobbi Gibb´s historic run, the twenty-year old Switzer became the first woman officially to run the Boston Marathon. Her race application had been erroneously accepted because she had signed her name (as she always did) as "K.V. Switzer." 

    Three miles into the 1967 marathon, the 64 year old race official Jock Semple leapt out of a press truck to intercept Switzer. He tried to rip off her race numbers and eject her from the race, shouting "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers." Her boyfriend, a 230 lb. (ca. 105 kg) hammer thrower, was accompanying her. He rushed up and knocked the man flat. Kathrine Switzer continued running, to finish in about 4 hours and 20 minutes (an hour slower than Bobbi Gibb, who was also running, albeit unofficially). That is pretty slow. Granted, Switzer finished, which is already an accomplishment. However, an energetic turtle could have kept up with her.

    For Bobbi Gibb to have completed a marathon (and at a fast pace) unofficially was bad enough. For Kathrine Switzer to finish officially was clearly unacceptable. The AAU responded swiftly. It barred women from all competition with male runners, on penalty of losing their right to compete at all. Under pressure, it backed down by 1972. The Boston Athletic Association, which manages the Boston Marathon, took a trifle longer to come around. However in 1996, a mere thirty years after Bobbi Gibb´s run, she was officially acknowledged as the women´s winner for 1966, and also for 1967 and 1968.    

    Kathrine Switzer´s follow-through is impressive. She kept training, kept improving. Seven years later she had become a world-class runner. She won the women´s division of the New York Marathon in 1974 and finished second in the Boston Marathon in 1975 with a time of 2 hours and 51 minutes. She was a prime mover in bringing the woman´s marathon to the Olympics and has written a well received and inspiring book, Marathon Woman, (cf. her personal website, linked, or

    If you relate to these two women´s iconoclastic "shattering the glass-ceiling" accomplishments, by all means, apply. If your sympathies lie more with the race official who accosted Kathrine Switzer, please do not.


    12.3 "Mrs. Christian Gerhartsreiter"

    Also do not apply if your common sense and due diligence are like that of the hapless $2,000,000 a year McKinsey partner and Harvard MBA who married the German con man Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. Had she been acting in a fiduciary capacity, her conduct would have constituted criminal negligence. Her maiden name will not be disclosed to protect the guilty.

    She astutely "married" the man in a Quaker ceremony with no legal status! However their twelve years together, during which they had a daughter, resulted in a common law marriage. A jobless immigrant to the U.S., Gerhartsreiter claimed to be a Rockefeller, and voila, wins an $800,000 divorce settlement in 2007. He is now (2011) in jail for custodial (parental) kidnapping and is a murder suspect in the disappearance of a Californian couple. 

    Now for a Fugger or Rothschild floating around in the U.S. to speak English with a trace of a German accent is one thing, but for a Rockefeller?4 Furthermore if you move in certain circles on the East Coast, you have heard awed remarks about what purportedly goes on in Room 5600. It comprises several entire floors of the GE Building at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Biannual family meetings, extending to 150 relatives/spouses, are held there (or sometimes at an estate) -- a ritual reportedly begun in 1945.

    You´re married a decade and have yet to attend a single family meeting -- as doting wife and $2,000,000 a year McKinsey partner? You´ve missed over twenty meetings in a row? Your fellow McKinsey partners have discouraged you from networking with the billionaire Rockefellers, don´t think you should make the time for those connections? Hardly. Gerhartsreiter sure must have had some imaginative excuses.  

    To return to the marathon, perhaps you feel that the breaking of that particular glass ceiling is not a relevant analogy to business endeavors? Harvey Mackay would beg to differ. He is the ultimate "Mr. Make-It-Happen" CEO, the author of the classic How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and a celebrity public speaker who earns $50,000 and up per appearance (cf. YouTube for clips and also To let him speak for himself, "Succeed in the marathon of life" from the E-Zine issue 26.08.2000, on his website:

    "I ran my first marathon after my fiftieth birthday. I´ve run more since then, including the New York and Boston marathons. I´m proud of that fact for a number of reasons, not because I ever came anywhere close to finishing first, but that I finished them all.

    A marathon is 26.2 miles. It is as much of a mind game as a physical challenge. You train your body to keep going when you think you can´t take another step. You visualize the finish line and the celebration as you cross. The key ingredient is motivation.

    There are more than 500 marathons held every year around the world. Most of the participants are amateur athletes, whose reasons for competing span the spectrum. Training for a marathon is much like preparing for the challenges in business. The pace may be different, but endurance is every bit as important. . ."


13) A Cautionary Tale for Women: Do you know of Hypatia´s fate, Emmy Noether´s frustration?

    Of the women mathematical geniuses, Hypatia (AD 350/370 - 415) was the first and Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935) the greatest. Hypatia was a Greek scholar from Alexandria. She became entangled in local politics and did not fare well. She was brutally killed by a mob led by Peter the Reader, the first assistant of Bishop Cyril, an important saint.

    Fast forwarding 1,500 years later, Emmy Noether got entangled in academic politics and did not fare well. The world had not become a gentler, kinder place. World War I was soon to be followed by World War II. However the focus was on not on murdering her, but rather on murdering her academic career. Their sobering stories bear repeating; they appear at the subpage "The fates of Hypatia and Emmy Noether, a cautionary tale."


1 My mother, whose first language was French, studied for a doctorate in American literature at Yale and was one of the first women in the U.S. to reach the board of directors in a publicly traded company. She earned more in one month than my father in an entire year. Thanks to her I grew up in a privileged environment of five homes with live-in domestic help, receiving the best education money could buy.

    Interestingly, she felt women did not belong in management, were not quantitative and had no head for business. She fiercely resisted other women being hired. She also had no patience with "political correctness." She was the chairman of a committee, not the chairperson. (Oops, need to get rid of that nasty masculine diminutive "-son," better, chairperdaughter.)

    Her fellow board members loved her. She was even more conservative than they were. Also they admired her, not just for her charm and charisma, of which she had plenty, but also for her ruthlessly delegating away the responsibility for any mis-step, instantly seizing the credit for any success, in her domain.


2 In-box test: one receives different papers, files for different projects and a calendar. One is told one is departing to the airport for a business trip in, for instance, 90 minutes. One then works through the in-box. What does the candidate choose to handle by E-Mail, by telephone, or to delegate -- to whom and with what instructions? How does he set the priorities? What matters does he handle himself on the spot, and, under time pressure, how well does he handle them?


3 On a higher plane, one may refer to two philosophers as role models: the German Gottfried Leibnitz (1648-1716) and the Frenchman Frances Marie Aroutet, better known as Voltaire (1694-1778). Leibnitz, the son of a professor, entered university at 14, earned his first degree at 16, and received a doctorate in law at 20, when he also published his first book. He wrote major works in philosophy and mathematics. He invented the calculus (as did, independently, Newton). He devised the binary system, the foundation of modern computer architectures. He was rationalist and optimistic ("the best of all possible worlds"). As a diplomat he was unscrupulous but personally charming with a pleasant sense of humor, and quite frugal.

    Voltaire came from a noble family and also studied law. As a young man he once landed for 11 months in the Bastille, where he had his diners with the prison director. He was anti-clerical and tolerant, an advocate of freedom of religion and trade. He was pragmatic, hedonistic, and had a celebrity lifestyle, with a castle, two country houses and a personal staff of 160.

    Both men traveled and knew languages. (Leibnitz wrote primarily in Latin and French. Voltaire lived two years in England.) Both were industrious. Leibnitz was a polymath. Besides his  breakthrough work in mathematics, physics and philosophy, he made contributions in biology, geology, history, law, linguistics and politics. He devised a computing machine and plans for a submarine (shades of Leonardi da Vinci). As of 2009 there was still no complete edition of his works, which include 15,000 letters.

     For his part, Voltaire wrote half a dozen histories, a dozen other major books, over 50 plays, almost 2,000 pamphlets and some 20,000 letters. Both conducted diplomatic missions and thought "outside the box." Seeking to emulate (in part) their successes and to avoid their faults seems not a bad path for a coach to follow.


4 Johann Peter Rockefeller emigrated from Germany to America in 1723. He was the ancestor of John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) of Cleveland, the oil magnate who founded the family fortune. The Fuggers of Augsburg, Germany, began as merchants in the 15th century, subsequently moving into merchant banking and industry. The Rothschilds are also of German origin, out of Frankfurt. They rose to prominence as European bankers in the 19th century, especially during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

    In their respective heydays, each of these families had a fortune of hundreds of billions, dwarfing the modern fortunes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. All three families have made enormous philanthropic contributions over the centuries amounting to billions and billions of dollars. Their precedent is being followed by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and many another modern billionaire as well.

    Life styles have ranged from spectacularly opulent to remarkably humble (some would say tightfisted), so one could perhaps have accepted Christian Gerhartsreiter as a "careful with his money" Rockefeller -- but one with a German accent, regardless of how slight? Certainly, there are Rotschilds and Fuggers from Europe who will speak English with an accent (although many will not, given a penchant for attending English speaking private schools). However the U.S. Rockefellers have been as American as apple pie since the U.S. came into being as a country. 



    The quote below would have been read with skepticism, except that a German business friend (a former board member of the multinational Krupp AG) signed up for a telephone conference seminar with the author of the statement, Jay Abraham. The German friend paid thousands of Euros to participate. As he is one of 30 odd people taking part in each scheduled conference call, what he is really getting for his money is not a conversation with the master, but rather a chance to listen to the master expound. Better value for the money is to read carefully Abraham’s latest, and excellent, book: The Sticking Point Solution, 9 Ways to Move Your Business From Stagnation to Stunning Growth in Tough Economic Times, Vanguard, 2009. The following quote is from page 170.  

            “When I started on my career path, I had no money or clients. I did however have significant experience and knowledge gained from starting my own business and working for other companies, as well as the innate ability to motivate people to take action. . .

            So, from the very beginning I asked a premium price for my services, because I believed I could offer something to my clients that my competitors in marketing consulting could not: action...

            I started my rates at $2,000 an hour for consulting and $5,000 for seminars, at a time when the average marketing consultant charged $100 per hour and the average seminar cost $495. Over the years, my hourly rate has risen to $5,000 and my seminars are now in the $15,000 - $25,000 range, which is still premium.”

    One wonders why someone whose background includes “starting his own business and working for other companies” has no money upon switching to consulting. (He had failed?) That notwithstanding, premium services, i.e. results, legitimately command a premium price, no argument there. Abraham also makes the excellent point that one should decide what kinds of customers one wants, rather than willy-nilly accepting all comers, op. cit. p. 98:

            Immediate Action Step Take out a sheet of paper and define your ideal client or prospect by answering these questions:

            1.  What problem does your ideal client have that you can solve effectively and profitably?

            2. What kind of individual or company is your ideal client? Where is it located, how big is it, and why do you enjoy serving it?”

    To the above Bridges adds:

            3. What are your "no-risk, no-brainer" alternatives?


  • An obvious one is to serve on various boards, which is as demanding as one chooses to make it.

  • Another is to seek a full time faculty position.

  • Acquire a "big ticket" franchise, such as one for a luxury car dealership, hotel (e.g. Hilton) or a multiple location franchise. An example is Panera Bread, which does sell not single unit franchises. Instead you receive rights to a development area where a minimum of 15 outlets would be operated. As of 2008 one needed a net worth of $7.5 million and liquid assets of three million dollars to be considered as a franchisee. (For further information on selecting -- or starting -- a franchise, see "Franchise Facts and Fallacies" at Papers.)


  • Write a book and leverage the “published author” credential to go on the public speaking circuit. Fees from $2,000 to $3,500 in the U.S. for anywhere from an hour speech to a half-day mini-seminar are common. If the book were a business bestseller, fees can easily reach $10,000. Celebrity speakers can receive $25,000 to $50,000. 


    If you generate the proper media attention (buzz), the Learning Annex may invite you to give a free speech, after which you can make platform sales. The audiences are huge, up to 10,000, even 15,000 people. Therefore platform sales of a book (and associated on-line products) of $100,000 are possible. Allegedly $250,000 has been achieved.

    Brendon Burchard is a personable, industrious Internet entrepreneur out of Montana who is the author of Life´s Golden Ticket, an inspirational novel. Characteristic of many in its genre, the book is rather trite and clichéd, something to read on a flight as an alternative to a detective story. What Brendon Burchard is truly a master of is not writing, but self-promotion. Apparently while still only in his late 20s he was already able to get up to 200 people at $5,000 per head for a weekend seminar, i.e. a million dollars gross.

    Certainly in the U.S., inspiration sells well. The leading "inspirationist" (self-help seminar leader and motivational speaker), giant Anthony Robbins (6 ft. 7 in. tall - 201 cm.), is not much of a writer either. However as a leader of huge open seminars with thousands of people attending he is a legitimate star. He is purported to earn $30 million a year, with some estimates as high as $50 million.


Testing the Waters, Part II - think over the decision in the quiet of the evening . . .




A Concise Concluding Comment -- and Penetrating Question:

    At this point in your life, spending more time with the family and gently powering down are attractive choices.

Or do you prefer the intensity, the challenge and the demanding hours of bridging the gap between "what is" and "what could be," not only for your clients, but for BridgeS EC itself as well?  



* © Dave Hamman, Elephant at lake, Getty Images; Gayan Web Design 2010

**© Susaan Cazenove, Elephant at sunset, Getty Images

Gayan Web Design 2010