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10 Things To Take Into A Hard Recession

Episode #1095: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, host Severin Sorensen is joined by a special panel of guest executive coaches, Michele Barry, Ben Griffin, Barry Goldberg, Phil Holberton, and Conor Neill. During the episode, we discuss how to prepare for a recession, and specifically, 10 things to take with you into a hard recession. The purpose of this episode is to provide sage counsel for CEOs, business owners and coaches who are coaching other business owners on how to prepare for a probable recession.



About the panelists


About Host Severin Sorensen

Severin Sorensen is a serial entrepreneur and lifetime learner with a passionate curiosity for people and businesses. Severin is the CEO of ePraxis LLC, a premier level retained search firm that provides executive headhunting, talent selection, and executive coaching. In addition to finding top talent, Severin has provided over 7,500+ hours of paid executive coaching to entrepreneurs, CEOs, Presidents, and C-level executives. Severin is an ICF ACSTH Certified Executive Coach, Certified Organizational Development Coach, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Positive Intelligence® Coach. Severin is the founder/producer of a new podcast, Arete Coach, that explores the art and science of executive coaching with some of the industry's best coaches.


From 2010-2018 Severin was also a Vistage Chair where he coached three CEO and key executive groups. In 2011, Severin received the "Rookie of the Year Chair Award" from Vistage. Since 2013, Severin has added international speaking for Vistage, CEO conferences, executive peer groups, and corporations on the topic of identifying and hiring difference-making top talent.


After graduate school, Severin moved to Washington, DC, where he worked on security-related economic and public policy issues that included a brief stint in The White House, as a Special Assistant to the President, for George H. Bush (POTUS 41). In 1994, Severin founded Sparta Consulting Corp., and Sparta provided world-class physical security and safety related management consulting services for public and private sector entities. From 1994-2002, Severin managed HUD's Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design technical assistance and training program. In 2005, Severin sold Sparta to Westec Interactive (Digital Witness), which was subsequently acquired by Interface Security.


Severin, a native Californian, grew up in Salt Lake City, UT and graduated with honors from the University of Utah with Economics and Political Science degrees. He completed graduate studies in economics at King's College, Cambridge University (England), where he earned a M.Phil. degree in Economics. Severin has a great love and appreciation for sports, and while overseas, Severin rowed for the King's College Boat Club, and played basketball for the Cambridge University Basketball Team (1986-87).


About Guest Michele Barry

Michele Barry is a CEO, Executive Leadership Growth Coach, CEO Peer Group Leader, Vistage Chair, and Business Consultant. Michele is the CEO of M Barry Consulting out of Arlington, Massachusetts, and has been a Vistage Chair since 2005. Michele helps business leaders become better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

In 2007, Michele became a Vistage Mentor Chair and began helping Vistage Chairs start their groups and become effective leaders. In 2012, Michele became a faculty member of Vistage and started teaching new-hire and advanced training courses for experienced Chairs. Prior to her consulting and coaching, Michele was a lead change management consultant and director at Fidelity Investments. Michele also worked in the education, training, and learning fields at Politzer and Haney. She has served as a learning and development manager, instructional designer, development editor, English teacher, and Mathematics teacher.

Michele is a Predictive Index Certified Partner practitioner, a certified EQI 2.0, and EQI 360 with Multi-Health Systems. She is also certified with the Leadership Circle Profile and a PI certified Talent Optimization Consultant. Additionally, Michele has a master’s degree in both literature and accounting.


About Guest Ben Griffin

Ben Griffin is an Executive Coach, Board Advisor, and the Founder and President of CEOIQ. Prior to entering the executive coaching field, Ben held several executive leadership positions with insurance companies. He also ran some of his own companies and was the President of Quinox Corporation. He earned his MBA from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College.

In 2000, he started working as a group facilitator and executive coach with an International CEO advisory organization. Today, Ben is the Founder and President of CEOIQ where he has created an ecosystem for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and leadership teams. He serves his clients as an executive coach and an advisor, offering services such as peer advisory groups, strategic thinking workshops, leadership development coaching, executive coaching, and digital leadership labs with a focus on strategic thinking, human capital development, team alignment, management by objectives, and financial diagnostics. Furthermore, he also facilitates CEO round tables with companies as small as 25 employees and as large as 5,000 full-time employees. Ben is also an avid photographer and has even organized and managed his own jazz band.


About Guest Barry Goldberg

Barry Goldberg is a Vistage Chair and executive coach out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Barry served as the ICF Vice Chair for Global Ethics and Standards Committee from 2010 to 2013, and taught coaching ethics at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership from 2013 to 2018. Barry has ample experience in the corporate and executive coaching world. He has experienced operational changes within the executive coaching industry and has developed his own style and coaching technique as a result. Barry believes in the necessity for experience and educational training in the coaching field, and has used his experiences and scientifically proven data to aid his coaching practice. Barry Goldberg is a lifelong learner who always seeks excellence, new strategies, and scientific principles that he can apply to his practice as a game-changing executive coach.


About Guest Phil Holberton

Phil is an executive coach, Vistage Chair (of 8 years), instructor on organizational leadership at Brandeis University, and mental fitness coach. Phil’s journey to executive coaching began in his early career as the Chief Financial Officer for a number of private and public companies including Cambridge Neuroscience and General Cinema Theaters. In 1996, Phil started his coaching practice and thereafter became a Vistage Chair in 2012. Phil has served as Vice Chair of the MIT’s Enterprise Forum and is a past President of Boston’s Financial Executives Institute. Currently, Phil manages his website speakingofleadership.com and serves as a Vistage Chair. Phil found his passion for coaching through his experience helping students with their acceptance speeches and engaging in a CEO peer group. After a peer group leader asked Phil to sub for him, Phil realized executive coaching might be a career of interest to him. Since then, Phil has maintained a thriving executive coaching career that embodies his passion to help people be the best they can be. With his experiences as an executive coach and peer group advisor, Phil offers great insight to the executive coaching profession.


About Guest Conor Neill

Conor Neill is an executive coach, lecturer, speaker, storyteller, entrepreneur, the President of Vistage Spain, and Senior Lecturer at IESE Business School—one of the top business schools in the world. At the onset of his career, Conor worked at the London Office of Accenture for just over a decade and went on to run several businesses thereafter. With his passion for growing businesses, he became President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s (EO) Spain Chapter—one of the top 10% EO chapters worldwide. A few years later, he began his role as the President of Vistage Spain, which he continues today.


Throughout Conor’s experience, he has delicately balanced his career and academia. In addition to his position as Senior Lecturer at IESE Business School, he is also a Visiting Professor at the University of College Dublin and the University of Montevideo. In addition to Conor’s notable experience, he shares his wisdom in a widely popular YouTube page with over a quarter of a million subscribers—with his most popular video reaching 14 million individuals. Conor is a master of growing businesses, networking, building relationships, and inspiring greatness in those around him.

Key highlights


What is a recession?

Timestamp 1:13


Severin Sorensen shares insight into what a recession is from The National Bureau of Economic Research. He also examines why a potential recession may be called in the future by examining the Fed Spread and other data. Also shared are indicators of a recession including “a dramatic reduction in the ISM orders,” oil prices, surveys, job listing statistics, and changes in the workforce and marketplace.


What does a recession feel like?

Timestamp 15:39


Michele Barry, Ben Griffin, Barry Goldberg, Phil Holberton, and Conor Neill all share insights into what a recession feels like. Michele discusses the importance of remaining calm and the role of a coach in helping business leaders manage the “adrenaline flow” that can coexist with recession announcements. Conor gives insight into the three recessions he has lived through and what he has learned from each of them, including what it was like to conduct layoffs as a business leader in Spain. Ben shares two potential responses to recession probabilities. Phil elaborates on the importance of “helping everybody feel emotionally together” as they walk through a potential recession. And, Barry shares his emphasis on “deleting the need” to like the effects and impacts of a recession.


10 things to take into a hard recession

Timestamp 29:41


For the remainder of the podcast, guest panelists share their top 10 things they would take into a hard recession. Topics discussed in great depth include: the importance of “killing off your darlings,” knowing your cash flow, “business activity prediction,” having financial resources ready at hand, the value of reflection and journaling, cutting out unnecessary expenses, being aware of receivables, pricing strategies, KPIs, workplace culture, self-care and wellness, relationships with investors, seeing opportunities in downturns, having a vision, and safeguarding assets and operations.


Relevant insight articles


[A disclaimer and warning; in this episode, panelists on the podcast share their deepest insights and past actions they have taken during hard recessions. Several offer their 'to-do' list for preparing for a recession such as securing cash for operations. Listeners are advised to seek their own financial and legal counsel before implementing any suggestions offered in this program.]

Download the transcript

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