Episode #1040: Garth Jackson joins a high-impact and detailed conversation on the importance of living a balanced life, the changing workplace, and best practices for retaining employees. The discussion also reveals how Garth manages a high volume of one-to-one coaching sessions and maintains his successful virtual coaching practice, and how Severin Sorensen, host of the Arete Coach Podcast, manages remote workers and the policies he uses to do so. Join us as we dive into how you can encourage a balanced life and adapt to the changes of today’s workplace.
About Garth Jackson
Garth Jackson is a Vistage Master Chair, recipient of the Chair Excellence Award and Vistage Star Award, and owner of Jackson Business Management Services. Garth has been coaching with Vistage for over 14 years, while also coaching through Florida Business Management Services and his company Jackson Business Management Services.
Garth started coaching virtually in 2012, and has continued to do so today. Before entering the executive coaching industry, Garth earned his MBA from Harvard Business School with honors and was the CEO of the largest orthopedic and neurosurgical practice in central Oregon, as well as President and CEO of Palmer Homes.
Garth has a passion for helping CEOs and executives achieve life balance between their careers and home life. Helping CEOs be their best self, have their breakthrough moments, and achieve their goals, is central to Garth’s successful executive coaching program.
From CEO to executive coach
Garth began his career as the CEO of various companies. Later on in his career, he decided to enter the coaching industry because he wanted to make an impact in others’ lives. Garth shares that he has been an executive coach longer than anything else in his career. He explains that being an executive coach has allowed him to be himself “for the first time” in his life as he no longer needs to have what he called the “certain face” of a CEO that refrained from sharing his personal life. Through his executive coaching practice, he has realized that “really what people want is the authentic Garth.” This authenticity has allowed Garth to excel in the executive coaching industry and 15-year career with Vistage.
Live life balanced
Garth’s mantra is “live life balanced.” He shares that he used to be a perfectionist and set his goals for perfection. Today he ensures one week a month of no work, to recharge and refresh after a busy month. Garth has developed this “live life balanced” mantra through the concept of understanding “what’s most important.” Garth invests his time only in things that truly matter and works hard at everything he does.
Garth’s high volume of one-to-one meetings is fostered by Zoom and other best practices he uses. Prior to COVID-19, Garth shared that “driving around town to people’s offices, while common,” was very distracting for his clients at times. Because of this, Garth started renting a table at a restaurant that each of his clients would visit one-by-one throughout the day. Today, Garth is transitioning to a totally virtual environment for his one-to-one coaching sessions. Severin agrees with the value of Zoom and how some CEOs are readily distracted when in their office. He also shares that some CEOs do not have genuinely private offices, so having a private conversation can be difficult.
The genuine self
A few reasons Garth has maintained his coaching career with Vistage is the variety of different coaches, different coaching styles, and different coach personalities. He shares that it is important for executive coaches to not be “pretenders” and to be their genuine self. Severin comments on Garth’s perspective and states that genuine character also allows for openness between a CEO and a coach. Garth attributes his ability to have five one-to-one conversations in a row to his genuine coaching. He looks forward to working with each of his CEOs and is able to be his genuine self the entire time.
Corporate experience and coaching
Severin asks Garth how his previous careers have helped him be a successful executive coach and for his perspective on the importance of executive experience. Garth explains his answer by defining the two skills of an executive coach: business skills and soft people skills. At the beginning of his career, Garth shares that he relied on his experience from different industries, but now his coaching is rooted in “soft leadership and management skills and being human as a leader.” According to Garth, his experience as a CEO “set a good platform” but his “human skills” needed to be developed further.
The changing workplace
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many changes to the workplace of today. Garth shares that various social and political movements have challenged an organization’s social duties. Garth elaborates on how this can affect a company’s vision or purpose. The changes between the “boomer” and “millennial” generation are also discussed. Severin introduces the topic of “purpose-driven cultures” and explains DEI for the audience. Other changes that executives and their coaches face are questions about returning to the in-person work environment and the new “free agency of employment.” At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees were reluctant to work from home, but now many are refusing to return to the workplace. Today’s CEOs and executives must consider how work from home employees can be managed and how having a soley in-person workforce can be a disadvantage for them in the hiring process.
Hiring the best
Severin shares a research study that focused on the cost of hiring the second-best employee for a job versus the best-fit job applicant. This study found that profit and productivity suffered when employees hired the second-best job applicant in order to save money on salary expenses. Severin shares that employees are using databases and conversations to analyze their rate of pay. Garth comments on the use of data for CEOs and says “the data isn’t good,” doesn’t represent what is going on “real time”, and can’t “give you a market feel.” While there will be some employee turnover, Garth recommends investing in the employees that a CEO already has “because if you lose those people, you’re done because you’re just going to have a bunch of newbies…”
The “and” exercise and employee retention
Severin and Garth practice the “and” exercise: an exercise that provokes thought between an executive coach and a client. Severin starts this exercise with the statement “so the goal is to retain our best employees, and I will do this by identifying who my best employees are today and their true contribution to the company and…” From here, Garth and Severin share ideas on how employers can retain their top-quality employees amidst the changing workplace. They discuss the importance of culture, proper compensation, and relationship building, among other things. In closing, Severin shares how his policies help him retain his remote employee in Texas.
As Garth has transitioned to virtual coaching, he has noticed a wide variety of distractions. As a result, Garth has several best practices which help him avoid being distracted during coaching sessions. During the first few coaching sessions, both Garth and Severin will “walk the four corners of the office” with their new client, but afterwards they will transition to virtual coaching. This helps them see the dynamic of the office and have a greater understanding of their clients’ work environment. During virtual meetings, both Severin and Garth believe in the importance of being present and free from distractions.
How are you?
One of Garth’s favorite powerful questions to use in his coaching is “How are you?” Often, Garth’s clients will respond with the traditional “fine, doing well” answer. However, Garth will respond with “No, really. How are you doing?” Then his clients are able to open up and share their genuine thoughts and feelings. He will also ask them “What is your why?” This helps his clients reflect on where they are going and where they have been.
A thriving legacy
Garth wants to continue in his role as a Vistage chair for as long as he physically and mentally can. He shares his experience with Pat Hyndman, a legendary executive coach of 50 years. Garth asked Pat why he was attending a training after all of his experience and Pat said, “Because I learn something every time. I’m constantly learning.” Garth explains that what drives his coaching and gives him energy is the breakthrough he sees with his clients during every one-to-one session. Garth’s desire to help the CEOs and executives of today, his genuine personality, and authentic care have inspired him to continue pursuing a thriving legacy as an executive coach.
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