The Coach’s Mindset: Passion for Change & Knowledge Application
Episode #1029: Get a unique perspective on the coach’s mindset in a conversation with Alan Weinstein, an executive coach, professor of entrepreneurship and management, author, and Vistage Chair of 30 years. In this interview, we discuss entrepreneurial experiences, leading clients through different stages of their careers, embracing passion for change, unique challenges faced by family-owned businesses, and more.
About Alan Weinstein
Alan Weinstein is an executive coach, professor of entrepreneurship and management, author, and Vistage Chair of 30 years. Alan received his PhD in industrial psychology from Wayne State University and has held professorships at Carnegie Mellon, Oakland University, and Canisius College in New York. At Canisius College, Alan chaired the Management & Marketing Department and founded the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Institute for Family Business and Entrepreneurs on campus. He has served on the Board of Directors for Perry Ice Cream, Lasertron, Stride Tool, and Ciminelli Development. In 1992, Alan started his first Vistage group and currently continues his coaching practice today as a Chair for the Vistage Key and Emerging Leaders Groups. Alan was a co-writer for a business column in Buffalo with Jim Cipriani. In 2013, he published a book, “Executive Coaching and the Process of Change.” And in 2018, he co-authored a book titled “Unleashing Human Energy Through Cultural Change.” Alan has been awarded Entrepreneur of the Year, Price Babson’s Edwin A. Appel Award, and The Donald Calvert Outstanding Professor by MBA students.
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Unique needs of entrepreneurs
Alan shares that one of the most common things he faces when working with entrepreneurs is that they “try to do everything.” Alan shares that they are in a season called the “survival process” which has needs that are very different from businesses who are already established and just trying to grow. However, Alan shares that just like established businesses, “the entrepreneur needs to work…on the business, not just in the business.”
Unique needs of family businesses
In Alan’s experience working with family businesses, he has noticed that they “have an additional challenge” because they need to “balance the emotional side of the family with the rational side of the business.” In working with these companies, he notes the difficulty in working with family members who hold leadership positions, and those who do not yet still feel they have ownership. Sometimes family members want different things for the business, which tends to become a source of conflict. Alan walks his clients through these different challenges and stages throughout their time with him.
Alan’s journey to executive coaching
Alan shares that his journey to executive coaching began with a role model from his undergraduate studies. Through this mentor’s influence, Alan gained his PhD and became increasingly passionate about teaching, research, and working in the community. Alan used this passion to maintain a consulting practice and start the Center for Entrepreneurship in 1990. Soon, Alan was introduced to Vistage and began to balance teaching, research, and publication. Balancing these themes in his career allows Alan to invest in his passion of applying what he has learned while also watching his audience apply his learnings as well.
Going through stages
Alan has had Vistage members that have maintained membership since his first year as an executive coach. When asked how he maintains that relationship between him and his clients, Alan shares that he goes “through stages” with his clients. Alan shares a story of how a Vistage member who—through various stages of coaching—made his business $40M this year, compared to $250K the year prior. Alan shares that “we keep going through different stages of adding better and better people” and that “there’s always issues as you grow.”
Vistage group retreats
Severin asked Alan if he does retreats with his groups and Alan shares that he has been “doing retreats from year one.” In his retreats, Alan has his group members focus on “unwinding and really enjoying each other.” He shares that he is using less speakers and is focusing more on bonding between his group members. Severin relates to the importance of retreats and states that retreats are “like glue.” Alan agrees and shares that by having group members communicate with each other on major issues, they’re able to have “more time to relate and to work on issues.”
The story of Lasertron
Alan started the “largest and the highest quality producer of laser tag equipment in the country” with a former student called Lasertron. After a student came to him with an idea, he encouraged the student to start an independent study. The student asked Alan “how do I go about starting the business?” In response, Alan shared that he would like to help build the company with minority interest. Alan and his co-founder walked through the process of leasing and building buildings, creating new technology, gaining investors, and growing the company. Through several obstacles Alan and his co-founder were able to start one of the most popular birthday venues of Buffalo. Doing this helped Alan be more empathetic to the entrepreneurial experience.
“Executive Coaching and the Process of Change”
After retiring from full-time teaching, Alan wrote a book titled “Executive Coaching and the Process of Change.” In this book, Alan shares that he was trying to pull his experience as a “Vistage Chair and as a coach of entrepreneurs.” When researching how he could contribute to research in the field, he found that there has been little discussion on the aspect of “change” in executive coaching. In his book, he shares several methodologies that support change in the client and coachee relationship. From this book, he has been introduced to many large corporations and asked to coach their executives.
The coach’s mindset
When asked about what lessons Alan wishes he had learned earlier on, Alan shares that he has learned “it’s not about me and how I coach, it’s about them and how they change.” Alan has used this learning to stay focused on his clients lives and go where they lead. With the mentality of “I’m here to help,” Alan focuses on helping his clients handle the challenges that they are currently facing.
The importance of a healthy culture
Alan is working on co-authoring his third book. This book has the mantra of “healthy culture, healthy business.” The book has been developed based on interviews conducted with 21 companies that have “healthy cultures and [a] healthy business” as well as other published research articles. Each chapter of his book will cover different business topics and how a positive work culture can help develop a business further.
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