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Working Hard & Working Happy

Episode #1103: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, Jim Naleid, an Executive Coach, Founder of EPIC21, CEO of Naleid and Associates, and Executive Culture and Alignment Coach, overviews his journey from executive and radio talk show host to executive coach. During the episode, Jim shares one of his core themes in coaching, “rethink, unlearn, and think again.” Severin and Jim discuss the importance of lifelong learning, Jim’s secret sauce to Chair success, and a powerful peer group exercise using songwriting as the material for discovery.



About Jim Naleid

Jim Naleid is an Executive Coach, Founder of EPIC21 (Executive-Peers-In-Conference), CEO of Naleid and Associates, and an Executive Culture and Alignment Coach. Jim is a veteran change agent with documented success in startups, emerging companies, mergers, and acquisitions. Jim has a great understanding of what moves people, the profitability that makes work life fun, and leading others to move from working to thinking and acting like owners instead.


Prior to starting EPIC21, Jim was an Executive Coach, Mentor, and Peer Group Facilitator with Vistage/TEC Worldwide and their Midwest TEC advisory organization. He was part of the Midwest TEC Advisory Board from 2012 through 2016, and in 2014 and 2016, Jim received the TEC Chair Excellence Award.


Jim’s background includes executive leadership positions such as a registered principal at the Robert W Barden Company as well as in journalism and radio. From 1985 to 2000, Jim was a radio talk show host and producer of the Robert James Exchange. This show took an innovative approach to financial markets at a time when not much more than market indexes and local stock prices were the dry subject matter of media platforms. In 1995, Jim authored Celebrating a Century as the Genuine Article, The Story of Oshkosh B’Gosh, published by Greenwich Publishing. Furthermore, Jim has experience in business brokerage consulting, as well as renewable energy and commercial utility wind development.


Key highlights


Jim’s secret to chair success

Timestamp 08:13


In a discussion of how Jim started his first TEC/Vistage group as a Chair, Jim shares that starting his first group was not an easy endeavor. Jim explains that because of his connections from his previous careers, it wasn’t hard to get a phone call answered. However, one key to his success as a Chair leader was how he filled empty seats in his group. He explains that “when a member… leaves the group, I’ve always left it up to the group to identify additional potential members to be a part of it.” He did this because he wanted his members of his group to “fully appreciate that they had to be invested not only in the finances, that they had to commit to the process” and “they had to realize this was their group. It was going to have a culture that they created.” Because of this, he felt that it was best for his current group members to identify and invite other members as they saw fit to the group.

Playing your A-game

Timestamp 18:53


When asked about a learning he has had on his career journey that serves him as a coach, Jim shares that “if we are qualified and willing to take on the responsibility of being a coach, we really have to keep our game at a high level.” Jim shares that any complacency you might feel as you coach, you have to “break out of” and you can do that by “having conversations with peers.”


Vulnerability and humility

Timestamp 27:50


After discussing the impact that the loss of his mother had on him, Severin shares a powerful coaching experience he had with a coaching client experiencing loss. Jim and Severin discuss the importance of working through and unpacking these difficult times. From walking through this hardship, Jim learned “that vulnerability and humility go hand in hand.” He shared that his “life improved” and his “teaching ability,” “level of empathy,” and his “level of understanding as it pertained to other people who were suffering was simply enhanced.”


“Work hard and work happy”

Timestamp 35:42


Jim’s personal mantra is “work hard and work happy.” He adds that “we understand we gotta work hard, but if we can’t work happy, not much is gonna get done.” This mantra helps Jim not take himself “too seriously.” It also serves as a reminder to just “have fun.” Jim shares that “the older I get the more fun I wanna have” and the fun he is referring to is “the joy that comes from that understanding of, ‘Hey, I’m only a human being. I’m imperfect. I have made all the mistakes a person can make and you can’t turn back and fix all that now. But you can be happy about having learned it and you can be happy about sharing the joy of being with others along the way’.”


Powerful questions

Timestamp 45:15


One of the powerful questions Jim uses in his coaching is “what would it be if you knew?” He explains that when clients “appear to not know, they really do know, but perhaps they’re looking for affirmation.” He shares that this question “helps them also appreciate that they're better than they think they are.” Jim will also use what he calls the “Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Critical Thinking.” He explains that “this whole idea of us being willing to be questioned, having all of our answers questioned, and being able to learn to listen well enough to be able to ask a good question is part of the arts of what we acquire in that skill set.”


Advice for aspiring coaches

Timestamp 57:37


When asked what advice he would give to someone wanting to be a coach, Jim shares that “if you’re doing it just for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Although you can make a nice living doing this and if it’s just a matter of paying for the certification and the training that you think is gonna lead you to success, my opinion would be that you’re in mistake.” He explains that instead of doing this work for a paycheck, “there has to be a component in this work that has more to do with the love of that person and the challenges that they’re gonna be faced with.” Jim adds that experience losing and winning is also an essential element of being a skillful coach.


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