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Listen at – “Professional Development – Segueway to Success


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By: Brent Hamachek and Tom Kuchan

Our “Segueway to Success” show, talking about our blog, airs each Wednesday at 15:00 CST.  Find this week’s show and the archives on our web site:


Could there possibly be a less understood, more oft misrepresented, hologram-like element of business than that of various training, coaching and mentoring programs that can all be brought into the general tent of “professional development?”

This is an area that has fascinated Segueway principals since their early careers.  Any professional, with an interest in bettering themselves, and with a remotely open mind, finds the idea of having some sort of coach or mentor appealing.  Everyone with half a brain knows the other half needs filling if they want to reach their full potential.  The rub comes when you say to someone, “If you want help, go get help.”  That’s because when they realize that to get it they might just have to pay for it, suspicion and skepticism replace their desire for self-actualization.

Recently one of the Segueway principals had an opportunity to watch a “Life-Coach” give a presentation at a luncheon event.  The speaker was charismatic, had lots of energy in his voice, injected occasional profanity so that nobody could drift off to sleep and, in general, seemed quite excited about whatever it was he was going to teach us all to do better.  Amidst his theatrical presentation, however, when you listened carefully you realized that he wasn’t actually saying anything.

His talk was littered with clichés about self-empowerment, attaining your highest potential, the seven steps of something of which there only seemed to be six, etc.  At the end of his talk, he made a pitch as to how all of the fascinating things he had touched upon could be developed for participants separately if they wanted to hire him as their coach.  In fact, for people attending that day he would give a discount of some amount for buying his CD, which of course would lead to buying a group session, which of course would lead to individual coaching.

Good grief.

Here’s the problem, this sort of late night infomercial pitch-person has become the businessperson who tries to coach/development/mentor/train others.  The parody replaces the serious professional when a business owner or manager contemplates professional development services.  This often discourages them from proceeding and that is unfortunate.

We have written in this space before about the false presumption of the synonymous between entrepreneur, business manager and leader.  The three, or some combination, are far too often used interchangeably.  The truth is that they are all very different.  What is also true is that is that just because a person has any one or two of the above traits doesn’t mean that they can grasp the other without help.  Further, why should we assume we can continuously improve the skills we have or unlock additional talents by continuously relying only upon ourselves?

Our observation over many years is that many business owner-operators view the use of professional development assistance as either a sign of weakness, which by their nature they are loathe to expose, or they see it as “touchy-feely nonsense” better left to Dr. Phil.  As a result, they bull ahead, relying only on whatever tools they have in their own toolbox.

It’s unfortunate.

When done right, by professionals who have the right combination of life experience, business success stories, business failure stories, and the wisdom to sort, analyze and articulate all of it, professional development coaching can be incredibly beneficial.  In fact, it can be the difference between mediocrity and greatness.  Perhaps it is as simple as stopping to realize that Tiger Woods still has a swing coach.

It does have to be done right, however.  In today’s market there are lots of people out there calling themselves a “fill-in-the-blank” Coach.  They do this because it sounds better than “unemployed” when someone asks what they do at a networking event.  If you are going to find someone to help you with your professional development, which we strongly encourage exploring for most business people, be sure to ask them the kinds of questions that will let you know if they have substance or only style behind their rhetoric.  Let Ron Popeil do the late-night infomercials.

This week on Segueway to Success our guest will be Linda McCabe, founder and CEO of Optimal Level, located in the Chicago suburbs.  Optimal Level is a center for professional development, which applies coaching, mentoring, and training for professionals to set goals, discuss challenges, and produce results. Optimal Level members meet to share experiences, exchange ideas, contribute to others and realize their inner dreams. They use a peer advisory board meeting platform to propel members to improved performance and the achievement of their personal and professional goals. Their individual coaching and consulting programs provide an extra boost toward building confidence, honing business skills, and designing creative solutions.

Linda made it big in the manufacturing world prior to forming this company.  She knows the difference between instilling confidence and a confidence man – someone we are certain we saw at that luncheon a couple of months ago.


Segueway Solutions –

+1 (847) 778-9474

Brent E. Hamachek spent the first 15 years of his professional life in banking, working in 6 different sectors including audit, credit and 9 years as a commercial banker.

After commercial banking, Brent formed Segueway Solutions in 2000 in order to assist privately held companies in transition. To date, he has worked in 40 different industries and has served in the capacity of CEO, CFO & EVP Sales for clients. Brent is a sought after consultant, speaker and trainer offering national and foreign expertise to clients.

Tom Kuchan is a proven leader in global business expansion and effectiveness, risk management, finance and operations with experience in both Fortune 50 and entrepreneurial environments. He has a proven record of defining strategic objectives, translating them into operational tasks, and leading their implementation in diverse geographies and cultures across the globe.

Tom has lived overseas for over twenty years, including Switzerland, Germany and the United Arab Emirates, and has worked extensively across Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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