I first heard about Strategic Coach in 2004 while attending an event for small accounting firms in Kansas City. Gary Boomer was the speaker, and he attended the Strategic Coach workshops.
During that three-day event, we went through a strategic planning exercise, and I still have my workbook. I later found that several of the Strategic Coach frameworks inspired the thought process behind Boomer’s planning methodology. Gary spoke highly of the founder of Strategic Coach, and I slowly became hooked on the teachings of Dan Sullivan.
After Gary’s event, my first purchase was Pure Genious, a CD series I found on the Nightingale-Conant website. I listened to it dozens of times. I had my kids go through it. I loaned the series to my clients. One of them had his son go through the CDs, who happens to be a client today. I still listen to this series annually.
This is my long-winded way of suggesting the Strategic Coach is more than likely for you.
CEO Peer Coach Groups
I recommend Vistage to every CEO I work with. The first two years are invaluable. More importantly, building new relationships with fellow CEOs is the cornerstone of continued growth in that monthly workshop setting.
Smaller peer groups exist, too, such as the 3to5 Club, but they are not as widespread as Vistage. Business owners attending 3to5 generally run smaller businesses, and the meeting cadence is more frequent than Vistage.
One other CEO peer group worth mentioning is Convene which was founded in Kansas City. I recommend this article on their website: The 5 Benefits of CEO Peer Groups.
What is Strategic Coach?
If I could only use one word to describe Strategic Coach, it would be authentic. Every other CEO peer group I know about teaches best practices common in business. Strategic Coach creates their own frameworks. Everything they teach is fresh, unique, and actionable. Don’t go there expecting to learn about OKRs, V2MOM, KPIs, and a myriad of other alphabet-soup management systems.
Instead, the coach program centers on the Unique Ability®, a simple time system, and the tools to provide more freedom to the business owner than they have ever experienced previously.
The Strategic Coach meets quarterly in one of several host cities. I attended three years in Chicago. Attendees are placed in peer groups based on revenue generated in the past year. For instance, every peer group member in my workshop earned less than $500,000 the previous year. That’s good because I’m not sure I could relate to being with owners making 20 times that number.
Each workshop is facilitated by a coach who has been through the program and exemplifies the teachings of Strategic Coach. My coach was Gary Klaban, and he was outstanding.
If you want to attend a workshop hosted by Dan, you’ll need to pay up for a higher program. I’m not embarrassed to say that’s not in my budget (yet).
Each workshop runs an entire business day. The environment reminds me of a media event. For each workshop, I sensed I was part of a stage production. The cast included those greeting me in the morning to those serving me and my peers at lunch. The 5-7 sessions throughout the day were fun and engaging in a great seating environment replete with great lighting, sound, and even chimes to remind us a session was about to begin. In short, the ambiance was nothing short of spectacular.
Without referring to my workshop notes, there were 5-7 sessions at each workshop. Gary would share a theme for the session that lasted about ten minutes. That led to an exercise we had to complete on our own. After that, we would get into groups of 3-4 people and share our work. The session would end with one of the group leaders sharing his/her findings from the breakout session. That led to a larger group discussion.
It sounds simple. Maybe it is, but the results are amazing.
My Favorite Strategic Coach Tools
If you have attended the Strategic Coach, you might be frustrated because I might leave out your favorite tool.
I’m equating the Strategic Coach tools with simple mental frameworks or mental models. They are memorable and actionable, and many of these tools are still top-of-mind daily.
Here are my favorites with links so that you can do your own due diligence should you want.
- The D.O.S.™ Conversation is my favorite tool. I use D.O.S. daily, and it’s the greatest marketing, sales, and customer service framework I’ve ever encountered. I apply it in sports settings where I’ve been a coach. I’ve used it in non-profits and in board meetings. A day does not pass where D.O.S™ doesn’t enter my mind. Incidentally, the D.O.S.™ also includes Dan’s R-Level question, and it’s one of the most powerful questions I’ve ever heard.
- The Kolbe A™ is the only tool I know about that was not created by Dan Sullivan. The Kolbe A™ is a conative assessment that measures on a Likert scale how we approach work given the freedom to be ourselves. The center of gravity of the Strategic Coach Unique Ability® framework is the Kolbe A™ index.
- The Strategic Coach time system is brilliant. Again, it’s simple, but it works. Dan’s time system is built around focus, free, and buffer days. Strategies are taught for maximizing and minimizing these days based on the objectives and goals of the person using the system. The workbooks are not sold on their website, but the time system is amazing–my favorite part includes the Farm Club™.
- During my last year, we were exposed to Dan’s ambition scorecard, which I believe was created for his 10x program. The beauty of the scorecard is that you can design one for any context you can think of (refer to this example and this one).
- Finally, I love Dan’s Strategy Circle. It reminds me a little of Lewin’s Force Field Analysis, but Dan’s tool is easy to grasp and use.
There are many other tools. The Impact Filter, Dan’s four laws of referability, the One Year Planner, The Entrepreneurial Ladder, and so many more quickly come to mind. The tools are great, and in the right context, they can be transformational.
D.O.S.™ remains in my mind at all times. The one physical tool I still refer to often is the Weekly Planner, which stems from Dan’s time system mentioned above. Below is an excerpt from that planner.
A Quick Shout Out
I don’t remember her name, but I once explained a big project I was working on to Shannon Waller’s mom during a break at one of the workshops. When she looked at my Kolbe A profile on my nametag, she smiled and shook her head. I interpreted her nonverbals as, “Mark, I pity you.”
Stephanie Song overheard that conversation. Today, she’s a Strategy Consultant for Strategic Coach. I’ll never forget what she told me after that encounter.
Mark, your 100% is another person’s 80%.Stephanie Song, Strategic Coach
That meant a lot to me, given the project I was working on. By the way, the 80% solution is another great framework we addressed in year two of my program. I hear Stephanie’s message in my head about weekly.
I’ll finish by repeating the question I started with. Is the Strategic Coach right for you? If you have the drive and determination to be the very best version of yourself steeped in humility, the resounding answer is, “Absolutely!”