I originally met with Tony back in September 2014. We sat down at Bread Company and shared experiences over drinks. My first impression was that of a quiet, polite individual. He was relatively soft-spoken and listened well. I had just been laid off, and was in the process of starting my company so I had a LOT to say.
At the time, Tony shared important lessons with me that he had learned from his years working as a leadership consultant and trainer, but I don’t think I was prepared to hear them. After 2 months of not updating this blog, I finally found the time and energy to transcribe our meeting and write his story. Unfortunately much of the meeting was me hogging our time, but it was amazing how pertinent his messages were for me at that very moment.
He had given me the right messages at the wrong time, but how great that when the student was ready the teacher reappeared in the form of a recording?
When I think of dynamic leaders I think of someone outspoken, exuding confidence. When I first met Tony, his quiet, polite mannerisms didn’t lead me to the immediate conclusion that he was a leader and trainer. However, he worked at McDonald’s for over 15 years training and increased the profits, sales, and leadership potential throughout many locations and hundreds of individuals.
About 7 years ago Tony made the decision to become an independent business coach. His ultimate goal, as he told me, was to get the owner outside of the business so they could run it. By developing an organizational structure and business model, he often helps these companies increase their bottom line. But, his strongest skill set is in people development. As a corporate trainer with McDonald’s, Tony had great success in this area. He trained many people who went on to run restaurants or even become district managers.
“I’m really good with people who are open to coaching, have very very big dreams, and who are willing to go through a process and get really honest about making changes in their life and their business.”
Tony is a strong believer in the halo effect. He explained that when you speak to groups, write regularly, and host events, you are perceived to be an expert, even in areas outside of your field. This is why his primary marketing is speaking to networking communities and hosting mastermind groups around personal development, communication skills, and leadership training.
“I want to inspire people, add value, and give them the skills to be successful. If the stuff I’m teaching you can’t be applied to every aspect of your life, then I’m not giving you value. I don’t want to just teach stuff.” He gestured emphatically as he continued, “I want to help people who are working, experience incredible success.”
In some ways Tony is like a life coach, but his passion is helping individuals who are already in the workforce. The reason? He hates to see people who are working hard, but it’s not working out for them. His wife was a prime example.
One day about a year ago, Tony decided to apply his leadership training experience to his wife. “I saw her working her butt off, but not earning what she wanted…” So he sat down and asked her important questions about her future: what did she want to do? what did she want to earn? what did she like? what didn’t she like? what were her opportunities both inside and outside her current organization?
Once finished, he asked her to put together a proposal on her values, experience, and everything she currently did within the context of her work. About one week later she returned to Tony with a 27 page report. He laughed as he explained that he helped her trim it down to 7 or 8 pages.
Shortly after his wife ended up earning the pay she wanted because her company created a new position solely for her. The revelation she had through the whole process? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Tony explained, “It was a good reminder for me, too. When I remember that my productivity is off the charts, my perspective is right… but when I start focusing on what I have to do TODAY, I get all screwed up.”
The Lessons I Wasn’t Ready For
Listening back to our meeting, several important messages stood out to me, messages that were important for me to hear right at that moment. At the time they were just words, but now they’re incredibly applicable.
First, Tony told me about the type of people he works with. He doesn’t work with just anyone. After much introspection he realized where his niche was and now both he and his clients are happier. “I like to help people with a good heart and a good work ethic, and just make it work for them. I like to see those type of people succeed.”
Second, you set your value. “I’d rather die broke than work for less than what I feel like I’m worth, because I’ve done that and that person ends up treating you like the money they’re paying you.” But, he is a believer in helping where he can, so Tony sometimes offers his first initial coaching for free. “Give as much value up front as possible, but don’t give your time away for free.”
And most importantly, I took away the importance of keeping everything in perspective. “Instead of writing a to-do list, ask yourself what success is for you and then structure your day around that.” I’ll definitely take this to heart, but I won’t be giving up my to-do lists any time soon.
As poignant as Tony’s points were for my work life, he emphasized they should be applicable to all aspects life. “I think, if you can’t apply it to your personal life, too… then what’s the point? It’s not a universal truth.”
We stood and slowly walked towards the parking lot together as Tony summed up why he loves this work. “The glory of God is man fully alive. So, I want to go out into the world and help people become who they are, become confident, become exciting, become passionate about life. Help them develop a great attitude and give them the confidence that they can grow through the fires.”
NOTE: The gap in blog numbers is due to having published two posts out of order several months ago. Those posts were time sensitive and needed to go out before elections. You can read them here:
Coffee #81 - Wag More, Bark Less, and Run for Office
Coffee #82 - Saving Our Seniors & Educating Our Youth