A Great Quote From a Famous Venture Capitalist

I liked this recent quote from Marc Andreessen the famous Silicon Valley VC that sums what it is like as an entrepreneur. It pretty much explains my client’s day to day realities and why an objective sounding board like an executive coach can be so valuable, and critical for staying sane.

"Ask any entrepreneur in the Valley how their company’s going. 'Oh, it’s going great. Everything’s fine.' But internally they’re always about to throw up. Because there’s always something going wrong. Some key employee is about to quit, or some new competitor has popped up, or some product has slipped, or some customer is suing you, or some crazy thing is happening. There’s nothing easy about building a company.”

Are You Unhappy at Work?

Sometimes my clients surprise me with their courage to quit a well-paying job and move onto something more fulfilling.  Other clients hang on to a job they are unhappy in for way too long, leading too anxiety, insecurity, and misery. 

Why do clients hang on to jobs past their expiration date? It seems there are two big reasons.  First, is the money.  Not necessarily the amount they make, but the security that the money provides.  

The second reason is that their job is not all bad.  They remember “the good old days” when they first started and felt pretty good about things.  They wonder if they can re-connect with that spark, even though the circumstances have changed.  For example, one of my clients who is the Managing Director of a professional services firm loved his job when he first started, but at that time he had a different boss and a different client load.  Now most of his role is tied up with two key clients who bore him and his boss is a driver with little compassion.  It’s been a year since the circumstances have changed, and although he hopes for better days, the reality is that it has only gotten worse.  

So, what are the warning signs that you are unhappy and need to make a change? 

1)      Physical Symptoms – You feel sick with dread on Sunday night or filled with anxiety.  Perhaps your breathing is short, and you start to feel a knot in your stomach.  Whatever the symptom it usually creeps in on Sunday night as the work week looms closer.

2)      You stopped caring – You just don’t seem to care about what is going on at work anymore, and things that were once important for getting results now seem petty or like a waste of energy.

3)      Cynicism about people – You now look at the “power players” at work and see them in a negative light, you question whether you even like them.  You seem to notice their power tripping, and political moves more than their strengths and talents.

4)      Low Energy – In general you find yourself loading up with caffeine, sighing a lot, and a bit lethargic.  This is in contrast to the energetic boost that comes from being motivated and engaged in what you are doing.

5)      Job Searching – You use your spare time looking at job postings online.  You notice you are spending more time than usual considering parallel realities like becoming a ski instructor, moving to Argentina, or enjoying a good read in a café in Paris.

6)      Leakage – You are trying really hard to fit in and be on your game but you keep finding yourself saying or doing things which represent how you authentically feel, but are not exactly appropriate given the situation and context. For example, in meetings you may blurt out that it is (insert profanity here) that the team needs to drop everything to accommodate yet another unrealistic client request. Your true self starts “leaking” out at inconvenient times.

7)      Poor Performance Review – All of a sudden your powerful and high flying career starts going down the tubes and you get feedback that you need to improve quick, or you might lose your job.  This is usually linked to low motivation and the reality that you can only drag your heels so long.

8)      Day dreaming – You find yourself day dreaming in meetings, usually fantasizing about the 1001 other things you could be doing with your life in that moment.

9)      You have no friends at work – You are at a point now where you have to spend all your lunch hours and breaks alone because it takes so much energy to interact with people.  You know you should be networking, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

10)   You complain a lot – Your loved ones are getting sick of your complaining and the people who care about you keep saying, “you should quit.”

Keep in mind that when you are happy you are motivated to do well, and you are energetic and enthused about work.  This “passion edge” is what differentiates top people in their field.  If you are unhappy, be mindful that it usually gets worse over time, leading to even lower motivation.  The best thing you can do is make career decisions with your happiness and values top of mind because in the end this is what will lead to the greatest amount of success.

Is it time to teach your managers to be better coaches?

p>Research shows that effective managers spend time coaching and developing their people. They are skilled listeners, ask insightful questions, and they demonstrate the ability to improve the company culture and employee engagement one employee at a time.

In this workshop your managers will learn how the role of “coach” fits into their leadership responsibilities, and they will gain practical skills for coaching effectively. In addition, they will learn how to prepare for, and give meaningful feedback that reinforces their employee’s positive contribution to the business, and their strengths. To ensure they lock in the learning and apply the coaching skills learned in the workshopthey will also receive ongoing coaching support after the session. This additional support will boost their confidence as a coach, and it will help them to improve workplace relationships, engagement and the culture.

Specific learning outcomes include:

• An overview of situational leadership and how coaching fits into the broader responsibilities of a leader.

• A personal assessment of their coaching potential, and an exercise to forecast the specific challenges they will likely face when coaching their direct reports.


• An introduction to the Coaching for Success Formula – a three part model for having a coaching conversation in a work context.

• Improved listening ability, along with the ability to ask meaningful and powerful questions

• Hands on practice giving and receiving coaching on real world practical issues using an easy to understand model for structuring coaching conversations.

• Practical experience preparing for and giving positive feedback based on people’s strengths and positive contribution to the business.

This workshop is highly engaging, and experiential. Participants receive a coaching workbook, a library of powerful coaching questions, a “coaching cheat sheet,” and peer and facilitator coaching after the workshop.


Karmichael Group's Exciting Client Projects for Fall

Fall is just around the corner and it is one of the most exciting times of year for our team.  It’s a time for new beginnings, using the energy restored after summer, and doing great work.

Here is a quick summary of some of the meaningful and great work we have booked.

  • Coaching for Executives – 2013 was all about refining our executive coaching model focused on supporting newly promoted executives, and executives who are next in line for an important career promotion.  We will continue to offer this service, offering case studies this coming year.
  • Leadership Program for a Not for Profit – Working with one of the most important not for profits in the city we are creating a leadership program that will help at risk youth progress in their careers, and we are creating a leadership program that will support leaders in this field to prepare for future changes in the industry. As part of this project we are evaluating our clients approach to leadership development and creating a sustainable path forward which includes a link with training, career planning and succession.
  • Career Paths and Development for Consulting Firm – We are partnering with a well known consulting firm in town to create career paths for their team members, and to design an integrated approach for career development, and performance coaching conversations.  This involves identifying the career paths, creating a performance coaching toolkit, and supporting each person to have a meaningful career development plan.
  • http://www.bellayoscura.com/ International Succession – Working with a global company we will be conducting leadership assessments on all of their Directors and VPs and supporting the executive team to identify the high potential leaders, and to make progress with their succession management pipeline.  The purpose of this project is to get a solid baseline of the high potential talent pool, and to prepare individuals for future career growth.
  • Management Development Coaching – We are the coaching team for an internal “College for Leaders” program that currently has over 100 participants.  Our role is to provide learning coaching services which includes coaching managers on how to succeed during this program, and giving them a taste of professional coaching so they can in turn provide it to their team members.
  • Work with Passion Weekend – We are creating a three day workshop that will be offered to the public and helps people to identify their passions, and strengths, and get their career on a more fulfilling track.  It will be rolled out in the new year.
  • HR Service Integration – One of our clients is a public organization who needs a more integrated approach o HR.  We are interviewing key stakeholders across the business to better understand the current HR Practices and then creating a service centered model for HR which is centralized and decentralized.
  • A New Website – In addition, we are launching a new website!  It will highlight some of our unique services when providing executive coaching and succession management services.

If you need help identifying and developing high potential employees, please reach out.  We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs.

Positive Intelligence

I found this 20 minute TEDxStanford talk on “Positive Intelligence,” based on brain research, thought provoking and inspiring.

more info

Published on Jun 20, 2013

Shirzad Chamine shows Stanford students how his research on positive intelligence can help them achieve their full potential for professional success and personal fulfillment.

Professor Shirzad Chamine is author of the New York Times bestseller Positive Intelligence. His work exposes 10 well-disguised mental saboteurs and shares how to defeat them. According to Chamine, "positive intelligence" measures the percentage of time our mind serves us as opposed to sabotaging us. While IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence) contribute to our maximum potential, it is PQ that determines how much of that potential we actually achieve. Chamine is chairman emeritus of CTI, the largest coach training organization in the world. Chamine has coached hundreds of CEOs and their executive teams. Before running CTI, he was the CEO of an enterprise software company. His background includes PhD studies in neuroscience in addition to a BA in psychology, an MS in electrical engineering and an MBA from Stanford.