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Recently I was on a business trip and during my travels I found myself fortunate enough to overhear one of the most amazing conversations I have ever heard. It was highlighted by an extremely successful business executive sharing his secret to success with a young business person only a few years into his career. The summation was four words he shared changed his career and ultimately his life.

As I boarded the airplane, I was excited to find out I had been upgraded to First Class. As I took my seat, I noticed the two seats directly in front of me contained what appeared to be extremely different ends of the career spectrum. One of the men was extremely well dressed, an impeccably groomed gentleman with a good amount of silver in his hair who was cal as could be. He carried himself with an incredible level of confidence, looked like he belonged in First Class and had been enjoying it for many years. The other was several decades younger, a little disheveled in appearance and seemed to be chaotic in his interactions. He seemed to lack confidence and looked like he had never been in First Class before.

When the flight took off I was intrigued as the two of them began to have a conversation. Turns out the young man was only a few years out of college and recently promoted into a junior management position, and really trying to figure life out. The older gentleman was a seasoned business executive who had diligently worked his way up the corporate ladder, and now sat in the “C” suite where he is the CEO of his organization.

The conversation quickly turned it to the junior businessman asking the senior businessmen what words of advice he would give to someone in his shoes. The young man went on to ask tons of questions about professional development, training, consultants, assessments, becoming a better leader, getting an MBA degree, etc. The CEO was extremely kind and gracious as he ask the junior person some questions about his career and life goals. The young man quickly shared he also wanted to be a CEO someday.

While they continued their conversation I became more intrigued as to what the CEO would share. What great books would he suggest, what great workshops would he encourage, what magic words would he offer?

The CEO finally shared with the young man what he had been waiting/hoping for. Unfortunately the answer was not what he thought. However it completely blew me away. He summed up all of his unbelievable success in four words – “Hire a Sandler coach.”

As you can imagine, as a Sandler coach I was taken aback by the answer. The only thing that topped that was his reason for the four words. He went on to share how having a seasoned business advisor that was outside of his company allowed him to have someone who was truly on his team and allowed him the opportunity to work through professional and personal challenges in a methodical way – where his best interest was always at hand.

Finally the CEO added – if you cannot find a Sandler coach then find an awesome sales/management coach (as those are the two true keys to becoming more successful).

So let me ask: Have you ever felt like you needed unbiased guidance in your career (or in your life)? If not, then good for you. However, if so then what time, energy and money are you wasting by not having a coach to help you?

Note: This was originally published in the August 2013 issue of The Business Times of Edmond.

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