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Frank Hurtte has nearly 30 years of practical real world experience in distribution.  He has enjoyed a life long love affair with the distribution industry and the people who work there.....

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Coaching from Frank Hurtte and RHC

 

Coaching comes naturally to me - early in my own career, I was fortunate enough to have developed a coach-like relationship with the Senior Vice President of a major equipment manufacturer.  I was a young salesman for Allen-Bradley, yet he took time to take my calls, listen to my problems, and ask hard questions about my future – often questions that I really didn’t know the answer to.  From that point, I understood the value of a coach.  As I moved through 29+ years in business, I developed my coaching skills with key employees, valuable suppliers, and friends outside my own industry.  The leadership, power, and influence displayed by these folks hold a special place of personal pride. 

 

Years of coaching relationships taught me four very important things:

Ø      Those with a formal coach relationship developed key skills faster than their counterparts.

Ø      Once up to speed on their job, they produced greater monetary results (more sales, bigger bottom lines, more marketshare).

Ø      Leaders who went through a coaching process are more likely to become coaches within their own environment and perpetuate the process.

Ø      Even after reaching high level executive positions, these folks still occasionally come back for “an outside perspective”.

 

But, business is about results.  And, the results speak for themselves - a recent study conducted by Metrix Global (of thousands of companies) indicates the return on investment for Executive Coaching is over 509%. 

 

What is a coach?

A coach equates to a mentor on steroids; an adviser with no personal agenda, an advocate with only one objective – to accelerate the personal and professional growth of his client.  This is done by:

  • Providing an outside perspective
  • Acting as an independent sounding board
  • Playing devils advocate
  • Providing training
  • Assisting in building a stronger network
  • Researching topics and providing commentary

 

Why is my approach different?

There are literally thousands of coaches all offering “canned” coaching experiences - there are even certification programs that turn high school civics teachers into coachers.  A few of these ladies and gentlemen actually have hands on business experience, but not one offers the unique mix of life experience that I have enjoyed.

 

I grew up in a family oil distribution business – where I ‘hit the road” selling farm tires wholesale before I could legally drive.  I was forced to understand the points of cash flow, credit and collections, and dealing with suppliers at the ripe old age of 17.  While attending the University of Illinois, I sold encyclopedias – with enough success to be made regional trainer – all while completing a degree in Computer Engineering.

 

Later during my “normal” career I have been fortunate enough to:

  • Work for a large company –where I was featured in their annual report and in a multi-country advertising program. 
  • Turn around the culture of a distributor location where four managers had failed in the previous 3 years
  • Supervise the acquisition of multiple distributor locations
  • Sell a distribution business
  • Manage the complete relocation of businesses
  • Plan and build two new distribution facilities
  • Lead an organization through a natural disaster that left a major American City without utilities for over 29 days
  • Establish one of the first technical call support centers in the electrical distribution industry
  • Implement a Distributor Product Specialist strategy that has become the model for an industry
  • Serve as the President of an Industry Trade Association – and developed a new distributor channel “Automation Solution Provider”
  • Participate in dozens of formal (and informal) Manufacturer’s Advisory Councils
  • Take part in the strategic planning sessions in successful businesses in dozens of businesses in a large number of industries

 

I bring the sum of my total life experience to each and every; phone call, personal meeting, email, exercise and networking activity.

 

What kind of individuals have you coached?

I have worked with people of all ages and in a broad array of business.  I don’t get hung up on titles, rather I prefer to coach those who are determined to get better, produce better results and grow personally and professionally.

  • Presidents and Senior Executives of Distributors, Systems Integrators, Manufacturer’s Agencies, and Manufacturers
  • Product Managers, Technical Specialist of many organizations
  • Senior Sales People
  • Customer Service Manager
  • Owners of a diverse group of businesses
  • Entrepreneurs involved in start-up situations

 

What benefits will you experience?

This is not a “one size fits all” deal – the benefits you derive will (and should) be different than others.  We will work on the issues you feel are important and you will never, never be run through a canned program developed for the masses.  The following are some of the things other clients have told me were important to them.

  • Time savings – “working with you has greatly eliminated procrastination on key issues.”
  • Better employee decisions – “coaching drove me to act when I knew someone was not performing and never would.”
  • Better developed plans – “I feel like I am thinking two or three moves ahead in strategy”
  • Being held accountable – “I know Frank will ask me where I am on a key decision every two weeks”
  • Better networks – “Thanks for the introduction, we plan to have lunch next week”
  • Eliminate (minimize) hiring errors – “you forced me to see a new perspective on future employees”
  • Advice on acquisitions – “Your coaching and advice kept me from making the same mistake twice”
  • Better confidence – “I went into this negotiation better prepared than ever before”

 

How long does a coaching relationship last?

No magic answer here – I continue to work with some folks, years after our initial coaching experience.  As a rule of thumb – to work well a coaching relationship needs to run for at least 6-8 months.  And, many clients have decided to continue the relationship in an “evergreen” kind of arrangement.  We continue to work together as long as there is benefit – and payback.  Many Senior Executives feel so strongly about coaching that they have referenced me to friends and families in similar business situations.

 

How do we get started in a coaching relationship?

We get together for a lengthy web-con or face-to-face meeting to discuss the current.  I will ask questions about your business model and your best opportunities for growth.  We will talk about the personalities of the people on your team.  Questions will be:  What do you view as your biggest issues? And, what you would pursue if you had unlimited budget and staff?  I like to know “the one thing you feel will produce the biggest and best results if done in the next year.  Generally, this meeting is free flowing (more like a conversation).  I take lots of notes and the meeting takes (about) 2 hours.  At the end, we select a topic for discussion and schedule our first call.

 

First Call - We talk about the latest issues, explore easy solutions and/or ideas that have worked well for others.  One client calls this, “missing the oak tree by being too busy picking up acorns.”  We review the one thing” (I want to make sure it hasn’t changed).  We set mutually agreeable short and long term goals; talk about roadblocks and next moves.  Before we end, we do free flow discussion of the current situation.

 

On going calls - We talk latest issues, frustrations, what is working, and what is not.  We perfect our approach to life by measuring progress to goal.  We talk about the action items set in the first call.  We update our goals and recalibrate future steps.  This is the essence of “coaching”.  At the end, we schedule our next call (10-14 days following.)

 

My approach in three sentences..

My approach to coaching is akin to mentoring a championship athlete.  My clients are smart, successful, and at the top of their game professionally - and, they want to be better.  We hold one another accountable.  Like steel against steel, men and women can strike a new edge on one another -- professionally and personally.  

 

 

January 12th, 2007 Article from Business Week – on line

 

When you lead a small business, you often have very few people with whom to discuss important decisions.  Employees, key suppliers, and family members can be biased.  Friends in the community may become the source of “information leaks”.  A full blown Board of Directors is a nice idea - but unless your company is big enough to provide for the logistics of a Board – you may find yourself pulled into a morass of detail work. 

Read Here

 

Harness the Power of Conversation

Nothing differentiates you more than the conversations you have

 

Last week, I attended my 35th year high school reunion.  As I steered down the last dark stretch of blacktop highway into small town Taylorville, Illinois, a kaleidoscope of colorful memories whirled through my mind.   My brain ran wild.  My subconscious mind directed my direction.  And, conversations (past, present and future) dominated my thoughts.    

 

We discover friends, we build relationships, we separate, and we come back together.  After the social niceties – the quick; “how’s your family” and “where you living” – we reconnect.  Conversation fuels the train called human relations. 

 

So here we are, a collection of fifty-three year olds circled together in the parking lot of the VFW Hall in Central Illinois.  Talking; a 1 minute burst here, a ten minute conversation there. 

 

I remembered a book – “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott.  Ms. Scott believes our relationships with others succeed or fail one conversation at a time.  She asks who among us hasn’t extended emotional energy or spent time (we really didn’t have) cleaning up the mess from a poorly chosen comment or wrongly spoken sentence.

 

Better Decisions are often the result of carefully crafted conversations.  “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship or a lifetime – Any Single Conversation Can.”

 

Conversations – the really important ones – need to be thought out.  Those who know me can “testify” to droll sense of humor.  In moments of anxiety, my crutch is humor.  When feeling ill at ease, my natural tendency seems to be - insert humor.   In times of stress, humor leads to misunderstanding. 

 

I believe mental stress and anxiety cloud our judgment.  Conversations need to be stripped down to their most simple form.  Tense conversations, hard communications, important conversations should be fine tuned.

 

How do we fine tune conversations?  Preparation comes to mind.  If a tense moment can be anticipated, it can be prepared for.  Role playing helps.  Simplification works. 

 

Having a confidant, mentor or a coach with whom we can “talk things through”, strengthens the power of our conversation.  Better conversations lead to Better Decisions.

 

Frank Hurtte – Founding Partner of River Heights Consulting – has coached Executives and Senior Management since before it was in style.  Call us to talk about what we can do for you. 

 

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