I'm a writer, strategy consultant and Board Certified Coach. In past lives, I was co-founder and CEO of tech start-up Shopcaster, Vice President of Digital Media at the Toronto Star and Founding Publisher of the magazine Weekly Scoop.
But who cares about all that?
What really matters is whether or not I'm the right coach or trainer for you and your organization.
In other words, why me?
I'm curious, compassionate and devoted to my craft. I didn't fall into coaching because I had nothing else to do; I chose it. Or perhaps it chose me. To be honest, I'm not really sure. Either way, I love this work, mostly because I find you fascinating. I know that it's a deep honor when you invite me into your life, and there's nothing I love more than watching you create your own transformation during our time together.
That said, my coaching isn't for everyone. The truth is, I turn away almost as many clients as I accept.
Unstuck Leadership is, and has to be, deeply personal. I require you to confront everything; from how you see yourself, to how you manage interpersonal relationships, to how you do business. And above all, I require you to prioritize the truth of what's emerging around you over your own personal comfort. None of this is easy, but it can lead to profound change, increased effectiveness as a leader, and ultimately, deep personal fulfillment.
If you feel energized by what you've just read and it feels like something you might want to explore further, why not book a free 30-minute discovery session? This could be the start of something amazing.
To change the world, one Unstuck Leader at a time.
Yup, I've Been Stuck
It's perfectly normal to cry on airplanes. I'm sure I read that somewhere. Something about being neither here nor there makes you philosophical and before you know it, you're having a big boo-hoo at thirty thousand feet. It can happen to anyone.
For a time in my life, I was on an airplane every other week. Toronto --> New York. New York --> Toronto. back and forth as I attempted to build my budding e-commerce start-up into a tech giant. And I confess, I had momentary lapses of fortitude on more than one of those airplanes. Fortunately, I didn't make a big wailing spectacle of myself, but I certainly muffled more than a few sniffles and wiped the odd tear as I stared out the window.
You see, I was stuck. Really, really stuck. I'd been stuck before, as a magazine publisher, as a corporate VP and as an embattled COO, but this time was different. This time the stuckness seemed to seep into all aspects of my life. It was deeply personal and I didn't have the first clue of what to do about it.
Around this time, I remember having lunch with a friend who was himself a budding CEO (he’s now a very successful CEO). I told him that I felt my inability to move my company forward was a monumental failure of character. It seemed I was lacking something. I didn’t have what it took. He told me I was being too hard on myself and that I should have fun experimenting until I found what worked. In saying that, my friend displayed a quality I’ve come to recognize as absolutely necessary in all Unstuck Leaders – something I call wateriness. To be watery, is to focus not so much on outcomes, but rather to be committed to exploration. When a watery person hits a wall, they don’t curse the wall, or blame themselves for the wall being there, they simply move in a different direction. It’s not personal. It’s an adventure.
In the end, I was able to move my company to an exit, though a small one and not exactly what I (and my investors) had been hoping for. Technically, I was now unstuck, but my fascination with stuckness stayed with me. That fascination only grew in subsequent years as I worked as a strategic consultant and later, as a leadership coach. Time and time again, I saw profound stuckness in my clients. And, as I had been during my stuckness, they were mystified.
And they were blaming themselves.
I began to wonder; if so many leaders are stuck, what does that mean for the people and organizations they lead, and what does it mean for society as a whole? The world is growing more complex, more challenging, and less predictable. How will these stuck leaders take us where we need to go?
The truth is, most stuck leaders are perfectly adequate. Some may have moments of greatness, some are just phoning it in, others are in way over their heads, some are bullies, and a few may even be malicious, but most, are fine. And fine is just not enough. In our current cultural and economic environment, fine is a failure of leadership.
And that ain’t good.
There had to be a better way.
I suspected my watery CEO friend wasn’t alone and that there were other leaders who had also figured out how to get and stay unstuck. And so, I began a quest to find as many Unstuck Leaders as I could, and to use their collective wisdom to build a leadership philosophy that would create more leaders like them.
The Unstuck Project
My first step was to initiate the Unstuck Project. I put word out that I was looking to talk to leaders across all fields and seniority levels about their experiences with stuckness. Over the next year, 100 generous people from around the world gave me their time and shared their stories. Soon, a framework for the Unstuck Leader began to emerge.
The Unstuck Project continues and you can volunteer for an interview here.
The Unstuck Leader Philosophy
In addition to my own research, the Unstuck Leader philosophy has been heavily influenced by the adult lifecycle and self-renewal process as articulated by the late psychologist Frederic M. Hudson, as well as the work of Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer, who are among the leading voices in the field of System Leadership Theory.
Through this work, I learned that being an Unstuck Leader has nothing to do with job title, market cap, number of Instagram followers or any other outward measure. I found unstuck CEOs, unstuck sales executives, unstuck business owners, unstuck operations managers and even unstuck unemployed people.
Rather, the key to being an Unstuck Leader, is existing in what I call an expansive state. Leaders in this state are grounded in strong core values and purpose, yet also maintain an openness to people, ideas and experiences.
To achieve this state, the Unstuck Leader is extremely adept at managing their need for certainty (the need to feel safe and secure), and their need for significance (the need to feel important and in control). They also have highly developed values systems. They don’t allow these values to be imposed upon them by outside forces, but rather do the inner work required to arrive at the qualities of character that are essential to their own intellectual, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. These core values become an internal guidance system from which they operate, make decisions, create and innovate.
This inner alignment is the basis of Authentic Power; not the kind of power that comes from job titles and org charts, but the kind that comes from a deep understanding of who we are and how we want to interact with the world around us. An authentically powerful leader prioritizes truth over comfort. They see the world for what it is, not what they want it to be. They seek the best answers, not the easiest or most convenient ones.
None of this is easy.
That's why, while most leadership coaches focus on all the amazing things that great leaders do, my coaching focuses on how to be the kind of person who does all the amazing things that great leaders do.
If that sounds like something you'd like to try, why not book a free 30 minute discovery session?