July 19, 2016  -  Advisor or Coach? What is Doescher Advisors?

Advisor or Coach? What is Doescher Advisors?
The following is a summary of my "Advisor or Coach?" blog series. Hopefully it answers the question: What is Doescher Advisors?
Scene 1:  My wife, Barbara, and I are often asked if we are "coaches." For some reason it was bothering me to be called a coach, and I wasn't sure why. Many of you know my original career goal was to be a high school football coach, but my failure to make the Western Michigan University football team changed that plan. So, while it would be natural for me to consider myself a coach, something was troubling me about that label. Then I realized that we're actually "partners/peers" with our clients, not coaches.
Scene 2:  Barbara and I recently rented the movie The Intern, starring Robert De Niro as Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old intern, and Anne Hathaway as Jules Ostin, CEO and founder of a ragingly successful e-commerce startup. One of Jules' executives suggested piloting a "senior intern" program (i.e., hiring seasoned executives to work alongside the 20s-30s workforce, an idea that connects with Barbara's June 8, 2015 post ). Jules reluctantly takes Ben on as her intern .
I'm not a film critic, but I found it to be a wonderful story. For a week or so, my thoughts kept going back to the movie. I couldn't get it out of my mind. Finally, I had an epiphany. Ben was me. I was Ben. (No, I'm not saying I am Robert De Niro, although he did look great. I'm saying his character, Ben, is what Doescher Advisors strives to achieve.)

Before I lose you, hang in there. First of all, Ben behaved as an advisor, not a coach. To me, a coach calls the plays and is generally in a superior position to the players. That definitely is not what Doescher Advisors is!

Hopefully I won't ruin the movie for you, but the following are takeaways from the film that correlate with what we aspire to bring to our clients as we serve them:

  1. Jules was thriving without Ben. She didn't need him.
    Our clients are talented, successful executives who are leading great companies, and they will be successful with or without us.

  2. Ben was comfortable in his own skin. He wore a business suit and tie every day, and carried a classic briefcase. He didn't try to be a 20-year-old, but acted his own age.
    We recognize our "seasoned" state, and don't try to pretend we're younger than we are, although we do use Apple products.

  3. Ben was willing to learn. He observed and asked a lot of questions of many different team members.
    We are committed to being lifelong learners. And we learn a lot from our clients.

  4. Ben earned the respect of team members by the way he behaved. He tried to help and give to everyone, and didn't hog the limelight.
    We look for unique ways to add to our clients' businesses. And we're not looking to take credit for suggestions that work out.

  5. Ben wasn't a "know-it-all," although in this startup environment he could have acted that way.
    We don't understand our clients' businesses like they do. We look for gaps where we can add a new idea or two.

  6. Ben wanted the best for Jules, based on her definition of best.
    Our advice is based on our clients' business and personal goals, not ours.

  7. Ben was willing to take calculated risks, like hacking into Jules' mother's computer (this was a great and hilarious scene).
    If we believe something is an opportunity for our clients' business, we will bring it to themeven if it's an idea that is way out there and nontraditional (i.e., out of the box). 

  8. Early on, Ben was slow to offer advice and express his views/opinions.
    We try to learn the client and their business first, before offering our thoughts. As I've been reflecting upon Ben's approach, I've realized that our clients will benefit if we're more like Ben.

  9. Ben was humble. Nothing was below him. He cleaned up a mess in the main office, and he helped deliver the interoffice mail.
    Our goal would be to follow Ben's example, and do whatever needs to be done.

  10. Ben wasn't judgmental of Jules or any of her team.
    After years in business, we recognize situations often look simpler to an outsider who is unaware of all the circumstances and compromises that led to a particular decision.

  11. Ben was others-oriented. He was there to help the team.
    At Doescher Advisors, our two primary metrics are:
    • As we're driving to our client appointments, we ask ourselves: "Are we really excited about meeting with this CEO/president/business owner today?"
    • Then, as we're leaving the appointment, we ask: "Did we offer them anything that will help them be a better business leader, or a better person in general?" If the answer to either question is "no," we'll resign from the job. We believe our clients deserve our best.

  12. Ben was willing to take the initiative to figure out how he could help Jules and her team.
    In our standard business advisory agreement we state, "During the first few meetings and ongoing, through active listening, Tom will quickly learn The Client's most important goals, both business and personal."

  13. Ben gave credit to others on the team.
    Doescher Advisors' goal is to help our clients be successful, not to take credit for their success.

  14. Ben was upbeat and positive.
    There is more than enough negativity in the business world. Our goal is to be a positive influence on our clients and others.

  15. Ben encouraged Jules and her team.
    We believe one of the reasons clients retain our firm is our ability to encourage them. As the saying goes, "It's lonely at the top" - and we've discovered that our clients appreciate recognition from someone who really understands what they've achieved.

  16. Ben was comfortable talking about anything (there are some hilarious scenes where he gives advice to some young men on the team who have asked him about very personal matters).
    Although we're not counselors, from time to time we find ourselves listening to issues related to children or elderly parents, or discussing practical exercise programs.

  17. Ben was good at providing clear, practical and actionable feedback to Jules and her team.
    We are committed to modeling well-timed, effective - and sometimes unpleasant, hard-to-hear - feedback.

  18. Ben had a great sense of humor, and could laugh at himself.
    We, too, try to catch the humor in life and often find ourselves laughing with our clients. Sometimes that happens when we're telling a story about something we did wrong.

  19. Ben was a truth-teller.
    We promise our clients that we will speak the truth in love (which we interpret as carefully selected words at the right time).

  20. Ben focused on the "whole" person. He recommended Tai Chi exercise and more sleep to Jules.
    In the April 2015 Food for Thought, I discuss the Doescher Advisors Leaders Health Check-up, where I cover spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health.

  21. Because of all of the above, Ben fit in really well and was well-liked and respected by the team.
    Again, we strive to be like Ben.
In the closing scene of the movie, Jules says, "It's moments like these when you need someone." As I stated at the beginning of this blog series, our clients don't need us, but they do find us to be very helpful.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about Ben and the similarities between h im and Doescher Advisors.

Seek. Climb. Lead.

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