Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I would highly recommend Michael Palazzo as a Business Coach to anyone who is looking for one. Michael is looking to help small business owners make an honest living.

I met Michael Palazzo several months ago, when we were in negotiations to do some work together. Michael told me about some trouble he had in the past. He advised me to look him up on the internet. We made another appointment to speak again on the telephone.

I researched Michael on the internet, and called a few people I know. Everything Michael told me checked out on the internet. Despite this, I wanted to give this man a chance, and here is why.

Many years ago in first grade, I learned the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. As you may recall, the story illustrated George’s integrity when he declared he could not tell a lie; he had done wrong. All during my youth, society told us that good people always tell the truth and take responsibility for their actions. We heard the same message at church: if we confess our sins, we will be forgiven.

We all remember how President Clinton went on TV and told the world he didn’t have sex with Monica Lewinski. Then the government wasted time and money proving that he was less than honest about that. I didn’t care that he had an affair, but I did care that he lied. This led me and millions of others to lose respect for the President. He lost all credibility.

I’m not sure why people today have stopped taking responsibility for their actions and the actions of their children. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, when kids were outside playing all day, sometimes a window would get broken. Our parents would get so mad at us, but everyone put some money together and fixed the broken window. The kids were given more chores to make up for the cost of the window. In this way we learned to take responsibility and to act with integrity.

Michael Palazzo has made some mistakes in his past. Just like people brought up in the ’60s, he admits his mistakes. He doesn’t make excuses; he just says what happened and goes on. I like that, and I admire him for stepping up and taking responsibility for what he did. Because of this, I decided I want to work with him. In my opinion, Michael feels remorse for his past mistakes and has learned some hard lessons from them. I believe you can benefit from Michael’s experience if you hire him as your Business Coach.

David Wander 
Eastgate Virtual Professional LLC

What ever happened to one night stands?

In business these days, we have many technical tools. We have social media at our fingertips, and we can get a review of a product or service at the click of a button. We look for analytics to tell us the results of our marketing campaigns. What is the result of all this wonderful technology? It prompts us to want the answers faster and we have shorter attention spans.

While all of these technical tools have their purpose and do great jobs that would take us many manual hours to get to an answer, it has taken the valued face to face partnership out of the equation. I am referring to the all-important one on one working relationship. Business people rely so heavily on getting the quick answers from our colleagues that we may not be taking enough time to build that all important relationship.

When I first met Michael Palazzo, I was not at all sure about hiring a life coach. I was not convinced I needed one, and could not see the benefits. It was a difficult decision. I was ambitious but not getting ahead. I had a clear path in mind but was not moving forward.

Through regularly scheduled one on one coaching sessions Michael has had the insight to get a deep understanding of not only where I have been, but where I want to go with my life and my business. He has cultivated a working relationship that we have built on.

This valued partnership has grown to the point where I have a good solid foundation of understanding. I through his coaching, I now see what was holding me back from being successful.  I also have a new understanding of the coaching process and how it has benefited me and my business. I highly recommend that if you are on the fence about starting a long term relationship with a business coach that you start with Michael Palazzo at Coach-Masters.

Whatever happened to one night stands? We grew up. We matured. We moved past the instant gratification and realized we want something- like a long term relationship or someone- like a business coach or a life partner -- who is more stable in our lives and whom we can rely on to be there for us.

If that’s the case for you, you have come to the right place.

Michael Palazzo and Coach-Masters will give you the tools to see where you may have taken a wrong turn in your past, and how to get and stay on track so you can meet your goals and get to where you want to be in your life, business or both.

Susan Gibbons is the owner/CEO of Susan Gibbons Virtual Assistants, and can be reached at mailto:susan@gibbonsva.com.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


During the years of 1892-1924, there were more than twenty million people who immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island. In their quest for the dream of a better life, people were willing to journey thousands of miles, and many who had little or no money were forced to travel in steerage conditions. Most Americans born from 1940 to 1990 have no concept of the challenges faced by those entering the United States.

The reasons these new immigrants made the journey to America was similar to those of their predecessors. They were escaping religious, racial, and political persecution, or seeking relief from a lack of economic opportunity. Many were pulled here by contract labor agreements offered by recruiting agents, known as padrones, to Italian and Greek laborers. Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, Bohemians, and Italians flocked to the coal mines or steel mills. Greeks preferred the textile mills; Russian and Polish Jews worked the needle trades or pushcart markets of New York.

Railroad companies advertised the availability of free or cheap farmland overseas in pamphlets distributed in many languages, bringing a handful of agricultural workers to western farmlands. But the vast majority of immigrants crowded into the growing cities, searching for their chance to make a better life for themselves.

Our ancestors understood the genius of simplicity. While many built rich and successful lives, their core values guided them. Family was first, the importance of quality relationships and the long held bonds of tradition made up the fabric that held people together.

“I would not give a fig for simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the far side of complexity.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935)

Life is the 21st Century, better known as the post-modern society with all its technological advancements has transformed the way people live, think and what we value. The industrial revolution has forever changed life in America. The demands of cognitive thinking have altered the way we learn and how we process information. Baby-Boomers can no longer bask in the mindset of asking a child how to use a computer.

Regardless of the challenges we face, simplicity is always on the far side complexity. When Albert Einstein was asked; ‘Why is it that when the mind of man has stretched so far as to discover the structure of the atom we have been unable to devise the political means to keep the atom from destroying us?’ he responded “That is simple, my friend. It is because politics is more difficult than physics”.

When we think of simplicity, who better to look to than Comedian George Carlin, who said it best. “The American language is loaded with euphemisms because Americans have trouble facing the truth, so we invent the kind of a soft language, and it gets worse with every generation.

I'll give you an example of that. There is a condition in combat that is a result of a fighting person's nervous system being stressed to its absolute peak and maximum.  In the First World War, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables. Shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves.

That was seventy years ago. A whole generation went by and the Second World War came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now, it takes a little longer to say and doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea its 1950, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, we are up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.

Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has been over for thirty seven years, and the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon that we still use for today’s soldiers. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Genuine simplicity is evidenced in the biblical definition of love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8 NIV

Regardless of your religious or political affiliation, we see no better example of simplicity. The challenge for each of us is to follow the principles taught by my 7th grade math teacher. When solving an algebraic problem, in the end, reduce it to the lowest possible denominator. That’s simplicity.

Finding the Rhythm of Business Acumen

In today’s complex business environment many organizations have changed their operating procedures, specifically the manner in which customer service interacts with customers. Perhaps you’ve called your health insurance provider, bank or mortgage company. When was the last time you were able to speak with a manager who was not in a meeting or just unavailable? Have call centers located in distant countries with less than agreeable employees made you feel valued or better yet, did you have a challenge understanding their native accent? The business climate has changed and getting outstanding customer service has become the exception and no longer common place.

The year was 1975 and Turn the Beat Around" broke on Top 40 radio, almost immediately topping the charts. Despite failure to crack the major markets of New York City and Los Angeles, "Turn the Beat Around" reached the U.S, spending six months on the Billboard 100.

Who could forget the lyrics that had America dancing in the streets.

With the syncopated rhythm, with the scratch, scratch, scratch
Makes me wanna move my body, yeah, yeah, yeah
And when the drummer starts beating that beat
He nails that beat with the syncopated rhythm
With the rat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat on the drums, hey

Thirty-Five years later we’re still dancing to the disco beat. Regardless of the lyrics, people are looking for a rhythm. Many organizations who aspire to compete in a highly competitive global market place struggle to find their voice, especially in a multi-cultural, multi-generation work place. Americans have been conditioned to focus on the “main-thing” almost to the detriment of silencing the voice of those who embody their organization.

Who can forget that famous scene in Saturday Night Fever when Tony Manero (John Travolta) a skirt-chasing Italian American from Bay Ridge Brooklyn strutting down the street thinking of what motivates him the most, dancing on Saturday night. What motivates employees to perform with excellence must become a governing imperative for corporate survival. Where Baby-Boomers were conditioned to get an education, find a good job and work hard, the youngest generation entering the workforce were raised to think differently, be creative and speak their mind.

Let’s not forget the tech boom, those five years from 1995 - 2000 when the youngest, brightest and most promising college grads were earning high 5 figure incomes based on creativity and inspiration. Many were jumping to the next big offer, with the average tenure to be between 6-12 months. Companies can no longer prosper with employees who embrace an entitlement mentality or who do not feel part of the “big picture”. Embracing cultural change requires organizational leaders to think and act differently.
It’s often been said that transformational leaders teach their jobs to those below them and learn the jobs of those above them. We have a rich and abundant history of Military success in America, and the reason we win the wars we fight is simple. American Military personnel clearly understand their mission. Members of the joint services operate in harmony, and although they focus on their individual area of specialty, working in tandem with the all services keeps each branch focused and in sync.

Aligning resources with the mission and vision of your organization will only serve to increase effectiveness in each area of business operations. Regardless of your “mission or purpose” following the words of Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great certainly apply. We must begin by getting the right people on the bus and the wrongs ones off. But we take it one step further, getting the right people on the business is not enough, we must now get them strategically placed in the right seats. If organizations seek to do more than just survive, and prosperity has become a governing value, mindsets will need to be re-calibrated from just getting by to abundant success.
Developing an algorithm of abundance and success in the modern business climate requires three key components.

1.  Identify the individual skill sets of team member
2.  Align mindsets with the vision of the organization
3.  Ensure people are empowered with the tool sets required to succeed.

The journey ahead is filled with opportunities for growth and prosperity. In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., “Simplicity is always found on the far side of complexity.” Winning consistently requires the courage make the necessary course corrections while remaining sensitive to the needs of our customers.

Dealing with the Mass Exodus of Baby-Boomers

Over the past several years, many organizations have felt the loss of the most seasoned and experienced staff members who have chosen to either transition into retirement, or begin a second career. Whatever their reasons, the gap between wisdom and practical application is immense. Leading in times of economic uncertainty requires a well defined vision for the future, and a plan of execution deeply routed in organizational governing values.

Much has been said about the Baby Boomer generation, that unruly generation that challenged and redefined so many rules within our American culture. This is the generation that created Woodstock, staged peace protests, survived the Viet Nam War, invented the computer, and fought against the so-called establishment until they ultimately ended up in control of that very same “establishment”. It calls to mind an amusing TV commercial that has been running lately wherein a stogy corporate executive-type makes a remark to a young employee that he is “sticking it to the man”. At which point the young employee gingerly points out to the boss that he is, in fact, “the man”. Hard as it is to believe, those same rebellious Baby Boomers eventually settled down, got married, got jobs, took out big mortgages, sent their kids off to college, and actually grew up and became (somewhat) responsible. And now here we are, shuffling steadily toward the golden years of our careers and the long-awaited retirement.

The “official” onset of the Boomer generation began on January 1, 1946 and concluded on December 31, 1964. During this time, approximately 75.8 million children were born in the U.S. In 2006, the first Baby Boomer turned 60; the first of 75 or so million Baby Boomers who are, or will be, turning the reins of their respective company businesses over to the next generation of leaders. As the Baby Boomers steadily exit their careers over the next dozen years, the face of American business and industry will change substantially. As any retiree will tell you, there are a myriad of arrangements to be made as one prepares for retirement; but what about the future and health of the businesses and organizations? Often in our haste to climb the ladder of success we can become very “focused in” with regards to our career or business and fail to identify opportunities and the responsibility to coach and prepare other leaders to fill our shoes once we’re gone. This short sighted approach may stroke the ego of the executive or leader with a false sense that they are irreplaceable, but as we all know, no one is irreplaceable.

Too many selfish CEO’s and corporate executives put more thought and energy into planning their own retirement parties than into making mature and conscientious decisions about the future of their organizations and for the smooth transition of leadership. Unfortunately, for the folks who remain behind to steer the ship and tend the fires, this can lead to a disastrous

destabilization that some organizations do not survive. Ironically, on the surface it may appear as if the organization could not survive without the sage leadership of the former CEO; but in actuality, the failure to plan and poor judgment of the CEO by not preparing a succession plan for the organization contributed to the distress of the business.

Most successful businesses have firmly established plans for a variety of situations. We have safety plans, evacuation plans, production plans, marketing plans; we log, categorize, inventory, count things, weigh things, order things; it seems that no detail escapes our attention. How strange it is that we often do very little, if any, planning for who is going to assume key leadership roles after we’re gone. As stated earlier, not only can this destabilize an organization, but it can also serve to create powerful and destructive rivalries within the surviving power structure that can rip an organization apart from the inside. It breeds a “survival of the fittest” mentality that subordinates any mission statement or corporate objective. And the simple truth is that this is so unnecessary and easy to avoid.

Earlier in the article I used the word coach. That is an important word with us here at Coach Masters International. It’s not just a word; it’s more like a philosophy. Taking the time to understand the importance of coaching within an organization can make the difference between a smooth transition of leadership and an organization in chaos. True coaching involves equal opportunity for all who possess the raw qualities of leadership. Coaching is not to be confused with playing favorites, brown-nosing, or capricious decision making. It is about empowering people and calling one another to a higher level. Coaching is achieved by a commitment to excellence and by establishing an environment where people are valued based on their individual core competencies. Cream rises to the top, and so will your new leaders. Provide them with an adequate forum to demonstrate and sharpen their skills and let them do the work. I have always believed that authority finds its way to those who can wield it. By establishing an appropriate staff development coaching program, you will be able to master the delicate art of passing the baton to your next generation of leaders. You will be able to leave your organization with your head held high with full confidence that you have entrusted your office into the most worthy and capable hands. 

The preceding article was penned in collaboration with Mr. Steve Kilgore.


The business climate in North America has certainly changed, and in many cases it’s not for the better. With globalization comes diversity of manufacturing and service providers. Many organizations have outsourced their customer service and as we have all encountered, the unfortunate result is that quality of the customer service has gone way down.

We readily accept advances in technology, auto manufacturing and the production of widgets from countries who were once considered no threat to the financial stability of the economy of the U.S.. In a global market place, we must recognize several critical and highly relevant factors as we expose our customers and employees to a workforce that may not comply with the standards of performance and level of excellence we experienced in the past.

 As North America transitioned from the industrial age to the knowledge age, the jobs our parents and grandparents held in the past have been replaced by technology and innovation. For example, the emergence of online companies such as Legal Zoom who provide a vast array of easy to use legal documents for people who previously were unable to afford the services of an attorney, have changed the landscape of the legal community.

In organizations large and small, the first client-facing presence – the receptionist has been replaced by an auto-attendant, and pressing “0” only leads to a generic voicemail. One cannot help but ask, what happened to all the live people – the workers? The answer; in many cases their jobs have been outsourced!

When I think of outstanding customer service, GEICO is an example of a company that is high on my list. Branding a company with a little green gecko was brilliant. In my experience over the past 5 years, the model of business at GEICO Insurance has been to ensure total customer satisfaction. I call it the Happiness Factor. When training their employees, they kept the importance of treating employees, prospects and customers with respect and dignity in mind and it shows.

The lack of excellence in customer service in North America is two-fold. Companies placed a higher value on profits and made that more important than the resource for those profits. Standards were lowered to generate greater profits. In many cases, the poor customer service is what the client will remember and that is not the direction that companies in the U.S. should be heading.

 Another example is Dell Computer Corporation, who chose to outsource its customer service and technical support to countries who were unable to understand the needs of their  customers, along with an inability to effectively communicate in English. Having reaped sour grapes as a result of this decision, Dell quickly realized that putting profits over their clients and prospects had created a negative effect on a once aspiring and highly successful company.

The time for change in how the business community values and embraces its customers is about to emerge. History has become a wonderful teacher, and unfortunately as intelligent as we are,  we often fail to learn the lessons of our past. 

The next revolution is not only imminent, in some cases it’s already happening. When the founders of America revolted from the aristocratic oppression of King George III, the founding era was a unique moment that was both “post-aristocratic” and “pre-democratic. Regardless of the conditions which precipitated the revolution, and not unlike the conditions in America today, a radical change was birthed as a result of social unrest.

Changing our circumstances requires that we change how we think, thereby alternating our actions. The single vital ingredient to long term sustainable growth and prosperity is deeply  rooted in our values and vision. When we value our customer enough to give excellent customer service consistently, we all have a good experience. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012



In a time when many people are re-evaluating their ability to prosper and what that means to the security of their families, we are reminded of a well know and often forgotten message given to us by our founding fathers.

The vision of the Declaration of Independance was to ensure that people were afforded the opportunity to follow their dreams, and live in a society that is free from big government, and the oppression of totalitarian rule. Who we are as a nation, and as a people, has evolved, and in many ways, our country has chosen to ignore the values and ideals of what our nation was founded upon.

The written words of our American Declaration clearly define our governing values.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

I am deeply saddened that in a time of international unrest, when nations are raising up against nations, and innocent people are being slaughtered as a result of evil dictatorships, America has lost her vision, and rather than resist the temptation to become a socialist society, we are pandering to governments who hold the mortgage on our freedoms. Communicating effectively today requires that we maintain a dispasstionate approach as not to offend or alienate our listeners. If we take a position that differs with the idologies of those who are committed to so changing our society, we're branded as fundamental radicals.

When people become so furious with the status quo, they stand up and demand change. During the years 1775 - 1783, the American Revolution, also known as the War of Independence, was waged against Great Britain. It would be foolish to think our corrupt standards of government today can be sustained in their current form without a second American Revolution. It is certainly within reason to believe, the next war of independence will most certainly become a battle for our freedoms, and the values upon which our nation was originally founded.

Recently, I was reminded by a business associate that people are offended by the spoken word of God. Regardless of your religious or political affiliation, I was unaware the U S Constitutional was no longer valid.

                                        First Amendment - Religion and Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

My fellow Americans, at the risk of offending those who do not support our freedoms and would much prefer the status quo to continue, I leave you with the words of that famous and beloved song, God Bless America.

God Bless America

Words and music by Irving Berlin
© Copyright 1938, 1939 by Irving Berlin
© Copyright Renewed 1965, 1966 by Irving Berlin
© Copyright Assigned to the Trustees of the God Bless America Fund
International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.
Used by Permission
"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. "

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home