From Grim Reaper to Coaching


In 2008, the biggest downturn in stock markets since the Great Depression hit. During the worst of it I was on the radio giving five market updates per day…with a smile. I joked, uneasily, when Lehman brothers went under, I tried to be optimistic a few weeks later, when the Dow lost almost 15% in a week…making it a near 40% decline to that point. It was my 13th year in the financial industry and this time things seemed really different. It was definitely one of the hardest periods my clients and I had ever lived through …something that I never wanted to do again. It was draining and I did not want to go to work every day. I had been living the Gordon Gecko, Wall Street, "Greed is Good" life during the day, and the family man, volunteer soccer coach and community servant by night and weekends. I had been living separate lives for a long time. Not to mention that I was doing EVERYTHING by myself. I was portfolio manager, marketer, administrator, writer, presenter, accountant, driver, janitor, soccer coach…I believed no one could do everything as well as me so I did it all. It might even have been true in some cases if I stuck to one thing, but I was doing very average at everything and it was unsustainable. I was a one man band and couldn’t sing, dance or play the guitar.

Hear Mike tell the story

The Great recession hit me over the head like a ton of bricks and I realized there had to be more to life. I had been trained to think the investment business wasn’t a place to show your feelings, you couldn’t tell your clients you cared – or even for some – that you loved them. I decided that I needed purpose to wake up and be in the industry every day. I decided I would share my values in my business. My clients were positioned to survive through the downturn and thrive on the other side. We had made good decisions on risk and investing. I had enough investments and equity that I could weather this storm. I had to change my situation for good. There is no merit in the school of hard knocks when there are people who can guide you and books to read. Choosing NOT to do this was the biggest learning experience. I could have easily done without the expensive tuition from “Hard Knocks University”. I never wear that label proudly and that is why today I put myself out there to help others stay out of that institution. I am proud of the way I have navigated challenges and risen above adversity, but with the right people in my life, I didn't have to go through it. I was just stubborn and ignorant. You’ll make your own mistakes, but you don’t have to make the costliest ones already made by others. In early 2009, I chose giving back as my purpose. So I committed to give $1 million to charity every year from then on. This public commitment was made in my first book on philanthropy. The personal pledge set me on a course toward my higher purpose. I didn’t have $1 million to give, but I intended to figure it out. So, I invested heavily and enthusiastically in coaching.

I didn’t know a thing about how I would reach my philanthropic goals, but I knew if I looked hard enough, I could find others who might be able to help me. At first, it was the Strategic Coach™ program, and then I found and hired coaches’ who could help me and devoted my energy to becoming an expert in the field of planned-giving. I was on the path to building genuine wisdom. Coaching helped me to learn how to run a serving business, as an owner.

The investment of time, money and the right mindset allowed me to build processes that I could always rely on to make me the money I needed to live and care for my family. In the past decade, I invested $180,000 into my education, and it paid off personally and professionally. During a six year period, I wrote my first three books on philanthropy and business, guided families to redirect over $12.5 million to charitable causes, helped them save over $5 million in taxes, and my business grew tenfold at the same time. In my best financial year ever, I was able to spend three months away from work. I worked less and made more than ever.

Coaches taught me:

  • Serve my prospects and customers.

  • Work right.

  • Become a specialist.

  • Be of value to valuable people.

  • Learn to speak in public.

  • Build a mountain of credibility.

  • Read.

  • Seek great mentors and hire coaches to teach me the things I don’t know or want to get better at.

  • Write books.

  • That people, processes, and systems will give you time, energy, and freedom.

  • Be generous.

  • Be grateful.

  • Be courageous and confident.

With coaching I learned that my value to families came in the form of the strategic thinking and planning. Connecting a path to people’s dreams and vision for the future from where they were in present day was the real benefit. That is real coaching.

What I learned during that six year business building process, was that the most important steps were teachable. That my mistakes, missteps and the potholes I stepped in along the way, don’t have to be hard lessons learned by others.

Finally, what I learned by guiding almost $2 million to charity each year was that you can have a big impact AND create a business that support you and your passions at the same time.

Since 2014, I turned my attention to coaching entrepreneur owners doing the thing I love most by finding one thing that will help a person move forward, then the next and the next.

When you learn how to GROW your business, GET more freedom and GIVE back, you will live a rewarding and fulfilling life.

This fall, on October 7th and 8th I will be hosting my 6th summit to help you live your GROW, GET, GIVE life.

Go to www.Sea2SkySummit.com for more information and to register early for the lowest price possible.

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