CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 54, 12th April 2004


  1. Editorial: Who do you know who could help?
  2. Coaching notes: Joe Sails: A Story in Progress, Dick Olenych

1.     Editorial: Who do you know who could help?

Richard Winfield - editor and principal consultantThis weekend has been Easter, in which it is traditional in Britain for people to give chocolate Easter eggs. Last weekend I was on a hypnosis course with Richard Bandler at which some people were treated for chocolate addictions. Overheard on the last day ".. and she gave me an Easter egg. Of course, I can't eat chocolate now!". Changes of life can be dramatic!

Also overheard, a couple talking about getting work. The one said to the other "The trouble with this industry is that it is not what you know that matters, but who you know." "I quite agree." said the other, "That is why I make it part of my job to get to meet the people who matter."

Networking is a skill, and an important part of generating work – as well as being a source of new experiences and learning. There was a song in the 1920s which went "I danced with a man who danced with a girl who danced with the Prince of Wales". It is surprising how few links there are between ourselves and the people we want to meet.

This is the basis of the BNI breakfast network. Although many members of BNI chapters obtain work from other members, the theory is that they should be able to arrange introductions through their wider networks – a neighbour, a customer, a relative's boss, a golfing partner etc.

The theory of Small World Networks proposes that you are only ever six degrees of separation from anybody else on the planet. It was proposed by Professor Steven H Strogatz and his student, Duncan J Watts, in the June 4, 1998, issue of Nature. There had been a game based on Kevin Bacon in which actors were connected to one another through their appearances in films with actor Kevin Bacon. This is how it went:

  • Think of an actor or actress.
  • If they have ever been in a film with Kevin Bacon, then they have a "Bacon Number" of one.
  • If they have never been in a film with Kevin Bacon but have been in a film with somebody else who has, then they have a Bacon Number of two, and so on. It was discovered that no one who has been in an American film ever has a Bacon Number of greater than four.

The film industry is a network of small worlds – each film community representing a world. It only takes one actor to have been in another film (small world) and there is a link into another network, with lots of actors – who have also been in other films.

The basis of Small World Networks is that we all have large local networks of contacts. But if only one friend has a contact with another local network then we are connected to all the members of that network by a second degree of separation.

When I explained this to someone once, she scoffed "Well then, how many degrees of separation do you have to President Bush?" She chose the wrong target because I have worked with the US Department of Defense with people who would know Donald Rumsfeld, who knows President Bush! The test that I use as an extreme example is a bushman in the Kalahari. But even this is easy. I know people who have met President Mandela, and I am sure he has met representatives of Kalahari bushmen who would have a connection, direct or indirect, with every individual bushman.

It is surprising how easy it is to imagine links that lead to who you want to meet – people who will introduce you to the next person along the chain.

The secret to networking success at BNI is to be very specific about who you want to meet and what you require. So I thought we might do an experiment with the community that reads CorporateCoach.

I would like to contact someone who would like to take over responsibility for the Brefi Group customer relationship management programme. As you might imagine, we have several thousand warm contacts who, at some time, will have need of our services. Who do you know who would enjoy managing this process and ensuring that we consult relevant leads on a quarterly basis? They should be based in the UK, ideally within easy reach of the West Midlands.

Second test. A friend of mine is looking to sell his house in Bewdley, which is about 25 miles south of Birmingham. He has challenged us to find a buyer before his estate agent. So if you think you know anyone who would be interested in a unique country house point them to You might like to visit his web site anyway. The house has a fascinating history.

The house is valued at £675,000 (GBPounds) and if any of your contacts buys it, my friend will pay you £750 commission.

You will be able to learn more about Small World Networks and networking at our forthcoming practice building workshop – see below.


PRACTICE BUILDING WORKSHOPS: Are you earning enough yet?

A Straightforward Guide to a Stress Free Life Would you like to increase your earnings?

Of course you would. I know that many individual consultants, coaches and trainers are earning less than they should. Recent research in the USA and Europe suggests that in their first year 73% of coaches make less than $10,000 and that only 9% of all coaches are making more than $100,000 a year.

This is clearly unsatisfactory. So what stops talented people from achieving financial success? In our experience their greatest challenge is often self promotion and finding clients. It is all very well expecting work to come to you through referrals. But that will only happen after you are successful. How do you get there from start-up? How do you speed up the process?

Brefi Group has modelled beliefs and practices that work and will deliver two workshops in central London to address this issue and help consultants, coaches and trainers to build more successful practices for themselves – faster.

Practice Building workshop, 10-11 May (£375 + VAT)

This two-day practical workshop is an opportunity for you to learn beliefs and practical strategies that work for us and to develop your own personal sales & marketing plan. You will have a chance to experience coaching from Brefi Group associates and find out about our associates scheme.

Lessons from CoachVille, 21 June (£175 + VAT)

This year's CoachVille conference, "The Coaching Business: Create Your Own Magic", is also dedicated to helping coaches expand their business and achieve financial success. Brefi Group is attending the conference and will present a follow-up, free standing event reporting all the best practice building tips collected over the four days of the workshops and conference in Orlando. Be sure to attend and get these hot tips only two weeks after the international conference.

Book for both workshops together and you will save £55! For full details click here.

2.    Coaching notes: Joe Sails: A Story in Progress, Dick Olenych

I have recently re-read Who moved my cheese? and got a lot out of it the second time round. But, watch out Ken Blanchard. There is a new author about. I enjoy metaphorical stories and believe they can form an important part of management development.

Joe Sails by Dick Olenych is a Socratic style book written to help organisations identify and change their employees' core competencies. It is the story of a struggling sales person and a manager that is genuinely trying to modify his behaviour by focusing less on tasks and more on positive actions. By exposing poor habits and characteristics in Joe, the book elicits the reader to inspect their own positive business behaviours.

The story follows the trials of Joe Sails, a salesman at Acme Office Products Company who has gone from being the lynchpin to being a less than stellar employee. His business behaviour is no longer at the desired level. Joe Sails is guided, coached and prodded into realising that his basic core competencies have waned and he must change. Soon, Joe is on his way back to the top of his game.

The story follows the challenges and progress of both Joe, being coached, and Bobbi, his coach manager. It is a pleasant and enjoyable read and, with the two perspectives, is an excellent introduction to line manager coaching within an organisation. The message is to focus less on managing activities and more on generating behaviours. By concentrating only on results we can actually damage the long term health of the business.

As coaches know, good processes lead to favourable outcomes. I enjoyed this book and welcome a new author on the scene. Challenge: who else could write a book like this? Buy and read it and wonder what you could produce too.


We aim to make the Brefi Group web site the premier developmental site for teams and individuals in organisations, so do please send us your suggestions and requests for further development. And let us know what you think of this newsletter, and comment on the content.

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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:

Telephone: 08450 678 222, or +44 (0) 121 704 2006 (international)