BY GENE MARKS
Go video, says the coach
Do you know what’s changed the most in business over the last 30 years? It’s not computers. Or phones. Or travel.
It’s business coaches.
Business coaches didn’t exist 30 years ago.
At least not the way they exist now. Oh, I’m
sure there were some super-rich executives
in the 1970s living in LA and snorting cocaine
who thought it would be a great status thing
to have a “business coach” at their side to im-
press their friends. But nowadays everywhere
you look there’s a “coach.”
They work out of their houses. They charge
$200 per hour for their advice. They seem
like they’ve got it all figured out. Except it’s
never really clear what they did before they
became a business “coach.” None of them
are licensed, because there’s no such thing
as a licensed business coach. But they all give
advice on life, love and running a successful
company. Even though I don’t know many
who have accomplished even that.
Except for Brad Finberg. CPAs looking to
enhance their client service can learn a lot
Like any profession, the “coaching” profession (if you can call it that) has quality people
that rise to the top. Which means that there
are people who spend their lives coaching
who actually know what they’re talking about
and provide a valuable service to their clients.
Brad Finberg is one of those guys. He’s actually not a full-time coach — he runs a construction business outside of Dallas. His business
has done incredibly well, even during the last
recession. He’s grown it to the point where he
now has a general manager running it day to
day. So he started his own coaching thing to
help other contractors succeed.
As coaches go, Brad’s pretty legit. He has
a good resume. He’s had success. And he’s
coaching because he not only likes to work
with others, but because he’s got good advice
to give. His clients love him.
Brad’s not the typical business coach you’ll
meet. First of all, he’s a man (and for some
reason, you don’t get too many of those in
coaching). He has actually run a successful business, and didn’t go into coaching
because he was fired from his last job or
“needed more flexibility.” He doesn’t hawk
his own corny books or videos. He doesn’t ridiculously describe himself as a “life coach,”
because, as he said, “When you find someone
who actually knows how to understand life,
let me know who that is.” He doesn’t wear
a turtleneck sweater. He voted for George
So when I asked Brad what has helped him
the most in becoming such a good coach, he
said simply, “Videos.” Brad uses video technology as one of his key coaching tools. And
video technology has helped make his coaching business a success.
Gene Marks, CPA, is the owner of the Marks
Group, which sells customer relationship,
service, and financial management tools to
small and midsized businesses.
VIDEO TOOLS FOR SUCCESS
That’s because Brad’s business, like a good
CPA relationship, is based on personal interaction. He coaches other business owners
on how to make more money, balance their
lives, manage their daily professional challenges. His clients are all over the country.
They’re busy people too, so he meets with
them at all times during the day. He speaks
to his clients at least once a week, sometimes
more. He has pre-arranged sessions and is
available for ad hoc calls. And he does this
all from his home office.
“Without using the video tools I use, I
could never have been this successful,”
Brad likes a service called Oovoo (www.
oovoo.com). It’s a two-way chat application
that’s very much like the popular Skype chat
application. Brad finds it much easier to use
than Skype. All he does is download the application (once) and set himself up as a user.
Then he can send an e-mail to his clients inviting them to a chat session.
With Oovoo, the client only has to click
on the link in the invitation e-mail. They’re
automatically directed to Brad’s session and
within seconds Brad’s smiling face appears
on their screen. If the client has a webcam
on their computer, then Oovoo will recognize
this and show his smiling face right back at
Brad. (Unfortunately most of Brad’s clients
aren’t smiling — remember, they’re in need
of coaching, right?) The two-way chat ses-
sion is ... free. If you want to hook in more
users, higher resolution or the ability to store
calls, you can purchase a plan. Brad, penny-
pincher that he is, has never found the need
to do so.
NOT FOR EVERYONE
Video making isn’t for everyone. Unlike most
See MArkS on
business “coaches,” Brad is a normal-looking
person. He does not have overly curly hair,
out-of-date sport jackets or androgynous
suit outfits. He’s comfortable in front of a
camera. He always keeps a spare jacket and
tie in his office in case he wants to make an
impromptu message. And his office is clean
and professional — no sheep dog snoring
behind him, no mood music playing in the
background, no barf-inducing posters on
the walls that say stupid things like, “We
cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust
Brad also suggests a good, high-resolution
camera. He invested $150 in a decent Web
camera for his computer. And good lighting,
too. You don’t want your message looking
like some type of Al-Qaeda terrorist message.
Your video doesn’t have to look like Avatar
either. But quality is important. “People get