My family of entrepreneurs stretches back a few generations.
How my Core Four Coaching Program came to be…
In the 1920’s my great grandmother was the first founder in the family (as best as I know), buying and selling parcels of farm land in what is now South Holland, Illinois. After the Great Depression in the 1930’s, my grandfather started his own construction business in a tiny, tucked away office in his basement (as a kid I loved playing with his adding machine and piling up receipts pulled from the tiny compartments in his roll top desk). He built over half of the houses in Homewood, Illinois by 1964.
My paternal grandparents emigrated from Czechoslovakia to East Chicago, Indiana in the 20’s. For these tireless workers intent on giving their family a good quality life in America, the back-breaking 9-5 shift at the Inland Steel mills wasn’t enough. As a little kid, my father and his friend combed the alleys for metal scraps and picked potatoes in local farms so they could go to the movies. A ticket and popcorn at that time cost 50 cents. One day, my Grandpa noticed that the nearest barber was six blocks away and charged $3 a haircut, so he saw an opportunity. So, on Saturdays from early morning till sundown, my grandpa drew the locals to his front porch for a $2 haircut. To further undercut the competition, if a customer was hungry, he’d throw in a bowl of Grandma’s soup!
From the 50’s to the present day, my mother, in addition to her job as the music director at our church, teaches piano at home. She taught classical piano well past my bedtime most nights. Over the years, the lullabies of Schumann, Bach and Chopin burned into my memory to the point where, today, I can hum many tens of preludes and concertos from start to finish. My father, a WW2 vet, a banker by day and entrepreneur at night, couldn’t wait to get home and change out of what he called his “banker’s monkey suit.” After helping me and my four siblings with homework, he would hunker down in the basement and work until midnight on various startups including the buying and selling of art, designing and selling replicas of alumni memorabilia, and a business which he sold portable flat tire inflators. Patience was an entrepreneur’s greatest asset in those days as marketing relied on face to face interactions, cold calls, snail mail, printed ads and “word-of-mouth.”
As a kid, I thought that the purpose of their evening activities was to pay the bills. But what I learned is that my parents and their parents sought entrepreneurship as a way to use their boundless talents, the fruits of which they could take could proudly take to the bank. Their efforts instilled in me a “look for the opportunities and “use your gifts” mindset.
For me, the entrepreneur gene surfaced in college. I developed many side businesses including as a wedding singer, a tutor to undergrads, and as a caterer for my professors’ dinner parties. After graduating with my Masters degree in Speech Pathology in 1979, I supplemented my full time position as Chief Speech/ Language Pathologist at the Lahey Clinic in Boston by opening an aerobic studio, teaching adult education, publishing a book, and starting a private practice where I offered voice coaching and accent reduction. Within the Lahey clinic as an “intrapreneur” I trained the medical staff on topics related to communication and developed three major revenue and cost-savings programs that benefitted patients saved money for the Clinic.
Entrepreneurship tests the integrity of one’s core skills: stress management, communication and executive functioning (a series of skills related to getting things done well and on time). For the last 15 years I have served as the Coordinator of Integrative Services and Executive Functioning Coach at the high profile and world renowned Boston MetroWest Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, a mental health practice that specializes in ADHD and its co-conditions. I have worked with hundreds of promising self-starters challenged by Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Traits, anxiety and/or depression. This population, notoriously drawn to entrepreneurship, blessed with above average intelligence, uber creativity and love of risk, often fall victim to the scourges of distractibility, anxiety and impulsivity. My COREageous Entrepreneur coaching approach has created successful entrepreneurs out of “wantrepreneurs” with or without ADHD.
I am currently writing a book called The COREageous Entrepreneur: Four Core Skills and Routines Every Founder Needs to Succeed. I believe that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of America, and everyone who has a great idea, a passion and the courage to be a successful entrepreneur should have the chance to be a part of that community. This includes the bright visionaries whose ideas never make it to market because of cognitive and mental stumbling blocks. Isn’t it ironic that some of the most successful entrepreneurs and thinkers of our time: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, David Neeleman, Richard Branson and so many others, suffered from conditions like ADHD and Executive Dysfunction? The COREageous Entrepreneur provides a practical and preventative self-improvement guide for aspiring entrepreneurs who seek to strengthen their core.