Category Archives: Business Coach

5 Crucial Keys to Becoming a Great Leader


Dave Ramsey has coined an interesting phrase:

Leaders pull, managers push

Within the framework of your life and your business, are you a leader or a manager? You can figure this out by asking yourself a simple question:

Am I the type of person who leads by serving others, and by being out in front of the pack and encouraging them to come along for a wonderful ride?

Leaders cast a vision for the future and then serve others, helping them to catch that vision and then working to equip them with the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual skills that they need to help in the accomplishment of the goals that lie ahead. They lead and draw (pull) others to their cause.

Managers, on the other hand, are at the back of the pack, constantly pushing people and struggling to overcome the stagnant or backward momentum of the group. They are only concerned with getting to the goal and are not focused on the one thing that will insure the attainment of the goal – their people.

If you really want to achieve unusual levels of success in your life and career, one of the key questions you can ask yourself is, “What kind of person do I really want to work for – a leader or a manager?” All of us want to work for leaders because they are the ones who make life, and work, fun. They are the ones who help build the kinds of businesses that provide job security and profitability. And they are the ones who are people of integrity and who care deeply about others.

If you want to start down the road to becoming a great leader, here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Get over yourself. There is no place for an ego in business. In the long run, selfish, self-centered people will ultimately fail. True leaders are among the most selfless people in the world.
  1. Fess up! If you’ve been a manager in the past and are truly committed to becoming a leader, come clean and admit your faults to your people. There is no shame in doing this because they already know all of your faults. The keys here are to commit to making the needed changes in your life, asking your people for their help, and then being will to listen to their feedback. If you do this, your people will help you and they will love you for embracing them and including them in the process.
  1. Communication with your team is critical for success. Be open with them about what’s going on in the business and what you are struggling with when it comes to surviving and growing your company. Include them in the problem-solving process and use their ideas for making and driving positive changes in your organization.
  1. Celebrate your wins. As your organization begins to move in the right direction, learn to celebrate the little victories. Give people credit for what they do and encourage them to keep the ideas coming. Note that celebrations don’t have to involve a lot of time or money. Something as simple as supplying coffee and bagels for morning break time can be a home run.
  1. Consider hiring a professional. If you are in a quandary about where to start but know something has to change, engage a professional coach/consultant to guide you and your people through the process of creating and executing a strategy to move you forward. If you hire the right person, the return on your investment will be many times the amount of money you will spend.

© 2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC ( All rights reserved.

Four Ways to be Happy & Productive

happy and productive

Are you doing what you love to do? Do you wake up each morning with an attitude of gratitude and expectancy?

I posted these two questions on Twitter this morning as part of my daily interaction with the online universe. Part of what I try to do with many of my posts is to stimulate people’s thinking and help them to get engaged with their lives, their careers, and their businesses.

Have you ever thought about these two questions?

How about a few more questions, like:

• Would you say that you are generally a happy person?
• How do you think that your current attitudes are impacting your ability to live the life you’ve always dreamed of?
• Have you defined a worthy set of goals and are you pursuing them?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Have you made a conscious decision to be happy? If not, here are some ideas to help you move down the road to happiness:

1. Make a decision. Do something that may seem silly, like writing the words “BE HAPPY” on a piece of paper and taping it to your bathroom mirror, to serve as a daily reminder that you have decided – committed – to becoming a happy person.
2. Smile. As many times a day as you think of it, smile broadly and let out a laugh from your soul. As you do, you’ll find out that you can’t simultaneously smile and be negative.
3. Dream. Spend some time thinking about what really makes you joyful in life. What are the positive things that really get your “happy juices” flowing?
4. Create a purpose from your dreams. Once you’ve identified your dreams, get busy creating and executing plans to achieve them. We are always happiest when we are pursuing, working, and accomplishing worthwhile things with our lives.

Happiness is truly a decision, because it comes from within and not from other people or things.

©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC ( All rights reserved.

Giving And Receiving

You work hard in your vegetable garden and harvest an abundance of fresh produce. You fill a bag full of tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and squash and knock on your neighbor’s door to share the bounty of your harvest. As you hand her the gift from your garden, she asks if she can pay you something. You decline, but you also understand why she’s asking. If it’s not Christmas, a birthday, or an anniversary, people are uncomfortable with the idea of receiving a gift.

We have a human tendency to want to work for everything we get. That is sometimes accompanied by the feeling that what we don’t earn is sometimes undeserved, and that feeling keeps us from both giving and receiving in a way that blesses others.

Importance Of Giving And Receiving

Life is about graciously giving and receiving in all areas of our lives. We must all bless in order to both be a blessing, and receive blessings, in life. But when it comes to our businesses, what are the practical expressions of blessing others?  Consider these as examples:

  • Under-promise and over-deliver.  Learn to employ the motto, “Always deliver more than you promise.”
  • Add valuable content to social media.  Follow the 80/20 rule.  All of your social media content should follow the rule – 80% value added and 20% asking for business.
  • Don’t nitpick the pennies.  If you charge hourly fees, as I often do, be more concerned about doing what is right than getting paid for every minute you spend with your clients.  Trust me – they know when you do, they appreciate it, and they will bless you with more business because of it.
  • Be employee-centric.  Developing a profitable business requires a customer-centric approach – and developing a customer-centric business requires an employee-centric approach.  Don’t expect your employees to care about and for your customers until they know you care about them.
  • Be customer-centric.  Focus your business on blessing and delighting your customers.  Always remember – people do business with those whom they know, like, and trust.  Be known, be likeable, and be trustworthy.

How many more ideas can you and your team come up with?


©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC (  All rights reserved.

5 Practical Steps For Drowning Your Problems

There’s an old saying that contains a great deal of wisdom:

When problem solving, don’t just put out the fire – find the guy with the match!

Another saying admonishes us to make sure that we solve problems completely. It simply says:

Hold every problem under water until it drowns!

Learning Effective Problem Solving

Both of these statements are aimed at communicating one thing to those of us who are in the problem solving business – and that is that far too often, problems are never solved because people are addressing the symptoms instead of identifying and killing the real root cause.

My forty plus years of experience as both a technical and business problem solver have taught me some powerful lessons. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned when it comes to effective problem solving.

  1. Most of the time, the root of the problem is deeper than you think. Just like a pesky dandelion in your yard, the flower (symptom) waves in the wind, but the root of the plant (the real cause) is hiding deep in the ground. You can chop the top off all you want, but until you extract or kill the root, the plant (problem) is going to keep coming back.
  2. Be patient. Taking the time to think things through, and being careful not to overreact, is important in the problem solving process. Cool, logical, analytical heads always prevail.
  3. Listen to the process. Every business process has a story to tell if you listen closely. Observations, data collection and analysis, and a healthy dose of common sense can be integrated to create a picture of what is going on. Just as a doctor uses the skill of observation, combined with information in the form of test results, to diagnose what is wrong with a patient, so must you combine all of the information you can gather to understand the problem with which you are dealing.
  4. Test your theories. The ultimate test in solving a problem is not “did it go away.” Where the rubber meets the road is in answering the question, “Can you turn it on and off?” Being able to turn a problem on and off means that you have identified the causative factors that, under the right conditions, allow the problem to manifest itself.
  5. Verify effectiveness of your solutions. When you finally put corrective actions in place, always monitor the process for a period if time to make sure that the problem never rears its ugly head again.

Need help with problem solving? Give us a call at 203.599.1467, or email us at We’re here to help!


©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC ( All rights reserved.

Al Kim Hosts Gary Smith For Rise And Shine Radio Show

Gary Smith was recently a guest of the Rise and Shine Radio Show hosted by Al Kim. WSDK 1550 AM radio station allowed the two radio show hosts to join forces for an on-air segment, and each broadcaster brought their best material to the table.

Al Kim Talks About Achieving Unusual Greatness

Gary discussed his most recent book, “Achieving Unusual Greatness,” and how it was constructed from several blog posts created in the past few years. Gary crafted the book to be read a little at a time or all at once, giving daily lessons that are the “essence” of achieving success.

Gary told Al Kim that he hoped people would use the book almost as a daily inspiration that could be quickly read for motivation. He said it was one of the more powerful projects he had worked on because of the amount of years it spanned.

Macro View Of The Business World

Gary said his background as an engineer in the manufacturing business led him to seek further education to gain a macro view of the business world. He said moving away from providing a small part of a big business has been a great career choice because he understands where those smaller, integral parts fit into the large model.

Looking For A Change Or Improvement

Al Kim commented that the economy in Connecticut was not in its tip-top form, and he asked Gary what he would say to someone who was looking to make a change or improvement. Gary said it’s important to look at your passions in life and what you’re good at before pursuing a job.

He said many people give up looking for work because they cannot find a position in their field, but a simple inventory of what they enjoy doing most in their life can lead to civic activities, leadership roles and much more.

Trusting God To Spur Change

One of the hardest things to do in life is to accept and embrace change. Gary talked to Al Kim about the common nature to resist change and how it can hold people back from their full potential. However, by trusting God and asking him to guide you, you can make major life changes that lead to amazing opportunities.

He said the most important thing to dealing with change is having a positive attitude and trusting God’s hand to guide you to where you belong. Fear is something that will have to be faced in these situations, and Gary said fear can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Learn From Gary Smith

Whether you’re looking for business success or personal coaching, Gary has helped countless people through the toughest times of their lives. You can contact Gary through his business, Optimum Performance Technologies, to find out how he can help you get through major changes, understand your business specifics better and much more.

Be sure to tune into The Gary Smith Show on WSDK 1550 where he gets his messages out to everyone. He is always looking for new guests to showcase who have different backgrounds and skills than him, giving the audience a good sense of what can be achieved in life if you put your mind to it.