A Director’s Coach With A Difference – an interview with David Miskimin (5th of July 2006)

Introduction

From this interview, I learnt again how little one can know about another person until one actually asks that person to tell their own story. You see, I’d assumed I knew enough about David Miskimin’s work from the interview I’d conducted with Jack Stewart. However, I was in for a surprise and a pleasant treat. Now I have a further understanding of what it is to be a coach and indeed, more interestingly, how these concepts can sometimes apply to my former profession as a lawyer. Without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, David Miskimin …


Aneeta: David, thank you for asking to be interviewed. I’m sure we’ll learn much from you.

David: My pleasure, I’m equally intrigued to be learning about you and your web site.

Aneeta: Let’s begin with you. Please tell me a little about who you are, your background, your family and any other personal information you would like to share with my readers.

David: Well Aneeta, I’m going to start with a bold statement! – ‘I Realised I Could Make A Difference’ – let me explain.

I was born in a suburb of Manchester, England.  I grew up living in houses owned by the Council until I was 17.  My mum always wanted to own her own home and after much persistence, she practically dragged my dad to see the house they were eventually to buy. I had released that to make something happen, one day the talking has to stop and action is essential. I admired that. Ken Mason, my late father-in-law, had a great inspirational expression – “when the going gets tough – the tough get going”.

Charles Swindoll wrote a brilliant piece that captures this success approach for me.  Those who know me will confirm its presence on the wall at home for 10 years now!  He concludes his message brilliantly ‘…We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string, we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes’.

I had noticed over the years that many wonderful and talented people often do not seem to get the success or recognition they deserved. Yet there are those with far less talent and a great eye for marketing. They were able to get themselves noticed in the ‘right places’. So I realised I needed to gain some recognition driven by a deep belief that I have a purpose and a ‘message’ and would like others to benefit in some way.

This was driven home to me when I turned down a business opportunity with an established coaching organisation, where as part of the deal, staff and associates were encouraged to write a book. The business would publish it under their brand with the author also being acknowledged. The learning – anyone could write a book and branding was key.

I now knew I had to stop wishing and make my message happen.  A fundament for me is about making a difference in the lives of others. Thankfully, I had met Jack Stewart by this stage. We quickly established those shared values which could support our working towards a higher purpose.

Aneeta: It says on your website, The Directors Coach, http://www.thedirectorscoach.com that you’re an Executive & Business Coach. What does this mean?

David: It’s a great question.  I’ve just written an assignment on Executive Coaching as I’m studying for a post graduate Masters level Diploma as a Corporate Coaching Practitioner.  Let me quote from one possibility that resonates with me – “Executive Coaching … a collaborative, individualised relationship between an executive and a coach, …to bring about sustained behavioural change and to transform the executives working and personal life”.  In a nutshell I help elicit, and define the particular talents, in order to transform the performance of the Executive.

Driven by this passion I founded my own company, The Directors Coach http://www.thedirectorscoach.com in 2000.  An executive coach and mentor, I bring over 15 years senior management experience gained within ICL, NorTel and Reuters.  My own understanding as a senior manager enables me to help senior people achieve performance excellence. This includes CEOs, MDs and Lawyers. I have a particular passion in the building of purpose, direction and follow-through with senior teams.

Aneeta: Amongst all of the clients you’ve listed you work with, the one which fascinates me the most, naturally, are the lawyers. How do you coach lawyers?

David: My experience is that lawyers tend to be analytical, logical and needing to be convinced!  The best way to generate evidence about coaching is through raising awareness about what I as the coach, am noticing about that individual. Those observations will be tested as hypothesis to begin with, having been gathered through assessment work, perhaps a 360-degree exercise including stakeholder interviews and several intensive coaching sessions.  If this may seem familiar, indeed its because I am building a case to present to the coaching client.  At this time I’m working with different lawyers in two large international organisations.

Aneeta: I see too that you run seminars and workshops. Please share with me one particular tale which stands out in your memory – preferably a funny story.

David: I ran a workshop with a large Local Authority, covering communication in all aspects, including ‘dealing with difficult people’.  I started a role play and asked for a volunteer difficult person.  The group unilaterally pointed to a particular delegate. I invited him to get into character and to act as though he was upset about the lack of service he felt he had experienced.

He strode up to the desk I was sat at, raised his fist above his head and brought it crashing down onto the table, like a sledgehammer onto a nut.  The desk cracked, groaned, and like a felled tree, caved onto the floor in a ‘V’ shape.  I’m sure you can imagine the tension in the room.

What did I discover?

  1. That I could, by staying true to rapport and communication skills, produce a remarkable turnaround.  He went away a happy client and the other delegates learned a great deal about being resourceful.
  2. Working with a delegate, whom the others already knew to be a nightclub bouncer is hugely challenging and not something I would necessarily want to repeat!

Aneeta:  Professional Speakers Association – I’ve never heard of these before. What is it? Is it something akin to Toastmasters?

David: Yes, its like Toastmasters, although works on the basis that you already know all the speaking skills and just want to take them further.  As a result there are many ‘professional’ speakers who attend – i.e. those who intend/do make a living from speaking.

Aneeta: From the previous interview with Jack Stewart, I already know that you co-authored The Coaching Parent. I heard his side of the story. Now you tell me yours. How did the book come about? What was it like co-authoring a book with someone else? Were there problems of any sort when writing the book and if so, how did you deal with them?

David: That’s a good question and probably deserves ‘rewinding the story tape’ to an earlier time in my life.

In the UK we used to have a national test called the 11 plus, taken not surprisingly between the age of 10-11.  Success in this meant you went on to a ‘superior’ education in what was known as a ‘Grammar’ School.  Such schools often had a reputation for academic excellence.  I failed my exam and my teachers led a lengthy inquest as to how it could happen! My best friend just scraped in to Grammar School and much to our shared dismay, we were parted. I know he won’t mind me saying that for several years he struggled near the bottom of his classes, while I was always in the top 3 for most of mine.  I was already learning that ‘failure’ is down to how we interpret the experience.  Mr Comrie inspired me as a teacher, where he demonstrated without using the words, that goals and expectation of outcome are powerful motivators. My final GCE exam result was precisely as he predicted.

My parents, brother John and sister Karen, have provided a source of ideas and reference; like me, always doing the best with what they knew. My wife Laura has believed in me throughout and contributed much to my growth as a parent, husband and coach. Daughters Nicole and Anne-Marie, have (usually) been willing students, and where necessary, adept in letting me know when I get it wrong!  Grandchildren Marcus and Aiden, continue to remind me of important areas, teaching me new things too.

Achieving a personal goal of meeting 1:1 with Lou Tice, International Consultant on Personal Motivation and co-founder of “The Pacific Institute”, was a deeply moving and life changing event.  “Thank you Lou – you are one in a million”.

My big secret is out – while over the years several hundred coaching clients have produced fabulous results, I too have experienced a sense of achievement and growth by sharing in their hard won personal change.

I was on one of Jack’s NLP programmes which at the time he designed and delivered.  I just felt that while we were two very different individuals, I loved Jack’s lack of ego and could really respect him for that.  Its not always true for me!  So I would say Jack came into my life at just the right time.

After about 18 months of knowing each other we decided to design a pack of 45 that would help parent to facilitate releasing of talent in children.  Jack and I both felt passionately about this aim.  We then ran several workshops on the theme of The Coaching Parent.  It was two delegates on one event that said. ‘this stuff is great – you guys must write a book’.  Three years and much effort later we had! http://www.thecoachingparent.com

There were numerous challenges.  We had an original contract signed with a great publisher and they were very supportive.  However for reasons unclear, one of their reviewers started to suggest we remove or alter too many of the principles that we regarded as cornerstones in the book.   After much deliberation we concluded it wasn’t going to work and we pulled the plug.  We had no publisher to go to, just deeply believed in what we had done and how we had done it.  We had no regrets as it was our choice and writing the book was an experience.  Effectively we each wrote about half of what became the published work.  I would not have wanted to miss any of it.  In turns it was exciting, frustrating, fun, annoying, enlightening, disappointing and ultimately, fulfilling.  Jack and I were great foils for each other and I can’t think of anyone else who would have matched my needs better!

Because we as authors experienced different publishers, I would openly acknowledge the first publisher Crown House, for their feedback, high standards and professionalism, which ultimately led to a far superior work.  Our eventual publisher, Bookshaker were also superb – Flexibility, creativity, professionalism, tireless efforts. They were great.

Aneeta: As you know, my website caters for storytellers. Can you please tell me, how does storytelling factor into your work and what advice would you give storytellers?

David: It features as an easy way to help link often complex ideas together.  As children we love to follow stories and wonder how they will end.  That’s true for adults too.  I’m a long way from being a master story teller, more of a work in progress!

Aneeta: David, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything you’d like to add?

David: Apart from thanking you for making the opportunity to be interviewed available, I’d add, do come back in a years time – it would be good to discover how the story has progressed!

Aneeta: Thank you very much David.

David: Thank you Aneeta, for allowing me to share my journey with others.


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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