Building an Executive Coaching Practice in Media & Education

Coaching in Media and Education

Posted Mar 26, 2013

Luskin's Learning Psychology Series - No. 5

Coaching is learning and helps set direction

     Leadership roles in organizations and corporations today are more complex and nuanced than ever before.  Most executives will probably agree that, when the need arises, consulting with and confiding in a trusted, qualified, experienced coach with real-world organizational media and education experience can ease the sometimes lonely burden of stewardship. Coaching can provide reinforcement, lend objective clarity to interpersonal dynamics and help to recalibrate your strategic compass.   I have been operating a successful coaching practice for more than thirty years and am frequently asked about how the practice was built and for tips in developing a successful practice. My purpose with this article is to share the experience of years to help you develop or improve your own practice.


Coaching is growing in importance as a specialty

It is valuable to review fundamentals and important to understand that a successful executive coaching practice requires that the coach have a substantial reputation based on demonstrated discretion and knowledge. In addition, you must develop your “brand identity,” especially in the area of your specialization. This is a necessary ingredient to achieve success.

     Coaching guru, Sir John Harvey-Jones, is credited with saying that:

“The major benefit of not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than preceded by a period of worry and depression.”

     Coaching, i.e., sharing insight and experience is an important aid in planning. Planning itself is learning. Through planning one thinks through the best way to approach and accomplish objectives. Since many of you who read Psychology Today provide professional coaching services, my purpose here is to share 12 key steps that I have learned from successful coaching of hundreds of clients through the years.

Your coaching brand identity is a basic ingredient.

     In my own practice I brand myself as a “solutions architect.”  As a specialty, I solve education, media, business and personnel problems. I also help with turnarounds, mergers and acquisitions. I conduct searches, evaluate organizational needs and serve as a confidential coaching resource.

Examples of successful coaches.

      In building clientele, one objective is to get the phone to ring.  Jack Schaffer, Ph.D., is a former FBI agent, who consults with organizations to help determine whether someone is lying or telling the truth. Jack says, “The phone rings because of reputation. In a coaching practice, reputation and brand name are synonymous and necessary for your success.” Larry Holmes, a successful public relations consultant in higher education, told me that, “Your brand is an intangible asset for your executive coaching practice in much the same way declaring a specialty directs patients to a physician’s practice.”

The coaching spectrum

Twelve important steps for coaching success:

1. Listen. Carefully identify the needs of the client you will serve.

2. Specialize. Develop your reputation for a specific area of specialty to serve those clients.

3. Get to the point. Establish and present clear goals for your client to work towards.

4. Talk the talk. Speak the language of your clients.

5. Do your homework.Demonstrate that you have done solid research related to your client’s industry.

6. Show up. Engage in activities related to your specialty and to the clients industry at every opportunity.

7. Shoot straight. Become known for ethical behavior and trust.

8. Be enthusiastic.Demonstrate your passion and positive approach toward helping your client achieve his or her goals. People need and gravitate toward support from, enthusiastic individuals.

9. Walk the walk and demonstrate consistency.

10. Show action based results.

Don’t procrastinate, be active and demonstrate the critical thinking and creativity needed to reinforce your client’s initiative. A good coach is more than a sounding board. Share your experience.

11. Think big. Display a global outlook. Opportunity abounds in today’s truly flat world.

12. It’s all about “you.” Eliminate “I” and accentuate “You.” The more you use “you” in your communications, the more effective your communications will be.

Build your coaching brand

     Develop a personal brand that shows that you can be expected to accomplish a specific, measurable goal. Casey Green, Ph.D., director of the Campus Computing Project, provides consulting services all over the world. Green says, “Those who use my services know I have the data they need and that I have given help to many of their colleague institutions. That is why they call me for help and insight, and I am careful to maintain that image.”  Eric Doctorow, former president of Paramount Worldwide Video, told me that, “In a new world bursting with the internet, blogging, web sites and e-communication of all kinds, branding, especially in the media business, is becoming the key to setting yourself apart and being remembered. The goal of branding is to end up with your name, or the name of your service or web site, foremost in the minds of those who need the professional services you can provide.” Take a corollary tip from Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, a UCLA classmate of mine and well-known consultant who says, “You need to talk about your brand and services in plain English.” If you find yourself in a position to use this advice and follow the twelve steps, the following words of John D. Rockefeller may help you maintain perspective. Rockefeller said that, “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I will pay more for that ability, than for any other under the sun.”

     Online and distance education is past the tipping point and is a growth area where experience and coaching can be central to the success of any venture. Media has become one of the fields of greatest opportunity in the world. Media studies, media psychology and all facets of the media industry can benefit from coaching. Coaching is growing in importance, acceptance and understanding. Media and education are my own specialties. However, the insight I have tried to share applies in commerce, health care, media, public policy and government, entertainment, and education at all levels. Coaching is an emerging professional specialty growing in importance in helping to accelerate learning, reinforce intentions and in providing introspective insight to help maintain one’s pace in our rapidly changing world.


DR. BERNARD J. LUSKIN is CEO of Luskin International (, President Emeritus of The Society for Media Psychology and Technology, Division 46 of the American Psychological Association and presently Chancellor, Ventura County Community College District in California. Luskin is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and School Psychologist with extensive education and business experience, having served as CEO of eight colleges and universities as well as divisions of Fortune 500 companies. He has received life achievement awards for contributions in media and education from the American Psychological Association, the UCLA Doctoral Alumni Association, California State University, Los Angeles, The Futures Commission of the American Association of Community Colleges, the Irish Government and European Commission. Email:

Special thanks to Dr. Toni Luskin for her  valuable assistance in preparing and posting this article.


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