Interview at Belfry Hotel July 2009

Massimo Gaetani, MaGa Coaching’s CEO, was recently interviewed by Mark Peters and the Star Radio team during a seminar on Social Networking run by Ian McKendrick, a Cambridge based entrepreneur, consultant and social networking evangelist.

Massimo first describes here a few issues about coaching a business and what people can get out of it and then the important aspect of social networking to promote his business.   Enjoy the view:

Maga Coaching Interview 22nd July 2009 from Mark Peters on Vimeo.

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 5 August 2009

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Testimonial from John Payne

John took part to one day workshop about “using coaching at work”: here is his testimonial:

I was very sceptical about coaching at the beginning of the day but was totally convinced of its merits by lunchtime.

Certainly has equipped me with the skills to move my department forward.

John Payne, Head of Food Technology, Chantry High School.

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 3 August 2009

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Mastermind seminar: “Coaching at work for Suffolk EPB”

Coaching helps people to grow and succeed in just about any area of business and life.  Coaching is an amazing set of tools that can be used to improve management skills and personal development for individuals in the workplace as well as for their colleagues, peers, clients, suppliers and any group of people they are normally dealing with.

The Suffolk Education Business Partnership (SEBP) works with schools, businesses and the community to promote education business links to enhance and enrich the national curriculum.  They provide young people with work related learning opportunities developed in partnership with local business and industry and also organise events for teaching staff professional development.  The SEBP aims to be a single point of contact for the development and delivery of education business links.

The SEBP approached MaGa Coaching as teachers had expressed interest in learning the basic concepts of coaching to help them face day-to-day work issues..  MaGa Coaching, offered to put together its broad range of skills and formulated a 1 day mastermind coaching workshop. The results were well beyond the expectations of all delegates.

The group

Although the main topic for this group was around education, supported by having a several teachers in the room, we also had a head of finance for a school, a head of mentoring for a government funded organization, a liaison manager and a theatre manager.  In a mastermind workshop it is usually better to have people from diverse backgrounds to stimulate problem solving and learning from several different angles.


Attendees completed an application form their 3 most pressing topics/issues.  These topics were listed on a flipchart and hung on the wall in a visible spot.  Several topics were common among delegates.  Most participants are in authoritative positions within the organisation they work for and they recognised the need to have alternative skills to be applied to their day to day job.

The process

Following a brief introduction from Dr Paul Nicholas who organized the workshop the day developed as follows:

  1. All participants were grouped in pairs and given some time to learn as much as possible from each other as they had to introduce each other to the group.
  2. The discussion then moved toward defining a common purpose for the group and ensuring that everybody was completely involved in the process.
  3. Following a number of refining activities the group defined and agreed on a common, shared purpose for the workshop: “Understanding how to enable ourselves and others to become effective coaches”.
  4. It was clarified that necessary skills and training to become a coach are achieved after several courses and exams and the workshop’s ultimate goal was to show how basic coaching techniques could be used to be more effective in the workplace.
  5. The group was then coached to move forward defining and clarifying what main skills and attributes a coach should have.  The group was asked to define some attributes: the coach confirmed total agreement amongst the group clarifying when necessary with examples and practical applications.  After a long conversation the conclusion was represented by the following list:
    1. Timeframe: coaching defines something to be done or achieved by a certain time
    2. Listening: coaching somebody is about listening carefully and being non judgmental in whatever you hear;
    3. Careful questioning: asking the right questions, open questions;
    4. Empathy: while some level of empathy is necessary the coach should be able to detach himself/herself from the person being coached;
    5. Ensure proper body language as 70% of our communication is non verbal
    6. Integrity: be truthful, do what you promise and avoid over committing
    7. Value the coachee: ensure to stress the positive in any achievement and allow the coachee to feel valued for what he/she is doing
    8. Stretch: always inspire the coachee to do a bit more than they would otherwise, stretch his/her boundaries beyond their comfort zone.
  6. Coaching is about action: deciding what you will do by when is the most important part of a coaching conversation, where the coachee commits toward the coach.  Once the list was completed to everyone’s satisfaction the group was asked to spend some time writing down a list of actions that they would commit to as a conclusion of the workshop and then reading it out to the group as a promise to themselves and the group.


By the end of the workshop the level of energy was very high and everybody was positively charged toward their next commitments and how these new skills will help them to be more effective in their respective jobs.

The following are examples of feedback from attendees:

“I found the event exceptionally useful in focusing my thoughts and developing a practical approach to more effective working.” Dr Paul Nicholas, Project Manager, Suffolk EBP

“Found the pace of the course was good. I don’t think it could have been changed  and really enjoyed the day and got loads out of it.” John Payne, Chantry High School, Ipswich.

“The event was very useful and I certainly took interesting ideas from the discussions.” Xavier Norte, Kesgrave High School.

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 27 July 2009

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Dealing with aggressive behaviour at work

Anger ExpressionThis is the first post of its kind, just to give an insight about how coaching can help one’s thinking toward a positive outcome.  As I am just sharing part of the conversation I am maintaining the high confidentiality that is always paramount in the coach-client relationship.

During a workshop I recently run one of the delegates asked me if I would suggest ideas about how to deal with aggressive behaviour. After clarifying that as a coach I refrain from offering suggestions and I offered to show her how I could coach her to her own outcome.  The conversation went about this way:

Massimo: can you describe what do you mean by aggressive behaviour?

Client: I always leave my door open as a personal policy and colleagues feel free to enter without being invited and start yelling at me for whatever reason.

M: does this happen when you are expecting them?

C: no just randomly…

M: and you are just dealing with what they ask on the spot?

C: I have no choice, they are there and yelling… and…

M: it sounds this is affecting profoundly… what is your first feeling about that?

C: I feel powerless…

M: have you thought about alternative behaviours?

C: asking them to calm down never worked when I tried: perhaps arranging an appointment… but I usually get very upset and it ruins the rest of my day…

M: is this slowing down your performance?

C: sometime I waste considerable amount of time just rethinking about the whole situation…

M: can you qualify considerable?

C: many minutes, hours some times…

M: so how would you feel if you could deal with this differently?

C: it would make me feel great and invigorated!

M: ok, please let me ask another question: do you feel physically threatened when this happens?

C: … what do you mean?

M: do you think at any time that one of your colleagues might physically attack you or hurting you?

C: no, absolutely never.

M: great, so if there is no physical threat is their loud voice a threat for you?

C: well… I guess it’s just noise then…

M: so how are you going to deal with the next yeller?

C: well, I will be better prepared and just have a different perspective about the whole behaviour

M: great, well done! And thank you for your honesty in discussing this issue

The whole conversation lasted less than 2 minutes and, at the end of it, her expression was glowing.

She Emailed a few days after thanking me again for the little demonstration and explaining how I managed to change her thinking around aggressive behaviour.  She also mentioned that it helped her to face successfully a couple of incidents that would have ruined her day just a before our session.

We recently experienced a high number of inquiries about how to deal with aggressive behaviour. To help people like you we are running a special telecall, in collaboration with East Anglia Hypnotherapy. If you are affected by aggressive behaviour at home or at work and would like to have some help please
follow this link and book yourself in.

Posted under Coaching in Action

This post was written by massimo on 23 July 2009

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Get a free coaching session

MaGa Coaching has recently been accepted to be listed in the Suppliers Brokerage directory and awarded EVoucher status from Business Link East.

If you are about to start a new business or running a newly formed company, trading for less than 12 months, you could be entitled to a 2 hours coaching session under the EVoucher scheme that includes all sort of business advise and services, including coaching.   The coaching session can be geared around analysing your current business situation and to define goals about the future of your company to be.

For more information please contact Massimo Gaetani, MD of MaGa Coaching, on 07879 610111 or Email him at

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 8 July 2009

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Accountability and clarity of distance: where self coaching fails

I was recently at an event where David Hyner, a well known and respected coach, was explaining his model for self coaching for which he defined the Massive Goal Principle.   David has interviewed in his life a number of top achievers from all walks of life and he derived from them this methodology.

Within an hour of intense and interesting explanation he highlighted a well organized technique that involved a pyramidal structure of concepts and metrics about planning and execution for the achievement of your own big goal.

While I was fascinated by the good structure and the level of charisma that David managed to establish in a venue filled with nearly 50 business people I started thinking about a few simple concepts, mostly biased by my experience and training:

  • Given a large number of people, for each great achiever in that group there are hundreds or thousand that in spite of motivation, inspiration, luck and a number of other factors did not achieve what they planned.  Dan Brown had one of the characters of his novel “The Da Vinci Code” stating that: “history is written by winners”: by the same metric I would say that great achievers are well known or become famous but who tried equally hard with poorer results won’t be mentioned too much.
  • If we look around we’ll notice that many people are not trying to achieve anything great and they are happy to “survive”: having a relatively easy life, a job to pay bills, never challenging themselves and drift along.
  • Most people fail at achieving something because of a number of factors and accountability to themselves and motivation tend to be low or inexistent, even when the initial purpose was good.

In business as well as in life people tend to think in terms of goals: what to do (I want to run a marathon), learn (I want a degree or a new qualification), achieve (I want to raise my turnover by 30% or having a £100K job) and so on.  In reality how many times did you hear somebody saying that she will start dieting, exercising or wasting less time on meaning less tasks at work and so on and so on?

I have even encountered last year an online product that offers, for a fee, a structured coaching program that supposedly helps a pair of friend to set up a mutual coaching programme, establishing goals for each other and coaching each other toward their achievement.  The only experience I have is of two friends of mine who decided to try this and within a few weeks their goals, although if reasonably well defined collapsed for lack of consistency from both parts: committing to a close friend was not felt strong enough and the so-called coaching sections were merely friendly chats without a structure and a time frame.

Self coaching, following a personal commitment or written instructions from a book or online, fails because of the lack of two main factors:

  1. accountability: we tend to promise to ourselves, often in good faith, that we’ll do this and the other.  Many people tend to over commit themselves about their “to do” list: frequently this can cause stress, anxiety or apathy toward the particular task.  Ultimately these are just promises we do to ourselves.  Let’s see 2 examples:
    1. I tell to myself that I will get up at 7AM and go for a run.  I can be the kind of person who does it or, as it can happen, when the alarm clock goes off I might simply ignore it.
    2. I agree with my friend Mark to meet at 7 and go for a run: it becomes an appointment with somebody else and makes me accountable toward him; as I do not want to let Mark down and I will be there at 7.
  2. clarity of distance: when I am involved in a decision about myself it is usually difficult to be objective about the direction to take: think at examples like changing job, deciding upon an important purchase or committing on a business strategy.  An external, detached, person can often see very objectively your situation and come out with a decision that, perhaps, you would not like and take that easily.  The clarity of distance is natural if you are completely extraneous to a person rather than a friend or a relative.  In fact who knows you very well and has exposure to a historical knowledge of what brought you to the decision, might be as biased as you are about it.

The above reasons are offering the perfect case for using a professional coach to help one’s decision process: the coach has (really, should have) qualification and experience to help your decision process and help you to:

  • commit yourself to challenging, realistic and measurable goals
  • ensure that you are accountable toward yourself and the coach
  • when you stuck in an important decision the coach will have the clarity of distance to facilitate your decision by helping your thinking process

Professional Coaching offers structured and time framed sessions that, like short business meetings, are designed to take decision and plan actions.  Coaching is based on questions, powerful questions that help you deciding and committing on what to do: whether you are ponderating the options about the next acquisition for your company, how to plan for a new start-up or what to do next in your career a coach can ensure your thinking process is always at its best.

Posted under Articles

This post was written by massimo on 25 June 2009

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Advantages of a coaching culture in the corporate environment

In my corporate experience to date I have encountered a number of realities that range from the fun place to work to companies that follow policies based on fear.  To the former group belong companies where people are more than happy to work, often very hard, for the pleasure of sharing their experience with many other talented individuals while being part of interesting projects.  The latter tend to be organizations with high turnover of people and where the only incentives for them to stick around are the financial rewards they are getting and eventually the experience that can be sold to other companies at a later stage.

Control and command management style

The typical management structure based on control and command was first established when, in conjunction with the industrial revolution companies started to grow larger and larger.  The already existing agricultural model never needed to grow big and complicated enough to require articulated management structures: now industrial manufacturing, procurement, sales, stock management and various other functions needed a way to be pulled together.  Armies had at the time the only organizational models available, with multi level management system so similar structures and bureaucracies were implemented.

Control and command vs. coaching

Let’s consider two very different models of managing and getting results out of people:

  • Think first about a sergeant yelling orders to a soldier who answers “sir, yes sir”: this represents a model that has been used for thousands of years in armies around the world and ensures standard performance among all people in a unit.  Soldiers are there to follow orders, without asking questions and without necessarily agreeing on the specific tasks they are carrying out.
  • At the same time let look at a football or basketball coach during training and during a game.  The coach is there to manage his team.  There is no doubt about who is in charge: at the same time she is there to inspire and motivate athletes for them to achieve increasingly better performance.

With over 70% of workers in USA being employed in a so called knowledge work and a similar percentage in the UK I am here considering why and how control and command is still, today, the most used management style.  Often because who is managing doesn’t know an alternative way on inspiring and motivating her reports and ensuring they always perform to their best.  The simplest solution works out to tell others what they would do if they were you.

A coaching approach to management: quiet leadership

The concept of Quiet Leadership introduced by David Rock in his book with the same title, suggests that in an environment where most people are paid to think a coaching approach nurtures this concept and effectively inspire people to do exactly that.  When you are employing a broad range of top graduates, scientists, MBA and PhD you are aware of being surrounded by very clever people: these are people that can easily be inspired to think creatively toward their own solutions to their problems.  So the Quiet Leader is not a person ordering and commanding instructions to his reports but she enters short and powerful coaching conversation where she asks questions and manages to get the other person actively involved in the dialog in order to achieve her own conclusions.  This result is usually a guaranteed success because of the following reasons:

  • If you were encouraged to think through a problem and you achieved your own solution you will own it to the point that you will have a much higher motivation to perform and deliver the result.  To the contrary receiving a suggestion or an order about what to do is somehow easier but you will perform or execute a task as your boss suggested it.
  • The coaching conversation is usually geared around the process rather than the content: that allows the manager to stay out of details and avoid the possible temptations of micromanaging her staff.
  • The process of encouraging you to think through the various possibilities will also foster a more independent thinking mind that will naturally seek solutions rather that simply asking: “what shall I do next?”.

Benefits of coaching approach to management

A statistic available from the International Coaching Federation, reports the following benefits for companies where a coaching model as been adopted:

  • Lower stress levels 57%
  • Self-confidence 52%
  • Setting better goals 62%
  • Increased self-awareness 67%
  • Self-discovery 53%
  • More balanced life 60%


There are a number of jobs and activities that require a structured and sometimes strictly organized management system, e.g. in manufacturing or in building sites: the coaching approach, on the other hand can be (and is) successfully applied to situations where people are primarily paid to think, such as in designing or other creative jobs, finance, general management and it is great to address conflict resolution.

In the medium and long term an established coaching culture will help your company to function better as a whole, improving key people retention, ensuring they are happy and motivated to work hard for the ultimate success of their employer.

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This post was written by massimo on 29 May 2009

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Who needs a coach?

In sport having a coach is fact given for granted in order to guarantee performance, focussed effort, attention to details and continuous stretching of your personal motivation to succeed.  Many of the top performers in the show business or in politics are using more or less regularly the expertise of a professional personal coach.  A growing number of large companies and organizations are instilling a coaching culture as a definitive turn from the classic regimented management style based on control and command.

A survey, run by the International Coaching Federation, has revealed a number of highly positive results out of a sample of over 200 business owners, professionals and managers that used coaching.  The main role of the coach was: 84.8 % sounding board, 78.1% motivator, 56.7% friend and 50.5% mentor.  Among the outcomes of coaching we can see:  67.6% higher level of self-awareness, 62.4% smarter goal-setting, 60.5% more balanced life and 57.1% lower stress levels.  The typical issues addressed by the coach we can list: 84.5 % time management, 74.3% career guidance, 73.8% business advice and 58.6% relationship / family issues.

In business people have historically used various sources of education and personal skill to fill the gap between what is expected from their employer or clients and what their natural performance is.  There are obviously many multi skilled people that can plan, organize, manage, sell, invoice, recover credits and grow their business all alone.

As their business grows also the need for more and more specialized skill increases and the single business owner or the partners involved in the business tend to run out of their personal skills. From time to time we all acknowledge the need of a:

  • Solicitor to prepare and check business contracts or to manage some unfortunate litigations with clients and supplier
  • Accountant to prepare the company accounts and tax return
  • HR expert for employment matters
  • Marketing expert for PR, adverts, promotion
  • Computer support to guarantee an efficient and smooth running of our computer systems

The list can be a lot longer depending on the circumstances: it is accepted and common understanding that for a large number of specialized services you will ask for the expertise of a person or company that offers and guarantees success in a particular area.

At the same time when it’s about personal performance, organization, time management, motivation and people management there is a general assumption that these skills can be learnt in the field, with little or no formal preparation or training. A professional executive coach can help you focussing on the two or perhaps three areas you would like to boost or improve in your current job and support you to achieve excellence.

So as a conclusion to this post I would suggest the following.  If we are asking “who needs a coach?” the answer could be: “most people that want to excel in what they are doing”.

Posted under Articles

This post was written by massimo on 24 April 2009

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Coaching at the top

Man On Mountain TopI was recently at a talk organized by Cambridge Network where Louise Makin was presenting her 4 years at BTG and the great transformation she managed to undertake in this company.  The first part of the presentation was factual: the company was financially in a very bad shape when she was first offered the position of CEO and she managed to lead a deep transformation in the culture and running of the company itself. A heterogeneous group of different business models and modus operandi that was carrying over £30M of losses in 2004 became a successful money making organization in 2008 when the company managed to acquire Protherics and it is now in a very strong position with £60M in the bank.  While the presentation continued into the more human aspects of running the company Ms Makin explained the continuous difficulty of running a public company where every decision has to be communicated to the market that ultimately will take decisions about buying or selling shares in the company.  She also made a great analogy in choosing the right team between the day to day running of a company with the aim to succeed and being part of an endurance sailing and running race.

She described how at the beginning decisions were tough:  redundancies were unavoidable and causing low morale. As the strategic plan proceeded it was obvious that the strong management team she put together had the right attitude and determination to succeed.  I found interesting her definition for these people is of being great givers: people that were and are truly interested in giving to the company energy, skills and full dedication without necessarily measuring their personal return.

Several times she mentioned her loneliness in running a large organization and the difficulty of sharing her doubts and insights in an environment where uncertainty can surely cause panic and instability to the market.

In my experience, once you make it to the top of an organization, you tend to share similar feelings and experiences, a great analogy to when you climb a mountain on your own.  You get to the top and, as you look around, you realise you are alone.  Many people, particularly those that report directly to you tend to assume you have something extra and they expect that extra from you, all the time.  You do not or cannot share with them your doubts and uncertainties and the pressure on you keeps growing.

In a situation like the one described above an Executive Coach can help a CEO or a top executive in their decision process, acting as a sounding board, a trusted person that can truly facilitate the decision process of the executive being coached while maintaining total confidentiality.  The main task for the coach is to ask questions, powerful open ended questions, without offering any input, suggestion or advice.  Coaching can make a big difference in the way you as the executive are running your business: best results are achieved when the coach manages to stay out of the content, that is the day to day drama, the decisions, the workload and source of stress and concentrates on the process, the coaching process of getting you toward your business goals.

Does it sound too abstract? Try it to believe it.

Posted under Articles

This post was written by massimo on 10 March 2009

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Testimonial from SRH

Having experienced a number of changes in my life over a relatively short period of time, I found myself at a particular low point in terms of confidence and self esteem and in need of some direction and focus, I wasn’t sure how I would achieve this until Massimo of Maga coaching was recommended to me.

As a ‘successful’ and ambitous Finance Executive working in the Pharma industry, I was keen for the focus of the coaching to be on areas of both my personal and professional life. For the latter, I feel the coaching supported my progress towards this, this was certainly evident as I was promoted within weeks of completing the coaching sessions and believe I am now in the right mindset to excel further and achieve my career goals.

From the initial meeting I felt comfortable with the informal yet professional approach, this continued throughout the coaching period. His coaching methods, of clearly defining personalised goals and a logical set of actions to achieve them, met my expectations and enabled me to get my life back on track. What I didn’t expect was how quickly this came about – I started to notice changes in myself within the first few weeks of coaching. These improvements continued throughout the coaching period to the current day.

So where am I now? Well post coaching there have been improvements in many aspects of my life including; entering into a relationship, enhanced career prospects, larger circle of friends and overall and most importantly I’m happy and confident again! So if you are looking a personal/executive coach then I can without reservation recommend Maga Coaching.

SRH, Finance Executive

Posted under Testimonials

This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 8 March 2009