Bernie Garrett is the Owner and Director of Foundation Leadership, a coaching and training consultancy that offers courses and workshops for professional and personal development. Bernie wasn’t always the industry consultant he is today. After being made redundant in 2013, he set up a business to do what he realised he had been doing in his previous roles.
The brainchild for Foundation Leadership came about 20 years ago when Bernie was heavily involved in Sales Development and Leadership whilst living in China. After given the opportunity to work as the Regional Sales Manager positioned in Shanghai China, Bernie started his international career in Sales and Leadership development. His growing interest in leadership gained him notoriety within the sales organisation. That led him to the opportunity to move into a new industry segment, working as the Business Development Manager focussing on the underground coal sector.
“I realised that I wasn’t hired for my knowledge surrounding the coal industry, but my strength to inspire people, build great sales team and develop strategic growth plans to improve the company’s position in the market,” he says.
A difference in perspective on customer care and strategic alliance with his company at the time turned out to be an opportunity in disguise and Bernie was approached by one of his company’s largest customers at the time.
“I came on board as the operations manager responsible to knock down the hostility walls between the various departments within the company and helping the sales team build better customer relationships and getting the best out of all employees to share a simple company vision for future growth,” Bernie continues.
“The actual true definition of Leadership is Influence.”
“I had a vision as where my life wanted to go and was happy helping people within the organisation get inspired from their interactions with myself and helping them realise their potential,” he shares.
The news of retrenchment came early 2013, against Bernie’s expectations. With that, he had the perfect opportunity to start afresh and build his dream business in Leadership. But what would his first step be? With his older brother, Terry, who runs his own RTO business called “The Australian College of Mining”, they formulated the basis of Foundation Leadership, took up an office location in Newcastle and Bernie secured his first client within a week.
Foundation Leadership had been growing for fifty-one years and only been registered for the last two years. In this article, Bernie shares some insights into his experience in overcoming challenges and offered invaluable tips for those considering setting up their own consultancy in the mining sector.
I have always been a self-motivated, determined individual. My personal development in Leadership had an increase in focus when I returned to home in 2006. I had become an avid reader whilst living abroad, and was interested in becoming a better person within the business world.
One day when I was out shopping with my wife, I walked into a second-hand bookshop and a book caught my eye. I picked the book up, knowing of the author already, and opened the book to no particular page. I opened it to “Positive Attitude” – if you believe you can, you can. For the next seven years I read leadership books, watch leadership videos and put into practice the teachings I was learning every day. The funny thing is, it made the greatest change in my life since I learnt how to ride a bike at the age of 6 years old. It gave me a sense of freedom to the point of knowing how I could achieve anything I wanted to achieve in my life, if I kept my eye on the road I was now going.
By no means was this an easy road to travel. I had to apply my Leadership learnings to every aspect of my life. I came to realise that Leadership was not about me. It was about how I could influence someone else and what value I bought into their life. The employees I was now responsible for were more than happy to work for me. They liked the fact that they felt empowered to make decisions, and were not micro-managed by an insecure manager.
I would always tell my team, “I want to train you up to take my position”. This always generated a confused response from them initially. “Why would you want me to take your job? What will you do?” was a common response.
“Imagine if we had a team of Leaders, what would the business look like?” – this is a common question I ask a lot of my clients when I am coaching.
Some feel threatened by this statement, as they are very early in their Leadership journey. When I explain that Leadership is like the high tide. It lifts all ships in the harbour. They start to understand the fundamentals of Leadership.
The greatest challenge we face in life is ourselves. We fail to have enough self- belief that we are even worthy of success. That is always for the other guy, because they have all the luck, or they know all the right people, or they are in the right place at the right time.
As mentioned earlier, I am a self-motivated person, who plans ahead, who writes down strategic thoughts and ideas and who believes in my ability to be successful.
One particular challenge I face on a day-to-day basis is the perception of a ‘business coach’ within the business community. There is an adage that says; ‘perception equals reality’, and unfortunately some coaches do not represent their profession in the best possible light. My challenge is helping business owners understand the difference between process development and Leadership development.
“In Leadership, I only work with people!”
One of my earliest challenges in building Foundation Leadership was to get my name out into the market, so I joined a networking organisation called BNI, which is the largest professional networking business in the world. Since my initial membership almost two years ago, over 65% of my business referrals have come from BNI. One fundamental skill I have learnt from BNI is to understand how to network in a professional way.
I would always make an effort to ‘network’ but unfortunately, I was doing it all wrong. I would meet someone, get a business card, have a conversation about my business or organisation and hope to have left a good impression on him or her. What I didn’t realise was the conversations were all based on logic, nothing more, nothing else. I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching and hadn’t even realised.
Why was it so difficult to become a great networker? The answer is – I wasn’t having an influence over the person I was talking to.
Networking and Conferences are all about the information you learn and take away, and the people you meet. Here are some easy rules to remember when networking:
1. Emotion: When you meet someone, ask questions about the person you are talking with. Do not talk about yourself until invited to do so. The majority of people only have one thing on their mind i.e. they cannot wait for the person to finish what they are saying, so they can talk about what they want to talk about! Listen with ‘aerobic ears’. Listen for the emotional signals and talk only about the emotional signals they are discussing. What most people don’t realise is; ‘We buy with Emotion and justify with Logic’. People don’t buy into you, unless you have touched their emotion.
2. Relationship: When you have connected on an emotional level, people want to know more about who you and how you can bring value into their life and vice versa. They become interested in what you have to offer and show value in what you say. Relationships are good like that.
3. Trust: The better the level of relationship, the faster the level of Trust is built between the two parties. Trust is built upon the mutual respect between people, building integrity, strength, confidence and security.
4. Referral: This is the catalyst for the Networking process done right. As mentioned earlier, business is built upon referrals and without following these four steps, you will never get that referral time and time again.
I first considered starting my own consulting business when I immediately returned from living abroad. I had the experience, I had the confidence, but I did not have the structure or knowhow to develop my own business. Who was going to show me, tell me, coach me in the direction I ‘wanted’ to go in, without them telling me what I should do in their opinion.
I went back to my Leadership Growth Plan to find the answers.
1. Develop Your Inner Circle
a. Who amongst the people you know and associated with could give you the guidance and support you need to take the first step into starting your own business?
b. Who do you know that has already done what you want to do?
c. Who is your role model in this area of business consulting?
d. Who is coaching you along the way?
2. Define Your Product Offering
Defining your product or service offering can be as simple as working to your strengths. It could also be focusing on IP (Intellectual Property) that you have developed and is unique to you alone that can be offered. It can be quite broad, because you have a lot to offer. Whatever you believe stands you apart from the rest; you MUST answer the following questions as specifically as possible:
a. What is your product scope?
b. How will you define your offering?
c. Why should anyone buy a product or service from you?
d. What is your main objective in your offering?
e. What is the product life-span?
3. Dedicate Time to Your Business Networking
a. How reliable are your ‘friends’ to help you build your business?
b. How are you building your Networking referrals daily?
c. How much time do your dedicate to Networking events?
d. How are you meeting new prospects and clients?
e. Why should they give you a referral?
f. How many clients do you believe you need?
These are just some of the questions and answers that need to be addressed when setting up your business, or helping you grow and existing business. You must have a growth plan for yourself and your company to have longevity and success in this demanding world today.
“If I was to be successful, if I was to develop a professional Leadership business and if I was to have a positive influence in people’s lives by adding value to their journey, I had to get my name out there. That is exactly what I am doing every day for the past two years.” – Bernie Garrett
We would like to thank Bernie for taking the time out of his busy schedule to share his experience and helpful advice with us, and wish him all the best going forward. You can find out more about Foundation Leadership here.
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