Ben Brooks on coaching, trust, the art of management & entrepreneurship

Years ago, Ben wrote that his personal mission statement was “to help people reach their full potential” and our conversation touches on this theme in many different ways.  Ben is a former car rental pro turned consultant turned HR executive. His work in HR landed him on the cover of Human Resource Executive. It’s pretty cool, so I wanted to share it here:

Crushing it!

He then decided to leave the corporate world and has been on an entrepreneurial journey for the last six years as an executive coach and startup founder.  In our conversation about coaching, Ben mentioned a fact from an HBR article on coaching that I thought was fascinating.

“It’s rare that companies hire business coaches to address non-work issues (only 3% of coaches said they were hired primarily to attend to such matters), yet more than three-quarters of coaches report having gotten into personal territory at some time.”

This disparity really gets to the core of what people like Ben are about – being more human at work.  Ben joked in our conversation that everyone’s real issue is with their parents. While certainly funny, this gets to a deeper point that many people are waking up that we can’t just show up as robots to work anymore.  There has been a wider embrace of being our full selves at work, led by people like Ben who started the first LGBT group at his consulting firm more than 10 years ago.

Our conversation touches on a number of issues including coaching, entrepreneurship, how his relationship with work has evolves, management versus leadership and what he wants written on his tombstone.  Some other topics we touch on:

  • Ben’s motivation to work at Enterprise Rent-a-Car after college and what he learned
  • His early entrepreneurial “ventures” starting at 12 years old
  • How his mindset about work shifted as he became successful in the corporate world
  • His experience hiring working with an executive coach in his late 20s
  • His experience coaching and favorite exercises
  • Why companies are scared of trusting their people
  • Why being a manager is actually an incredible opportunity for people
  • The learning and ownership upside of carving your own path
  • The value of having advisors, friends of confidants to celebrate “wins”
  • Balancing life & work and his personal sustainability
  • Deciding to give himself a raise as an entrepreneur

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