Steve Smith is the Founder and President of GrowthSource Coaching, a company that offers business and executive coaching programs to help business owners or key senior-level managers improve their confidence and performance. His coaching services provide transformational change opportunities for business professionals to become extraordinary leaders, savvy business owners, and confident marketing strategists.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. My family was middle class- dad worked for a food retail company, mom worked in the home. I have 3 brothers.
We were all encouraged to earn our way so, at a very early age, I learned how to make money. This ability to get the things I wanted to be coupled with a desire to try many types of jobs enabled me to develop an entrepreneurial mindset at a very early age.
I excelled in sports which got me through high school and college. Scholarships and summer jobs were how I paid my way through school.
My parents provided a host of things for us to gain experience from including moving to England for 3 years.
What is something you wish you would have realized earlier in your life?
I wish I had learned the value of career and life planning. Thinking about the future you want, not necessarily the future you think life will hand you. While my life handed me many opportunities, I took advantage of, I wasn’t always thinking about where those opportunities would lead.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
In my coaching business, my job is to help people breakthrough thinking, behaving, or acting that stifles people’s progress. The old saying, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, is one of those idioms that do not serve people well. They tend to wait until catastrophe hits before doing the right things.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you experienced in life; how you came out of it and what you learned from it?
During my tenure at a major consumer products manufacturer, I lost my job after the company was sold. It was the first time in my career I had ever be laid off. I had no plan or idea of what to do next. Fortunately, a networking contact of mine heard I was available and offered me a better position than the one I left. During that downtime, you become very short-sighted, fearful, and willing to lower your standards to get back to work. What I learned was regardless of the job you have, never neglect your network, social media profiles or take your figures off the pulse of the job market. The best time to have a rebound plan is when you don’t need one.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I establish relationships with people by asking questions and listening. I don’t talk about myself much. As a result, people remember me for the interest I place in learning about them: who they are, what’s important to them, what I can help them with.
I also learned from following Warren Buffet and reading the book, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill, that sticking with the decisions you make is critical to demonstrating a commitment to owning your plan. Do your research, ask for input, consider your options and make your decision. Once you decide, never go back.
What is your morning routine?
I usually wake up a 6 am. I make coffee and watch the morning financial news by 6:30 am. After getting dressed and walking the dog, I’m in the office by 8 am. My morning routine is very smooth and non-hectic, not because of what I do in the morning but what I do the night before. I plan out my work focus a week in advance and my calendar activity the night before. Makes for a better night’s sleep!
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I treat people with respect, offer advice only when asked, do my best work no matter how small the task, and focus on how to optimize everything I do. This allows me to get maximum results for the time I spend networking, marketing, training, and coaching without sacrificing my personal life.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Everything I do is on my calendar. My calendar is my boss! This way, I manage my time well and schedule what is important to do. It allows me to stay ahead of projects, plan better, and leave my work at a reasonable hour.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
- Winning Every Day by Lou Holtz. This book talks about the things you do every day that are what create lifelong success.
- What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall outlines how blind spots are more important to recognize and fix than more education and experience for leaders in companies to be successful.
- The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. This book should be required reading for MBA school. Michael tells a story that describes the differences between entrepreneurs, managers, and workers (technicians).
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
‘You have as much authority as you dare to take.’
‘Leave every personal interaction better than you found it.’