All posts by Michael Kogutek

Writing Effective E-mails

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


In this age of increasing technology, e-mail communication has become front and center. I found a terrific mini course on this subject at It is 8 minutes long. The takeaways are: (a) avoid vague subject lines (b) Be personal  (c) Be visual (d) Be structured

(e) No big blocks of text (f) Is there a better way to communicate like phone call or in person meeting. The course advocates the use of the acronym SMART: Specific,Meaningful,Appropriate,Relevant and Thoughtful. I highly recommend the course.

I also want to endorse the website It contains over 300 free courses to take in the NP sector. Many of the courses are from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe. One gets a global flavor of the NP world.

We at ECofOC are strong advocates of the website. The micro-learning center offers courses less than 10 minutes in duration. It is a strong resource for our coaching clients and ED Forum Members.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

New Year Invites Reflection and Evaluation

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


On behalf of all the coaches at Executive Coaches of Orange County, we want to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May it be blessed with good health, peace and happiness. We at ECofOC are grateful that our 115+ clients have chosen to turn to us for individual coaching or for our Executive Director Forum (32 members), or for both.

For the past 15 years, we have been living our mission of helping nonprofit leaders  and managers become more effective, efficient and successful so their organizations can do more of their good work in our community.

The new year offers a time for us to pause and take an inventory of where we have been and set new goals for the future. The services of ECofOC may provide you an opportunity to move forward and up your game. Change  needs to be met with accountability.

Coaching  provides a  one-on-one relationship to nonprofit leaders. Our coaches help managers set specific goals and solve difficult issues from a nonjudgmental perspective in a confidential setting. Coaching can address virtually any nonprofit management issue, including board development, fundraising, outreach, leadership, management, finance, IT and HR issues, personal development and career planning.

Our Executive Director Forum is comprised of 10 to 12 executive directors facilitated by two experienced ECofOC coaches in monthly meetings using a proven process to guide the group to practical solutions for issues brought to the table by each participant. These sessions allow executive directors to test ideas and work though issues with a group of their peers.

We  hope you will consider getting a coach. If you are a manager with a non-profit organization in Orange County, you can apply here at The price is right; it is FREE! Our team of coaches are prepared to take you where you want and dream to go. The moment and power of change is now!!

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,


Focused Conversation Practice, Action Planning and Consensus Building

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


The skills mentioned in the above title are a must for every NP manager.  Last week I took a two day workshop at One OC that focused on those skills. The course is called ToP Facilitation Methods and taught by ToP facilitators Becky Foreman and Emma Diaz. The ToP methodology is associated with a group called the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).   ICA programs strengthen the capacities of organizations, communities, and individuals to build and implement innovative plans of action that draw upon assets and social capital in a collaborative manner.

Here is the description of the specific workshops:

The Focused Conversation Method: This common sense approach leads naturally to a meaningful exchange of ideas

  • Conduct purposeful discussion
  • Capture a group’s best thinking easily
  • Surface new ideas and solutions
  • Stimulate candid feedback


The Consensus Workshop Method: This Structure process is so engaging people are energized getting to consensus.

  • Tap rational and intuitive thought processes
  • Integrate diverse ideas
  • Generate practical and creative solutions
  • Develop group consensus


The Action Planning Method: These practical steps help groups plan, organize resources and build commitment.

  • Visualize a successful result
  • Analyze the current reality
  • Create a practical plan
  • Maximize group involvement


This was a first class workshop. The leaders are  top notch professionals. If you are a NP manager looking for ways to activate group participation, this workshop is the ticket!!! It helps groups think, talk and work together.

Institute of Cultural Affairs:

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

“Ethos of Change” by Stambouly, Amazon 2015

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

Book Review by Michael D. Kogutek

Ernest Stambouly is a colleague  and friend of mine at ECofOC. He is a dynamite coach who delivers passion, innovation and change in his coaching process.

If you are looking for a book discussing the conventional and traditional ideas of change in individuals and organizations, this book is not for you. “Ethos for Change” is an out of the box body of work that will challenge your current beliefs. In the first part of the book, Ernest writes about change. He talks about his philosophy and psychology regarding change. Self disclosure about his own journey of the subject is refreshing, engaging and connecting. He sets forth three specific conversations that one must use to transform the change process. Most importantly he openly discusses how resistance is the major obstacle in this process. Legitimizing and talking out loud about resistance is critical. In discussing the dynamics of change, Ernest mentions how language and discerning mood states is very helpful. The second part of the book is a road map full of applied and practical interventions to make the process come alive. Ernest is under no illusion that change is easy. It is a state that is uncomfortable and uncertain Keep in mind that what he is proposing will take courage, a leap of faith and the willingness to confront your old beliefs.  This book will have to be read several times to internalize the concepts.  Reading this book is an invitation to change and transformation.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

In Coaching and Managing, the Question May Be More Important Than the Answer!

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek



When I am done coaching a client, I usually convene the evaluation committee in my head to assess the session. The first criteria is, did I ask good questions that led to the critical thinking process. Recently I came across a book devoted to the subject of asking the right questions in coaching as a manager. The book is: “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier.* Michael is an Aussie who runs a coaching and leadership consulting firm in Canada. The book’s focus is to managers who employ coaching as a managerial and leadership style.Here is a list of the questions he puts forth: 1. Kickstart  Question: What is on your mind? Let’s talk about the thing that matters most. 2. The Awe Question: And what else? The underlying assumptions here are to stay curious, ask it one more time, avoid advice giving, and move on when it is time. 3. The Focus Question: What is the real challenge here for you? Focus on the real problem and not the first one. 4. The Foundation Question: What do you want? 5. The Lazy Question: How can I help? What do you want from me? 6. The Strategic Question: If you are saying YES to this, what are you saying no to? A YES is nothing without the NO that gives it boundaries and form. 8. What do you think I should do about? It is the cheddar on the mousetrap!

I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it. It puts us in the mindset to engage in the process of curious inquiry in our coaching.

  • The Coaching Habit-MIchael Bungay Stanier (2016) Box of Crayons Press, Toronto,Canada


Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County.

The Coaching Fit (Coaching Series- Part 7-Final)

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


This is the final blog post in this coaching series. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have putting it together.

As you consider getting a coach, we have explored the different aspects of coaching. The most important piece for you is the coaching fit and making a decision on who is right for you. I support folks putting a lot of thought and energy in this process. Make sure you interview your potential coach and ask a lot of questions. This fit is a bit tricky. You want to feel comfortable with the coach. On the other hand, you want to choose somebody who will be strong enough to make sure you are accountable and not co-sign resistance, procrastination and obstacles to your growth.

If you want to grow and change as a leader, coaching is for you. Coaching is a unique opportunity to meet regularly with someone whose only purpose is to help you be successful. It breeds  leadership that embodies boldness and innovation.

Bob Cryer founded the non-profit organization called Executive Coaches of Orange County (ECofOC) in 2002. His mission was  to help Orange County nonprofit leaders become more effective in achieving their mission and vision. ECofOC offers free coaching to OC nonprofit organizations. We have currently over 90 active clients and over 25 active coaching volunteers. Most of our coaches are retired business executives who give back to the community and share their business and professional acumen to help you transform and change. I am proud to be associated with this group of individuals and share their passion. Please check out their bios on the ECofOC website.

If you are interested in getting a coach, please visit the ECOC website for more information and to apply. The moment and power of change is now!

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Coaching Mechanics (Coaching Series part 6)

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek



Before we move into some new material, it’s a good idea to summarize what we have covered up to this point. As you consider selecting a coach, you need to think about a good fit between you and the coach. The previous sections on What Makes A Good Coach and “The Coaching Relationship” will serve as a reference. I will be discussing the fit in a future blog post.

I would like to discuss some mechanics to consider. The frequency of sessions is usually, at a minimum, monthly. My preference is to meet bi-weekly as this creates momentum, intensity and accountability.The sessions usually last an hour. The client and I commit to be on time. With technology, some coaches prefer to use telecommunication, i.e. phone or Skype, for sessions. I prefer to meet face to face for a couple of reasons. First, meeting in person lends itself to advancing the relationship.Secondly, meeting face to face requires effort, motivation and commitment from both parties. Most of my colleagues at ECOC share the same view. The meeting location is usually a neutral site, allowing the client privacy and confidentiality away from the work environment.

I use a client prep sheet to organize the client for the session.The client fills out the prep sheet prior to our session and e-mails it to me. This forces the client to organize their thoughts and also gets me focused and prepared for our session.

Some coaches use assessment tools when they begin to work with the client. Such tools as the Myers-Briggs Inventory, Wheel of Life and questionnaires are used to help generate data for the coach and client.

At the end of each session I try to set with a clear formulation of goals generated by the client. The client is held accountable for this with a set timeline. The client and myself then agree on a date for a future session.

Accountability is an essential ingredient and driver of this process.

Click here for more information about our no-cost coaching program for nonprofit managers and leaders.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,


The Coaching Relationship (Coaching Series Part 5)

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


The coaching relationship is the “heart and soul’ of the coaching experience. It is the catalyst that transforms the client’s vision into realistic possibilities. The connection has energy and a joint commitment to move forward.

An essential element to this relationship is a safe emotional environment based on trust, confidentiality and mutual respect. Clients need to know that they can talk freely about their life and goals in sessions. Trust is quite vital. Clients need to feel that we are trustworthy. We do this by keeping our appointments and showing up on time. Coaches empower trust by holding clients accountable on their stated goals, objectives and plan of action

The relationship must be honest and contain no judgments. The truth is always told. Coaches want to hear the truth as it engages the process of learning. Coaches present their truth in a direct, gentle and respectful manner.

This relationship is a partnership. It is mutual and has no power differential.

Another important ingredient is humor, laughter and having fun. The coach and client should not take themselves too seriously.

As you consider getting a coach, the above relationship ingredients are imperative to your success. Make sure they are operating. If you are a manager, using coaching as leadership capacity, the stage is set for what needs to happen between you and the client.

A final thought. My colleagues at ECofOC also believe that the coaching relationship is the change agent for the client.

Click here if you would like to learn more about our management and leadership coaching program.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

What Makes a Good Coach? (Coaching Series Part4)


Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


As you consider the possibility of getting a coach or using coaching in your managerial approach; you may wonder about the traits of a good coach. I do not pretend to know all of the answers but will provide a few tips and guidelines.

The most important characteristic of a coach is the capacity to listen and empathy. In listening, you want a coach who is totally present and without judgment understands your perspective and experience. A good coach listens for the client’s visions and values as well as client’s agenda; not what the agenda or direction should be. The empathic coach attempts to walk in your shoes. This is different from sympathy. In sympathy, one cares about your feelings and suffering. In contrast, empathy is about feeling your suffering and the experience attached to it.

Curiosity is another important quality in a good coach. In my opinion, asking questions in the coaching session is essential. It provides a space for the client to develop their own critical thinking process. As a result the client comes up with their own path, possibilities and decision making.

Personal integrity, wisdom and the ability to be non-judgmental is key. You also want a coach who will be firm with boundaries and and demand accountability from their selves and the client. This translates to formulating and communicating clear and concise goals and objectives.

Last but not least, you want a coach who is authentic and genuine. They need to walk the talk.

As a coach, I work mindfully on all these guidelines to become a better coach and person. It is easier said than done and always a work in progress.

Click here for more information about our Nonprofit Management and Leadership Coaching Program

Author:  Michael KoguteK, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

History and Development of Coaching (Coaching Series: Part 3)

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


The roots of coaching can be traced to the field of psychology. In the 1960’s, a sector of psychology emerged called “The Third Force”. It was a rebellion against the Freudian (medical) model and behaviorism. It’s main thesis is the belief in the positive nature of humans along with their potential. The main architects include Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Rollo May,Fritz Perls and others. This movement is currently advocated by the field of Positive Psychology. Its main leader is Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

Subsequently the work of Milton Erickson (father of American hypnosis) is a key precursor to the memos of coaching used today. Erickson believed in the inherent ability of individuals to achieve wellness.This developed into more solution bases therapies and coaching methods. The main focus is not pathology but behavior change through increased awareness and choices. One of the early coaches Bill O’Hanlon has emphasized possibilities and preferences. Clearly these are the fundamentals of coaching.

Coaching has really developed from three streams: 1. helping professions such as psychotherapy and counseling and related perspectives as noted above, 2. consulting and organizational development and industrial psychology, and 3. personal development training such as EST( Werner Erhard), Lifespring, Landmark Forum and Tony Robbins.

Thomas Leonard became a central figure in coaching here in the US. He was influenced by Werner Erhard and EST in the early 80’s. He was an employee of EST back then. Later he started a financial advisory firm but noticed that people wanted more in terms of life planning. He started coaching. In 1995 he founded the International Coaching Federation (ICF) as a non-profit organization for fellow coaches to support each other and grow the profession. There are 60 chapters worldwide. In 2014, ICF had 25,000 members of which 15,00 are credentialed. The ICF is the main credentialing body for coaches worldwide. Currently there are no federal or state laws regulating the coaching profession.

For more information about our no-cost programs, please visit our nonprofit management and leadership webpage.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,