Sunday, March 9, 2003

Personal development can transform stale companies

Consultant puts talent to new uses

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

FLORENCE - After years of helping companies develop their workers, Paul Coulter is focusing on developing people who can transform companies.

Paul Coulter, president of Leadership Talent 4U, with Mark Balasa, goetta evangelist, in the Glieršs Goetta plant, Covington.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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Coulter has recently launched Leadership Talent 4U as the vehicle for his new emphasis. It's the latest venture for this human resources entrepreneur.

"Leadership Talent 4U is a multiservice company whose primary business is to find outstanding, highly employable individuals and place them with client companies for a fee," Coulter said. "While this is not a new idea, the company is unique in that it is totally outside the traditional marketing box.

"We are using marketing concepts based strictly on the "Law of Attraction" to create a business that will model what the law teaches. And we'll use those concepts to coach and instruct our candidates to consider an alternative methodology of marketing products and services, as well as live their lives. Is that wild or what?"

Coulter's "aha!" moment occurred after he read an article in Oprah Winfrey's magazine detailing a female entrepreneur's focus on "WIGs": wild, improbable goals. He decided to set one himself.

The goal was to start a company that would have three intentions: first, to attract people with a propensity for success and equip them with the tools and insights to create multiple opportunities for themselves; second, to build a stable of well-grounded, talented and motivated people and establish his company as a source for nontraditional leaders; and third, to develop a business model that could be franchised.

"I started putting the company together about a year ago, deciding that I would fund it by using the Law of Attraction," Coulter explained. "I sent a letter to 48 people - friends and supporters, asking any who might be interested to contribute to a pool, and saying that one-half of 1 percent of the company's sales would be allocated to that pool. Twelve jumped on board."

With his business plan complete, Coulter "attracted" a facility to use for his 21-Hour Leadership Discovery programs, offered free to people who want to embark on Coulter's voyage of self-discovery.

The entrepreneur is well-equipped for his task. After 30 years in sales and sales training, he has seen how the traditional corporate structure functions, or doesn't. He has seen negatively influential people strangle their company and has witnessed creative folks trapped in positions that don't feed them or use their abilities.

His belief in the importance of personal development was born in his youth, when he was on the point of dropping out of high school. Coulter grew up in an abusive household and was settling into a life of low expectations when an acquaintance, a childless widow, took him in and encouraged his latent ambitions. But it took years, and lots of reading and reflection, before he was able to identify and work on the aspects of his life that weren't working.

Now he helps others down similar paths.

"I think Paul is a very gifted and skillful listener who is able to get to the core issues in peoples' lives that sometimes keep them blocked and keep them from moving forward," said George Whitton, owner of Honda Suzuki Kawasaki of Florence. Whitton has known Coulter since the sales trainer conducted sessions for American Honda throughout the country.

"He's an excellent catalyst in assisting people to move toward their goals, helping them to uncover the gifts they have and to figure out how to express those gifts in a career. He's a matchmaker."

Coulter has experience in identifying blocks in companies and getting corporate lifeblood flowing again, too. Officials at Covington-based Glier's Meats credit him for helping the company find its niche.

"He was hired as a consultant; but, really, what he did was develop the people side of our business," said Mark Balasa, Glier's marketing manager. "He was a combination of team psychologist, coach and mentor. Paul came in here about six years ago and did a lot of listening and observing; he let the talent rise to the top and helped us communicate with each other."

Coulter stresses the need to confront problems head-on, but in a positive and friendly manner. He remembered an instance during an assignment in Atlanta where managers complained about the behavior of a colleague. Coulter told the man, "I understand everyone here thinks you're a pain. Why is that?"

The man was surprised, and ended up talking with the consultant about his personality traits, his job and his expectations.

"You've got to go right into the issue," Coulter said. "You have to have patience and realize that it's a process. Companies change through evolution, not revolution. Clients have to have courage, too. Sometimes they have to rearrange people or turn loose of nonproductive people.

"We came from a meat company and emerged as a goetta factory," said Balasa. "Through the teamwork we developed by working with Paul, we made that happen. With his guidance we sharpened our focus and realized we did have a gift here, and that was goetta. We still make good sausage, but that became more of a sideline."


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