It’s all about staying focused and living a balanced life for Earl Kemper. As a husband, father, grandfather – and the two-time #1 rated coach for his company ActionCOACH, Kemper has successfully tapped into the important aspects of his life. As a nationally renowned speaker to business owners, and a top “Professional Advisor” in his field of coaching people to build profitable practices, he’s the proven best in his field. ActionCOACH founder and CEO, Brad Sugars, said when asked about the contributions made by Kemper: “Earl is a seasoned business owner and an established leader in the ActionCOACH community and his success as an ActionCOACH has frequently been translated into various awards and honors within the coaching industry.”
Earl was recently honored with the North American "Coach of the Year Award," and he’s won the award four years in a row. In 2006 and 2009, he was awarded the “Global Franchisee of the Year” Award at the ActionCOACH Global Conference. Emily Stein, the Marketing Director of ActionCOACH in Kemper’s Colorado office, proudly responded to Mr. Kemper’s awards by saying: “Our firm is elated to hear that people, who do not get to work side-by-side with Earl every day, recognize his extreme gifts and eternal value to ActionCOACH.”
Earl has also found time to connect with the nonprofit community through ActionCOACH’s new, unique and innovative program for nonprofits called “Coaching for a Cause.” The goal of “Coaching for a Cause” is to have 100 coaches donate 10,000 coaching hours to charity, to produce at least $5 million in additional donations. The program is involved with such notable groups as: Boys and Girls Club, CASA, Children in Crisis, Food Bank of the Rockies, Melanoma Awareness Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and United Way to name a few. Kemper serves on the National Board for ActionCOACH’s "Coaching for a Cause," the board of the Douglass Family Foundation - that works primarily on youth programs, and the board of the Quiat Family Foundation - that heads up 10 different charitable causes.
Earl Kemper is fittingly referred to as “a big picture thinker, negotiator and coordinator” and is ready to bring you his vision of living the life you want. Mr. Kemper enjoys transferring his knowledge and skills to others so they can live the life they desire and says: “Nothing means more to me than helping people reach their potential.” A man with an extraordinary gift for teaching others to overcome any obstacle, Earl believes you can accomplish anything you set your mind to regardless of the circumstances. Kemper says: “Where others see a challenge or barrier, I see an opportunity to improve and grow.”
Something we have come to learn through this interview process is Mr. Kemper has got it together in a very balanced way and is someone to emulate. Earl Kemper’s ability to help people build successful businesses and still have a personal life is proof that: “Coaching isn’t just for sports – and Action does speak louder than words.”
Can you tell us a little bit about Action Coach? ActionCOACH is an international organization that is focused around business coaching. The premise of business coaching is to identify one’s highest priorities, execute those priorities at the highest level and then hold clients accountable to achieving their goals at the highest level. ActionCOACH started in 1993 in Australia and in the United States in 2000. ActionCOACH is represented in 26 countries with over 1100 offices worldwide. ActionCOACH is the number one business coaching organization in the world based on size and awards from Entrepreneur Magazine and Entrepreneur.com. One of best things about ActionCOACH is that on any given day Action coaches are coaching approximately 18,000 businesses worldwide. Our goal is to help clients improve their profitability, improve their teams, and ultimately improve their lives.
ActionCOACH also runs a highly successful organization called “Coaching for a Cause.” The goal for “Coaching for a Cause” is to help non-profit organizations run more efficiently, to help non-profits raise money for their organizations, and to work closely with non-profit executives to help them become better leaders. I am on the national board of “Coaching for a Cause” and over the last eight months we have helped to raise over $3.6 million dollars for non-profits.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you into this field? My background is in the financial services arena. But as a result of my lack of efficiency in my first business, I hired a mentor. When I learned how much I could improve my business, I decided that coaching is what I wanted to do and I have been doing it ever since. As a result of that, I have been able to coach a little over 1100 business in 27 years. Throughout my career I remained active as a business owner and owned several other businesses to my coaching firm, including a CPA firm and insurance agency.
What strategies did your coach/mentor implement with you that are note worthy? I would say one of the most important things I learned is to use my time wisely. Before I had a mentor I typically worked from 4am to 2am, 5 days a week, for 5 years. My coach helped me to get on a schedule and had me working from 8am to 4pm, getting more done than I could in 20-22 hour day previously. I increased my efficiency from 30% to 93%, which means that out of every 10 hours that I work 9.3 hours produce revenue.
Who is ActionCOACH designed for? Does there seem to be a typical profile for your clients? There are three different profiles for our clients. The first is a business with a yearly revenue base between $1 million and $100 million. These clients are successful with a desire to become more successful. For these clients, one-on-one coaching sessions on a weekly basis are an ideal program to double or triple their business. The second type of client is a smaller company whose revenue is less than $1 million. These clients need to learn the fundamentals and basics of growing a business. We offer group coaching programs that are ideal for the clients in this category. Finally, “Coaching for a Cause” is designed for non-profit organizations and we help them continue to grow and meet the needs of the community.
You have won several awards. What inspired you to become the top in your field and can you talk a little bit about these awards? I have been awarded the #1 Coach in North America and the #1 Coach in the World on multiple occasions. This award is given based upon a combination of the amount of revenue generated, the number of clients, as well as the client’s results. I have always been focused on being the best at what I do. I find that the best way I can do that is by working with the best organization and team. I always try to focus on the things important to my clients in order to help them best. In return, I see the results that I want in my life as well.
What leader do you admire most? One of the leaders that I am very interested in and continue to learn more about is a gentleman by the name of Tony Hsieh. He is the owner of Zappos and has a very interesting story. I have read his book and I believe in his willingness to commit everything he had to the success of his team and his business. It is very inspiring. He showed true leadership when he could have quit on many different occasions. His “stick-to-it-ivness” when it came to the culture of the company, and his unwillingness to move away from customer service, led to sales and the growth of his company. Even when others were telling him to focus on expansion and growth, he was more concerned about his customers. His leadership, communicating capability, and his desire to have fun in the workplace, are three things I really admire about him.
And what is the main message you want to send to your clients? I believe that the number one thing that people can do is to strive to reach their potential. The goal that we have when we work with clients is to help them recognize their potential, take steps to reach that potential, and continue to improve consistently in their lives.
Earl, what do you like best about living in Colorado? Oh wow! There is so much to love about Colorado! I love the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rockies. The golf courses with their views are beautiful. Of course our Rocky Mountains are spectacular! I especially enjoy the sunsets over the mountains. Colorado people seem to carry with them a free spirit. They are not too intensely focused on business. They really take time to enjoy life. There are amazing opportunities to interact with different community organizations that help me see things differently than I did when I was in Kansas.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Well, you will probably think this is funny because it has nothing to do with my accomplishments in terms of business. Years ago, we were home-schooling our kids but there were no organized sports available to home school groups. So I set up a basketball team. We had no place to practice and we only had 7th through 9th graders to play. We did not have an upperclassman on our team. I wanted them to be able to experience what I did in high school and college in terms of playing basketball and sports. So I did all the research and finally found a place we could practice at the Y. We used that for a few years and then I found a gym that no one had used for years and began to use that every day for practice. We started out playing seven games and lost five. We played one team five times just so we could play. Several years later, we did a tournament against one of the best Christian schools in Oklahoma and beat them. Then we played some of the best schools in Kansas City and beat them. By my 5th year in the program, which still exists today, I got to see four of the kids on my team receive scholarships to play basketball in college. We ended up winning all but three of twenty-eight games that year. Starting from scratch, I just had a passion to coach, and teach the kids how to play, to show them that winning was not the most important thing. It was important to me that they learned to focus on doing their best at everything, and did it for God’s glory. So I guess I would say that was my greatest achievement.
How important are academic credentials in the business world? Statistically there are a number of successful entrepreneurs who never graduated from college. When I think of some of the most successful people who did not graduate from college, Steve Jobs of Apple comes to mind. I understand he has actually received honorary degrees at this point, but Apple has made a huge impact in our world. However, a well rounded education opens the door to all the possibilities you can imagine. So limiting one’s self from education, limits a person from some of the opportunities they might learn and know about and be able to pursue otherwise. I am certainly an advocate for higher education, but I also acknowledge that in many businesses and non-profit organizations, it is not mandatory for success.
Why do so many people have the best intentions when it comes to defining & setting their goals, but end up not meeting them? That is the most important question you have asked me in terms of what I do. There is a direct connection between dreams, visions and goals, plans, and activities. I refer to GPA - Goals connected to Plans connected to Activity. When a person does that they can accomplish virtually anything. The dreams in your life drive you and the vision is a picture of what you want your accomplishments to be when you have reached your goal. Goals are specific and measurable with a time frame. Most people’s grand ideas are not actually goals. Therefore they do not achieve the grand idea because they do not know when they have achieved it. Goals are accomplished by having plans connected with activities to get results. So if you are going to accomplish a goal you must be planning and be clear on activities. Then find someone to hold you accountable on those activities. Without accountability in my own life, I don’t know that I would have accomplished the goals that I have set for myself and my business. You can set goals, but they need to be realistic and you need accountability.
How do you feel about our younger generation? Are they receiving the right education and training to succeed? Well, I truly believe one of the greatest opportunities in our society is to own a business. However, there are very few incubators and very few systems that actually provide the education and experience for people to take an entrepreneurial approach to their life. So most people in their first business experience don’t know how or why they are doing what they are doing.
I find it interesting to observe that kids learn differently now than I did when I was in school. Society as it is has created an interactive culture, so a lot of kids find school boring. I believe we need to somehow make school more proactive, more interactive and less passive and observant. Kids want to be in control and absolutely need to have interaction. I think the United States is weak in that area.
Aren’t we all different when it comes to our capabilities and accomplishing tasks? We hear about people being either left or right brained and not every method of training works for everyone. How can we do better at tapping into each person’s special talents and abilities? One of the most important things to realize is that people think, learn, and experience things differently. So understanding people is critical. Are they visual, auditory or hands-on learners? Are they analytical vs. fast-paced etc.? We don’t usually know when we first begin with an audience all those things. The best teachers and communicators recognize that you have all these aspects in an audience. So lessons must be communicated in a way that impacts each type of learner. This is more an art than a science. The key is to speak through people not just to them. The best communicators in the world understand this. They can teach an audience with many different learning styles and have everyone all walk away with the same knowledge.
What are your tips for staying focused? Focus can be defined best by an acronym:
What that means is that in order to be productive as possible, and enjoy your life at the highest level, follow whatever you are doing entirely until successful. Clarify how focused you want to be. Focus is also planning for the future and living in the present. Be present.
What is your interpretation of having a balanced life? There are three aspects to life: Free time, Focus time, Buffer time. Free time is when you have nothing to do with business. You have no computer, no phone or connection to the business at all. Most business owners don’t know how to have free time at all. In order to have balance in our lives, we must be present in what we are doing. So if you are with your family, be focused on your family. You cannot be in two places at once, so if you are spending time with your children, you cannot be thinking about your financial situation. Be focused on whatever you are actually doing. Be Present. A process for that is to be aware: What am I thinking, feeling, saying and doing? What do I need to do to improve my attitude regarding those things? I want to change my thinking, feeling, saying, and doing, so that I can be present where I should be. I coach clients on this philosophy and also try to practice it in my own life. So define those three aspects in your life. Free time is actually free time. Focus time is when you are producing financial results, and during buffer time you are preparing for focused results.
What is something you still hope to accomplish? I am on the board of “Coaching for a Cause.” I strive to live a life that focuses on significance that rather than being focused on success. I think that my experience with the basketball team was not about success, but significance. I am able to talk to many non-profit organizations and meet people that help me see a different part of my life. That is exciting. I would like to continue to be a part of those causes and make a difference in young people’s lives, along with continually building my coaching practice by making a difference in my client’s lives. The key to that is the three “F’s: Freedom, Finances, and Fulfillment.” Fulfillment does not always come from your business. Sometimes it comes from making a difference in your community.
If it were your last day on earth, how would you sum up your life and what has been important to you? I have four children, eight grandchildren (and one on the way), and have been married for 32 years. I have had many clients and have been able to make a difference in people’s lives. So I would want people to say that I lived life as a gift. You must release the gift and unleash its power. It is my hope and desire when I have left this earth that I will have lived life as a gift and released that gift to as many people as I could so they could have a better life.