Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to unlock your CEO Mindset

Key Notes

When you subscribe to Key Notesreceive a special report "3 Secrets to Using the CEO Mindset For Business Success"

*I hate spam too! Your information will never be given, sold, or rented to anyone else. EVER!

Social Icons
The 3 Keys Coaching Process

Use Ability, Success, Growth to unlock you as CEO of your small business

Click to learn more

What do I do?

Learn more about coaching services and expanding in the US .
What People Are Saying
“I recently had the privilege of attending one of Ellen Godfrey's sessions. It was truly a wonderful experience. She is dynamic, energetic, and an excellent communicator. Her ability to combine both visual and verbal methods to reinforce her points is excellent. She presents challenges in a non-threatening but thought-provoking style. I would gladly recommend attending one of her sessions.”
- James Griffen President, HelpKey Management Consultants

CEO Mindset: Be the Goose, Be a Better Leader

empathy, leaderWhat does being a goose have to do with being a great leader? Well, it starts with a story…

The Farmer and the Goose

Once upon a time, there was a farmer who had a flock of geese. One day a fox came into the yard where the geese lived and tried to snatch a goose. There was a terrible flurry of wings and beaks pecking at the fox. Eventually the fox was driven off but one goose was left with a broken wing. The farmer saw all of this and went to help the goose. But the goose kept hissing and running away from the farmer. After chasing the goose around and not catching it, the farmer asked, “how can I be the goose?”

Concerns and assumptions may interfere

There are times we avoid asking certain questions like “how can I be the goose?” because we think it is not becoming or appropriate. After all, generally being a goose is associated with foolishness. Also there are times when we feel disappointed in or angry with a team (or staff person’s) member’s behavior.  But at the same time, who will get things running smoothly again? Ultimately, it is our model that shows others what is expected. Asking ourselves to examine more closely why we are avoiding the difficult situation or people can highlight what concerns and assumptions are going on in our heads.

Great leaders are empathic

There is some confusion as to how an empathic leader behaves. Empathy is not sympathy or pity. It does not imply or state agreement. Empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and understanding his/her perspective. You do not even have to agree but acknowledging the other person can give you insight so you can identify the actual problem (which can be very different from what is being reported), if your vision and expectations are clearly communicated or the strengths and weaknesses of your team. While people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are lionized for being harsh, driven leaders, the statistics of disengaged workers (63% of workers worldwide are not engaged) is a wake up call for leaders in small and large companies. In a 2014 survey conducted by Lee Hecht Harrison, it was reported that 58% of managers fail to show understanding towards their employees.  And how many anecdotes have you heard about people enjoying their work but unable to tolerate the organizational culture?

How to “do” empathy?

As Henry Ford  once said, “The secret of success – if there is one – is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and to consider things from his or her point of view as well as your own. ” It is both easy and hard to do.

  • Quiet yourself- If you have a chatterbox in your head, you will remain focused on your opinions, assessments and thoughts.
  • Listen actively- Ask questions, reflect back what you heard, summarize both agreement and disagreement and request suggestions for resolving the issue

  • Watch the nonverbal cues- Eye contact, tone of voice, speed of speech, posture and choice of words are all hallmarks of how engaged the person is in a conversation. If something feels off, even if you cannot identify what, acknowledge the disconnect by stating, “I think I missed something here” or asking “do you have any additional concerns?”.
  • Lend a hand- Asking how you can help get a task done opens the door for conversation. Your team member may say he/she does not need the help but your offer lets them know you noticed.
  • Practice, practice, practice- Even the most empathic of us have off days or get distracted by the enormous amount of work and responsibility. If you are new to expressing empathy in a leadership role, it might feel awkward. No matter your experience level or stress level, empathy is improved with use.

“How can I be the goose?”

Asking the question is the start of empathy. When you see a staff member struggling, you are like the farmer wanting to help the goose with the broken wing. As you go along, you may notice that some people respond well to questions about how the work is going while others may need to hear you tell them to take a break and refresh themselves. Empathy gives you a better sense of how your small business is functioning and lets your team (and staff) know you want them to be well and perform well.

 Related posts:

    How To Be the Sun When Leading Change

    Great Leaders Develop Via Relationships With Self and Others

    Leadership, Mindfulness and Practical Enlightenment



When Growing Your Small Business Is Like A Resurrection

Growing Your Small Business, resurrectionLike a lot of small business owners, *Sharon has been scraping by over the past year or so. Sales are slow so there is less revenue. On the positive side, Sharon has been able to cut costs without harming how she serves her customers. Plus, there are some opportunities that look good over the next few months. The downside is that she has to be more involved in the tasks she used to delegate. It’s going to be rough until she can spark a resurrection of her small business.

Test of leadership and your CEO Mindset

When things are going well, it’s much easier to do those things that leadership experts tell you to do. You can listen, keep  your emotions on an even keel and take time to plan and consider tactics and strategy. That’s not to say you can’t do it now but it takes far less energy in good times. One story I hear from small business owners here in the US and Ireland is that it’s the day-in, day-out of finding ways to maintain the business with dwindling resources. They are questioning if their businesses will last until their pipelines produce revenue and if the revenue will be large enough. These are resilient people but the length of these challenges is affecting their optimism and motivation. It’s hard to balance the long-term view with short term needs.

Growing your business is more nuanced than at first glance

Many times we think of growing your business as coming from a place of strength and plenty. This is true but not necessarily the whole picture. When your business performs feebly and you set up a business development plan, this sets the stage for a growth phase. After all, you only have two options — resurrection or close the doors.

5 Ways to a resurrection

1. Check your mindset. It has to start with you. One of the hallmark parts of using your CEO Mindset is acknowledging your emotions. Sure, you might feel angry, scared, worried, frustrated, de-motivated or uncertain. These are normal responses and avoiding them doesn’t make them go away. They exist, recognize them and know you choose your next action.

2. Controlled expression of emotions. In 2008, I wrote a post about using freak out moments. One of my clients was so aggravated with how her business was performing, she wished she could have a temper tantrum. She was half-kidding and we were in a private place so I encouraged her to do it. She didn’t even last 5 minutes. Write, draw or act like a two year old so you don’t inadvertently take it out on your staff or other people. Note – Since you are the leader of your organization, do this with no staff present and you cannot be observed.

3. Decide how much urgency you want to place on growing your small business. There is a difference between emergency and urgency. Emergency is panic and interferes with your decision-making. Urgency is just enough pressure to communicate importance and desire. Does your small business matter enough to you to make it work again?

4. Make a plan. Once you assign urgency to creating growth, it’s time to decide on strategies, tactics and goals. Start with what is currently in place (do a quick SWOT analysis if you’re not sure) to know what is possible. Identify your target customers, why they should buy from you and how your business is specially suited for them. Tactics are how you want to reach these particular customers and the goals are the specific actions that execute the tactics. Focus the time frame to no more than 90 days with scheduled reviews and include accountability partners with every goal so things stay on track.

5. Begin immediately. When you’ve recharged your motivation (and, if applicable, the motivation of your staff), take action. Make a phone call, write an email or whatever you are acccountable for. Focus on your behavior and choosing action.

Resurrection your small business takes commitment and time

Small things like a five minute deep breathing exercise at the beginning of your work day,  making one phone call at at time to trusted people in your network and keeping a to-do list from the plan will add up. Use your CEO Mindset to lead the resurrection of your business. You can hold your head high when you give it your best shot.

What tips or ways would you add to resurrecting your small business?

How can small business owners manage expectations as they lead this type of growth phase?

 *Name and other details have been changed to maintain confidentiality

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are re-focusing your small business or expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about growing to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.

iStockphoto by mycola


Just What Is A SWOT Analysis Anyway?

I realized recently that I have never written a post entirely devoted to what is a SWOT Analysis. What?! The weird thing is that I have referred to SWOT analyses in various posts like this one or this one. This tool can help you design your strategic plan, objectively see how you and your small business are performing and even provide a few other advantages.

A straightforward tool
SWOT analysis and small business

You wouldn’t mind but I encourage people to do a SWOT analysis every time I present my webinar, Living Business Plan-The Best Kept Secret For Small Business Success. (Typically, I recommend to clients to make it a part of their quarterly review.)

It sounds so business-y and arcane but it’s really a straightforward tool. The four parts of the SWOT analysis are: Click here to read more »


Celebrate Your 2012 Small Business!

Celebrate your small business successGiven the ups and downs of the last two years with my small business, I have deepened my awareness of how important it is to celebrate small and big accomplishments. In my latest newsletter (there is a sign up in the right hand column of this page, if you’re interested), I wrote about how celebrating is tied to looking ahead and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. Click here to read more »


Of Living Business Plans and Disaster Recovery

You might know that you can find more posts by me on and Just this month, I started blogging on a small business site, Check out my latest posts here…


Preparing and Responding When Natural Disaster Hits Your Small Business Since any one of us can be affected by a natural disaster, this summation post offers links of resources and advice for preparation and recovery. I wish you every success for the recovery of your small business if you’ve been affected by Hurricane Sandy or any of other recent severe weather events.

On Corpnet

Running a Small Business: What Is a Living Business Plan? As a reader of this blog, you are probably familiar with my encouragement that using a living business is good business sense so you stay focused and clear about planning and implementation of your business vision and goals. If you have missed some of my past posts on living business plans, this post is a good introduction.

Thank you for taking the time to read my posts on these other sites. I appreciate any time you share my small business posts with your followers on your favorite social media sites.

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about a new business opportunity to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.


Managing Change: What Neuroscience Teaches Us About Burning Platforms

neuroscience, change management, burning platformIn 1988 in the North Sea, an Occidental Oil rig exploded killing 167 men. This disaster is possibly the worst offshore oil rig accidents in history (see more of the story here). Those that survived the inferno did so by jumping into the ocean waters despite the great height and frigid waters below. One survivor, Andy Mochan was quoted, “It was either fry or jump, so I jumped.”

Daryl Connor was inspired by Mochan’s story and commitment to survival led Connor to create the change management term of “burning platform.” Since Connor’s introduction, it’s become common in change management to create a sense of heightened urgency so organizational changes are adopted more readily.

The morphing of an idea Click here to read more »


Managing the Business Owner: When Do I Hire A Coach?

business owner, choices, coaching It’s not unusual for a small business owner to be talented and intuitive enough to steer their businesses through early growth. In fact, you want that foundation! Then, one day, there is an  inspiration to go for a bigger push. Sometimes this inspiration is like a whack on the head…your biggest client leaves or you’ve hit some other financial wall. Other times it is illumination…your product or service feeds a need in your market or the business is attracting attention and interest from your uber-ideal customers.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Stephen Covey ( who passed away on July 16, 2012) recommended seven habits  and one of these is “Begin with the end in mind”. This is often the starting point when we consider our wishes, hopes and dreams. Sometimes we articulate them to our business partners or friends but often business owners keep them quiet. Like the business owner I was speaking with last week who said he wanted to increase his revenues by 50%, it’s easy to come up with huge goals. It’s harder to determine why they are the best ones for both your personal growth and the growth of your organization.

Where’s the gap between your big goals and you? Click here to read more »


Small Business Owner, Why Hire An Executive Coach?

“Why should I hire you?” I get that question a lot. And frankly, I welcome it!

Since I work with established business owners, they want to know how coaching generates results they can see and feel. I can relate as a business owner. I don’t have time or money to waste either.

There are huge expectations for small business owners and most are ready to take on the challenges in front of them. However, it is common to want a place to express your dreams, aspiration, doubts and weaknesses. You want to maintain your authority and still make sure you have a solid support system that keeps you fresh and grounded.

What is coaching? Click here to read more »


What Stressor Should You Tolerate In Your Small Business?

how tolerating stress can hurt your small business*Mary, a small business owner, is experiencing some difficulty fitting into her changing role in her small business. Over the years, she has been largely responsible for the actual work of her business. She often kept her strategic plan in her head and followed her gut instinct when opportunities came along. And it worked. The business has grown and is stable. Recently, she has been noticing a restless feeling; as if it is time to do something new. Mary is quite clear that she has no intention of closing her current business. She envisions her current business becoming so much more. Mary recognizes that the business is ready for growth and knows she wants the role of  leader; even calling herself CEO. She feels eager and apprehensive about making the necessary decisions that will move her business forward.

What’s behind her uncertainty? Click here to read more »


Using Your Living Business Plan: Measuring Results

Measuring your small businessHave you been using your living business plan? As many of you know,  a living business plan is the internal business plan that is written for your use and that it follows this basic outline;

Basic Outline:

  • Executive summary
  • Services and/or products offered
  • Marketing plan
  • Financials
  • Goals and objectives

This is all well and good but how do you know if your business plan is working? Click here to read more »