Professional summary

Michael is a champion of uniqueness. It’s been said he’s a blend of Robin Williams, and the Dalai lama. That doesn’t include the business savvy, range and depth of experience garnered from 56 different jobs, his clearly provocative nature, and the mastery born of 2 decades of coaching clients from rock bands to Fortune 100 company execs and their teams. All the while also having trained over 6,000 coaches and authored 4 books on coaching. He’s even had time to run the NYC and San Diego Marathon, be on Broadway and Soap operas, and marry an Aussie.

Specialties: Leveraging Uniqueness, Gamify Your Life, Gamification, Self Mastery, Innovation, Creativity, Training Coaches,Quintessential Leadership, Team development Leadership Coaching,

Engagement overview

Up to 3 coaching sessions and one intake session for clarification of desired outcome


Focus on Leadership, Executive and Manager Development, Teamwork, Coach Training, Performance

Clients by Industry:

• Ford Motor Company
• GM
• The Whirlpool Corporation
• GE

• Cisco Systems
• QuickLogic
• Vertex Corporation
• Tandem Engineering
• Broadcom

Game Industry - Blizzard Entertainment

Leadership Training and Development
• Ecstasis
• Leading Initiatives Worldwide
• To Be Training
• Glitz International

Coach Training
• Coach, Inc.
• Corporate Coach U
• Coaches Certification Institute
• Great Life Technologies

Bio Tech
• Edwards Life Sciences
• Healthcare Practice IT

• Wells Fargo
• Lloyd's Bank of London

Pharmaceutical - Abbot Labs

Entertainment - over 40 rock 'cover' bands in the Philadelphia/Jersey Shore/ Delaware Corridor and 2 national acts

Case Studies

An executive came to me because she was told to hire a communication coach. She had been given a very poor rating in her recent performance review/ 360° assessment.

Her challenge was that she was head and shoulders above the rest of her department when it came to specificity of language in documents that could have billions of dollars of negative impact on the company if "languaged" poorly.

Ho... Read more

Booking Agents/managers sought me out to work with an up and coming cover band in the scene. (a cover band is one that has no original music but plays others top hits in the clubs)

They had heard of what had happened to a previous rock band I’d worked with and noted their success and now wanted to leapfrog over that band’s success to have their band become the dominant band in Philly clubs ... Read more


The behavior that persists is the behavior that gets rewarded and supported, either openly and tangibly, or hidden and intangibly...which leaves me with this question for you.

What behaviors are you willing to put on the 'do not tolerate' list that would shift the culture?.. Read more

Well, there are three things that come to mind. The first is read the book "The No Asshole Rule" by Robert Sutton who actually came up with a formula to show the cost to a company for having one, regardless of their high achievement. As you already noted there was a marked improvement in the office with the company still thriving.

Second, if he is hinting at going to a competitor, he's already r... Read more

I don't have answers, I have questions:

1. What is the message you are looking to send to the company by hiring someone younger?
2. What is the culture of your company?
3. What is the benefit of being led by someone younger?
4. What paradigms and mental models will people need to relinquish in order to gain maximum leverage of a move of this sort?
5. What company values would this hire be aligned... Read more

If you want them to work as a team, ask them to solve the problem of how to function more as a team. Let them create the methodology by working guessed it "as a Team".

In my observation, teams work best when they have a team task, such as the one I describe...simply saying "you need to work better as a team" won't do it. Let them create the groundrules, roles and responsiblities... Read more

Big question. Here are some of the things to be aware of:

A. There will be a huge range of types of interaction that people will call "coaching" - some will be consultants using the word, some will be credentialed through a coaching body like International Coach Federation, some will be PhD's who are Organizational Development oriented, some will be people with a specific "Leadership" frame or ph... Read more


Simply pose the question to ALL the stakeholders involved... "How can we speed up the process of getting total involvement for all stakeholders so it doesn't slow down vital progress on our new projects?"

While there may be some "tried and true" methods that others will propose, I'm a proponent of the people experiencing the challenge being the generators of the solution.

What happens then is th... Read more

you've actually already assessed the culture you have simply by your observation, it's a culture of silos, wherein people's individual agendas and absence of personal responsibility fracture any notion of unity and singlemindedness of organizational purpose...

The question isn't what IS the culture that exists, the question is what is the culture that you all want to shift to?

The culture re... Read more


Have these senior managers, tackle the problem of how to reveal and then relieve/ reduce hidden biases....let the people who are part of the problem become the authors of the solution... Read more

Out of the brief scenario, I'm not sure about a few things so it's hard to posit an response. I have some questions:
!. What did the boss say exactly to him in turning down the raise? You'll need to know this because it will tell you whether or not they truly have your back or not.
2. What questions have you asked your boss about how they want this situation handled? Them just saying "handle... Read more


What is the nature of the current culture? There's already one there, whether it's explicit or not. So the question is about what distinctions to you want to clarify in the culture shift/ change/ upgrade/ encoding?

Re: which of the two paths to take, well, I would pose the question which path is congruent with the culture you're seeking to embody? Might as well start the 'culture clarity' proces... Read more

Is it the position of leadership he's avoiding for the responsiblity for the follow through to the outcome?

What I'm curious about is what the nature of the conversation is that you've had about this phenomenon. If you haven't had a direct conversation about this then what is preventing you? If you have then what has he said that might give you an indication of where his reluctance/ hesitance/... Read more


My colleagues have raised both pros and cons of MBTI as well as other assessments already so I'll go in a different direction. It's been my observation that people get hired or placed on a project for the skills and experience and get 'fired' for their behavior and attitude.

What occurs to me then is that the true question of a team's effectiveness is not only are roles and responsibilities match... Read more

As for your question about it being an opportunity, I'm afraid I may not be of that much help because my experience with this scenario (and yes I've seen it before) is found in these observations and questions.

1. What are the consequences of turning it down?

That's one of the first questions to be clear about, because if 'no' is not an option then 'yes' is not a choice.

2. What is your experie... Read more


My curiosity is about what you have already attempted in this scenario? Obviously some kind of conversation needs to happen or if happened, didn't do what was wanted.

The question isn't so much about boundaries as it is about fulfilling job description. If it's in his job description to report that info to you first then he is not doing his job, which makes it a performance issue.

If he thi... Read more

The short answer is YES!

Often the source of disengagement or poor performance can be linked to a bad fit. If HR has done the due diligence on the hire in the first place then the employee in question isn't without skills, or talents. However in a climate where people want a job/any job, they will often present what others want to hear in order to get the job, even if it doesn't necessarily inclu... Read more

Being inclusive is always of occurs to me that your question is really one for key stakeholders to answer along with questions about the ramifications of what changing the value set would have on the business. Perhaps a conference of the key players about this would be useful.

I particularly noted this about your question: "high-product quality culture as something that defines us"... Read more

I hesitate to recommend this but if you or others don't have time to do the coaching then perhaps:

A. the managers themselves need to be coached on 'having more time' to develop their people since the level of the development of the people directly affects their performance and impacts not only the bottom line but the managers time crunch

B. the coaching needs to be done by outsiders who don... Read more

The answers are contingent on each person's definition and parameters of what the words 'effective management team' means. So it would be useful to tease those definitions out via open inquiry and then see where the lines of agreement are. After that, then see what the team wants to do about what they perceive to be gaps..... Read more

I try not to duplicate what's been done well by my previous colleagues, so I'll offer a couple other ideas. The first is in answer to your question: "What is the best way for us to get a wider view from the employees to feed into the agenda?"

One of the more powerful things you can do is crowdsource that question. What I mean is, instead of you guys at the leadership level trying to find out t... Read more

Mike's response is right on the money...I would add that a mentor approach might help you navigate the nuances and shadings of your particular organization as long as the mentor works from principles vs. programs. Here's an example: When I've been hiking with my wife, who has longer legs than I do, our hiking styles are different. On the way up, because I cycle, I'm the faster climber. However on... Read more


It sounds like your assessment of the evaluation is right on target. The current evaluation process is basically useless.

When performance evaluations have no consequence then they have no meaning. This scenario neither rewards high performers nor challenges low performers. As I see it, this is an organizational and culture issue. You would have to initiate a re-org of some kind wherein peo... Read more

both my colleagues have a great approach...however I would recommend something different. Go to and pick up the book "No Asshole Rule:Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't " by Robert Sutton

Despite the language, there's a high cost to having one in the workplace. Sutton points out what the cost is, including even establishing a cost to the company with a formu... Read more

I believe Mike gave a great answer and I would add the half he didn't address. My curiosity is:

1. What has your boss said about this phenomenon?

2. How are the stakeholders and your boss inadvertently or consciously supporting this behavior?

3. What conversations do you need to have with them?

The bottom line in any organization for me is that somewhere, somehow, any behavior that is consis... Read more

Some questions for you:
"How has the company perpetuated the notion that performance reviews are a raise/promotion scenario?"
"What new communication needs to occur so people can distinguish a review designed for alignment from a review designed to assess promotion?"
"To what degree are the employees made aware of what the real criteria and expectations are regarding moving to a position of man... Read more

While you see the value in the matrix and the company at large, what I don't see you articulating is what's in it for the Site GM's to change on a personal level. You mentioned they would have their autonomy reduced as is often the case with expansion where standards of performance and delivery are now required in order to maintain Brand.

What I'm wondering is what conversations you've had with t... Read more

Straight up. If you guys can't be direct with them about what's upsetting you and what your concerns are, then the relationship is already out of balance. They may or may not want to shift to new metrics however any consultant worth their salt would be willing to adjust unless they thought they couldn't deliver on the performance based payments.

What will be important on your end, is that your... Read more

Well, there are several thoughts that come to mind.

1. mastermind groups with other CEO"s...sometimes being in "good company" with players of your calibre who are not in your industry, are a great source of input. they can play with you at your level because they're not afraid of you, and your level of disclosure is up to you.

2. trusted advisor - in the tradition of the motley fools who hav... Read more

I've taught presentation skills for over 30 years to everyone from Actors and Rock bands to executives for large and small meetings. Here are some questions and a couple of observations that seemed to have been valuable for people I've worked with.

1. In the category of : Know your audience - Since you want to get them excited about the achievements, what do you know about what gets this particul... Read more

my colleagues have all offered great advice and I concur with them. Given that none of us has actually spoken to him all we have is conjecture about what's going on.
A. no one can be forced/persuaded to be coached. if you have to it's already an uphill battle
B. there may be root cause to resist change in the collapse of identity with validation..he's been getting validated for his top performan... Read more


My frame comes from the curiosity of the quality of the mentoring so I have a series of questions for you to consider

1. How will you 'vet' the mentors? What I mean is you mentioned that not all senior managers will make good mentors and I agree so I'm curious about how you go about getting a mentor that is approved of and what the process for that discernment might be.

2. What training will y... Read more

There are two strategies that can be used independently or intertwined.

A. Crowdsource of the reasons change is challenging is because it's usually attempted to be "driven" by some one or a few someones. Crowdsourcing would have you pose the challenge to the organization at large and have them come up with a number of solutions. This does four things,
1. it takes away the feeling of h... Read more

Just a quick question...As with countries, any ambassador is a simultaneous representative of all three: past present and future...

So...What has you not clarifying for them their cultural ambassador role as a past/present/future endeavor?

They need to be stewards of the past who need to help others integrate into the present with a willingness to be the cultural ambassadors of change for t... Read more

I'm going to approach your question from a mentor POV rather than coach. So this will come across more in the 'telling zone."

True coaching involves more inquiry than advocacy. This draws out their own capacity for being able to solve situations on their own. So what I wonder is whether or not you've been attempting to actually 'coach' or have been doing something more akin to managing/educating... Read more

First, great that you see the issue, it's not always that easy to step out long enough to see it.

I'd say you're in a classic challenge of being hooked by the adrenaline start up energy and beginning to notice that it will take more than just putting out fires to generate sustainability.

Your question calls for several paths:

1. Leadership needs to shift from being hands on to being eyes forwa... Read more

Well, since I'm a big fan of the idea when there's a problem facing the group that one puts the problem in the group's hands to solve...I'd say pose that entire challenge, including what' you've articulated here into a truth telling message. And then ask, how do we want to solve this?

You'll need to get their attention and it may have to be provocative in some way to do so.

You might contextual... Read more

Ask them. One of the simplest answers I've found to handle most employee issues is ask them to solve the problem. It has several benefits.
A. they solve the problem
B. they illuminate the nature of their resistance to having a solution in the first place
C. they get to take ownership of any solution/upgrades since it was their solution which is often more palatable than the one imposed by leaders... Read more

So let me get this are in the middle of a transition in a reorg and yet you want to have the newbies go into the old system, and then in 6-9 months drop all that, and then transition into a new system?

Iva's comment is an ideal one, as well as the notion of "What's the value of having some chaos now in a one-off rather than having some chaos now, and then in 6-9 months throw the or... Read more

1. Ask them. Too often leaders think they need to come up with the answer and then message it out to the company. Crowdsourcing solutions has gained traction in many areas of business these days and engagement is a function of the level of inclusion in the solution. Ask them the very question you asked here and see what they come up with. Especially pose it to the COI (centers of influence) among ... Read more

You've put your finger on a long debated issue. The Idea of individual performance vs. team performance. In my mind NO ONE accomplishes anything alone, It's always a team win. It's a both/and scenario. The key is to find out how to keep exceptional performers who go beyond what some others are doing rewarded and feel valued for the extra effort while still having that person and the organization ... Read more

Just curious about a couple things....What does leadership truly understand about the process and changes needing to be made? Are all the leaders aware that they themselves might feel a pinch or all they all thinking it'll be someone else and I myself will get a raise?

And lastly, personally, I would pose your question to the leadership team...and change it to..."How can WE ensure that we do ... Read more

First, I'm not sure what you mean about 'think like small business owners'. I know what I mean but your defintion may include behaviors that I don't see. What exactly are the behaviors that you seek to shift? Without a clear vision of what that actually means it becomes generic language that is difficult to systematically implement.

Having someone come in and faciliate the mindshift desired ... Read more

All of what others have said have sound principles to attend to. However I offer something additional...ask. Far too often we are attempting to remedy something we only have conjecture about what's really happening in the minds and hearts of people. We take a few pieces of information, infer a conclusion and then act to remedy what appears to be happening.

Personally, if a raft of talent is l... Read more

“To be called a leader all one needs is followers, little more than sheep. To be a great leader, one needs to be worthy of being followed. Leadership is not a job description, it’s Being in action. Great leaders are known for their ability to develop self-leadership in others, not for directing traffic and putting out fires. It is a ‘given’ that all human beings are unique. It takes a ... Read more

Well, there are several answers here...

1. Recognize and use existing baselines lightly - hold them in the context of the fluctuations of the last year. You don't expect a person to be as masterful and standing their ground during an earthquake, so give them the appropriate level of recognition for whenever and wherever they did stand their ground.

2. Identify new skills that may have been requi... Read more

there are some great answers to this already so I'll just support what others have said. In my experience there is a challenge with one coach for all. As Michelle mentioned the issue of confidentiality and chemistry loom large. There is also the potential for triangulation like passing notes in study hall trying to attain a result.

So, I agree with the multiple coaches for chemistry reasons (th... Read more

A. no consensus is not a practical goal
B. don't try to 'drive' consensus with peers. They won't appreciate it, since they are at your level not 'below' you.
C. if you're seeking a more collaborative environment then lead by questions. Ask them in a group setting how to solve the challenges you're facing. Be the question guy, not the answer guy. When they work together to solve the problem of h... Read more

Hi there,
there are some great ideas around the topic already. Here's one I would throw into the mix to repair some of the damage.

Be transparent in the communication about the fact that there was no communication. i.e.

"We realize in reflecting back on how this transition went that we didn't communicate enough about what was going on. Some things we could tell you and some things we could... Read more

JIm, Neil and Mark all have great answers so I'll go in a different direction. It sounds like the culture is a bit of a misfit for you. If you have to work so hard to get people's attention and buy in then what I really wonder is what makes you want to play Sisyphus? Because it occurs to me that you may find an answer to it this time, but if the system and personnel don't like to play the game t... Read more

Here's something that may be contrary to what's already posted but give it a thought. You asked, "how can I build trust rapidly" answer is "you can't so stop trying".....

Trust is built over time and on an individual basis. there is no blanket recipe for trust that works for ALL people. So personal individual engagement will be of use. Finding out about them, how they work, what makes t... Read more


Hi there,
As a professional speaker there are several elements that are useful to consider:

1. Bring more than you need and use less than you have. This allows for it to be a conversation (as stated above) and not a data dump. Data dumps are inherently challenging because you are little more than a talking email or white paper.

2. Get your attention off yourself. It's not about you it's about so... Read more

All of the previous answers are spot on for me...I would add some questions and two observations. The observations first.

1. "Behavior that is perpetuated is the behavior that's being rewarded. " And so from that frame, somewhere in your company, everything that is going on, in a repetitive pattern and broad spectrum is either unconsciously or consciously being rewarded.

2. "Creativity/innovat... Read more

Besides the brilliance of my colleagues, two directions occur to me.

First, ask them how to do it. Nothing creates collaboration more than the act of collaborating, so pose the question to them and have them solve it.

Second, Gamify the whole process. Yup I said it, make it a game. Gamification has become a very powerful approach that has leap frogged and bypassed the normal methods of establis... Read more

There was a white paper some years ago that demonstrated that every training was improved up to as much as 72% when followed up with coaching. 1-1 is best but group coaching can also work. I call the process accelerating application for integration.

Basically , many trainings are data driven content vehicles telling people what they're supposed to do, but customer service has many nuances and sha... Read more

Since you're after collaboration then get collaborative. Pose your challenge to the others around you in a generic sense with neutral language and ask them how they would solve the problem. What that may do is give them an experience of you respecting their input and that will build trust which is the foundation of collaboration.

Second, allow time. you're a newbie to them so the other animals... Read more

Nice advice from others and I would add this - Ask Questions.

Much of the time people are attempting to "see the big picture" without the curiosity necessary for it to come into view. The analogy of forest/trees is a nice image, so the question is prompted, "What is the forest in this scenario...we're all looking at the trees but what is the forest?"

Having the orientation towards asking larger... Read more


First and foremost, my question is: "How attached are you to this promotion?" because that determines the paths from here. Without having clarity of what this promotion means to you in the long term, you can't begin to access your decision making process. At best you'll get a series of arbitrary strategic behaviors targeted toward damage control.

After that I wonder what your relationship is... Read more


I agree with my colleagues that no coaching engagement without full participation can be effectively measured. What I perceive is that this event/experiment, has exposed a number of things about how the company functions that are worth examining. A short list might include:

What is in the culture that had the executives not have a clear communication of expectations regarding the nature of t... Read more

While all of the above is true there is another component to consider. Driving behavior is antithetical to process innovation and collaboration in the first place. When you think about it, it's the attempt to compel people to be more creative and play together better. That rarely works. Both are a function of the experience of the ecosystem the people are playing in.

In both senses the concept of... Read more

There have been some great answers by my colleagues above already on this and so I won't revisit ground already covered. What I see is also missing is that there may well need to be a very frank and open conversation with the founder/president. Inadvertantly, as long as that person holds an open door to every employee policy, they will continue to bypass you when they don't like something vs. com... Read more


Michael Stratford is an Organizational Development practitioner of the highest caliber. His lessons, inspiration and guidance have proven invaluable to me. The things Michael taught me transformed me. He opened my eyes to new possibilities and to 'think the unthinkable'.

Michael Y.Brenner, Ed.D., Senior Partner Inspire! Imagine! Innovate!

Michael is an exceptional talent to draw the best out of individuals. He has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone on multiple levels, which has brought me to a call to action, and the results for me have been very rewarding. I am no longer bound by the stories and the energies that do not serve me.

Mina Watkins, Business Coach, Ontological Coach Mina Watkins Coaching Services

Michael is especially gifted at creating a space that allows participants to experience learning at a deep personal level; and this in turn models how we can coach our clients more powerfully. He allows us to take ownership of the material and apply it at our own pace, both to our own personal growth and to our work with clients.

Nahid Casazzara, Owner Aspyrre Professional Coaching

Michael knows his material, both in his head and in his heart. I was drawn into the material, and experienced shifts as I participated in the exercises provided during the sessions. A great breadth and depth are covered, all of which are strangely familiar. I think Michael presents truth, which is always simple, yet sometimes harsh.

Jeff DeVore, Life Coach

Michael is indeed a masterful provocateur who brings a light yet challenging touch to the work that he unfolded before us. He interwove information with practical examples and techniques most elegantly, which enabled learning to happen for me naturally. We participants were always being challenged to question where we were, what assumptions we were making and to dig deeper than was comfortable, which brought valuable insights and results in the moment.

Halina Jaroszewska, Executive Coach

I was extremely pleased to be part of the Michael Stratford Masterful Provocation webinar series. Michael easily takes you through an experience that is so incredibly deep you do not even realize what is happening and then it happened and you are forever transformed. I am grateful to have gone through this transformation and would recommend Michael to everyone that is looking to reach down within their soul and pull out all that stuff that needs to be reviewed, kept or deleted.

Rita Conley, Sr. Consultant HR Alternatives, Inc.

Michael not only teaches masterful competencies but is masterful in every part of his engagement and delivery. His creativity, intelligence and connection to his students create a wonderful learning environment.

Jenny Edis, Principal Coach Professional Coaching Australia

Our group was recently privileged to hear a presentation by Michael Stratford on Masterful Feedback. Michael gave us a copy of his profile and asked us what topic we would like him to speak on. I couldn't understand how he could be so flexible in his options, since most speakers offer you their topic.

Sharon Canfield, Member, Board of Directors HRIC

Canadian Feed the Children had the great fortune to have Michael Stratford as part of our team during a critical time. Michael's workshop may only have lasted for two days in our office, but the positive effects of those two days have stayed with staff, both professionally and personally, to this day and I don't expect that to stop. Even now, months later, staff will reference something that they took away from those two days and have applied.

Dusanka Pavlica, Director of Development Canadian Feed the Children

Michael is the most amazing presenter I've ever seen. He has an uncanny ability to reach every person in the audience. He's like a cross between Robin Williams and the Dalai Lama. He's funny, empathetic, compassionate, smart, and very, very skilled at helping people find radical new ways to address their challenges.

Wendy Down, Founder The Consciousness Playground

Michael Stratford is an entertaining, dynamic and skilled presenter. He transports his audience directly into the story of his message. Experiencing a presentation by Michael is like attending a performance art exhibition, a multi-media show and a rock concert all wrapped up in one. His message leaves the audience truly uplifted and inspired.

Lisa Nelson, VP of Program Development The Ultimate Life Tool

Michael Stratford was phenomenal. For someone to get on stage and share their own uniqueness and genius with the group and really bring that group and their information to life is phenomenal.

Alicia Ashley, Owner Alicia Ashley International