Professional summary

The focus of Mike's work as a certified coach is within the leadership ranks of business organizations. A strong believer in the relationship between effective leadership and achievement of the organizational vision/ goals, he works with the collective leadership team and its individual members. He believes the combination is needed to create sustainable results.

Mike entered the coaching arena in 2003, after a successful career in the ever-changing travel industry. His company grew to being among the top 50 travel companies in the country, a climb that required both flexibility and a knack for reading the crystal ball of 'tomorrow'. Although he didn't have the right coaching himself, he became aware of its significance when the business

Engagement overview

Executive Teams: We mutually agree on objectives and agenda. Daily fee ranges from $6,500-$8500 (based on# of participants)

Individual Leaders: We mutually agree on coaching goals. Set of 12 appointments are scheduled for a fee of $2,400 to $2,600.

Case Studies

The market in south Florida city was facing an influx of new and extensive competition after many years of being unique in their industry. They had committed almost $1 million to accomplish a major facelift for both the interior and exterior of the store. Business had several long-term management employees who individually oversaw various departments and functioned independently with their respect... Read more


Most leaders are comfortable giving negative feedback to employees. The fear of hurting people’s feelings and dealing with potential drama holds them back. But most of their staff want to get more feedback from their managers, which is why giving it early and regularly is critical.

Respectful, direct feedback costs nothing but makes big improvement in individual and team productivity. Right f... Read more

During interviews, candidates often give rehearsed responses. Try these techniques to probe past their canned answers.

1. On-the-spot interview coaching is a simple way to get your candidate to open up and answer your questions more thoroughly. Give the person a coaching directive, such as “Let’s change the question. How would your staff describe your leadership style?” This strategy ena... Read more

Most managers and their staff have long viewed the annual ritual of performance appraisals as time consuming, excessively subjective, demotivating, and unhelpful to driving performance. Employees often struggle with their ratings, stress about compensation, and try to make sense of the subjective performance feedback.

Leading organizations like GE, Deloitte, Accenture, Adobe, Microsoft, and man... Read more

In absence of ROI based measures for success of coaching, we need to assess its value with qualitative data. In a way, the market has spoken. Many of the world’s most admired corporations, from General Electric to Goldman Sachs, invest in executive coaching of their leaders and potential leaders.

It is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated managers rarely pause to contemplate their own ... Read more

1. What does success and excellent performance look like in this position? (gives you a good idea of what is expected of you in order to be recognized)

2. To what extent is creativity encouraged and rewarded (does this company want a person to just carry out the way they have determined to do the job or are they always looking for new thinking and innovation?)

3. Given my background and prov... Read more


First and foremost ... FLEXIBILITY. A new company in unable to strictly define how much time will be spent doing various tasks related to the new organization. Although one does want to hire a variety of knowledge and strengths that they know they will require, they can ill-afford to hire those who are rigid in terms of what they are willing to do. Often-time the greatest success of a launch t... Read more

The people who ask for and are most likely to receive a raise follow these simple and straight-forward steps:

1. Ideally, at the time of this year's review and increase they ask the 'boss' what are the goals for me and my position that will enhance my value and warrant an salary increase and even a promotion next year?

2. If they didn't clarify this 'last' year and their review is forthcoming, ... Read more


In working within companies of all sizes as a business coach I have dealt with this challenge several times. I will respond to each question you have presented.

1. The interviewer(s) need to create a list of the qualities that you are looking to find. This is particularly important when you are small and in your case a startup. What are the specific responsibilities that go with the position a... Read more

As a certified leadership coach I encounter leaders who have been placed in a leadership role with limited experience or training as such. The biggest mistake I witness is when the individual interprets the role as being one in which they are expected to have all the answers and knowledge that those reporting to them have. They tend to think that to say "I don't know" or "explain that to me" i... Read more


I agree with Bill Fotsch's suggestions AND as a prelude I believe you want to identify what role/responsibilities you want to handle in the day to day operation of your job on the way to identifying the skills you need and want to hire. As the business leader you will be involved to some extent in every aspect of your business however by identifying the area of it in which you personally can be y... Read more

It seems to me that the CEO has been very clear in regard to what is required of the person occupying the CFO position. Whereas it's flattering that he has identified you as the one he would like to consider for the job, the fact remains that to succeed in his eyes will require that you are prepared to devote yourself to the position and the company as he has outlined. With a plan to go public ... Read more


I concur with many of the comments made by my 'mentors guild' associates. And the question I have for you to ponder is who has assigned to you the title of "lame duck"? I suggest that perhaps it is you who see yourself as such as I doubt the your current reports consider their boss as such thus giving them permission to stop listening, doing or following your leadership. They still report to yo... Read more

A terrific question and very much worth pondering as an organization. I applaud that you recognize this as something to consider and address.

In responding, my comments presume certain things:

1. the more recent acquisitions that have taken the company into different arenas representing diversification from your original manufacturing roots were all done for good reason. The fact that acqu... Read more

An interesting and challenging situation. It appears that of the 'overconfident boss' is playing the role of expert given his vast experience and clearly not utilizing the remainder of the senior management team to help steer and grow the company. And what a shame for I have too often witnessed this attitude as being the start of a down turn in business.

It is safe to imagine that the 'bos... Read more

What I read from your situation is that as a result of your pending retirement you have been advised to coach your staff. What I don't read is what the desired outcome is for that coaching. I would presume that the company will be replacing your role.

I agree with much of the suggestions that Michael Stratford has said above. Also, the head of the company needs to help define that desire out... Read more

Ok ... I admit it. I hesitated to respond until I sorted out your inquiry in terms of what it revealed about the existing attitudes toward women and accepting them in top leadership/management positions. What rings through to me is until your organization views these senior leader prospects as fully capable of carrying out those roles as they need to be performed and provided they choose to do s... Read more

Both Michele and Roza have provided you with good directions. Often times the relationship between the board and the CEO and/or management team is ill-defined. And, perhaps because the board member in question is "deeply knowledgeable" with the industry, perhaps the role he is there to play has become fuzzy and he is taking liberties that go beyond his role as a board member. So there are sever... Read more

I agree with Michael's response. The question, as you presented it, was undefined and thus the ratings are based on each way the respondent would have interpreted it. I do believe that it is very meaningful to ask a series of specific questions that are defined in the same way for all and then ask your team to provide their rating. And, presuming that you might still get a wide range of rating... Read more

This is a fascinating inquiry. You ask "whether it would corrode team performance, to bring factors other than merit, to performance evaluation". Why would anyone be promoted into any position and especially one of management if they didn't merit that position based on their knowledge and skills?

I have definitely seen this addressed in an organization equivalent to yours. In fact, it was a purpo... Read more

Joan (above) has asked some very good questions that are all worthy of examination. I too am curious to know how much of your interpretation of the situation is fact or assumed? I believe that going through the questions Joan posed to you will be of clear value in helping you move forward. Acting on what we know to be factual is always likely to deliver more successful outcomes.

With that sa... Read more

As I read your situation as presented I get two distinct areas that deserve your focus. There is the one in which you review this past year in terms of how your achievement aligned with your vision of accomplishment for the year. Where did you exceed and where did you fall short. In each consideration, what is the learning that you want to carry forward of both a positive and negative nature th... Read more

Congratulations for taking the lead on your own climb. A terrific inquiry!

Granted I’m a business leadership coach and while every situation is not a ‘coaching’ ideal, I see your situation as a natural. In general, coaching pertains to helping the ‘client’ move from where they are to where they want to be. You have identified your goal in rather specific terms in the sense that you... Read more


I agree that you have had good suggestions from my colleagues above. What strikes me is that although her output is timely and very dependable it doesn't speak to her team's output. That she experiences an high churn within her staff represents a large real and potential cost to the organization and it is important that you consider this when evaluating her value.

If one way we evaluate an e... Read more

You present an interesting situation and challenge. As a basis of my response, I am going to presume that your boss is willing to be supportive of your desire to be kept in the loop with this DR to the extent of asking if they have discussed the issue with you before taking their time to engage. If they haven't, the boss will refer them back to you.

I will also say that regardless of the number ... Read more

Based on what you've shared I respond by asking you a key question. Do you know that these individuals WANT to move into management or might that be something you presume they want to do? And even if they express a desire to move into that arena, it can be because they believe they should want to as so many others around them strive to do that.

In meeting with these individuals I would sugge... Read more

Let me address two areas in responding to your question.

1st ... there is more than one way to get the unbiased input you seek. what is the right one for your org. will be determined based on structure and how you access the 'outside of senior management team'. Some examples are:

~~~ establish an advisory council that is made up of people on the front lines (doing the nuts and bolts of the... Read more

I gather there's something about this particular presentation that has you concerned inasmuch as you have spoken before such a group previously. It's a good guess that the CEO has confidence that you are the right and the best one to be doing this and, if that is true, then use his confidence in you to allow yourself to have it ... in you.

I believe that Lenny (above) has said it well. You ne... Read more

Your inquiry raises one important question to me. Does this person want a promotion? Or ... is it presumed by others that he MUST want this because he is so capable and doesn't everyone want to climb higher and higher up that ladder? I am confident that the answer is 'no'. Everyone does NOT want to keep climbing. In this person's case you indicate ... "His performance has been consistently of... Read more


You've had numerous responses and most all have made good and valuable points. In reading your situation and your question/concern with reporting to a board one thought was front and center for me. Most likely, this is the same board who approved hiring you as the CEO. And it's safe to presume that this board did the vetting and related due diligence that would lead them to the person who they ... Read more

I am curious to know if you have had discussion around this topic of increased responsibility and promotion with those to whom you report? As I have seen numerous times, it does take the guess work out of what those at the top want to see in you that would make them willing and interested in moving you into a greater and broader leadership role. This will definitely take the guess work out of figu... Read more


You have received several good suggestions from my colleagues above. I suppose that how open the CEO will be to recognizing what has been created and the desire to change it would have something to do with how successful the approach has been for the organization. To elaborate ... if the CEO is right on and the lion's share of his/her opinions have been the right ones for the company, the motive... Read more

Several good suggestions made by my associate mentors above. To me, and at the risk of duplication, the following are key steps that will contribute to a successful program:

1. I would NOT suggest that you do this by division as a given. What is more important is that your 'beta' group be assembled because you believe all participants have the 'right' attitude and enthusiasm for what they ar... Read more

If you are debating this issue as to the source that is your primary customer, you may be trying to make a decision that will not serve the company well. What happens if you look at this as if both are your primary customer? What would that lead you to do that you might well overlook if you pick one over the other.

From what you've said both are and should be in your focus and concern. the ... Read more

What you have identified is a leadership project ... one that you, as HR, are responsible to oversee and execute. Viewing it as such, it is important that it be kept alive in terms of awareness of the progress you are making as you execute per your plan. Thus, providing updates to the team ( as a part of the meeting agenda) is important so that they are kept in the loop of the progress and disco... Read more

Your experience reinforces the reality that when one holds a perception of another... one that could be based on just a first impression or several, it is not automatic or even easy to alter that perception. It just can take time.

Although you don't say, I would imagine that it might be just some of the direct reports who are holding on to their past experiences. And thus, you will potentially g... Read more


The issue you describe is one that is typical when an organization continues to operate on the basis of what worked in the past during times of significant change. This is when they see decline and potentially significant damage to their business. What I get from your introduction is your awareness of the need to change and that's the important first step to pulling out of your current situation... Read more

You've been given some very good advice by my fellow mentors. It appears that you are teetering between falling further or rising above what you have encountered during the past few challenging years. Your overcoming the situation today and reclaiming the driver's seat of your company is very much dependent on getting all of those on the board, for starters, on the same page as it pertains to t... Read more

Great question. What I believe you will accomplish is broadening the sense of ownership for the initiatives that you decide upon which always has advantages. I would like to make this suggestion however ...

Rather than bring the DRs in on the second day, bring them and their perspectives/ideas in on Day 1. Here are the potential benefits:

1. What you will achieve is moving into Day 2 wi... Read more

You've received some very sound suggestions from my colleagues. I am inclined to offer questions to you as you consider the possibility of bringing John back into the organization.
1. John's past history at the company created a lot of unrest and dysfunction within the team. What are the possible
impacts of bringing him back … on the team and the organization … positive and negati... Read more

Not only do I see this as the right moment ... I see this as a very wise move. It's a great opportunity to assemble the new team around the realities of the business today and going forward. You create an opportunity to involve your new leadership team (regardless of them being the newest of some carry-overs) in designing and aligning around the vision and related goals of where you want to go ... Read more

Much of my work as a business leadership coach has focused on team dynamics. The tendency is often to bring a team together and have them launch into the project without taking the time to build a 'success' foundation.

As others responding before me have indicated, to maximize success building a clear understanding of the project goals and the reason that each member of the team has been aske... Read more

You have an interesting challenge that your organization is facing. In a sense, you are at square one in terms of what you want to be. In facilitating such discussions I have always found it extremely effective to take the group to dreamland ... the land of what's possible.

In doing this exercise, it is valuable and important that you NOT go into the planning of any of the ideas that are put fo... Read more

Coincidentally, prior to my beginning my career as a certified coach I was at the helm of a larger travel organization. We too, sold the lion's share of the business and were now operating a much smaller organization. Based on my own experience I believe that your team of executive leaders will only be able to serve the new organization effectively if and when they adopt the mindset that is need... Read more

You've received some very good suggestions and approaches from my colleagues. And implementing any of them is often the added challenge for it's a matter of YOU finding the best way for YOU to implement and accomplish them. I am a huge proponent of you working with a leadership coach to create your own plan of implementation. I strongly believe that doing so will greatly enhance your ability to... Read more

One thing I have always found interesting is the basis that many organizations ... and in your case, a board ... uses in hiring its c-level leaders. By backgrounds or experience in the industry or that company, they are often qualified. However a critically important aspect of the responsibilities is ability as a leader and too often that is given 'back-burner' attention. And, the effectivenes... Read more

A great question and there is a solution. As you are discovering, a family business is added challenge unless you take the time to address and establish policies to which ALL agree to adhere as it pertains to other family members entering the business. I see this situation often and here are the steps that success will require:

First, the challenge is getting all current members of the compan... Read more

You have received several interesting answers and many valid points being made. In addition to these I believe that your first step must be for you, as the CEO, to become firmly set in YOUR answers of key foundational questions in order for you to determine if, when and why a cultural shift is ... or really isn't ... called for. These would include:

1. You say from time to time you make expens... Read more

Another member (above) has said it simply. This person and the full management team would benefit greatly by providing coaching for the new addition. She might well provide an added and even needed perspective to the team however it becomes her job to offer her thoughts and ideas to the mix without losing the willing participation of many others. Coaching is an effective way of making that happ... Read more

Frankly, I believe that getting consensus and a common understanding of the project and the goal is extremely important to the success of your team. Best of all, it doesn't take 'that' much time. My experience when called upon to work with a team such as you describe is that taking this time on the front end is a time saver in the long run. The consensus I refer to is bringing about the followi... Read more

Great question at this early stage of your development! What is not unusual in many organizations is that those involved have said ‘yes’ to the idea, not all are at the same level of understanding of the process or what is involved in it and this creates some natural hesitance ... of the unknown. I do agree with other comments to your inquiry that multiple coaches be from the same firm and o... Read more

You have received some good advice. In doing it again ... or next time ... bringing the leadership team together and establishing the common voice and message that you will convey to the employees is a great first step. And ... I believe it is very naive although not unusual, for leaders presume that employees automatically 'buy' whatever is put out there for them. In fact, they or at least som... Read more

Regardless of whether or not you desire to have the CEO position permanently, you have it now and, I gather, for how long you don't know. To be effective for whatever period of time I believe you need to 'BE' the CEO rather than the CFO. As has been pointed out both others who have responded, the requirements of being effective in these two positions are quite different. Making the transition i... Read more

Whenever an organization has the growth you refer to you are moved to a new environment of operation. In addition to the challenge of satisfying customers/clients, you have the challenge of making the needed changes to the way you operate that will enable you to provide what the customers want, need and were promised.

In responding as a leadership coach I believe you need to bring the group toge... Read more

You've received some valid and good advice from fellow mentors above. And my experience in coaching company leaders tells me that although you have asked about this one particular situation I get curious as to the way you relate to all of the leaders you count on.

The way you present your question and concern comes through as quite detached of any real caring or concern for the person and/or rel... Read more

Both answers above have provided responses that take the focus from there being a meaningful cost benefit to your proposed solutions to something much more basic. And I agree. The business that you were a few years ago is not the one that is re-emerging now. There's a process that I have employed numerous times that seems very appropriate in this situation. I refer to it as "break it thinking"... Read more

As others have said here ... the short and direct answer is simply to ask. Thinking 'coach-like' there is an approach to communicating that can really clarify the expectation and as a result ... avoid frustration for many. Take less than a minute at the start of a topic discussion and ask these questions. Are you looking for me to be a listener, a discussion participant or a solution provider? ... Read more

This is an interesting challenge in that you are receiving competition from brands that are known actually world-wide. The advice to align your brand to local and ethical issues makes sense and yet ... at what cost to the consumer. I understand that your initial step was the organic milk and the associated price increase did the opposite of what you aimed to achieve.

Of course I don't know wh... Read more

Your question pertains to how you can persuade senior executives on projects (of yours) without a clear ROI? As others have responded already, not all ROIs are of a direct financial nature. It seems like your position was created to add stability or even a competitive edge to your organization on behalf of your clients … thus the ROI.

There’s another ‘red flag’ issue that seems apparent... Read more

Doing all we can do to insure that our house (business) is built on a rock-solid foundation will have a clear impact and affect on the longevity and overall success we experience. As anxious as you are to begin 'selling' and thus generate revenue it is imperative that you are positioned to deliver what you have sold. Thus hiring a solid staff of instructors who are all adept at and trained to te... Read more

Your question ... "how do I insure stability" strikes me as one that pertains to the future ... going forward. I believe previous responders have pointed you in a few valid directions. Rather than repeat them, I am drawn to urge you to consider the learning you can and have gained from this situation as the CEO. How does this situation inform you as to added communication that needs to occur wi... Read more

All of the responses previous to mine are all good and helpful. In particular, Bill Shirley mirrored my reaction to reading of your challenge. Toastmasters is extremely effective in helping ALL of us increase our comfort level with speaking in front of others. The other suggestions make sense and what toastmasters provides is the ability to practice these skills with result of increasing our c... Read more

Previous answers to your inquiry all make possible and valid points. My experience reveals something quite basic.

Many companies do not do a good job of building a sense of value of what their employee base is going to or has earned. Often times we are not talking about sophisticated investors who have much or any experience in dealing in stocks. They are earning what you offer because they have ... Read more

I believe my two Mentors Guild colleagues have given good responses. And ... the key ingredient to having this work is that both of you are as interested in righting this relationship. Your respective teams are going to look to you as the two leaders to determine that things are good or not. So finding the way to come together for the good of the organization as professionals is absolutely key.... Read more

A conversation with the Executive or anyone who brings ideas to you on the basis of some book or some conversation with a friend is what needs to happen. I am confident that whomever the person, they rarely are giving you this input for any reason other than to be helpful. And often, as you have indicated they don't have all of the components in mind that need to be taken into consideration. St... Read more


I appreciate the opportunity to respond. And ... I'm going to address the issue of 'earning trust' first. Granted that I don't know anything about the culture you've entered nor the size of the leadership team. Both of these things will impact how long it might take and the best way to go about it.

What I will presume is that you were brought into the organization because of the skills and kno... Read more


You have raised a key issue as you asked to be guided through the process. Whether you do this as a joint venture or as an 'solo' individual is going to depend on defining the ultimate vision you have for the expansion. Thus this becomes a key initial step for you. What is that vision? What are the related goals you have that fall within it? A good many of your answers are going to emerge bec... Read more

I believe that all of the coaches who have responded to this have made some very valid points. And ... I do believe that the ultimate success and ROI requires that very clear objectives be established and agreed upon between those wanting to bring coaching into the organization and the coach. What will overall success look like? What is the envisioned impact on the organization in terms of sale... Read more


After meeting weekly with Mike for six months, I can truly say it probably was the best thing we ever did in ten years of business. He immediately helped us step 'outside' of our business and look in, allowing us to see the big picture. We found ourselves invigorated after each meeting, with far more motivation than before. Mike helped us through probably the most difficult time in our business history. He was the catalyst for us not only moving on, but convincing us that our business had great value. We ended up selling our business and being very happy with the outcome! We continue to meet with Mike D. every week and highly recommend him to anyone who owns or runs a business. You won't regret it.

Mark F. CompuGalaxy, Inc.

Working with The Third Zone has changed my life. My business has improved dramatically. I am more confident, more motivated and very excited about my future and future. The support The Third Zone has given me is immeasurable. It is my more positive attitude that has greatly improved and had made me so much more excited about what I do. Overall, there has had a tremendous impact on my life and I would recommend this special service to anyone.

Pauline N. Pauline Nelson Collection of Fine Jewelry

I have learned a lot about myself and becoming part of a connected team. Understanding the power of assumptions and how they impact interactions between me and others is especially useful when communicating with my team.

Grant S., Principal SWSD

It is clear that The Third Zone puts significant energy and time into bringing the best to each coaching client. In turn, I am challenged to bring my best to our sessions and to the 'homework assignments' that follow-that is, living out the coaching concepts through my actions between coaching sessions.

Alex T., Director of Sales Division of Fortune 100 Company

There are career/executive coaching organizations…and then there is The Third Zone. Specifically, Mike Dorman's uncanny ability to truly listen and care about YOU makes him leaps and bounds above the rest. His sincerity of wanting to help others, his passion, guidance and creativity helps to evoke the true depths of whom and what we try to extract from ourselves, but sometimes can't always do on our own.

Gary F., Entrepreneur

My work with The Third Zone has been very much like having a personal trainer for career and goals. The thoughtful input and energy helped me to keep myself tuned and fit-attacking challenges head-on.

Chris A., Sales Executive Division of Fortune 100 Company

After working with The Third Zone, our team as a whole has been strengthened by having similar shared goals for improvement. Common themes such as taking accountability for our own growth provide a basis for the team growing together and building stronger working relationships.

Frank J., Regional Manager Division of Fortune 100 Company

We all need kick in the pants to bring our business to the next level. Some have that in a friend or spouse, but I found it in Mike Dorman. Mike was introduced to me and within several weeks of coaching "the game" was changed. Mike knows how to focus, motivate and energize business professionals to achieve greatness. My business is growing as a result of his leadership and I am having fun in the process!"

T. Guardian, President Leading Commercial Real Estate Organization
Project Proposals

1. Meet with the new leader and their boss to achieve agreement on the desired goals and to identify the known and related challenges to be overcome
2. Launch a series of individual coaching sessions with the leader designed to help her/him develop the skills needed to be effective in their role by overcoming personal obstacles
3. While work is being done with the leader, conduct a team event of... Read more

The process followed when engaged by an organization involves the following steps:
1. Meet with key management of a company, division or department to gain the full understanding of the goals of the forthcoming work
2. Based on a thorough understanding, convert that into clear objectives for the group work to be done
3. Establish an atmosphere in which all voices are called forth and heard for ... Read more