Back to School

I’ve always loved that line in the movie You’ve Got Mail that goes something like, “I’m sending you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.” September is the time of year for freshly sharpened pencils. It seems to be an invigorating time — that last push to reach year-end business goals and the chance to dive into professional development offerings. Fall is a time for conferences, classes and other opportunities for back to school for grown-ups. Here are a few ideas: 1. If you’ve been reading my column for the past three years and have been curious about the field of professional coaching, I invite you to attend the Oct. 17 Coaching Forum. Developed by the Michigan chapter of the International Coach Federation, the daylong session will be held in Okemos and will feature Michael Charest, a coach, author and president of Business Growth Solutions. The Forum is designed to “invigorate all stages of business building” and will include action learning and a panel of experienced coaches sharing their recipe for success. If you are a seasoned entrepreneur or an aspiring coach, please join us for a day of learning, networking and fun. Visit for more information. 2. “It has been said there are two ways to gain wisdom. The first is through one’s own experience, but that often takes time, and the second is through the wisdom of those who have already made the journey.” Another engaging way to learn is through conversations with a mentor. This past summer I kicked off my seventh year of managing a corporate mentor program for a Fortune 500 company in Cleveland, Ohio. I am always impressed by the breadth and depth of the mentor conversations that take place throughout the year. Both the mentors and mentees report gaining tremendous skills, especially improved listening skills and increased leadership skills. Consider asking a leader you admire to be your mentor. I recommend a one-hour conversation each month for nine months to a year. Be specific about what you hope to gain from the relationship — a better understanding of the company culture, a clearer view of career paths, increased visibility, improved skills, etc. Remember to thank your mentor along the way, giving her specifics of how her advice has helped you see a fresh perspective or has helped you in other ways. 3. A third option for learning this fall is an integrated leadership development program called “The Fit Leader’s Program.” Developed by my coaching colleague, Dr. David Chinsky, this year-long leadership development experience, aimed at aspiring and high potential leaders, introduces 16 different tools and processes in the four key components of leadership fitness: •  Clarity •  Confidence •  Effectiveness •  Vitality Participants attend one workshop every 90 days over the course of a year. The executive coaching calls in between sessions allow participants to create and execute a customized development plan and to have valuable coaching support as participants work to develop new success habits. Fellow business coach Ross Woodstock and I will be launching the first Lansing cohort in October. To be included in this class or for more information, contact us at or To learn more about the program, visit Whatever path you take to increase your skill set, the important aspect is to always be adding and enhancing your knowledge. It’s time to sharpen up those pencils and get back to school! Susan Combs, MBA and Associate Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She provides one-on-one coaching, team-building training using DiSC and manages corporate mentor programs.  Susan lives in Lansing with her wonderfully curious 8-year-old son, Max. Visit for more information.

Tags: back to school, Business coach, professional development


Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit or for more information.

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