What you should know about
CJ McClanahan

Five days before my first child was born

I decided to start an executive coaching company

On a breezy afternoon in the spring of 2003, I informed my pregnant wife that I was going to start my own company. I just needed to figure out what kind of company because I was/am a self-described “generalist.”

In early August 2003, I quit my job, took most of our savings and started a business coaching franchise called Action International.

In early September of that year, I officially opened my doors (well technically my basement, as I worked out of our house for the first two years). Five days later, my wife gave birth to our first child.

Since then, I have personally coached hundreds of entrepreneurs and professionals in just about every industry you can imagine. In addition, I've also spoken to audiences throughout the United States on sales, leadership and personal development.

More importantly, I am blessed to be married to an incredible woman who provides the perfect balance to my somewhat-hard-to-predict personality. We have two fantastic kids who keep us busy, learning and smiling every day.

When I’m not busy running a business or attending kids' events, I love inspiring professionals to live by two simple rules; Live Gratefully and Give Generously.

You can learn more about this passion by checking out my foundation.

I didn't exactly have a plan

I read a lot of books and asked tons of questions

Believe it or not, I started my career in politics. I then moved to the global consulting firm – Arthur Andersen where I helped large organizations re engineer business processes.

At this same time I was coaching the 5th grade daughters of a friend of mine who I met in politics.

He ran a private equity firm and after I had spent a few years at Arthur Andersen, he asked me to come and help run a small company called Gilchrist and Soames that sold amenities to upscale hotels throughout the United States. I was 27 years old and in hindsight, completely unqualified for the job.

Lucky for me, his firm had a CFO who oversaw the accounting and operations for all of the companies they acquired.

This unbelievably patient and kind person (Ron Wise) taught me how to complete financial statements, manage inventory, and lead an operations team.

But, like all young people my head was on a swivel and I left Gilchrist and Soames after a few years when a local software firm offered me stock options – I was going to be rich!

After less than a year at this firm, I told the CEO that I wasn’t sure this company was right for me.

He asked if there was anything he could do to keep me there and I told him that I really wanted to learn how to sell. A few months later, I had wiggled my way up to the position of sales manager.

I quickly realized that I loved the concept of selling, just not software that didn’t work all that well. I needed to sell something I believed in 100%.

Thousands of hours coaching professionals

Fundamentally, I have three core beliefs

  1. Intellectually speaking, success is simple – identify people who’ve already accomplished what you’re trying to achieve and follow their path.
  2. Disciplining yourself to follow this simple advice is extremely difficult and never happens overnight.
  3. Your success depends on a passionate desire to achieve a goal, the self-awareness to appreciate your shortcomings and the patience to endure inevitable failures along the journey.