Martin Burns

The Client

I am currently CEO of a medical device company based in LA and Manchester. I’ve been in the CEO role here for five years.

The Challenge

Phil has been my personal coach since I first joined Deloitte with a new MBA. My goal was to get onto the fast track and I asked Phil to help me map out and work on the attributes and skills I needed to get that goal.

And we were successful; I was promoted to senior manager within four years, which was extremely fast.

In the past five years we have worked on my current role as CEO. Any leadership role means you’re the figure who is looked at to provide direction and set the tone at all times. It’s a very challenging position where you’re required to be incredibly clear and direction-focused. And it can sometimes feel like you’re walking around with a target on your back.

It’s hard to live with that level of responsibility, and to make sure you live richly: there is no need to suffer.

What changed inside?

Speaking change is easy. Making it is not. So, to help me make the changes I needed, Phil and I worked on his psychological construct of “inside-out change”. This system connects external actions and behaviours with the internal, psychological motivational system.

The inside-out construct allows for targeted interventions. For example, rather than accepting the belief: “I’m being victimised and I need to be a super hero”, I was able to question it. I asked myself if I really needed to be a hero – and I didn’t. I have a team of people around me who I hired because they’re fantastic at what they do. I can let them do their job, and focus on what I need to do.

This thought process leads to a very different existence.

Phil also taught me about the difference between the scarcity and abundance mindset. I work in a startup, and we used to run out of money every two months. Phil helped me understand that I had unconsciously accepted a scarcity mindset, and then was unknowingly creating that reality.

Instead, he helped me acquire an abundance mindset, which in turn liberated me to create abundancy.

What changed outside?

Thanks to this realisation I raised a significant chunk of funding for the business, and today I do have an abundance all around me; an abundance of talented people on my team, and new customers.

This was a very targeted intervention that challenged my values and beliefs, and directly created a different reality as a result.

Everybody in every situation has something they need to work on. But when you’re a CEO you don’t have the luxury of time because you’re needed there and then; to be the person who will craft the strategy and execute it flawlessly.

Phil and I mapped out the things I needed to get better at, and then went after them hard or hired people with those skills to fill in. That was enormously beneficial for me as it bought me space so the company didn’t suffer and was able to move forward as I added to my skill set.

I was able to have a calmer, more objective view that reduced my anxiety level. I was able to enjoy the good things, take some emotional space, and work on what I need to.

Now, I no longer see my role as CEO as being difficult, instead it’s incredibly rewarding. I’ve gone from feeling slightly victimised about it to enjoying it.

What does the client say?

I have a very straightforward relationship with Phil; he’s very human. He genuinely gives a shit about the people he works with, and helping them get better at what they’re trying to work on.

Whenever I’ve been really stumped about something, such as my belief system or setting annual goals, Phil always has a different way of looking at things that is scientifically grounded. He’s always got a tool set, thought process or resource that allows him to be able to respond to circumstances I’m stuck on and help me reframe them.