Personal Life of Cary Prejean

The Arabia Times: Explain your background in detail.

Cary Prejean: I graduated from university with a degree in accounting.  I then earned my CPA certificate while working in public accounting and publicly traded companies in the beginning of my career.  Over time I saw that business owners struggled with understanding what their financial statements were saying about their businesses.  These owners were very good at generating revenue but were inadequate as managers. The skill sets of entrepreneurs versus effective business managers are almost diametrically opposed.  Great entrepreneurs typically make poor managers, and they are far more valuable to their companies as entrepreneurs.  I also saw them struggle to adequately plan for the longer-term future because they were enmeshed in the day-to-day operations of their business.  The big stumbling block for most entrepreneurs is their insistence in having things done “my way.”  Most believe because they started the business and own the business; they’re the best candidates to manage the business.  The reality is most entrepreneurs will create dysfunctional organizations because of their commitment to “my way” and micro-managing the business.  This makes the employees of the business dependent on the owner to solve all problems out of the basic norm.  The owner becomes a glorified W-2 employee, working long hours and unable to take extended time off.

I began studying the Ontology of Language in 1987 and I was hooked on the effectiveness of the discipline in empowering people in their lives beyond anything I’d encountered before.  It was out of this training that I began my consulting career, part time at first, and eventually full time.  I was incorporating the ontology of language in my consulting practice with excellent results.  I took all the ontology of language courses I could find locally and went on to participate in several yearlong courses with Newfield Group, now known as Newfield Network.  I also graduated from Newfield’s course, Mastering the Art of Professional Coaching, and was certified as an ontological coach back in 1992.  I’ve continued my education in this field and have regular meetings with other coaches.  I’ve also seen remarkable results in my consulting practice with business owners using this discipline.

I start with a financial or CFO perspective when working with new clients and do ontological coaching as circumstances warrant.  The business owner has to become the leader that will take his/her business to the next level.  That takes personal transformation and self-awareness.

Career, Strength & Experience of Cary Prejean

The Arabia Times: What motivated you to become an Ontological coach?

Cary Prejean:  The effectiveness of the discipline really motivated me to become an ontological coach.  It was very empowering as well as enlightening for my own personal development and maturation.  I saw great coaches in action in the courses I participated in.  The transformation they could produce with students in a short period of time was remarkable.  I knew I had to become skilled at the discipline if I was going to make substantial and lasting results with clients beyond helping them with “the numbers.”

The Arabia Times: What do you feel is the biggest strength of a CFO Consultant in revolutionizing Industry right now?

Cary Prejean:  A good CFO helps the entrepreneur channel his/her energy in focusing on designing their business into the future.  Entrepreneurs can get distracted because they see opportunities in areas most people see risk.  The entrepreneur needs a trusted advisor to play devil’s advocate and temper some of the less realistic ideas with those that will produce big results.  The CFO helps the entrepreneur implement his ideas into the business with processes that are effective and by managing the mood of the organization.  The mood of the organization begins with the owner and permeates throughout.  Moods are driven by language.  That’s where the ontology of language comes in.  Positive moods of ambition, joy, gratitude and peace open horizons and possibilities as well as a range of actions that allow for powerful and effective results.  Negative moods of resentment and resignation are both founded in the baseline assessment “…and there’s nothing I can do about it.”  The range of horizons and actions in that conversation are almost non-existent.  Why take any action if “there’s nothing I can do about it.”?  What opportunities can be seen from that perspective?  Not much.  The common result out of that conversation is to make up a compelling victim story that absolves the person from all accountability for their lack of action and results.

A good CFO can help the owner, leadership team and key players maintain effective moods that translate throughout the organization.  This is juxtaposed to the traditional accounting model of just being a good scorekeeper, which deals primarily with past results.  A good CFO can absolutely help with “the numbers” of the business, and their most valuable contribution to the organization is in guiding the leadership in building the business into a future they design.  The businesses that don’t design themselves into the future find themselves wondering why what they did 20 years ago is no longer working well.

The Arabia Times: As you are specialized in Ontology with a comprehensive experience in the field of Coaching. Can you please tell me what are your suggestions for our readers are?

Cary Prejean:  There are two books on the discipline.  Language and the Pursuit of Happiness by Chalmers Brothers, and Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence by Chalmers Brothers and Vinay Kumar.  Both are available on Amazon or on Chalmers’ website,  Chalmers offers courses for those wanting to learn how to be more effective in life and live in more productive moods.  Chalmers has coached thousands of people in his work for companies like Harley Davidson, Coca Cola, Trip Advisor and Avanade.  His books are used in leadership courses at Georgetown University, George Mason University and Newfield Network.  He’s also a public speaker and has been featured in TedTalks.  His course, SOAR is highly recommended.

Newfield Network, founded by Julio Olalla – one of my favorite coaches, is also a great resource for learning and becoming more purposeful and a resource for others.  As their website proclaims, “We train leaders and coaches who change the world.”  You can learn more at Newfield’s website.  Newfield Network has courses for personal development, leadership development and ontological coach training.  I highly recommend either of these organizations if you’re interested in pursuing a life that is ontologically designed.

Path & Challenges Faced

The Arabia Times: What was the path you took to get to where you are today?

Cary Prejean:   I think I’ve answered this in previous.  In short, a lot of hard work, introspection and a commitment to become an adult in the world.  So many people are stuck in being protracted teenagers.

The Arabia Times: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?

Cary Prejean: My biggest challenge has always been getting a business owner to see how they are the problem holding their business back from achieving “the next level.”  Most business owners think their employees are the problem.  They don’t understand that their mood, culture, way of being in the business rolls downhill.   Their employees’ lack of engagement, low morale and dissatisfaction are generally tied directly to the culture of the company.  That all starts with the owner’s presence in the business.  Most owners I’ve worked with were very autocratic when I started to work with them.  Very much “my way or the highway” type attitudes.  There’s a natural emphasis of power on the business owner’s side of the equation.  The business owner makes the payroll.  The owner can give you a raise, fire you, or anything in between.  The owner is typically clueless how his/her interactions, mood, way of being affect the entire organization.

Getting an owner to see that is generally the hardest thing to accomplish.  It’s all downhill from there.

The Arabia Times: What are the key values which helped you to overcome the challenges in your path? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?

Cary Prejean:  Commitment, honesty, and a strong work ethic are all part of the values that I live by and have guided me throughout my career.  Most people, in my experience, confuse commitment with a strong curiosity.  They’re “committed” to something until it gets hard or goes longer than they can comfortably endure.  Commitment to me means I accept no excuse that this does not happen.  I coach my clients about commitment in this way, you either have the results you say you’re committed to or reasons why not.  There are no “reasons why not” when you’re truly committed to a goal.  Honesty means honesty.  All the time.  There are times when it feels more comfortable to maybe shade an interpretation or withhold a fact so the person you’re working with won’t get uncomfortable or possibly agitated.  But if not telling the honest truth is impeding their progress or allowing them to remain comfortable yet stagnant, you’re doing them a great disservice in order for you not to experience some discomfort.  The idea of a strong work ethic seems passe these days.  I see younger people tiring easily, needing lots of time off, and quitting when things begin to get a little difficult.  An expression I’ve heard for years is that the harder you work, the luckier you become.  That’s been my experience over my entire career.  Big goals, big visions, great accomplishments all require hard work.  Starting and running a business is very hard work.  Most people aren’t up to the task.  Most of the business owners I’ve met over the years are all very hard workers.  I attribute the avoidance of hard work as the reason most people work for someone else.

Work Life & Skills of Cary Prejean

The Arabia Times: How did you help business owners turn their business into a well-oiled machine?

Cary Prejean:  Three simple, yet hard steps.  1. Get actionable data to the business owner and leadership team, including on time monthly financial statements with a good layman’s narrative about what the financials are saying about the business.  2. Eliminate dysfunction.  This is primarily about getting the owner(s) out of the way of the smooth functioning of the business by replacing “my way” with well documented, widely disseminated and easily implemented processes on all key functions of the business.  3. Establish and maintain an effective process of long-term strategic planning with at least quarterly reviews and updates.

The hardest part of this is getting the buy-in of the owner(s).

The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one.  Very hard for a lot of business owners.  They are usually the problem.

The Arabia Times: What do you think are the most important skills for someone who works as a Coach?

Cary Prejean:  The most important skill for a great coach to have is the ability to listen (not just hear) what’s going on without judgement of the owner or the business from “what should be.”  The most important thing to discover is what’s working vs. what’s not working.  The ability to coach the business owner in the appropriate matters associated with “not working” is crucial.  Trying to fix “what ain’t broken” (what’s working) is futile.  Things will only be made worse by trying to change what’s already working.

The ability to guide the owner through distinctions and reflection are the next most powerful skills a coach should have.  We all have our own cognitive blindness.  Business owners need help in seeing those negatives they are blind to from their narrative.  The biggest blindness I run into with business owners is they believe their employees are the problem.  It’s almost always the case that the business owner is the bottleneck of the organization.

At the base of these two skills is the need to be totally honest with the business owner.  You have to have the courage and the grit to give an owner his/her “bad news” to begin the process of change for a more effective organization.


The Arabia Times: How do you see business industry is changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

Cary Prejean: I’ve seen business owners begin to adopt more of a leadership from service approach to bring their employees into alignment with their vision and goals.  The traditional autocratic model is becoming less and less effective, especially as the millennials are rising through the work force.  Relationships between owners/management and employees are being more team oriented and built on goodwill and trust. The traditional transactional model of “you work in my business, and I’ll give you a paycheck” doesn’t work well anymore.  Business owners who resist the transition will find their employees showing up in the transactional model and never be engaged with their work.  They’ll show up, do what is asked of them, and go home.  To quote George Carlin, “Most people work just hard enough to not get fired, and make just enough money to not quit.”  They won’t be looking for opportunities to step up, solve problems, improve processes or make the extra effort to do a great job.  Getting employees engaged with the vision is, in my opinion, the coming wave of transition in the workplace.

I think remote work is going to continue be the norm as much as possible.  Employers who want the best people will have to have the flexibility to use remote technology to attract the best.  It also allows the company to hire people from around the country or the world for that matter, rather than a close geographical proximity.  I have clients from south Florida to northwest Washington state.  I work with a VA from the Philippines, accountants from India, and a tax accountant in Boca Raton, Florida.  All of this has developed in just the last three years.  Time to get on board.

Advice for Readers

The Arabia Times: Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?

Cary Prejean: Sure.  About 35 years ago, my mentor at the time told me that the secret to life is getting exactly what you want – being ultimately satisfied.  The problem with this is that most people have no idea what will satisfy them.  They live in a state of “if only my life was more, better, different, I’d be happy.”  Happy is a temporary emotion about our current circumstance.  Satisfaction is a more lasting and comprehensive state of being when most of your life is exactly the way you want it to be.  So, here’s the secret of life, knowing you want.  Getting what you want is easy once you know what that is.  Knowing what you want takes time, reflection and taking action to pursue what you say you want.  You’ll find a lot of things that you actually don’t want along the way.  There’s an expression you’ve probably about “asking for what you want” to get ahead in life.  That’s an impossibility if you don’t know what you want.  Most people spend more time planning a vacation than planning their lives.  I urge the readers to make the time to seriously examine the question of what they want out of life without coming to a hard and fast answer anytime soon.  A life well planned is a life well spent.

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