Michael Synk is like a professor, salesman, evangelist and coach all rolled into one, prodding and supporting the community of executive leaders in Memphis via In-Synk, the business education and coaching firm he founded.
He teaches a set of core principles that are actionable and bite-sized, the antithesis of the massive strategic analysis that gives companies so much to do that nothing gets done. He’s written books like “How to Create Customers as Loyal as Norm Peterson: The Cheers Model of Marketing,” and he’s packed his concepts into a daylong workshop being held this month that looks to help companies turn their goals for the future into a plan they can start executing today.
One thing that’s important to point out about him: Synk is a coach, which is different than a consultant.
It was the subject of a blog entry he posted to his website recently. One is not better than the other, according to Synk, and people do try to hire him as a consultant. But Synk is a coach, and he spells out the difference.
A coach, for example, helps companies figure out decisions, while, according to Synk, a consultant figures out the problem and recommends a solution.
A coach holds someone accountable for implementing the decision, while a consultant implements the solution. A coach is pushing for “constant improvement everywhere,” while a consultant improves or solves one or two things. Also, a coach often has an ongoing relationship with a client, while a consultant’s relationship is more transactional in nature.
Synk warns about not trying to fit a coach into a consultant’s box, and vice versa. While he says both can be valuable to a business, he urges executives to think hard about one question: what kind of help do I need?
That’s where he comes in, via everything from his writings to The In-Synk Plan Forward Workshop, which will be held Oct. 18 at the University of Memphis. Sponsored partly by The Daily News, the workshop will walk business leaders through the importance of four key elements to any business growth: people, cash, strategy and execution.
And by the time it’s over, those attendees will leave with a one-page strategic plan they can use to move their business to the next level.
“I bring business leaders the clear perspective and proven tools they need to successfully align strategies, actions and goals,” Synk says about what he offers.
And testimonials from some of his clients run the gamut of Memphis business owners – small and large, and across multiple industry niches.
“I bring business leaders the clear perspective and proven tools they need to successfully align strategies, actions and goals.”
Swankys Taco Shop owner Matt Wilson said Synk was able to show him “about 1,000 ways to improve my business” in a 40-minute span of time.
“I’ve never seen a more effective speaker in such a short period of time show me so much,” Wilson said.
Cliff McKinney is a relatively new CEO, heading up a tech startup called Work For Pie that is among the ventures involved with the EmergeMemphis incubator Downtown.
“Michael led a cohort of high growth potential companies, Work for Pie among them, through his framework for thinking about how to build a startup with the right foundations for culture, leadership, values and goals so that it can reach its full potential,” McKinney said. “His advice has been extremely valuable to me as a first-time CEO, and I would recommend him to anyone who is either new at this game (or) wants to grow their business significantly but just doesn’t quite have the framework in place to get there.”
Eric Mathews, co-president of LaunchYourCity, describes Synk as a “generous participant in the entrepreneurial ecosystem” being built in Memphis.
“We have been able to bring Michael on board as a business strategy coach for both startups and speedups in the community with great results,” Mathews said.
The metaphor Synk uses to describe what he does involves sand and rocks. He likens sand to the day-to-day tasks involved with running a business – sales calls and the like. Moving a rock, on the other hand, is the kind of thing that improves a business and helps it grow.
“You’ve got to find a rock,” Synk said.
Reuben Brunson, founder and CEO of Rocket Fuel, said Synk helped his company build a map to get it toward a more successful future. And he sums up his appreciation for Synk’s view of how to grow a business in three words:
“We like Mike.”