I met Robert Whipple at a meeting of my consultant's group, Professional Consultant's Association of Central New York, and it turned out that we shared some similar business interests. His third book is due out some time later this year, and last fall he was named one of the top 100 thought leaders in the country on the topic of leadership development by Leadership Excellence Magazine.

1. What is Leadergrow, Inc?

We do customized leadership training.

2. What made you decide to go into this business?

I have always had a passion for growing leaders. My study of leadership skills and development of strong leaders goes back to the late 1960's. I will not stop studying and mentoring other leaders until the day I die. I believe the highest calling for any leader is to grow other leaders.

3. What types of challenges have you had along the way?

The biggest challenge is to figure out the balance in life so you don't become so successful that you sacrifice too much personal time. Letting go of the preoccupation with making as much money as possible is an important step to achieving balance. Do what you love and you will earn enough money to live comfortably and not be a slave to earning money. Do not envy other people: instead envy yourself.

4. Have the positives outweighed the negatives, and if so, how?

Absolutely! When you are doing what you love and are your own boss, what could be better. I am as busy as I can be, but still have the ability to turn away work that is not on my main agenda. Most days I wake up looking forward to the work laid out for the day. The only exception is that I dislike grading papers when teaching collegiate courses. That is my most tedious activity.

5. What would you recommend for anyone looking to go into business for themselves?

Construct a strategic framework for yourself and your business. It is amazing how many consultants that insist their clients make up a strategic framework do not have one for themselves. I don't mean a mental image of what you are going to do. I mean a written document that you update at least once a year. It needs to contain the following specific things:

Your values, objectives, vision, mission, behaviors, goals (both for the coming year and for 5 years out), list of accomplishments for previous year, Strategic Plan, Tactics, Marketing Plan (including segmentation), Sales Plan, Your Master Strategy Team, Possible directions with advantages and costs of each clearly spelled out, a "mind Map" of your possible options for the future, list of success factors, your own set of rules for political survival, if you are over extended - a list of things you will stop doing.

My strategic plan is 25 pages long (actually 25 PowerPoint slides). I update it every year on New Years Eve (before any alcohol). It is important to set aside a specific time in the year when you update this document, if not you will procrastinate and lose the value of it. Select your birthday, some holiday, or some other convenient time, but make sure you do it every year. The first year it make take a couple days to complete. After that you can update in yearly in just a few hours. Having this document is essential if you want to get the most out of life and your business.