Recently I was interviewed for a local community newspaper, by a fresh new student reporter. I thought I would pass it on to you, in case you were curious to know more about me, my company, and how it all came to be. I think this is very well-written and I want to thank Elena once again for choosing me as her subject for this assignment, which was to profile a local business person. I have not edited it in any way. Enjoy!
Communicating with Confidence
Profile of Communication Coach Ric Phillips
By Elena Krasnova
He smiles as he opens the door and tells me to make myself at home. Following the advice, I choose the blue cushion rocking chair to settle in, as I get ready to interview Ric Phillips, the communication coaching expert. His office projects a vibe that’s almost too comfortable and informal, because his office also happens to be his home.
As I begin my questions, the phone rings. Ric apologizes and quickly answers it with a laconic greeting: “Ric Phillips…” From what I can make out, someone is calling about confidence coaching and Ric starts pitching one of his six-hour programs, as well as an upcoming workshop. So, it becomes clear that 34-year-old Ric Phillips is a one-man show and does everything himself: sales, marketing, advertising, and even IT, as he designs and manages his web site without any professional help. Operating out of his apartment, equipped with only a laptop and a towering bookshelf of communication resources, he is completely self-sufficient.
Yet although Ric’s company consists of only himself, it has a name –
3V Communications, which stands for three vital aspects of human communication: Visual, Vocal, and Verbal. This philosophy stems from a 1967 study conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA. Based on that initial small study, Ric’s theory states that communication is conveyed visually (through body language, gestures, and appearance), vocally (through stress, intonation, rhythm, and volume), and verbally (through words and phrases). The combination of these three “V’s” creates a fourth “V” – the Vibe we project to others. “Using the three “V’s” in synchronicity creates a positive vibe with no mixed messages,” Ric says.
Evidently, communication coaching is much more than just teaching people to express their thoughts effectively. In his five years as an entrepreneur and a specialist in this field, Ric has innovated the concept of communication coaching by offering a variety of services that pertain to different aspects of human relations. These services include confidence coaching, networking skills, public speaking and presentations, first impressions, and accent reduction. By conducting public workshops, on-site company training, and one-on-one coaching sessions, Ric has helped hundreds of people, ranging from new immigrants to top business executives. He has been hired by companies such as BizLaunch, YES (Youth Employment Services), Blaney McMurtry Barristers & Solicitors LLP, Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan, and various others.
There are numerous communication coaching companies operating throughout Canada and the U.S., but none of them covers the wide spectrum of services offered by 3V Communications. Ric says that no one can do exactly what he does, because all the experts in the industry have different strengths, styles, and knowledge. Therefore, Ric developed his programs based on his own skills and education, personal interests, as well as extensive market research.
The business was first registered in 2002 and it offered accent reduction/tutoring services and job search skills. The programs gradually developed through trial and error, and finally the company became 3V Communications in 2007. Originally Ric wanted to be a life coach but quickly realized that it’s impossible to run a business in a category so broad. “Every life coach needs to specialize,” he says, so he decided to specialize by playing to his strengths.
These strengths come mainly from Ric’s employment background, which is very diverse. For eight years he taught English as a Second Language in various schools around Toronto and performed the role of Academic Coordinator at some of them. He also spent two years in rural China from 1998 to 2000, where he taught English at a teachers’ college, essentially training the students to become English teachers. Moreover, Ric’s teaching experience includes self-defense and martial arts, which comprise a large part of his personal interests.
Before China, Ric worked as a Customer Service and Collections Agent. This experience, he says, was the most important contributing factor to his business success today. He also spent a number of years counseling and working with people with addictions and mental and physical disabilities.
In addition, Ric’s background includes a very entrepreneurial family. His father, uncle, older sister, and brother-in-law are all sole proprietors who followed their dreams, which partly influenced Ric to become his own boss as well. Most of Ric’s friends too are independent business owners who make a living on their own schedules.
Of course, with its perks of being your own boss and freedom of routine, entrepreneurship does come with certain challenges. Apart from the regular problems of not having a steady cash flow and working unpredictable hours, Ric’s business faces even tougher industry-related obstacles. First, it is not a well-known market. Most people still don’t know exactly what communication coaching is and how it can help them. This stems into a second major challenge – getting people to realize the value of these services in terms of upgrading their lives.
So, how does Ric cope with the ups and downs of being self-employed? “I always try to remember my successes instead of failures, and allow myself to be proud of myself,” he says. Having extensively researched the psychological, emotional, and physical aspects of confidence, Ric has no problem maintaining a positive attitude, no matter what life throws at him.
Besides, he loves what he does. “The most satisfying and fulfilling thing about it is helping people conquer their fears,” he says, “that’s priceless.” Here he gives me a perfect example of a client he recently helped. She is a Senior Financial Analyst at an organization that hired Ric to do on-site training. “She was very shy and needed to improve her confidence and communication skills,” he says. So, they did a total of 12 hours of coaching with two different programs: ‘Winning First Impressions’ and ‘Building Confidence – Building Success’. Within a short time the staff and management noticed considerable improvement in her confidence and comfort level. She actually started to speak up and give opinions in company meetings, which she had never done before. “I was very proud of her,” Ric says, “It was a huge step.”
As for his future plans, Ric eventually plans on training people to be coaches, just like him. He also plans to write more e-books about communication coaching, which he already sells over the internet. He currently uses Google AdWords to advertise, which, he says, is very effective, and in this way hopes to make his business more sustainable on the web. He wants to reduce his one-on-one sessions and transfer most of his material onto audio-visual media, eventually giving him international recognition.
For the immediate future, however, Ric will stick to joint ventures. “It’s the quickest way to expand without the legal hassle,” he says. Occasionally Ric teams up with other coaches to do combined public workshops. This November, 3V Communications will team up with The Image Factor for a workshop called “Communicate Your Confidence: Inside and Out.”
All of us could probably use at least one of the services Ric Phillips offers, but so few actually take charge and make a firm decision to invest in upgrading our soft skills. Yet these are the skills that matter most when it comes to being successful in the workplace and our personal lives. Will Ric be able to get this message across to more people and expand his market? The road ahead will show.