Coaching strengths: Fishers resident Phil Millage excels in motivating young entrepreneurs


By Mark Ambrogi

Phil Millage’s career in coaching executives happened by accident.

“It started with consulting and the executive would say if I could analyze his speaking and writing and see how he’s coming across to his people,” said Millage, who has lived in Fishers since 1991. “The old rule is you ought to know someone intimately at some level of the company. Most executives don’t. They don’t know what the janitor thinks. They don’t know what middle management thinks.”

So Millage eventually transformed from being a consultant to a coach. Millage, the president of Inspire Executive Coaching, specializes in coaching entrepreneurs at this stage in his career. He is a Gallup-certified strengths coach and a professional speaker.

“Right now Gallup only has 150 certified coaches in the word,” Milage said. “I think there are three in Indiana.”

Millage said his plan is to have executives build around their strengths.

“I think the average company doesn’t realize they can make a lot more money if they just had the right people in the right places,” Millage said.

His theory is executives need coaching just like athletes.

“Why do we believe we can advance ourselves without any help?” Millage said.

Millage, who previously taught business at Indiana University, Ball State and Taylor, taught at Indiana Wesleyan for nearly 15 years before giving it up in the spring.

He’s also been a real estate broker and owns rental properties. Millage still owns Inspire Real Estate, but has others working for him.

“I always had three careers going at once. Only in the last year I’ve gotten down to one thing, coaching,” Millage said.

Aaron Peabody, 20, is one of Millage’s former students at Indiana Wesleyan University. Millage said he coaches Peabody for a very small percentage of his business, a startup called Zipline. It will be a social media tool that allows people to capture high-depth video up to 60 seconds on smartphones with simplistic editing tools. Peabody said he hopes they release the app in the coming months.

“My impact is more connecting him with money people and people who are smart,” Millage said. “They don’t need me for my brilliance. They need me for my coaching, the connections and the interpersonal communications.”

Peabody met Millage when he took the teacher’s marketing principles class.

“I ended up changing my academic advisor to Phil because I wanted to get to know this guy some more,” Peabody said. “As our relationship progressed, he treated more like a CEO than a student.”

Peabody said Millage’s help has been very instrumental in several ways.

“He’s done what he’s done for a lot of organizations,” Peabody said. “He’s been a huge advocate for me. He pushed me beyond my vision. He offers a lot of insight, things that would not be in my perspective considering how young I am. He keeps pushing you forward.”

Millage works with Santiago Jaramillo, whose company — Fishers-based Bluebridge — builds smartphone apps. Jaramillo was named to Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30 World’s Coolest Entrepreneurs” in 2013 and is another former student of Millage.

Millage said Jaramillo and Peabody recognize the value of networking.

“My generation grew up thinking we’re tough guys, we can do this on our own,” Millage said. “This generation is a lot more intelligent.”

Millage explains how some executives get the wrong idea.

Jaramillo said he attributes much of his success to Millage’s contributions.

“He’s been tremendous in helping me understand myself and what my strengths and weaknesses are,” Jaramillo said. “It’s of paramount importance when as an entrepreneur your job is you have resources to hire others who excel in areas where you do not.”

Millage’s motivating skills have been beneficial, too.

“He believed in me in ways that I didn’t believe in myself,” Jaramillo said. “He encouraged some of my entrepreneurial endeavors when I wasn’t sure if I was cut out to be an entrepreneur in the early days. Him seeing that potential in me in that way and encouraging me was a key part in me staying in the business world.”

Executive coaching tips by Philip Millage

1) High-level collaboration is the key to success. The CEO is very likely isolated and surrounded by people who are more likely to agree than to collaborate. The coach can have a very positive impact in such situations.

2) The best coaching comes from coaches that have been “doers” themselves. Book knowledge cannot be discounted, but it never is enough.

3) The coach should not make line decisions, but rather collaborate and advise. Helping the CEO positively improve his or her job engagement leads to much better ideas and thus, better decisions.

4) Trust is the key. The coach, if well trained, can pick up on potential attitudes or psychological issues that will lead to problems for the CEO, and consequently, these can be addressed when the coach and CEO enjoy a high level of trust.

About Philip Millage

Age: 63

Title: President of Inspire Executive Coaching.

Education: bachelor’s of science from Indiana Wesleyan University, 1976, master’s from Ball State 1977, master’s of business administration, Ball State, 1980 and doctorate  from Ball State, 1990.

Teaching experience: Indiana University, Ball State, Taylor University and Indiana Wesleyan. Professor of business at IWU from Aug. 2000 to April 2015. Named IWU Professor of the Year.

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