Q&A with Dr. Richard Marcus: On Career, Coaching, and Franchising

This week, I sat down with Dr. Richard Marcus, a licensed Psychologist with over 30 years of professional experience and a subject matter expert in executive coaching and development. For the past 20 years, Richard has supported professionals and executives from almost all industry sectors – many of whom have been interested in exploring careers outside of Corporate America. So as you can imagine, Richard and I always have much to discuss when we get together!

Richard has shared countless insights with me over the years (about coaching, career transitions, and even life) – and his guidance has helped me understand the true value of partnerships between career coaches and franchise coaches like myself.

I’m excited to share my latest conversation with Richard, as well as my gratitude for how much this smart, curious, and compassionate coach has guided me on my own path!

You’ve helped many a professional navigate their way to a successful next chapter in their career. How would you describe your own career journey?

Much like many of my clients’ careers, my own professional story has taken quite a few unexpected twists and turns – particularly the application of my psychology training and skills in executive development and eventually, the start of my own independent practice. 

Companies and senior leaders reach out to me for a range of support needs – including succession planning, people management issues, career transition, and soft skills development. My psychology expertise brings a unique perspective to executive coaching – allowing me to focus not only on performance improvement but also on personal growth and well-being. My understanding of human behavior, cognition, and emotions helps me support executives in becoming more effective leaders, navigate challenges, chart a path forward, and foster a positive organizational climate.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

That’s an easy one! I love hearing people’s stories. I’m a naturally curious person, so I never tire of meeting people, learning about who they are, the challenges they face, and what they want out of life.

I also appreciate that by listening to people’s stories – and guiding them through a challenge or decision – I can make a positive impact on the next chapter in their story. It’s always rewarding to help others, and even more, to help others do more to help the people they serve. I truly enjoy the ripple effect of the work I do.

And it’s impossible to answer this question without mentioning that I love working for myself. I’ve worked for companies and had a wide range of experiences in that world, so I can say with certainty that I fully appreciate the autonomy of my days and work in this chapter. To put it very simply: I can’t imagine ever going back to a corporate role after experiencing the rewards of business ownership.

I can definitely relate! 

Let’s step back to many years ago when we first met. Back then, you felt very differently about franchising. How did your perceptions change?

Initially I regarded franchising with quite a bit of skepticism. Like many, I thought it was limited to fast-food chains or retail outlets. But several experts in this space (including you!) opened my eyes to the many possibilities of the franchise landscape, and I was astounded to learn how many options there are – from education to healthcare to fitness. With all the uncertainties and economic upheavals in today’s world, the franchising world offers professionals looking for a next chapter quite a few unique benefits, such as low entry barriers and established support systems.

I’m glad that I’ve learned more about the franchising world, because it’s just one more viable path that I can suggest to certain clients when the fit seems right. 

What’s the best piece of advice you have for a professional / executive thinking about leaving Corporate America to start a new business or franchise? 

Really take the time to know yourself – your strengths and weaknesses, the practicalities of your financial situation, how much risk you are willing to take, and what you want the most out of your next chapter. As part of this information-seeking, I recommend talking to a LOT of people so you have the best understanding of the options out there. If there’s a particular avenue you want to explore, be sure to speak with others who have been successful on that road.

If you have a spouse or life partner, definitely include them in your planning and thinking, because that alignment is critical for your success. 

And finally, I often tell people to be very picky about the moves they make, especially when it comes to something as significant as starting a new business or franchise. Taking the time to be picky and making well-informed choices that align with personal goals gives people a better chance of building a successful next chapter.

What’s your favorite client success story? 

It’s hard to pick just one, but I can say this… I’ve been repeatedly inspired by a number of clients without college degrees who have risen through the ranks and eventually landed some very senior roles. As an example, I had a client who started his career as a waiter and eventually became CEO of a company with oversight of 30+ restaurants. 

I love stories like this because they prove that every career path is different. Not everyone needs to follow the same recipe for success.

What’s your best piece of advice in general?

Character is everything! That’s true in life, and it’s especially true for the people you choose as partners in something as consequential as starting a business or franchise – whether they are the people guiding you or an actual business partner in the venture.

Making a change in your career is a personal and transformative journey, so take the time to find partners, coaches, and supporters with whom you feel comfortable and confident. Trust your instincts, and find the people who demonstrate professionalism, integrity, and a genuine interest in helping you achieve your career aspirations.

When you’ve got the right people at your side, it’s much easier to find the right path that leads to the right future for you.