A Tale of Two... Pivots

Oh, were you expecting the word cities?  Sorry. Just trying to get your attention.

As a technology start-up, the VARI Group has come to have a love-hate relationship with the concept of “a pivot.” As Alan Spoon said in Inc. online,

“Pivoting” is a familiar word in the startup world.  When your first business model isn’t working (and this happens more often than not), the CEO and team pivot to plan B.  These are deep breath moments! But pivoting doesn’t necessarily mean desperation.  It can be a tool to discover additional growth--growth you might otherwise have overlooked. Businesses can grow beyond their initial dreams by re-imagining their assets and talents, thinking more broadly about the customer problems they solve, and accessing growth capital to seize the new high ground.”

Our initial vision for PerfectCoaches was a book for individuals, supplemented by an online workbook. It would be sold within a retail concept called The Self-Discovery Station, shopping mall kiosks featuring our book, other self-development books, and themed merchandise such as jewelry. We designed a “business experiment” straight out of Thomas Davenport’s Harvard Business Review guidelines and launched the first Self Discovery Station in an upscale mall in the Tampa FL market. The results were clear: there was not a viable retail market large enough to sustain an investment in that model.


Time for Plan B. The decision was made to market the PerfectCoaches concept to companies and universities, making it part of the Science of Human Performance®, our corporate offering. We retained the same cardinal concepts for individual development, namely, that the person should decide what habits and skills they want to master. After a major investment in PerfectCoaches.com, we debuted the concept to the commercial training and development world in May of 2017. Hundreds of humans used the software in a variety of pilot tests, and we seemed to learn one towering lesson: Even professionals in large corporations, even the training and development specialists, do not really have a clear idea of what their “to-be” me looks like.


In what is a much less dramatic change, we are offering specific suggestions in our book and website. We call them best-practices, a term borrowed from business process reengineering. The change is mostly a change in the product concept. The business model stays the same in that buyers are organizations, not individuals.

The concept now is that PerfectCoaches®  is an information age invention that helps organizations leverage their investments in performance management systems, skills training, and professional development.

Individuals and teams identify the skills they want to master or reinforce, forty five skills and habits organized in predefined Skillset Stacks: 

  • KowledgeWork and Teamwork;

  • Sales and Customer Service;

  • Leadership;

  • Healthy Living.  

Using a phone or PC, an online virtual Motivation Coach helps them focus on learning each new skill and, just as important, continuously improving the ones already mastered.  It’s all about self-awareness, behavioral focus, and feedback.

PerfectCoaches is is the human resource management component of the Science of Pure Performance. It's not only for individuals, it is for every company, university, or agency that strives for high quality performance through individual excellence. It It provide an enterprise with a consistent approach that everyone at every level can use every day when working with customers and working with each other.

At the risk of misusing the Tale of Two Cities hook (Sydney Carton was a noble and tragic character), we seek you indulgence by closing with this idea: “It is a far, far better thing that we do, than we have ever done: to recognize that we got the market wrong not just once, but twice.”

Keenan Orfalea