Three years ago, my company stopped being fun. After 10 years in business, negativity spread virally through my staff of 20. After years of satisfaction from leading a team of happy employees, I felt trapped, victimized, and unable to fix problems plaguing my company. My staff turned on me, customer service suffered, and an ugly cloud shrouded my business, employees and life.

After free-falling into an abyss of negativity, I fired seven staffers, let others leave on their own, and rethought how my company conducts its business. I accepted responsibility for running the company, and slowly hired replacements. Now, work is fun again. The staff is happier and more productive than ever, and our customers are benefiting.

Eight months ago, in the midst of the turnaround, Sharon Hoover, my business coach, who I had re-engaged in mid-2007 after shunning for about two years, sent me a book called Energy Leadership. When I finally read it three months ago, I was surprised at how closely the book paralleled my own gut-wrenching experience.

Through a character called Richard, CEO of a marketing company, author Bruce Schneider tells the story of a firm with a staff that is frustrated, unconstructive and unproductive. Schneider tells an inspiring story about a mysterious blight of negativity plaguing the company and about how its leader regains control and restores the company back to health.

Because I connected with the book, I called Schneider and asked if I could interview him. Our conversation reinforced the goodness, consideration and generosity that you must show other people in order to succeed in business and in life.

Schneider, a licensed psychotherapist with a degree in social work, is founder of Shrewsbury, N.J.-based IPEC Coaching. His school is accredited by the International Coach Federation, an educational organization that accredits coaches and awards coach credentials, Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach and Master Certified Coach (MCC). ICF is similar to the CFP Board of Standards, which until about a decade ago was connected to its educational arm, The College of Financial Planning. About 3,000 people have received one of the ICF's three designations.

Schneider's company is the only coaching program in New York and New Jersey accredited by ICF. IPEC offers two coaching certificates, a Core Energy Coaching certificate, and a more advanced Accredited Energy Leadership Coach certificate, which requires 300 hours of education. (Getting ICF's MCC credential requires 200 hours of education plus 2,500 hours of experience as a coach practitioner.) Schneider says IPEC has trained about 3,000 coaches.

Schneider's ideas are pretty far out. Schneider, 48, has a Ph.D. in metaphysics from the American Institute of Holistic Theology. He says that we all have our own "energy" that causes good and bad interactions with others. While the left-brain reporter in me demands objective scientific data, I intuitively know Schneider's ideas have merit. And while you may not buy into the science, his ideas may help you connect better with people and make you more successful.

Gluck: You've really accomplished quite a lot.

Schneider: I had a life-changing experience in 1978 when a drunk driver killed himself and almost me. Since then, it's been a journey. A lot of these concepts were discovered from meditation and trial and error in business. I've experienced a tremendous amount of success and don't feel like I work for it. It's fun.

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