South African Business Coach Themi Stergianos

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Business Coach Themi Stergianos

South African business coach Themi Stergianos (38) was born to be an entrepreneur. He has owned and operated over eight businesses including a restaurant, estate agent franchise as well as online ventures. And now he’s sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with other entrepreneurs in his new venture as a business coach. In this interview the […]

23-02-10 00:26
South African Business Coach Themi Stergianos

South African business coach Themi Stergianos (38) was born to be an entrepreneur. He has owned and operated over eight businesses including a restaurant, estate agent franchise as well as online ventures. And now he’s sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with other entrepreneurs in his new venture as a business coach. In this interview the Capetonian, who has an Entrepreneurial MBA from Bond University Australia, talks about the philosophy of never-ending-improvement, overcoming the struggle to survive in the business world and the sweet sound of a person’s name.

1. So what made  you take the leap from entrepreneur to business coach?

South African Business Coach Themi Stergianos
South African Business Coach Themi Stergianos

My need to help entrepreneurs reach their true potential.  I know what it is like to have a business and worry about the day-to-day survival. I understand what it’s like to put in long hours and wonder what happened to the dreams and vision you had for your life and future. I decided I needed to change it for myself and help others do it as well; so I underwent a coaching programme and decided to become a business coach. I know what is needed to make a difference!  My vision is to massively TRANSFORM the personal lives of 100  business owners through business re-education by 2012.  I sincerely believe there is nobody more passionate and equipped to achieve this in South Africa. My goal is to help medium and small business owners spend less time working in their business and more time working on their business. I’d like to help business owners put the FUN back in their business and personal lives.

2. How is it different to what you did before in terms of challenge and satisfaction?

It is very much the same.  I have walked the talk.  I have lived and breathed business since I was at school.  I am born to be an entrepreneur.  Now I get to use my skills to transform people’s lives; and seeing the results is the most rewarding of all. According to international statistics, 80% of first-time businesses fail in the first year. A further 75% fail after five years! I believe that South Africa would not be far off this mark. Hence my desire to curb this statistic.

3. Since becoming an Action Coach, what have you learnt that you didn’t know before?

That I don’t know everything!  I do not know what I do not know!  Being more self aware has opened my mind to learning.  I now have become a sponge for knowledge.  Even I have a coach.  I am forever learning.  I subscribe to the Japanese “Kaizen philosophy” (which means “never ending improvement”) as opposed to the Western Philosophy of “If it ain’t broken – don’t fix it”.

4. Where to next? What’s the plan for you and your business?

I have such an exciting future.  In order for me to see my vision to fruition – I have decided to embark on rolling out workshops and seminars nationwide.  I will be broadcasting my seminars and workshops on the web in the form of interactive learning where you can learn from my workshops in the comfort of you homes internationally 24 hours 7.  But for now I have business owners that need my help and I will do whatever is necessary to help them be the best they can be! My passion for outdoor activity is big.  I love animals the outdoors and adventure. I will be starting an outdoor activity and adventure business aimed at business owners/corporates and their teams.  I believe all people should be pushed out of their comfort zones at some stage.  It is good for the soul and puts perspective back in our lives. If we are spending 70% of our awake day at work – why would we not want to have FUN.  We should be injecting fun back into the workplace no doubt.   I would like to share how I came to this desire to create this business. I had a client (like most business owners) that had never stopped to smell the roses.  When I asked him when he took time out for himself – his answer was “never”.  As his business coach, I set out to change his lights for him.  We set a business goal and the agreement was that if he achieved that goal, I would take him on a weekend holiday that he wouldn’t forget. We ended up Kayaking in 5-foot swells near Cape Town and lo and behold we had a welcoming visiter – a mother whale and her calf popped up to greet us – not event 50 metres away.  We watched the beautiful, peaceful beasts for over an hour and I believe my client and I had some life changing moments.  I WILL live my live and create work that allows me to enjoy these activities more.  As for my client – he is taking more breaks and smelling the roses!


Kayaking with a Southern Right Whale and her calf
Kayaking with a Southern Right Whale and her calf

5. Any proof that business coaching works?  If someone is doing well – why should they have a business coach?

Every successful athlete has a coach.  And I stress every! Can you imagine Roger Federer winning Wimbledon without a coach?  Tiger Woods being no 1 Golfer in the world without a coach?  The Springboks winning the World Cup without a Jake White?  I believe every business should have a GOOD coach.  And it will get to that stage.  Just as Bill Gates from Microsoft believed every household and business would have a pc. An outsider who has your personal and business interests at heart.  A Sherpa to guide you when the you have a  lack of direction because there is a snow blizzard…

Themi (in the back) with client kayaking.
Themi (in the back) with client kayaking.

6. a) What’s the best part of what you do?

Inspire, and never give up on a client if I believe in him or her.  I will coach him/her until we get results.  It is a non-negotiable.  I continuously will strive to be the best I can be and will not settle for second best.  And my integrity – I do what I say!!!

b) and the worst part of what you do?

I can sometimes be quite tough on my clients.  But then a good coach should be.  My passion for results does mean I tend to get too involved with my clients’ issues but I am learning to distance myself.

7. What’s one single principal you’ve learnt through becoming a coach that you now live by yourself (and that you never did before)?

To strive for Congruency!  I teach this to my clients all the time.   But it really hit home when a client phoned me this week and said:  “Themi I now realise what you mean by ‘congruency’.” She summed it up so simply by saying: “if you are not keeping agreements with yourself (like not going to Gym when you agreed to go),  then you are displaying a lack of trust with yourself.  How do you expect your customers to trust you when you don’t trust yourself!”  Beautifully said.

8. What’s the most inspiring expression you  heard while growing up?

That a person’s name is to that person the sweetest sound in any language. From Dale Carnegie. I was 14-years-old when this was said, and it is so true.

9. Was there a life-changing moment in your youth?

Yes – when my dad took me to Dale Carnegie when I was 14. I was the youngest on the programme.  It positively shaped my life and is particularly helping me to learn what Stephen R Covey teaches – that to invest in yourself is the best investment you can make. Without my dad really knowing, he was “teaching me to fish for a lifetime – not feeding me for day”.

10. Your most useful character trait?

My gift for working with people.  I am very approachable.

11. Bravest thing you’ve done to date?

Selling up my businesses, packing up my family (my wife, 3-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son) and doing a working sabbatical in Europe for a year. Whilst there the bravest thing was pitching to a packed hall of Investors, in an attempt to raise R30-million for a share of a start-up internet business

12. Proudest achievement?

My Children and family – they complete me.

13. Favourite holiday destination?

The Kruger National Park or in the Wild somewhere in Africa – without a doubt.

14 What is your favorite way to pass a typical Sunday?

Being outdoors with the family – travelling up the West Coast to see the flowers in Darling or heading to a breakfast in Hout Bay.

15. if you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

It used to be to get a formal education and black belt – now I have achieved that.  So nothing?

16. If you did not live in South Africa, where would you live and why?

Australia for sure – I love their climate and it would offer most of what SA offers.  The crime does make me worry at times.

17. What’s still a challenge for you?

I am learning to take on less and do it better!  A big learning curve for me.

18. Most surprising thing you’ve learnt about yourself in your “journey” so far?

Less is more.  Sometimes we should learn to “take away” and not necessarily “add on”  – I don’t watch much TV anymore and I am reading more.  It is a wonderful habit to develop.

19. Life is…


20. Success means…

Being the Best you can possibly BE!  Mediocrity sucks. Being exceptional on the other hand is Being the best you can be.

21. Please finish these sentences:

a) South Africans are so…privileged.  I don’t think we appreciate the extent of our cruel political past and the affect it could have had on the nation should Mandela and De Klerk not have been visionary enough.  This is a massive feat for our country and paves the way as an example to the rest of the world. The fact that most of us can now lead normal lives (relative to crime of course) is amazing.  We are truly blessed.

b) What frustrates me in SA is….crime and corruption.  The politicians’ dysfunctional and adherent misgiving approach to foster better lives for all.  I don’t believe that they are doing enough.  I also believe that the middle class does not stand up enough for their rights.  We should all toi toi towards corrective action should the lives of our children be in risk.  In short we don’t stand up enough to be heard to make the difference.

c) I love being South African because…of the people. Our diverse cultures are truly amazing.  It’s the small things that count to me. Nothing better than hearing the accent of a Cape Coloured flower vendor resonating from street traffic intersections, or the odd Afrikaaner farmer rolling his r’s to even the proud Malay’s selling their Curry Rooties at spazas in the City.


“I will only work with a few clients in my lifetime because results are of paramount importance. Will that client be you? My most effective program is One-on-One coaching. The price depends on how much time and energy we need to put into your program to achieve the desired result. If you’re not ready for this, but would like to know more, kindly contact me through or do our online FREE BIZ HEALTH CHECK. View Testimonials. “