About Mike Gellman

My Story

If there was something you were doing or not doing that was getting in the way of you realizing your dream career and reaching your true potential, would you want to know?

When I first began coaching and teaching career management workshops 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to work for a one-stop career center that served people from all walks of life; from housewives who were entering the workforce for the first time, laid off factory workers searching for a new job in a different industry, to PhD graduates who had some “attitudinal” challenges to overcome.

I have worked for an array of small businesses, corporations, and nonprofit organizations since then and I’ve come to realize that the core principles for effective career management remain the same – e.g. developing self-awareness, clarifying direction and goals, building relationships, and taking initiative. Many myths that hold people back in their careers have persisted as well. For example, I come across many individuals who believe that working hard, keeping their nose to the grindstone, and doing a good job will result in the career advancement they desire. They are expecting to be tapped on the shoulder for the next great opportunity. In reality, only about 10-15% of positions are filled that way. Meanwhile, individuals who have taken the necessary actions to champion their own career progress fill the remaining 85-90% of job openings.

Increasingly over the years, clients have come to me exasperated and dissatisfied about their job or career prospects. Oftentimes, they are:

  • Stuck and don't know what to do about it.
  • Passed over for promotions that they feel they deserve.
  • Unable to clearly articulate their own interests or direction.
  • Unable to explain why they aspire to achieve certain goals.
  • Burned out after several years and not sure which way to turn.
  • Trapped by limiting beliefs about what’s possible for their future
  • Unaware of available opportunities that may align better to their passions, strengths, skills, interests, values, and personality.
  • Beholden to what others expect or want them to do (consciously or unconsciously).
  • Struggling with how to connect and communicate their expertise in one career or industry with what’s needed in a new environment.
  • Experiencing difficulty adjusting to a new leadership position.

What’s in common with the above scenarios is that we all have some blind spots that can hold us back. It's not unusual for individuals to feel overwhelmed by the task at hand and stymied by where to begin.

I endeavor to help you achieve your career dreams and goals. My aim is to offer clients a system of support with an array of career management programs and services to assist individuals in any stage of their career. At the end of the day, my clients walk away with increased clarity about themselves, confidence about their direction, and are empowered to more effectively manage their careers.


Mike Gellman, Founder & Coach

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My Philosophy

Overall Business

My experience in business started from the time I began working in my father’s drugstore since I was eight years old. The core principles of my approach to business is to understand customer needs, play fair, be transparent, pay attention to quality, customize solutions, own up to mistakes, collaborate, utilize a holistic systems approach, incorporate sustainable practices, and facilitate client self-sufficiency.


My approach to teaching students is facilitative and incorporates adult learning principles, fosters a high degree of peer interaction and seeks to tap into the “wisdom in the room.” I am fascinated by the diverse experiences, thought process, and opinions that students contribute in class. It’s truly enriching and could not have been achieved through a traditional lecturing approach. This interactive and engaging approach has been one of my core tenets over the years and has informed the approach I’ve utilized in the corporate training arena.


My approach to training employees over the years is built upon my initial teaching experience as well as newer understandings of how adults learn and apply what they learn after they leave the classroom (or virtual classroom) and are back on the job. I believe that learning is a process rather than an “event.” Most learning actually occurs outside the classroom – i.e. it begins before employees enter the classroom and continues after they leave and return to work.

To this end, a key approach I’ve adopted to maximize learning is that I typically provide pre-work in advance of the class to prime and prepare students for what they are about to learn as well as post-class assignments in order to increase the probability that learning will transfer successfully with the application of new knowledge, habits, and skills. During the class, I utilize a mix of lecture, personal stories and examples to illustrate concepts, small and large group discussions and exercises, videos, student teach-backs and report-outs, and debriefs to facilitate understanding on a meta-learning level.


Using my humanics and business background, I use a holistic approach to coaching that incorporates “mind, body, and spirit” principles. Practically speaking, this takes the form of “teach to fish” approach and facilitates a process of client self-discovery and commitment to action. While I possess career development expertise and offer my insights as necessary, I believe true power and wisdom resides within each of my clients.

As a professional coach, I see my duty as being fully present in order to embrace each client's unique nature, actively listen and build trust, ask powerful questions, and challenge assumptions. I also help clients to define success, plan, set goals, and support them in holding themselves accountable to their commitments.


In graduate school, I was introduced to many thought leaders in the field of business and psychology. Three individuals in particular, Edgar Schein (author of Process Consultation), Peter Block (author of Flawless Consulting), and Roger Schwartz (author of The Skilled Facilitator) most influenced my consulting and facilitation style that has remained a guiding force over the years.

The essence of their approaches to consulting is that the greatest value one can provide is to understand the client’s underlying needs vs. presenting needs, focus on process vs. content, enable the client to own the problem vs. the consultant taking it on, and a key use oneself as a tool for change by reflecting back what he observes via candid feedback. In fact, most of the leaders I’ve consulted with over the years have indicated that they truly value being able to get honest feedback about their blind spots.


My newest endeavor has been conducting public speaking. Inspirational, funny, warm, personable, relatable, and helpful are some common phrases audiences have used to describe some of my keynote presentations, radio interviews, and live streaming broadcasts. It’s important to me to relay messages that are relevant to my audience, insightful, interactive, and actionable.

What People are Saying About Mike

  • Mike is an energetic, professional, and informative presenter. He engages with the audience with an infectious authenticity. His work in career development is inspiring and practical.
    Judy Issokson - Board Member
    San Diego OD Network
  • Mike Gellman was a dream to work with on the Spot Coaching Pilot Program this fall. His attention to detail and his ability to keep the vision at the forefront of each step in the planning, program marketing, assessment, delivery and process improvement based on the feedback from participants was amazing. Mike demonstrated a steadfast commitment to quality of delivery and customization to meet the participants’ pre and post feedback. He provided above and beyond service to the preparations for participants and the facilitators...showing up 90 minutes early, setting the expectations for excellence with the trainers, support of any kind necessary and fantastic energy even after the 3rd pilot session. His willingness to participate and engage when the participants needed a coaching partner was always an attitude of "I'll do anything you need." Mike was able to formulate an excellent marketing overview of how Spot Coaching builds the bridge of skills and the mindset to support broader mastery of all the leadership development courses past and present. His patience when dealing with technology issues was amazing. Mike's professionalism and demeanor is a delight. He pushes for excellence in a non-threatening and empowering collaborative approach. People trust him and he comes across as competent, caring and warm. Please let me know if I can comment on anything specific you are measuring.
    Linda Newlin Ruffin - Senior Business Consultant & Master Certified Coach
    Hudson Institute
  • Thank you for the coaching and counseling you’ve provided as a member of the team – you have definitely had a positive impact on many.
  • I have known Mike for four years and have worked closely with him on several large, complex client projects. On one particular project where we worked as peer Organization Development consultants, we partnered to bring about culture change in a large division of 600 employees. There were two groups with distinct cultures who the leader wished to align and bring to higher levels of collaboration and performance. Mike and I designed and facilitated a series of team interventions where skill, sensitivity and flawless coordination were key to success. What was wonderful about working with him is that we shared leadership and he could support as well as he could lead. He had a calming as well as a stimulating effect on the group and he helped them navigate challenging conversations that had to happen in order for progress to be made. He encouraged deeper thinking than many consultants are able to do. Mike is an outstanding partner and consultant, facilitator and thinker. He listens and he challenges the status quo, he supports and he pushes back, all without ego and with the client's needs up front and center. It is refreshing to see him in action whether the task is coaching an individual, facilitating a diverse group of leaders or working to build a team's skills for the new world.
    Kathleen Wheeler, Ph.D., Consultant & Instructor
    UCSD extension, Business & Leadership program
  • Thank you for doing a great job facilitating the Healthy Organizations workshop for our Mobilehome Park Program Project team. Although I believe we have a strong team, you discussed our results and some possible blind spots and inconsistencies where we can improve. This gave the team a lot to think about and ideas on how to improve moving forward. I am a strong believer and supporter of this program and your ability to present, probe, and guide the team discussions gave all of us new insights and ideas. Thank you!
    Joe Velasquez - Director, Master Meter Customer Program
    Southern California Gas Company
  • I want to personally thank you for helping me through some of the obstacles I encountered as a team member of Employee Development. You were able to identify my weakness in Consulting to clients and provided me with resources to help me develop this skillset. You were very patient with me and our discussions were instrumental to my success as a team member of Employee Development at SoCalGas.
    Raul Barcenas - Rancho Warehouse AM Supervisor II
  • It was good seeing you again. I enjoyed your presentation at the IIBA Meeting last night. You were able to challenge the audience to look inside in a not-too-threatening way; and provided added value through the exercises. Great stuff. Looking forward to the next event (whatever that might be). Let's keep in touch.
  • I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike as a client, but as a former OD practitioner, I have a keen appreciation for the talents he brings to an engagement. He has a wealth of tools for different situations, but, more importantly, has the intuition and sensitivity to adjust his approach as he dives deeper into the engagement. He has a passion for helping clients and is an intense and empathetic listener. If you’re not looking for a “cookie cutter” or “canned” solution, Mike is the resource that can help.
    Chris Chen, Strategy Development Manager & Author of Coaching Training (ASTD Press)
  • As Manager of Meter Reading overseeing the mass workforce transformation as the meter reading function was moving to automated future, I needed help in preparing my management team for their eventual transition to their next career. I reached out to Mike Gellman, Senior Talent Leader at SoCalGas to help me.  Mike did an amazing job of putting together a presentation for the team, and showed them what was possible in identifying how their transferable talents could be put to use in their next career transition.  He held my team accountable for taking the initiative to sign up for a two-day training, which would be a prerequisite for one-on-one coaching. I had several of my team members share with me how valuable and insightful his training was for them.  As a result, well over 90% of the management team have made a successful transition to a career of their choice. I appreciated Mike’s can do attitude and his caring demeanor to help others be successful.  Thank you Mike for all you do!  
    Paul M. Gendron - former Manager, Meter Reading; Successfully transitioned to Safety, Wellness & Emergency Services Manager
  • Mike’s breadth and depth of knowledge are invaluable. He is a great listener and draws upon his breadth and depth of knowledge to design customized coaching and training sessions. I found in Mike a trusted and caring partner and mentor in helping our teams learn and move forward with how best to develop and work together to accomplish challenging change initiatives.
  • Mike asked me the right questions to help me frame up the issues that need attention. He is a very caring and knowledgeable career coach.  He quickly pinpoints the crux of a situation and does not fail to leave me with helpful insights, ideas or questions to ponder. Thanks to Mike, I am able to focus on what works best for my career.
    Kathlina L. - Supply Mgmt. & Logistic Program Manager
  • I have worked with Mike as a colleague and enjoyed his support and guidance through challenging issues. Foremost was Mike’s ability to listen intently, understand the surface as well as the underlying issues and then ask questions that opened up my thinking as approach to issues. Mike made a strong impression on me with his patience and wisdom. He always seems to be able to help me see the forest through the trees. As a Professional Certified Coach, I feel that Mike is the Coach’s Coach. While leaders, individuals and other professionals would benefit from Mike’s Coaching, I have to say that professional coaches would also do well to spend some time with Mike.
    Anna D. Johnson - Senior Manager, Organizational Effectiveness
  • I know Mike from his corporate coaching and organizational development work. Over the years of knowing Mike, I’ve counted on his observations and feedback to improve the way I approach challenging situations, including challenging group dynamics. Anyone interested in professional coaching should reach out to Mike and get to know his style, which I would call instinctual and reassuring.
  • I was introduced to Mike in 2008, when as a department head, I was challenged with interpersonal conflicts among some of my staff members, which had an adverse effect on overall department morale. Mike was part of our company’s Organizational Development team, which is an extension of the Human Resources Department. He was assigned to troubleshoot and evaluate problem areas, then design and execute a plan for resolution. After ample time, the results came to fruition and we were 100% satisfied with its success. That success came in large part due to Mike’s remarkable talents, great communication skills and patience. We still model the basic elements of Mike’s resolution plan as our day-to-day best practices interpersonal communication standard.
    Carl Villarreal - Claims Liability Management Manager
    San Diego Gas & Electric Company
  • I know Mike as a client.  My department was facing issues dealing with communication and working as a group given the different work styles people have.  Mike developed a series of activities that pointed out those differences with specific action items that helped us learn how to communicate better and function more smoothly as a work group.
    Martha M
  • I met Mike about 10 years ago and, early on, came to have a great deal of respect and admiration for his skills and gifts. As his colleague during his time at SDGE and SoCalGas, I have observed how easily Mike connected with his clients and was able to quickly target root issues. Whether addressing dynamics that impact the cohesiveness of a team, or uncovering physical and mental obstacles to an individual achieving their aspirations, Mike possesses a deep compassion for the people he interacts with, and grace that helps instill trust. He has been a friend and mentor, and has challenged me to always apply my best efforts.  
    Sr. Employee Development Advisor
  • Thank you so very much for making the trip down for Orange County LA area to run our workshop last night. We had such good feedback on your presentation. People definitely left last night with their job search spirits uplifted. I agree with Gene's comments below. Your examples and stories of roadblocks we create in our job search and career goals were excellent messages but done with humor and grace. I also thought you had the right balance of activities that were meaningful to your messages. Your material was well delivered and relevant to our candidates. Thank you for the work you did to prepare that presentation for us. We hope that you will consider coming back in the future. It was a pleasure for us to have you run our workshop.
    Kate Brehmer
    NC3 Career Transitions
  • I met Mike when he facilitated the “Career Kickstarter” class and the “Career Coaching” group meetings that I participated in. At that time I was really trying to take control of my career, and Mike was able to provide me with the tools and information I needed to get going in the right direction. As a millennial, a common theme is having the education but not the experience. The content and strategies I was able to learn from Mike really boosted my confidence in myself and ultimately was a key factor in a new position I was able to secure.  Mike is very passionate about his services and the individuals he coaches and mentors, he will guide you in the direction you need to go. I am grateful to have met Mike, he has been an influence in the direction I’d like to go.
  • Practical, relevant, and hard-hitting. Mike has identified the seven most important forces you can align right now to propel your career.Pipe Dreams is a wise read for professionals and leaders at all levels. Get it now!
    Author or editor of 34 books including global bestsellers MOJO and What Got You Here Won't Get You There
  • Mike Gellman helps you realize the potential that will take you to the next level in your career journey. He explains how you can succeed with simple examples and analogies, which you will always remember! I did not hesitate to buy his book "Pipe Dreams: 7 Pipelines of Career Success" right after listening to him for the first time.
  • I can attest to the powerful influences the factors in Pipe Dreams: 7 Pipelines of Career Success have had in my own career journey. Both energy industry and non-industry professionals who are striving to get “unstuck” in their careers will benefit from the key principles and thought-provoking questions posed in this small, yet powerful book.
    Former CEO & Chairman of SoCalGas
  • Being a PT Meter Reader Transitional (meaning, it’s going away), I had to step out the box and do something else besides wait for my seniority to build. I saw an email about the Career Coaching & Development Center and checked it out. I signed up with Mike for a one-on-one coaching session to talk about my career and my plans. I really didn’t have a plan but after talking with Mike, he brought things to my attention that I hadn’t thought about before. I enrolled in the Kickstarter workshop and Career Management Group (Career Club) where Mike would have questions geared toward looking at yourself in the situation instead of looking at what others are saying or doing. After completing Kickstarter and meeting with the Career Club on a regular basis, the skills that were brought out of me by Mike’s calm and witty sense of humor, I continue to use in my daily work and home life. Especially learning to be quiet sometimes and listen!
    Kristen McLaurin
  • This is a great book to share with friends or peers. Mike acts as your private career coach. He provides practical advice to readers who truly want to take charge of their own careers. Ponder his suggestions, play out the scenarios in your mind, keep a journal. Don’t wait!
    Founder, Career Systems International, Co-Author of Help Them Grow
  • Mike’s career management group helped everyone excel to the next level. As a career advisor, Mike gave us an excellent understanding of how a Fortune 500 company operates and how the employees can reach their dream career.
    Elod Nemeth
  • I like all the ‘Inside Insights’ throughout the book! Pipe Dreams provides the blueprint to avoid and fix broken pipes in your career. Mike’s book is enjoyable to read and full of ideas with clear models and thought-provoking questions.
    The Succession Consultant, author of The 30-Minute Guide to Talent and Succession Management and New Employee Onboarding Programs
  • I met Mike while searching for the next step in my career. He presented at a QA meeting, drawing on his book Pipe Dreams. Mike listened to my questions and answered with probing questions to ask myself, which helped me look for answers where I hadn’t looked before. I’ve since made a large career move, sticking true with what motivates me, but into semi-uncharted territory. I’m glad I did.
    David Conway, Owner
    Clank Free Software
  • A mutual friend connected me with Mike when I was at a crossroads in my career. Mike's approach was friendly, conversational and all the while mindful of my goals, even when I'd lost track of them. Change is rarely an easy thing to take on, but as with most goal achievement, it's a required part of the process. With Mike's insightful guidance I was able to make a significant course-changing decision on my life that has since paved the way for countless opportunities.
    Paul Ditty
  • I was privileged to have Mike Gellman as my career mentor at my job.  He made me feel comfortable and at ease while helping me focus on having a clearer vision of my goals.
    Amin Eshaiker, Senior Analyst
    Gas Company
  •   Mike is a consummate professional and passionate catalyst for personal and professional development. Mike’s effectiveness goes beyond his technical expertise as a coach and organizational development professional. He works from the heart. In my experiences with Mike, trust and integrity are the foundations of how he engages clients. He pursues his craft because he truly wants to develop people to achieve their full potential. Mike has that rare combination of both strong intellect and compassionate heart as a  coach.  
    Jimmie Cho, Senior Vice President
    The Gas Company
  • I had the pleasure of working with Mike in a career self-discovery program at work for about two years. It was refreshing to know that Mike was (and is) an expert in the field of coaching and development and was passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise. Through his leadership and guidance, the program he led fostered an atmosphere of teamwork and trust, and it allowed me as a participant to not only be mentored by him, but to also be peer-mentored by the other participants. He provided tools (such as 360-degree assessments) that helped me learn more about myself in terms of my career goals and how to marry my passions outside of work with what I do for the company. The training and coaching that he provided allowed me to really look deep inside myself, in my career journey, so that I could succeed in my job and working relationships with my peers, direct reports, and all levels of the company’s management and executive leadership team. Mike helped polish my resume by highlighting my skill sets and what I have accomplished as well as provided tips for preparing for job interviews. His humility and hunger for helping others with their career goals makes him a highly desired connection for anyone seeking his support.
    DeMiko J. - Customer Contact Center Supervisor