From Exasperation to Expansion:

How executive coaching enabled CEO Ryan to shift his mindset, leverage new opportunities, and achieve his best financial year yet.

“A mindset shift has occurred regarding my relationships, my reaction to negative things, and my internalization of a deed well-crafted. And the biggest thing that Emily’s given me has been the ability to do that on my own.”
– Ryan Spak, Co-Founder & CEO Spak Group


The Spak Group is a real estate development firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Co-founder and CEO Ryan Spak primarily focuses on the areas of development, construction management, and finance. As a leader in the company, Ryan’s responsibilities revolve around keeping his eye on the big picture, thinking about what projects are next, and what will move the company forward.

Ryan Spak

Co-Founder & CEO Spak Group

From exasperation to expansion: How executive coaching enabled CEO Ryan to shift his mindset, leverage new opportunities, and achieve his best financial year yet.

Focusing too much on the negative suppressed Ryan’s inner voice.

Ryan first recognized a problem when he could no longer hear the inner guiding voice of inspiration anymore. Even though he loved what he was doing, it was getting harder to enjoy it on a day-to-day basis.

“I was only focusing on the problematic things, and I wasn’t celebrating the moments that were worth celebrating. So I was completely unbalanced.”

Ryan is in an industry that requires incredible focus and the confidence to make fast, high-stakes decisions. Having a clear vision and acting without hesitation is critical. So, he searched for a way to ground himself and allow that inner voice to come through again. Ryan spent over a year trying various solutions. He even approached psychologists who said he was just working too hard. Sure, he worked hard, but he knew that wasn’t the problem.

“Pushing the envelope to the edge of the desk and being creative about how to get a project, that other people would not even touch, off the ground and complete—that’s my specialty.”

Not acknowledging his success and only looking forward to the next challenge began to impact Ryan’s personal and business relationships.

“I’m in a business where the wins don’t happen often; it takes a very long time for there to be a win. But I wasn’t celebrating them when they happened. I was only focused on the hardships involved in getting to that point. Eventually, my wife was saying, ‘I don’t understand why you are in this business. Why are you doing this? It’s not worth the risk. It’s not worth the heartache.'”

Ryan knew that the relationships in his life weren’t operating the way they should be and that he wasn’t living the life he wanted to live. So, his options were to change what he thought he would be doing for the rest of his life—a devastating thought—or to change himself.

“I have to trust my own judgment. I have to believe in what I’m doing and what I’m working on. I can’t sell it if I don’t believe in it. So, if there’s not a well-grounded conviction there, then I’m screwed.”

Insightful, action-focused direction helped Ryan discover where he wanted to be and how to get there.

One day, Ryan told his wife about a character from the TV show Billions, who was like an in-house psychiatrist/business coach. And she said, “Well, that’s what you need.” Ryan didn’t know if those people even existed, so his wife went hunting for one.

Not long after, Ryan started interviewing the people his wife had found. Finally, Ryan spoke with Emily Golden on the phone for the first time while inspecting a property for purchase.

“I needed to make a change. And I needed to figure out how to make that change. I wanted to balance all the negativity that comes into this business that I’m in and not let it dictate everything else that was happening in my life.”

Expecting the sessions with Emily to involve sitting on a lounge having a conversation in an office, Ryan was initially skeptical about working almost exclusively online. However, he found that the regular video meetings still felt like intimate conversations, especially since he could work through their sessions without leaving his home office.

“I went into this not having a clue what Emily was going to be able to offer. But I found much of what I needed in our conversations and the work that we’ve done together.”

“I found myself more engaged in the conversation with Emily than I was in the actual building I was walking through. I very quickly realized that working with her was worth trying.”

Each meeting had a plan of attack from the outset: what they would work through, exercises to do, and homework to complete before their next meeting.

“Emily has a very natural flow, but it’s also very structured. The first few months that we were working together, there were a lot of graphs and charts, and a lot of her trying to figure out who I was. And, at the same time, she was getting me to see who I thought I was and what I wanted to be.”

As Emily’s understanding of Ryan’s needs evolved, so did the format of their meetings.

“Now, our sessions usually start with Emily asking me questions like, ‘How can I support you today? What guidance do you need?'”

“Emily has a keen sense of what to say. I don’t know if that’s the same with all her clients, but she knows what to say to me. When I bring up a subject, Emily takes the conversation in a direction that produces an outcome. And because we’ve worked together for so long, she has a keen sense of my energy level. Even if I put a smile on my face, she usually knows if something’s up. Emily can get me to refocus and look at things in ways that nobody else has the ability to do.”

Ryan considers that insight of Emily’s an invaluable skill, along with her vast knowledge of exercises, skills, and development tools. Thus, giving Ryan confidence that Emily knows precisely how to approach any situation he brings to her.

I’m always amazed at how Emily pulls out another tool when we need it. She has an immense toolbox for how to get me to rethink something or play out a scenario. And that is all incredibly beneficial.”

Enhanced relationships and a massive mindset shift unlocked Ryan’s inner voice, resulting in his best financial year yet.

For Ryan, adjusting and optimizing his mindset has been one of the most impactful parts of working with Emily. As a result, he has achieved significant improvements in multiple areas of his life, which has ultimately helped him hear his inner voice again.

“Most of my relationships have improved because of those exercises and mindsets. Before, one negative thing would happen, I would internalize it, and it would be my whole week. Now, that’s not the case. Those who are closest to me, my business partner and my wife, would probably harm me in some way if I stopped seeing Emily because they’ve seen the benefits.”

“A mindset shift has occurred regarding my relationships, my reaction to negative things, and my internalization of a deed well-crafted. And the biggest thing that Emily’s given me has been the ability to do that on my own.”

Embracing his hard-earned wins and openly sharing the company's values and victories have resulted in a cascade of positive effects for Ryan.

“The way I’m enjoying the wins now is that I’m public about them. I wasn’t before, not even a little bit.”

“Every project we work on has a community element to it. In our last several projects, we have built affordable housing with no public subsidies and no government dollars. Our work is showing that we are coming from a very genuine place.”

“Last month, we were featured in an article in a local newspaper, and that happened because I spoke about a project we were working on. I didn’t ask for the interview, we didn’t court the newspaper; we just made public something we were passionate about.”

“I was never vocal about that kind of stuff before; I was very quiet about it. I’m more comfortable in my skin and my role now. I’m not quiet anymore.”

Ryan attributes the personal and professional expansion he has experienced in large part to Emily’s support and unique skill set that brings out the best in her clients.

“Our company’s growth has been significant, and the expansion that I have wanted for years is happening now. Relationship-based foundations have allowed these improvements to happen. In 2020, the world was on fire, yet we had our best financial year.”

“The mindset that Emily helped me put together definitely helped keep this all running and operating smoothly. There’s no doubt in my mind if I broke down the ingredients of what made the last 18 months so successful, Emily would be one of the more active ingredients for me.”

“I can’t necessarily say that without Emily, I wouldn’t be where I am today. What I can say, though, is that because I have Emily, I am definitely here. That is absolute. I don’t think I’d have the relationships or the consistency that I have if Emily weren’t a part of my world.”

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