Personal Development

Artie Isaac: The transformation from ad executive to inspiring CEO coach

Artic Isaac teaching at CCAD

Running an advertising firm was engaging — but it wasn’t my ultimate professional ambition. When the recession hit in 2008, I sold the company for a song— and set out to find a role that gave me a deep sense of purpose.

Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series highlighting Vistage Chairs — executive coaches who help guide CEOs and leaders of small and midsize businesses to make better decisions for their companies, families and communities.

Life was good for Artie Isaac…

He ran Young Isaac, an admired, successful, award-winning advertising firm. He taught college creativity courses, including “Personal Creativity” at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business.

He had an adjunct gig teaching “Marketing: Creativity & Ethics” at the nationally renowned Columbus College of Art & Design.

But Artie felt he had much more to contribute…

Artie Isaac featured image

Vistage Chair Artie Isaac

At the beginning of the 2008 recession, Artie seized an opportunity. He sold the agency and began a new professional journey — one that would allow him to tap into all of his skills in a meaningful way. Artie says, “I learned three skills in high school: writing, improvisation and cheerleading. Those remain my core skills.”

He turned his 30+ years of expertise working with highly creative people into keynotes, workshops, training and one-on-one coaching opportunities. His goal? To help companies and individuals innovate through brainstorming and idea generation to develop new products and expand productivity.

Two years after the sale, he added “intern” to his resume while working as a business advisor to the owner of a deli in Columbus, Ohio. Working in a delicatessen was a bucket list item.

Artie cheerleading in high school

Artie cheerleading in high school.

“I’ve always loved delicatessens,” Artie told The Columbus Dispatch. “I like the theater of it … You work with young people, making the greatest food for appreciative clients.”

Finding a greater purpose

Around the same time, a Vistage Chair asked Artie to speak at a group meeting.

“I presented on problem solving and creativity — and loved the Vistage group dynamic,” he says. “I faced a choice: Going at it alone or going at it with a group of people. I didn’t want to be alone. My desire was to learn from peers — how they navigate challenges, what they see in me, and how I can achieve growth.”

Artie wanted to be surrounded by knowledge, resources and expertise. And he wanted to be a part of a community. In 2011, he completed Chair Academy and launched a CEO group.

“Chairing is the most fulfilling business role I’ve ever held, and it allows me to apply all of my skills,” he says. “What an honor it is to be present for a CEO’s sudden awareness — when they have the answer to a struggle, or realize they are not in it alone, or take a moment to celebrate a victory, or address a peer’s challenges.”

Artie says that being part of a thriving community and fostering constant growth and self-development among CEOs is the most rewarding work he’s ever held.

Artie Isaac Our Town

Artie (front row, center, with hat) in a production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”

“We all need a greater purpose … For me, the fountain of youth is being present for CEOs and bearing witness to their own discoveries,” he says.

Reducing ‘needless suffering’

Plus, by providing CEOs space where they can confidentially share insights, identify blind spots, and confront challenges through his Vistage groups, Artie can help achieve one of his core ambitions — reducing needless suffering.

“I believe that CEOs and owners of small and midsize businesses create wealth and stability for so many families — and can also reduce (or increase) needless suffering in all those folks,” he adds.

Since launching his first Vistage group, Artie has won numerous awards for his work as a Chair and speaker, including Master Chair (2018-present), Best Practice Chair (2018-2020), STAR (2017-present), and the Vistage International Innovation Speaker of the Year (2013). He has Chaired 10 Vistage groups.

Artie Isaac writing

Artie working on a writing project.

Beyond Vistage, Artie coaches executives on the subjugation of gender. Clients include those who face bias and discrimination and those who are aware that their leadership is conditioned on the demographics of others.

He is also a writer, actor, corporate trainer and public speaker; he writes poetry for dogs (and humans).

Explore more coaching journeys

If this coaching story interests you and you’d like to see more, learn more about Chairing and how it could lead to the next chapter of your life.

Category : Personal Development

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 45,000 high-caliber execu

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