Today’s podcast, “What is Executive Coaching?” includes the audio from a webinar presented by Tony Mayo, The Business Owner’s Executive Coach. Listen to this recording and then join us for Tuesdays with Tony at Twelve, a weekly, free webinar where you can explore powerful executive coaching tools and ask Tony about applying them in your life and career.
Today’s topics covered include:
- What is Executive Coaching?
- “My own best thinking”
- “I now live in a different world, see different things, take different actions.”
- Differences between coaching, consulting, mentoring, managing, therapy, training, and just plain friendship.
- Basic logistics of what it costs, how much time it takes, how to know if it is working, and how long the results last.
- Finding, selecting, and getting started with an executive coach.
- What topics and concerns are best addressed with coaching.
- Typical components of a coaching conversation.
- Distinguish Fact vs. Opinion
- Coaching changes your view of the world
- The Core of Coaching
- O – A – R model
- When to engage with a coach
- The Gap
- Some experience you want, that you have put effort into, and
have not achieved or achieved at too dear a cost.
- Some experience you want, that you have put effort into, and
Video, handouts, and other resources from this and other webinars are available for free at:
DODGY MACHINE TRANSCRIPT
Mostly for the benefit of the web indexing engines.
– [Host] Okay all thank you so much for joining us. I’m pleased to welcome you to our first Mind Your Career webinar of 2017, entitled Would I Benefit from Coaching? My name is Lucie Sandel and I am the Associate Director for career development at the Alumni Association. I’m excited by this topic because like many of you I’m thinking this is a new year. I don’t have all the answers with regard to my career development. Would coaching help me to get to the next level, and if so, what can I expect from the experience? You and I need look no further. It’s my privilege to introduce you to our presenter today, U Chicago alumnus Tony Mayo. Tony is a duel alumnus from the College and the School of Business with nearly 25 years of coaching experience. He brings to us a diverse background including, but not limited to, an inventor with US Patents. We’ll need to know a little bit more about that Tony. A best selling author and a lecturer at the college, graduate and executive level. Now let me welcome Tony. Thank you Tony, take it away.
– [Tony] Hello Lucie I appreciate the introduction. Alright so today we’ll be talking about, can I benefit from coaching? These are the topics that were in the announcement. They should look familiar to you. If not maybe you got on the wrong bus, time to get out and find the webinar you intended to be part of today. If along the way there’s a topic that wasn’t on the list that occurs to you, feel free to type into the chat window and at an appropriate time Lucie will pass it along to me and we will address other questions, concerns, rumors you’ve heard about coaching, and I’ll do my best to tell you about that. I’ll be stopping several times for questions as well. My approach to this is, since I’ve been asked to talk about my profession of a quarter of a century, in a little less than an hour, is I’m going to try pass things briskly. But I want you to notice anything that you feel like you didn’t grasp, or I didn’t handle in-depth enough. Type that in the chat window, I’ll go back to that topic and talk about it a little bit more. That way I don’t bore people with too much detail on things you’re not really listening for and you’ll give me some feedback on what matters to you. Also since I can’t possible say everything I know or have even written about these topics we’re going to get to, I’ve set up a webpage, tonymayo.com/career-webinar. Now career-webinar is case sensitive so you want to make sure it’s all lower case. And there’ll be links there to all the articles that I refer to. I’ll also leave that link up on the screen at the lower left hand corner so you can see it at any time. Well first question of course is, why are we talking about coaching? Well for one thing, it’s growing and it’s been growing fast. This chart is a neat little tool that’s available to anyone from Google Labs, it’s called their Ngram. And it will search for words or phrases in every book that they have digitized since, I think, some place in the 1700s. And you can see here that executive coaching has been getting mentioned a lot more often since the early nineties which is when I got involved. It’s probably a coincidence but we’re talking about it partly because it’s just getting so much attention. The other reason is a lot of people, especially people at high levels in organizations, are looking for specific results by using coaching. So this Stanford University survey shows the kinds of things that CEOs and their boards of directors are hoping the executives get from coaching. Again I’m moving quickly, this chart is linked from the page mentioned on the lower left of the slide. It’s growing, it’s in demand for specific reasons, and it’s effective. Korn Ferry International did these surveys and showed almost unbelievable numbers. I mean how many products or services can improve the performance of someone in their job, in their main work activity, 96% of the time? So it can be, when well done, be remarkably effective. So far I’ve done something you probably shouldn’t do in an academic environment which I’d been talking about the importance of a topic without really defining what it is. Coaching is one of those things that it’s sometimes easier to say what it’s not. So let’s start from there. Coaching is not consulting. For our purposes consulting is when someone applies specific skills to create specific deliverables. Perhaps doing that while they’re doing sort of on the job training or technology transfer with the people in the client organization. So easy litmus test between coaching and consulting. Consulting has tangible deliverables, coaching doesn’t, which is one of the reasons I’m happy to be in coaching after some years as a consultant. Coaching is not training. Training is transferring knowledge from one cranium to another so that person could presume we do the kinds of things that the trainer is doing. As you’ll notice if you listen to me for any period of time I’m very interested in the wisdom which is embedded in the history of our language. Training is from the word trail, and the idea is, a trainer will pull you along a specific trail that they’re familiar with. So training is taught by someone who’s traveled a certain path to teach you to travel that path. Very similar is mentoring. Now it’s interesting that we’ve put an ing on this and we refer to mentees as people who have mentors. But since I’m talking to a University of Chicago audience which is very well read I know most of you realize the origin of the word mentor. Mentor was an elderly life experienced friend of Odysseus, whom Odysseus asked to keep an eye on and help out Odysseus’ son Telemachus, while he was off fighting the Trojan War and having his adventures on a long long trip home. So this entered the language, as someone being your mentor. An older person who’s sort of been on your path. He can give you some guidance and support. Coaching also is not friendship. You go to your friends for affection, distraction, companionship. Friends can support you in your activities. For instance a friend is somebody who helps you move your furniture, but a good friend is somebody who helps you move the body. Okay, weak attempt at humor maybe. Now all these things I’m listing here, consulting, training, and a few others, I don’t mean in any way to devalue those. They’re wonderful things, they’re effective, they can make life richer, more worthwhile. But they’re not coaching. Coaching is also not managing. Now there’s been a bit of a trend as coaching has increased in popularity, to have trainings in coaching for managers or the coaching style manager. But in general the way people manage is not consistent with how someone would coach. Specifically, looking at the history of the word, managing comes from the Latin word manus, for hand. It means to put your hand on something and move it so that it does the task you want done. Managing was originally used in English for controlling a horse. Someone who’s good at managing a horse, they put the hand on the horse they can get it to do the work they wanted done. And you can see how it gradually turned into managing. Coaches do not manipulate their clients to get certain outcomes. Certainly not outcomes that are of interest to the coach, whereas it’s a manager job and it’s a legitimate job to directly influence people to get particular things done. Coaching is not therapy. Therapy is from the Greek word meaning to heal, to give a medical treatment. So therapy comes from the point of view of let’s find out what’s wrong with this client or patient and then help them fix it. Coaching, on the other hand, starts from the premise that the client is okay, that the client has all the personal resources necessary to live the life they want to live, and only need some insight, some tools, some support, to apply what they have already. Again therapy’s a wonderful thing, I believe in it. I’ve taken advantage of it but it’s got a fundamentally different attitude going in than coaching. Therapy’s fixing, coaching is your fine, let’s see what we can add to it. And finally coaching is not advice. And this gets to one of the key salient characteristics of coaching. Coaching is all about helping the person see their own situation, their own resources, in a way that they can apply them and use them better. Trying to help that person live their life the way they want to live it. Advice essentially means, this is what I would do if I were in your circumstances. Sometimes that can be useful. The catch is, the other person isn’t in your circumstances. And they don’t know what they would do if they were in your circumstances. They’re guessing, they’re remembering, they’re inventing. Again, all those things can be useful, but you have to be careful because once someone gives you advice, what they’re really telling you is how they view the world. They’re actually telling you more about themselves, and their opinions, than they are about your situation. So I’ve done all these things, I’ve had the advantage of all these things, and I even do most of these things with my clients, except therapy. You need a license for that, I’m not going to get in trouble there. But the majority, the value I bring, and much of the time and effort I work with on a client, is none of these things, it’s coaching. So far, Lucie do we have any questions or requests for particular areas that they’d like to have covered?
– [Lucie] Ah I guess the group has been so interested in what you’ve been saying they haven’t typed in questions but you can type in one right now if you’d like. I have a question, what drew you to coaching? You’ve been doing this for a quarter of a century. But what was the, for you?
– [Tony] It was when I, well let’s back up. The president of my company went through a rigorous coaching program. He thought it was wonderful, he said any employee he’d give the time off and pay the tuition to go through this coaching program. I thought, sure I’ll take it. And that’s where I discovered what it was like to be coached and I got such tremendous results, just in a few days during the course, in my personal life, in my clarity about my work, that I thought this is a wonderful thing. I’m going to learn more about this. So I kept getting more and more coaching and as I developed I found that I wanted to be a coach. I wasn’t interested so much anymore in being a manager, or being a consultant, I wanted to help other people see what was possible in their lives. It’s a very intimate and rewarding relationship to coach someone so that’s how I got started and that’s why I keep on doing it.
– [Lucie] We have a couple more questions. Somebody wrote, I’d like to hear about options for non-executives to receive coaching. This person is about 10 years into their career. What might there be out there for them?
– [Tony] Well there are coaches that specialize in different aspects of your life and as we talk more about what coaching is and how it works you’ll be a smarter, sharper and consumer of the various kinds of coaches. Any experienced, competent coach is going to specialize. I specialize in owner operators of established businesses. That’s what I was as a profession, that’s the people I work with most, that’s where I can have my greatest effect. There are people who will coach you around dealing with chronic illness. There are people who will coach you around your marriage. There are people who will coach you on health and fitness. Now I’m using the word coaching precisely. I’m not talking about trainers or consultants. People who actually coach on any aspect and we’ll talk a bit later on about how to find the right coach for you.
– [Lucie] Great, if a coach helps a client use their resources better, doesn’t this involve some aspects of training and mentoring?
– [Tony] Well as I said I do all these things with my clients from time to time. I do my best to label them, particularly advice, you know. I’ve had a good deal of experience in business. Sometimes I’ll be in a situation that looks familiar to me or involves a particular bit of knowledge that I have in the kind of lawyer to use or tax issue and I’ll say, I’m going to step away from coaching right now. I’d like to give you my opinion on this, is that okay now? Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no ’cause they want to keep on digging in on a coaching side. And sure enough those things have great value.
– [Lucie] I think one last question before you move on just because people are excited. Aren’t there common principles, despite specializations?
– [Tony] There are, there are a few schools of coaching, or, I don’t want to make that too formal, but there’s different approaches to coaching and there are some fundamental ideas. And we’ll get to some of the fundamentals of the type of coaching I do which, you know, works in principle, not just for business owners, okay. Alright so one more way to get at what coaching is, is to hear some people who feel like they’ve gotten results from coaching, how do they describe it? So here’s one. So here you can see Nancy distinguishing coaching from advice. Input from many sources and experts, which is good. She’s gotten that, she appreciates it, but she said working with a coach was something different. Drawing out her own best thinking and helping her see what’s the best for herself. And a word, transform is a word you’ll hear come up a lot around coaching. The idea of transform is, you’re not adding anything, you’re not taking anything away. You’re taking what’s there and putting it in a different form that’s closer to the purpose. And the most wonderful example I’ve witnessed of that is to imagine a rosebud. Some people actually like their roses when they are in that bud phase, nice and tight and small, it’s a perfect rose at that point. And then as the petals open up it changes dramatically but nothing has been added or taken away, it’s all the same pieces, they’re just in a different form. Here’s one more person talking about coaching. And you can see Josh here is practicing two of the distinctions I mentioned earlier. Helped me look at the world in a new perspective. So assuming he’s in the same business, he’s the same person, but he sees things differently, he notices different things, and therefore he takes different actions. One of the key shifts he took on was rather than fixing things, and we all know people who are just firefighters at work. There’s always something wrong, you’re always jumping on top of that. But there’s an endless supply of fires. So he’s shifted from fixing what’s wrong and started to pursue what was possible. Not assured, not promised, just possible. He said that change of perspective has made all of the difference. I’ve got a typo there, I don’t know why that word results is still hanging in there. I’d like to be able to coach each one of you so you get that sense of what it’s like because it’s, it’s a marvelous thing to suddenly realize that you can deal with the same circumstances in a radically different way that’s more effective. But here’s something that’s similar to it. Suppose I’d asked you to install a window that meets the following specification. I want it to be one foot high, one foot wide. I know you’re probably not carpenters or contractors on this call, not all of you, but you can visualize what a window would look like that meets my criteria I suppose. And if you’re like most of the groups I’ve worked with what your visualizing is something that looks like that. A square window one foot high, one foot wide. And say you install that in my house. Well I come by when the work is finished and I say well, it is one foot high and one foot wide, but it lets in an awful lot of light and heat. What I had in mind was a window that was one foot high and one foot wide but half the surface area of the one you’ve put in. Can you visualize what that window might look like? It looks like that blue square. Chances are many people could not come up with an answer to this. They might even have thought it was some trick. I’ve had people try to do it in three dimensions and that sort of thing. But this is a very straightforward solution. I mean you’ve seen windows that are like this one but most of the windows you know about are like the brown one aren’t they? So when I say window that’s what you think of and your possibilities tend to be restricted by what you know. Knowledge is limited, we all know that. What we forget is it also limits us and limits our thinking. And this is one of the key ideas for coaching. Our knowledge is limited and limiting. Coaching can provide the do-edge. Coaching is an intentional conversation. Let’s talk about that first. Intentional, there’s a reason, there’s a purpose. It’s not shooting the breeze. It has to do with what the client is trying to get in their life. The experience they want to have. So it’s always working around an intention. And it’s a conversation. Conversation’s a word that’s used a lot but I’m using it in a precise way. Again looking at the word history, this has two Latin parts, con and, con we probably all know, chili con carne, a con means with. Versary, the root of versation portion, is a little more obscure. It’s a Latin word meaning to change the state of something, particular to open or close a door. In early English, when the word conversation first came into use, it meant to get together with someone to make something happen. To open or close a door on possibilities. So coaching is an intentional conversation that provides an alternative worldview. A world where windows don’t need to be strictly vertical and horizontal, they can be triangles, they can be diamonds. An example that was very, an experience that was important to me in my early days of being coached, I was a salesperson. It was Christmas time, I sold software. My top prospect called me a few days before Christmas to say that I had successfully up sold him to a much bigger purchase but because of that they were appointing a steering committee to review the whole process which was going to slow things down. Now if anybody on this call has been in sales you know that the last week of the year is when things have got to happen so they can be accounted for in that year. And you could probably imagine what my sales manager said when I told him that they had appointed a steering committee. He said “Tony get on that phone, “find a way to get that done this year. “If you have to go up to New Jersey and sit in “on the steering committee get on the airplane and do it.” So I went back to my office, got my prospective client on the telephone and started asking lots of questions. Who’s on the steering committee, when it’s going to meet, what are their criteria? I sort of actually projected and imagined myself sitting at my desk with decorations and Christmas cards taped up and I thought, I do not want to be beating this guy up at Christmas time. I don’t feel like manipulating him. And I thought you know I don’t have to do it that way. I said Dennis you’ve told me that this software is going to help you create the results in the business that you want. And I’m asking you all these questions to help you get it. And he said Tony I really appreciate it. I’ve never made a purchase this size at this company. I’m not sure how it works. You and I are going to figure out the process so we can get it done. Okay now I’m free, I’m not working this guy over for my purposes. I’m helping him get what he wants. And suddenly all kinds of creativity and energy got loose. That’s an alternate worldview. From pushy salesman to helpful expert. So this intentional conversation provides an alternate worldview that allows the client to take appropriate actions. It’s not guaranteed actions. It may be something that’s completely novel, no one knows what the perfect actions are to take. But we find out what’s, given this worldview, given our intention, what would be the most appropriate action to take? And those appropriate actions should always be in service to his or her, the client’s chosen possibility. Two important coaching concepts in that portion of the sentence. Chosen, I’m continually reminding clients that they are free, they have choices, more options than they think they do. Sometimes this can be simple. You don’t have to keep that employee. You don’t have to lease this new equipment. Sometimes it’s a bit more dramatic. I had one client who was very overwhelmed with work and home demands. She called me one day and says I can’t have a coaching call today, I’ve got to get my son out of school because he’s sick and it’s ruining my day. I said you know, you have a choice. She kind of sighs, oh yeah I always have a choice, what is it? I said you don’t have to pick up your son at school. She said of course I do I’m his mother. You don’t have to, there are mothers who don’t do that, aren’t there? Either can’t get out of work or they don’t care as much. She says yeah but I’m going to do it. Why? Because that’s the kind of mother I am. Yes and you’ve chosen to be that kind of mother. Stop whining about it, it’s a choice. The other key concept here is possibility. What if we imagine, as a possible way, again not guaranteed, but plausible. Something you could imagine could work out. Possibility is a word that came into the language from the existentialist writers. And there’s the other side of that coin. The opposite of an attitude of possibility is an attitude of facticity. To be bound and tied down by the facts of the current situation. Now that’s a choice we continually face. Are we going to fix and rearrange the things we know as factual? Or are we going to be moving towards something that we imagine and create in the future? So that’s what coaching is. An intentional conversation that provides an alternative worldview that allows the client to take appropriate actions in service of his or her chosen possibility. Here’s another quick experience that is sort of similar to coaching. Do you know what that picture’s of? What does it represent? Maybe this will help. Now you see the frog right? See the frog now? That’s a shift in your worldview. This is an optical illusion that was created by University of Sheffield Cognitive Scientist Tom Stafford. And when he uses this in his talks he puts up this high-contrast image and says, “I’m warning you, I’m about to rewire your brain.” Because once you see this image, your brain responds differently to that image. Well that’s the idea of what coaching is. When would I use it? Well there’s something I call the gap. There’s some outcome, there’s some experience, there’s some aspect of life that you sincerely want. You have actually worked towards it over some period of time, and it’s not happening. It’s mysterious why it’s not happening. You know it’s not like you say you want to lose weight but you continue to live on junk food and watch TV for hours. There’s no mystery there. No you actually did the sensible things, you took advice, you did your research, and it’s just not happening. There’s a gap between what ought to be happening in your life, and what is happening. That’s a rich place to explore with coaching. Another one’s what I call Groundhog Day. It just seems repetitious, it’s the same stuff over and over. It may even be stuff that you once aspired to and now have but, you know, it gets dull if it’s the same day after day, year after year. Addressing that with a coach, shifting your worldview can make a big difference. A desire to move to more choice, feeling more freedom. When you feel kind of stuck, responding the same way all the time. Here’s an example most people can relate to. Most of us have a relative with whom certain topics are just not worth it ’cause you know if you bring this up they’re going to say x and they’re going to say y. And they say x and you say y, and you’ve had the conversation 50 times, let’s not do it again. That kind of stuckness where there are so many constraints, and so much history, that creativity has gone out of it. Good opportunity for coaching. There’s this sense that your life, or your career, is something that’s happening to you instead of something being done by you. Some people, after they’ve been coached a while say, I feel like I’ve moved into the driver’s seat from the passenger seat. And it’s a broad guideline. If there’s significant parts of your life that are missing love, joy and freedom, there’s an opportunity for coaching. Because it’s almost everything that we do, where that love, joy and freedom can be present with the right approach, insights and action. It really comes down to one thing. Coaching is about getting better at being human, at being you. The simple logistics of it. The cost, like many services, varies a great deal. Sometimes fees are hourly like a lawyer or an accountant. Competent beginners often work for $75 an hour and the prices go up from there. More experienced and effective coaches tend to charge by the month not by the hour. What I say to my clients is, I don’t charge by the hour, because I want you to call me when you think you need some help. I don’t want you sitting there thinking, is this a $500 phone call or not? Because sometimes it’s those little niggling things that just don’t seem right, that when we dig into them with coaching, is that we come to a fundamental barrier that we can break through. So I say I pay you by the month. The meter doesn’t come on when you send me an email or get me on the phone. So experienced effective coaches charge in general $1000 to $3000 per month and that would cover two to four telephone conversations or internet video contacts. And the prices go way up from there. Some very well known coaches who serve a particular clientele, charge $500,000 per person and they just do what it takes to get that person where they want to go. Tony Robbins, $125,000 a day. He has million dollar programs, you can spend as much as you have on coaches if you try. So we talk about the cost, the contact time is, you know, two to four hours a month. Calendar time, I always tell my prospective clients, plan on working with me for at least a year and don’t look at what the results are for six months minimum. The way it works is, it’s not a smooth incremental set of changes or improvements. What happens is, from time to time, is the big shift towards what you want, breakthroughs. So you plod along for six months, seems like nothing’s happening and then bang, you’re where you couldn’t believe you would’ve been in five years. But it only took six, seven months. And those breakthroughs open the possibility for more breakthroughs. So it’s various intervals. So minimum six months, more like a year and I’ve had clients that have been with me for more than 10 years ’cause there’s always another horizon, another opportunity, that’s going to have them re-examine how they approach life. The question is, to find out if it’s working, is your life closer to the experience you want? I’m not just taking about amount of money or other specific measurable results, it’s the moment to moment experience of life. Are you getting closer to that or is it happening more often? Plus take a look at your toolkit. Do you have more and more resources, ways of being, that are effective. For example there’s a very popular Imago marriage counselling approach. They have a model for having a conversation with your spouse over difficult issues. That’s a powerful toolkit. Many times my wife and I thought this is as hard topic, why can’t we get anywhere. Pull out the one page, ask any answer in their format, it just works. So that’s another way to judge whether you’re doing well with your coach. Are you having more tools, more ways of interacting with people that gets you closer to your experience? One of my mottoes is, one of my guiding lights is, there’s a way to say almost anything, to almost anybody, that works for everybody. It takes some work and intentional conversation to find out exactly what that way is. Another natural question is, how long do the results last? Is it as ephemeral as a snowflake? It’s more like how long the moon and the stars last. Just as that psychologist said he was re-wiring people’s brain with the picture of the frog, effective coaching shifts how you see things and you have that distinction forever. You’re going to see this frog now, an hour from now, a year from now. You’ve got the distinction frog for this situation. Let’s take a moment for some questions.
– [Lucie] Well we’ve got a lot of them it’s really great. Somebody asked how do you acquire your clients?
– [Tony] Well I do this. It’s, almost all of my clients have come by direct referral. People I’ve worked with they hear a friend or a colleague discussing some issue and they recognize it’s the kind of thing I can help someone with so they introduce me. That seems to be typical of coaches. Once in a while someone finds me on the internet but mostly it’s a person to person referral. And when I talk about how you should find your coach you’ll see that’s my number one method.
– [Lucie] Right sorry I’m going to scroll a little bit because there’s a lot, they just all popped up at once. Okay, oh this is a question I guess, not referring directly to your presentation but somebody was, this is a coaching question. How would you encourage day managers to invest in employees rather than cling to policy, like a written contract?
– [Tony] I’m sorry I missed one word there, there was an adjective before manager.
– [Lucie] Ah how would we encourage, or how should you encourage day managers to invest in employees rather than cling to policies AKA the written contract.
– [Tony] Okay I was really holding my breath ’cause I don’t know there are a lot of coaching methods I could convey in this situation but here is one. It should help in this situation if the person is willing to have an intentional conversation and works at it with a lot of coaching conversations. That is to talk to the person about what they are trying to accomplish, where they are going. Now the person, and we don’t know. That’s one of the biggest changes to my life since I’ve got involved with coaching. I am no longer satisfied taking action based on what I assume someone else is thinking. I check in, I ask. So check in with this person, find out what their goals are. Maybe they’re really motivated by being promoted at their next review. Maybe they’re really motivated by fear of losing their job this afternoon. Maybe they are fully invested in the growth goals of that organization. Maybe they want to be liked by the employees. When you can get anyone, even your own boss, focused on their most important intentions and you have, in coaching jargon, you have a conversation within that space, how can you support that person? How can you help them get where they’re going in a way that’s consistent with your own intentions and goals? And it’s remarkable when you get down far enough to find out what people’s real desires are is common ground every time. Right let’s move on then we’ll do some more questions. So what’s it like to be in a coaching conversation? Just nuts and bolts, I’m going to start with the last part of a typical coaching conversation. Towards the end I’ll ask the client something along the lines of, based on our conversation today, what have you noticed and what are you willing to do with that information? What is your insight from today and how will you apply it? What conversations will you have? What habits will you establish? How will you change what you do tomorrow and the next day to apply what we’ve done? That’s the end of the call. The next call we start with what coaches call clearing. We all of us have a lot of things going on in our heads much of the time. If you have any doubts, take a moment now, and listen to that voice in your head. And if you’re thinking well what voice, I haven’t got a voice in my head why’s he asking that, it’s that voice. It’s the voice voice that’s always going. So I begin the conversation by sort of clearing out just the background of what’s been going on so we have room to work. They just vent, they talk stream of consciousness, whatever it takes, to put aside what they’ve been working on, what they’ve been worrying about, and what’s going through their heads. Then I check in on the previous conversations, insights and commitment. What results did you get when you had that conversation, when you changed that routine. This is where great coaching can happen. I say this is where I see my athletes on the field in the game. If it works okay you’ve got it, you’ve got the insight. If you’re surprised by the outcome, disappointed by the outcome, alright we can work on it some more. Maybe you can find another worldview that’s more effective, a conversation that’ll make a bigger difference. And we do that by introducing distinctions. This is another coaching term of art, distinction but it’s pretty straightforward. When I first showed you that image of a frog you couldn’t distinguish the frog from the background. But after I gave you the clearer picture you were able to distinguish frog from black dots in the background. And it’s that way with a lot of coaching insights. Suddenly you see things that were there all along but you didn’t have the distinction to notice them. Another one of our promised topics, finding, selecting and getting started with an executive coach. First thing, know surprise at this point, have a clear intention, your why, as Simon Senek is saying. A referral is the most common. Talk to people who are in situations like yours, people you respect, people who have gotten some results. Find out if they have a coach, and then there’s always the Google search. Consult the oracle, search on the specialty of the coaches, the locale, your training, whatever you think would matter to you. Ask that prospective coach if they have coached people towards results that are similar to what you want to produce. Sometimes you don’t need to do this in a conversation. If you go to my Linkedin page, you’ll see dozens of referrals of clients describing the kinds of results they got. If those aren’t the results you want, I’m not your coach. When you do have that first conversation with your potential coach, you want to look for some compatibility, some comfort and ease working with that person, because we all have styles and personalities. But not too comfortable. A coach has to be willing to shake you out of your comfort zone, to probe. If they’re more concerned about being liked or having a smooth interaction, you’re not getting coached, you’re getting stroked. Most coaches will schedule and conduct a free initial conversation or a money-back conversation so, you know, you agree to their terms and conditions, you had your first conversation, you’re not happy, they generally will, you know, let you off the hook for paying anything for that. So those are the ways of finding, selecting and getting started with an executive coach. Here are the planned topics that we went through, I hope we’ve covered those. If not, if there’s something that you’re interested to hear more about you can let me know, so here’s our last call for questions and all that’s left for today is answering your questions.
– [Lucie] Sure, there are quite a few. Can you please share with us a real world case of coaching that you’ve worked on?
– [Tony] Lucie if anybody has similar questions so you can narrow down what kinds of result or situation they’d be most interested in?
– [Lucie] Sure here’s an example. Somebody is thinking of, or selling their company that they started with their spouse who is now deceased and they’re wondering what to do next. Is that an appropriate time to think about coaching or should they–
– [Tony] Yeah it certainly is and I’m sorry to hear about someone losing their life and business partner, that’s going to be a big shift and absolutely one where you want to get some coaching, because you’re being forced to live in a different world now and if you take your same assumptions and point of view into that it’s not going to be good. So there are coaches around, death and bereavement, there are coaches around business and business sales, I’ve done a lot of that. If they’re going to help you see what you have, understand and visualize better where you want to be, and then draw out of you the way to build that bridge between the two. Now when I talk about build the bridge that’s a little bit too specific and mechanical, especially with the kind of people I coach, but in general with coaching. Sometimes they’ll come to me and they want the answer. They want the way to do it. And I say sorry, there’s no road map where you’re going, where you’re running a business or building your life, or dealing with a shift in career. I don’t give maps, I do wilderness survival training because where you’re going is unexplored territory. That can be exciting, as long as you have a good coach. What’s next?
– [Lucie] Um one of the questions is, how do you deal with people who’ve just lost a job and only want to get a job? Is that really where your specialization is, are you more working with people that are in a career and they’re looking to the next level?
– [Tony] Well my particular specialty is with the owners who are operating their own business. There are people who work with what you’re facing but we need to get precise about what you’re facing. If you have an urgent financial or personal need to get a job, that in the realm of consulting. That’s something you can get a book on, you can follow steps to do an optimal job finding strategy. Particularly if you just want to find a job very similar to the one you’ve had. However, if you want to take this opportunity, you have the resources, the personal support, the confidence, to take some time, to think about what you want to do next, like someone who’s just sold a company, great time to do that, then coaching I would say is the way to go. So if you just want to get back on the track you’re on, get a consultant, read a book, there’s plenty of them that are great. If you want to take this opportunity to explore the possibility of following your passion, or making an impact in the world, that’s where coaching comes in.
– [Lucie] Great thank you. And there were questions about does the University of Chicago provide a list of coaches, and we do, on our website, you can look there, for anybody who is interested. Another question was, if things are going great or you’re comfortable, how would you know if you should, if you would benefit from coaching still?
– [Tony] That’s subjective and changeable, going great and comfortable. Some people, they take being comfortable as a warning sign that they want to get more out of life. But I would use the phrase I had up on the slides earlier. If there are important aspects of your life where you’re not experiencing joy, freedom, love, that can be looked at with coaching. And one of the best times to do it is when things seem to be going great. In the early days when I got to executive coaching in the nineties, it seemed like every article in the popular press was about some high value employee who had a serious personality defect, like being cruel, or being late and that kind of thing. I don’t do remedial coaching. My people are very successful but they realize that there’s opportunity with the time and resources they’ve accumulated, to have your life be even more what they’d like it to be. Do you think that addressed it Lucie, is that on target?
– [Lucie] I think so, I think, I mean you can only speak to your experience and what you know about other people so I think that’s very helpful. We’ve got time for another couple of questions, one was, this person’s on a school board and they believe, or the board believes anyway, that the administrative team needs coaching. They want somebody who works in the education space. Would you agree with that or do you think a general coach would be sufficient to help them?
– [Tony] Well if after watching my presentation, you’re clear that what that administrative team could benefit from is coaching as opposed to some training, better management, consulting, all the things I’ve listed. If you’re really clear that it’s coaching that would make the difference you want to see, I would recommend that you get someone who’s experienced with management teams of that size, possibly with experience in the non-profit government area. I wouldn’t get any more specific than that. Remember the slide I put up of the client who said I talk to lots of experts on things and coaching’s different. Coaches don’t need to be experts on your job or your particular industry. I have one colleague whose business card title is professional outsider, because we have a different perspective because we’re not experts in the industry. Because we’re not living in the world you are we can help you see it differently. If I see it the way you do, I’m not going to do any coaching.
– [Lucie] I think that’s a good point because if you’re right in there, you probably think you’re doing great, I don’t know why anybody suggested me, so that’s a good point. There was a, I think there was a slide definitely that had stuckness and the question is, do you think people are stuck because of fear, and if so, how does somebody tackle this?
– [Tony] Yes, fear is one of the most fundamental drivers of human action. When you dig down for why you do certain things it generally doesn’t take too many layers before you’re concerned about losing something. And since I’ve got a University of Chicago audience I’ll mention behavioral economics, one of the key studies that created behavioral economics was Kahneman Tversky discovering that people will do more to avoid a loss than they will to get the equivalent gain. We are more concerned about losing things than gaining things. That’s fear. Yeah it makes sense, if we’re a creature living in nature and we overlook an opportunity to have a tasty treat or to find a better place to live, there’ll be another chance tomorrow and the next day. If we overlook one saber-tooth tiger, game over. So we’re very, as one psychologist put it, we are Teflon for good things and Velcro for bad things. So yeah, fear is something coaches are always aware of, always looking for. What is the fear, and then is there a different worldview that can move that fear from something that is narrowing our vision, raising our stress, to something that is motivating, to deal with the fundamental issues. Is that too theoretical, I don’t know.
– [Lucie] Great a very U Chicago answer thank you. So last question before we let you go and thank you so much, you work with, and you’ve mentioned this a couple of times, you work with owners of companies, very successful people, they tend not to be millennials, although we do have some millennials who started companies that are doing really well. Do you have experience coaching millennials, or do you tend to work with people that are older?
– [Tony] I do and it varies and I have clients that are in, I think the youngest at the moment is 32 and the oldest is 66. And there are some differences because our copart, our age is part of our worldview. And one thing I find interesting about the millennials in general, you know we’re talking about group norms, not how every particular person is, with many of my clients of older age groups, it takes a while for them to essentially feel safe enough to start thinking about what really matters to them. You know their relationships, their impact on the world, and so on. Millennials seem to start there. They start with I want my life to be cool. I want the people around me to feel good that I’m there. So that part it saves a lot of time, we know that’s what we’re working on. The others have to deal with a lot of circumstances before they get there.
– [Lucie] Well great thank you so much. We really really appreciate it and I’d like to thank everyone who joined in today we had a nice large group. And I want to send a special thank you to Tony for this informative and I think fun presentation. As a reminder please watch your email for a link to the recording along with a follow-up survey, it’s very short, just asking you what you liked about this, because I’m sure there’s nothing that you didn’t like, and what you’d like to see in the future. And we also invite you to join us online at careers.uchicagoalumni.org where you’ll find out about upcoming events, our webinar archives and the jobs board. And if you’ve hired a maroon we want to let you know that we can send you a nice thank you gift. Thank you again Tony and I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their day.
– [Tony] I appreciate the opportunity.