Exec Coaching: Tips & My Practice

This page provides tips on how to choose an executive coach – and provides information about my Executive Coaching practice.

HOWEVER, Coaching is about YOU. And I never forget that.

Make sure you first read THIS PAGE about you, before reading the below.

OK, now that you have read my page about “What’s your Challenge?” and are interested in my Executive Coaching, a few important points to better inform you:

  1. I take on very few clients. I concentrate and go deep to work with you, preferring not to spread myself too thin.
  2. If we are not a good fit or I don’t have time, I am happy to recommend you to another coach I respect. For coaching to work, there needs to be fit. Also, be warned: the coaching profession is very diverse! Many coaches have different training and real-life management or leadership experience, and many use varying levels of evidence to back their coaching. So I only recommend people that I think will meet your needs – and who are seriously good. Also, make sure to do your own homework and understand what coaches do – and can do for you (for a good introduction to coachingread this article).
  3. Coaching is about holding up the mirror, being a strong sounding board – and sometimes facing uncomfortable truths“This is how you come across; this is how your behaviors may be perceived – or may be hurting you.” I also don’t mind being direct and brutally honest. I will ask you the hard questions. When I don’t know, I won’t make up an answer. And I won’t chew up time if I can refer you to an article or book where you can explore more on your own. To get a sense of my views, read my article in the Harvard Business Review. (Focus on the key points I make; don’t get hung up on the title, which someone else wrote.)
  4. Why choose me as your coach? More about my coaching philosophy and experience:
    • I listen – Seek first to understand, then to be understood. People today are too busy talking over one another. Truly listening and understanding each other is sorely missing in much of today’s dialog. I’ve got two ears and one mouth, and I use them in that proportion.
    • I’ve walked in your shoes – I know that managing and leading today is hard and messy because I’ve done it. The challenges are immense: complex matrix organizations, nonstop demands on your time, working with remote teams or bosses across time zones, communication technology that invades every space and moment of your day, to say nothing of finding work/life balance. Make sure your coach really understands this world and can offer practical, not theoretical, advice.
    • I am global – I am fluent in Mandarin and Spanish and have spent more of my working career outside the USA (primarily in China and Europe). I appreciate the nuances of different cultures, because I’ve worked through them.
    • I serve as a senior sales trainer and design thinking coach, which I actively bring into my coaching practice. Sales is about persuasion, interpersonal influence and being strategic in your interactions to achieve your goal: these are increasingly critical skills as you rise in in the ranks. Design Thinking is about empathy, asking the right questions/reframing the problem, and actively testing, gaining feedback and iterating to the final solution: a powerful formula for personal/professional change.
    • I actively read and write – Most related to my coaching is my interest in irrationality in decision making, habit formation and power dynamics. Thus I read a lot of the social science (academic literature and popular press) as I prefer a more evidence-based approach to what I do and recommend. I write and publish, as there is no better way to process ideas and force clarity of thought.
    • My qualifications – I am a proud product of the liberal arts (BA in History, Carleton College), hold an MBA (Stanford Business School), and have attended numerous executive/continuing education programs – but am most proud of my “GSD” (get sh*t done) degree that comes from my career in startups and high-growth companies. For full disclosure, I do not hold a formal certification in coaching, nor do many coaches. While certification may be useful, I have built my coaching skills and practice over the years through reading, doing and studying/being mentored by others.
  5. If you contact me, be patient: I do not check email hourly, let alone daily; and I am not tied to social media. It may take a week (or more during the summer) for me to respond, as I go silent for periods to concentrate on writing, teaching and to focus on clients. There are seldom emergencies of such magnitude, especially in business, that must be handled right away. If you need immediate assistance, dial 911.
  6. I make space to think and stay in touch with real people from all walks of life. Most of us forget the vast majority of humanity is not hyper-connected to technology and do not have 6 or 7 figure annual incomes. I try to take public transport or walk (good for my health, good for the environment) and often shut down all electronic devices, especially my cell phone, for stretches. I am not a Luddite, however: I find technology liberating because it enables me to stay globally collected, access interesting research (thank you google scholar) and work with clients from beautiful, remote settings where I do my best thinking.

If you are interested in learning more, fill out this form to contact me:

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